Developing a Spirit of Gratitude (Part 2)
We closed yesterday after reading Moses' words to the nation of Israel in Deuteronomy 8:6-20. Several times Moses stressed the importance of the people revering the Lord, obeying Him, and not forgetting Him.

God had already blessed the people, and He would do so even more abundantly once they entered the Promised Land. Moses explained how easy it would be for the people to forget about God once they had full bellies, beautiful homes, and an abundance of herds, flocks, silver, and gold. In their contented state, they would likely forget about the past struggles that God had carried them through. They would forget that the wonderful lives they were living were all because of God's goodness and generosity toward them. Eventually, they might even sink to the level of thinking that every blessing they had was earned by their own power and might!

The passage concluded with Moses predicting the consequences of forgetting God. If they forgot the Lord and glorified themselves, they would surely perish as a nation--just like the nations that they were about to destroy in Canaan.

Friends, why should we be concerned about Moses' exhortation and warning to God's people over three thousand years ago? The answer: Because men and women today have the same tendencies that the Israelites did then. When I read Deuteronomy 8, it is difficult for me not to think about present day America. Is it not the case that many today who claim to be "Christians" have fallen prey to the same mistake the Israelites of old did? How many think nothing about the Lord, as long as they enjoy a rich lifestyle? How many care anything about where their blessings originate? How many believe that they enjoy abundance in life because of their own power and might?

The older the Israelite nation became, the more corrupt it grew. Eventually, God allowed His people to be conquered by foreigners to punish them for their sins (including their ingratitude). Although I know America is certainly not God's people today--the church is--nevertheless, I cannot help but wonder how long God will put up with this nation (or any nation) who forgets to be thankful! How long will God tolerate a country where many (or perhaps even most) of its citizens practice the worst kind of idolatry: self-worship coupled with thanklessness to God?

Dear listeners, what can be done about the problem of ingratitude that has been around since the beginning? Here are two suggestions: (1) Remember what is of true value; learn once and for all that life does not consist in the abundance of things a man possesses (Luke 12:15). If we truly comprehend that the physical aspects of life are temporary (no matter how much we enjoy them), then that will help us to remember the big picture--including where those blessings came from (and where we will be long after those temporal things are gone). (2) Take time to be thankful everyday. For some that might require creating a list of blessings and organizing them (e.g., physical blessings, spiritual blessings, people who are a blessing to me, etc.). After such a list has been created it can be used as a tool for prayer. Such a list could lead to vain repetition, but it doesn't have to. Once you start creating a list of blessings, you'll find that it is difficult to stop! There are an infinite number of things for which to be grateful for in life. We tend to appreciate things that are new but quickly take them for granted after some time passes. This happens to some Christians spiritually regarding their salvation. They appreciate it at first but later take it for granted--perhaps even coming to the point where they think they've earned a right to a home in heaven!

May we always be mindful of our proper place in life. God is the fountain from which every blessing flows--period. Those who are wise will humble themselves and express their gratitude to the Almighty.