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Sermons For Church Homecoming Celebrations

The church homecoming celebration is one of the most important celebrations on the church calendar. During this celebration, we celebrate the moment when Jesus ascended into heaven. Are you the preacher at a church where a homecoming celebration is being held? Are you preparing for your sermon in that regard? If so, hopefully this post will give you some sermon ideas. This isn’t something I’m familiar with and because of that, I thought it might be something fun to share with my readers.

Because church attendance often plummets in the summer, homecoming is a great way for churches across the country to generate buzz about the upcoming Sunday service—so that new people will be encouraged to attend and old members will continue to attend. The members of your church probably enjoy having a chance to gather once a month or so to be together with one another, have some good food and worship together.

You might have a homecoming celebration just once or twice a year or you might have one every single month. The idea of homecoming is at the root of the Christian faith. Jesus spoke of the Kingdom of Heaven as the place where those who are far away will be brought together with those who live in your community for all eternity.

But what does that mean? What is ascension? And why do we celebrate it?

Homecoming — HIllcrest Baptist

Sermons For Church Homecoming Celebrations



Today, as we gather to celebrate our church homecoming, it is important for us to reflect on the significance of unity within the body of Christ. In the book of Ephesians, the apostle Paul reminds us of the importance of unity and how it is essential for the growth and effectiveness of the church.



1. Unity in Purpose


One of the key aspects of unity within the body of Christ is having a common purpose. In 1 Corinthians 1:10, Paul urges the church in Corinth to be united in mind and thought, so that there may be no divisions among them. This unity in purpose allows us to work together towards a common goal, which is to spread the light and love of Christ to the world.



2. Unity in Diversity


While we may all come from different backgrounds and have different gifts and talents, God calls us to be united in our diversity. In Romans 12:4-5, Paul reminds us that just as a body has many parts with different functions, so too are we, the body of Christ, diverse in our gifts and roles. It is through our unity in diversity that the church can truly thrive and minister effectively to those around us.



3. Unity in Love


Above all, unity within the body of Christ is rooted in love. In Colossians 3:14, Paul writes, “And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” It is by showing love to one another, just as Christ has loved us, that we can build and maintain the unity of the church.



As we celebrate our church homecoming today, let us remember the importance of unity in the body of Christ. Let us strive to be united in purpose, embrace our diversity, and above all, show love to one another. By doing so, we can truly be a light in the world and fulfill God’s plan for His church.

Homecoming Sermon Text

Homecoming day in a church always brings back memories – and that fact led me to my subject for today: Five Things We Should Always Remember.

We do a lot of kidding – of ourselves and of others – about remembering. A lady said to her husband, “You don’t remember things that are important to me. For instance, I’ll bet you don’t even remember my favorite flower.” He said, “Why, I think I do – it’s Pillsbury, isn’t it?” I heard of a Texan whose memory was so bad that he even forgot the Alamo!

Well, we might get by with letting some things slide – but on the other hand, there are other things that we must not forget. As a matter of fact, the Bible makes it clear that God places a tremendously high priority on our remembering certain things. In 2 Peter 1 the apostle Peter reminds his fellow Christians of some wonderful ways in which God has blessed us. He also admonishes us as to our need to grow spiritually, and as to what can happen if we fail to grow. Then in verses 12-15 he says:

“Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth. Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance; Knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath showed me. Moreover I will endeavor that ye may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance.”

It’s no big deal if we forget some things – but I want to name five things that we should always remember. Indeed, if we allow any one of these to become less than vivid in our memory, we’ll fall miserably short of life’s highest and best.

These things are referred to, directly or indirectly, in Peter’s two epistles.

I. THE PRICE THAT WAS PAID FOR OUR SALVATION

In 1 Peter 1:18-20 we read these words, “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you.”

The word “redeem” means “to set free by paying a price.” In the first century, there were millions of slaves throughout the Roman Empire. If some kindly benefactor were willing and able, he could “redeem” a slave – that is, he could pay the price that the slave-owner demanded and set that slave free. Those of us who are Christians were, prior to our conversion, the slaves of sin. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned,” and that “the wages of sin is death” – the emphasis being on spiritual death, which means separation from God. Sin had us in its grip. We were defeated in this life, and bound for eternal hell – but the Bible goes on to say, “but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Jesus said, in John 8:36, “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.”

Jesus redeemed us from the servitude of sin. On the cross, in way that is beyond our comprehension, Jesus somehow took upon himself in one unfathomably tortuous bundle, all of the punishment that you and I deserve for all of our sins for time and eternity. Isaiah 53:5-6 says, “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” 2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “For he hath him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”

The physical suffering must have been horrendous, but the spiritual anguish must have been even worse. Hebrews 4:15 tells us that Jesus “was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” Just think of it! He was the one perfect person who ever walked this earth. He never had one wrong thought, spoke one wrong word, and did one wrong thing. Yet, every filthy thought that you and I ever had, every sorry, sinful act we ever committed, every unholy, ungodly word we ever spoke, was all laid upon Jesus on that cross. We can’t possibly understand it. Such a concept is totally outside our frame of reference, because we’re sinners, but he was and is perfect. No wonder the poet said,

“For none of the ransomed ever knew how deep were the waters crossed, Nor how dark was the night the Lord passed through ‘ere he found the sheep that was lost.”

When the renowned evangelist of another generation, Gypsy Smith, was an old man he was still fervent in serving the Lord. Someone asked him how it was that he was still so enthusiastic about Christian service after all those years. With a tear trickling down his face, Gypsy Smith said, “If there is anything of effectiveness in my life and ministry, it’s because I’ve never lost the wonder of it all.”

If you and I ever get to the point that we are casual about what happened on the cross, if we ever begin to take it for granted, we need to get on our knees and stay there until we recapture the wonder of it all. We should always remember the price that was paid for our salvation.

II. THE PEOPLE GOD HAS USED TO BLESS OUR LIVES

Look with me, please, at 1 Peter 5:12-13 (NIV), “With the help of Silas, whom I regard as a faithful brother, I have written to you briefly, encouraging you and testifying that this is the true grace of God. Stand fast in it. She who is in Babylon (apparently a reference to the church in Babylon, with Babylon being perhaps a symbolic reference to Rome – or it could refer to an actual city by that name), chosen together with you, sends you her greetings, and so does my son Mark. Greet one another with a kiss of love.”

Notice that as Peter writes under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, he remembers to express appreciation for the help of Silas, and he also remembers to pass on greetings from the church at Babylon, and from Mark, with whom he had a close bond. Peter never forgot the people who were special to him. He always gave credit where credit was due.

In like manner, you and I should always remember the people whom God has used to bless our lives. We should always remember to give them the attention, consideration, and time that they deserve – and we should always remember to express appreciation to them and for them.

Our families are surely at the top of the list. I’m so thankful for Connie. She not only is the love of my life and my best friend, she is also my very best helper. She even helps me sometimes when I don’t want to be helped! But I always need it. She is a wonderful wife – and, like a good wife should, she now and then slips me a little dose of humility. For example, we have a preacher friend who is in his mid or late 40’s. He is a fine looking man. He wear a short, neatly trimmed beard that makes him look so distinguished. One day we were discussing him and I said, “Connie, how do you think I’d look with a beard?” She said, “Lonely.”

I’m thankful for her – and I’m thankful for our children and grandchildren. A fellow said to his neighbor, “Have I told you about my grandchildren?” His neighbor said, “No, and I sure do appreciate it!” So, I won’t talk a lot about my grandchildren today, even though I’m extremely proud of them, because many of you would demand equal time – and you would deserve it.

Connie and I are grateful for the many wonderful people whom God has used to bless our lives down through the years – and that most certainly includes you dear folks of First Baptist Church, Booneville. From our hearts we can say about you what the apostle Paul said of his friends in Philippians 1:3: “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you.”

I’m thankful for all of our friends. I feel exactly as the poet expressed it:

My friends are little lamps to me, Their radiance warms and cheers my ways,

And all my pathways, smooth and rough, are illumined by the their rays.

I try to keep them bright by faith, and never them dim with doubt,

For every time I lose a friend, A little lamp goes out.

There’s an extremely sad statement found in the book of Job. The beleaguered old patriarch, in excruciating pain and emotional distress, said in Job 19:14: “My kinsfolk have failed, and my familiar friends have forgotten me.” How inexcusable. At a time when he needed them most, his friends forgot him.

I have to ask myself how many people I’ve disappointed and marred my testimony with, not intentionally but because of forgetting – forgetting some promise made, or forgetting some special occasion in their lives, or forgetting to be attentive when they were hurting. Thomas Hood wrote, “But evil is wrought by want of thought, As well as want of heart.”

We should always remember the people whom God has used to bless our lives – those who are no longer with us, and those whom we are blessed to have with us still.

III. THE PROMISES GOD HAS GIVEN TO SUSTAIN US

We read in 2 Peter 1:4 says, “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.”

Chuck Swindoll said, “Sometimes I feel like life is a violin solo, and I’ve got on boxing gloves. Or that life is the Indy 500, and I’m driving a broken-down jalopy.” We all feel that way sometimes – but how great it is that we have the promises of God to lift us out of the valley of despair. I don’t have time to elaborate, but let me at least name – and perhaps comment briefly – on just two or three of those wonderful, sustaining promises.

Lamentations 3:21-23: “This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning….” Sometimes we feel that all the wind is gone out of our sails and that we just can’t go on, but lo and behold! The next morning God is standing by with a fresh, new supply of spiritual strength that is ours for the asking!

Romans 8:28 reads, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” What a grand, sweeping promise! “All things.” That includes those tragic things that result from our sins and blunders. That includes those terrible events whose mysterious cause we couldn’t even begin to understand. If we know Christ as Lord and Savior, and if we – in love – yield the broken pieces to him, our God can somehow miraculously bring good even out of a sad, sorry, sick situation. We may not be able to see it at the time, but if we’ll just hang in there and keep on trusting, one day – here or hereafter – we’ll be able to look back and say with the poet: “God was better to me than all my hopes, better than all my fears; For he made a bridge of my broken sighs, and a rainbow out of my tears.”

There are times when you need to hang on to Romans 8:28 in order to keep your sanity.

Note 2 Corinthians 12:9, “…my grace is sufficient for thee….” The hymn writer said, “Thro’ many dangers, toils, and snares, I have already come; ‘Tis grace hath bro’t me safe thus far, And grace will lead me home.”

Satan tries to fog our minds and cause us to forget those great truths, but if we’ll make it a point to read them, meditate on them, and even memorize them so that we can call them up at any moment, God will use those great truths to sustain us in our times of pain, disappointment, and heartbreak. That great old hymn says it so well:

“Standing on the promises that cannot fail, When the howling storms of doubt and fear assail, By the living Word of God I shall prevail, Standing on the promises of God.”

IV. THE PROVISION HE HAS MADE FOR US IN HEAVEN

In 1 Peter 1:3-4 we read, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you.”

Several decades ago, in England, there was a professor of literature named C. S. Lewis. He was an atheist. However, in his 30’s he was gloriously converted and became an outstanding spokesman for the Christian faith. After studying the history of the Christian movement and the impact that various individuals had made, C. S. Lewis made this observation: “The Christians who did most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next. It is since Christians have begun thinking less of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this.”

The late C. S. Lewis was right on target. If we are to see the events of this life in proper perspective and deal with them effectively, we must be rightly related to the Lord and have a clear, Bible-based awareness of what awaits us in heaven.

What a great place, indeed, heaven must be. We will be reunited with Christian loved ones and friends who have gone on before. We will enjoy spectacular beauty there. We will experience perfect health, and we will be free from all our sins.

But then there will be the supreme blessing of heaven. The song writer put it like this. “It will be worth it all, When we see Jesus; Life’s trials will seem so small, When we see Christ; One glimpse of his dear face, All sorrow will erase; So bravely run the race, ‘Til we see Christ.”

There are wonderful blessings and joys that come to the believer in this life. But we are not exempted from life’s trials and tribulations – and when we are going through the valley of suffering or heartache, we need to remember that we are strangers and pilgrims here, and that heaven is our ultimate home. In Romans 8:18 Paul wrote: “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”

James Whitcomb Riley wrote a poem entitled, “A Life Lesson,” and here’s the last stanza: “There! Little girl, don’t cry! They have broken your heart, I know; And the rainbow gleams of your youthful dreams, Are things of the long ago; But heaven holds all for which you sigh, – -There! little girl; don’t cry!”

V. THE PERFORMANCE GOD EXPECTS FROM US IN THE MEANTIME

Note 1 Peter 2:15, “For so is the will of God, that with well-doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men.” 1 Peter 2:21: “For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps.”

Also, we read in 1 Corinthians 4:2, “Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.” It isn’t required that we be multi-talented, or exceptionally brilliant, or outstandingly personable. You may very well be all of those, but the one requirement God makes of believers is that we be faithful – in every department of life.

Some folks want to be “cafeteria Christians.” That is, they want to pick and choose the areas in which they’ll be faithful – and they somehow rationalize and convince themselves that their negligence in other areas of responsibility is excusable. But 1 Corinthians 10:31 says, “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” We’re to be faithful in all things.

That includes faithfulness in attending church. Some folks say, “Oh, I love the Lord, but I don’t go to church.” That’s somewhat like saying, “I love to swim, but I don’t like water.” Hebrews 10:25 says, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is….” Unless providentially hindered, you and I need to be there when the church doors open – for our own good, and for the sake of our influence.

We’re to be faithful in bringing God’s tithes and offerings. One lady said, “There are a lot of reasons to tithe, but one reason is that I’m afraid to keep that which doesn’t belong to me.” She was absolutely right. Leviticus 27:30 says, “And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land, or of the fruit of the tree, is the Lord’s: it is holy unto the Lord.” We’re also to bring offerings, as God directs us.

The faithfulness that God requires includes our helping to carry the load. Hebrews 9:14 says, “How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” No Christian is to be simply a spectator. There is a place for everyone to serve. Paul Powell said, “We were not saved to sit and soak and sour until the second coming.” I believe it was also Powell who said that some Christians have been sitting so long that they have ingrown shirt-tails!

We’re to be faithful in our moral conduct. 1 Peter 1:15 says, “But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation.” Someone has said, “You are writing a gospel, a page each day, by the things you do and the words you say. Men are reading that gospel, whether faultless or true. Say, what is the gospel according to you?”

Further, we’re to be faithful in witnessing to those around us. We are, of course, to witness by manner of life. Jesus said, in Matthew 5:16, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” But we are also to verbalize our faith. Jesus said, in Acts 1:8, “ye shall be witnesses unto me….” – and whatever else a witness may be, it is someone who tells what he knows first-hand to be true. The author of Psalm 107:2 declared, “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so….!”

The song writer expressed what should be the heart-felt conviction of every last one of us,

When I survey the wondrous cross,

On which the Prince of glory died,

My richest gain I count but loss,

And pour contempt on all my pride.

Were the whole realm of nature mine,

That were a present far too small;

Love so amazing, so divine,

Demands my soul, my life, my all.

Jesus paid an enormous price in order that you and I might be saved. But in order to receive that great gift, we have to reach out for it in repentance and faith. If you’ve never done so, I challenge you to surrender your life to Jesus Christ this very morning. It will be the wisest decision you’ll ever make. Then take your public stand for him as we sing the hymn of invitation.

If you’re already a Christian, I challenge you to face up to whatever sins have crept into your life, and to resolve right now to make whatever new beginnings are needful in your life. Let your prayer be:

Lord of the years that are left to me, I give them to thy hand;

Take me, break me, and mold me, To the pattern thou hast planned.

So, those are five things that we dare not forget if we’re going to be what we ought, if we’re going to mean to others what we should, and if we’re going to honor God. We must always remember the price that was paid for our salvation – the people whom God has used to bless us – the promises that God has given to sustain us – the provision he has made for us at the end of the way, and – of profound importance – we must always remember the performance he expects of us as believers in the meantime.

Sermons On Remembering

One of the most entertaining parts of the Tonight Show with Jay Leno is a segment called “Jay Walking”. Leno takes to the sidewalk and stops people walking by and asks them questions. Often these questions are of a historical nature. What makes the segment funny is the outrageous answers that Jay often gets to questions. When asked about Pearl Harbor many on the street had no idea what Pearl Harbor was and why it was significant. Many people had no idea who was President when the Atomic bomb was dropped or if the United States had even used the atomic bomb. Some suggested that World War II was fought in 1970! The answers were entertaining because the people were so wrong, but it is also a sad commentary on our awareness of our history.

When we forget the past we lose the anchor that keeps us from drifting. When we forget the sacrifices made for our freedom we start taking that freedom for granted. And when we forget our spiritual roots we begin drifting away from the Lord.

As a nation we have tried to keep our history alive through monuments. We have monuments to various wars. We have museums that contain artifacts that tell the story of the past. We place monuments in cemeteries and study family genealogical records, all in an attempt to keep our “history” alive.  This morning we are going to talk about the importance of doing the same thing in our spiritual lives.

From the very beginning of Israel’s history God made a habit of building monuments and establishing symbols that would keep people informed.

  • he gave the rainbow to Noah
  • the rite of circumcision to Abraham
  • the Passover
  • the sacrificial system
  • the required feasts
  • the symbols of the temple furnishings
  • the garments of the priests

the various monuments erected at the site of important happenings (several times Biblical people are told to make a monument of stone as a reminder of a miracle, a battle or some important event..

  • the written Word
  • baptism
  • the Lord’s Supper

In fact, notice that before God brought the Hebrews out of Egypt, before they even get very far, God established some reminders or monuments to what had happened and what was going to happen. In Genesis 13 we read that he required that every firstborn son be considered devoted to Him and that they be purchased (or redeemed) from Him for a price of five shekels.  He also requires that every firstborn animal be redeemed at the price of a lamb.

Why did God do this? He did it so that every firstborn child would be a reminder that those children exist by God’s grace. Every time there was a firstborn son they were to be reminded of the tenth plague and the Passover of God. Every time they paid the “redemption price” they were reminded that their son was alive by grace.

God also established the feasts or holidays of Passover and Celebration of Unleavened Bread. These were celebrations like our Christmas and Easter that were designed to make people stop once a year and remember God’s power, God’s love, and God’s faithfulness.

This morning we are going to look at several different issues.  We are going to examine, Why we need to remember, What we need to Remember, and How we can remember more effectively.

WHY WE NEED TO REMEMBER

Because we have selective memories.  Do you notice that God didn’t wait until the people had gotten across the Red Sea? God didn’t wait until they were in the Promised Land.  God established these memorials because He knew that people remember things selectively.

Let me illustrate what I mean. When you are in a conflict with another person, what offenses do you remember most clearly?  Your offenses, or the other person’s?  If you are like most people you remember what others did TO you while you spotlight what you did FOR the other person. We conveniently forget the things we did to provoke a conflict.

In our spiritual life we often,

forget that we were once sinners without hope

forget that our salvation depends on God’s grace not our goodness

forget the times we thought God had forgot us but was really working behind the scenes

forget the promises we made to God and to each other

and when we forget, we demand rather than listen; condemn rather than love; and we feel that we have the right to define ethics and morality in a way that best suits us rather than obeying what God has declared.

The second reason we need to remember the past is Because it Reminds us Of Our Blessings. 

Isn’t it great to get out those old video tapes of the kids growing up? Isn’t it a wonderful thing to page through a scrapbook or look at wedding pictures? Isn’t it a precious thing to look through the photo albums and remember the people who have touched our lives and the events that enriched us? It’s hard to look at those things and not be grateful for the blessings we’ve had.

When I start to feel a little discouraged I often will pull out a little folder I have where I have placed a number of notes that I have gotten over the years. (These are the positive notes . . . I throw the others away). I take those notes out and read them and it helps me remember that things are not always hard and life is not always discouraging. There are times when we are able to make a difference.

God has given us His Word so we can be reminded of His love at any time. Every time we come to the Lord’s table for communion we are reminded of the Savior’s sacrifice for us. The act of eating and drinking is not what makes the celebration significant. You can take communion every day of your life and it will be meaningless if you don’t see what communion is pointing to. The Lord’s Supper reminds us that His body was broken for our sin. His blood was shed in our place. 

Baptism does the same thing.  It points to the fact that we are changed people.  We have died and risen to a new life because of Christ.  It is an act that points to something more significant than the act itself.  It reminds us that we have been made new creatures in Christ.

When we remember the past we remember that we have been bought with a price. We remember that God is in control, that He has given us all things freely to enjoy, and that He has met our needs in the past.  In other words, we are reminded that we are blessed.

Third, we need to remember the past Because it Spurs Us On and Keeps us Focused. Remembering what the Lord did for His people also reminded them of their obligation to serve Him with gratitude. The whole point of remembering is to spur you on.

  • Remembering your wedding vows helps you focus again on your commitment
  • Remembering how scared you were when you were sick will help you to cherish the days you have.
  • Remembering how much a visit meant when you experienced loss will spur you on to make that difficult visit to a friend who is grieving.
  • Remembering how cherished your kids were when they were born makes you cherish them more now
  • Remembering the hard fought battles of freedom remind us to defend that freedom in the present and to honor those who defended that freedom in the past.
  • Remembering the birth of Christ in Bethlehem deepens our worship
  • Remembering the resurrection of Christ gives us hope at a graveside
  • Remembering how much it hurt to lose someone helps you cherish those you had taken for granted
  • Remembering how you came to grace will make you more determined to be the bridge to life for someone else.
  • Remembering what you were before God changed you will help you be more loving toward those who have not yet experienced God’s transforming power.

WHAT WE NEED TO REMEMBER

Get a group of people together and lots of stories will be shared. Get some old friends together and you will often say that you were re-living the good old days. But did you ever notice what those good old days usually include? The include our successes, our accomplishments, our victories. We like to re-live and remember those shining moments. We don’t need help in remembering these things. We have lots of things to remind us of the shining moments of our lives,

  • diplomas
  • awards
  • scrapbooks
  • photographs
  • old friends

But we do need to work at remembering the important elements of our spiritual lives.

God’s Character.  We need to remind ourselves often of Who God is. It is so easy to drift into the belief that God is just a “good guy”. We forget that He is the Almighty God. We forget that He is Holy and does not trifle with evil.  We forget that He is Sovereign and is able to help in any situation.  We forget that God has a plan and that God’s wisdom is perfect. Because we are so quick to forget we need reminders constantly.

God’s Faithfulness. We need to remember God’s track record. We need to remember how He has faithfully worked in our lives. We also need to remember how God has faithfully worked in the lives around us. The God who was faithful in the past, will be faithful in the present as well.

God’s Grace

In the book, Les Miserables by Victor Hugo there is the great account of and escaped convict, Jean Valjean who had been imprisoned for twenty years for stealing a loaf of bread. Valjean stopped at the home of a bishop and was shown great hospitality. But Valjean did not resist the great temptation before him. He stoles some of the bishop’s silver and ran off into the night. He was stopped by a constable and tried to lie his way out of trouble by saying that the silver was a gift.

The constable took him back to the bishop and Valjean expects the worst. But what he received was not what he expected. The bishop said, “Of course this silver was my gift. But only part. You forgot the most valuable part. You forgot to take the silver candlesticks.” Jean Valjean was granted grace.

Before Valjean leaves the bishop said, “You must never forget this moment.  Your soul and your life have been brought back. You are not your own. From now on, you belong to God.”

The rest of the book is about the change that takes place in this man’s life. He kept the candlesticks as a reminder of the grace that set him free.  We would do well to find ways to remember God’s grace.

We need to remember that it is by His strength and not ours that we are saved.

It is by His strength and not ours that we make any kind of impact on the world.

It is His Spirit and not our gimmicks that will change lives.

The one thing we can offer the world that no one else can offer is His grace.  That’s our primary message.

We must remember that we owe Him and not visa versa.

God’s Promise.  We need to constantly remind ourselves of God’s promises to His people.  We must memorize them, display them, recite them as often as we can. We need to remember His promise to

  • be with us
  • to forgive us
  • to equip us
  • to empower us
  • to provide for us
  • to see us through any circumstance
  • to bring good even from tragic times
  • to guide us
  • to prepare a place for us
  • to love us

HOW TO REMEMBER WELL

O.K., so we need to remember well. What are some practical things we can do to help us remember the things that are important?

Read Well.  I know that most people today don’t read.  They watch television, they listen to the radio, they try to keep moving. But all that does is cause us to run fast and not know where we are going. We need to be informed about our spiritual history and the reasons for our beliefs.  To that end we need to read,

We need to read the Bible. How simple a step this seems to be but how often it is neglected. We will not understand or appreciate our past until we read and understand the Bible. We need to learn about Abraham, Moses, David, Daniel, Peter, Paul . . . but most of all we need to learn about Jesus. The Bible tells us how we find God. And when we find God, we find our roots . . . we find life.

We need to read the stories of the People who have gone before us. We can draw great strength from what others have learned in the journey of faith. It is helpful to read an occasional biography. It’s good to read good Christian literature, especially literature that tells us the stories of those who have gone before us. We must build on what others have learned.

We must read Christian history. It is amazing to some people to learn that this is not the first generation of Christians. Some people act like our generation is the first one to “get it right”. How foolish, stupid and arrogant that is. We stand on the shoulders of saints who faced death, endured hardship, stood against public opinion, sacrificed all they had, and who knew a depth of spirituality that is so much greater than what we think of as revival. They have so much to teach us . . . we must work at listening to them.

Worship Faithfully. God has built into our worship things that will remind us of the past.

In worship we hear the reading of the Word and the exposition of that Word.  In God’s Word we are exposed to God’s ways and God’s work. In the process we learn about ourselves.

In worship we see are moved by the object lessons of baptism and the Lord’s Supper. These are commemorations that are designed to point us to our roots.

In worship we sing some of the great hymns which tie us to our forefathers (this is one of the dangers of singing only contemporary songs . . . they isolate us from our forefathers and make us prone to drift from historic Biblical faith).

In worship we are hopefully seeing new people coming to faith and experiencing the transformation that comes from His grace.  This constant reminder of what God can do reminds us of what He has done in our lives.

Establish Your Own Monuments

Develop a celebration for your spiritual birthday.  If you know the specific day you declared your commitment to Christ, celebrate it as your spiritual birthday.  For me, May 25th is a very special day. On May 25th 1968 I made my conscious and formal declaration of faith to Christ. Every year I remember where I was when He found me and find a new sense of wonder at what He has done in my life since that day.

Observe Spiritual Anniversaries.  Each year I mark the first Sunday of February because it is anniversary of my ministry in LaHarpe. In 2002 it will mark 20 years. It reminds me of the circumstances and events that brought us here and reminds me that our growth is His work, not mine.  You may want to mark

  • the day of your baptism
  • the day you joined the church
  • the day you received your first Bible
  • the day you started teaching Sunday School
  • the day you began a mission trip that impacted your life.
  • Remembering these special days reminds you of the dreams, the promises, the goals you had on that day and it will refresh you in your service to the Lord.
  • Erect your own spiritual monuments and Create your own Symbols.
  • Display a rock from a retreat that helped you in your spiritual life
  • Keep the old tattered Bible that was a symbol of a parent’s faith
  • Display a picture of some people you are praying for or are praying for you.

Find a symbol that reminds you of some spiritual truth.  I have an eagle in my office that reminds me that “those who wait on the Lord will renew their strength.  They will mount up with wings like eagles and will walk and not grow weary and run and not grow faith.”

You might keep a lightbulb on your desk that reminds you that “he is the light of the world.”  Or a salt shaker that reminds you that you are to be “salt to a tasteless world”.

Some people wear an angel as a reminder that they are not alone and that God has “given His angels charge over you”.

Maybe you might display a picture of a person who models Christian character for you

Do something tangible. Be creative! God didn’t just tell the Israelites to remember . . . He gave them an aid to help them remember. Be creative!

There are two final things to point out.  First, please make sure that you don’t let your monument become an idol. The Bible tells of many occasions when something that was supposed to symbolize God’s work became so significant that it overshadowed God’s work. We’ve seen this in the church many times.  Treasured symbols like baptism and the Lord’s Supper now become the MEANS to salvation rather than a reminder of salvation. We begin putting our trust in the actions rather than in the Lord.

Second, it is important that you share your monuments with others. The Israelites were to be prepared when their children asked “what does this mean?” We should be prepared as well. No one will understand the significance of the eagle in my office if I don’t tell them.  And your family will not understand the significance of some of your symbols if you don’t tell them.

“In days to come, when your son asks you, ‘What does this mean?’ say to him, ‘With a mighty hand the LORD brought us out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. When Pharaoh stubbornly refused to let us go, the LORD killed every firstborn in Egypt, both man and animal. This is why I sacrifice to the LORD the first male offspring of every womb and redeem each of my firstborn sons.’ (Exodus 13:14-15)

We need to help each other build our lives on the firm foundation of God’s truth. And the only way we can do this effectively is to remind each other of lessons of the past every chance we get. 

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