Hi, this is Pastor Ken and these are my thoughts on a Thanksgiving Thursday…Give Thanks
Today is reserved for Thanksgiving. Times for observance of thanksgiving have been around for centuries. Throughout history there have been many times when people have taken time to give thanks for various reasons. Here in the United States, many of us learned in grade school of the supposed first Thanksgiving Day feast in 1621 shared by the puritan settlers and the indigenous Wampanoag tribe who helped the pilgrims survive their first winter in the “New World”. In 1789 our first President, George Washington declared that November 26th would be a day of celebration and thanksgiving when all Americans were encouraged to take time to thank God for His graciousness toward us as a nation. Abraham Lincoln declared the final Thursday of November a national day of Thanksgiving in 1863, and it remained so until Franklin Delano Roosevelt changed it to the next to the last Thursday in November in 1939. He was offering merchants another full week to boost Christmas sales in an attempt to positively influence the economy. The new date being so close to the previously determined one caused much confusion and in jest, some people even dubbed it “Franksgiving Day”. Two years later, FDR made a change once again, signing into law that Thanksgiving would be celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November where it remains to this day.
As I mentioned, there have been various reasons stated for pausing to give thanks. King David and Asaph a Levite who served in David’s courts suggested in several of their Psalms that the people of Israel ought to give thanks for God’s hand of protection over them during their exodus from Egypt. Prior to that, Joshua had insisted that the people be thankful for their victorious entrance into the Promised land. The pilgrims to North America gave thanks for their survival and the help of their newfound neighbors. Interestingly from the time of our founding fathers until President Lincoln Thanksgiving Day was coincidentally held at the same time as Evacuation day a lost holiday commemorating the English vacating North America after the Revolutionary War. Likewise, President Lincoln felt our Thanksgiving should be offered for a unified even if not yet at that time a reconciled United States.
I find it interesting that we feel the need to identify a reason for giving thanks. Later today I will as will many of you, raise my voice in thanksgiving as I ask the blessing at our family feast. I will thank God for many things. I will thank Him for our family, I will thank Him for our freedom to praise Him. I will thank Him for the food. My voice will undoubtedly crack as it almost always does as I thank Him for what we should all thank Him for…His goodness. As Christians, we say it often, for some it has become a statement with nearly automatic response. God is good, all the time…and all the time, God is good.
Though this mantra is unequivocally true’ I wonder sometimes if we really understand what we are saying. God is good, His word says that it is so. Psalm 145 says so, and I will read that to you as I close my thoughts today. When we think of someone being good, so often we think about the fact that they do good things, and that is evidence we use to endorse that they are good. When we acknowledge that God is good however, we should do our best to understand the depth of what we are saying. God is holy. That means that He is 100% full of integrity. He is forever unchanging. His word says that He is merciful, therefore always merciful. It says that He is loving, Therefore always loving. It describes Him as faithful…so therefore always faithful. So when His word indicates that the Lord is good…then He is in fact always good. He is never not good. He is always being so very, very good to us! Every day…all the time…in all circumstances and every situation…God is being so, so, very good to you. Even in the difficulties He allows to touch our lives, He has every intention of using each one of them for our good as through them He gives us opportunities to become more and more like Christ…in spite of the adversity. Romans 8:28 and 29 says, And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Because God is good we can count on Him to be looking out for our good…no matter what!
So yes, God is good. Everything He does is good. We can be grateful for it all. We don’t need to define a special reason. We don’t need to be financially blessed to say that God is good. We don’t need to have food to be grateful for, God is good. We don’t need to have family present and accounted for, God is good. We don’t need to know peace in the land to proclaim God is good. We don’t need freedom for God to be good. We can proclaim God is good in the depths of our emotional valleys and on the mountain tops. God is Good…God is Good….God is good…..All the time and all the time God is indeed good!
So join me today. As you thank God around your thanksgiving table, go ahead, make note of the things you are thankful for…there is nothing wrong with that. But PLEASE…don’t close your time of thanksgiving without being grateful for the simplistic and yet unfathomable complexity of God’s goodness. Take time to contemplate and revel in the undoubtable fact that He is always being so, so very good to you, and that your reasons to be thankful are eternal.
Psalm 145 (NCV)
I praise your greatness, my God the King;
I will praise you forever and ever.
2 I will praise you every day;
I will praise you forever and ever.
3 The Lord is great and worthy of our praise;
no one can understand how great he is.
4 Parents will tell their children what you have done.
They will retell your mighty acts,
5 wonderful majesty, and glory.
And I will think about your miracles.
6 They will tell about the amazing things you do,
and I will tell how great you are.
7 They will remember your great goodness
and will sing about your fairness.
8 The Lord is kind and shows mercy.
He does not become angry quickly but is full of love.
9 The Lord is good to everyone;
he is merciful to all he has made.
10 Lord, everything you have made will praise you;
those who belong to you will bless you.
11 They will tell about the glory of your kingdom
and will speak about your power.
12 Then everyone will know the mighty things you do
and the glory and majesty of your kingdom.
13 Your kingdom will go on and on,
and you will rule forever.
The Lord will keep all his promises;
he is loyal to all he has made.
14 The Lord helps those who have been defeated
and takes care of those who are in trouble.
15 All living things look to you for food,
and you give it to them at the right time.
16 You open your hand,
and you satisfy all living things.
17 Everything the Lord does is right.
He is loyal to all he has made.
18 The Lord is close to everyone who prays to him,
to all who truly pray to him.
19 He gives those who respect him what they want.
He listens when they cry, and he saves them.
20 The Lord protects everyone who loves him,
but he will destroy the wicked.
21 I will praise the Lord.
Let everyone praise his holy name forever.
So now, with a truly grateful heart, full of thanksgiving and praise for your good, good Heavenly Father…Take time today to thank Him for how Awesome He is.