What to Watch Out for When You Enter the Promised Land

Do you know the greatest danger of God’s blessings in your life?

Sometimes our blessings get piled so high, it’s difficult to see around them. Blessings are ours in abundance—and tempt us to forget God. Of course, this is nothing new.

What to Watch Out for When You Enter the Promised Land

(Photo: At the Plains of Moab, where Israel received God’s warning. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

At the Plains of Moab by the Jordan River, the redeemed Hebrew nation anticipated entering Canaan. There the Lord issued them an important warning:

When the Lord your God brings you into . . . great and splendid cities which you did not build, and houses full of all good things which you did not fill, and hewn cisterns which you did not dig, vineyards and olive trees which you did not plant, and you shall eat and be satisfied. Then watch yourself, lest you forget the Lord who brought you from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. —Deuteronomy 6:10-12

Notice God’s emphasis by the repeated phrase: “which you did not.” The blessings His people would receive would come from God’s hand—not from their own wits or wisdom.

Moses warned his people of the greatest danger from God’s blessings: to forget God.

We have that same vulnerability, don’t we?

God’s Blessings Can Blind You

Recently, I finally got around to reading Ann Voskamp’s celebrated book, One Thousand Gifts. Honestly, at first, the book felt hard to read. Short sentences. Choppy phrases. Random-sounding thoughts strung together like a patchwork quilt. It reminded me of Pascal’s Pensees. Profound but disjointed. Not an easy speed-read.

The book has more periods per square inch than most books I’ve read. As a person in a hurry, the many periods came like speed bumps—forcing me to slow down.

When I did, I found a surprise.

Every breath’s a battle between grudgery and gratitude and we must keep thanks on the lips so we can sip from the holy grail of joy. —Ann Voskamp

Sunset over Israel from Plains of Moab

(Photo: Sunset over Israel from Plains of Moab. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

How to See God’s Blessings You Can’t See

The book reminded me that gratitude begins and continues by giving thanks for God’s blessings right in front of you. Ann did this by writing a list of 1000 “gifts” from daily life for which she is thankful.

So, I gave it a shot. Here are 10 of the blessings I jotted down:

  1. The love that dogs show
  2. Music that inspires worship
  3. The changing seasons
  4. Silence of early mornings
  5. Israel trips
  6. Fingers to type with
  7. Meetings that start on time
  8. God gives strength to go on when I can’t
  9. Receiving clear direction
  10. My wife and daughters

Writing the list is a wonderful idea because it causes you constantly to look for new additions for the list. This daily assignment shapes a renewed mind, habitually searching life for reasons to thank God instead of finding excuses to complain about.

There are thousands of gifts from God if we will only insert many more periods in the sentences of each day.

But there’s a danger. Remember Moses’ warning?

The Greatest Danger of God’s Blessings in Your Life

Unless we watch ourselves, we will allow our blessings to distract us from our devotion to Jesus Christ. Before we know it, we can replace a devotion to the Lord with a devotion to His blessings. And in a sad, twisted irony, those blessings become our focus instead of the God who gave them.

Our blessings surround us. But they come from God.

Question: What helps you keep your blessings in perspective? To leave a comment, just click here.

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  • Colleen

    Wayne, I love this…Thank you! Almost 20 years ago I gave birth to a son with many disabilities. At first I wanted God to tell me why…it seemed like a mistake. Over time, I stopped asking why as His will began to unfold. The countless abilities we have with typical bodies that function, being able to tie shoes, make plans, read, make friends…I took it all for granted until I saw how many struggles he faces daily. I’m so thankful for the simplicity, the purity of his heart unbound by earthly pressures of having “more and more”. Often our most valuable gift is perspective…learning to see God’s hand on us through what originally I would have considered a mistake on His part. And yes, sometimes we have to dig, to evaluate, shift; get out of our own way to find how abundantly blessed we are. Thank you for this needed post. You are a gift to so many! Colleen

    • Thank you, Colleen. It’s amazing and so, so challenging to learn stuff the hard way. Thank God for His never-ending grace.

  • Beth Bradford Kincaid

    The blessing of my hurts and pain. They have opened my eyes, ears and heart to to the grace of God and His steadfast love. The honor of giving Him the glory in everything. I struggle every day…but there He is.

    • Such a great perspective, Beth. I like how you worded it: “the blessing of my hurts…” It takes genuine maturity to see one’s hurts as blessings. Thanks for having the courage to do so—and to share it with us.

  • ARM BAR

    To be Honest i’m not in that level of being able to keep my blessings in perspective,i’m still expecting the blessing that i really need and God hasn’t given it to me until now,my life has been in a constant struggle and always pray and keep expecting God to bless me with what i really need,the topic that you bring is very interesting and definitely will makes Christians keep their blessings in perspective,for me i will stick with your input from the other topic that Job has actually questioned God about his situation,Thank you for the nice topic Wayne.

    • You’re welcome. God’s blessings often come disguised a number of ways, don’t they? One other reader wrote that blessings were, for her, the struggles that God allowed.

  • Joyce Cotterman

    God must have known I would be getting this devotional this morning because He prepared me by showing me my blessings first. Then Wayne, you took it a step further and made me really stop and think. This morning as I was sitting in my chair drinking my first cup of coffee, one of my sweet cats saw me from across the room, jumped down on the floor and came running up into my lap, snuggled down and began to purr. Now if you are a dog lover, this may not have been on your “blessings” list but for someone who is a cat lover, this was at the top of my list this morning. Then God reminded me of all the other blessings I have as I looked around my living room. In that small area I began to count untill I lost tract of the number….books on bookshelves. chair to recline in. pictures on the wall. windows to see the sun coming up. coffee in my cup. cat on my lap. these are but a few of my blessings. they seem like such minor things compared to the things others have written, but to me they are important. when i read your email, and your final statement….”Unless we watch ourselves, we will allow our blessings to distract us from our devotion to Jesus Christ. Before we know it, we can replace a devotion to the Lord with a devotion to His blessings. And in a sad,
    twisted irony, those blessings become our focus instead of the God who gave them.
    Our blessings surround us. But they come from God.” .. i started weeping thinking how blessed I really am, how wonderful our
    God is and how much He really does love and care about us, so much so that He gave us His only SON. Now JESUS is at the top of my blessings list. Thank you.

  • Michelle thick

    Thanks again i will definately keep a Thankful heart everyfay