The Forgotten Holiday
1 Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands.
2 Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing.
3 Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
4 Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.
5 For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.
Verse 5 says it is possible for us to bless his name!
1 Thessalonians 5:18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
We live in an age and in a society that has pretty well forgotten about Thanksgiving; both as a custom and as a holiday.
Stores go directly from advertising Halloween to Christmas. Thanksgiving has become the “Forgotten Holiday.” Why?
Halloween is about: Commercialism - costumes - candy
Christmas has become the “Winter Holiday” It has become all about: greed, gifts, gluttony
Thanksgiving Day has become a weekend of food, football and fellowship.
Society views it as a day to start shopping for Christmas Presents
While there is nothing wrong with food, football or fellowship; they have NOTHING to do with what Thanksgiving Day is REALLY all about.
Thanksgiving is all about thanking a Holy God for His goodness.
People today do not want to admit that God has been good to them. If they admit that they must also admit that they are accountable to that gracious God.
To get a proper prospective we must look into history so that we may see the purpose of the Thanksgiving Holiday.
The Pilgrims and America's First Thanksgiving
The Pilgrims, who celebrated the first thanksgiving in America, were fleeing religious prosecution in their native England. In 1609 a group of Pilgrims left England for the religious freedom in Holland where they lived and prospered. After a few years their children were speaking Dutch and had become attached to the dutch way of life. This worried the Pilgrims. They considered the Dutch frivolous and their ideas a threat to their children's education and morality.
So they decided to leave Holland and travel to the New World. Their trip was financed by a group of English investors, the Merchant Adventurers. It was agreed that the Pilgrims would be given passage and supplies in exchange for their working for their backers for 7 years.
On Sept. 6, 1620 the Pilgrims set sail for the New World on a ship called the Mayflower. They sailed from Plymouth, England and aboard were 44 Pilgrims, who called themselves the "Saints", and 66 others, whom the Pilgrims called the "Strangers."
The long trip was cold and damp and took 65 days. Since there was the danger of fire on the wooden ship, the food had to be eaten cold. Many passengers became sick and one person died by the time land was sighted on November 10th.
The long trip led to many disagreements between the "Saints" and the "Strangers". After land was sighted a meeting was held and an agreement was worked out, called the Mayflower Compact, which guaranteed equality and unified the two groups. They joined together and named themselves the "Pilgrims."
Although they had first sighted land off Cape Cod they did not settle until they arrived at Plymouth, which had been named by Captain John Smith in 1614. It was there that the Pilgrims decide to settle. Plymouth offered an excellent harbor. A large brook offered a resource for fish. The Pilgrims biggest concern was attack by the local Native American Indians. But the Patuxets were a peaceful group and did not prove to be a threat.
The first winter was devastating to the Pilgrims. The cold, snow and sleet was exceptionally heavy, interfering with the workers as they tried to construct their settlement. March brought warmer weather and the health of the Pilgrims improved, but many had died during the long winter. Of the 110 Pilgrims and crew who left England, less that 50 survived the first winter.
On March 16, 1621, what was to become an important event took place, an Indian brave walked into the Plymouth settlement. The Pilgrims were frightened until the Indian called out "Welcome" (in English!).
His name was Samoset and he was an Abnaki Indian. He had learned English from the captains of fishing boats that had sailed off the coast. After staying the night Samoset left the next day. He soon returned with another Indian named Squanto who spoke better English than Samoset. Squanto told the Pilgrims of his voyages across the ocean and his visits to England and Spain. It was in England where he had learned English.
Squanto's importance to the Pilgrims was enormous and it can be said that they would not have survived without his help. It was Squanto who taught the Pilgrims how to tap the maple trees for sap. He taught them which plants were poisonous and which had medicinal powers. He taught them how to plant the Indian corn by heaping the earth into low mounds with several seeds and fish in each mound. The decaying fish fertilized the corn. He also taught them to plant other crops with the corn.
The harvest in October was very successful and the Pilgrims found themselves with enough food to put away for the winter. There was corn, fruits and vegetables, fish to be packed in salt, and meat to be cured over smoky fires.
The Pilgrims had much to celebrate, they had built homes in the wilderness, they had raised enough crops to keep them alive during the long coming winter, they were at peace with their Indian neighbors. They had beaten the odds and it was time to celebrate.
The Pilgrim Governor William Bradford proclaimed a day of thanksgiving to be shared by all the colonists and the neighboring Native Americans. They invited Squanto and the other Indians to join them in their celebration. Their chief, Massasoit, and 90 braves came to the celebration which lasted for 3 days. They played games, ran races, marched and played drums. The Indians demonstrated their skills with the bow and arrow and the Pilgrims demonstrated their musket skills. Exactly when the festival took place is uncertain, but it is believed the celebration took place in mid-October.
The following year the Pilgrims harvest was not as bountiful, as they were still unused to growing the corn. During the year they had also shared their stored food with newcomers and the Pilgrims ran short of food.
The 3rd year brought a spring and summer that was hot and dry with the crops dying in the fields. Governor Bradford ordered a day of fasting and prayer, and it was soon thereafter that the rain came. To celebrate - November 29th of that year was proclaimed a day of thanksgiving. This date is believed to be the real true beginning of the present day Thanksgiving Day.
The custom of an annually celebrated thanksgiving, held after the harvest, continued through the years. During the American Revolution (late 1770's) a day of national thanksgiving was suggested by the Continental Congress.
In 1817 New York State had adopted Thanksgiving Day as an annual custom.
By the middle of the 19th century many other states also celebrated a Thanksgiving Day. In 1863 President Abraham Lincoln appointed a national day of thanksgiving. Since then each president has issued a Thanksgiving Day proclamation, usually designating the fourth Thursday of each November as the holiday.
1789 Thanksgiving Proclamation
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
In theses early days of our history our forefathers followed the instructions from the Scriptures:
Psalm 92:1 It is a good thing to give thanks unto the LORD, and to sing praises unto thy name, O most High:
1 Thessalonians 5:18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
By the 1800’s America had forgotten about a day of Thanksgiving…
During the War Between The States Connection
In 1828 Mrs. Sarah Hale, the Editor of the magazine Godey’s Lady’s Book and the author of the poem Mary Had A Little Lamb began campaigning for the restoration of Thanksgiving as a national holiday.
She wrote letters and sought appointments with national leaders from the President down. Time after time she was rebuffed, being told it was "impractical and impossible".
In 1863 President Lincoln listened seriously to her plea that North and South "lay aside enmities and strife on Thanksgiving Day.
He proclaimed the 4th Thursday of November to be the official "National Thanksgiving Day."
This day was finally ratified by the U.S. Congress in 1941.
In America today, and in our Christian homes, it is time that we return to our roots and begin again to focus on thanking our Loving Heavenly Father for His goodness and His Blessings!
I. Thoughts about Thanksgiving
1. When we are thankful to God we enter His presence
Psalms 95:2 Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms.
Psalms 100:4 Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.
2. It is to be public
Psalms 35:18 I will give thee thanks in the great congregation: I will praise thee among much people.
Psalms 105:1 O give thanks unto the LORD; call upon his name: make known his deeds among the people.
3. To Publish what God hath done
Psalms 26:7 That I may publish with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of all thy wondrous works.
It is important to give thanks to God publicly. We should be telling others about what God has done for us.
4. In Israel they appointed some to praise and give thanks
Nehemiah 12:8 Moreover the Levites: Jeshua, Binnui, Kadmiel, Sherebiah, Judah, and Mattaniah, which was over the thanksgiving, he and his brethren.
We need some Levites in our churches!
We need a Mattaniah to be in charge of Thanksgiving!
Nehemiah 12:24 And the chief of the Levites: Hashabiah, Sherebiah, and Jeshua the son of Kadmiel, with their brethren over against them, to praise and to give thanks, according to the commandment of David the man of God, ward over against ward.
Nehemiah 12:31 Then I brought up the princes of Judah upon the wall, and appointed two great companies of them that gave thanks, whereof one went on the right hand upon the wall toward the dung gate:
Nehemiah 12:40 So stood the two companies of them that gave thanks in the house of God, and I, and the half of the rulers with me:
5. It is to be vocal
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.
Hebrews 13:15 By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.
We are willing to tell people about many things in our lives. We should often tell about His goodness.
6. Praise & Thank Him in Singing
Psalms 69:30 I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving.
Psalms 147:7 Sing unto the LORD with thanksgiving; sing praise upon the harp unto our God:
We are commanded to praise the Lord in a song. Take some time to sing praises to God during your Thanksgiving Day celebration.
7. In Prayer - A Condition to receiving
Philippians 4:6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
“Being thankful is a condition to answered prayer. The reason we often do not get our prayers answered my be that we come to God demanding an answer. We make requests, just expecting the answer we desire without ever giving thanks for what He has already done. “
II. The Theology of Thankfulness
In studying the Bible it becomes very evident that thanksgiving is to be a part of our daily spiritual life. The Word of God is very clear in its commands regarding thankfulness.
1. It is the will of God
1 Thessalonians 5:18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
We say that we are concerned about doing the Will of God. Yet we ignore the revealed will of God; it is His will that we are thankful.
2. It is an evidence of being Spirit-filled
Ephesians 5:18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;
19 Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;
20 Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;
From these verses it is obvious that a person who is filled with the Spirit of God will have a heart and voice of thanksgiving. You cannot be filled with the Spirit of God and then have an ungrateful heart.
3. It is an evidence of living by the Scriptures
Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
17 And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.
A thankful heart is the evidence of a person who reads their Bible. Being full of the Word of God will cause our hearts to be full of thanks to a gracious God. If you are not thankful - you are telling on yourself! You are broadcasting to everyone that you do not read your Bible.
4. It shows our dependence on God
Romans 1:21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
One of the most basic characteristics of the human condition is feeling that we do not feel that we need anyone or their help. We think we are able to handle everything ourselves and do not need anyone or anything. In these verses we see one of the characteristics of truly wicked people is that they are unthankful. It is satanic to be unthankful. When we are unthankful are acting just like those that oppose God.
III. Things for which we should be thankful
1. For God's Holiness
Psalms 30:4 Sing unto the LORD, O ye saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness.
What a wonderful thing to know that our God is holy. There is no unrighteousness in Him. He is totally without sin. Christianity is the only belief system in the world that can claim a holy God. We never have to worry that our God will let us down or to act in an unrighteous way.
2. God's Justice
Psalms 119:62 At midnight I will rise to give thanks unto thee because of thy righteous judgments.
Our God is ALWAYS just. We can count on the truth that He will always make the right and just judgment. He is never wrong or unjust. We can count on Him in EVERY situation.
3. God's Mercy
Psalms 136:2 O give thanks unto the God of gods: for his mercy endureth for ever.
3 O give thanks to the Lord of lords: for his mercy endureth for ever.
Psalms 136:26 O give thanks unto the God of heaven: for his mercy endureth for ever.
Grace is when God gives you what you do not deserve. Mercy is when God does not give us what we do deserve. Our God is full of mercy. When our sin requires a payment, God extended mercy and provided His Son as the payment. When we fail Him on a daily basis, our loving Heavenly Father extends His mercy over and over again! For that we should and must give thanks.
4. In Spite of Circumstances
Daniel 6:10 Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime.
Even when Daniel found himself in a situation where his faith would cost him and land him in the den of lions rather than gripe and complain, he chose to give God thanks! Circumstances change, but our God does not. We often face situations that are not pleasant or what we desired, but we are still to give God thanks! God has been better to us than we deserve.
5. For Food
Matthew 15:36 And he took the seven loaves and the fishes, and gave thanks, and brake them, and gave to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude.
When Jesus fed the four thousand, He stopped to give thanks for the food, prior to distributing it among the people. It is because of His example that we pray before we eat! By praying and giving thanks before we eat we are declaring that we acknowledge Him as the supplier of all our needs.
6. For Victory
1 Corinthians 15:57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
As Believers, we do not need to live a life of failure and defeat. We are not to live as victims, but as victors! When Jesus died on the cross, was buried and then rose again He won the victory over death, hell, the grave and Satan! As I have often said, “I read the last chapter of the Book, we won!”
Whatever difficulty you are facing, realize you CAN be victorious through Jesus Christ. Today, will you take the time to thank God for the victory He has won in your life?
7. For Faithful Men of God
2 Corinthians 8:16 But thanks be to God, which put the same earnest care into the heart of Titus for you.
Paul, when writing to the Church at Corinth, express thankfulness for Titus and his love for the people of Church at Corinth. It is by the mercy of God that we have faithful men of God in our lives. If you have a faithful pastor, thank God! It you have been helped by preachers of the Gospel, thank God! It is a blessing to have the influence of a minister of God in our lives. In my office I have a display that I call my “Heritage Wall.” This display contains pictures and memorabilia of the men of God who have helped me in the ministry. One of those pictures is the pastor of my home church, Dr. Thomas Duff. Brother Duff was my pastor from the time I was an infant until when I went to college. It was through his influence, teaching and counsel that I began my ministry. He was faithful to teach the Bible and to give counsel that honored God. Also pictured is Dr. Joe Boyd, evangelist. I am forever indebted to him and his influence in my life. He taught me what it meant to love souls, be diligent in the ministry and the importance of prayer. Others on the wall are Dr. Jack Hyles, Evangelist Glenn Schunk, Dr. Tom Malone, Dr. Ed Nelson, Pastor Doug Fisher and many others. Humanly speaking these men are why I am in the ministry today. They instructed, preached, guided and in many cases, pushed me to do what God requires of a preacher. My theology, and my habits as a preacher are because of their influence. Thank God for them!
8. For Faithful Bible Teaching
Colossians 2:7 Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.
We are to be thankful for those that have taught us the Bible. Praise God that He has made it possible for us to learnt the Word of God!
9. For Opportunities to Serve
Colossians 3:17 And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.
It is only by the Grace of God that we have the opportunity to serve the King of Kings. Whatever you do for God, do it with thanksgiving.
10. for Others
1 Thessalonians 1:2 We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers;
1 Thessalonians 3:9 For what thanks can we render to God again for you, for all the joy wherewith we joy for your sakes before our God;
One of the greatest blessings of the Christian life is to be part of a local church. When we are part of a church we have a “family” of brothers and sisters that love and serve the same Lord we do. Every church service is like a “family reunion.” We ought to give thanks for other Believers in our lives.
12. Because of Salvation
2 Thessalonians 2:13 But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:
When was the last time you thanked God for saving you? I love the old song, “Thank you Lord, For Saving My Soul.”
13. For Jesus
2 Corinthians 9:15 Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.
Everything else for which we are to be thankful was made possible by the Son of God! Thank God for Jesus!!!
Ask yourself these questions:
Have you received God’s gift of eternal life, made possible by Jesus Christ?
If not, would you be willing to call upon Him for salvation right now? (Please contact me if you would like more help with coming to know the Lord personally.)
Am I thankful?
Have you become wrapped up in the commercialism of the season and have missed the focus on God?
Don’t allow Thanksgiving to be a forgotten holiday in your life.
Determine that you will thank God today.