“Listen, O heavens, and I will speak! Hear, O earth, the words that I say! Let my teaching fall on you like rain; let my speech settle like dew. Let my words fall like rain on tender grass, like gentle showers on young plants. I will proclaim the name of the Lord; how glorious is our God! He is the Rock; his deeds are perfect. Everything he does is just and fair. He is a faithful God who does no wrong; how just and upright he is! “But they have acted corruptly toward him; when they act so perversely, are they really his children? They are a deceitful and twisted generation.”
Is this the way you repay the Lord, you foolish and senseless
people? Isn’t He your Father who created you? Has He not made you and established you? Remember the days of long ago; think about the generations past. Ask your father, and he will inform you. Inquire of your elders, and they will tell you. When the Most High assigned lands to the nations, when He divided up the human race, He established the boundaries of the peoples according to the number in His heavenly court. “For the people of Israel belong to the Lord; Jacob is His special possession. He found them in a desert land, in an empty, howling wasteland. He surrounded them and watched over them; He guarded them as He would guard His own eyes. Like an eagle that rouses her chicks and hovers over her young, so He spread His wings to take them up and carried them safely on His pinions. The Lord alone guided them; they followed no foreign gods. He let them ride over the highlands and feast on the crops of the fields. He nourished them with honey from the rock and olive oil from the stony ground. He fed them yogurt from the herd and milk from the flock, together with the fat of lambs. He gave them choice rams from Bashan, and goats, together with the choicest wheat. You drank the finest wine, made from the juice of grapes. “But Israel soon became fat and unruly; the people grew heavy, plump, and stuffed! Then they abandoned the God who had made them; they made light of the Rock of their salvation. They stirred up His jealousy by worshiping foreign gods; they provoked His fury with detestable deeds. They offered sacrifices to demons, which are not God, to gods they had not known before, to new gods only recently arrived, to gods their ancestors had never feared. You neglected the Rock who had Fathered you; you forgot the God who had given you birth.”
Deuteronomy 32:1-18 NLT
Reading those words saddened and exhausted me at the same time. Moses’ last words from Jehovah before he was taken early and prevented from finishing his final task, which was to bring the children of Israel into the promised land. He allowed his frustration to get the better of him and disregarded the instructions God had given him. The Lord accused him and Aaron of breaking faith or betraying Him, by striking instead of speaking to the rock. Numbers 20.
Now he was tasked with delivering a hard word, words of reminder and warning from the God who knows what we’re going to do before we do it. The Lord knew that even though the people that came out of Egypt were all dead, except for Joshua and Caleb, that this generation that was born during the forty year sojourn would eventually turn their backs on Him as well. He laid out exactly how they would repay His faithfulness and generosity towards them. He had protected and watched over them, gave them an inheritance they didn’t work for. Yet, they soon traded Him for gods they never knew.
The entire chapter is God questioning their loyalty, ignorance and foolhardiness. The punishment for ingratitude and turning to idols was going to be severe, but in all of that God still withheld all He could’ve done to prevent the enemy being used to chasten them, from taking credit for God’s justice. I laugh every time ignorant preachers use world events as God’s punishment. Believe me when I tell you, we haven’t experienced His wrath, yet. I don’t want to be around for that. Nothing gets under His skin like murmuring, complaining and the worship of anyone or anything but Him.
Our problem is, we haven’t taken the time to get to know this God we claim to believe in. He humbled an arrogant king for seven years. Made him eat grass like an animal. He scared the pants off a drunken king who used His sacred objects unadvisedly by writing on the wall without hands. He had worms eat another king who took the praise that belonged only to Him. He caused the heat of a furnace to destroy those manhandling His servants while they walked around in it as though it were air conditioned. The same lions that tore others apart, were pillow cats for Daniel. We don’t know who we’re dealing with. He’s love, but He’s Judge and Jury. He’s Grace, Mercy and Forgiveness, but He’s the same One who declares that vengeance is His to repay. I wrote in one of my messages that we’d better not mistake His silence for approval.
How well do you know this God? And how have you repaid His goodness towards you? He owes us nothing, yet He’s given us everything. You may be saying, “I’ve prayed and I’ve never gotten an answer.” Well that’s your answer. He saw your double mindedness, and gave His answer. Nothing. James 1:5-8; James 4:1-10 comes to mind. Remember also, that delay is not denial. We need to follow the lives of the people of Israel from the book of Exodus to Malachi. Never in my life have I seen such long suffering, patience and mercy, as was demonstrated by a loving God. They’d sin, He’d punish, they’d repent temporarily, He would deliver them, and the cycle would repeat itself. Especially in the book of Judges. Some people are a glutton for punishment.
When was the last time you didn’t come to God with a laundry list, but simply came to adore Him, showering Him with praise and gratitude for all He has and continues to do for you? The next time you think of complaining about anything, just take a deep breath and hold it. That’s His to take or release. Most people don’t even take the time to give thanks for the glass of water or plate of food they’re about to eat. Do you know why? Because they believe they provided it. Or were never taught from childhood the timeless gift of gratitude. I recall a conversation I had with a coworker who was well into her sixties at the time, who told me that as a child she was never taught to say thank you. How sad- Because she raised her children in the same way. They were all train wrecks. The children knew how to take, and they did. But never learned how to give. Ingratitude will do that to us. When you think you or someone else is your source, then that is your god. So you’re short on gratitude and long on complaining.
Don’t go the way of Israel, or those who have turned to other gods. Their stories are our examples of what not to do. 1 Corinthians 10:11. Don’t neglect or despise the God who has given you life. Thank and acknowledge Him for everything. The Bible says this:
“Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18 NLT
Notice what that verse doesn’t say. It doesn’t say for but in all circumstances be thankful. When you know that God is who He says He is, you’ll be thankful even when things didn’t turn out the way you wanted then to. You’ll be thankful when the door closes. You’ll be thankful when a relationship ends. You’ll be thankful for your singleness. That’s a hard one for some people. But be thankful anyway. Be thankful when you lost the home you wanted. Be thankful for your prodigal son or daughter. Be thankful for your horrible marriage. He said in all circumstances. He didn’t specify. He just said be thankful. The operative word is in. Because you’ll find Him in the details of your all.
I went through the toughest challenge financially a few years ago. I had nowhere to turn, and I made up my mind that I wouldn’t borrow from anyone or complain to anyone. My phone got shut off, another utility got shut off, my bills were overdue, I had no money to buy groceries. Didn’t know at times how I was going to pay the toll to get to work or put gas in my car. But I did what He instructed me to in the verse below. I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything. It was the sweetest, hardest time of my Christian life. Learning to give thanks in that season changed my and my daughter’s lives. Money is no longer a struggle. God has blessed us beyond our ability to comprehend. Looking at us may not seem like it to you. But I wouldn’t trade places with the richest man or woman in the world. I learned that prosperity isn’t money and money isn’t wealth. Wealth and prosperity is found in trusting in the God who owns everything.
“Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!” Habakkuk 3:17-18 NLT
We continued tithing and giving offerings. We didn’t hold back on God. The same God who took me out of worse situations, is the same God who was going to get me through all circumstances. I didn’t forget His goodness towards me. My family reading this or even friends, must be saying when was this? Because when they saw me, or spoke with me, I wasn’t wearing it. No one at my job, no matter how close they were to me, could tell. My life and environment were flooded with His praise and thanksgiving. He brought us out to bring us into a greater place of glory. What a mighty God I serve! Hallelujah!!
So how are you repaying Him for His goodness? Or have you forgotten that it was He who saved you and took you out of a horrible pit? Have you forgotten that He kept you out of jail? That He kept you from being homeless? That He sent help when you and your children had nowhere to turn? When He sent that unexpected check in the mail, gave you that raise, gave you added years when the doctor said you wouldn’t make it? When everyone else was being laid off or terminated, you were promoted or kept? When you walked away from that car accident that should’ve killed you? Anything sounding familiar, jarring your memory? Ingratitude will block your memory, flooding your minds instead with all the negatives. Thankfulness will cause you to do what 1 Thessalonians 5 and Habakkuk 3 encourages us to do.
That period of time in 2009-2010, brought me to a peaceful time in Christ Jesus. I had unspeakable joy. And I was thankful. There’s a big difference between knowing about God and knowing Him. The shocking part of that period was that, He was planning on retiring me the following year, early (54). I had no idea that this was training for trusting Him even more. My income would be cut to almost three quarters of what I was making. But He told me these words my first five months into retirement, when job offers were pouring in. “I retired you, let Me take care of you,” and almost ten years later He has and He is. To Him be all the glory!!
There’s also inexplicable pleasure in obeying and doing what the Word says. Nothing trumps that experience. Don’t run from testing, embrace it. Don’t quit, get to the other side. Israel’s problem was their inconsistency. That’s our problem too. If all is well in our world we praise Him. Things change unexpectedly and we blame, complain and forget. No matter the circumstances, He’s still good. And always will be. Here’s another verse for you.
“And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.” Colossians 3:15 NLT
Always be thankful! This shows unwavering gratitude and trust and brings peace to every situation. God is never our problem, He is our problem solver. Can He trust you to repay Him with gratitude in all circumstances? Don’t hurt His heart anymore. I’ll close with a few more verses from Deuteronomy 32.
“The Lord saw this and drew back, provoked to anger by His own sons and daughters. He said, ‘I will abandon them; then see what becomes of them. For they are a twisted generation, children without integrity. Look now; I Myself Am He! There is no other god but Me! I Am the One who kills and gives life; I Am the One who wounds and heals; no one can be rescued from My powerful hand! These instructions are not empty words—they are your life! By obeying them you will enjoy a long life in the land you will occupy when you cross the Jordan River.”
Deuteronomy 32:19-20, 39, 47 NLT
Pause and consider the title of today’s message. If the shoe fits, make the changes as the Lord warns. These instructions aren’t empty words, they are your life.
Written by permission of the Holy Spirit
June 25, 2021