by Rayola Kelley
One of my desires has been to write a devotional book that actually takes a person through the whole Bible in a year. After all, one or our main goals at GSM is to make people lovers of the Living Word through the reading, studying and meditation of the Written Word. Writing this devotional book has produced an expectancy in me. I know I will discover deeper truths about my eternal God as I adhere to the challenge set before me.
As I prepare each devotional, I think about the questions I initially struggled with when reading through the Bible as a new Christian. What is the purpose of this information in this chapter of the Book? What significance does this incident personally hold for me in light of my Christian walk? How do Jesus, His teachings and examples relate to this particular text? Approaching the Bible from the perspective of writing such a book to help other people through it has caused the Written Word to become more alive to me in different ways.
As I was considering Deuteronomy and Joshua, one main theme kept coming to mind. It is summarized in the following scripture: “Beware that thou forget not the LORD thy God, in not keeping his commandments, and his judgments and his statutes, which I command thee this day” (Deuteronomy 8:11). It is hard to believe that individuals would forget a God who has delivered them from bondage, and miraculously intervened to save them. However, when you consider what forgetfulness entails, you realize that it is quite easy to forget God.
I know this has been personally true for me. Granted, people may remember God when there is spiritual excitement and emotional zeal, because He shows Himself in some way. But, one needs to remember that the Christian life is lived out on the plateaus of drudgery, and in the midst of constant demands of the world and life. As a result, it is easy to forget God.
When you consider the meaning of forgetting, you realize that it is not just a matter of losing your memory about something. Forgetting also implies that one has ceased from doing something, to treat with inattention or disregard, to overlook, neglect, or to fail to become mindful at the proper time (Webster New Collegiate Dictionary).
Obviously, the children of Israel never forgot that Jehovah God was there. They simply ceased to keep Him in His rightful place. He was no longer the center of their attention or their focus and pursuit. As a result, they showed disregard to His holy character, overlooked His perfect way, neglected His righteous law, and failed to give Him the proper attention.
How do we as God’s people get into a state of forgetfulness towards Him? This question must be seriously considered. I fear that many Christians could be forgetting God during these uncertain times. The fruits of forgetfulness are obvious. Those who have this problem become spiritually dull. They become sloppy in their conduct, casual in their responses, and indifferent in their attitude towards God. Here are some reasons why God’s people forget Him.
They fail to remember who their Creator is. It is vital for us as believers to remember who created us (Isaiah 51:13). We have a purpose for being on earth and it is not just to live for ourselves. Ecclesiastes 12:1 reminds us to remember our Creator in our youth because the days are evil. Remembering is a daily discipline. It is our way of keeping God before us in everything we do. After all, our purpose for being here is to serve, love and worship God. We also must remember that we do not belong to ourselves. We must remind ourselves of our humble beginnings: That we have been bought with a price and purged from our sins by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 6:20; 2 Peter 1:9).
The Word of God has been forgotten. Psalm 119:16 says: I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word.” It is easy to forget the Word of God. First of all, most people neglect the Word. They either fail to partake of it,or they fail to obey it (James 1:21-25). Without the proper digestion and application of the Word, a person will become stagnant and ineffective. Such people are usually trying to slide by on God’s grace, experiences or a few scriptures here and there to subdue their religious conscience. However, the Word of God deserves more than a casual consideration. It is nourishment for the soul. It is what strengthens, cleanses, refreshes, and sustains us. Jesus put this importance on the Word in Matthew 4:4: “It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.”
A proud heart. Deuteronomy 8:14 states: “Then thine heart be lifted up, and thou forget the LORD thy God, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.” Obviously, a proud heart is not a humble heart. Those with a proud heart think highly of themselves. They are not open or receptive to repentance, truths and changes. A proud heart is also a divided heart, for it is idolatrous in its preference and self-serving in its way. Ultimately, such a heart will become hard as unbelief invades the person’s life and perception of God (Hebrews 3:8-13).
Wrong attitude. People forget God when they cease to fear Him. This wrong attitude involves a wrong spirit and a wrong disposition. Such an attitude forgets that God is holy and is worthy of all honor, adoration, worship, and obedience. Such an attitude lacks discipline and becomes casual towards the Word of God and His ways. Deuteronomy 31:13 states: And that their children, which have not known any thing, may hear, and learn to fear the LORD your God, as long as ye live in the land whither ye go over Jordan to possess it.” We are told that we must learn to fear the Lord. The only way we can learn to fear the Lord is to develop sobriety and healthy respect towards His judgments, ways and works. We also must be diligent to discern and separate the holy from the profane, according to the holy character of God.
Uunrighteousness. Hebrews 6:10 says: “For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.” To remember what is true and what is said involves righteousness. Therefore, forgetfulness is associated with disobedience and unbelief. People fail to take God seriously. The reason is because they have no inclination to do that which is right before Him. Such people have their own agendas; therefore, they handle the things of God according to their personal emphasis, rather than based on spirit and truth. As Romans 1:18 declares: “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness.”
Idolatry. Deuteronomy 4:23-24 says: “Take heed unto yourselves, lest ye forget the covenant of the LORD your God, which he made with you, and make you a graven image, or the likeness of any thing, which the LORD thy God hath forbidden thee. For the LORD thy God is a consuming fire, even a jealous God.” A proud heart, wrong attitude and wrong emphasis find their root in idolatry. Idolatry is the biggest source for causing people to forget God. Our idols are not always seen. Rather, they can come in the form of pursuing the world, worshipping money, paying homage to religion, chasing after pleasure, and exalting self. At the core of idolatry is a lack of love for God. When the love of God is missing, people become indifferent towards God and His Word.
Holding onto the old life. The Apostle Paul made this statement: “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those thing which are before” (Philippians 3:13). It is amazing what we remember and what we forget. However, both are a choice. I choose what I remember and how I remember it, and I choose what I will forget. These choices are often based on what I value. It is easy to forget that which does not serve my purpose or hold any significance.
As I have already stated, it takes discipline to remember that which may not be self-serving. Since Christianity does not serve my purpose, God is not the natural emphasis or preference. Therefore, I must choose to forget the things of the old life along with its way of doing. Isaiah 43:18 confirms this: “Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old.” Once I choose to forget the old, I must then replace it with that which is eternal in value. Such a change in focus will enable me to pursue my life in Jesus.
Failure to establish and maintain your testimony. God’s people must establish a sound testimony of Jesus Christ. Once this testimony is established, it must be maintained. The problem in this area is familiarity. We become comfortable with our familiarity towards Jesus, what we assume and presume we know about Him. He becomes just a good old buddy, instead of God Incarnate, Lord, Savior, and Judge. As we become slack towards Him, our testimony ceases to be maintained, and it loses authority and effectiveness. To maintain our testimony, we must grow in the knowledge of Jesus. As we grow in this knowledge of Him, our love for Him will grow. As our love for Jesus grows, He will become our natural preference. In other words, it will be natural for us to consider Him first, seek out His will, and obey Him, as we maintain uprightness before Him.
How about you? Are you forgetting God? If you are, you need to stir yourself up by pushing all attractions aside, turn around and face Him in humility and repentance. Ask Him to renew your love and devotion, by giving you more of His Spirit. As Deuteronomy 10:20 says: “Thou shalt fear the LORD thy God; him shalt thou serve, and to him shalt thou cleave and swear by his name.”