In my quiet time, I am slowly reading through the book of Mark, which is the shortest of the four gospels, but is packed with great stories, teachings, and examples set by Jesus. Mark didn’t mess around with his writing, and as such, often packs quite a punch.
The other day in my study time I was reading Mark 8, which begins with Jesus feeding 4,000 people from a few loaves and fish. This is a repeat miracle since two chapters before, He had done the same thing to a crowd of 5,000.
Walking away from this event we find Jesus being challenged by the religious elite in Israel, demanding to see a sign that He was the Messiah. Then after refusing their demands, getting into a boat with the disciples, He warns them to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees. This is immediately followed by a discussion among the disciples that they forgot to pack bread, and Jesus calls them on it:
And Jesus… said to them, “Why are you discussing the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear? And do you not remember? When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?” They said to him, “Twelve.” “And the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?” And they said to him, “Seven.” And he said to them, “Do you not yet understand?” (Mark 8:14-21 ESV)
Jesus is frustrated with the disciples because even after having spent so much intimate time with them, showing signs, and explaining His parables, they are still so shortsighted and don’t understand His spiritual teachings. As He calls them out on their lack of faith and understanding, things reach a climax when He asks them, “Do you not remember?”
I believe that what was true about the disciples is true about many of us as followers of Christ. We live in the moment and are shaken by every worry and care that comes our way, and all too often we don’t have the mental capacity to remember back on the faithfulness of God to see us through and then to let that build a trust in us toward Him for the cares of today.
We must learn to remember.
If we are to press on as disciples of Christ, the key to our continued perseverance, our spiritual vision and the level of faith we are able to walk in today is intended by God to be connected to our remembering His faithfulness in the past.
I absolutely believe that the testimony of what God has done for us yesterday will give us the faith to believe He will do it again today. In fact, many of the Old Testament Hebrew words translated as “testimony” trace their roots back to another word meaning “do it again.” Therefore, to remember the testimony of the Lord is to believe He will do it again.
If the power of remembering the testimony of the past carries with it the power to provoke God to act again, then it is no wonder that we see many passages in scripture like Psalm 9:1:
“I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart;
I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.”
Even the way most of us do church is centered around remembering God’s faithfulness and His promises to us to be the same forever. We sing songs of His great love. We preach the scriptures which are His written testimony of Himself. He celebrate communion in which we remember His sacrifice, and we baptize new believers as a way of remembering that He died our deserved death for us so that we can live in Him anew today. But do you realize that all of this remembering is what is going to build your faith?
I also believe this is why it is a dangerous attitude to take when we get bored with “hearing the same old stories.” The only reason we get bored or lose interest is because we believe the lie that those stories are for the past. In reality, the Holy Spirit shares those stories with us as a way of showing us what He wants to do again today. What else could be implied by God declaring to us that He does not change (Malachi 3:6)? Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8), and will continue to act on our behalf in the same way He always has.
Where do we begin?
In the Old Testament, remembering God’s testimony always began with the great story of deliverance from Egypt in the book of Exodus. Today, for the new believer in Christ, remembering God’s testimony begins with the grace poured out on the cross, and the deliverance from the curse of sin.
As we continue on, though, in the process of Christian maturity, our faith will grow and be compounded as we remember, not only our salvation, but every act of Grace God has shown in our lives.
Look back over the last weeks or months and try to find any amount of time that God has not been faithful. I would bet that if you are honest with yourself, even in the hardest times in your past, you can see that it was His invisible hand that was pulling you through. He loves us, and He cannot break His promises to be faithful to us according to His word. We must learn to look back and then rest in that.
He wants us to remember. He wants that rememberance to build our faith. And He wants us to pursue Him with the desire for Him to act on our behalf again and again. It doesn’t annoy God or turn Him away from us when we keep coming to Him saying, “again, again!” He wants to be the one desire of our hearts and our only plan for attaining a future.
Let me encourage you right now to take a few minutes and recall the mighty works God has done on your behalf. Perhaps write them down somewhere to keep a visible record. Then let His faithfulness bring you faith and boldness to face the day.