Although Thanksgiving is a holiday unique to America, us believers in Jesus Christ have even more reason to celebrate this day of giving thanks.
As Christians, we are called to be thankful to God in all things.
This theme of giving thanks to the Lord is repeated throughout the Bible, and ultimately leads us into giving thanks for the greatest gift of all, the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ.
Here are just a few instances when God’s people gathered together to give Him thanks:
Noah gave thanks to God after the flood by sacrificing clean animals on the altar (Genesis 8).
In Leviticus 7:12, God speaks of His people giving explicit offerings “as an expression of thankfulness.”
The Israelites sang a song of thanksgiving when God delivered them from Pharaoh and his army by parting the Red Sea (Exodus 15).
The Passover, Pentecost, and the Feast of Tabernacles were all decreed as being feasts unto the Lord (Leviticus 23), giving thanks for His provision and remembering how He provided for His people.
In the New Testament, First Thessalonians 5:16-18 says: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
Philippians 4:6 reminds us to approach the Lord with thanksgiving when going to Him in prayer: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.”
1 Timothy 2:1 reminds us again that all men are to give thanks to God: “Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men.”
And through God’s son, Jesus, His ultimate provision is given to us. Jesus Christ gave his life to free us from the death of our sins (1 Peter 3:18) and forgive us our debts (Colossians 2:14) so we may stand before the almighty Father clean and set-apart (1 John 1:7).
As the Apostle Paul says in 2 Corinthians 9:15, “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!”
This gift of salvation through His son Christ Jesus is available to everyone (John 3:16).
And we all have reason to give thanks each day for the forgiveness, love, and grace we have in the Messiah.
But most importantly, it would be remiss for us as believers to gather around the table on Thanksgiving Day with our family whom God has bestowed to us and consume the food He has provided for us, while we live in a nation He has blessed with prosperity, and not acknowledge how thankful we are to Him for giving us more than we could ever deserve.
Sadly, not giving thanks to Jesus on a day dedicated to giving thanks is becoming more common in today’s society. Between our media, entertainment, and attacks on conservative values, it is apparent that God is being ignored in many homes across the nation.
But this should give all us believers even more reason to sing a loud song of thanksgiving. When remembering the Pilgrims from long ago, picture their praises sung and their steadfast faith that the Father would provide.
As the story goes, the first Thanksgiving feast occurred during the Pilgrims’ second winter in America.
The Pilgrims had come to the New World in search of religious freedom and the opportunity to forge their own path apart from the Church of England.
Their first winter in this new land proved harsh and dozens of Pilgrims died from the bitter conditions. Food was scarce with no hope on the horizon.
That is until a trade ship unexpectedly arrived and offered the Pilgrims grain in exchange for beaver pelts.
The following year, their summer crops produced enough harvest to feed the Pilgrims through the upcoming winter. Governor William Bradford announced December 13th, 1621 to be a day of giving thanks for their bountiful harvest.
It is said that the Pilgrims thanked God for the opportunity and provision they had received in America.
And unlike the Thanksgiving feast we hold today, the Pilgrims celebrated for three days (although, that is about how long it takes most of us to finish the leftover turkey), according to the History Channel.
Native Americans also joined in the feast, including the famous interpreter, Squanto. Almost like a modern revival, settlers and Indians alike came together in prayer, sermons, and worship.
In 1863, during the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln made Thanksgiving a national holiday to be celebrated on the last Thursday of every November.
In 1941, Congress ruled that the fourth Thursday of November would be observed as “Thanksgiving Day.”
So this Thanksgiving, let us remember and give thanks for all that God has done in our lives.
Ask each family member to share a time when the Lord provided for them and end with a brief prayer of thankfulness.
It is amazing how families and friends bond together when they are lifting their arms up to the Most High.
So Happy Thanksgiving to all! And, we thank our Lord and Savior who gives us reason to rejoice in thanksgiving every day.
Please share with us in the comments section one of your praises of thanksgiving this year, or a Thanksgiving memory that brings you joy.