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Don’t Forget to Give God Thanks

Years ago I read a story about a growing church. As a result of their growth, they had a parking problem (have you noticed growing, active churches are always having problems?!). A neighbor had a vacant lot which the church tried to buy, but the neighbor did not wish to sell. He explained that he had no desire to be contrary or difficult — but he just didn't want to sell the lot. However, he did make a most gracious offer to the church: "You are welcome to use it free of charge." But there was one catch. The owner of the lot said, "You can have the lot fifty-one Sundays a year, but you must not use it on the 52' Sunday." Naturally they asked why, and when they did he explained, "I want you to remember that you don't own it." The anonymous author of that little story went on to write, "What wisdom! Every year they would be reminded of his grace, They would not take his generosity for granted."

"Bless the Lord, 0 my soul, and forget not all His benefit? (Psalm 103:2), an inspired man wrote many centuries before Jesus Christ ascended Golgotha to bless us with life's ultimate benefit — forgiveness of sins and salvation for our souls. The Bible's frequent call for God's people to "be thankful" (Colossians 3:15b) is surely aimed at helping us to avoid the deadly disease of spiritual amnesia. God is a rich and giving being who gives us richly all things to enjoy (1 Timothy 6:17). He is the benevolent and loving Father who is the ceaseless source of "every good and perfect gift" (James 1:17). Our God is a kind, loving, generous Being who gives and gives and gives and who only asks in return that we be thankful!  Alan Smith reminds us how difficult it is to remain thankful for things we receive on a regular basis. He wrote, "Even if it is a gift, we eventually come to expect it. Someone once suggested to me a way to test someone's character. Give him (or her) $5 a day for a month. Then stop, and see what his reaction is. The natural tendency is that if we receive a gift long enough, we come to view it as an entitlement.  We feel hurt, even angry, if we don't receive it any longer. It's the same way with the blessings God gives me every day. I don't deserve the comfortable home I live in, the beautiful scenery around me, the clean water that I drink. But after receiving these gifts (and a multitude of others) for years, I sometimes fail to be grateful. I've come to expect these good things. And when one of them is removed for a short while (like the water being cut off) I get upset" (http://faithsite.com). Emerson said that if the stars came out only once a year, everybody would stay up all night to be behold them. As it is, we have seen the stars so often that we don't bother to look at them anymore. But gratitude can cure this problem. Gratitude will not only keep us from forgetting the good gifts we enjoy — it also keep us from forgetting it is God who owns and graciously gives them.  When you have eaten and are full, then you shall bless the Lord your God for the good land which He has given you.  (Deuteronomy 8:10)

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ