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True Thanksgiving
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 25, 2010
Posted by: Church of Christian Liberty | more..
57,350+ views | 270+ clicks
It is estimated that 45 million turkeys, weighing a total of 675 million pounds, are consumed each Thanksgiving day in the US.[1] Thanksgiving may now be about the only holiday that is still safe to mention by name. And judging by the statistics I just quoted, it would seem that most Americans have some sort of celebration with family or friends.

So what makes our Thanksgiving different from most of those in our nation who supposedly are giving thanks? For many the day is simply an excuse to eat more and watch football. So what is it that sets us apart as God’s people? Let me suggest four things that should set us apart as God’s people this Thanksgiving.

1. We are not just thankful but we give thanks to God.

2. We give thanks not just in ‘good’ times but also in ‘difficult’ times.

3. We are not just thankful for physical blessings but even more for spiritual blessings.

4. We are not just thankful but also content.

1. We are not just thankful but we give thanks to God.

This first point is rather obvious, I think. In fact, if you do a search in your Bibles for the words thanks or thanksgiving, you will find that they are used not merely as an expression of an inner attitude but as an action directed toward God. Yes, we should have an attitude of gratitude. We of course don’t want to be just going through the motions as it were. But the focus of thanksgiving must always be directed to God or in relationship to Him for it to be true thanksgiving. In fact, the first place in Scripture where we find the word thanksgiving used directly is found in the instructions given for the peace offering, which is sometimes called the sacrifice of thanksgiving. It was the only sacrifice where the worshipper could eat a portion of what was given to God. And so throughout Scripture you find thanksgiving more as an action than simply an inner feeling.

Psa. 107:8 Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness, And for His wonderful works to the children of men!

Dan. 6:10 Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home. And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days.

I am glad that in our nation we do have a holiday set aside for Thanksgiving. But how sad it is for countless millions who really have no clue what thanksgiving is besides some inner feeling of happiness. But we are given the privilege of coming before God and expressing our thanks to Him. Don’t simply focus on the attitude of thankfulness, but express it unto the Lord. Be like the one leper, in Luke 17, who was healed and then who came back to Jesus, praising God with a loud voice, falling on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving Him thanks.

2. We give thanks not just in ‘good’ times but also in ‘difficult times.’

James 1:2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

1Th. 5:18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

John Calvin: “As for myself, I am of opinion that a more ample meaning is included under these terms—that God has such a disposition towards us in Christ, that even in our afflictions we have large occasion of thanksgiving. For what is fitter or more suitable for pacifying us, than when we learn that God embraces us in Christ so tenderly, that he turns to our advantage and welfare everything that befalls us?”

Unlike the world, we don’t have to see everything in good order to be thankful unto the Lord. Thanksgiving doesn’t depend upon our circumstances. It shouldn’t depend upon our feelings. Rather we can and should see the Lord’s hand in all things and therefore “continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.” (Hebrews 13:15)

3. We are not just thankful for physical blessings but even more for spiritual blessings.

Shortly before his death J. Gresham Machen, the founder of Westminster Seminary, sent a telegram to his friend John Murray that read, “I'm so thankful for the active obedience of Christ. No hope without it.”[2] Now later theologians and commentators have debated the theology of Machen’s telegram, but I use this as an example of thanksgiving. As Christians we obviously give thanks for the family physical blessings we enjoy. But we, of course, don’t have to stop there. We have countless spiritual blessings for which we can give thanks. And we don’t have to be systematic theologians to do this. It is not hard to think of the many spiritual blessings we are given: forgiveness of sins, prayer, God’s Word, the fellowship we enjoy with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the hope of heaven, friendship with God’s people, and on and on we could go. I don’t think the point is that we simply try to make up a huge list. But by God’s grace our eyes will be more and more opened to all the physical and spiritual blessings that God gives to us.

4. We are not just thankful but also content.

I find it ironic that the day after Thanksgiving is the biggest shopping day of the year. The day of greatest thanks is followed by the day where we are to spend the most. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, President Roosevelt wanted to make Thanksgiving Day the third Thursday in November in order to extend the Christmas shopping season. Not all the states agreed to this. In 1942, it was finally agreed that Thanksgiving would be the fourth Thursday in November.[3]

I think a good test of thankfulness is when you are truly content with God’s current provisions and blessings and not see them simply as temporary gifts until you can get more. Contentment is a good litmus test for true thankfulness.

1Tim. 6:8 And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.

Heb. 13:5 Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”



[1] http://www.urbanext.uiuc.edu/Turkey/facts.html

[2] http://www.reformationtheology.com/2006/11/the_active_obedience_of_christ.php

[3] http ://ww w.bri tanni ca.co m/EBc hecke d/top ic/59 0003/ Thank sgivi ng-Da y

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