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Going back to places where we grew up can be emotional—especially if we can see the contrast between life then and life now. Such a contrast is especially notable for people born in poverty but who are now much better off. By seeing their old birthplace, many give thanks to God for the progress they’ve made. One wonders if that is why God told ancient Israel to live in booths once a year—to relive where God had brought them from as they emerged from Egyptian slavery. By recalling those early experiences, and comparing them to their current situation, they could thank God for His blessings, and be motivated to love and obey Him. We read in Nehemiah Chapter 8 that as the returned exiles studied the Law, they saw where God told Moses the people should live in shelters. When they realized that the festival they were about to celebrate was the one for living in booths, they went out and cut branches and used them to build shelters. As they reenacted the early days of living in makeshift shelters, they realized how much God had blessed them now, and they were filled with joy! Most of us do not live in shelters as they did—though some people today are homeless; still, we can reflect deeply upon how God has blessed us—often despite our difficulties. And if we are truly grateful, we respond to Him with our love and obedience.

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