Summary: God not only expects His people to be thankful, He enables them to do so.

A. This coming Thursday is Thanksgiving. So in advance, let me say, “Happy Thanksgiving everyone.”

1. It is certainly one of my favorite days of the year, and arguably is the most important holiday of the year.

2. I’m thankful that we are a nation that still pauses one day a year to give thanks to God.

3. I won’t go into detail about the history of the holiday, but let me share one quote that goes all the way back to our first President, George Washington.

4. Here is a copy of George Washington’s Thanksgiving Proclamation as it appeared in The Massachusetts Centinel newspaper, Wednesday, October 14, 1789.

5. “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; 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 and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:

Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, 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 the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted; for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

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 enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our national government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally, to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand, at the city of New York, the 3d day of October, 1789

George Washington”

6. How about that for a spiritual message from our first president!

B. I must tell you that each year I really enjoy preparing a message for Thanksgiving.

1. I think it is one of the easiest and most pleasant sermons to develop and preach, but one of the hardest ones to put into practice.

2. Gratitude is not a virtue that comes easily for most of us.

C. The story is told of a little boy who was given an orange by a man.

1. The boys’ mother said to the boy, “What do you say to the nice man?”

2. The little boy thought for a moment, handed the orange back and said, “Peel it!”

3. I don’t think that’s what his mom had in mind!

D. Another story is told of a little boy who went to a party.

1. His mother asked him, “Son, did you thank the host mother for the party?”

2. The boy answered, “Well, I was going to, but the girl ahead of me said, ‘Thank You,’ and the lady told her, ‘Don’t mention it.’ So I didn’t.”

E. God wants His people to be a thankful people.

1. The Bible says, “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you Christ Jesus.” (1 Thess. 5:16)

2. Did you hear that? “This is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

3. What is “God’s will for you?”

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