In August, we begin to see the stores fill up with Halloween candy and items. It is low key at first, but then, suddenly it is in full bloom in September. Once this day has passed, it seems that all eyes turn instantly to Christmas totally ignoring a day set aside to give thanks to God. I love Christmas, don't get me wrong, but I also believe we need to enjoy the moments of family fellowship that come without presents, pageants and a huge flurry of activity.
Thanksgiving was instituted by the Pilgrims to thank God for His benefits and blessings. These people had traveled a long distance to make this land their home free from religious oppression. Many died on the journey and many more after they arrived; yet, their hearts were filled with gratitude. They took seriously the Scriptures that told them to thank God in all things, and thus was born this time of fellowship, prayer and worship.
As the Psalm continues, we see something very important in verses 4-7: "One generation shall commend Your works to another, and shall declare Your mighty acts. On the glorious splendor of Your majesty, and on Your wondrous works, I will meditate. They shall speak of the might of Your awesome deeds, and I will declare Your greatness. They shall pour forth the fame of Your abundant goodness and shall sing aloud of your righteousness." When we recount before our children and grandchildren the mighty deeds of God for which we give thanks, they will remember them. We are charged with passing on our faith to the next generation. What an awesome responsibility we have been given by God! If for no other reason, this, in itself, is a reason we need to stop and give thanks.
David goes on to give further reasons for praising God in verses 10-13: "All your works shall give thanks to You, O Lord, and all your saints shall bless You! They shall speak of the glory of Your kingdom and tell of Your power, to make known to the children of man Your mighty deeds, and the glorious splendor of Your kingdom. Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion
endures throughout all generations." It is a privilege to give testimony and make known the mighty works of God. We do this every time we praise and thank God both in our worship as well as our every day work. So what are the benefits of having a grateful heart before the Lord?
In the remainder of the Psalm, David lists the attributes of our God and His provisions for us: He is faithful in all His words and kind in all His works (vs. 13b); God upholds those who are falling (vs 14); He provides food (vs. 15); He satisfies the desire of every living thing (vs. 16); He is near all who call on Him (vs. 18); He saves those who cry out to Him (vs. 19); and He preserves those who love Him (vs. 20). Are these not enough reasons for us to celebrate a time of Thanksgiving?
This holiday is more than the prelude to "Black Friday" sales and the Christmas rush. It seems we hurry the calendar more each year. Instead, we need to make time to tell our children all that God has done for us as a family and set an example of taking time to praise Him. Put away the cell phones, electronic games and other distractions, and when it comes time to gather for the meal, simply thank God for His many blessings as the Pilgrims did. We are a blessed people if we belong to God. Let us not neglect this time of thanksgiving. Selah!
Photo courtesy of Wiki Commons Jan Janssen photographer...church in Germany.