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Thanksgiving, Disciple Making, and the Deuteronomy 8 Principle


By Bobby Harrington:

Discipleship-First Friends,

We all know that Thanksgiving is an important day on many levels. At Discipleship.org, since we are committed to helping you be a disciple who makes disciples, we know it’s important to “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thess. 5:18).

A thankful disposition is fundamentally important as a spiritual practice for everyone, but especially when things are going well. While many in the world are struggling with daily physical needs, they can still give thanks for God’s blessings. How much more important when things seem to be going well.

It teaches us an important principle about giving thanks in times of abundance. Why do we need to hear this? Well, when things are going well, it is harder to acknowledge our dependence on God. It will make us forget God.

Let’s listen to the Word of God through Moses as he instructs us about this:

“When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you. Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God …. Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down,and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God…” (Deut. 8:10-14).

Notice that last part: “your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord.”

That is where the Deuteronomy 8 principle comes in – we carefully practice thanksgiving so that we do not forget God.

The challenge, when things go well financially, is that we can become self-sufficient. When this happens, the Word of God tells us we will have a tendency to not even think about God.

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Americans live in a time of economic prosperity which the world has never seen before. I really like this video that a church in Charlotte, NC produced to help us to be thankful for all the amazing blessing that we have and take for granted.  

Moses contrasts times of hardship and times of material blessings. Hardships test our motives and aspirations. They can bless us with humility and dependence on God. But blessings tend to make us rely on ourselves. Your perspective is so important.

Take two minutes and listen to football player Nick Foles talk about both success and trials in football and life.  

Nick points out how trials can cause us to draw closer to God.

Moses describes our natural response in difficult times. He tells us that trials to come and “humble and test you so that in the end it might go well with you” (Deut. 8:16). In contrast, wealth inclines us to say to ourselves, “my power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me” (Deuteronomy 8:18).

This is where giving thanks comes in for disciples of Jesus, who quoted from Deuteronomy 8 during his great temptation: “But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth …” (Deut. 8:18).

Catch that: “remember the Lord” … “he gives you the ability.”

So as a disciple of Jesus, it is important to regularly take stock of our hearts, especially when things are going well. We need to explicitly remember and thank God for his presence and for his blessings.

So every year, as a disciple and as a disciple maker, I make a big deal of Thanksgiving in my family. Since my children were young, my family takes time to go around the table and share specific things for which we are thankful, what has come to us as a gift from God.

Then we offer prayers of Thanksgiving for those things.

I encourage you to do the same … at Thanksgiving and continually in your life.

For King Jesus,

Bobby Harrington, Point Leader, Discipleship.org

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