I thank the elders for allowing Joyce and me to take a week to be with her dad and mom. I thank Richard Hostetler and Kevin Roberts for preaching last Sunday. I thank Kevin Hesslen and Dale Brown for teaching my classes. I thank you all for your prayers for us and for Joyce's mom and dad.

The week we were in Crossville, Tennessee, was unusual for us in several different ways. This is one of the ways that it was unusual for me: I spent a week in the place I grew up remembering good memories from my past. I was able to go places, see people, and think about things that I had not thought about in years.

For example, twice I was able to talk with a Bible teacher who was also my high school science teacher. Bert Ingram taught me the value and the importance of studying the Bible in context.

I saw and talked to a high school classmate who was in my graduating class of about 20.

I saw a lady from a congregation for whom I preached on Sundays before I married.

I visited the place that I proposed to Joyce.

I was in a Bible class held in the place where Joyce and I married.

I drove by the location of the first place Joyce and I lived after we married.

  1. Human memory is a strange thing.
    1. As we visited a very sick Allen Wells in the hospital, I had some cherished, special memories of him.
      1. I remember well the first time I met him when I was 16 years old.
        1. I was dating Joyce and visiting in their home when he came in from his usual long day of work.
        2. At the time, he was a huge man who probably carried at least 250 pounds on his 6 foot 4 inch frame.
        3. He briefly greeted me and disappeared behind a door.
        4. A while later he asked me to come into the room.
        5. When I did, he had over 35 pistols on the bed, no two alike.
        6. At that time in his life, he traded and sold guns.
        7. Years later after I married Joyce I teased him by telling him I did not know if he was telling me to get serious or get gone.
      2. I remember the time Joyce and I decided to do mission work in Africa.
        1. The hardest part of that decision was telling our parents.
        2. We had some special concerns in telling Allen.
          1. At that time he was not a faithful Christian (he was a good man, but rarely worshipped).
          2. We needed to tell him that we were taking his only grandchildren over 5000 miles away.
        3. When I told him, all he asked was, "Is this what you and Joyce really want to do?"
          1. I said, "Yes."
          2. He said, "As long as my kids are doing what is right, I want them to do whatever they want to do."
          3. That is all he ever said about our decision.
    2. Joyce and I have been married for almost 42 years, and Allen has never criticized me or told me what to do.

  2. I said human memory is a strange thing.
    1. Why would I say that?
      1. Human memory is essential to human existence.
        1. There are very few things any of us could do without memory.
        2. Even things as simple as walking and swallowing depend on memory.
      2. Conscious human memory is unusual because we are more likely to remember the bad and forget the good.
        1. It is much easier to remember what we do not like than remember what we do like.
        2. It is much easier to remember failures than it is to remember successes.
        3. It is much easier to remember flaws than it is to remember talents.
    2. Let me ask you to create for yourself a Bible example.
      1. I am going to mention a Bible person, and I want you to hold on to the first thing that comes to your mind concerning this man.
      2. What is your first memory when I say the name of the man . . . David?
        1. Let me take a chance: would everyone whose first thought was Bathsheba or something relating to the David and Bathsheba hold up your hand?
        2. Would everyone whose first thought was "the man whose heart belonged to God" hold up your hand?
    3. David is a powerful illustration of a basic difference between human memory and God's memory.
      1. One of the things I had opportunity to do the week I was home was a lot of Bible reading in books I find too little time to read.
        1. I have a new study Bible I am trying to become more familiar with.
        2. While we were home, I had the time to do a lot of reading in 1 and 2 Samuel and 1 Kings.
      2. In those readings I read about David's life and several generations beyond David's life.
      3. As I read, I was impressed with how often those scriptures talked about the fact that God did things "for the sake of David" long after David had died.
        1. Obviously, God remembered David and actually did things because of His memories of David.
        2. Was David perfect? Absolutely not! In the incident involving Bathsheba, he was guilty of murder and adultery.
        3. Even though that was true, the thing God constantly remembered about David was that David's heart belonged to Him.

  3. Let me share with you some specific examples of God's memory of David.
    1. 1 Kings 11 states that King Solomon began as an incredible man of God but became a man who turned his heart away from God.
      1. Solomon loved foreign wives: Egyptian, Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Sidonian, and Hittite (1 Kings 11:1).
      2. This was in direct rebellion against God's instructions to Israelite men.
      3. When Solomon rebelled against God, he rebelled in an enormous way.
        1. He had 700 wives and 300 concubines.
        2. These women successfully turned his heart away from God when Solomon was an old man.
        3. They even succeeded in getting Solomon to follow other gods and do evil in God's sight.
        4. Solomon even built places of worship so his wives could worship their gods.
        5. Twice God appeared to Solomon instructing him to reject these gods, but Solomon refused to listen to God, preferring to listen to his wives.
      4. God was so angry with Solomon that He declared that He would take most of Israel and give it to someone other than Solomon's son.
      5. However, one tribe would be given to Solomon's son.
        1. Why?
        2. The answer: "for the sake of My servant David and for the sake of Jerusalem" (1 Kings 11:13).
    2. Two generations later, long after Israel had divided, Abijam became king of Judah.
      1. Abijam was the son of Rehoboam, the great-grandson of King David.
      2. He also was a very wicked man (1 Kings 15:3).
      3. Yet, God allowed Abijam's son to become the next king of Judah.
        1. Why?
        2. God allowed his son Asa to succeed him "for David's sake" . . . "because David did what was right in the sight of the Lord" except in the case of Uriah (1 Kings 15:4, 5).
    3. Yet two more generations later, God permitted Jehoram to become king of Judah.
      1. He also was a very wicked man, yet God allowed him to be king.
      2. Why?
        1. "The Lord was not willing to destroy Judah, for the sake of David, His servant . . ." (2 Kings 8:19)
        2. God continued to remember David.
    4. Six kings after King David God still acted on His memory of David's heartfelt devotion.
      1. Even though five of those kings were evil men, God still acted on His memory of David.
      2. Though David's descendants were in no way worthy of God's blessing, God blessed them because of David's dedication.

  4. At this very minute, our world and our society is a very evil, uncertain place.
    1. To me, anyone who would dare predict what will happen even in two months is a very unwise person.
      1. The times are too complex.
      2. The situation is too complicated.
      3. Our world is too small, and cultures neither understand nor respect cultures who are significantly different.
    2. Wonder what God thinks when He examines the incredible mess we people have made on this earth?
      1. May I ask a question: does God continue to be patient because of us or in spite of us?
      2. How many times do you think God says, "For the sake of . . ., I will do this. I will never forget the devotion of his (or her) heart."
      3. When God looks at your motives, is He elated or is He disgusted?

  5. Allow me to share one last thing about God's memory.
    1. Jeremiah 31:31-34 predicted a time when God would make a new covenant with all Israelites.
      1. Among the features of this covenant was this: "for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more."
      2. The time was coming when God would forget every sin He forgave.
    2. The writer of the book of Hebrews referred to that specific prophecy in Hebrews l0:16, 17.
      1. He declared Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of that prophecy.
      2. When God gives us forgiveness in Jesus Christ, the sins He forgives cease to exist in His memory.

Perhaps you honestly say of yourself, "God cannot have any good memories of me. He would never act in goodness or mercy because of anything He remembers in my life." That may be true. But it can change. When we humbly, obediently give our hearts to God, He forgives. When He forgives, He forgets the evil.

God committed to you in Jesus' death. Allow your faith in Christ to commit to God in repentance and baptism.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Morning Sermon, 23 March 2003

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