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 Thanksgiving Proclamation by George Washington (click here)

Have a Blessed Thanksgiving!

“In every thing give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you" (1 Thessalonians 5:18).


Thanksgiving:  A time to remember how blessed we are.  Images from our history books of pilgrims and Indians sharing the harvest come to mind.  Pictures of kin coming from distant places to gather around the family table sharing turkey and pumpkin pie.  Christmas shopping the day after Thanksgiving.  Traditions we cherish, hold onto and preserve year after year. 


It is wonderful that we have this special day to give thanks with family and friends in loving fellowship, bringing everyone up to date on our separate lives, renewing old friendships and creating new ones; but it should not end on the following Friday.  Giving thanks is not a once-a-year holiday.  It is meant to be a “24/7” happening. 


When every “thing” is coming up roses, it is so easy to give thanks.  Typically though, we don’t always remember to give thanks in good times; and we are usually in a state of taking the roses for granted, until the thorns prick our thankful skin.  It’s then that thanksgiving sloughs off and we begin to question and complain.  We wonder how we can be thankful for the pricking. 


We need to take another look at what Paul wrote to those in Thessalonica:  IN everything, not for everything.  Therein is a great difference.  Looking back in hindsight, often we can give thanks FOR something that actually brought us blessings in the end, though it was painful at the time; but while we were “in” it, we weren’t thankful. 

"It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I might learn thy statues.  The law of thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver" (Psalm 119:71-72).

The “secret” of giving thanks “in” everything is as simple as “Trust.”  Simple child-like trust while we are “in” something will enable us to give thanks while it is happening, because we know that “all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).


After a trial or time of testing has ended, after a desperate prayer has been answered, after the thing we most feared has not occurred, we are full of thanksgiving.  However, if we are to live a victorious life, we must learn how to be able to “give thanks in every thing.”  We have a well of joy that we can draw on; it is a component of the Fruit of the Spirit and a permanent resident.  While we may not be “happy” all the time, we can be filled with the joy of the Lord.   Being happy depends on our environment, but joy depends on the presence of the Holy Ghost.


Paul knew about the joy.  He wrote to the Corinthian church of his experiences—


 “Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren, In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.  Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches” (2 Corinthians 11:25-28).

He didn’t end there; he went on to tell of other “misadventures,” even being let down the wall through a window to escape those who sought to kill him because he was following God’s call.  But he said he was not weak or angry.  Why was that?  He drew on his well of joy and the knowledge that he could trust God—“…for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day” (2 Timothy 1:12).


Like Nehemiah, Paul knew that the “joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10).   He spent his life establishing churches and encouraging them to be faithful—and to trust.

He wrote to Titus (3:5), "And ye became followers of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost."


While in a Roman prison far away from the churches he was nurturing by prayer and letters, he continued to minister to those around him.  He didn’t just carry his parchments (Bible) around with him, it was who he was; his internal person was consumed with thankfulness for his salvation and never stopped having revival wherever he found people.


But, you say, that was Paul; this is me.  Does that weaken God?  Does that dilute the power of the Holy Ghost?  The same God that Paul had is our God.  We are “those afar off” who were promised the Holy Ghost.  “Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them:  because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4).


David, while pursued by his enemies, wrote “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life, of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1).  He knew about the “joy of the Lord.”  He declared that even if a host of his enemies set up camp against him, his heart would not fear.  In the time of trouble, he knew that God would protect him (v3, 5).   Not only did he trust God for protection, he added, “…I will offer in his tabernacle sacrifices of joy; I will sing, yea, I will sing praises unto the Lord” (v6). 

David had so much confidence in the Lord that he esteemed His care above that of his parents.  “When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up” (v 10).  This didn’t mean he doubted or denigrated his parents’ care; it just emphasized how great was his trust in the Lord. 


It would be nice and give us a warm, fuzzy feeling if our kids would actively and verbally be thankful for the care they get from their parents, for food, shelter, all we can afford to make life good for them.  But most of the time, they want more:  more freedom to pursue their own interests, money without responsibility, cars, gadgets, their own “private” cell phone, etc.  Before we respond about those demands, let us look at our relationship with our Heavenly Father.


Do we have a thankful heart for what the Psalmist called His “many benefits”?  Are we content with such things as we have that He has provided?  Are we content with essentials?  Are we are always pursuing more, building bigger barns and, worse, forgetting to be thankful for what we have? 


Even nature praises God, in its own way.  Birds sing, flowers bloom, trees bear fruit and even the heavens declare the glory of God.  “Let every thing that hath breath praise the Lord. Praise ye the Lord” (Psalm 150:6).  The animal kingdom has breath; fish have gills to breath; even plants need oxygen to survive; and in their own way they praise God—consistently!  We “aerate” (cultivate) the soil so it can praise God (be productive). 


Where is thankful mankind?  Are we going to allow the rocks to cry out while we forget  to be thankful?

Jesus said, “I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out” (Luke 19:40).


Why not let this Thanksgiving Day be the new beginning of an Era of Thanksgiving?  Let us not wait for the rose to bloom, for good times to roll in, for every prayer answered to our satisfaction.  Don’t wait for January 1 to make a firm resolution to be more thankful and begin an epidemic of “attitude of gratitude.”  I believe that God would be thankful if He could see this happen.  I just believe it would bring a smile and result in more blooming roses, more good times and more answered prayers.


“Let every thing that hath breath praise the Lord!”


We mustn’t let the “stones cry out” our thanks-giving.


Give Thanks!





Count your blessings
Name them one by one
Count your blessings
See what God has done
Count your blessings
Name them one by one
Count your many blessings
 See what God has done


October 3, 1789

Picture courtesy Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery

WHEREAS, 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;

WHEREAS, Both the 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.



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