I would like to extend a Happy Thanksgiving to you and your loved ones. As a child, Thanksgiving was one of my favorite holidays. One of my fondest memories as a little girl was sitting around our big kitchen table and being together. Don’t get me wrong, my mom knew how to make a delicious meal for us to enjoy, but deep down inside I loved the comfort of being with my family; surrounded by love, laughter, joy and of course the arguments of who was going to wash the dishes. As my family has grown, celebrating Thanksgiving has become different for us today but still very special within our hearts.
When you think of Thanksgiving, what comes to your mind? Perhaps for some of you, it’s a day filled with childhood memories of gathering around the table and being together as a family. For others, it’s a day gorging yourself on those once a year foods like turkey and pumpkin pie. And for some, it’s a day of sitting in front of the television watching football all day long. I believe there is nothing wrong with enjoying your family, eating and resting, but I do believe our culture is missing one significant treasure to Thanksgiving – the importance of revering Father God, our Creator.
Although our Thanksgiving holiday stems from the Pilgrims celebrating the autumn feast in 1621, it was President Lincoln in 1863 that declared it a national day of thanksgiving after the Union’s victories at Gettysburg and Vicksburg during the Civil War. President Abraham Lincoln made the following proclamation:
“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. …….. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, …….. and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.”
President Lincoln knew within his heart the importance of acknowledging and revering God for His continued mercy and favor He had extended upon this land and the people. It was President Lincoln who declared the last Thursday of November as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our Father who dwells in Heaven.
What is so interesting is prior to me discovering the Proclamation by President Lincoln; the Lord had spoken two words into my spirit: thanksgiving and praise. The same two words President Lincoln used; “a day of Thanksgiving and Praise” as a national holiday. As I was meditating upon those two words, God impressed upon my heart how thanksgiving has to deal with the posture of our hearts and attitudes while praise is the outflow of our actions being expressed. Although we celebrate Thanksgiving once a year, I believe the principles of evaluating of our hearts and attitudes, as well as, our actions towards God and others should be applied daily.
God yearns for our hearts to be full of gratitude, admiration and appreciation towards Him. He who controls the depths of the earth is the same God who is able to do immeasurably more than we think or imagine within our own lives. He is the One who went to the Cross for us – the One who is the Rock of our salvation. If God never expressed another ounce of goodness towards us, and all we had was the known fact of our salvation – that should be more than enough. Our hearts should be full of thanksgiving to Him for extending His love, mercy and grace toward us. But because God is more than we can begin to fathom, He desires to reveal Himself to each of our hearts and bestow His blessings within our lives.
I love these scriptures in Psalm 95:1-7 “Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song. For the LORD is the great God, the great King above all gods. In his hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him. The sea is his, for he made it and his hands formed the dry land. Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker; for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care.”
I wonder if the same Scriptures were within President Lincoln’s heart when he wrote the Proclamation for us as a Nation?
I believe when President Lincoln penned the words of thanksgiving and praise, he never wanted us to lose sight of the LORD, our God. I think he was a man who developed intimacy among his family and loved ones and most importantly with God. Intimacy births both communication and connection. Intimacy needs to start with God, our Creator. He is the God who is not only love but designed how love should be expressed towards others. Intimacy needs to be cultivated and expanded among those we love. Today, there are too many distractions vowing for our time which impact our intimacy with God and others that are within our lives.
So on this Thanksgiving, my prayer is that you would reflect upon those two simple yet profound words that were penned by President Lincoln and were instilled into my spirit by God: thanksgiving and praise. Ask God, “In what ways do I need to express my thanks and love to you, God and to those who are in my life?” And then do it!
Be blessed my dear friends. Ron and I would like to wish you and yours a Thanksgiving filled with much joy, laughter and love. We appreciate all that you do for the ministry. We are grateful for all of your love, prayers and financial support.