Okay, we all know what this coming Thursday is right? Yes, it is a time for giving thanks in America.
With all that has happened this year, you might want to ask me, “Woody, why would I be thankful for this year?” I get that… we’ve had a tough one this year, but I think this year especially, we should look back and remember what this holiday is all about and what it still should mean to each and every one of us.
Let’s take a brief look at the history of Thanksgiving and what it represents. (You know how I love history)
Thanksgiving Proclamation of 1789
“Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor—and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.”
Proclamation of Thanksgiving
(Abraham Lincoln – October 3, 1863 – 74 Years Later)
“The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God.”
And he goes on… “I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning (dwelling) in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next (this was a Saturday), as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.”
Where it is Celebrated?
Thanksgiving is a national holiday celebrated on various dates in the United States, Canada, Brazil, Grenada, Saint Lucia, and Liberia, and the sub-national entities Leiden, Norfolk Island, and the inhabited territories of the United States.
From Our Bible
Giving thanks is all over our Bible. Various authors; various chapters… all reminding us of the same message.
1 Chronicles 16:34 (Ezra) – “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.”
We, as Christians, should be giving thanks every day! But all too often, we forget about giving thanks especially during the bad times (today). Usually and unfortunately, when we’re celebrating good times, we forget about God and all that He has given to us.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (Paul) – “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
When We Succeed
How happy we are when we succeed? It makes us feel good, feel like we’re on top of the world and like nothing else really matters at the time. But do we remember where our victories come from?
1 Corinthians 15:57 (Paul) – “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
I believe, the most important part of success is giving thanks. We should all understand even our greatest successes were not possible without God and are not complete without thanks for He has given us victory!
When We Fail
A difficult thing to do, don’t you agree? I know when I fail at anything I try and do it makes me feel pretty lousy. I not only feel I’ve let myself down but all those around me as well.
Romans 5:4 (Paul) – “We also boast of our troubles, because we know that trouble produces endurance, endurance brings God’s approval, and his approval creates hope.”
We need to begin looking at our failures as lessons from God. Whatever we may have tried to accomplish without God, it just wasn’t what He had planned for us. He has something far better planned for us and we need to understand that and continue on to our next venture.
After all, we can’t win at everything we do as we, despite what we think of ourselves, are only human and we will make mistakes. Our only hope, as well as God’s intentions, are that we learn from all our failures.
In Good Times
Sure, this one is easy. But how often do we forget. As I said earlier, nothing else really seems to matter to us when in the good times. We’re having a ball reveling in our successes and, at the time, forgetting our failures.
At these times, especially so, we should remember where they come from.
James 1:17 – “Every good gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the Heavenly lights, who does not change like the shifting shadows.”
God gives us these good times and we should be thankful in remembering where they’ve come from and how blessed we truly are as His children.
In Bad Times
Again, doesn’t seem like an easy thing to do, right? What is the difference between bad times and failure? That’s easy… failure may be a job interview; project at home or just something we’re trying to accomplish. We fail… whoops!
The “bad times” can be described as sickness (or pandemic), loss of a Loved one or just a point where our lives seem to be heading down-hill.
How or why should we give thanks during bad times in our lives? After all, we’re not having a good time.
Proverbs 3:5-6) (Solomon) – “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”
Yes, not with our “own understanding.” God will put challenges before us. We should know that… our hope, understanding and end-all result should be realizing why we have been given these tribulations.
When God Rewards Us (for our good deeds)
This is something we really need to focus on. All too often, when we do good deeds, we look for a sign or expect greater rewards for what we’ve done.
Ephesians 4:2 (Paul) – “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in Love.”
We need to learn to recognize when God is giving us thanks for our good works. Most of the time, the signs are small, without great glory but still they should be recognized, understood and greatly appreciated.
- You wake without an alarm – feeling refreshed, well-rested and ready for the day.
- You take in the Sunrise – (again, you’re early) and you are filled with the warmth of God’s Holy Spirit!
- You’re early for work – as the traffic was light (because you woke early)
- The coffee is ready – you usually make it, but someone has beaten you to it.
- You face very challenge – you may not have expected these things to arise, but you dealt with them with wisdom, knowledge and understanding.
Thankful for the Obvious
So, what are you thankful for? I could give you a million myself but, as I always do, I turned to Google to see what most people are thankful for as they might be the same as mine.
- Good Health – Even if it isn’t all that great, it could be worse, and you likely still have some “working parts” to be thankful for.
- Money in the Bank – Having even just a few dollars makes you richer and a lot of people on earth.
- Good Friends – Often, it’s the quality of friendship and not the quantity.
- Your Parents – Even if they’re no longer with you, they gave you life!
- Having a Partner – This goes without much explaining. Who else would put up with you and understands your highs and lows?
- Out Pets – I know, I know… big one for me but aren’t they simply the best representation (here on earth) of unconditional love?
Okay, those were easy, but what about some of the things we should be grateful for and we don’t even think about them?
Again, let’s turn to Google and see what we get…
- Mistakes – If we didn’t make mistakes, what lessons have we learned… how would we be who we are today?
- When we didn’t know – when I didn’t have the answer, it offered me an opportunity to learn!
- The Difficult Times – We already know this one. This is our strength!
- For our Failures – As they gave us opportunity and motivation to do better.
- Heartache– I know I have a heart. I have emotions and, deep inside of me, there is great love.
- The Cold – or the heat, because you know the difference… you have feeling within you.
- Clothes that Fit Snugly – As we’ve had enough to eat.
- Chores to Do – Because I have a home.
- Bills to Pay – I have things whereas other may not!
- Piles of Laundry – It means I have loved ones around me.
Power of Gratitude
I found this article on gratitude https://lisaappelo.com. Lisa Appelo is, from what I’ve read, a very faithful follower of Christ. A recent widow with seven children and an advisor to anyone that visits on Faith, Hope and Grief. I found her words very inspiring and thought you would like to hear them as well.
Believe it or not, there is a lot of power in gratitude, There are many things we achieve when we express thanks most assuredly to God. Here are just a few examples.
Gratitude glorifies God – This alone would be reason to give thanks to God. Our gratitude glorifies God as we exalt not the gifts, but the Giver. Gratitude helps us realize all we have comes not because of us, but from God.
2 Corinthians 4:15 – “And as God’s grace reaches more and more people, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory. “
Gratitude helps us see God – Gratitude opens our spiritual eyes. There’s a beautiful cycle in giving God thanks: the more we thank Him, the more we see Him working in us and around us. Gratitude helps us sense God’s presence, His personal care and His perfect timing.
James 1:16-17 – “Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights.”
Gratitude puts us squarely in God’s will – We often make God’s will out to be some big, mystical plan when sometimes, it’s simply obedience. And part of His will for us is to be thankful, not just on the sunny days but on the hard ones as well.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 – “…give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
Gratitude brings peace – Count your blessings, not sheep we’re told to get rid of the worry keeping us up at night. Gratitude helps us see that God’s hand is all over our circumstances. And God tells us when we give him our thanks, He gives us supernatural peace.
Philippians 4:6-7 – “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Gratitude draws us to God – Gratitude for the magnitude of God’s undeserved kindness draws us to Him. We see that when Jesus healed 10 lepers. As Jesus walked by, all 10 cried out for healing. “Go, show yourselves to the priests,” Jesus commanded and as they went, they were healed!
Fingers were restored and ulcers disappeared as full sensation returned to their faces and limbs. Certainly they were all happy, but only one was thankful. Only one came back to Jesus, fell as his feet and thanked him.
Luke 17:17-19 – “Jesus asked, ‘Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?’ Then he said to him, ‘Rise and go; your faith has made you well.’”
Gratitude brings contentment – It’s said that gratitude makes what we have enough. If we aren’t grateful for what God has given us, getting more won’t satisfy us either. Being thankful is the key to contentment.
1 Timothy 6:6-8 – “… godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and neither can we carry anything out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with these.”
Gratitude deepens faith – Keeping a record of God’s past faithfulness is faith boost when we face new difficulty. My gratitude journals are testimonies that on my hardest days and in the worst circumstances, God’s record of faithfulness is 100%. That’s why God commanded Israel to remember His great deeds.
Psalm 136:1 – “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His love endures forever.”
Gratitude leads to joy – The overflow of gratitude is joy. Realizing God’s abundant goodness, even in the hard, is a gateway for joy. Psalms 126 shows this so clearly as the Hebrew exiles sang their thanks to God for bringing them back to Israel. It’s a psalm I prayed in advance for years.
Psalm 126:1-3 – “When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dreamed. Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.”
Gratitude defies Satan’s lies – Satan is so wily! He whispers that God isn’t good; that He’s withholding good from us. But his scheme’s as old as the garden of Eden, where he questioned Eve: “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” When Eve responded only the tree of good and evil was off-limits, Satan suggested God was keeping good from them. “You will not certainly die. . . For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
In a garden that was perfect, that produced abundantly without work or weeding, where every single plant but ONE had been given to Adam and Eve, Satan focused on the lack. True gratitude for God and the abundance He gives protects us from caving to the enemy’s lies.
Psalm 84:11 – “No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.”
Gratitude guards against envy – Envy makes us want what someone else has. I mean, we deserve it! Gratitude makes us realize God has given us far more than we deserve. Because there’s enough for everyone, we can cheer rather than compare. A heart wholly grateful has no room left for envy.
Psalm 138:1 – “I will give You thanks with all my heart;”
Gratitude helps us live in the present – “Wherever you are, be all there!” Jim Elliot famously said. But that’s difficult to do in the worry and rush of life. Gratitude helps. Gratitude opens our eyes to the simple beauty of ordinary days. It lets us see this day and this moment as gifts and to take in the abundance right now.
Ecclesiastes 7:10 – “Say not, ‘Why were the former days better than these?’ For it is not from wisdom that you ask this.”
Gratitude is a testimony – When we thank God openly and acknowledge what He’s done for us, we proclaim a personal, caring God to the world around us. We show that contentment and peace come not from what we have but Who we know.
Psalm 105:1 – “Give thanks to the LORD and proclaim his greatness. Let the whole world know what he has done.”
Developing a grateful heart brings incredible blessing. My only regret in keeping a daily gratitude list… Not starting it sooner.
What are the things you are grateful for? I’ve got a weekly challenge for you. Every morning after you’ve risen, begin to make a list. In everything that happens, what are you thankful for?
Watch this Lesson
Despite what we’re going through these days, we should still remember to be thankful for what we DO have. If we stop and really think about it, we probably have more than we realize.
Remember that our Bible (word of God) and the lessons of our Lord Jesus Christ are all about thankfulness… not just in good times but also in bad.
I know its difficult in these times. I get it… I truly do. But we need to remember who we are; what and who we believe in; and how much we truly have been given in our lifetimes.
Before you begin my challenge, read this Psalm to yourself.
1Shout for joy
to the Lord, all the earth.
2Worship the Lord with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.
3Know that the Lord is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
4Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
5For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.
Have a Happy and safe Thanksgiving this year and keep your prayers up for next, that it might be filled with better opportunity than this year and more blessings from God!
Go with God; be good to one another; always stay humble; always be kind… God Bless!