#14 (The “Remember” Series)
TEXT: Deut. 32:7-14
INTRO: One of the biggest battles of living is keeping a healthy perspective. Because we cannot see into the future we have a hard time with perspective of events in the present ... wondering where things are going. The secret to living a stable Christian life is the ability to find perspective, and since we can’t see into the future we need to look to the past for focus. In fact, a longer look back can help us in great ways; of course we need to be looking at the right things in the past. The ways God works in our lives can sometimes only be seen by looking back, and then this will give us confidence when we need to look forward:
ILLUS: DR. JAMES M. GRAY, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE MOODY BIBLE INSTITUTE, WAS CONVALESCING FROM A SEVERE ILLNESS. HIS PHYSICIAN, THINKING THAT A CHANGE OF SCENERY MIGHT BRING THE RELAXATION HIS PATIENT NEEDED, ADVISED HIM TO TAKE AN OCEAN VOYAGE. BUT JUST WHEN ARRANGEMENTS FOR THE JOURNEY WERE COMPLETED, DR. GRAY EXPERIENCED AN UNEXPECTED PHYSICAL SETBACK - HE WAS GREATLY DISAPPOINTED AND BEGAN TO WONDER WHY THE HEAVENLY FATHER HAD ALLOWED THIS NEW AFFLICTION TO COME. ABOUT A WEEK LATER HE PICKED UP A NEWSPAPER THAT CARRIED ON THE FRONT PAGE THE TRAGIC ACCOUNT OF A STEAMER THAT HAD SUNK AFTER STRIKING A REEF IN ST. JOHN’S HARBOR. THERE WERE NO SURVIVORS. WHEN GRAY READ THAT THIS WAS THE SHIP HE WOULD HAVE TAKEN HE REALIZED HOW PERFECTLY THE LORD HAD DIRECTED HIS WAY. HIS TEMPORARY SICKNESS HAD DELIVERED HIM FROM CERTAIN DEATH! THE PASSAGE OF TIME HAD ERASED THE QUESTIONS OF GOD’S GOODNESS! – SOURCE UNKNOWN
So often we question God’s goodness based on only the momentary pain we are experiencing. When God’s actions are viewed however through a longer time frame we will often see things in a completely different perspective, this is one of the reasons we have the Bible stories of yesterday of God’s mercy and grace, to help us get a handle on today and tomorrow!
PROP. SENT: The Bible teaches us to take the long view of God’s work in our lives, to see the future through the past will give us a sharper view of the present and of tomorrow; like the song of Annie: “Tomorrow, tomorrow, I’ll love you tomorrow...”
I. PLAN 32:7
A. Framework 32:7a
1. As Moses is preparing to die and
a. This song would contain vital teaching that each generation would be able to draw on; music can be an important vehicle for keeping perspective!
b. Moses’ song was meant to help them sometime in the future when the temptation might come to forget all about God’s goodness!
c. Moses of course is assuming that they are going to hit rough places in life!
2. The framework of how we see everything in our lives will greatly affect the quality of our life!
a. Those without an eternal perspective can only feel dismayed over life’s great tragedies ... because for them there is no higher purpose for life!
b. Those who believe in God however have a much greater depth to how they view everything, we are not narrow minded and only locked to a reality of the temporal when we believe in God, those who don’t believe limit meaning to only the material realm!
3. Moses understood (as indeed did God) that in order for Israel to make it in the future they would have to have knowledge about the past!
a. It IS the principle learned from the holocaust: “those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it!”
b. When crisis hit we tend to get “spiritual tunnel vision” ... we only see a narrow slice of time, the moment we are in, this destroys our “depth perception” of reality and of God!
4. It is important to note however that Moses’ call for them to remember the days of old is not just for nostalgia. It is for the sole purpose of helping them keep a healthy perspective and to help them from repeating old mistakes!
YEARS AGO FOLLOWING A TERRIBLE HURRICANE ON THE SOUTHEASTERN
B. Future 32:7b
1. Moses explains to them how to find the future, by asking those who have experienced the past to remember God’s faithfulness during times of crisis!
2. The wise young person that wants to get a head start in life over their young contemporaries will learn from the previous generation!
3. The reason elderly people seem to have a better handle of life is because they have the years of past experience to draw upon when a crisis hits to help them not lose confidence in God!
4. It is ironic that it takes the past to help us be confident for the future!
5. It is the knowledge of past victories that give us the drive to face the future and to fight for it!
ILLUS: IN HIS BOOK, MAN’S SEARCH FOR MEANING, VICTOR FRANKL, THE SUCCESSOR OF SIGMUND FREUD AT VIENNA, ARGUED THAT THE “LOSS OF HOPE AND COURAGE CAN HAVE A DEADLY EFFECT ON MAN.” AS A RESULT OF HIS EXPERIENCES IN A NAZI CONCENTRATION CAMP, FRANKL CONTENDED THAT WHEN A MAN NO LONGER POSSESSES A MOTIVE FOR LIVING, NO FUTURE TO LOOK FORWARD TO, HE CURLS UP IN A CORNER AND DIES ... “ANY ATTEMPT TO RESTORE A MAN’S INNER STRENGTH IN CAMP” HE WROTE, “HAD FIRST TO SUCCEED IN SHOWING HIM SOME FUTURE GOAL.” – SOURCE UNKNOWN
6. Young people need to hear the stories of God’s deliverances from their elders; these become a source of courage and confidence to those young people when they face trials in life also!
a. You help your kids with their future when you tell them about God’s work in your past!
b. This past stuff gives them a broader framework in which to see God’s might and power, and God’s faithfulness!
II. PROTECTION 32:8-11
A. Favor 32:8-9
1. God had chosen them. He would therefore not leave them to forces they could not handle!
2. God’s love was the driving force behind their victories, especially the ones they didn’t deserve!
3. God had preserved them because He loved them, He protected them from the wicked nations around them, He drew “lines” around them to protect them.
4. This was God’s favor on them; it wasn’t because they deserved it but because God chose to love them!
ILLUS: ONE DAY A SINGLE FRIEND ASKED A FATHER OF FOUR CHILDREN, “WHY DO YOU LOVE YOUR KIDS?” THE FATHER THOUGHT FOR A MINUTE, BUT THE ONLY ANSWER HE COULD COME UP WITH WAS, “BECAUSE THEY ARE MINE!” WHY DOES GOD LOVE US? GOOD QUESTION! THE ONLY ANSWER IS “BECAUSE WE ARE HIS CHILDREN!” THIS IS WHAT BRINGS GOD’S FAVOR UPON US. – SOURCE UNKNOWN
5. God chose to love us, and so we can have confidence in trials that His love will guide the process of every trial. He is always working out good in our lives, even when He uses pain!
a. God limits the pain to a level we can handle.
b. God puts limits around the enemy and his attacks on our lives!
c. We are under His protection!
B. Freedom 32:10-11
1. Now Moses proceeds to remind them of the many events of the wilderness journey and how in a barren land God had constantly taken care of their every need.
a. It is important that they see the whole of past events, not just isolated ones.
b. God had never let them starve or die of thirst, their shoes had never worn out on their feet over the 40 years they walked through the desert!
c. All these events woven together as a whole would clearly demonstrate that God was interested in protecting and helping them.
2. They needed to see the “BIG” picture of the past to really appreciate God’s love and depth of care for them as they faced the present and the future.
ILLUS: THE STORY HAS BEEN TOLD OF A MUSEUM GUIDE WHO WOULD TAKE HIS TOUR GROUP TO A DARKENED ROOM, SHINE A LIGHT ON A MASS OF STRING, COLOR, AND APPARENT CHAOS AND ASK THE GROUP, “WHAT DO YOU THINK THIS IS?” “I DON’ T KNOW,” WAS THE INEVITABLE REPLY. HE WOULD SAY, “STAND OVER THERE AND WATCH.” AS THE GROUP MOVED OVER TO THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ROOM HE WOULD TURN ON A SPOTLIGHT. IT WAS INSTANTLY APPARENT THAT THE MASS OF JUMBLED COLORED STRING SEEN JUST A MOMENT EARLIER WAS IN FACT AN ENORMOUS TAPESTRY ... FROM THE BACK SIDE! THE REAL WORK HAD TO BE SEEN FROM A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE TO UNDERSTAND WHAT THE ARTIST WAS CREATING. AND SO IT IS WITH US IN LIFE, WHEN WE LOOK AT EVENTS FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF ETERNITY WE GET A WHOLE DIFFERENT PICTURE OF HOW ALL THE STRINGS OF OUR LIFE ARE WOVEN TOGETHER TO PRODUCE A BEAUTIFUL TESTIMONY OF GOD’S LOVE AND PROTECTION. FROM THE WRONG ANGLE HOWEVER, THIS CAN’T BE SEEN. – SOURCE UNKNOWN
3. This perspective of God’s constant protection over our lives gives us the freedom we need to overcome fear when facing the future!
4. It also gives us freedom from paralysis in the present ... knowing God’s faithfulness to His children can protect our hearts from being crushed in present trials as well.
a. Even when God disciplines us for doing wrong we can know that His desire is not to crush us but to correct us!
b. Thus, even His discipline in our lives gives us certain knowledge that He cares and loves us too much to let us destroy ourselves!
5. This is real freedom!
III. PERSONAL 32:12-14
A. Faithfulness 32:12
1. Here Moses wants them to realize that it wasn’t just good luck or anything else that can take the credit for there good fortunes ... it was ONLY GOD’S WORK AND FAITHFULNESS to them that brought them to the promise land!
a. No other gods were involved.
b. And no good luck was responsible for their blessings and safety!
2. In other words, Moses wants them to realize that God was personally involved with them!
a. God is not just a master mechanic that wound up the universe billions of years ago and now is sitting back in an easy chair watching us poor humans to see how we make out!
b. God is a personal God ... He delights in fellowshipping with each of us individually as well as collectively.
3. Even though we might be totally unaware of God’s personal touch it is there! We don’t always realize it but God is taking care of us and leading us.
ILLUS: WE ARE
SOMEWHAT LIKE APHIDS! THEY ARE
CALLED “PLANT LICE” OR “ANT’S COWS.” THEY ARE THE TINY GREEN INSECTS THAT SUCK
THE LIFE OUT OF FRUIT TREE LEAVES. WITHOUT THE ANT THEY COULDN’T EXIST ...
EVEN THOUGH THEY ARE PROBABLY UNAWARE OF THEIR NEED FROM THE
B. Fruitful 32:13-14
1. Notice how God made their lives
fruitful, the great accomplishments of
2. Here Moses reminds them of the many times God had refreshed them and helped them to be fruitful!
a. The whole experience wasn’t just all struggles!
b. There were times of refreshing, times of God’s blessings that needed to be remembered against the backdrop of trials!
3. God had indeed blessed them many times, they are to remember this as well so that they would be encouraged in times of difficulties!
ILLUS: LIKE THE GREAT QUARTERBACK BART STARR. DURING THE SEASON OF THE FIRST SUPER BOWL HE HAD REALLY FELT BAD ABOUT HOW HE HAD PLAYED. HE HAD A LITTLE SYSTEM OF ENCOURAGEMENT FOR HIS SON, EVERY TIME HIS SON BROUGHT HOME A PERFECT PAPER BART WOULD GIVE HIM A DIME. AFTER RETURNING FROM A ROUGH GAME WITH ST. LOUIS WHERE HE FELT HE HAD PLAYED VERY POORLY, HE WAS TIRED AND DISCOURAGED, HE FELT BATTLE WEARY UNTIL HE GOT TO HIS BEDROOM ... THERE ON HIS PILLOW WAS A NOTE FROM HIS SON THAT SAID, “DEAR DAD, I THOUGHT YOU PLAYED A GREAT GAME, LOVE. BART JR.”... WITH IT WAS TAPED 2 DIMES! THIS LIFTED HIS SPIRITS TREMENDOUSLY! – SOURCE UNKNOWN
4. God had over and over again blessed them, even in the wilderness; they had never gone without, they had had a fruitful experience even in the desert!
a. This of course was easier to see with the perspective of time!
b. And that is just the point ... we need to remember perspective next time we are struggling with what God is allowing into our lives!
c. The gift of perspective can help us overcome the biggest obstacles of faith.
5. Moses’ biggest fear for
a. In this song there is much warning about this very thing!
b. If they forget they would fail!
c. Remembering perspective was an important mechanism for success!
CONCLUSION: It is only too easy to lose focus, to see only the present. Healthy spirituality is shaped by having a healthy perspective, it is important to view God’s actions in a large context ... past, present, and future! God’s Word tells us about all 3 in order to keep our perspective on course. Don’t fall into the trap of despair by only seeing the “now” of your life ... remember perspective!