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Stop and thank God first
November 21, 2011
by Dr. Tom Rakow, pastor; Grace Bible Church, Silver Lake

It was our third daughter, Mercy’s first deer. We were hunting on public land in South Dakota. With darkness falling, I was anxious to get the camera to capture the special moment – and then begin the process of quartering the animal.

But Mercy interrupted, “Can we stop and thank God first?”

We knelt as she prayed out loud, thanking God for allowing her the privilege of harvesting this beautiful Whitetail. She then prayed for her younger sister, Faith, to have success the next day. The next morning, Faith harvested a big mule deer doe.

Since coming to know Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior back in 1977, my hunting is radically different. Prior to that time, I was a poacher. To me, it didn’t matter how I got a deer – just as long as I did.

But after coming to know Christ, those things started, and still continue to change. Now, normally, one of the first things I do after harvesting one of His creatures is take a moment to thank God.

But, when my daughter downed this deer, my excitement for her overshadowed my attitude of gratitude. I was more interested in capturing a picture of the moment, than thanking God for giving us this special moment to enjoy.

The Creator of the universe deserves to be acknowledged in every activity and for every blessing. This even includes hunting. In Old Testament times, the Lord was to be acknowledged by the way a hunter dealt with wild game after it was harvested.

Over 3,000 years ago, the book of Leviticus included this divine hunting regulation, “Any Israelite or any alien living among you who hunts any animal or bird that may be eaten must drain out the blood and cover it with earth” (17:13). Indeed, wherever an animal was downed (in the desert, along the Jordan river, or even on the backside of a mountain) the Giver of Life was to be recognized through this ritual.

In the New Testament, when Jesus fed thousands with a few small loaves and fishes, He publicly thanked His Father. The Bible tells us, “Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke them” (Luke 9:16a).

In the upper room, when celebrating the Passover meal with His followers, Jesus again chose to give thanks. He did this knowing full well that Judas had already made a commitment to betray Him, and that He would be forsaken by His followers. The Scriptures state, “While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, ‘Take and eat; this is my body.’ Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you’” (Matthew 26:26-27). Indeed, Jesus was thankful at a very difficult time.

Later on, the Apostle Paul warned that there was a time coming when there would be individuals who would order others, “. . . to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth” (1 Timothy 4:3). Paul then went on to explain, “For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving” (1 Timothy 4:4). Indeed, Paul made it clear that one of the symptoms of the last days is that people will be characterized as “ungrateful.” (See 2 Timothy 3:1-5.)

How about you? Are you thankful for the blessings God has poured out upon you? Or perhaps, like me, there are times when you get so excited about the gift, that you fail to thank the Giver.

Let’s make a conscious choice (whether in a restaurant, in the woods, on a lake, or at home) to remember and acknowledge the One who gives us life and breath, and everything else. Indeed, as my daughter asked, “Can we stop and thank God first?”