Be Ye Thankful!
From the very earliest beginning of our great nation, pausing to express our gratitude to Almighty God has been one of our founding traits. One of the earliest accounts of a Thanksgiving gathering dates back to 1621 when the Pilgrims at Plymouth shared in a celebration of gratitude with the Native Americans.
Our first President, George Washington, issued a proclamation in 1789 choosing Thursday, November 26th as a national time to express "sincere and humble thanks."Once again in 1863, President Abraham Lincoln made Thanksgiving an official national holiday to be celebrated and commemorated every year on the fourth Thursday of November.
In his Thanksgiving Proclamation, President Lincoln said:
"It has seemed to me fit and proper that [God's gifts] should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged with one heart and one voice by the whole American people. I do, therefore, invite my fellow citizens...to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens."
Truly, Thanksgiving is an American holiday in every way, setting aside a time to pause and thank God for all He's done for us both as a nation and as individuals.
America is facing many challenges today and seems to be tested as never before. Yet, we are truly blessed. God has given to each of us blessings that many others across the globe are not afforded--life, true liberty, and freedom to worship God and live the life we feel He wants us to live.
However, we must remember--freedom is never free. The rights and blessing we enjoy must be protected, appreciated and never taken for granted.
For over 40 years, the faithful legal team at the Christian Law Association have been honored to defend liberty and true religious freedom across our great nation. By God's grace and guidance we will continue to stand for this right in the years to come.
As the seasons change around our nation, and we begin to wind down this year, we ought to have a definitive spirit of thankfulness. The Bible commands believers in Colossians 3 to follow a pattern of righteous living, and in this list of Christ-like characteristics, we are told in verse 15 "be ye thankful." No matter what the year has brought you, Christ has been stronger. He shows Himself most strongly when we are most dependent upon Him.
Only through God's power can we overcome life's obstacles and come out thankful. The Bible reminds us in 2 Timothy 3:2, "For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy."
A telling characteristic of people during this age is that we are an unthankful people. There are a few reasons for this.
1. We no longer view life in a stewardship way. People all over this great country view money, possessions, and time as their own, while we need to simply acknowledge that it is His to begin with. Your things, my things, and all that are in this world are His, Who created us and allows us by His grace to steward them.
2. We are a people prone to covetousness. America has become a people of discontent. We need to look at all the blessings in which God has blessed us instead of looking at what others have and what we don't have.
3. We need to view this life as a Heavenly doorstep. When we step back and see how minimal life's grandest is in comparison to seeing God's design, we have a proper view of life. Moses understood this when in Hebrews 11:26 he is described as "Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward."
Remember, the streets of Heaven are simply paved with the most valuable riches this world has to offer. We would never set our feet on precious metals like gold here on earth, because we value it so highly here, but God has a different value system. His riches are kindness, love, and Christ-like actions that can be stored in Heaven but not on the earth. He holds those incorruptibly valuable.
So how do we practice more thankfulness?
First, we should look to Christ in each word and deed. Too often, we all fail to die to self. We don't react God's way to a circumstance in our lives. As believers, we desire to please Him and act in a way that points others to Him, but we need His help.
Second, look for a reason to be thankful in any situation. Choose to be an optimist, knowing that if you are serving the Lord and doing right, God has an expected end for you and will see you through. Be encouraged, because God's plan is greater than anything you or I could ask or think! He wants us to have a spiritual vision through this life, seeing God's providence through each step we take. He desires to order those steps, and he wants us to take steps lit by His Word. If we consider throughout our day that God's plan is moving us to a closer relationship with Him, by His grace, we can be living examples of thankfulness.
Finally, we can practice thankfulness by attributing each blessing in our lives to Him. When we consider the magnitude of blessings in our lives, and we know that they were given to us out of love from a holy God, our perspective shifts from how much we want or think we deserve, to how undeserving we really are and how grateful we should be for the true blessings in our lives. That we could think we, fallen sinners, merit any kind of gift or favor from God, is ludicrous. We can be thankful in all things because we know that without Christ, we deserve a terrible punishment. As believers whom He has redeemed, we should be thankful in each breath we breathe, step we take, or passing moment of our lives.
We should be thankful because each brief moment is a time we can serve Him. Take time to praise God for Who He is today. He is the Great I Am, and when we view life through His perspective for even a moment, we can see just how much we have to be thankful for today.