Michael Youssef - Growing In Your Love For Jesus - Part 6
Now here's a fact: Our memory is one of God's most awesome gifts that he has given us. As human being in his creation, we were created with an astonishing capacity to store millions of bits of information. This information data is in perfect order and it's always there to be recalled as needed. In truth, the more they learn about the human brain, the more they discovered or realized, that God made us to be able to store literally in our memory capacity stuff that would fill several million copies of a book. The kind of capacity that makes computer storage to be insignificant. And yet, the best among us, we are told, use the tiniest, tiniest percentage of our brain capacity and memory. But human brain is also capable of deliberately forgetting.
Now there are some people who are blessed of God, are able to forget, especially unpleasant experiences. I know some of them. Others have the ability to never forget a thing, not a blessed thing, especially unpleasant experiences. And I know some of those too. Well, now, if you are not suffering through illness, and I take that very seriously. I lived with people, I live with... I know that illnesses can affect the memory capacity. I know that. I wanna say this is very, very serious. In fact, sometimes also, undue stress can affect our memory. But other than that, and I'm talking generally now, I'm speaking generally, we remember that which is important to us, all of us. Sadly, a lot of people forget the most important thing of all, namely God and his past intervention in their life. They forget that, the most important thing. And that's precisely why one of the most used word in the Scripture, both Old and New Testament, is the word "remember". Remember, remember, remember. It's the most used, I don't know if anybody counted them, but I am sure there are thousands of times in the Scripture, "Remember, remember, remember".
See, how many times do we hear God's own broken heart over those who have easily forgotten his past blessings, those who easily forget, his past mercies, those who have easily forgotten his past supernatural interventions in their life, who easily forget God's past favor, or easily forget God's past blessings, or easily forget God's past gracious acts that he given us, how easily forget God's answers to prayer. The reason why God has prospered us in the past simply because we have taken the gospel to the ends of the earth. But now, our focus has shifted. It's about us. What have you done for us lately? And when we keep on marginalizing God and the gospel of his Son Jesus, the barbarians are ready to take over. But at least, for now, God is saying, "Remember, remember, remember, remember, remember". But the time will come when God says, "Enough is enough". I grieve over that.
As we in the West keep on drifting away from God, as we keep on marginalizing God, as we keep on pushing God to the edges of our culture, as we pursue our pleasure above all else, certainly above God's Word, the barbarians who are already here, will take control. The very reason why God established the feasts and the festivals of Passover and Sabbath and all, so that they will permanently remember of God's gracious past acts in their lives with their ancestors and with them. Ah, but alas, these festivals become all about them, all become about them. Empty celebrations, and they lost their meaning. And the reason our Lord Jesus Christ did not want his believers in the New Testament church to fall in the same trap as Israel, he established the Lord's Supper as a permanent reminder of the colossal cost that cost him to go to that cross to die for you and you, and you, and you, and you, and me.
Question: why did God have to remind them and us all the time, all the time? Answer: because recalling their memories of God's redeeming grace generates hope for the future. Because recalling past interventions deepens our love for the Lord. Because recalling past blessings heals us from the illness of not growing in our love for Jesus. Now, I want to show you from the Word of God Psalm 42. Psalm 42 is one of the greatest example of how when do... you do not remember God's grace and mercy in the past, it can lead you to discouragement and I even venture to say, "It can lead you to depression". Psalm 42 is a great tool in helping us to grow deeper in our love for the Lord with our memory. Psalm 42 is a great example of how loving God with our memory inspires us and it really pulls us out of fear into faith.
Look with me, specifically, those are the three verses I wanna focus on today: 4, 5, and 6. Verse 4: "These things I remember". These things, what? Underline "I remember," in your Bibles. Just underline it. And put an asterisk, just mark it so every time you go back to the Scripture, this thing comes screaming at you. "These things I remember as I pour out my soul". What does the psalmist remember? He tells us how "I used to go with the multitude, leading the procession, to the house of God, with the shouts of joy and thanksgiving among the festival throngs". Then, he goes on from remembering these glorious things and the glorious events and the great intervention and the great experience with God, he goes from that remembrance, the importance of memory, and then he speaks to himself. He speaks to himself.
Have you ever talked to yourself? Don't kid yourself, we all do. Actually, we self-talk much faster than we speak or even read. We all self-talk. So, be extremely careful what you say to yourself, what you say to yourself. If you beat yourself up all the time, you basically focusing on your pride, not on God's mercy and grace. And so, he talks to himself. "Self," that's what he's doing. He said, "Self, why are you downcast, my soul? And why have you become so disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God". Verse 6. Here's a Youssef interpretation of verse 6: "My soul is downright discouraged right now". That's what he's saying. "My soul is downright discouraged and my soul is downright depressed". And therefore, you do what? Remember. "Therefore, remember". Underline it again in your Bible in verse 6. "I remember". He says, "I remember you. I remember you from the land of the Jordan and the peaks of Mount Hermon and Mount Mizar".
What is he saying? Listen to me, please. Only the memory of God's past faithfulness can pull us into future hope. Only remembering God's past interventions in my life and in your life will lead me toward the renewal of my passion for Jesus, and my love for Jesus, and then I would grow in that love for Jesus. Only recalling God's past blessings can propel me ahead and renew my love for him. I have two things I want you to focus with me. Very quickly, the first thing he's saying is that "when you're down and discouraged," when you're down in the dumps, "it is because you have forgotten". And the second thing he is telling us is that "when you are experiencing deliverance and dominion it's because you remembered". Very simple, right? Very simple. Let's say 'em together...
See, it's very simple. First, when you are down, defeated, and discouraged, it is because you have forgotten. Whether your forgetfulness is intentional or not, it doesn't really matter, whether your forgetfulness is by design or not, it doesn't really matter. What really matters is that you retrace your steps, retrace your steps, and find out where have you come to this forgetting experience? Go back in your memory bank and remember what caused your trouble. When you do that, you're gonna run smack into the fact that you have forgotten God's past intervention in your life. You run smack into it.
Remember the very reason why I started this whole series of six messages was the letters of Jesus in the book of Revelation to the churches and more specifically to the church of Ephesus in the city of Ephesus, a church that was vibrant, a church that was alive, church that was active, church that was involved, and yet, the Lord Jesus says, "I have one thing against you, and you have forgotten your first love". You also remember back then when we looked at the letter to the church in Ephesus, in Revelation 2:5, Revelation 2:5, when he said to them, "I have this one thing against you, you have lost your first love," he also gives them the cure. He gives them the cure. He said, "Remember from where you have fallen". Remember where you have fallen.
See, here's "remember" again, and that's the beginning of the cure, remembering, retracing your steps. That's the beginning of the healing, that's the beginning of the renewed love for the Lord. That's the beginning of a new and greater blessing in your life like you've never experienced before. Retrace your steps, retrace your steps. Find out how did it get there, how did it get there? Let your memory do the walking. Go back to where your trouble began and, oh by the way, be honest with yourself. Be honest with yourself, don't gloss over as to why the love for the Lord has cooled off. Examine your memory bank. Audit your memory accounts. Please hear me right, this is really important. Sin is a great deceiver. Sin is a great deceiver. And I'm telling you, none of us who have experienced it have fallen in sin without realizing how deceptive sin is. It's so deceptive, but particularly in the times when we're spiritually weak, we're all more than happy to comply with that deception. We would rather convince ourselves that we are just fine. It's really not our fault. It's somebody else's fault.
Why am I saying this? Because we are reluctant to face up to the fact and face up to the fact that our love for Jesus has cooled off, that our love for Jesus became frosted, that our love for Jesus has been lost in the shuffle of life and even sometimes in the prosperity that he gives us. We're often hesitant to admit that it's easier to just enjoy life than confront our spiritual failures. I know that. I know that. I'm still flesh and blood. But until we face the reality that we do not love Jesus with all of our minds and all of our hearts and all of our soul, we cannot go any deeper with him and loving him more every day. I've come a full circle in this series. And so, the second thing, the psalmist tells us, Psalm 42, that the only hope for renewing our love for the Lord, the only hope, the only hope for growing deeper in our love for Jesus, our only hope in moving forward from one point of glory into another in our Christian walk, go back to your memory bank, go back to your memory bank.
Now, the Bible never, never, never, never, never, never points to a sin in our lives without pointing to the way of forgiveness of that sin. Why? Because our past memory is linked to our future hope, because our past memory is linked to our future anticipation, because our past memories are linked to our vision for the future. And so, it's not just in looking back and remembering what an amazing thing God has done in the past, it's not just in going back and remembering the amazing things that God has brought into our lives in the past, but also remembering that we can receive renewal. We can receive renewal for today, restoration for today, revival for today. I can testify to you, I can testify to you, and I do this in my prayer time on a regular basis, I begin to remind myself that if I was the only human being on the face of the Earth, Jesus would have died for me.
I remind myself, and I think of how the pastor of my parents' church, through vision, came and literally saved me from being murdered in my mother's womb. Then I think of the moment when I surrendered my life to Christ and felt that all the burden of sin that I was carrying, the guilt, has been set free, I remember that night like yesterday, even though it is 55 years ago. I remember the joy of my salvation. I was happy if I died that night. Then I remember in 1968 when I was delivered from Satan's deception, and I think of the time when I cried to him for mercy that nobody could have helped but him, and I received mercy. Then I think of the two times that I looked to death in the eye and literally was moments away from death, and he saved me. Then I think of the time when I had typhoid at the age of 16 and I had hepatitis at the age of 17, and both times, even though a year apart, the same doctor said, "He's strong, but he isn't gonna make it". And I remember that. Here I am. Here I am.
Then I think of the time when our eldest, at the age of 15, was hovering between life and death at the IC Unit at Scottish Rite, but God intervened and healed her. I think of the times when I stood all alone, literally alone, I stood alone and I was convinced back then that if I die, nobody will find out for days to come. But he stood beside me. I think of the times when I interceded on behalf of many others and God answered those prayers. Then I think of the times when I did not know which way to turn and he shone his light, and he showed me the way. I go through on a regular basis loving Jesus with my memory. By the time I remember all that God has done in the past, I wanna go out there and conquer the world. And that is why the psalmist is saying, and here's a Youssef interpretation again. He's saying to himself, to his soul, he said, "My soul, you have no right to being so discouraged. You have no right to be down in the dumps like this. Remember what God did. Remember, remember, remember". Say that with me three times. And when you grow deeply in love with Jesus through your memory, you will have renewal of hope, you have renewal of hope for the future, strength for the present.
So let me ask you this. Are you discouraged today? Are you discouraged today? Are you fearful today? Are you so bogged down with the pain that you're experiencing that you can't see straight? Are you anxious about your future? All I'm gonna tell you is, remember, remember, remember. Let's do it again. Remember to praise him for past deliverance. Remember to praise him for past intervention. Remember to praise him for his past mercies and say to yourself, "Self, my God who has delivered me before will deliver me again". My God who stood by me before, he's with me now. He never leaves me, nor forsake me, and so, my beloved friend, at the end of this series, I want to tell you love him with your mind, the seat of the intellect. Love him with your heart, the totality of your being. Love him with your soul, the imagination. Love him with your memory.