God Is Good!

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     How do you move, provide for, and keep 3,000,000 people happy?  They have to be fed.  They have to have water for themselves and their animals.  They have to be protected from their enemies.  God demonstrates His goodness in the miraculous provisions for the children of Israel during the 40 years of wilderness wanderings.  Consider the following details of God’s goodness.
     God provided manna for the people for forty years!  Let’s assume that the number of people in Israel was 3,000,000.  Do you know how much manna was needed to feed them each day in the wilderness?  One scholar has estimated that they needed, 4,500 tons of manna every day.  If this is true, and if you take into account that God fed His people every day for 40 years, this means 65,700,000 tons of manna supernaturally appeared on the ground.  God is good.
     How many quail do you think it would take to feed that massive group of Israelites?  It would take 90,000,000 quail for 30 days if one quail was provided for each Israelite.  Imagine the scene in Israel when millions of quail showed up in an unlikely place!  God is good.  (Figures taken from Rick Renner, Sparkling Gems From the Greek, pp. 695-699).
     Do you have any idea of how much water it would take to support 3,000,000 people?  You have to take into account the animals as well.  It would have required 15,000,000 gallons of water every day just to meet their basic needs for survival.  For one week the supply would be 100,000,000 gallons of water.  Multiply this by 40 years and you have a staggering amount of water miraculously provided by God.  God is good!
     The clothing and shoes that they wore during this time never wore out!  In Deut. 8:4, Moses writes, “Thy raiment waxed not old upon thee, neither did thy foot swell, these forty years.”  God is good!
     Israel saw and experienced the goodness of God on an unprecedented scale for 40 years.  Yet, the book of Hebrews records that they tempted God (Heb. 3:9).  To tempt God is to put God to the test of faithfulness to His nature and His word.  It betrays doubt and skepticism.  Will God do what He says or will He not?  But, tempting God reveals that they were not confident that God would take care of them.  They should have trusted God, instead they tempted Him.  They should have feared God, instead they forgot Him.  They should have loved God, instead they left Him. 
     After 40 years of mighty demonstration of God’s presence and power among them, they forgot God.  In Judges 2:10 and 13, the Bible reveals that “there arose another generation after them, which knew not the LORD, nor yet the works which he had done for Israel.”  “And they forsook the LORD, and served Baal and Ashtaroth.”  God’s goodness is met with ingratitude and unbelief! 
     The warning not to forget God is applicable to us.  We live in the midst of abundance.  We experience the goodness of God every day.  We must not stop trusting God and start trusting in the material things that He has provided.  “Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God” (Heb. 3:12).  Don’t forget how good God has been!

Thanksgiving

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     An outstanding volume on the theme of thanksgiving is David Pao’s book, Thanksgiving An Investigation of a Pauline Theme.  This book is published by InterVarsity Press and is a part of a series called, “New Studies in Biblical Theology.”
     There are four words that are commonly associated with thanksgiving.
They are: God-centered, dependency, worship, and covenant.  The spirit of thanksgiving is born out of an understanding that God is the ultimate source of all things.  This involves both physical and spiritual things.  Creation passages affirm this fact.  Consider Gen. 1:1; John 1:1-3; Col. 1:16-18.  Pao mentions that thanksgiving in Paul’s writing is reserved for God and not for humans. The only possible exception he gives is Rom. 16:4 where Paul thanks Priscilla and Acquila for risking their lives to help Paul, but Pao mentions that even this shows a wider concern for the ministry of God and the work of God.  In thanksgiving, we recognize that God is the ultimate source of all things including our own existence.
     Secondly, in thanksgiving, we confess our dependency upon God.  Our narcissistic age inflates the gradiose self and manifests a stubborn independence. Narcissism is self-absorption and produces ingratitude.  We must be able to appreciate help and enrichment from others.  In thanksgiving, we confess our need of God.
     Thirdly, in thanksgiving, we express our gratitude through praise and prayer directed to God.  Worship is an expression of a grateful heart.  When we feel a sense of being overwhelmed by God’s goodness, our hearts are made to sing and to bless God’s holy name.  Feelings of entitlement rob us of gratitude.  God does not owe us anything.  But, He has freely given us all things to enjoy.  We must freely give our hearts to Him.
     Fourthly, in thanksgiving, we express our full consecration to God according to the covenant He has given us.  Thanksgiving is more than just words.  It must become a way of life.  Paul states that we present our bodies as a living sacrifice unto God (Rom. 12:1,2).  Complete consecration to God is the fullest expession of thanksgiving.  
     Here are some closing thoughts on thanksgiving gleaned from Bits and Pieces, Nov., 2008, p. 12.
     -The table is a meeting place, a gathering ground, the source of sustenance and nourishment, festivity, safety, and satisfaction.  A person cooking is a person giving: Even the simplest food is a gift.
     -He who forgets the language of gratitude can never be on speaking terms with happiness.
     -One single grateful thought raised to heaven is the most perfect prayer.
     -As bread is the staff of life, the simple sustenance of the body, so appreciation is the food of the soul.
     -“In everything, give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (I Thess. 5:18).

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