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I Keep Reminding Myself by Maxie Dunnam

Somewhere I read that Darwin kept a notebook to jot down the contradictions that he came across, contradictions against his theories. He knew that if he didn’t jot those contradictions down, he was so committed to his theories that he would forget them. 

It’s so easy to forget. It’s easy to lose touch with the source of life… how we got to where we are; all the blessings that have been poured out upon us. It’s easy to think that we are where we are today because of our own efforts. We’re like that man who was being honored at a banquet for things he had done. He stood to receive the award, but got his tongue twisted, and said, “I don’t appreciate this, but I certainly deserve it.” 

We may not verbalize, or even be explicitly aware of it, but we see our success, our achievements and accomplishments, as the result of our own doing. Maybe we need to keep a notebook and record those things that we have received, things that have been given to us, things that have been done for us, blessings that we had absolutely nothing to do with them coming to us. That would give us a perspective which would change our lives.

Notebook or not, I need to continually remind myself of how blessed I am. Though I was born in rather severe poverty in rural Mississippi, in the context of our world situation, that poverty in Mississippi would be considered rich.

Then I, I go from there. I did not earn – I simply received the gift of parents who loved me, who sacrificed for me, who encouraged me and supported me. I did not earn – I simply received the gift of a public school education. I didn’t earn – I simply received the right of citizenship in this great country, where I have the freedom to vote, and the freedom to speak out, and the freedom to enter into the political process that shapes the destiny of this nation. But I could have been born anywhere else. 

In my reflection on the bold fact of my being the recipient of so much, I have continued to think about what I started expressing in my article last week: Deliverance Through Thanksgiving. It all began with my devotional reading of Psalm 50, and being captured by verse 15, “and call upon me in the day of trouble and I will deliver you.” The condition for the fulfillment of that promise of deliverance is in verse 14, which expresses the first part of the sentence. “Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving and pay your vows to the most high, and call upon me in the day of trouble and I will deliver you.”

The words sacrifice of thanksgiving got my attention. Sacrifice and thanksgiving don’t seem to go together. Sacrifice and thanksgiving. I don’t know all that means, but it means at least this – even when we are not in the mood for thanksgiving, even when we have not recorded in our notebooks that for which we need to be grateful, we need to express gratitude. 

Gratitude can transform our life. No matter in what condition we find ourself, or in what depression we might be; no matter what’s going on in our life at this moment – IF, if we can get in touch with the God of the universe who says to us, “offer a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving,” and do that, our life will be transformed. A sacrifice of thanksgiving means that the surface circumstances of life don’t have to merit it. Still we do it. Whatever the circumstances – our lives are to be an offering of gratitude.

But there’s more here. Another condition that we are to meet if we are going to appropriate the deliverance of the Lord, and it’s there in the text. ”Pay your vows to the most-high God.” 

Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving. That’s the first condition to meet if we’re going to appropriate God’s deliverance. And the second is – pay your vows to the most-high God.

Are there commitments that you made which you haven’t kept? Are there vows to the Lord that you have not followed through on? This is what the Lord is saying to us today – listen – Do the things you promised when you received my love and forgiveness. Keep the vows you made when you accepted my salvation. 

It’s one of the most fantastic promises in scripture: call upon me in your day of trouble, and I will deliver you. But remember, the promise is based upon two conditions – One, offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving; and two, pay your vows to the most-high God. We can keep both of those promises today.