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What Do You Think of When You Think of Thanksgiving?
Eating, Football, Long Weekend, Shopping, History, or Family? Thanksgiving is much more than any of this. True thanksgiving is not just a day for food, football, and family. It’s not just a holiday every fourth Thursday in November. For God’s people, everyday ought to be Thanksgiving Day!
Thanksgiving Day is a distinctive holiday. It doesn’t commemorate a battle or anyone’s birthday. It is simply a day set aside to express our thanks to God. Did you know that in 1789, George Washington made a public proclamation saying that, “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?” He recommended and assigned Thursday, the 26th day of November 1789 to be a day of Thanksgiving.
Of course most of know the story of the pilgrims and how they and the Indians of the area had a Thanksgiving feast in 1621 – long before Washington’s proclamation.
Even earlier than 1621 – we find people offering up thanks to God. In the Old Testament we find a Song of Thanksgiving. It is Psalm 100. It is subtitled “A Psalm of Thanksgiving”. It is an invitation to join together to acknowledge the great things that God has done. Not only does Psalm 100 call us to praise the Lord with thankfulness – but it also describes to us the nature of thanksgiving. Let’s read Psalm 100 together:
“A Psalm of Thanksgiving. Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands! Serve the Lord with gladness; Come before His presence with singing. Know that the Lord, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, And His truth endures to all generations.” Psalms 100:1-5 (NKJV)
In this Psalm I find five key words that describe the essence of thanksgiving. The first word is:
“Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands!” Psalm 100:1 (NKJV)
We don’t have problems shouting at a football game, but we very seldom raise our voice in church. I remember a few years ago when some of you got shook up here in church. I was preaching along and the Spirit of God was extremely powerful that day. One gentleman was so moved that morning that he let out a shout. He just yelled out in the middle of the service. It shook some of you up. Good! Our lives are meant to be a joyful call to God. God wants us to get excited about who He is.
Just this past week I saw the film clip of the victory celebration in New York City when World War II ended. Folks, that celebration was a shout of praise. The war was over – the victory had been won. We need to shout praises to God – I have read the end of the Book – I know who wins the war – I know who has victory – Praise be to God on high! I need to shout joyfully because God has won the victory. We need to be filled with joy and shout about it.
The second word is:
“Serve the Lord with gladness; Come before His presence with singing.” Psalms 100:2 (NKJV)
Folks let me tell you this – there is a huge difference between gladness and sadness.
When we come before the
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