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April 17, Day #108 – The Importance of Being Thankful

Our readings for today provide me personally with much comfort and encouragement. In the Deuteronomy 26-28 passages, we are comforted and encouraged by the record of promises that God made and fulfilled to His people. This section begins with the regulations concerning “the first fruits of all the produce that the LORD God gave to the Israelites” after coming into the land (verse 2). The first fruits speak of thanksgiving. This section includes a brief history of Israel going down into the land of Egypt as a testimony that recognizes the incredible bounty that God provided His people from their very beginnings as a people up to this point. “He brought us to this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey” (verse 9). Such is our own estate. We would always do well to recognize and remember what God has accomplished in our lives. The apostle Paul wrote, “What do you have that you did not receive?” (cf., 1 Corinthians 4:7-8). Everything that we are and have comes to us from the hand of God Who desires that we acknowledge this truth. By doing so, we may freely come before Him and claim the truth of Deuteronomy 26:15 – “Look down from heaven, Your holy dwelling place, and bless your people ….” In chapter 27, we see Moses’ injunction to all the people to “keep all these commands that I give you today” (verse 1), which also included the command to “be silent, O Israel, and listen! You have now become the people of the LORD your God” (verse 9). These commands further included the construction of the altar on Mount Ebal, from which God’s curses would be proclaimed against those Israelites who failed to keep His commands. We see these curses in Deuteronomy 27:15-26. Chapter 28 begins with conditional blessings” “IF you fully obey the LORD your God … all these blessings will come upon you …” (verses 1-2). This section emphasizes that the blessings of the Lord generally come to those who acknowledge Him – His presence, His unfailing love, His provision, His protection, and His desire for obedience. Generally, He promises to bless the “city and the country; the fruit of the womb and the crops of your land; the basket and the kneading trough; their comings and goings; the defeat of their enemies; their barns and their work; and their bounty” (cf., verses 3-14). Here in the United States, we have historically prospered beyond most of “all the peoples on earth” (verse 10) – largely because we have, as a people, acknowledged the truth about God. Today however, we wonder what has happened to our country. Could it be that we have failed to thank Him in recent years?

In Psalm 46, God promises us to be our strength and refuge in troublesome times, which seem practically perpetual (cf., Job 5:7). I simply cannot imagine how people reject God and then try on their own to survive all the troubles around us. This Psalm divides itself nicely into three beautiful sections: [1] He is accessible (verses 1-3); [2] He is ageless (verses 4-7); and [3] He is available (verses 8-11). Verse 10 explains God’s eternal plan: “I will be exalted among the nations; I will be exalted in the earth.” We should always be thankful to God for His reassurance to us that He “is with us and is our fortress” (cf., verses 2 and 11).

In Luke 17:11-37, we are reminded again to remember to express our gratitude to the Lord for all that He does for us. Ten lepers were healed, but only one returned to thank the Lord for what He had done. “Were not all ten cleansed?” (verse 17). Were the other nine not thankful? How hard is it to express thanksgiving? In Romans 1:21, Paul reminds us that God brought judgment on people for their lack of gratitude; God wants us to be thankful because thanksgiving reflects honor and worship for God’s majesty. In this passage, we also learn two aspects about the kingdom of God. (1) The kingdom of God is where the King is; if, by invitation, He resides in our hearts, then the kingdom is “within” (i.e., or among) us. That is the invisible aspect of His kingdom. But there is also (2) a visible aspect of His kingdom - when the King will appear again at His coming, and “every eye shall see Him” (Revelation 1:7). Jesus taught that we must be thankful people.

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