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It is easy to forget – a trait that you and I have, which unfortunately is rarely directed at profitable and proper forgetfulness.  From Adam till now, we have a tendency to listen and then forget what we have heard or have been told, or am I providing an excuse for mankind?  Did Adam forget that God warned him not to eat of the fruit?  Did Noah forget that it was because of the sinfulness of the world that it was destroyed by the flood, so that one of the first actions recorded of Noah after he made a sacrifice of burnt offerings to the Lord[1] is that he planted a vineyard and became drunk after he drank the wine?  Surely drunkenness and carousing were two sins of the many that caused the world to be destroyed.

Perhaps the most famous incident of mass forgetfulness occurred with the generation of Israelites who came out of Egypt.  At Marah, three days after they witnessed the miracle of the Red Sea, they had forgotten that it was in answer to their prayers and cries to the Lord that they stood at the place of bitter waters.  They and we forget that when we stand at the edge of bitter waters that we are there because we cried out to God and He delivered us.  We forget so early about all the wrong things.  We forget the commandments.  We forget why we were chosen out of the world.  We forget that it was because we cried out to God that He delivered us out of Egypt. 

As soon as we stand beyond the event, we forget.  Unfortunately, we do not forget things that should be forgotten.  Adam did not forget that Eve gave him the fruit, but blamed her.  Noah did not forget that Canaan saw him naked and he cursed him, whilst conveniently forgetting that Canaan could only have seen him naked because he was drunk in the first place.  And the Israelites did not forget the food they had in Egypt.  We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost—also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic.”[2]  But they forgot the most important thing.

As such, as you and I stand at the edge of the Kingdom of God who is Success personified, it is a timely warning that you and I have the unkind trait to forget the wrong things and remember the wrong things, and so grief God.  Have you ever considered how God felt when the Israelites said, “We remember the fish…” but forgot the slavery and as they stood at Marah, they would ask a question like, “What are we to drink?”[3] 

Yet one of the greatest thorns in all your flesh, mine included, as well as Paul’s, is that we will refuse to forget our sins, our failures and the sins of those who have sinned against us, even though love covers over all wrongs[4] and God has forgotten our sins after He has forgiven them.  If there is an area of which demands continuous repentance is our ability to forget the things we should remember and to remember the things we should forget.  One of the greatest tests of your Godliness, that is your Godlikeness, is your ability to remember what ought to be remembered and to forget what ought to be forgotten.

I say this now to all of us as a warning because the Lord is answering our cry for deliverance and it will involve a period whereby after great signs and wonders, there will be a three and a half day march into the desert to face bitter waters.  Remember when you stand at the waters of Marah, you are there because God answered your prayers and cries for deliverance.

Our introverted selfish view of our situations and circumstances, something common to all, will cause us to forget the price paid by the One who succeeded.

You will forget if you have not experienced this already and even if you have, you will experience it again and again, that the purpose of eternal life is that you may know the only true God and Jesus Christ whom He sent.[5]  Many realise too late that this also involves going through what He has gone through, even if it is only in part, and part of that knowing includes coming to know the price He paid for His success.  Although in His kindness and holiness, He will not expect you to die as He did, although great are the numbers of martyrs who were killed and crucified for their testimony.  It is never quite the full price.  You must wonder how many of the martyrs would have thought, “What is happening to me?  How could God allow this?” and we forget what we asked for.  We say words and prayers so loosely, “I want to come to know You,” and, “I want to serve You,” and, “I want to follow You,” so lightly that we rarely count the cost.

Like Peter, we will want to die for Him and be with Him and never deny Him, and like Peter, you and I will deny Him and run away if He had not pinned us down so that we would not be proved liars and cowards.

The hard teachings are over and the harder teachings are here.  You who want to dwell with God, have you ever considered what it is to dwell in the deep darkness?  Could you endure it in silence with the pain of the cross tearing you apart?  It is best that we should stand from afar and watch, for surely we will be proved liars if we now say, “Yes, we want to be where You are.”

So do not boast and do not be quick to answer the Lord anymore.  And even as the Red Sea parts, consider whether the swords of the Egyptians would be better than a miraculous passage through the sea, for to perish at the swords of the Egyptians would have saved them a sentence of 40 years of aimless wandering and millenniums of ridicule by all who followed them.

So at the edge of the Land of Success, when all that has been written about this time will be fulfilled because you dared pray and cry out to the Father for justice for Jesus, it is a most opportune time to ask yourself, “You do not want to leave too, do you?”[6]  It is no disgrace to remain where you are and go no further.  You are saved and eventually New Heavens and New Earth will await you.  But to go on, remember the waters of Marah came before the crossing of the Jordan in triumph. 

Why such dark warning, just as we stand on the edge of the Land of Success?  Because you must know and understand this about each other now, that you will forget the things that you ought not to forget and remember the things that you should forget in the days to come.  Expect that behaviour from yourself now and those you stand shoulder to shoulder with now before it happens, so that when it does happen, it will not surprise you and deprive you of your goal.  If you love one another now or are trying to as Christ loved you, then forgive one another now as Christ forgave the eleven before they deserted Him.

Just before His greatest battle and ultimate triumph and therefore success, Jesus said, “You believe at last!  But a time is coming, and has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home.  You will leave Me all alone.  Yet I am not alone, for My Father is with Me.”[7]  So that when they did desert Him, He had already told them and above all else had forgiven them.  They believed at last in John 16:31-32 and a few hours later they were all gone.

The Israelites stood on the opposite side of the Red Sea and saw the Egyptians drowned and wiped out.  It is written: And when the Israelites saw the great power the LORD displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the LORD and put their trust in Him and in Moses His servant.[8]  A few days later, they grumbled against Moses saying, “What are we to drink?”  They forgot that at least they were there because they did not have to drink the waters of the Red Sea. 

If there is anything that you must practise now is to not forget what you should remember and to forget what you should not remember.  Repentance and forgiveness of the sins of forgetfulness and unforgetfulness are two things that you must preach to yourself and practise now.  For at the edge of success, you will forget to remember and remember what you ought not to remember.

Adam, just when dominion was given to him, forgot.  Noah, just as the entire Earth was given to him, forgot.  Israel, as they stood three days into their journey of freedom, forgot.  The disciples, a few hours later into the night, forgot why and how they got there and the price God paid for them to be there.

Do not forget you are here to come to know Him and He chooses the way for you to come to know Him, and do not forget the price He paid to get you here.

As I have said, Jesus’ success opened the door for the Father to pour out His Holy Spirit on all flesh.  We have read it and preached it, but did we ever consider the price paid, and even as we did, we too often looked at Jesus’ and the Father’s price only, always, I say always, forgetting the price paid by the Holy Spirit.  If we are to worship God in the fullness of Spirit and truth, then the Holy Spirit should be and must be worshipped even as we worship the Father and Son, otherwise our worship is incomplete.  Yet, what is worshipped of the Holy Spirit that would not offend Him, the Invisible One, who is always listening and doing that which He has been asked to do without complaint?  Would it please the Holy Spirit to have His Name lifted with the Father and Son or would it not please Him more to have an elect who understands Him and worships Him in secret, in Spirit and in truth.

In the spirit of the question and true humility that comes from knowing that we have never considered the price He paid to sacrifice His holiness, that He is poured out on all flesh, even flesh that has not believed and accepted the blood of the Lamb of God.  It is not as if He was poured out only on flesh that has been cleansed by the blood of the Lamb through repentance and faith.  No, He was poured on all flesh, including those who refuse to repent.

So as much as you and I will do what our forefathers did (Adam, Noah, Israel and the eleven) and seek to defend our righteousness because we forgot the commandment, we forgot the deliverance, we forgot the revelation, we forgot we prayed for more of Him… it will do well now to acknowledge that our sinful nature continues to wage war and that we will do the things we know we ought not to and not do the things we ought to, as our brother the apostle Paul put it so eloquently in Romans 7.  And before we enter the Land of the Promised Time of Success, we need more than ever the Spirit of Grace.

The graciousness of the Holy Spirit shows itself the most in the enormity of His successes when He has prevailed and overcame.  Who knows of the distaste that the Spirit of Holiness may have for sinful flesh, which is not yet washed clean by repentance and faith in Christ’s blood?  Yet He overcame and allowed Himself to be poured on all flesh and has remained on all flesh since the day of the outpouring until the day when He will be taken out of the way, and like Jesus, will no longer be seen by those He had tried to teach and comfort, just as Jesus did withdraw to Gethsemane with His elect for a short period.  Unlike in the Garden, which was a period of weakness and powerlessness, this period of withdrawal will be a period of power and strength and success, but not as you or the world would call success.  Who has ever been through days of distress unequalled since the foundation of the Earth?  No one.

But we know of the behaviour of those who went through their days of distress – Noah, Israel and the disciples.  They forgot what they should have remembered and remembered what they should have forgotten.  Likewise, be assured that you and I are no different.  When we go through our days of distress and especially as we pass through them, we may forget what we ought to remember and remember what we ought to forget.  Even now, we should pray that we are not led into such temptations, but be delivered from it, for will we be able to survive the temptation to be idolised as gods when we display the power we have received to rescue and deliver the multitudes that are in the days of distress?

What will your attitude be?  Will it be cavalier at the triumph, and grumbling and faithless at the bitter waters?  If you find Jesus to be difficult to see now, consider this: did Jesus rejoice at the feeding of the 5000?  Did He rejoice at the raising of Lazarus?

Our success will mean the demise of others.  Is it the time to rejoice?  The teaching is hard and will get harder so that the success will be greater, but do we rejoice?  Remember that our ministry exists because of the failure of others, so consider carefully the price of success and understand the humility of the Holy One.

With this in mind and in your heart, then enter the Kingdom of God who is Success and is successful in all that He does so that all who abide in Him and in whom abides His word cannot but succeed even to being perfect and merciful.

Remember that it is those who hear His words and put them into practice who are like a wise man who built his house on the rock, not those who hear His words and believed it.  You believe you can walk on water like Jesus did because of what He said in John 14:12, but have you practised it?  Too often, you and I mistake the word ‘practise’ for the word ‘try’.  Many try and fail and turn away, others try and succeed and run off into the ambushes of the enemy.  Practising is not trying, practising is practising until the game is over and there is no more to do.

The Israelites tried to build a second temple after they came back from exile, and after laying down the temple floor, they left it unfinished for years.  You have tried to do the things and have had some degree of success.  Now, will you continue to practise or will you forget how you got here and why you got here, just like our forefathers?  Was it not the desire of your heart to know the more of God that you now face the harder and hardest teachings?  Then, let your heart be true and stay the course and learn the price God paid for success in you. 


 

[1] Genesis 8:20

[2] Numbers 11:5

[3] Exodus 15:24

[4] Proverbs 10:12

[5] John 17:3

[6] John 6:67

[7] John 16:31-32

[8] Exodus 14:31

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