Nov 24

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This week we are taking an excursion from the ongoing articles on “Your mouth, My words,” to notice “Thanksgiving.” May each of you have had a great “Thanksgiving Day” with family and friends!


The subject of “thanksgiving” is one of importance to every Christian and should be to every person! There is no one who has been not be blessed in some way; therefore, each one should be thankful for these blessings! The American “thanksgiving” day has a history and each one of us should be interested in the American “thanksgiving” history. However, there should be a greater interest in the New Testament subject of “thanksgiving!”
First, a brief look at the American story of history. Thanksgiving became a federal holiday in 1863, right in the midst of the war between the states! This, if we know our history, seems at first to be a strange time to be thinking about “thanksgiving!” It was Abraham Lincoln who proclaimed a national day of “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens,” to be celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November. However, this was not the beginning of Americans to express their “thanksgiving” to the Almighty Father!
George Washington made a proclamation following a request by Congress in 1789, for such a “Thanksgiving” day. Strangely enough, Thomas Jefferson, chose not to observe the holiday; therefore, there was no continued celebration until the Lincoln proclamation. It was celebration off and on between the dates of 1789 and 1863.
Yet, the idea of “Thanksgiving” goes all the way back to arrival of the Pilgrims in America, the “New World” in October 1621. This means that America has been a nation of “Thanksgiving” from its foundation days. It is said that this first “thanksgiving” was attended by ninety Native Americans and fifty-three Pilgrims. The first celebration lasted three days! We might ask, could we today handle a three day “celebration” of thanksgiving?
It is not the purpose of this article to give a history of “Thanksgiving” in America but to just recall a little attention to it. The purpose of this article is to address a little of what the New Testament says about being thankful.
Look at Paul’s words: “Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thess. 5:16-18). Notice first, that Christians are a “rejoicing” people, as Paul wrote: “Rejoice evermore.” Two little words but they carry a great challenge. We all know, first hand and otherwise, that we have our troubles, our bad times, and our own tragic times. So, we ask: “Does Paul expect us to “rejoice” in such times?” Yes, even in the most tragic moments, the Christian has reason to “rejoice” and this is one thing that separates Christianity from all else! You see, Christianity is based in Christ and there are always reasons that call for “rejoicing!” One thing is that Christians are a praying people; thus, Paul’s “pray without ceasing!” Strong tells us, “uninterruptedly, that is, without omission” but then adds this thought, “(on an appropriate occasion).” Not even Jesus prayed “all” the time, but he certainly did what Paul commands us to do! In our praying, we must follow the words: “In every thing give thanks!” Here is a good time and place to call attention to the word “everything,” in Paul’s command, that it requires us to “in every thing give thanks!” Do we give thanks in the death of a young mother, or father? When the child in such a family, has a father and mother, but one dies, and the one who dies is not a Christian, our we to “give thanks?” No! But we can find reason for giving thanks even in such cases! Think for a moment, what are the reasons to give thanks in such cases? If this young child who has just lost a father, he/she still has a mother and beyond this, the child has a grandfather and grandmother who are Christians and who will help guide the young child in the way of the Lord. Or, do we minimize this most important truth?
It is impossible to cover the many areas of our subject, but this brief article hopefully will give enough to think about! So, it is hoped that you did not just eat the turkey but that you found many reasons for giving thanks to the Almighty God!

Frank R. Williams

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