It is commonly believed that the first Thanksgiving celebration took place in 1621. This feast was attended by both Pilgrims and Indians who joined together to thank God for their bountiful harvest of the previous year. This celebration was continued by the first American colonies, and later by the United States, as a time of thanksgiving for the blessings that God had bestowed upon the American people.
The official Thanksgiving Day holiday was started in 1863 when Abraham Lincoln, at the end of the Civil War, asked Americans to set aside the last Thursday of November as a day of thanksgiving to God for the blessings He had shown to America (one of which was an end to the Civil War).
In 1939 FDR moved the holiday to the prior week. He did this to help businesses by giving them a longer holiday shopping period. Finally, in 1941 the fourth Thursday in November was declared by Congress to be the official holiday of Thanksgiving.
Clearly, the Thanksgiving holiday began, and was continued, as a time to give thanks to God for the blessings He has bestowed upon our country and its individual citizens. Most presidents in their Thanksgiving Day proclamation clearly declare that the day is set aside to give thanks to God for the blessings He has given to us. One example of this is George Bush’s Thanksgiving Day proclamation of 1990…
“Now, therefore, I, George Bush, president of the United States of America, do hereby call upon the American people to observe Thursday, November 22, 1990, as a National Day of Thanksgiving and to gather together in homes and places of worship on that day of thanks to affirm by their prayers and their gratitude the many blessings God has bestowed upon us.”
There can be no doubt, historically, Thanksgiving is a day set aside for giving thanks to God Almighty for His many blessings He has given to us. As this Thanksgiving Day approaches let us be sure to verbally explain to the younger generations the wonderful history behind the celebration. Also, let us be sure that we all have a true thankful attitude towards our God for all His manifold gifts of grace He has given to each of us.
Did you know that everyday should be Thanksgiving for the Christian?
“In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. “ (1Th 5:18)
Let’s see what the Bible says about “The Christian’s Thanksgiving Day”…
Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations. (Psa 100:3-5)
In our text we find three basic questions about Thanksgiving answered:
Question #1 – Who are we to thank? – vs 3
“Know ye that the LORD he is God:”
1.Our God is specifically identified as “LORD” which is the Hebrew word “Jehovah”. This word teaches us that our God is “the self existent, eternal One”. In other words, He is the One true God. There are many false gods in this world; but, He is the only God that truly exists eternally. (Psa 83:18, 1 Tim 1:17)
“it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves;”
1.Our God is identified as our Creator. He is the One to whom we owe our existence. We owe our physical life to Him. But we also possess our spiritual life because of Him. (Acts 17:28, John 17:1-4)
“we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.”
1.Our God is identified as our Leader and Shepherd. Here, the word for “people” is describing a tribe or a nation. In other words, we are a part of the tribe or nation that He is leading. Another way of putting it is we are like sheep that are cared for by a Shepherd. He leads us, feeds us, and protects us throughout our life’s journey. (John 10:25-30)
Question #2 – How should we thank Him? – vs 4
“Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise:”
1.We should verbally thank and praise Him. To “thank” here is a word related to a choir of worshippers singing of His works. To “praise” means to sing hymns exalting Him. In other words, we are to verbally tell other people what He has done for us and, in doing so, place Him above all other people and gods of this world. (1 Chr 16:8 )
“be thankful unto him,”
1.Here we find our inward attitude is important as well. Not only are we to verbally be thankful but we are to have a thankful spirit within us as well. The word here for “thankful” speaks of extending the hand… much like an infant in need of their parent will hold up their hands asking to be picked up and taken care of. We should always have an infant’s attitude recognizing our constant need of His care for us. Truly without Him we can do nothing! (John 15:4-6, Acts 5:38-39)
“and bless his name.”
1.To “bless” means to kneel down. This speaks of our need to recognize His greatness and our need to be humble in His presence. We bring ourselves to a point of submission and total reliance on Him when we sincerely say… “Not my will but thine be done” in all areas of our lives. (Luke 22:41-42) This is the true submissive spirit of a thankful heart doing all in the name of Christ. (Col 3:15-17)
Question #3 – Why should we thank Him? – vs 5
“For the LORD is good;”
1. Why do we thank Him… Because He is a “good” Lord. In other words, He is a God that does bountiful, beneficial works on our behalf. He is a gracious God, working on our behalf even though we do not deserve His blessings. (Neh 9:17, Joel 2:13, 2 Cor 4:12-15)
” his mercy is everlasting;”
1. We thank Him because He is eternally merciful to us. He shows us “mercy” when He withholds harm from us even though we justly deserve that harm to come upon us. The greatest example of His mercy is an eternity in the Lake of Fire. Even though we deserve an eternity in hell, He withholds it from those whom He has forgiven. This is truly an act of His great everlasting mercy. For this He deserves a lifetime of our thanks. (Psa 103:8-11)
“and his truth endureth to all generations.”
1.Finally, we are told we should be thankful for His Word that He has given to us. It is this timeless Word that holds the message of salvation, the keys to successful living on earth, and great promises of our eternity with Him. Without His Word, we would all be destined for a life of spiritual failure as well as an eternity in hell. (Psa 119:105, Prov 6:23, Phil 2:14-17)
THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION
For the Christian….
As we take time to celebrate the Thanksgiving season, let’s remember to take a time out and specifically thank the Lord for all of His many blessings He has given to us. Let’s tell others about what He has done for us.
“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.”(1Ch 16:8-9)
For those who have never trusted in Christ…
Take time out to read the Lord’s Word and see what He did by sending His Son to die on the cross and pay the price for the sins of His people. (Titus 3:4-7, Roms 5:8-11, 2 Cor 5:19-21, 1 Jhn 4:9-10). After doing all of this for His people, surely we can do what He asks of us.
What is His desire for our life? We are to turn from our sins and our false beliefs and rely on the message of the gospel to show us the truth about the way of salvation….
“And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.”(Mar 1:15)
After turning to Christ and trusting in His work to save us from our sins, we can join with other true believers and say… “Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.” (2Co 9:15)
You may also like the SIH 2012 Thanksgiving Devotion: http://wp.me/pU88A-1t8
Also SIH is celebrating Thanksgiving the entire month of November 2012 with a series of much shorter daily devotions the series begins here: http://wp.me/pU88A-1rR