Today I want to preach about “Thanksgiving.” Now, this may seem like an odd text for such a sermon. However, this describes what people are like in our day and age. Today, if you talk to most people, they do not thank God for anything. And if they do, it will be done tomorrow and only tomorrow. For many people, Thanksgiving is a day when they get to stay home from work or school and eat turkey. Perhaps this is what you look forward to tomorrow more than anything else. If you are saved today, there are some things to remember about Thanksgiving, and I thought today would be a perfect day to look at that.
II Chronicles 16:8
Give thanks to the Lord, and call upon His name…make known His deeds among the people. We must be a proper witness to people. However, to do this, we must be a thankful people
We are told to be thankful always for all things. Not just tomorrow…not just this week. Thanksgiving should be a special day that we remember to be thankful for everything that God has given us the past year. It should be the second time we are thankful for those things.
WHY CELEBRATE THANKSGIVING BUT NOT X-MASS, EASTER, ETC?
Christmass, Easter, Halloween, and other such holidays have pagan roots. Thanksgiving does not. Here is the first thanksgiving proclamation:
Governor William Bradford of Massachusetts made this first Thanksgiving Proclamation three years after the Pilgrims settled at Plymouth:
"Inasmuch as the great Father has given us this year an abundant harvest of Indian corn, wheat, peas, beans, squashes, and garden vegetables, and has made the forests to abound with game and the sea with fish and clams, and inasmuch as He has protected us from the ravages of the savages, has spared us from pestilence and disease, has granted us freedom to worship God according to the dictates of our own conscience.
Now I, your magistrate, do proclaim that all ye Pilgrims, with your wives and ye little ones, do gather at ye meeting house, on ye hill, between the hours of 9 and 12 in the day time, on Thursday, November 29th, of the year of our Lord one thousand six hundred and twenty three and the third year since ye Pilgrims landed on ye Pilgrim Rock, there to listen to ye pastor and render thanksgiving to ye Almighty God for all His blessings."
Now, Thanksgiving was not celebrated every year after that.
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 and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by
affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for
their safety and happiness:"
“Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; 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 previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted' for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.
“And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have show kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.”
--George Washington, October 3, 1789
“We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven. We have been preserved, the many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own.
Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to God that made us! It behooves us, then to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.”
-- April 30, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln's Proclamation for a National Day of Fasting, Humiliation and Prayer.
After the War Between The States, Congress declared Thanksgiving as an official holiday. In 1939 U.S. President Franklin shifted the day of Thanksgiving from the last Thursday in November to one week earlier. Retail merchants had petitioned the president to make the change to allow for an extra week of shopping between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Many Americans objected to the change in their holiday customs and continued to celebrate Thanksgiving on the last Thursday of the month. Roosevelt’s political opponents in Congress also opposed the break with tradition and dubbed the early holiday “Franksgiving.” In May 1941 Roosevelt admitted that he had made a mistake and signed a bill that established the fourth Thursday of November as the national Thanksgiving holiday, which it has been ever since.
“Enter into His gates with thanksgiving…” Far too often, we come to God with a “Give me this” or “Give me that” attitude. God has blessed us far too much to never give Him thanks for what He has done. We deserve none of it.
Let us give thanks to our great God for all the wonderful things He has done for us!