Thanksgiving Through the Years
The first official presidential proclamation issued in America was George Washington’s 1789 Thanksgiving message to the people of the United States. He recommended to the people:
“…that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country… “
Later, when the constitution was severely tested in the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln also issued a Thanksgiving proclamation:
“I do therefore invite my fellow citizens … to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to … fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it … to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.”
Today we once again face monumental challenges in America and around the world. But as our Forefathers did in the midst of their trials, we must us also take time to seek wisdom and guidance from our Heavenly Father and to thank Him for His blessings.
Thanksgiving is an important part of the Christian life. It is the capstone to a life of prayer. The apostle Paul instructed the church in Philippi regarding prayer:
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” (Philippians 4:6, NASB)
Our requests and intercession are to include thanksgiving as a sign of our faith. We thank the Lord in advance that He hears our prayers, and that He is about a good work, bringing His will to pass in our lives. The Scriptures are filled with prayers of thanksgiving:
“I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.” (Psalm 9:1, ESV)
“To you, O God of my fathers, I give thanks and praise, for you have given me wisdom and might, and have now made known to me what we asked of you…” (Daniel 2:23, ESV)
“… addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father…” (Ephesians 5:19-20a, ESV)
Thanksgiving is also a way that we show humility before Almighty God. One day Jesus witnessed this kind of a grateful heart when He healed a group of ten lepers. Luke writes:
“… And as they went they were cleansed. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks.” (Luke 17:14-16a, ESV)
Jesus made note of his humility in thanksgiving, but also of the lack of thanks on the part of the others:
“Then Jesus answered, ‘Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?’ And he said to him, ‘Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.'” (Luke 17:17-19, ESV)
May we be like this one leper who was healed and then came back to give thanks. As we celebrate with our family and friends, let us do so with a heart of thanksgiving for all that God has done in our lives over this past year.
And in faith, thank Him for all that He is going to do in the year to come – because there is tremendous power in Thanksgiving!
Ecclesiastes 1:2, 9-10 2“Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.”
9What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. 10Is there anything of which one can say, “Look! This is something new”? It was here already, long ago; it was here before our time.
Solomon set his heart to find the meaning of life. He tried pleasure of all kinds. He tried to find satisfaction in wealth, in building projects, and in increasing his great wisdom. He concluded it was meaningless. A million men had come and gone before him, and nothing had changed. He grieved over the fact that those men are not remembered nor would he be. We don’t know what Solomon looked like. We can’t know him personally. All we have are a few pages of history and some of his sayings of wisdom. Is that all there is to life?
He had the wisdom to see that everything that is promoted as new is just a different face on an old product. Man still tries to find pleasure in the same things he looked to millenniums ago. He’ll still be seeking the same things tomorrow.
What Solomon in all His wisdom did not see was the coming of Jesus. Though the promise was made to his father, and though as the son of David he was a foreshadow of Christ, he did not see his descendant would be the Messiah. Could he have said that all is meaningless if he knew God was going to show us how to live and die through the sacrifice that makes us fit for heaven? To seek the things of the world and personal satisfaction is always meaningless. To come into a relationship with your Creator and find His purpose for your existence is filled with eternal significance. Solomon knew we were to fear God and keep His commands, for there would come a day of judgment. What he missed was a deepening daily relationship with that God, which lays up treasures in heaven that do not perish.
Streams in the Desert – November 18
- 202118 Nov
Blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me. (Luke 7:23)
It is sometimes very difficult not to be offended in Jesus Christ. The offenses may be circumstantial. I find myself in a prison-house—a narrow sphere, a sick chamber, an unpopular position—when I had hoped for wide opportunities. Yes, but He knows what is best for me. My environment is of His determining. He means it to intensify my faith, to draw me into nearer communion with Himself, to ripen my power. In the dungeon my soul should prosper.
The offense may be mental. I am haunted by perplexities, questions, which I cannot solve. I had hoped that, when I gave myself to Him, my sky would always be clear; but often it is overspread by mist and cloud. Yet let me believe that, if difficulties remain, it is that I may learn to trust Him all the more implicitly—to trust and not be afraid. Yes, and by my intellectual conflicts, I am trained to be a tutor to other storm-driven men.
The offense may be spiritual. I had fancied that within His fold I should never feel the biting winds of temptation; but it is best as it is. His grace is magnified. My own character is matured. His Heaven is sweeter at the close of the day. There I shall look back on the turnings and trials of the way, and shall sing the praises of my Guide. So, let come what will come, His will is welcome; and I shall refuse to be offended in my loving Lord.
Blessed is he whose faith is not offended,
When all around his way
The power of God is working out deliverance
For others day by day;
The Holy Spirit—the great Teacher
By: Charles Spurgeon
“Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.” John 16:13
Suggested Further Reading: Psalm 25:4-14
If I give myself to the Holy Spirit and ask his guidance, there is no fear of my wandering. Again, we rejoice in this Spirit because he is ever-present. We fall into a difficulty sometimes; we say, “Oh, if I could take this to my minister, he would explain it; but I live so far off, and am not able to see him.” That perplexes us, and we turn the text round and round and cannot make anything out of it. We look at the commentators. We take down pious Thomas Scott, and, as usual, he says nothing about it if it be a dark passage. Then we go to holy Matthew Henry, and if it is an easy Scripture, he is sure to explain it; but if it is a text hard to be understood, it is likely enough, of course, left in his own gloom. And even Dr Gill himself, the most consistent of commentators, when he comes to a hard passage, manifestly avoids it in some degree. But when we have no commentator or minister, we have still the Holy Spirit. And let me tell you a little secret: whenever you cannot understand a text, open your Bible, bend your knee, and pray over that text; and if it does not split into atoms and open itself, try again. If prayer does not explain it, it is one of the things God did not intend you to know, and you may be content to be ignorant of it. Prayer is the key that openeth the cabinets of mystery. Prayer and faith are sacred keys that can open secrets, and obtain great treasures. There is no college for holy education like that of the blessed Spirit, for he is an ever-present tutor, to whom we have only to bend the knee, and he is at our side, the great expositor of truth.