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Luke 21:34-36

By John Grimm

Every year it seems like Christmas comes before we are ready.  We are going to work.  We are doing our daily and weekly routines at the store, with our family, and with the church.  Suddenly, there it is.  It is Christmas (again)!  How did we not notice it creeping up on us?

Jesus warned the disciples and all the people (Luke 20:45) to be on guard.  We can be weighed down with the concerns of work and home.  We can be drunk on how well our college tournament brackets are going to perform.  We can even be worried about how high the gas prices will go.

Life can trap us., so much so that we may actually miss out on what God is doing around us.  Heaven forbid if we miss what God is doing in our lives!  Our social media feed will not get us caught up with what we missed from God.  What can we do?

We pray.  We are alert in prayer as we ask Jesus for strength to prepare us for the destruction Jesus foretold in Luke 21:5-33.  The power of the Holy Spirit can get us to the point where we can stand before the Son of Man.

Until Jesus Christ returns, we can be praying.  That will be the best posture for Jesus to find us in when that day happens.

Almighty God, we know not when Jesus Christ will return.  Until that day arrives, we read that Jesus wants us to be on guard.  Thank you that we can meet you in prayer.  May all the troubles of this life and the destruction to come not trap us, making us unready for when Jesus returns.  Holy Spirit, give us the strength we need to make it through that day.  We ask this request in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Do Not Forget the Lord Your God

Deuteronomy 8

By Chuck Griffin

In this season of Thanksgiving—this coming long weekend where we count our blessings and look toward God in gratitude—we Americans find ourselves in a good land.

Some would call such an assertion debatable, citing a pandemic, inflation, a strange job market, and social unrest as their evidence. And these problems do exist, causing suffering.

We still live in a good land, however. If for no other reason, it is good because it remains a place where we can freely remember and worship God. I also think there are many other reasons it remains a good land. Despite the current gloom, I’m an optimist, and I’m mindful that we’ve faced much worse as a nation.

To me, the parallels between our situation and the situation the Israelites were in as they prepared to enter the Promised Land are striking. The book of Deuteronomy largely is Moses reminding the people of their history and their relationship with God, preparing them for Moses’ imminent death and their first steps into a long-anticipated future.

“For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land with flowing streams, with springs and underground waters welling up in valleys and hills, a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey, a land where you may eat bread without scarcity, where you will lack nothing, a land whose stones are iron and from whose hills you may mine copper,” Moses told them, his words recorded in the eighth chapter. “You shall eat your fill and bless the Lord your God for the good land that he has given you.”

With a few modifications to the types of crops and some additions to the minerals, this could serve as a description of North America.

There also is a warning: “Take care that you do not forget the Lord your God,” Moses said. After reminding them once again of all the perils God had brought them through, Moses added, “Do not say to yourself, ‘My power and the might of my own hand have gotten me this wealth.’ “

I would not go so far as to describe the United States as some kind of new Promised Land. Our nation was not designed to relate to God through a direct covenant. It is, however, structured so that individuals can enter into any kind of covenant with God, assembling with those of like mind without fear of persecution. That freedom has allowed Christianity in all its variations to thrive here.

Yes, we debate loudly about politics, and the price of a Thanksgiving meal is up; yes, gas is once again over $3 a gallon where I live, and as high as $6 a gallon in other parts of the country. But this land remains a great blessing to its inhabitants and the world as long as our principles of freedom remain. Less stuff would not diminish our connection to God.

The lesson from Deuteronomy is simple, and as relevant to us as it was to those desert people longing for a little variety in their diets and a constant water supply. Remember God—remember the one you follow, the one you have declared to be above all creation.

Worshiping God in good times and bad is our primary task.

Dear Lord, your first blessing was to give us life; help us to use our lives as ongoing acts of thanksgiving and praise. Amen.