When you hear the word Thanksgiving, what comes to your mind? Turkey, family, football games (ALL DAY), parades, a stuffed feeling from eating too much, no school? Are these the kinds of thoughts you have, or do you think of giving thanks to God? Isn’t it “interesting” how Satan has succeeded in drawing our attention away from the real reason for this holiday? Even among Christians we find this attitude, of having our attention shifted away from Christ and onto activities.
Webster’s Dictionary defines thanksgiving in this way: “the act of rendering thanks, especially to God; a prayer expressing gratitude; a public acknowledgement or celebration of divine goodness and mercies.”
I want to take each part of that definition and think about what it means.
The act of rendering thanks, especially to God.
Here we are, human beings, rotten, vile, wicked sinners all of us in a hopeless, helpless situation. God saw our need and sent the answer to our need in the form of Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:8; Philippians 2:5-8) Just imagine that – the Son of God did not think that Father was asking too much of him!
I know you are probably thinking, “I’ve heard all of this before.” Listen afresh with your heart. Really think about it. How can we not be humbled and not have a heart full of love and thanksgiving to God! 2 Corinthians 9:15 says it quite well. “Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift!”
A prayer expressing gratitude.
We live in a society that is fat and happy, and very self-centered. Whether or not we want to admit it, we as Christians are influenced by that thinking too.
ME! What can society, people, things, etc., do for ME? Am I happy? Are MY needs being met?
In spite of our foolish thinking and behavior, God HAS chosen to bless us as a people. We have a place to live, clothes to wear, food to eat, a church family, a free nation, and good sound preaching. Are we truly thankful for all these things? I’m afraid that in the near future, we may have some of these things taken away from us. Then we will see if we pass the test. How truly thankful were we?
I am reminded of the story of the ten lepers in Luke 17. Only one went back to let the Lord know that he was thankful for being healed. If we go by that percentage, only 10% of us are letting God know we are thankful. When was the last time you spent simply thanking God? Thanksgiving is not just in our own words, but with our whole heart. Psalm 9:1 says, “I will praise thee, O Lord, with my whole heart; I will show forth thy marvelous works.”
A public acknowledgment or celebration of divine goodness and mercies.
I believe this last definition was the reason for the first “official” Thanksgiving Day. The setting of that first Thanksgiving was not to get together to see family, for many of their family members had starved to death the hard winter before. These people knew what it was to sacrifice and live with the bare necessities of life. Yet they came to that celebration with hearts full of gratitude and thanksgiving. I’m sure they were thankful for their physical needs that were met, but they were mostly thankful for a free country and freedom to worship God as they pleased.
Will it be too late for us when we realize how truly blessed we have been to have had freedom of worship?
The world we live in today does not even acknowledge God as God, let alone have a heartfelt thankfulness to Him. If we STOP . . . Be still . . . and take some time to reconsider what a blessed people we are, then maybe we would truly be able to have a Thanks-giving.
:::From the Archives::: This article was written by Barb Davies in November 1992 for Apron & The Sword (previous name of Grace & Honor). Her and her husband, John, have been faithful members at LVBC for over 30 years. They have four children and currently five granddaughters, all of whom faithfully serve the Lord in their respective churches.
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