Thanksgiving in 2020

Thanksgiving in 2020

What are you thankful for?

This year has been a challenging one for giving thanks. Nevertheless, it is God’s will for us to be thankful, because our thanksgiving is a bright testimony to a world full of grumbling and complaining.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

If you wonder what God’s will is for you, this is it. With Jesus, it is easy to fulfill God’s will because we have so much to celebrate with joy and thanksgiving. Most of all, we can thank Him for our salvation, our family, our church family, and the mercy that God showers upon us each day. As we think about everything He has given us, it should cause us to burst out with joyful praise and thanksgiving.

Psalm 100 is entitled, “A Psalm for Giving Thanks”: Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth. Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.

This week we will celebrate a Day of Thanksgiving. Traditionally, this annual celebration began with the Pilgrims, a Christian group seeking religious freedom, who set ashore in Massachusetts 400 years ago in December 1620. They called their new colony “Plymouth”. (Have you noticed the silence from the politically correct media?)

It was a cold winter. Fifty-three of the 102 that landed died the first year from pneumonia. They had no homes and no government agency to help them build homes. They had no means of transportation. Their only food came from the sea and the forest, and they had to get it for themselves. They had no money and no place to spend it if they’d had any. They had no amusements except what they made for themselves, no means of communication with their relatives in England, no social security, nor Medicare. However, they did have four characteristics that we find lacking in many people today: initiative, courage, a willingness to work, and a boundless faith in God. That almost sounds strange today in a society where powerful forces are at work to wipe out freedom of religion, God’s Word, and individual responsibility.

So what did they have to celebrate? They were free and thankful to be alive.

With the aide of the Native Americans, the Pilgrims learned how to survive in this land. To express their thanks to God for sustaining them their first year, they invited 90 of their native friends to a feast of Thanksgiving.

This annual feast of Thanksgiving was only a local tradition until President George Washington made a public proclamation in 1789 for the nation to set aside the fourth Thursday of November as a day of Thanksgiving unto God.

Thanksgiving Day is a distinct holiday. It is my favorite holiday of the year. It doesn’t commemorate a victory, nor anyone’s birthday nor anniversary. It is not a cover-up for a pagan holiday. It is simply a day set aside to express our thanks to God.

One would assume that because of the example of our forefathers, and because we have so much today, that we would be an extremely thankful people. But it is just the opposite, isn’t it? We have more stuff, but we have less faith. The more we get, the more we want, and the less thankful to God we become.

Our godless media has desecrated Thanksgiving Day by calling it “Turkey Day.” To businesses, it is a holiday that interferes with the Christmas profits. They pay little attention to it because there is no way to profit from thanksgiving unto God. They used to wait for the day after Thanksgiving to have a super sale, initiating the Christmas shopping season. Now they start their Christmas sales immediately after Halloween. There’s very little acknowledgement of Thanksgiving. Besides, it is just “Turkey Day,” and why celebrate a turkey. Thus, as a nation, we have forgotten God. But many still take the day off from work to stuff themselves and watch football.

Thousands of years ago, God warned His people about forgetting Him.

Deuteronomy 8:11-14 Be careful that you do not forget the LORD your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.

Psalm100 reminds us of our need to be thankful, and to maintain an attitude of gratitude. The first verse admonishes "all the earth" to praise God, and the last verse says God will be faithful to "all generations." This message of thanksgiving applies to every person, in every era, in every stage of life, regardless of our situation. However, there is a real danger of determining our thanksgiving on the basis of how much we possess.

Jesus said in Matthew 6:19-21 "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

The only thing we possess for eternity is our relationship with the Lord. It is the only thing that will last. By itself, that is plenty for which to be thankful.

As we look more carefully at Psalm 100, we find that there are 4 ways to express thanksgiving.

The first is in vs. 1, "Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth." This is a shout of joy to the Lord that comes from our heart. In spite of our sin and unfaithfulness to Him, we realize God has been so good to us that we can’t keep it inside any more.

Isn’t it strange, we don’t have problems shouting loudly at a football game, but we are timid about saying “Praise the Lord” in public. God wants us to be excited and joyful about who He is, what He has done, and what He is going to do.

The second expression of thanksgiving in Psalm 100 is, "Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs." Many of the psalms support this command.

For example, Psalm 98:4-6 Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music; make music to the LORD with the harp, with the harp and the sound of singing, with trumpets and the blast of the ram's horn—shout for joy before the LORD, the King.

Now, you might be thinking, “What is there to be thankful and joyful about this year?”

I’ll give you one reason to be thankful every day of your life: Jesus has risen from the dead! He is alive! Because He lives, we can serve and worship the Lord with gladness every day and in every circumstance as we focus on Jesus and fellowship with Him and serve Him! Throughout the day, we can sing jubilantly with thanksgiving:

He lives, He lives, Christ Jesus lives today!
He walks with me and talks with me, along life’s narrow way.
He lives, He lives, salvation to impart!
You ask me how I know He lives: He lives within my heart.

The third expression of thanksgiving in Psalm 100 is one where you focus your mind upon the LORD, "Know that the Lord is God. It is He who made us, and we are His; we are His people, the sheep of His pasture."

Know that the Lord is God. People have forgotten this fact. God is God and we are not. We have no more control over God than we do over the weather or climate change.

God is also our CREATOR. We are created in His image. God made us and He is still making us. That is important to realize, too. He’s not finished with us. He’s renewing our mind. He’s creating within us a new spirit, a new personality to reflect Jesus Christ. Therefore, give Him thanks for who He is, who you are, and who you will become!

Then it says, "We are His people, the sheep of His pasture." We are God’s people, a royal priesthood, and a holy nation (1Peter 2:9)! However, we are like sheep, because without Jesus as our shepherd, we don’t know where to find what we really need. And every time we go out searching for it apart from Him, we invariably end up lost.

Psalm 23:1-3 “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul.”

Jesus guides us to the place of security, plenty, and rest. If we will humble ourselves and realize we are as helpless as a sheep, Jesus will be our shepherd, and lead us, protect us, and provide for us.

Jesus said in John 10:10-18 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. "I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father."

The fourth way to express thanksgiving according to Psalm 100 is, "Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name. For the Lord is good and His love endures forever. His faithfulness continues through all generations."

In the Old Covenant, the temple symbolized the presence of God. So, whenever the people came to the temple, they entered the courtyards with a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving. That temple no longer exists, but God is everywhere.

Under the New Covenant, our bodies are the temple of God. He is with you as you drive on the highway. He is with you when you work. He is with you as you care for your children. He is with you every moment of your life. He is with us now. That is why we should give Him thanks in all circumstances and continually offer a sacrifice of praise.

The Lord is good. His love endures forever. His faithfulness continues through all generations, even when we are unfaithful. Those are plenty of reasons to express thanksgiving and praise Him. But let’s consider a couple more.

We can be thankful that “He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.” (Psalm 103:10)

Psalm 18:3 I call to the LORD, who is worthy of praise, and I am saved from my enemies.

In summary, how are we to praise, worship, and give thanks to the Lord?

1. with our voice.

Psalm 63:3 Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.

2. with our body.
Psalm 63:4 I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands.

Psalm 95:6 Oh come, let us bow down in worship; let us kneel before the LORD our Maker.

3. with our emotions.
Psalm 47:1 Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy.

4. with our life.
Romans 12:1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.

1 Corinthians 10:31 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

I pray that you will give thanks, praise, and worship to God this week. Doing this will make a meaningful Thanksgiving for you and all your family. I also pray we will continue to celebrate with thanksgiving every day of the year.

However, it is hard to give thanks, praise, and worship to someone you don’t know. Jesus came to show us the Father. If we get to know Jesus, we will come to know the Father.

You can find out who the Father and Jesus are in His written Word. All that is written about Jesus in the Bible is historical fact. I pray you will seek to know Him with all your heart. If you need a starting place, begin with the Gospel of John and then read the Gospels according to Matthew, Mark, and Luke, followed by Acts and the rest of the Epistles.

As you get to know Jesus and the Father, you will realize that you are a sinner in need of the salvation Jesus provided for you on the cross. Confess your sin to God, repent of it, and profess your faith in Jesus publicly. Make Jesus your Lord and Master by laying down your life in baptism. Baptism is your declaration to God and man that you are dying to your old life of sin. You will be raised to live a new life, born of the Holy Spirit. You will be a child of God and He will be your Father. Then you will be filled with joy, peace, love, thanksgiving, and praise.