Saturday, November 28, 2015

True Thanksgiving...

Long before the Pilgrims landed in America in 1620, there was a band of Biblical Pilgrims called Israelites who left a land of bondage headed for a promised land where they could worship their God in truth and not be forced to worship Idols and false gods.  These Pilgrims had the real first Thanksgiving.

Leviticus 7:11-15 (KJV)
 11And this is the law of the sacrifice of peace offerings, which he shall offer unto the LORD.
 12If he offer it for a thanksgiving, then he shall offer with the sacrifice of thanksgivingunleavened cakes mingled with oil, and unleavened wafers anointed with oil, and cakes mingled with oil, of fine flour, fried.
 13Besides the cakes, he shall offer for his offering leavened bread with the sacrifice ofthanksgiving of his peace offerings.
 14And of it he shall offer one out of the whole oblation for an heave offering unto the LORD, and it shall be the priest's that sprinkleth the blood of the peace offerings.
 15And the flesh of the sacrifice of his peace offerings for thanksgiving shall be eaten the same day that it is offered; he shall not leave any of it until the morning.
Thanksgiving means - the offering of thanks, especially for gifts received.  Scripture empasises the importance of giving thanks to God for all His gifts and works both as an expression of our dependance ON Him and our gratitude TO Him.
Jonah 2:9  (KJV)
 9But I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that that I have vowed. Salvation is of the LORD.
In the Bible, thanksgiving is linked with praise:
Psalm 69:30  (KJV)
 30I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving.
1 Chronicles 16:4 KJV)
 4And he appointed certain of the Levites to minister before the ark of the LORD, and to record, and to thank and praise the LORD God of Israel:
Psalms 100:4  (KJV)
4Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.
Psalm 50:14 (KJV)
 14Offer unto God thanksgiving; and pay thy vows unto the most High:
We have so much to be thankful for - everyday.  If we take the limits off God, we are going to see Him do even greater things than we ever have. 
We have at least 3 things to be thankful for:
#1) Common blessings - (things we take for granted such as the sunrise, sunset, life, hearing, seeing, feeling).
#2) Special blessings - (breath of life, family, friends,)
#3) The greatest blessing of all - Jesus Christ who gave His life that we might be saved and spend eternity with Him.
We have a duty to offer thanksgiving to God (everyday)
1 Timothy 4:3-4 (KJV)
 3Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.   4For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving:
Psalm 107:8-9 (KJV)
 8Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!
 9For he satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness.
Psalm 147:7-9 (KJV)
 7Sing unto the LORD with thanksgiving; sing praise upon the harp unto our God:
 8Who covereth the heaven with clouds, who prepareth rain for the earth, who maketh grass to grow upon the mountains.  9He giveth to the beast his food, and to the young ravens which cry.
So many times we ask, take and forget!
Like the story of the 10 lepers in Luke 17.  Out of the 10 only 1 returned to thank Him for their healing.
We should give God thanks and praise everyday.  So much of the world only remembers to thank Him certain times of the year if then.  As a child of God we can celebrate Thanksgiving everyday - Thanksgiving is OUR response to HIS grace.
Thanksgiving is responding to God's grace even in the midst of turmoil and trouble.  In "everything" Paul wrote, "give thanks".  It's easy to celebrate and give thanks when everything is going our way.  Real thanksgiving, biblical thanksgiving goes deeper than our circumstances!!  It's based on God's provision - not our performance.  
In the movie, FACING THE GIANTS, the coach told his team, "We are going to praise God when we win and we are going to praise God when we lose".  That's the mindset that we as God's children should have - We are going to praise God when we win (when things go our way) and we are going to praise God when we lose (when we think they aren't going our way).  One thing is for sure, if you have read the back of His book, you know we win :-)
Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
I know it's hard to be thankful when you have recently lost a loved one, have a loved one sick unto death, facing divorce or other marital problems, in financial hardships etc., and it's hard if you have a bunch of little problems troubling your mind.  Real thanksgiving is when we praise God IN SPITE OF the circumstances.  In 2 timothy 1:11-12, Paul shows us what real thanksgiving looks like:  He is in a dungeon, chained to a Roman soldier, looking back over 30 some years of serving Christ.  He could have whined and cried, "Lord look what I've done for you, why are you doing this to me?"  But instead he said:   11Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles.
 12For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.
He gives 2 reasons for his confidence, even while in the dungeon.  If we can claim these same reasons, we can celebrate real thanksgiving.
#1)  I can be confidant because I know God personally - There is a huge difference in knowing about God and really knowing God.  Even the devil knows about God and trembles because of what he knows.  To know God personally is to love and serve Him as your Savior, leader, counselor and friend.  It is not enough to know about God.  It is not enough to be an excellent studier of His word.  In order to celebrate real thanksgiving, you must know God personally.
#2)  I can be confident because God is able to guard all that I entrust to Him.
If I was the primary caretaker of all the people and possessions that are important to me - I would be in big trouble because my wisdom and power are limited (to what God gives me).  I can't save anyone or anything.  But when I entrust to God all those people/things that are important to me, then I have enlisted the all-wise, omnipotent God.  This doesn't give me an automatic safety net but I know that He has my best interests in mind, that His plans are for my good and He knows my heart.  When I enlist Him for instance by praying His hedge of protection, I believe, I have faith that He is fully capable of taking care of everything and protecting everything, something I cannot do.  He will be there to fight my battles for me.  I have His promise that nothing can happen tomorrow that He and I can't handle.  
NO TRAGEDY CAN ERASE GOD'S SUFFICIENCY (I didn't write that but wish I had :-)
So here we are on the brink of Thanksgiving "day" and we don't have a clue what tomorrow holds, but praise God, we know WHO holds tomorrow!  So we can dare to give thanks to God and say with Paul, "for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day".  
When Ralph Waldo Emerson lost his son, he wrote in his journal - "all that I have seen teaches me to trust God for all that I have not seen".  To me that may have been the most beautiful thing he wrote!  
Hebrews 11:1 (KJV) Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
But, if we believe with our whole heart, "all that we have seen teaches us to trust God for all that we have not seen", our faith will grow - then we know the secret of our confidence and we are ready for "thanksgiving".

References. and excerpts: The Secret of our confidence - Bill Bouknight, Bible gateway, King James Bible
First published in facebook, November 20, 2011 at 1:11am