Deuteronomy 4:9 presents a challenge to God’s people. Moses says to take special care that the mercies and goodness of God do not move away from your heart, your inner person. Here are two translations of this verse.
“Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that
you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your
heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children
after them.” NIV
“But watch out! Be careful never to forget what you yourself
have seen. Do not let these memories escape from your mind as long as you live!
And be sure to pass them on to your children and grandchildren.” NLT
Remember that Deuteronomy contains Moses’ farewell instructions to Israel. He has led them in the wilderness for 40 years. He endured their complaints and animosity. Moses knew that he would not be able to go with them into the Promised Land. He knew that the daily reminders of God’s presence, the manna, the cloud above, the clothes that would not wear out, would only be memories to be told to future generations. So what does Moses urge for Israel? He says watch out, hang on to the things of God at all costs. In a world hostile to God, the truths of God are prone to slip away and be forgotten.
So how do you hang on to these great truths and the comfort they bring? The warning of Deuteronomy 4:9 is to be careful never to forget God’s mercies to you. It is important, then, to take proactive steps to remember. The combination of hectic schedules, children with widely varying personalities, the ever-present realities of sin and selfishness, and a day with only 24 hours can be overwhelming. In this pressure cooker it is difficult to remember what time it is, let alone the goodness of God. In this environment, discouragement will never be far away. That is why the Holy Spirit says to watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget.
God has provided specific ways to help us remember. Participating in the Lord’s Supper is one of these ways. If you recognize that you are not as grateful as you should be, let me encourage you to try the following idea. Each time your church celebrates the Lord’s Supper, take a few minutes to write down the things you have to be thankful for since your conversion. If it seems too difficult to remember, ask someone close to you to help you. What was the direction of your life before Christ? How has God blessed you? Think about the spiritual mercies extended to you in Christ. How often do you think of the ongoing intercessory work of Christ in your behalf? The Bible says that Christ is your advocate, interceding for you personally before the Father. Once you have a number of things to remember, find a way to keep them fresh in your heart. Put them on a mirror that you see several times a day. Pray prayers of thanksgiving, specifically listing these items. Talk to your children about these mercies of God extended to you. Ask your spouse to join in prayer with you so that you would keep these mercies close to your heart.
Doing this will not add more hours to the day or magically change the attitudes of your children. But it will remind you that God is there for you. It will remind you that Jesus knows and specifically intercedes for you in your weakness, even if you forget to ask him to do so. God is merciful to you. As this reality becomes a daily part of your thinking, the things of God will be less likely to slip away. Your children will begin to see the wonder of God displayed in a parent who is blown away by the love of God. Your words can be pleasant. Your thoughts can be constructive. Christ is committed to help. You can rejoice with Paul when he says:
pray without ceasing,
give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
I Thessalonians 5:16-18