Thank God for my lovely wife, Amy, who always encourages me in the things of The Lord. It is because of her encouragement that I am writing this month’s post on Thanksgiving. It was my intent to follow up on last week’s post, “Are You On The Home Team Or The Visiting Team?” And, I still will but next week. Amy convinced me that with the Holiday season approaching it would be wonderful to share what the word of God has to say concerning Thanksgiving.
It was my desire to share with you two definitions of Thanksgiving: a worldly view and a Godly view. I wanted to look at both and compare the two but I hit a stone wall. My search for a worldly view on Thanksgiving kept taking me to a Biblical perspective. When it comes to defining Thanksgiving the path will ultimately take you to Almighty God and not man. Anyway you look at it,Thanksgiving has it origin with God — even for those who celebrate it without God in mind.
THE BIBLICAL ORIGIN OF THANKSGIVING
Genesis 12:7 The LORD appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built an altar there to the LORD, who had appeared to him. If we take this portion of scripture and dissect it we’ll see God making his presence know to Abram. Notice how God has a conversation with Abram. But what’s even more amazing is what God shares with the man Abram …”To your offsprings I will give this land.” Abram responded by erecting an altar to The Lord. An alter is a place of worship, sacrifice and dedication to God. It is a place where you willingly submit your will over to The Lord in acknowledgement that it is He, and not ourselves, that provide everything that we have need of. An altar is also a place of Thanksgiving. Notice that God did not asked Abram to build him and altar. It was the condition of Abram’s heart that compelled him to erect an altar to The Lord. No doubt Abram worshiped The Lord every time he had the occasion to return. Abram did not allow his circumstances to prevent him from worshiping The Lord or offering the praise of Thanksgiving. For in the preceding verses, Genesis 12:1 The LORD had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. Abram obeyed God and left a place of comfort, a place with family and friends, to go to a new location away from all to which he was accustom. He went to a place he knew nothing about not even where it was. I imagined that he must of felt a little uncomfortable to say the least. Can you imagine how Abram would have responded if he allowed himself to focus on all the “what ifs” that entered his mind. What if we run out of food; what if we are attacked by bandits; what if my family disapproves, what if … etc. He didn’t allow circumstances to prevent him from obeying God. Nor did Abram allow his circumstances, once he got there, to stop him from offering his thanksgiving to God.
THANKSGIVING GOES BEYOND OUR CIRCUMSTANCES.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. I must admit that I find these Bible verses, at times, to be quite challenging for me. It seems that when things are going in my favor, rejoicing and giving thanks to God is not a problem for me. But prayer, more times then I would like to admit, has been reserved for when I have a need for something or things are simply not going my way. My love for The Lord and faith in His ability should always sustain me beyond any circumstances I encounter. That’s why Christians are to guard their hearts.
Proverbs 4:23 Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. My brother, Greg, constantly reminds me of how important it is to take proper inventory concerning the blessings that Jesus has bestowed upon us. Have you ever found yourself saying I have nothing to wear? When in reality that is not true … you just may not be grateful for what you do have. Or what about this statement — we have nothing in the house to eat. Think about it; when was the last time you had absolutely no food in your house whatsoever to eat. The truth is what you had wasn’t what you wanted to eat. If we focus long enough on what we don’t have, we’ll lose our perspective on reality. We’ll not be thankful for what God has already provided. Again I say examine your own heart to see if you’re allowing circumstances or your perspective to prevent you from being thankful.
THANKSGIVING IS A CONDITION OF THE HEART
Philippians 4:5-8 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 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. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. The celebration of Thanksgiving is not about food, drink, family, friends or the festive decorations of one’s home. Although these things are a part of Thanksgiving, they were never to take the place of an Almighty God who has given so generously all these things. Thanksgiving has more to do with what you and I have allowed our hearts to focus on. That’s what Paul is sharing with the church at Philippi. Paul encourages the church to focus on those things that are true, pure of heart, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy.
What robs you from focusing on these things? Is it the internet, cable television, Facebook, texting, children, work, checking your email? Satan is cunning. No wonder he is called prince of the airways. Oh! I meant of the air; or did I? Our hearts are so important that the Bible tells us for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:21
GOING ON AUTOPILOT
Mark 7:8-9 You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.”
And he continued, “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions! I equate traditions to going on autopilot. Don’t get me wrong, there are some traditions that are good and healthy. The traditions I’m referring to, as going on autopilot, are those that are done just because you’ve always done them. You’ve never taken the time to evaluate why you are doing them; it’s just what you do. It’s kind of like a story I found on the internet when I was researching for this post.
WE’VE ALWAYS DONE IT THAT WAY
A new bride is making her first big dinner for her husband and tries her hand at her mother’s brisket recipe, cutting off the ends of the roast the way her mother always did. Hubby thinks the meat is delicious, but says, “Why do you cut off the ends — that’s the best part!” She answers, “That’s the way my mother always made it.” The next week, they go to the old buddies house. She prepares the famous brisket recipe, again cutting off the ends. The young bride is sure she must be missing some vital information, so she asked her grandma why she cut off the ends. Grandma says, “Dahlink, that’s the only way it will fit in the pan!”
When we take what is holy and God ordained and treat it as though is was common place, to suit our own desires, we go on autopilot … loosing the true meaning of its spiritual implication. So this Thanksgiving take stock of things that you are truly thankful to God for and give Him thanks. It will make your Thanksgiving all the more meaningful because without God we would have nothing and can do nothing.