Real Thanksgiving (revised)
The Doorway to the Presence of God
1O come, let us sing unto the LORD: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation.
2Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms.
3For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods.
4In his hand are the deep places of the earth: the strength of the hills is his also.
5The sea is his, and he made it: and his hands formed the dry land.
6O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker.
7For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. To day if ye will hear his voice,
8Harden not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness:
It’s just a word, or at least for a lot of people… that’s what it’s become. On the forth Thursday of November, many of us will visit with family or have them come over. There’ll be a big dinner, a lot of turkey and ham, and who knows what else going along with it. For the women folk, the talk will center on who makes the best dressing or cake, and who’s going to fix what. For the men, it’s “football” and whose team is the best. Somewhere, thrown in with all that’s going on… there may be a few short words about God. The person that’s given the job of saying them might even be looked at sideways if they get longwinded and take too much time. All across America, in just about every house in every state… this picture is thanksgiving… especially in the eyes of our young people.
While this may be fine for a lot of people… it’s really not the thanksgiving taught in the Bible.
Thanksgiving Requires Being Grateful
1 Chronicles 16:8 Give thanks unto the LORD, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the people.
It’s a word that’s made up of two words… Thanks and Giving. Another way of putting it is like this; it’s the act of giving thanks… something we certainly weren’t born with doing. If it were left up to us we’d probably never do it. Everybody can remember a mother, grandmother, aunt, or somebody who had a mean look on their face, asking us “what are you going to say.” Saying “Thank You”, had to be drilled into us. We had to learn when and how to say it, and to this day many of us only say it because we think it’s the polite thing to do.
When we say the words “Thank You” we do so usually because something has been done to us or for us. The thing is, somehow we often feel as if it was suppose to have been done. Somewhere in our minds we get the notion that we deserved the act or thing being done.
- Deep down inside all of us is a factory that runs around the clock… 24 – 7.
- It makes only one product, and it makes it all the time.
- That product is called “PRIDE” and we find ourselves being full of it.
- It’s a byproduct of our fallen sinful nature and we’re born with it.
- Pride is an inherited trait that causes us to be vain, arrogant, and selfish. Tendencies that create a character that’s in direct opposition to the nature of God, making us His enemy.
Psalm 51:5 Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.
For the unsaved, giving thanks is not a natural act and without some intervention it won’t happen. For those of us who are saved, thanksgiving is a supernatural act that we are called to do… even so it is a choice that we must learn to perform. What that means is simply this… just learning when and how to say “Thank You” is not enough. Remember those questions we were taught in school, the ones that help us form a full and clear understanding. You know the ones… who, what, when, where, why, and how; questions that give us the full picture. As it relates to “Thanksgiving” our understanding comes up a little short. There are quite a few puzzle pieces missing. Consider these scripture excerpts that ask the missing questions.
Who - is like unto the LORD our God, who dwelleth on high, (Psalm 113:5)
What - can the man do that cometh after the king? even that which hath been already done. (Ecc. 2:12)
Where - is any other that may save thee in all thy cities? (Hosea 13:10)
Why - do ye not believe me? (John 8:46)
Our scripture passages come from a Psalm written by King David, a man after God’s own heart. From them we can get a picture of what that heart looks like. He is speaking prophetically and has recorded the basic truth about what it is to give thanks to God. In our broken, rebellious, and sinful state there is nothing that we have ever done or will ever do that makes us deserving of anything God has done for us. We are His enemies… God has no real reason to like us, let alone love us. We could never in our right minds think that He is suppose to bless us with anything. Yet, because of His divine nature, we have the benefit of His loving grace and mercy on our sinful souls. For that alone we should forever be thankful.
Romans 5:8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
That’s a pretty strong reason to consider Him worthy and deserving of our giving thanks.
1 John 4:19 We love him, because he first loved us.
For the faithful followers of Christ, those who are believers… thanksgiving is acknowledgment of who we are, and a submission to who He is to us.
Every day, on your way to the bus stop, you pass the same house like you’ve done since you can’t remember. Inside the gates, on the steps sits an old man… he’s always there. Every day you see him and then you don’t see him, you take no notice… in your mind it’s just not important. One day you’re presented with a piece of information and suddenly everything changes. At that moment a switch is turned on and your life, the way you look at things, nothing will ever be the same. You find out that this old man, the one you’re always passing by is the person that saved your grandfathers life in the war. In an instant you understand that because of him, your grandfather came home. Without his being there, your grandfather would never have gotten married… if not for him, your father and eventually you would never have been born. Overnight this old man has become the most important person on the planet. Now you might not make the bus… you might even be late for work and you really don’t care. For you the only thing that matters is that you show this old man how grateful you are, and there’s only one thing you want to do…
Psalm 100:4 Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.
Turn On The Switch
The switch was turned on for the person in our story, but the real question is has it been turned on for us? In our comings and goings to church on Sunday, our attendance at Bible study, and our private meditation in the Word of God; has the switch come on… has God become important in a personal way to you? Everything we have, the whole of creation, and even our very lives we owe to God. As scripture says… “He has done great things” and we have never deserved any of it. Nobody will ever do what He has already done, and nobody will ever beat God in giving. Thanksgiving is not a date on the calendar. It’s not some commercial gimmick to sell turkeys and ham, plane tickets and bus fares. Thanksgiving is certainly not the trumpet that brings in “Black Friday” and the start of the Christmas shopping sprees. Thanksgiving… real thanksgiving is the expression of gratitude we give willingly and freely to the only one who will ever deserve it… God Almighty. If we allow ourselves to buy into the hoop-la of this secular world we will have missed the opportunity to not only understand what thanksgiving is, but to also use it for our best benefit. When done right, thanksgiving is the vehicle that allows us a chance to do a very important thing.
Give acknowledgment of who we are to God, and submission to who He is to us.
It places us under “His Will” and “Authority”, creating the circumstance for further blessings.
Psalm 22:3 But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.
Psalm 35:27 Let them shout for joy, and be glad, that favour my righteous cause: yea, let them say continually, Let the LORD be magnified, which hath pleasure in the prosperity of his servant.
Praising God for what He has done invites His presence… it puts you close to where He is. On the other hand, favoring His righteous cause, or finding reason to praise and promote what He does; the act of giving to the undeserving and less fortunate creates a channel for continued blessings. Thanksgiving is a learned behavior and a choice. It’s something we can’t afford not to get right. The simple truth of the matter is this…
The Doorway to the Presence of God.