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Give Thanks!

Happy Thanksgiving. In Deuteronomy 8, Moses teaches the People of God the dangers of prosperity, that in plenty, we often believe we have done the work, rather than thank God for the blessings He has provided. Thanksgiving is a day we GIVE THANKS to God for all that we have, as everything is His.

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Dependence Day

Thanksgiving is a very odd holiday, as everything both in our culture, as a nation, and internally try to celebrate the opposite. The Fourth of July, Independence Day, we love because we love being able to celebrate our independence. Today is Dependence Day.

But few people like to celebrate dependance. People are not happy to depend on others or objects to help them do things that they want to do. I went through this a lot with my dad before he passed in January, who constantly battled depression because he hated depending on others.

Deuteronomy 8 is a sermon on the topic of dependence on God and why it is important for us to regularly set aside times of Thanksgiving to God, and momuments around us to remind us regularly that it is God, and not us, who brings blessings into our lives.

Just like any of us, the Israelites stubborn, “I can do it myself” and “I know what’s best for me” mindset, God’s people ended up taking forty years to walk an area that should have taken less than 40 days.

Forty years passed since the Exodus began. Despite this time with God, they are still far from trusting God, so we have this warning about what God thinks about our attitudes towards independence.

Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands.

He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.

We think 40 years spent with God would be wonderful and relaxing, but the people hated it. The Lord gave them manna to eat, so they would know He was taking care of them, and they complained for years on end. The people were utterly dependent upon the Lord to give their daily bread, and they hated it. Funny thing is, we are all dependent on God for all our needs minute by minute, but don’t always realize it to that level. The Lord looked beyond what the people wanted and gave them what they needed. The Lord put them through a time of testing in order that they would learn, and that we could learn, that we can trust Him.

The desert represents for us a picture of our broken nature. We need forgiveness not just from sins, but from sin, from a broken nature which is inclined to sin. That’s what Christ has done in taking the form of a man, something we should be especially thankful for.

Deuteronomy shows us how the Lord brought the Israelites through the desert in order that they could enter a land of milk and honey. It was a land of beauty and plentiful harvests and a land of great mineral wealth. The people would grow prosperous and plentiful there, and think they had accomplished all these things. This was their warning, which they ignored.

10 When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the LORD your God for the good land he has given you. 12 Otherwise, 17 you may say to yourself, "My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me."

God warns them here not to take the things that he has given them stewardship over, and think those things were their personal possessions, but to remember His hand of provision.

The Scriptures show us time and time again that, just as most people react to testing and dependence on others with grumbling, rather than Thanksgiving, that our reaction to triumph and prosperity is vanity, and attributing to ourselves the works which God has done.

When the Lord brought The Puritans, after landing on Plymouth Rock in 1620, through their trials, and gave them a good harvest, they held a colony wide celebration to “Bless the Lord for what he gave them.”

This was not a Thanksgiving for each other or the Patuxet tribe.

With a healthy fear of God in their hearts, they set aside crediting their personal abilities, their new techniques, and skills, and gave a Thanksgiving to God, a celebration of the bounty that he gave them, a celebration of their dependence upon Him for their food and life.

Every day is a day not just to thank God for the innumerable benefits which he has given us, but to move your heart to see and celebrate your dependence upon Him for both our trials and triumphs. I’ll close sharing President Washington’s Thanksgiving Proclamation of 1789.

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor…

I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November … to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the … Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be-- That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks--for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation--for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable ... Providence which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war--for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed--for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now…instituted--for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; … and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions-- to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually--to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed--to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord--To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us--and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

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