This week in the United States we celebrate something so very blessed and unusual in the world—“Thanksgiving.” Pausing for a moment, we collectively bow our heads to thank God for His provision and protection. Take a moment with me to consider the significance of giving thanks, and perhaps read this to your family:
On September 6, 1620, “Pilgrims” left England for the new “America.” After two months on a storm-tossed sea, they landed on the shores of Massachusetts and held a prayer service. Tragically unprepared for a harsh New England winter, nearly half died before spring.
Persevering with great faith and assisted by helpful Native Americans, the Pilgrims reaped a good harvest the following summer and declared a three-day feast. In December 1621, they thanked God and celebrated with their new native friends. This first Thanksgiving began an annual tradition that spread among colonial states. U.S. President George Washington declared 150 years later:
- “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...”
U.S. President Abraham Lincoln almost 100 years later set aside the last Thursday of November for national thanks:
- “We often forget the Source from which the blessings of fruitful years and healthful skies come… No human wisdom hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God.”
Thankfulness is a powerful attractor of blessing. The Apostle Paul wrote to the churches in Thessalonica and Ephesus:
- “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thess. 5:18)
- “Give thanks to God the Father at all times and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." (Eph. 5:20)
As a young scholar in the synagogue, Paul learned the secret to a joy-filled and powerful life from the book of Proverbs…
- “Keep and guard your heart with all vigilance...for out of it flow the springs of life.” (Proverbs 4:23)
What you put into your heart is what will flow out of your life. The words you use will condition your heart.What do you want flowing out of your heart—bitterness, anger, discouragement, and strife?
Thankful people are the most joyous people on the face of the earth. That’s no coincidence.
This is a step beyond remembering God and thanking God for all that we enjoy in this world. It is thankfulness for His presence. Thankfulness for the relationship, for God being our Father.
So powerfully did Paul understand thankfulness, he wrote that it was what conditioned the prayers of the faithful…
- "Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God." (Phil 4:6)
When we are thankful, when we praise God, glorify His name, sing songs of thankfulness, it is not just about “blessing” Him. It is the element that enlarges our life, builds our faith and fills us with courage. Thankfulness centers us, reminds us that all of what we are and have is from His generous hands.
As the psalmist declares:
- "It is good to give thanks to the LORD, to sing praises to his name.”
Speaking words of thankfulness heals our hearts, fills us with anointed vision and conditions our lives for the power of His presence.
We are full of thanksgiving, because He has set us free!
Perhaps “Thanksgiving” 2018 can be a restart, to live with grateful hearts every day, not just once per year. Perhaps “Thanksgiving” is a celebration that can take place in every home in every nation.
I am deeply thankful for you. For your friendship and faithful prayers.
My prayer for you today is to live your life in God-ordered health—mind, body, soul and spirit—full of thankfulness for His love and mercy.