My people, hear my teaching; listen to the words of my mouth. I will open my mouth with a parable; I will utter hidden things, things from of old—things we have heard and known, things our ancestors have told us. We will not hide them from their descendants; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done.Psalm 78:1-4
I’m not sure if you know this or not, but Inwood Bank has been the bank for Divine Peace for about 25 years. They have told us that they will offer free banking to all our members, without minimums or other charges. So, let’s say you open up a new account and it’s time to set up your on-line banking and ATM password. Let’s see, do I pick my birthday? No, too easy for hackers. My nickname? Mine was FISH and you need at least 6 letters and 1 number. How about my current street address? No, that, too seems too easy for hackers. How about my childhood address? Yay! 2004Briarcliff! Sure! I can remember that! Done!
About a week later on Saturday I’m going to meet a bunch of friends at Bible on Tap and stop by the ATM for cash. I insert my card and the screen asks for my password. I pause. I know what it is….. and type in my birthday. Nope and the screen says, “Password invalid.” Okay, maybe my nickname and type in FISH! Nope, that didn’t work either. “Password invalid!” I should have written it down but I knew it would be obvious, so obvious that you’d never forget. Okay- nervously I punch in my address 8317Victory and….”Password Invalid. See bank during business hours to retrieve your card.” That’s not good. So I stomp off to my car, leaving my wallet on top of the ATM machine where a homeless man will find it, keep it, and use it. Not a good day. All because I forgot my password.
Today the Psalmist is inspired to write about the passWORD of holy Scriptures! With students and teachers from our Calvary Lutheran School, today is a perfect Sunday to remember the importance of hearing, learning, and teaching God’s Word to the next generation and the help we have so we
Don’t Forget our passWORD!
1. Learn God’s Word
According to the words of Psalm 78 the people of the Old Testament times locked themselves out of God’s blessings because they forgot the passWORD. “They forgot what he had done, the wonders he had shown them. He did miracles in the sight of their ancestors in the land of Egypt” (Psalm 78:11, 12). Forgetting to worship and thank the Lord is much worse than losing your library card or Google User ID. Google wants your attention! God wants your soul. He wants you to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength” (Deut 6:5). That means you love GOD first with your skills, time, attention, love, money, and every fiber of your being. According to the warning of Psalm 78 the people shamefully learned what they thought was important for their personal priorities, rather than thankfully giving into God’s personal priorities. So, Psalmist graphicly portrays “They ate till they were gorged—he had given them what they craved. But before they turned from what they craved, even while the food was still in their mouths, God’s anger rose against them; he put to death the sturdiest among them, cutting down the young men of Israel” (Ps 78: 29-31). There is no wriggle room here: God’s demands perfect obedience to his holy Word and to foolishly put aside his Word is to put yourself in the sights of God’s Holy anger.
So, we hear all too often, “Oops! I forgot my confirmation verse. I forgot to read my Bible. I want God’s blessing, but I don’t want to follow his Word, worship him or even thank him. I forgot how God promises to strengthen my faith in Bible Class, or my kid’s faith in Kingdom Kids, or my family’s faith by using a Christian Education system such at Calvary Lutheran School.” Are we doing each other a favor by dismissing these memory lapses? I mean we easily learn to check our line-ups for our Fantasy Football Teams, our positions in the stock market, or remembering to use our Kohls cash before it expires! Children remember their time for their favorite TV show, but can’t remember the time to do their math homework. But, if we forget our eternal passWORD, then we need to hear the warning of Psalm 78 to once again to learn the precious truths of God’s Word! The great thing is that God is always willing to help us
2. Remember God’s Word
You know when I set up my profile for the account, they asked me to set up a profile by asking 3 security questions that only I know the answers for. Then, when I forget my password the site asks me those questions and after answering them, the site remembers me and reminds me of the password. When sinners like you and me forget God’s passWORD he doesn’t lock us out, but remembers who we are. He remembers that we belong to him by our baptism. God knows that we wear the robe of Jesus’ righteousness and the Holy Spirit goes to work through God’s Word to resurrect in us a new life. Listen, “In spite of all this, they kept on sinning; in spite of his wonders, they did not believe. So he ended their days in futility and their years in terror. Whenever God slew them, they would seek him; they eagerly turned to him again. They remembered that God was their Rock, that God Most High was their Redeemer….their hearts were not loyal to him, they were not faithful to his covenant. Yet he was merciful; he forgave their iniquities.” Do you see what God did? He remembered! He remembered their sins and his solution. His solution was his Son, Jesus, who never forgot the passWORD, who made God’s Word his number one priority while serving to save you. God will never forget the passWORD!
Dear Christian friends, we might forget God’s passWORD. When you do that is the time to turn in repentance to God because he remembers who you are. God graciously offers the security questions: He asks, “Why did Jesus die?” The answer! Because he paid for all my sins. “Why did Jesus rise?” The answer! To show his power of sin, death and the devil. “Why is Jesus coming back again? The answer! To take me to live with him in heaven. Do you see the point? God remembers you, loves you, forgives you, and wants you to love, thank and remember him, too. So, he may very well intervene in your life with events that hurt you, frustrate you, or even drive you to your knees, all so that you reach out for him so he can refresh the passWORD for you! Then you will be rejuvenated to once again
3. Use God’s Word
Having God’s Word at your disposal provides you with the security you need against the enemies of God and your faith. Why would you enter into spiritual battle with a butter knife, when the Holy Spirit is offering you a sword? The Psalmist gives us a great example of someone who needed God’s promises—King David. “He chose David his servant and took him from the sheep pens; from tending the sheep he brought him to be the shepherd of his people Jacob, of Israel his inheritance. And David shepherded them with integrity of heart; with skillful hands he led them.” You all know how skillfully King David meditated on God’s Word, and then depended on God’s promises just like you, yes, to take up the sword of God’s Word against all the forces of evil. Sharpen your memory of his weapons and promises. Sharpen your skills to use God’s Word at small group Bible study, Sunday morning Bible Study, and family discussions about God’s passWORD.
There are some very practical applications to use God’s Word. There are the obvious uses I just mentioned. Many of you already have done this, but there are several apps for your smart phone that can give you speedy access to the power of God’s Word. For instance, there is the Gateway Bible, or Holy Bible App where you can search passages pertaining to the situation at hand. You can also put the WELS app on your phone that has a Q & A section filled with tons of searchable questions that have already been asked. And if your question isn’t listed, you can ask the question and a pastor or professor trained in God’s Word will give you a godly answer. We are also offering to you in February at our Grow Conference what is called “Apologetics.” This means our faith is based on facts, and not on faith itself. That means we need to always be ready to knock down the arguments hostile to God’s Word and Christianity and present positive arguments which point people to Christ! That’s the final point from Psalm 78 today. Let’s not forget our passWORD, yes, share God’s Word so others will also know the passWORD.
4. Share God’s Word
So, why do you think it would be unwise for me to share my bank account passwords with you right now? I get it. But, what happens if I don’t share my passwords with anybody, not even my wife, and if I get hit by a bus! So, I’m guessing that you agree that some passwords are worth sharing, but NONE worth more than the passWORDs of God’s Bible. “My people, hear my teaching; listen to the words of my mouth. I will open my mouth with a parable; I will utter hidden things, things from of old—things we have heard and known, things our ancestors have told us. We will not hide them from their descendants; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done.” Will your son or daughter, your nephew of niece, your god-child forget the power and wonders of God while they attend college, when considering their life-long spouse, when considering whether to purchase a house close to church or far away? The best time to address these issues is when our children are young. Now is the time to display good Bible reading habits at home. Now is the time to bring them to Kingdom Kids. Now is the time to talk to your children about Jesus. Now is the time to commit. And if you’ve tried, now is the time to try again. Use God’s Word so they will know God’s passWORD!
If you decide to open up accounts at Inwood Bank, great! But, be sure to use really safe passWORDS. That’s because identity theft continues to be one of the fastest growing crimes according to the FBI. To recover from identify theft takes about 500 hours, can cost thousands of dollars and half of those affected often spend over 2 years to until there is a solution (Dave Ramsey). You’ve all heard the commercials… the best solution is prevention and the best prevention includes using strong passwords. So, how about your secure relationship with God? How about a life that is safe and reassuring? I’d think you’d never want to forget that passWORD! That would be God’s Word. Seems to me you’d want to learn God’s Word, remember God’s Word, use God’s Word and yes, share God’s passWORD, “JESUS#1” with as many people as you can. Amen!