Thanksgiving Day: God Was the Focus

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Psalm 50–“Offer to God thanksgiving,…”

Psalm 92–It is good to give thanks to the Lord, And to sing praises to Your name, O Most High;…”

1 Thessalonians 5–Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

Thanksgiving Day has lost its biblical context in American society. That word “to” has been censored from our lexicon. This week, for millions of Americans, there will be little or no mention of God. Most people will talk of this Thanksgiving holy day with little knowledge of its meaning.

Thanksgiving is “the act of giving thanks” and Thanksgiving Day is “a day appointed for giving thanks for divine goodness” (Webster). Giving thanks is an action which has an object. In this case, it is giving thanks to God for his gracious goodness to us.

For millions, this will be reduced to “for what are you thankful?” The key point of to Whom we give thanks will be squelched by illiterate educators and others.

In the beginning, the scene focused on God. For the Pilgrim’s first thanksgiving feast in 1621, “Governor William Bradford proclaimed a day of thanksgiving and prayer to God.”

Again in 1623, Governor Bradford proclaimed, “Inasmuch as the great Father has given us this year an abundant harvest of Indian corn… on Thursday, November ye 29th…listen to ye Pastor and render Thanksgiving to ye Almighty God for all his blessings.”

George Washington’s proclamation for a day of thanksgiving in 1789 began, “Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor…”

In 1863, Abraham Lincoln’s proclamation marked the beginning of Thanksgiving Day as an annual, federal holiday. It begins: The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God….”

May our insensible hearts be revived. Psalm 50 concludes:

“Now consider this, you who forget God, Lest I tear you in pieces,
And there be none to deliver:Whoever offers praise glorifies Me;
And to him who orders his conduct aright I will show the salvation of God.”

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