Thought for the Week - 15th DecemberPastor Gareth Watkins
Deuteronomy 26: 6-11
7 we cried out to the Lord, the God of our ancestors.
He heard our cries and saw our hardship, toil, and oppression.
8 So the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a strong hand and powerful arm, with overwhelming terror,
and with miraculous signs and wonders.
9 He brought us to this place and gave us this land flowing with milk and honey!
10 And now, O Lord, I have brought you the first portion of the harvest you have given me from the ground.’ Then place the produce before the Lord your God, and bow to the ground in worship before him.
11 Afterward you may go and celebrate because of all the good things
the Lord your God has given to you and your household.
Remember to include the Levites and the foreigners living among you in the celebration.
We have much to be thankful for in our lives and in our church. We have to be thankful for all the things God has done for us.
We live in a society that doesn’t do that well. Society doesn’t applaud the good things that go on. Society doesn’t give a credit to the good thing that’s going on. For example, if you put the news on, it’s full of negative things with only one little bright story. 99% of the content is negative, with maybe 1% positive at the end of the broadcast to make you smile.
It really should be the other way around. We should be giving thanks for the good things that are going on in society. But society doesn’t do that. Especially when it comes to the blessings of God, society doesn’t acknowledge that; the provisions of God – love, healing, loyalty, friendships etc. All sorts of things that God brings to us as a society, society doesn’t say a thing about.
These things that God has brought to us are very quickly forgotten by society. Our fallen natures forget even the most significant things and we don’t even give thanks. We don’t maintain our thankful position. That thankfulness should remain. We should come from a thankful position, where we remain thankful for that which God has given us.
We can be so caught up in the world that we think like the world and embrace the world. Yet we have to undo ourselves of all that the world is. The world takes you down the wrong path. We need to bring ourselves back to what does God say to us?
Are we thankful to God for the blessings He’s given us, for the provisions He’s given us, for the loyalty and the friendships He’s given us? God has given us so very much. Over the year in our church for example, we’ve seen healings, blessings and salvations. Thankfulness is something we need to embrace. Worshiping God and being grateful and thankful to Him is something we need to reinvigorate in our own hearts.
In the verse above we see a people who know what it is to be mistreated. The Israelites were treated badly by the Egyptians. In that treatment they were socially assaulted, mentally assaulted, and physically assaulted. The Israelites knew what it was like to suffer in many ways. Their response to that suffering was to cry out to God. When they cried out to God, the passage above begins.
The Lord looked upon their affliction and oppression. Over the past year people have gone through illness, grief, relationship issues etc. People have gone through a lot. People have cried out to God and God has come to them. As in that passage, He brought them to a different place. He brought the Israelites to a physical place, but He brings us to a different spiritual place. When we cry out to Him He hears the cries of our hearts.
Moses in the passage above acknowledges what God has done for them. He has brought them to a place. Can you acknowledge where you were and where God has brought you to? He has given them a new land and a new life. Moses to starts to speak of the sinful place that they were in but there was new place with the blessing and the provision of God.
There’s much we need to be thankful for that we aren’t thankful. A façade comes back over and we think we’re okay. Suddenly we start entering a place of sin because of what God has given us. We’re so well off that we think we don’t need God anymore. A sin comes over us like a cloak.
Moses starts to look at where they were, and what God has done for them. He’s instructing them on what to do next. Who can say they’ve cried out to God this year? A lot of us have. Who can say at this moment that God has brought into a different place than when you were when you cried out? Perhaps you’ve cried out for more than one thing or on more than one occasion?
Moses takes the first of the provision and lays it before God. It’s another step. Seeing where you were, crying out, seeing the thing that God has done, but then starting to recognise you are going to bring Him something – our first fruits. We can give of our finances, our energy, our love and/or our time. We can give and not resist Him when it comes to give back something that He has given to us.
Moses tells us if we have been given something, we have a responsibility to give back. Some people in society just take. We can be the same. We just take. We need to stop and start giving back. Moses gives the first fruits. We need to give back something of what we’ve been given by God. Are you giving back to God something that He’s given unto you? Something of the first fruits?
Moses goes one step further and worships God. Is that alien to you, to be thankful to God for what He’s given you? Can you hold what He’s given you before Him and thank Him and worship Him for what He has done?
How much poorer is the church at large because they don’t do this? They come in and leave in the same way as they arrived. They don’t let anything touch them.
He has given us so much more than we can ask or think of. The more we get in this society, the more we expect. The more we are blessed, the more we expect to get blessed. The greater the anointing, the more we expect we should be anointed. Take yourself back a couple of steps and suddenly you’ll wonder where the provision has come from. Has it come from ourselves? No, not at all. It’s come from God. Therefore, why are we so selfish in our thinking and our doing?
Moses says to bring those first fruits, set it before Him and worship God. Thank Him for it and rejoice in every good thing He has given to you.
Do you take God’s provisions for granted? Are we thankful for what He’s given us? Or is it something we deserve?
We have no right and no deserving. God has taken us from a land where we would be afflicted and in bondage, and He’s brought us to a place where we’re receiving of Him. We have a choice. Do we give something back to Him and worship Him in it? Or do we hold it to ourselves? See the provision He has given you, and bring it back to Him. Worship Him and be thankful to Him for it.
The Americans have a week of Thanksgiving. It was started by the Pilgrim Fathers, who left the UK to start a new society in America. These were Godly, Christian people, who wanted to study the Bible in certain way and have a society based on Christian principles. When they arrived in America, they set up their towns and society based on the scriptures. But then tragedy struck. A massive drought hit that was so bad that their corn and provisions withered away. They had a choice to either get back in their boats or pray. They started to pray and cried out to God, exactly as in the passage above. And sweet rain came. Not wild, thunderously rain, but sweet rain. A wild, driving rain would’ve destroyed the crop. But the sweet rain was such a rain that reinvigorated the crop. They were able to harvest and feed themselves. They continue to thank God four hundred years on.
We have much to be thankful for.
Life is real and has constant demands, worries, pressures and struggles. What will we do? In the midst of those things, we can choose to give God thanks. In the middle of the storm and the trouble, we can stop and give God thanks. The choice to give thanks is the total opposite to not giving thanks, where we can’t be bothered or are too tired.
Giving thanks can change the face of God towards you. You’ve turned your face towards Him and He’s there for you in the situation. The situation may not go away, but He will change your heart in such a way that you will not yield or snap, but you will be okay. The Lord Himself will be with you through those troubles and pressures. He will be with you if you turn to Him, give Him thanks and bring Him those first fruits time and time again – when there’s good and when it’s not so good.
Coming to the end of 2019 I’m asking you to think of the good things and bring these things before Him. As the pressures mount over this period, and as the New Year begins, choose to give God thanks in those days that He will be with you and He’s promised to never leave you or forsake you, as you keep your face directed on Him.
David said in Psalm 103 bless the Lord oh my soul, and forget not His benefits. To stop in the middle of the storm and bless Him with all of your heart. In the middle of the doubts, the anxiety and the worry. You can start to turn it around. God will be with you, changing your heart through those days.
Paul said to give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5: 18).
Thank God for His amazing power. Amazing power that will come to you in a more powerful way, to deal with every single thing. Give thanks for His amazing power. Give thanks for His amazing hope. Some of us end this year with hope in our heart, more than we had at the start of the year. Going into 2020 we have hope in our hearts – give thanks to Him for the hope through the toughest times. Give thanks God for the assurance of His grace towards us.
Remember that He loves you.
Will you set your eyes fresh upon Him? Would you praise Him and thank Him?