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BELIEVE IN HIM: The measure of Thanksgiving

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By Michael Waits

Contrary to what many people believe, the original thanksgiving celebration was not intended to be a day set aside to thank the Indians for their help as much as it was to thank God for providing them safety, deliverance and the blessings of food, land and shelter. During those three days of feasting and games the Pilgrim’s and several friendly Indians lifted up prayers, sermons and songs in praise for God’s provision.

From that day forward Thanksgiving has been celebrated as a day to give thanks to God for His graciousness and faithfulness. In 1863 President Lincoln officially set aside the last Thursday of November “as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father,” and in 1941, Congress ruled that the fourth Thursday in November be observed nationally as Thanksgiving Day.

But have you noticed how unthankful the world has become? As society becomes increasingly secular, the actual “giving of thanks to God” during this annual holiday is being overlooked and replaced with commercialism and consumerism. Rather than giving thanks for what we have already it seems we just want more. And at such a time as now when it seems there are more problems than ever before, real thankfulness may be just what we are lacking.

The Bible tells us, “In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Corinthians 5:16).  You might ask how one can give thanks in everything when there is such a great need of so much; after all, we are living in some difficult times. With the rise in unemployment and the increase in population, it seems more families in America are affected by poverty than ever before.

But I say to you, how can one be so ungrateful after they have already been given so much? Poverty in the United States has been measured by an American standard of possession and gain. In an effort to “keep up with the Joneses,” we have become a society so focused on acquiring more than what is necessary for daily living that we have a hard time differentiating between want and need.

In his parable about the rich man and his barns, Jesus said, “Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has abundance does his life consist of his possessions” (Luke 12:15). The attitude of an ungrateful heart is a reflection of sin that resides within. The Bible tells us that from within the heart of man come things such as coveting, envy and foolishness (Mark 7:21-22).

America has for too long focused on the lack of material wealth and possessions instead of being thankful for that which is plentiful. Rather than focusing on the things we have not, we should be focusing instead on the things we have.  God and His intentions for us are always good; even when the circumstances of life seem too great to bear, because even the difficulties we face in life are intended to strengthen and perfect us, not tear us down.

“Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above,” (James 1:17). It is for this reason King David sang, “Oh give thanks to the Lord, call upon His name; make known His deeds among the peoples. Sing to Him, sing praises to Him; speak of all His wonders. Glory in His holy name; let the heart of those who seek the Lord be glad” (1 Chronicles 16:8-10).

But the greatest gift that God has given us is found in His son, Jesus Christ, who came into the world for the sin of man. Jesus paid the ultimate fine when he hung on the cross for you and me, and his death on the cross at Calvary was enough to pardon our sin. How can we say thanks enough for this wonderful gift? The Bible says, “Whatever you do,do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father” (Colossians 3:17).

Perhaps you don’t have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ but you would like to begin one today. Maybe you are a Christian but you haven’t been offering thanks to the Father in heaven. Whatever your need, whatever your desire, if you are ready to begin living a life of thanks today to our glorious God who has given us the gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ, don’t wait another day. Give your life to Jesus, today.

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).

Michael Waits is an inter-denominational minister whom believes, according to 2 Timothy 3:16-17, that the Bible is the divinely inspired and inerrant word of God. For more, visit www.michaelwaits.com.