Title: “Giving Thanks on Thanksgiving”
Text: selected scriptures
I have a strong conviction that Christians should love the Thanksgiving holiday very passionately.
When i think Thanksgiving, i think turkey instantly. I think about all the food, who's house I'm going to go to this year with the family, football game, and the best part, pumpkin pie. However, this year's thanksgiving came after the Preach the Word Conference at Harvest and my perspective of the holiday has vividly changed. Even though i was thankful and gave God the glory over the last 5 years i have been a Christian, i noticed the thanksgiving theme in our culture is driving at full speed the opposite direction of its original purpose. The holiday now brings us stress as we try to make everything work out perfect so it can be as wonderful as in the movies, and also bring us the mind of selfishness because of the holiday shopping. Thanksgiving-themed ad begins with soft music and images of cooked turkey, while other commercials hype you up to go spend your money on killer sales at the mall to get your Christmas shopping done during the largest weekend sale of the year.
It seems as secular progressivism continues to grow further from the truth and influence everything that goes on in this country, their is a erasing factor favoring today's thanksgiving verses yesterdays thanksgiving. Lets dig into history to see what the purpose of Thanksgiving is, and see what today's thanksgiving looks like in the light of Scripture.
The tradition of Thanksgiving is a time to focus on God and His blessings.
“Retaining the original gratefulness to God has always been the spirit of Thanksgiving.” David Barton - America’s Godly Heritage.
Did you know that Thanksgiving is the oldest of all American holidays in the United States? I think that is pretty significant knowing it is another "Christian" holiday. It is especially wonderful that we get to have such a holiday that we can gather family together, love one another, and give back to God through worship for all that he has given us, His Son Jesus Christ, who we will worship next month for Christmas.
So how did the Thanksgiving holiday originate? Who started it, and why?
It all started back in the day around four centuries ago in America. As Protestants were being having religious persecution in England and Europe, the sought to leave and seek freedom from such hostility. These Protestants were the Pilgrims that we derive the current tradition of Thanksgiving. The Pilgrims set sail for America on September 6, 1620, and sailed the stormy seas for two solid, not stop months of motion sickness and distress. On December 11, 1620, just before landing at Plymouth Rock, they signed the "Mayflower Compact" - America's first document of civil government and the first to introduce self-government. Once they landed at Plymouth Rock, they broke out in a massive prayer service. Shortly they began building homes and a community. However, their structures did not prevail against the east coast winter, where almost half of them died. They needed some help. Persevering in prayer, and assisted by helpful Indians, they reaped a bountiful harvest the following summer. The grateful Pilgrims then declared a three-day feast in December 1621 to thank God and to celebrate with their Indian friends for Americas first Thanksgiving Festival. This began an annual tradition in the New England Colonies that slowly spread into other Colonies. In 1789, following a proclamation issued by President George Washington, America celebrated its first Day of Thanksgiving to God under its new constitution. However it was not until a special president heard Mrs. Sarah Joseph Hale, who for thirty years, desired to officially institute a national Thanksgiving Day, contacting President after President until President Abraham Lincoln answer in 1863 by setting aside the last Thursday of November as a national Day of Thanksgiving.
President Abraham Lincoln soon declared this statement, “We are prone to forget the Source from which the blessings of fruitful years and healthful skies come. . . . No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God. . . . I do, therefore invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States . . . to observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father. Who dwelleth in the heavens.”
Many Presidents followed Lincoln’s example for the next seventy-five years, and continued annually proclaiming a national Thanksgiving Day. Then one day in 1941, Congress established the fourth Thursday of each November as a national holiday.
As we have learned, the tradition of Thanksgiving is a time to focus on God and His blessings. It is important to go through history and look back to the origin of our holiday Thanksgiving, because it gives us a wonderful illustration of how we need to be thankful and grateful individuals. However today’s “Thanksgiving” is focused on 3 main things: football, food, and feelings. I know too many people who cannot wait to eat food, then watch big game of football, and then feel good by saying what they are grateful for and enjoying there day off of work or school.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor took a poll and averaged how Americans spend their time during Thanksgiving weekend through 2003 to 2006.
99% spent about 1.2 hours eating.
85% spent about 3.7 hours watching TV.
79% spent about 1.6 hours traveling.
48% spent about 1.0-1.7 hours purchasing and preparing
43% spent about 2.5 hours socializing
18% spent about 3.0 hours playing sports
11% spent about 1.7 hours engaging in religious and spiritual activities.
I believe that Christians should love the Thanksgiving holiday very deeply, and be passionately thankful for all the blessings God has bestowed upon them. The only way that is possible is from a biblical viewpoint. As Christians, we should see all things through the lenses of scripture, because that way we will truly see things through the eyes of our Lord, and help our minds to think biblically. As Christians MUST see things scripturally, not secularly. Thanksgiving is a day set apart from all other days to primarily glorify God. There are three main points about giving thanks that is important to note:
1. Giving Thanks is essential.
2. Giving Thanks is eternal.
3. Giving Thanks is for everyday.
I. Giving thanks is essential.
Thanksgiving is defined as the “act of expressing one’s gratitude towards another.” The nature of thanksgiving resonates in the gratefulness of the believer towards God for His redemption from sin and hell, regeneration of a new life in Christ, and reconciliation to God the Father. Our inheritance of salvation and eternal life should alone make us bow our knees to the Sovereign King and Lord. By those two basis alone we should be stirred up inside to worship the Lord with thankfulness. Also, the attribute of thanksgiving bears the fruit and mark of a true follower of Christ. It signifies that Jesus Christ is Lord, and has complete control of that person's life.
A. Colossians 1:12-14 says, “Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who has delivered us from the power of darkness, and has translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins.”
II. Giving thanks is eternal.
When were in heaven for eternity, we will be continually thanking God for his awesome grace, love, and goodness.
A. 1 Chronicles 16:34 “O give thanks unto the LORD, for [he is] good: for his mercy endures forever.” Forever implies that as long has the Lord's mercy endures, which is forever, He is good, and He is deserving of praise forever. Therefore, the Lord will be praised with thanks forever. His mercy is everlasting. His love is everlasting.
B. Interesting note, this chorus that was penned by David is exactly repeated 7 times later in scripture. (Psalm 107:1; 118:1; 118:29; 136:1; 136:2; 136:3; 136:26).
C. Revelation 4:9-11 says “Whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying: You are worthy, O Lord, To receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, And by Your will they exist and were created."
III. Giving Thanks is for everyday.
A. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” The will of God? That is, that you should be grateful. This is what God is pleased to require you to perform in the name of the Lord Jesus. By giving thanks, we are doing His will. “In the gift of that Savior, he has laid the foundation for that claim, and he requires that you should not be unmindful of the obligation.”
B. Eph 5:18-20 says, “…be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
C. Psalm 100:4-5 says, “Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. For the LORD is good; His mercy is everlasting, And His truth endures to all generations.”
D. 1 Chron 16:7-11 says, “Then on that day David delivered first this psalm to thank the LORD into the hand of Asaph and his brethren. Give thanks unto the LORD, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the people. Sing unto him, sing psalms unto him, talk ye of all his wondrous works. Glory ye in his holy name: let the heart of them rejoice that seek the LORD. Seek the LORD and his strength, seek his face continually.”
We understand the origin of Thanksgiving, that it was a day, set apart to worship and give thanks to God, the Lord Jesus Christ, our Maker. Also we understood the true purpose for the holiday is a "time to focus on God and His blessings." Therefore, for our own individual lives, we now have an understanding of what the word of God says about giving thanks to the Lord. First we learned that giving thanks is an essential, and every Christian should be thankful because of how good God is towards us. Secondly, we learned that giving thanks is eternal, and that all believer will be praising the Lord with thanksgiving forever in heaven. Thirdly, we read and applied the scriptures that command giving thanks is for everyday. We are to be thankful and grateful people of God, who are humble and are appreciative of what God gives and takes away in our lives.
This song sums up how good our Lord, and a wonderful way to worship Him with thanks for all He has done for us: “What a wonderful maker
What a wonderful savior
How majestic your whispers
And how humble your love
With a strength like no other
And the heart of a father
How majestic your whispers
What a wonderful God.”