Many times we speak about the past. We talk about “the good ole times.” We may speak of the cost of things when we were children, and compare them to today’s prices. For example, this scribe, born November 8, 1942, remembers when soft drinks were five (5) cents each. One might talk of things enjoyed or owned in the past. Styles of various sorts may be joyous to remember. A number of memories may be fun to recall. Perhaps these few thoughts have caused you to remember some things.
We must remember that the past is exactly that, and that we now live in the present world. The past is gone, and we live in the here and now. This is especially true spiritually. Christian, you cannot live in the past. It is good to remember former experiences, but we must deal with the present. The Hebrew writer called upon the readers to “call to remembrance the former days,….” (Hebrews 10:32). However, the same writer in the same context reminded them of the present. Cf. immediate context of verse 32, and the book of Hebrews as a whole. Consider a few applications. Take time to add others.
First, Christians need to remember when they decided to follow Jesus, when they were baptized into Christ (Galatians 3:26, 27), when they called upon His name. (Romans 10:13). Remember how careful you were to do His will, and to be an example to others. Comp. 2 Corinthians 7:11. You were eager to learn more as a newborn babe in Christ. (1 Peter 2:2). You grew in grace and in the knowledge of Jesus. (2 Peter 3:18). You continued in the things you had learned and been assured of. (2 Timothy 3:14). You believed Jesus, who said, “If you continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed.” (John 8:31). You sought to be faithful until or unto death (Revelation 2:10; Mark 13:13), even if it meant dying for the cause of Christ as did Paul (2 Timothy 4:6-8), Antipas (Revelation 2:13), and so many others. (Hebrews 11:32-40). These verses do not speak of the many who have died since inspiration was closed. It is good to remember one’s past faithfulness; however, we must continue to be stedfast. (1 Corinthians 15:57, 58; 1 Timothy 4:16). “I” need to remember the past. “I” need to presently live properly.
Second, as a Christian I may have taught and baptized others into Christ, whereby they were saved by His precious blood. (Romans 5:9; 1 Peter 1:19; Revelation 1:5). This may bring happiness, good and joyous memories. Great! It should! However, the question now centers around how long it has been since “I” have taught someone the saving gospel of Christ (Romans 1:16), bringing them to “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29; Acts 22:16). What am “I” now doing? Bringing one to Christ years ago is fine, but what about the lost masses today? Jesus told His apostles to go teach and preach His word to every creature in every nation, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost (Mark 16:15, 16; 28:18-20), which they were faithful to do. (Colossians 1:23). Obedience to the Lord’s will spread the gospel from Jerusalem to where you lived. That enabled you to hear the word and develop faith (Romans 10:17), repent of sins (Luke 13:3, 5), confess Jesus (Acts 8:37), and be baptized into Christ. (Galatians 3:26, 27). Will “I” be as faithful to preach the gospel to those of my day? “I” cannot rest upon my laurels! “I” must work today.
Third, there needs to be more preachers like N. B. Hardeman. He was a diligent student of the word of God. It is no wonder that many called him the prince of preachers. Nearing the end of his life he was still studying, feeling that he had but skimmed the surface of the scriptures. He knew much, if not all of the word, by memory. You may have studied much, but what about now? Do you continue to search the scriptures? (John 5:39). Or, do you seek to preach from the overflow? The overflow will soon over flow. You will be like the preacher whose elders told him he was not studying. He responded, “That is an insult to me.” They replied, “We cannot help it; it is showing up in your preaching.” You can fool some of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time. Continuous, diligent, and honest study will keep such from happening. This writer heard Robert R. Taylor, Jr, preach six (6) masterful sermons in a series of Gospel Meetings at the West Concord Church of Christ, October 7-10, 2018, at age 87. He had no Bible or notes before him, yet he preached 30-40 minutes in each sermon, recalling the points and scriptures. How could he continue to do this? For most of his life he has been dedicated to a study of the word, and has read the Old Testament through once yearly, and the New Testament monthly for over half of his life. All of this is in addition to his lectures, gospel meetings, writings, full-time work, counselling, taking calls from preachers and others, and so on, enlightens one as to how he can do what he does. Grow until you die.
Fourth, aged men and women, recall the many things you have done through the years. However, do not allow Satan to deceive you into taking a vacation for the rest of your time upon this planet. The good church at Chapman, near Ripley, Mississippi, has a number of eighty and ninety year old members who are still able to attend services, and do! As you grow older, be like Simeon and Anna, who sought to see Jesus before they died. (Luke 2:25-39). Be like those of Genesis 5 and 11, who did not allow years to separate them from the love of God. Comp. Romans 8:35-39. Do the will of God until you leave this life.
Fifth, some are hindered from assembling to worship as they once did. This may be due to any number of things over which they now have no control. Remember warmly the services you were able to attend and take part in some capacity, whether publicly, in singing, or some other. However, continue to do whatever you can. One brother who was confined to his bed called people in the community, and asked them to come visit him. He played the preacher’s sermons. At last report he had been responsible for some 150 baptisms from his bed. Do what you can. Do not allow the devil to discourage you. Send cards, tracts, make calls, play or send tapes, pray, encourage, and much more.
Sixth, the married need to remember the past. They also need to take care of the present. Remember how deeply in love you were. That love should have grown tremendously over the years. Do not be like the man who no longer told his wife that he loved her, because he told her that he loved her when they were married, and that he would let her know if that changed. Love should be shown in word and deed. (1 John 3:18; 1 Corinthians 13:4-8). Saying, “I love you,” followed by actions of love will never grow old, and will help to secure marriages. One man sought advice on how to save his marriage. He was told to tell his wife he loved her as soon as he entered the house. He did so, but she began to cry furiously. He asked her what was wrong. She replied, “Our son broke his leg; the dog tracked mud all over the floor; I broke my mother’s favorite dish; I burned the meal; and now you come home drunk!” Husbands, would your wife be shocked if you said, “I love you”? Wives, would your husband be startled if you said, “I love you”? Marriages should never be entered into lightly. Neither should marriages be taken for granted. Remember the good times. However, do not forget to take care of the present. Your marriage is in your hands, husbands! wives!
Remember, it is not what you have done, BUT what you are doing that counts. Some had done many wonderful works in the name of Jesus; however, Jesus told them that He never knew them. (Matthew 7:21-23). If this is true, and it is, how much more is it true of God’s people. Peter described those who “have escaped the pollutions of the world” and “are again entangled therein”, those who “have known the way of righteousness” but have turned “from the holy commandment,” as a dog returning to his own vomit, or a washed hog returning to the mire. (1 Peter 2: 20-22). Perhaps God said it best through Ezekiel (Ezekiel 1:1-3), telling the people who no longer did God’s will that their prior righteousness would not save them. (Ezekiel 18:19-32, especially, verse 24). One must continue to do God’s will.
We shall see the King some day. Today, He is our Savior. (Ephesians 5:23; Titus 3:5, 6). When we see Him, when He comes again, He will be our Judge. (2 Timothy 4:1; Acts 10:42; 17:30, 31).
What am “I” doing? When He judges me by His word, what will He say? Will it be “Well done” and “Come”? (Matthew 25:21, 23, 34). Or, will He say, “I never knew you” and “Depart”? (Matthew 25: 41; 7:23). Where will you go for eternity? (Matthew 25:46). If you need to make changes, now is the time. Get in touch with the one who gave you this tract, or call or write to the one below.