March 8, 2022

The Corrective God Gives, March 6, 2022


Isn’t it odd that we have to be reminded to be thankful
and more than that to express our thankfulness and even
more than that be given rituals to publicly give thanks on
a regular basis?! One of the things we seek to teach our children and
grandchildren and/or the children of our congregations is
to say thank you. And presumably to mean it. Not to
simply put out a thank you without any substance behind
it. Without any glad heart. Without any appreciation.
Without any recognition that whatever is given is a gift
and not a right! It would be misleading to think that its the children and
young people who need the reminding to be thankful!
What about you and me? What about any time in our
lives when we were being given huge gifts? What about
the times when we were needy in some way and God and
God’s people came through generously, graciously, and
serendipitously? The teachings from the Deuteronomy passage were telling
for the day age and experience in which they were first
shared, in the day and age afterward, and in the day and
age you and I are living through!
Moses, God’s teacher for the people of Israel, knew very
well the hearts, minds, and attitudes of the Israelite

people! Those people indeed were demonstrating a
hardness of heart - as the Old Testament scriptures say
elsewhere. Those people were not moved by the mighty acts and
gracious deeds of God! Those people were little effected
by God’s provision, and protection. In fact we could say
those people were more likely to complain of their lot
than give thanks for the God Who went out of His way for
them! Its like the proverbial tale of someone who was fed a
wonderful meal of surf and turf! The lobster melted in
his/her mouth. The steak was ambrosia! What was the
person’s response?! Their body language told the tale. The hands were
clenched. The jaw was tight. The mouth was in a frown.
The provider of the meal held their breathe! Instead of
ignoring the body language and indeed the bad manners
the provider of the feast asked how the person like it?!
You know or should know that I hate lobster. Why didn’t
you serve shrimp?! And the steak didn’t cut it for me
either! I would have preferred prime rib! The vegetables
were limp. The dessert was wanting!

If the provider of the feast had been like Shannon the
person who was complaining would have been adorned
with whatever remained of the salad poured over their
head! Its a wonder God and or people put up with such
behavior! The ethic of entitlement is older than the
scriptures and is sadly alive and well today!
That is at least one of the reasons the ritual shared in the
passage from Deuteronomy was a given to the people of
Israel and to you and me! There was no mention of past
ill behavior. God and Moses took the high road and not
the low road! God through Moses gave the people a wonderful template
for life and worship! In a word they were told to be
thankful, genuinely thankful, and then to express that
thanks in public worship! This ritual was not simply done
once but was repeated on a yearly basis. The people
needed to have the practice of thankfulness reinforced!
Its like what happened at Tai Chi the other night! I went
along to Tai Chi which meets in the Knox gym. Shannon
and I had previously been involved in a Tai Chi group in
Lloydminster some years ago. We’d gotten away from
Tai Chi and became involved other regimen.

When I heard a Tai Chi group was meeting I thought -
now’s the time to reconnect!
In reconnecting I am starting from square one. Yes I
remembered something of the first number of moves in
the Tai Chi set. But I realized that I needed to be
instructed yet again in those moves. Not having done
those moves on a regular basis I had gotten out of the
practice! As the really wonderful instructor at Tai Chi said -
repetition is the great teacher! And he’s right. Whether its
about Tai Chi, the Christian faith life and witness or about
cultivating thankfulness its all the same!
Get into the practice. Do so on a regular basis. Carefully
repeat what’s been learned. And be open to continual
learning! I have no doubt that the people of God from the Old
Testament learned something afresh every time they
embrace the ritual that Moses taught! They learned
something new about God. They learned and embraced
something new about being thankful, giving thanks and
cultivating thankfulness! They learned something
instructive about themselves - to embrace if it was
positive and to delete if it was negative and to seek God
no matter what to say thank You to Him!

If nothing else we can be thankful for God’s teaching,
tweaking, and correcting of us as individuals, families,
congregations, communities, nations, and even the world!
There is nothing that we lack that we need! I’ll repeat
that - there is nothing that we lack that we need or better
put - there is nothing that we lack that God hasn’t already
given us! God holds nothing back!
Most of all God’s pours out His love and cradles us as we
move through the various times of our lives and
ministries! God’s provision and protection is always at
work - not keeping the bad stuff at bay or away from us -
but in giving us the wherewithal to pass through the many
valleys of the shadow of death that presents themselves in
our lives! Its like what the Apostle Paul said to a fledging group of
Christians in a fledgling Christian congregation. Paul told
them that we must pass through many troubles before we
reach the kingdom of God!
Can you imagine the great apostle telling the newly
formed Christians that they were going to continue to face
all the stuff that life throws at us and more>?! That they
weren’t given a free pass through life? That they’d
sometimes have to tough things out and draw on the faith
and each other and God to overcome?!

Can you imagine the honesty, the integrity, and the truth -
that we have to pass through many troubles before we
reach the kingdom of God?! Or better put - we must live
and embrace the ways and means of the kingdom of God
as we pass through the troubles that beset life!
Thankfulness seems at odds when we put it beside
overcoming the troubles of life for the kingdom of God’s
sake! However, think about it this way! The people of
God were on the doorstep of the promised land. There
was much they had to do and much they had to overcome
before they entered and took the promised land!
They were being given the promised land by God. But
they also had to do their part in entering the land and
receiving it! They could have been a glum complaining bunch! Or
they could have genuinely thanked God for bringing them
this far and trusting that God would help them in entering
and possessing the land! They looked at the harvests that
God had preciously given them and could confidently
wait upon the harvests God would yet give. They had
everything they could have possibly needed - family,
friends, community, flocks, herds, possession and most of
all God gifted Himself to them!

They could give thanks to God for God’s faithfulness and
fidelity! What of us? In many ways we are in the promised land
even as we are working with God to create and recreate
something of the promised land for all people here in Red
Deer and across the world! We are praying for wars to
cease and the Russians to come to their senses! We are
working with God to see that people hear the gospel and
feel its blessings in spiritual and practical ways. We are
among God’s people - the sheep of God’s hand and the
people of God’s pasture - as the Psalms say!
Count the blessings! Count the times God has interceded
for you, your family, church, community etc.! Count
what God has done, what God is doing, and what God is
yet to do! I doubt we can count that high! When we count the
blessing we enjoy we can persist in the counting that
would fill up this and every day!
Get a basket. Get a really big basket. Fill it to
overflowing with gifts for God and other people. The
best gifts, the finest, the most sacrificial. And then bring
those gifts and like Moses be able to tell your story about
what God has done and the infinite blessings God gives!

Tell the story often for everyone to hear! A story of
giving and thanksgiving. A story of praise and wonder! A
story that resonates. A story that recreates the day, the
moment, and the time before us!
Thanks be to God for something of God’s word to us