Thanksgiving Day


Certain days have always been declared for special purposes. Frequently they have some religious significance. Some examples are Memorial Day, Fathers Day, and Mothers Day. Another one is more significant than all the rest, Thanksgiving Day.


Of all peoples in the world: Americans, all the people that live in the United States, have more reason than others to give thanks.

Freedom to worship                          Freedom of assembly          Freedom of speech

Relative Security        Land of plenty                      Land of opportunity

Compared to all other people, of all time, we are truly blessed.

Now we are in danger of losing what God gave us!!

It is fitting that we show appreciation for our National Blessings with National Thanksgiving.


(2 Chr 7:14 NIV)  if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. (Lev 23:10 NIV)  "Speak to the Israelites and say to them: 'When you enter the land I am going to give you and you reap its harvest, bring to the priest a sheaf of the first grain you harvest.


Give thanks occurs 34 times in NIV and 56 times in RSV. Thanksgiving occurs 25 times in NIV and 36 times in RSV. No other national holiday is mentioned by name. No other national holiday is devoted exclusively to recognizing what God has done for us and giving Him thanks. Passover, now the Lord's Supper is closest, but it is not a nationally recognized day. Not Christmas, not Easter, not Saint Valentine’s Day. Thanksgiving alone.


Thanksgiving Day in the United States is an annual day of thanks for the blessings of the past year, observed on the fourth Thursday in November in each of the states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.  It is a historical, national, and religious holiday that began with the Pilgrims.  After the survival of their first colony through the bitter winter, and the gathering of the harvest, Gov. William Bradford of Plymouth Colony issued a thanksgiving proclamation in the autumn of 1621. This first thanksgiving lasted three days, during which the Pilgrims feasted on wild turkey and venison with their Indian guests.


Days of thanksgiving were celebrated sporadically until, on Nov. 26, 1789, President Washington issued a proclamation of a nation-wide day of thanksgiving.  He made it clear that the day should be one of prayer and giving thanks to God.  It was to be celebrated by all religious denominations, a circumstance that helped to promote a spirit of common heritage.


Credit for establishing this day as a national holiday is usually given to Sarah J. Hale, editor and founder of the Ladies' Magazine (from 1828) in Boston.  Her editorials in the magazine and letters to President Lincoln urging the formal establishment of a national holiday of thanksgiving resulted in Lincoln's proclamation in 1863, designating the last Thursday in November as the day.  Succeeding presidents annually followed his example, except for President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who in 1939 proclaimed Thanksgiving Day on the fourth but not the last Thursday.  In 1941, Congress adopted a joint resolution setting the date on the fourth Thursday.

*   Psa 100:4-5 Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.


Governor Bradford of Massachusetts made this first Thanksgiving Proclamation three years after the Pilgrims settled at Plymouth:


"Inasmuch as the great Father has given us this year an abundant harvest of Indian corn, wheat, peas, beans, squashes, and garden vegetables, and has made the forests to abound with game and the sea with fish and clams, and inasmuch as He has protected us from the ravages of the savages, has spared us from pestilence and disease, has granted us freedom to worship God according to the dictates of our own conscience.


Now I, your magistrate, do proclaim that all ye Pilgrims, with your wives and ye little ones, do gather at ye meeting house, on ye hill, between the hours of 9 and 12 in the day time, on Thursday, November 29th, of the year of our Lord one thousand six hundred and twenty three and the third year since ye Pilgrims landed on ye Pilgrim Rock, there to listen to ye pastor and render thanksgiving to ye Almighty God for all His blessings."


*   1 Th 5:18 ... give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

*   Rev 7:12  And all the angels stood round the throne and round the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshipped God, Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.


Thanksgiving proclamation, 1863 ---Abraham Lincoln (1809–1865)

*   It has seemed to me fit and proper that [the gifts of God] should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged with one heart and one voice by the whole American people. I do, therefore, invite my fellow citizens . . . 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.


April 30, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln's - Proclamation for a National Day of Fasting, Humiliation and Prayer

*   We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven.  We have been preserved, the many years, in peace and prosperity.  We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God.  We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own.

Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self- sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to God that made us!  It behooves us, then to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.

*   Psalms 136:1  O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures for ever. O give thanks to the God of gods, for his steadfast love endures forever. O give thanks to the Lord of lords, for his steadfast love endures forever;


A prominent American who was visiting Argentina was asked by the president of the republic, "Why has South America gotten on so poorly and North America so well; What do you think is the reason?"  The visitor replied, "I think the reason is found in the fact that the Spaniards came to South America seeking gold, while the Pilgrim Fathers came to North America seeking God."

*   Mat 6:33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

*   A grateful thought toward heaven is of itself a prayer. --- Gotthold Ephraim Lessing (1729–1781)

*   A true Christian is a man who never for a moment forgets what God has done for him in Christ, and whose whole comportment and whole activity have their root in the sentiment of gratitude. --- John Baillie (1741–1806)

*   Gratitude to God makes even a temporal blessing a taste of heaven. --- William Romaine (1714–1795)

*   I have found the least gratitude from those families in which I had performed the greatest services. --- Benjamin Rush (1746–1813)

*   Pride slays thanksgiving, but a humble mind is the soil out of which thanks naturally grows. A proud man is seldom a grateful man; he never thinks he gets as much as he deserves. --- Henry Ward Beecher (1813–1887)

*   Thanksgiving was never meant to be shut up in a single day. --- Robert Caspar Lintner

*   Thanksgiving, to be truly thanksgiving, is first thanks, then giving. --- Proverb

*   (Psa 105:1 NIV)  Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done.

*   (Psa 106:47 NIV)  Save us, O LORD our God, and gather us from the nations, that we may give thanks to your holy name and glory in your praise.

*   (Psa 107:8 NIV)  Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men,

*   (Isa 12:4 NIV)  In that day you will say: "Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done, and proclaim that his name is exalted.

*   (1 Th 5:16-18 NIV)  Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.

*   (1 Chr 16:7 RSV)  Then on that day David first appointed that thanksgiving be sung to the LORD by Asaph and his brethren.

*   (Neh 11:15-17 RSV)  And of the Levites: Shemaiah the son of Hasshub, son of Azrikam, son of Hashabiah, son of Bunni; and Shabbethai and Jozabad, of the chiefs of the Levites, who were over the outside work of the house of God; and Mattaniah the son of Mica, son of Zabdi, son of Asaph, who was the leader to begin the thanksgiving in prayer, and Bakbukiah, the second among his brethren; and Abda the son of Shammua, son of Galal, son of Jeduthun.



*   (Num 15:18-21 NIV)  "Speak to the Israelites and say to them: 'When you enter the land to which I am taking you and you eat the food of the land, present a portion as an offering to the LORD.  Present a cake from the first of your ground meal and present it as an offering from the threshing floor. Throughout the generations to come you are to give this offering to the LORD from the first of your ground meal.


The first Thanksgiving Day --- Alice Williams Brotherton

Heap high the board with plenteous cheer, and gather to the feast,

And toast the sturdy Pilgrim band whose courage never ceased.

Give praise to that All-Gracious One by whom their steps were led,

And thanks unto the harvest's Lord who sends our daily bread.


In conclusion let me encourage you to celebrate Thanksgiving as it was intended. It has unfortunately become simply a day for feasting and football. A day for family get togethers, not a bad thing by itself, but bad if the family does not remember to thank God for the bounty we enjoy and the blessings we have received for so long. It strikes me as sad that it has become “T” day or “Turkey” day. I wonder if the turkeys aren’t eating the turkey!


I have attended Thanksgiving dinners where God wasn’t even mentioned and no one gave thanks for the food provided and prepared. Doesn’t it occur to these people that the day is called “Thanksgiving” for a purpose.


I encourage you and your families to recall the origins of the day, to sing songs of thanks, and certainly ask a blessing on the meal. If we can’t remember God on this special day, if we turn our face from Him, how can we expect our blessings to continue? How can we expect God to hear our prayers if we can’t take time to pray? If we are ashamed of Him won’t He be ashamed of us? Let us teach our children and all of our families and friends the true meaning of “Thanksgiving.”