Thanksgiving Day Is Ours
There is a friendly debate among historians as to when the first Thanksgiving was celebrated in America. Some say it was in Virginia in 1610, and others hold fast to our traditional first Thanksgiving celebrated in Plymouth Plantation, Massachusetts, in 1621.
Whichever side of the debate one chooses to embrace, the fact remains that Thanksgiving Day is ours.
Before America existed as a nation, the hardy souls who persevered to found this great country made the effort to thank God Almighty for His provision and grace.
Giving thanks in Virginia, Massachusetts, and many other settlements across the new world was a spontaneous act by grateful people. They experienced a life so rugged, that without the providence of God they would have surely not survived. They were grateful for God’s favor and blessing.
Our first President, George Washington, a man acclaimed to be the Father of our Country, acknowledged God as the source of our Nation’s strength and very existence. He felt so strongly about this that he made a proclamation for a national day of thanksgiving on Thursday, November 26th, 1789.
President Abraham Lincoln made it an official national holiday on Thursday, November 26th, 1863. He believed in the importance of setting aside a day to honor God and give thanks individually and corporately as a people.
Thanksgiving day has become a tradition, which like other traditions, has developed, grown, and transitioned from being a simple spiritual act of acknowledging God’s blessings, to a national event of unbridled proportions.
Ball games, shopping, days off from work, and travel are just a few of the Thanksgiving activities that can encumber us and help us to forget the true meaning of the holiday.
This day is meant to be a time to stop, take notice of our blessings, and acknowledge God with a grateful heart. Lest we forget, there have been Thanksgivings in the past that were very trying and somber, days of prayer and fasting.
Today, one could say that we are too busy enjoying our blessings to pause and be thankful. We all share in the responsibility for the national event that Thanksgiving Day has become because it is our day.
I am so thankful to God that He has given us the freedom to worship Him with our thanks. And the blessings that we enjoy over this holiday are truly from Him.
I believe He continues to bless us in part because we do take a day, our day, each year, and as a people tell the whole world that we thank Almighty God for His provident grace.
The Bible says: “Give thanks to the LORD and proclaim his greatness. Let the whole world know what he has done.” (1 Chronicles 16:8 NLT)
This Thanksgiving as we share our feast with our loved ones, plan our shopping for Friday, and our Christmas decorating for Saturday, give a nod to our forbearers whose grateful hearts made this all possible.
Enjoy taking part in a celebration uniquely our own, individually and corporately. Pass on to the next generation the knowledge of how blessed we are as individuals, families, and as a people.
Speak of the mighty and wondrous things that the Lord has done, and share our thankful hearts one with another.
“Let each generation tell its children of your mighty acts; let them proclaim your power.” (Psalm 145:4 NLT)
The famous author O. Henry wrote, “There is one day that is ours. There is one day when all we Americans who are not self-made go back to the old home to eat biscuits and marvel how much nearer to the porch the old pump looks than it used to. Thanksgiving Day is the one day that is purely American.”
Don’t Let Your Hearts Be Troubled
by Debbie McDaniel, crosswalk.com
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, trust also in me.” John 14:1
Sometimes we face circumstances in life that are just out of our control. No amount of our own planning and effort can make it better, or could have even prevented it from occurring. Hard things happen. We feel at a loss in how to fix it all. Sometimes it seems too broken. We may try hard to regain some sense of order, but life can still feel unbalanced, uncertain, even chaotic, because of the pressures that cling too tightly.
Jesus Himself understood these pressures. Over and over in His Word, He reminds us not to worry, not to fear, not to be “troubled” in our hearts.
And on the heels of the Last Supper, before His difficult journey to the cross, Christ offers comfort to His disciples, for He knew what lay ahead. He knew the trials they would all soon face. He could have said so many things in that moment, but these are the words He chose then, and the words that have such power for us still today:
“Do not let your hearts (inmost part, center of your spiritual life and physical being), be troubled (agitated, restless, disturbed). Trust (believe, to have full confidence) in God, trust also in me.” John 14:1
4 Truths from this verse to help us live wisely:
– Many around us will have troubled hearts in this world, troubled souls, but Jesus reminds us, don’t let “your” heart be troubled. Don’t follow the crowd, stand apart, for we know where our true peace and security are found.
– Take care of your “heart” for it is “the fountain and seat of all the thoughts, passions, affections, and purposes” in our lives. Our hearts compel us in every action, thought, and decision. He reminds us to guard our hearts for “everything we do flows from it.”
– Don’t be “troubled.” Sounds easy enough, but quite possibly the most difficult thing in the world. How can we not be troubled when facing huge trials, loss, illness, uncertainty? The only answer lies in Him, and it’s how He ends this verse.
– “Trust. Believe.” Have full confidence in God, in Christ. For He is the answer for our troubles, every single one. He is our help for each need that we face. He knows our road, the one ahead, and also the tough one we may have just passed through, for He is with us every step. This world is not all we have. This one may be riddled with obstacles, potholes, and even dangerous cliffs. Often we find ourselves struggling just to stay the course.
But we can have hope, still. Right in the very midst of it, in the tough stuff, in the battle. For He is secure. He is trustworthy. He is faithful.
And He has much better, and great blessing, still in store…
Believing Impossible Things
“Jesus looked at them intently and said, ‘Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But not with God. Everything is possible with God.’” Mark 10:27 (NLT)
Most of us like our world to operate in a predictable way. We know what’s important to us, and we accept our own limitations. Days fly by, and it’s all quite agreeable until suddenly, everything changes. The recent pandemic ushered in so much change, we could hardly recognize our world at all.
It felt like we had tumbled into some unknown place in time. Perhaps now we can identify more with Alice as she tumbled into the world where the Red Queen lived. Lewis Carroll, in Through the Looking-Glass, gives us a glimpse of how Alice responds to her new situation when she is asked to believe impossible things:
“Alice laughed: ‘There’s no use trying,’ she said; ‘one can’t believe impossible things.’
‘I daresay you haven’t had much practice,’ said the Queen. ‘When I was younger, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.’”
In this excerpt, Carroll manages to shine a light on one of the bigger issues of our Christian experience. You see, Alice is like most of us. She sees the reality of the world and cannot see how incredible things are even possible. Her mind is finite, fixed, and as it observes the world, it tosses the miraculous over the side and quickly declares, “It’s impossible!”
Perhaps the Queen in this tale believes as God might have us do as well. The Queen admits she may not do it enough, now that she’s older, but somewhere in her younger days, she was able to believe many impossible things even before breakfast.
What keeps you from believing impossible things? What causes you to imagine the world is rolling along, almost without hope? Perhaps the problem is we’ve become a little too adult.
The story of Alice reminds us we might be better off to adopt a more childlike faith, to go back to a time when we believed God could do anything. If we had that kind of faith, and we believed as Jesus told us, “… Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But not with God. Everything is possible with God,” then we’d be more confident (Mark 10:27). We would trust that no matter how things look, God still reigns, and that means there’s a whole lot more that is possible. God alone can bring us possibility, assurance and perfect awareness of His intentions.
When you experience the bleak moments of life that cause your spirit to sag and your face to lose its glow, don’t go tumbling down into the gloom. Instead, look up and see the One who offers you His favor. Reach out to your Creator, the One who makes all things possible. After all, your life is in God’s hands, and He has unlimited power for your good.
God wants to carry you through each dark moment into His glorious light. Why? Because He knows all that is possible for you, and He wants you to know it too. Just say it out loud: “All things are possible with God.”