Pastoral Devotion May 6, 2020

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

It is my privilege to write this week’s devotion for you all. Today, I want to talk about the spiritual discipline of remembering. Recently, I have been taking the Union young adults group through two separate studies that have both focused in on the imperative for God’s people to remember who He is and what He has done.

The first study I want us to turn to is in the 6th chapter of the book of Deuteronomy. This chapter is famous for the passage known as the “Shema,” beginning in verse 4 – 4 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.” In this Shema, God begins by declaring His exclusivity as God. YHWH is one YHWH – there is only One God. He is indivisible, He is exclusive, He is in a category all to Himself. This defines God as a monotheistic God who will not share glory or worship with anyone else. He alone is God.

In verse 5, we see how God’s people should live in light of who He is, 5 “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” We are to love Him with all that we are – with our entire person. The exclusivity of God demands that His people love Him exclusively. The oneness of God demands that His people love Him completely. God is in a category all to His own so therefore all other loves must be subordinate to our love for Him (Mt 10:37, Lk 14:26).

But then, starting in verse 10, we are confronted with a warning,

10 “And when the Lord your God brings you into the land that he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give you—with great and good cities that you did not build, 11 and houses full of all good things that you did not fill, and cisterns that you did not dig, and vineyards and olive trees that you did not plant—and when you eat and are full, 12 then take care lest you forget the Lord, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.” (Deut. 6:10-12).

Israel was about to be brought into the Promised Land, a land flowing with milk and honey. They were about to inherit cities and houses and vineyards and farmland. Upon experiencing all of these blessings and benefits, Israel would be tempted to forget. They would be tempted to pridefully think that it was because of their power and strength that they gained such wealth (Deut. 8:17). They would likewise be faced with the temptation to think that God so loved them and blessed them because of their superior righteousness (Deut. 9:4). Or, worst of all, they would do the unthinkable and forsake God all together and instead worship the idols of the people of the land (Deut. 6:14).

Such is the danger of forgetting who God is, what He has commanded, and what He has done. When we forget, we fall into pride, we fall into self-righteousness, and worst of all we commit spiritual adultery against God by worshipping idols instead of Him. To forget is to be apathetic to the one true God. To be apathetic towards Him is the exact opposite of loving Him with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. Therefore, I would argue that the act of forgetting God amounts to hating Him.

Instead, Israel is instructed to remember. They were to remember that they were once slaves in Egypt (Deut. 5:15). They were to remember what God did to Pharaoh and Egypt in the Exodus (Deut. 7:18). They were to remember how the Lord preserved Israel in the wilderness for 40 long years (Deut. 8:2). They were to remember that it was God who gave them the power and energy to gain wealth once they entered the Promised Land (Deut. 8:18). In total, Israel is commanded to remember God and what He has done 14 separate times in Deuteronomy.

Which brings me to the second study I want us to turn our mind to. We are currently reading and studying the book, 12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You, by Tony Reinke. In the last chapter of this book Reinke instructs readers to counteract the idolatry so readily available to us through our smartphones by practicing the spiritual discipline of remembering. He writes,

“believers find strength and safety merely in the act of remembering God (Ps 20:7)…it is a spiritual discipline to remember God’s acts of deliverance.…We will not neglect God’s precious Word, because we delight in it and cherish it (Ps 119:16). We remember God’s mighty works of old like a well-ingrained habit, and this discipline stokes our souls’ desire to taste more of the precious beauty of God (Ps 143:5-6). To remember God is to satisfy the soul and to recalibrate our always-shifting perception of reality.”[1]

Remembering who God is, what He has done, and what He has said, is what we do when we partake of Communion. It is what we do when we gather (virtually for now) on the first day of the week – on the Lord’s Day. It is what we should do when we are in the wilderness of trials and tests. It is what we should do when we are experiencing blessing upon blessing. It should characterize our prayer. It should motivate our time in God’s Word. It should distinguish our fellowship together. It is, according to Reinke, “a key verb of the Christian life.”[2] May we sing with the psalmist David,

“1 Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! 2 Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, 3 who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, 4 who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, 5 who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s” (Psalm 103:1-5)”

In Him,

Pastor Ben

[1] Reinke, Tony. 12 Ways Your Phone Is Changing You (pp. 185-186). Crossway. Kindle Edition.

[2] Ibid. p. 188