Celebrating The Thanksgiving Holiday: What the Bible Says
By Betty Miller
Christians look forward to the time of the year when we celebrate two important holidays, Thanksgiving and Christmas. These holidays have their beginnings and roots in Christian celebrations. The word holiday actually means “holy day”; hence these events should be remembered and celebrated in a holy manner. We have strayed from that purpose over the years as we have embraced many unholy practices and worldly customs and added them to our “holy days.”
Compromising as Christians
Thanksgiving is one of our main national holidays here in the USA. A good question to ask is “Are we as Christians celebrating it the way the Lord would have us celebrate, or have we compromised with the world?” Have we lost the emphasis on thanksgiving and prayer and shifted it to a gluttonous feast of food, drink and games like those in the world have done? God wants us to enjoy family, friends and feasting, but leaving God out of the day breaks His heart. More and more the media is referring to this holiday as “turkey day” instead of Thanksgiving Day. They also eliminate the object of who we are to offer our thanks. We are just to be “thankful” we are told. Who should our thanks be directed to? The object of our thanks for our many blessings, should be directed to the Lord God. It should not just be a general “thanks.”
The first American Thanksgiving was celebrated less than a year after the Christian Plymouth colonists had settled in the new land of America. The first Thanksgiving Day, set aside for the special purpose of prayer as well as celebration, was decreed by Governor William Bradford in July 30, 1623. There were harvest festivals, or days of thanking God for plentiful crops. During the Revolutionary War, eight special days of thanks were observed for victories and for being saved from dangers. On November 26, 1789, President George Washington issued a general proclamation for a day of thanks. Our national day of thanksgiving was proclaimed by President Lincoln in 1863 with these words, “a day of Thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father.”
Today we still celebrate this national and legal holiday, but are we celebrating in the right manner as Christians? Are we forgetting the main purpose of this day is prayer and thanksgiving as we feast and fellowship? The Lord is not opposed to our feasting and our gathering of friends and family to dine, but if our only prayer is to ask God to bless our food are we not forgetting the real meaning of this day? God delights in blessing us as His children. However, do we, as His children delight in blessing Him with our prayers and thanks? Do our celebrations revolve more around the meal and the football game that follows, than around the discussion of the things we should be thankful for? Many are worshipping the idol of ball games on holidays instead of focusing on the true meaning of Thanksgiving. Not that watching games are wrong in themselves, but many have forgotten the Lord and have replaced thanking God, praying and reading the Bible with watching games, drinking and eating. Let us ask God to forgive us and truly celebrate this day in real thanksgiving and prayer.
Unto thee, O God, do we give thanks: for that thy name is near thy wondrous works declare. Psalm 75:1
O Give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever. Psalm 107:1
Are We to Thank God for Everything… Including Bad Things?
By Betty Miller
Thanksgiving Season is approaching and traditionally it is a time for all of us to reflect on the things for which we are to give thanks to God. Since so many of God’s people are going through major trials in their lives, many find it difficult to be thankful. When we do face difficulties, that is the time we need to be more thankful than ever, as the Lord has promised us that He will be in our midst to help us overcome every trial and evil thing. Evil things do not come from God. They come from the devil. When we are experiencing bad things, we need to thank the Lord that He is there to help us to overcome them. The scripture tells us that in everything we are to be thankful.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”
This scripture does not mean that the problems we are experiencing are the will of God for our lives, but rather, being thankful in the midst of our trial is the will of God. We are not thanking God for the attacks of the enemy that bring sickness, poverty, fear and a host of other tribulations, but rather we are thanking God that He is still God and is with us to see us through those tribulations. We are not to allow the enemy to rob us of a thankful spirit and a spirit of joy while we are experiencing challenging and bad circumstances. There is only one way that we can have a joyful heart during our trials and that is to allow the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His faith, hope and love.
John 16:33 “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”
As Christians we are not to live defeated and down cast lives, but have been given the power of the Holy Spirit to rise above the attacks of the devil and live in victory no matter what is happening in our lives or in the world. In Matthew 24 Jesus speaks of a time in history that mankind will experience unbelievable troubles and sorrows that the world has ever known. He says it will be right before He will come again to this earth to rule and reign. Yet, He speaks these words (“…see that ye be not troubled…”) in the Bible. The only way we can “not be troubled” is to allow the Lord to rule in our lives.
Matthew 24:3-8 “And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? 4And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. 5For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. 6And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.7For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. 8All these are the beginning of sorrows.”
Many times the Lord asks us to do impossible things. He knows we cannot do these things in ourselves, but because He has given us the power of the Holy Spirit, we can do them through Him. The rules in the Kingdom of God are just opposite from the rules in the world.
As Christians …
- The way up is down: James 4:10 “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.” James 4:6 “But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.”
- The way to receive is to give: Luke 6:38 “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.”
- The way to answer criticism is through the Holy Spirit: Matthew 10:19-20 “But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.”
- The way to receive forgiveness is to forgive: Matthew 6:14-15 “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
- The way to receive mercy is to be thankful. Psalm 118:1 “O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: because his mercy endureth for ever.”
- The way to overcome fear is to know God has your life in His hand and a place in heaven for you. Matthew 10:28 “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”
Here are some important verses in the Bible regarding thanksgiving:
Leviticus 22:29 “And when ye will offer a sacrifice of Thanksgiving unto the LORD, offer it at your own will.”
2 Samuel 22:50 “Therefore I will give Thanks unto thee, O LORD, among the heathen, and I will sing praises unto thy name.”
1 Chronicles 16:8 “Give Thanks unto the LORD, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the people.”
Psalm 50:14 “Offer unto God thanksgiving; and pay thy vows unto the most High.”
Psalm 100:4 “Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.”
Jonah 2:9 “But I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that that I have vowed. Salvation is of the LORD.”
Luke 10:17-20 “And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name.18And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven. 19Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.20Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.”
Reading these verses we realize we are to be thankful and rejoice at all times no matter what is happening in our lives. Actually, praise and thanksgiving to God will drive out depression, fear and even thoughts of suicide. There is power in the act of thanksgiving and praise. This Thanksgiving holiday it would be good to make a list of things we are thankful to God for. Remember our thanksgiving should be expressed to God. Yes, there is merit in having a thankful spirit, but ultimately our thanks, as Christians, should be unto our Savior, as the Lord told us that the most important thing we are to be grateful about is our salvation and the fact that our names are written in heaven according to the above scripture. We should especially be thankful for our salvation and what Jesus did to obtain it for us. Praise God, if we have accepted Jesus as our savior we are ultimately going to heaven. What wonderful news that is!
A Day of Public Thanksgiving and Prayer
THE YEAR OF 1798
“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 implore His protection and favor– and Whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint committee requested me to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God, especially in a form of government for their safety and happiness.
“Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday…to be devoted by the people of these states to the service of that great and glorious Being Who is the beneficent Author of all that was, that is, or that will be–that we may then all unite in rendering Him our sincere and humble thanks…
“And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of nations, and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions…to render our national Government a blessing to the people…to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations…and to bless them with good government, peace and concord. To promote the knowledge and practice of true knowledge and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us–and generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of prosperity as He alone knows to be best…”
-President George Washington, 1798
“As the Pilgrims did almost four centuries ago, we gratefully give thanks for the beauty, abundance, and opportunity this great land offers. We also thank God for the blessings of freedom and prosperity; and, with gratitude and humility, we acknowledge the importance of faith in our lives.
Throughout the Thanksgiving holiday, let us renew our commitment to make our country and our world better…This Thanksgiving, we recognize the ties of friendship and respect that bind us together. And we renew our pledge to uphold the timeless principles of freedom, equality, and opportunity that have made our country into a great Nation. By working together, we will continue to build mutual trust, peace, and hope for all across this land and around the world.”
-President George W. Bush, with troops before sharing Thanksgiving dinner at Fort Campbell, KY, in November of 2001
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Topic: What the Bible Says about Thanksgiving Holiday
Related Topics: What the Bible Says about Praising God in All Circumstances; Prayer; Gluttony; Drinking Alcohol; Christmas