Waynedale United Methodist Church
Monday, March 30, 2020
Making Disciples of Jesus for the Transformation of the World!

Nov 13, 2016 Sermon

“What to Forget”
Genesis 19:1 - 3, 12 – 26
Ted Jansen November 13, 2016  Waynedale UMC
1.)        It is important to forget…  It is vital to forget…  It can transform your life to forget…
Scarlett Lewis' son, Jesse, was killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, the biggest school shooting in U.S. history. At first, she said, she felt like her anger sapped all her strength and energy. She was angry at the shooter and at the mother for unwittingly arming him. But she made a choice to forgive.
She said, "Forgiveness felt like I was given a big pair of scissors to cut the tie and regain my personal power. It started with a choice and then became a process." She urged mourners at Jesse's funeral to change their angry thoughts into loving ones, that thereby they might change the world.
2.)        It is important to forget…  It is vital to forget…  It can transform your life to forget…
            Our scripture from Genesis 19 is the story of Lot and his wife and what happened when one of them was not willing to forget.    
            In Genesis we discover that two angels have come to bring destruction to Sodom because of their evil.  When they come to the town Lot meets them and tell them to come inside, because it isn’t safe to be outside.  They come in and have a meal.  
            The men of the town come late at night and ask Lot to bring the two men outside so they can do evil things with them.  Lot refuses and the men want to break into his home and take them.  The angels strike the men with blindness and then tells Lot and his family that they must leave town now.  
            The angels take the hands of Lot, his wife and their two daughters and lead them out of the city.  It is a scary time.  Once they were out of the city one of the angels speaks these words to all of them.  We read these words in Genesis 19:17, “Flee for your lives!  Don’t look back, and don’t stop anywhere in the plains!  Flee to the mountains or you will be swept away.” 
            Lot pleads with the angel to be able to run to a small town nearby, Zoar, to find safety, and the angel agrees, but only if they run quickly.  
            So, all four of them are running quickly to this little town as burning sulfur comes from the heavens and begins destroying Sodom, Gomorrah, the plains, the people and living plants.  
            One person fails to heed the word of the angel.  One person cannot forget what is behinds them.  We read these words in Genesis 19:26, “But Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.” 
            Lot’s wife did not want to forget.  She looked back to see what she had lost, she looked back to remember, she looked back even though she was warned.  Looking back caused her to lose her life.  Lot’s wife needed to be a forgetful woman.     
3.)        This story of Lot’s wife, who looked back and died, is an extreme one as it relates to the consequences. Why do people tend to look back in life, why do they do this?  Perhaps you have met people who look back, or you have lived your life looking back more than looking forward.    
            Sometimes this happens because we have some pain in our lives and from time to time it has caused us to feel or dead to our present life.  How can we forget the pain we have experienced?     
            How can a woman forget the pain of her best friend marrying her husband after a rough divorce?  How can a person come back to worship after there has been some conflict that led to some hurt feelings?  How can a woman forget her inner pain after having an abortion years ago?  How can a man forget that he was raped by a family member when he was young?  How can some people forget the pain that was and is very real in their heart and soul?
            These true conversations that I have had over the years are some of the heavier ones that people have dealt with, that is for sure.  But if the hurt appears to be small but it feels heavy to us we still have to find a way to forget.
            As we think of why we look back let me offer four steps to being able to forget. In order to forget we must feel, we must forgive, we must focus, we must fulfill.  
4.)        In order to forget we must feel.  Feel.  That word tells us that the feeling of pain is real and important.  Pain is a teacher to us.  When we feel pain we pay attention.  When you get close to a hot stove and feel heat you stay away. 
            The first step to forgetting our past and pain is to express pain in healthy ways.  We have to feel the pain.  We should not pretend our pain is not there.     
            What do you need to feel and how do you need to express it?  
5.)        In order to forget we must forgive.  Forgiveness.  This word reveals a hard path to follow.  We express the pain of the hurt that we have and we choose to forgive the person for their act that has caused suffering to us.            Here is a story of forgiveness. 
Christy Jones thought her marriage was perfect until the day she received an email from a woman she had never met. "You don't know me, but I am no longer dating your husband ... I'm sorry for any pain I caused your family," the email read.
"I felt paralyzed," Christy told RealSimple.com, recalling the exact moment she read those words. Battling her denial, she called her husband at work, and he eventually admitted it was true. Adrian had had a four-month relationship with a woman he'd met at his job as a car salesman.
"Forgiving him was the hardest thing I've ever had to do," said Christy. "But his honesty made it easier." The two later went on to renew their wedding vows, and Christy said that today, "Our marriage is stronger for it. I have no regrets."
            Who do you need to forgive?  
6.)        In order to forget we must focus.  Focus.  This word means to re-direct our lives.  We can forget the past when we have something positive to focus on.  We live better when we have something positive to look forward to.  We need a goal of how we can give to another person in a positive way.  Don’t look back but look ahead and see what God has placed in front of you. 
            One example of focus is the focus that Thomas Edison had as he was trying to invent the light bulb.  He “failed” hundreds of times.  He got discouraged with the results, but kept trying, trying and trying until he discovered how to invent a light bulb.  He was able to do this because of his focus on the goal. 
            When a farmer plants a field and wants straight rows what do you think is the best way to do it?  By looking back?  By looking at the ground right in front of the tractor?  Or by looking at a point in the distance to focus on.  I believe when we have a focus ahead of us it helps us to forget the past. 
            Where do you need a positive focus in your life? 
7.)        In order to forget we must fulfill.   Fulfill.  This word blesses us and others as we use our life.  We can forget the past when we have a sense of fulfillment in our lives because of our purpose.  I believe that each of us has a unique divine purpose for your life.  When we are doing what our divine purpose is we are fulfilled.  The past is a tool to learn from as we invest in the future through our purposeful life. 
            I know that a part of my purpose in life is to have children, youth or adults go to camp to experience Christ.  That is how I came to Christ and it is a part of my purpose.  I have fulfillment in my life when that happens.  I forget the past as I invest in my purpose. 
            How are you fulfilling your purpose?
8.)        I have some Dead Sea water this morning.  I collected the Jordan River and the Dead Sea water.  As I share some facts about the Dead Sea I want you to consider your life and if you are looking back or are you forgetting. 
The Jordan River starts in the mountains in the north and flows into the Sea of Galilee.  From the Sea of Galilee it flows into the Dead Sea.  The Jordan River brings life to the land.  It was in the Jordan were Jesus was baptized.   The Jordan flows into the Dead Sea, which is the lowest place on the planet.  It is 600 feet below Sea Level.  The water doesn’t flow out of the Dead Sea.  It collects all the water and all the mineral content of the area into it.  The Dead Sea might have been around the area where Sodom and Gomorrah might have existed.  We don’t know. 
            The salinity content of the Dead Sea is 33%. This is almost 10 times saltier than the ocean.  If you would compare this to Lake Michigan and Huron it is 350,000 saltier than those lakes.  
            The Dead Sea holds the toxins and minerals.  It cannot get rid of the minerals. They evaporate, but then this allows the minerals to stay in the water.  
            The interesting thing about the Dead Sea is that you cannot sink in the water.  You float on top of the water.  It also means that when the water goes on your skin it seals up your pores.  You don’t feel the cold when you are in the water.  There is no life in it.  That is why they call it “dead.”      
            You will have an opportunity to touch the Dead Sea and let it remind you of what can happen when you hold all of the pain, hurt, brokenness and suffering that inside of your spirit.  Your spirit will become toxic and no life can be produced from your spirit.  
9.)        If you have trouble forgetting and looking ahead then listen to Paul’s word to the church at Ephesus.  We read in Philippians 3:13, 14 these words.  “But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” 
            Paul says forgetting what is behind he strains to what is ahead and presses on.   
11.)      Another verse I want to share is Hebrews 8:12.  This might be more important to us as we think about the importance of forgetting.  I have some Good News that can offer us hope.  As we think of the Lord and our personal relationship with the Savior we can be thankful that we serve a forgetful God. 
            What do I mean by that?  In Hebrews 8:12 we read this verse.  (This is a direct reference from Jeremiah 31:34.)  “I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” 
            That verse teaches us that God is a forgetful God.  When we come before God and we confess our sin God will forgive us our sin.  When God forgives then God cannot remember the sin anymore.   God is forgetful.  That is good news. 
            We might struggle and remember our sin but God cannot remember a sin that has been forgiven.  That is a great gift to each of us.  So, we need to be forgetful just like God is.       
            Let me ask these four questions again and guide you in a time of prayer. 
What do you need to feel and how do you need to express it?   Who do you need to forgive?   Where do you need a positive focus in your life?  How are you fulfilling your purpose?