I never cease to be amazed at the capacity of children to be hungry almost all the time. It is with profound respect that I now look back on my mother being able to keep food in the fridge and on the table as I distinctly remember growing up and being able to eat my entire body-weight in snacks. Some of you are thinking “Big deal I can still do that”. Yeah, But I did it without gaining an ounce. But momma always knew I’d hit the snacks too hard when it came down to dinner and I wasn’t hungry. Of course I wasn’t hungry, I had just eaten an entire box of cookies, a box of cereal and drank a gallon of milk – in one sitting. How was I supposed to find room for broccoli after that?
Russell Moore this week writes about a stunning symptom of lost faith in the American Church. He invites us to envision the following scene,
“A Mormon television star stands in front of the Lincoln Memorial and calls American Christians to revival. He assembles some evangelical celebrities to give testimonies, and then preaches a God and country revivalism that leaves the evangelicals cheering that they’ve heard the gospel, right there in the nation’s capital.
The news media pronounces him the new leader of America’s Christian conservative movement, and a flock of America’s Christian conservatives have no problem with that.
If you’d told me that ten years ago, I would have assumed it was from the pages of an evangelical apocalyptic novel about the end-times. But it’s not. It’s from this week’s headlines. And it is a scandal.”1
Glenn Beck, whatever you think of Him as a broadcaster -is a Mormon, a member of a cult which denies the eternal deity of Christ, Monotheism, Salvation by grace through faith alone and the sufficiency of Scriptures. He may be a fine spokesman for conservatism in America; but he is no Christian spokesman. How is it then that a Mormon could be embraced in such a role? The only answer is that the American church has forgotten the gospel, has forgotten the truth, and ultimately has forgotten God.
I submit to you this morning that the reason America has forgotten God – is because the church has forgotten God; and that again because our hunger for faith has been sated by the snack-foods of consumerism, Greed and self-sufficiency. In brief we are in vast danger because we have permitted our comforts to drive a passionate pursuit of God out of our minds.
God warned Israel of just such an event in the book of Deuteronomy – and I have only fifteen minutes to tell you about it. God gets to go first so please stand with your Bibles turned to Deuteronomy 8 and we will read God’s word together. (Read Deuteronomy 8)
This passage proves to be prophetic both in it’s warnings and in it’s detailed analysis of God’s blessing. It starts in verses 7-10a by describing the overwhelming blessing that God is bringing them into. Good water, plenty of grain, a prolific assortment of fruit trees, in short – no lack at all. He might well have been describing America. Even the poorest among us has greater opportunity than almost anywhere else in the world.
Our two congregations are greatly blessed with all that God has showered upon us. In just a little bit when we finish up here, your attention is going to turn to the overloaded tables prepared for our combined potluck dinner. But it’s not just there, but in our every day existence where our comparative wealth makes us textbook examples of those who “have eaten and are satisfied.”
The Mandate: 8:10
Please direct your attention first of all to the mandate found in verse 10. The command here is the crux of the matter for us this morning. ““When you have eaten and are satisfied, you shall bless the Lord your God for the good land which He has given you. ” (Deuteronomy 8:10, NAS)
That little phrase, “You shall bless” is not in the form of a suggestion. Neither it is a prophecy saying that this is what will happen. It is a command pure and simple mandating above all that after we have attained comfort that we must be certainto bless the Lord amid our comfort!
The warning 8:11-17
The mandate comes in the cover of a warning because human nature, is what it is – and human nature dictates that when we no longer have needs that drive us to God, our need for God is driven away.
As my mentor and former professor John Koessler recently stated, “Trouble is Heaven’s goad.”2 God uses trouble in our lives to stir us up towards Him. In the lives of the unsaved, troubles are meant to alert them to their need of God. In the lives of the saved, trouble is mean to shape us into His image.
When the trouble goes away, our minds drift away from the Lord and more than our minds, our lives. The warning begins in verse 11 and tells exactly what it means to forget the Lord. It means not living in obedience to his statutes, ordinances and commandments. In short forgetting God is less about a state of mind than it is a summary of life lived without reference to God and His word. I wonder then if there aren’t are a good many of us who could use a memory adjustment.
Continuing in the text before us verses 12-14 summarize the issue: when we get comfortable we begin to think that we are the creators of our comfort. We hear it said that God gave us all we have, and while we solemnly nod our heads, our heart rears up and says, “Yeah, but I did all the work – I’ve sweated and gotten dirty, I’ve scrimped and saved and made it through the hard times and if I’m comfortable now it’s because I earned it!” But if that is your mindset than your comfort is already making you forget the Lord.
The aftermath: 8:19-20; Hos 13.6
Finally in verses 19-20 God flat out tells them what will happen if indeed they forget Him. In brief, they will surely perish just like the nations of Canaan before them.
Unfortunately this is exactly what happened to Israel. Speaking of the Tribe of Ephraim in Hosea 13 God says, “…they became satisfied, And being satisfied, their heart became proud; Therefore they forgot Me. ” (Hosea 13:6, NAS)
Because they forgot the Lord in their comfort, God brought judgment upon them. Immediately after that text the Lord continues:
“So I will be like a lion to them; Like a leopard I will lie in wait by the wayside. I will encounter them like a bear robbed of her cubs, And I will tear open their chests; There I will also devour them like a lioness, As a wild beast would tear them. It is your destruction, O Israel, That you are against Me, against your help. ” (Hosea 13:7–9, NAS)
In a nutshell the single answer to the danger of forgetting God in our comfort is: “don’t!” But let me quickly give you four parts to that single solution that will help you so that you don’t let your comforts make you forget your God.
Remember the Hard Times (Deut 8:2-3)
Looking earlier in the chapter at verses 2 and 3 – God reminds Israel of their hard times, ““You shall remember all the way which the Lord your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. “He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord. ” (Deuteronomy 8:2–3, NAS)
Remember God’s Provision (Deut 8:3-4)
Closely tied to that in the next verses 3-4 God exhorts them again to remember how, in the middle of all of that hardship which he had brought them through, he had also provided for them. Remember all the hardship that God has brought you through, and remember how in the midst of those hard times God has provided and you’ll be less likely to forget Him.
Remember God’s Discipline (Deut 8:5-6)
Again in the next few verses as God explains his tactics in the desert – That we ought to remember God’s discipline. For in the training from God he gives what we need to remember Him. “Therefore, [we] shall keep the commandments of the Lord your God…” (v6)
Remember: Your Ability to make wealth comes from God (Deut 8:18)
Remember the Hard times, Remember God’s provision, Remember the discipline God has trained you with in these things and finally, remember that you are not self-sufficient. You may work hard. You may save hard. And you may live your life according to the Dave Ramsey school of financial discipline until your wealth expands out of this world. But when all is said and done, Deuteronomy 8:18 says it all:““But you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth…” (Deuteronomy 8:18, NAS)
So then, today and every day as we celebrate all that God has given in his outpouring of Grace upon us – let us remember Him, not merely by bringing Him to mind – but by taking action to live according to His word. Let us therefore, remember the Lord our God in the midst of our comfort. Let us be certain to Bless the Lord our God for all the good that he has given us.
1God, the Gospel, and Glenn Beck — Sunday, August 29th, 2010 —, Moore to the Point by Russell D. Moore. http://www.russellmoore.com/2010/08/29/god-the-gospel-and-glenn-beck/
2Koessler, John, Challenges Pastors Face-#4: Ministry to those in Distress « A Stranger in the House of God. http://johnkoessler.wordpress.com/2010/08/31/challenges-pastors-face-4-ministry-to-those-in-distress/