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Contact me at Mom25dogs@gmail.com

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Thanksgiving

I wanted to sit and think about what Thanksgiving really means to me. I just want to be still and sit on that word, "thanksgiving", and learn.

In the English tradition, days of thanksgiving and special thanksgiving religious services became important during the English Reformation in the reign of Henry VIII and in reaction to the large number of religious holidays on the Catholic calendar. Before 1536 there were 95 Church holidays, plus 52 Sundays, when people were required to attend church and forego work and sometimes pay for expensive celebrations. The 1536 reforms reduced the number of Church holidays to 27, but some Puritans wished to completely eliminate all Church holidays, including Christmas and Easter. The holidays were to be replaced by specially called Days of Fasting or Days of Thanksgiving, in response to events that the Puritans viewed as acts of special providence. Unexpected disasters or threats of judgement from on high called for Days of Fasting. Special blessings, viewed as coming from God, called for Days of Thanksgiving. For example, Days of Fasting were called on account of drought in 1611, floods in 1613, and plagues in 1604 and 1622. Days of Thanksgiving were called following the victory over the Spanish Armada in 1588 and following the deliverance of Queen Anne in 1705. An unusual annual Day of Thanksgiving began in 1606 following the failure of the Gunpowder Plot in 1605 and developed into Guy Fawkes Day.

The first Thanksgiving in America was held in October 1621 by Plymouth Colony Pilgrims in appreciation of assistance from members of the Massasoit tribe and celebration of the first harvest. It was in present day Massachusetts. Pilgrims and Puritans who began emigrating from England in the 1620s and 1630s carried the tradition of Days of Fasting and Days of Thanksgiving with them to New England. Several days of Thanksgiving were held in early New England history that have been identified as the "First Thanksgiving", including Pilgrim holidays in Plymouth in 1621 and 1623, and a Puritan holiday in Boston in 1631. In later years, religious thanksgiving services were declared by civil leaders such as Governor Bradford, who planned a thanksgiving celebration and fast in 1623.vThe practice of holding an annual harvest festival did not become a regular affair in New England until the late 1660s. As President of the United States, George Washington proclaimed the first nation-wide thanksgiving celebration in America marking November 26, 1789, "as a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favours of Almighty God". Thanksgiving is currently celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November by federal legislation made in 1941, and has been an annual tradition in the United States by presidential proclamation since 1863 and by state legislation since the Founding Fathers of the United States. - mostly from Wikipedia



The word "thanksgiving" means the act of giving thanks; a prayer expressing gratitude; a public acknowledgment or celebration of divine goodness; an expression of thanks to God; an expression of gratitude, especially to God.

The word "gratitude" means the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for  kindness. We realize there is something good that benefits us and the source of this goodness is outside of ourselves so we are thankful for the blessings and for the Blesser.

Jimmy Stewart played Charlie Anderson, the father of a family who lived in the Shenandoah Valley on a large farm. At the beginning of the movie, he is a very proud and arrogant man. He only says "grace" because his wife expects him to. Here is his prayer at the beginning of the movie,

"Lord, we cleared this land. We plowed it, sowed it, and harvest it. We cook the harvest. It wouldn't be here and we wouldn't be eating it if we hadn't done it all ourselves. We worked dog-bone hard for every crumb and morsel, but we thank you Lord just the same for the food we're about to eat, amen."

This prayer showed no gratitude to God. Charlie thinks he has done it all himself. Through the movie, he learns that we have NOTHING if not for God. God is the one who gives us the strength, who gives us the knowledge and education, who gives us the tools, who makes the seeds sprout, who waters it, etc. God is the giver and we the receiver. Yes, we work hard, but all our hard work will amount to nothing if God doesn't bless the harvest. Our good health can be gone in an instant. Our mind can lose sanity and logical reasoning in a moment. We could lose our jobs and our homes. Our family could die or disappear instantly. So no matter how much we think we've done it all ourselves, we haven't. Our whole life is based on God's goodness and blessing.

Charlie Anderson and his family go through terrible times during the War of Northern Aggression. By the end of the movie, his stony heart has been softened and he is humbled. As he starts to say grace again at the breakfast table, he gets too overcome with emotion to continue. He goes out to his family graveyard and talks to his dead wife. Then he comes in and asks why no one told him it was Sunday and go get ready for church. It ends with him singing a hymn in the church with what's left of his family. While singing, one of his son's makes it through the church door. He has made it home from the War. Charlie helps his son to the pew while he and the congregation joyously sing a hymn.

It's a great movie that makes you think. Terrible things happen to people every day and I can't explain them. I can't tell anyone why it happened. But I do know that God is there and He will never leave or forsake us. If something terrible happens to us, we can trust that He has not gone anywhere but is ready and willing to help us through it. He will give us strength when we need it, He will give us grace at our point of desperation. He will love us through to the other side. Good things can come from terrible disasters. And, we will one day leave this land of tears and go to a place where there will be no more tears for eternity! This is a temporary, short time span in the infinite time of God.

People who refuse to acknowledge and thank God for His benefits are evil. They are prideful, arrogant. They lack humility and have a hardened heart. Like Charlie Anderson, they think they are self sufficient, self righteous and have no need of God.

Romans 1:17-22 (Easy To Read Version - ERV) The Good News shows how God makes people right with himself. God's way of making people right begins and ends with faith. As the Scriptures say, "The one who is right with God by faith will live forever." (18) God shows his anger from heaven against all the evil and wrong things that people do. Their evil lives hide the truth they have. (19) This makes God angry because they have been shown what he is like. Yes, God has made it clear to them. (20) There are things about God that people cannot see--his eternal power and all that makes him God. But since the beginning of the world, those things have been easy for people to understand. They are made clear in what God has made. So people have no excuse for the evil they do. (21) People knew God, but they did not honor him as God, and they did not thank him. Their ideas were all useless. There was not one good thought left in their foolish minds. (22) They said they were wise, but they became fools.

Luke 18:10-14 (ERV) "One time there was a Pharisee and a tax collector. One day they both went to the Temple to pray. (11) The Pharisee stood alone, away from the tax collector. When the Pharisee prayed, he said, 'O God, I thank you that I am not as bad as other people. I am not like men who steal, cheat, or commit adultery. I thank you that I am better than this tax collector. (12) I fast twice a week, and I give a tenth of everything I get!' (13) "The tax collector stood alone too. But when he prayed, he would not even look up to heaven. He felt very humble before God. He said, 'O God, have mercy on me. I am a sinner!' (14) I tell you, when this man finished his prayer and went home, he was right with God. But the Pharisee, who felt that he was better than others, was not right with God. People who make themselves important will be made humble. But those who make themselves humble will be made important."

God has no need of our praise. He is not a needy god, whose ego must be stroked. He certainly doesn't need our approval or acceptance. He is God. He is the Creator and we are His Created. We were made to fall in love and worship, therefore, we are at our happiest, most fulfilled and complete if we are loving and worshiping our Creator. Otherwise, we will be loving and worshiping something else and that's idolatry. If we are in a love relationship with God, our Father, Jesus His Son, and the Holy Spirit, then we are doing what we were created for. Giving thanks to God blesses us, as well as, Him. It gives us a lighter heart, a happy countenance.

Psalm 100:4-5 (Modern King James Version - MKJV) Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise; be thankful to Him, and bless His name. (5) For Jehovah is good; His mercy is everlasting; and His truth endures to all generations.

Psalm 95:1-3 (MKJV) Oh come, let us sing to Jehovah; let us make a joyful noise to the Rock of our salvation. (2) Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise to Him with psalms. (3) For Jehovah is a great God, and a great King above all gods.

God is worthy of our praise! He is worthy of our love and adoration! He is a loving, merciful God full of grace. He has provided all we need to be saved, to be forgiven, to spend eternity in Heaven. He works all things out to our good. No matter what satan throws our way, if we trust in God, God can and will turn it into something good.

Psalm 69:29-34 (Contemporary English Version 0 CEV) I am mistreated and in pain. Protect me, God, and keep me safe! (30) I will praise the LORD God with a song and a thankful heart. (31) This will please the LORD better than offering an ox or a full-grown bull. (32) When those in need see this, they will be happy, and the LORD's worshipers will be encouraged. (33) The LORD will listen when the homeless cry out, and he will never forget his people in prison. (34) Heaven and earth will praise our God, and so will the oceans and everything in them.

Psalm 116:15-17 (CEV) You are deeply concerned when one of your loyal people faces death. (16) I worship you, LORD, just as my mother did, and you have rescued me from the chains of death. (17) I will offer you a sacrifice to show how grateful I am, and I will pray.

Psalm 105:1-3 (MKVJ) O give thanks to Jehovah; call on His name; make known His deeds among the people. (2) Sing to Him, sing praises to Him; talk of all His wonderful works. (3) Glory in His holy name; let the heart of those who seek Jehovah rejoice.

Colossians 3:15 (CEV) Each one of you is part of the body of Christ, and you were chosen to live together in peace. So let the peace that comes from Christ control your thoughts. And be grateful.

Having a thankful, grateful heart makes us a better person.

Humility is a prominent Christian grace (Rom. 12:3; 15:17, 18; 1 Cor. 3:5-7; 2 Cor. 3:5; Phil. 4:11-13). It is a state of mind well pleasing to God (1 Pet. 3:4); it preserves the soul in tranquillity (Ps. 69:32, 33), and makes us patient under trials (Job 1:22). Christ has set us an example of humility (Phil. 2:6-8). We should be led thereto by a remembrance of our sins (Lam. 3:39), and by the thought that it is the way to honour (Prov. 16:18), and that the greatest promises are made to the humble (Ps. 147:6; Isa. 57:15; 66:2; 1 Pet. 5:5). It is a "great paradox in Christianity that it makes humility the avenue to glory." - Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary

Why is humility so important? In today's world, humility is looked down upon as something subservient and demeaning. On the contrary, being humble is a quality, a virtue to be sought. Humility doesn't mean we deny our self worth, but rather we are acknowledging the worth of all people. We are not some how so special that we stand out from the crowd. All human beings are so special that God sent His only begotten Son to die for us and save us. We are all precious in His Sight! We are to be courteous, kind, patient and helpful to all. They are just as important to God as I am. And I am to emulate my Savior, Jesus Christ, who humbled Himself to be born as a human being in the humblest of circumstances. He lived His life on earth in humility even to the point of dying a criminal's death on a cross in order to save us. If He didn't consider it demeaning then why should I? Pride will only lead to destruction. You may have success for awhile, but it will only lead to destruction in the long run.

Proverbs 16:18-19 (CEV)  Too much pride will destroy you. (19) You are better off to be humble and poor than to get rich from what you take by force.

I just finished watching Anthony Trollope's The Way We Live Now on Netflix. A very good story and miniseries (in 4 episodes). If you watch it, pay attention to the 2 characters who exhibit pride: Augustus Melmotte and Mrs. Winifred Hurtle. Melmotte's pride leads to his destruction and Winifred learns humility.

Matthew 5:5 (King James Version - KJV) Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth

There is also the Charles Dicken's character in David Copperfield named Uriah Heep. He constantly refers to his humility, calling himself a " 'umble man", and, yet, his pride is all consuming! He was so opposite of what he claimed to be. And his greed and pride lead to his destruction. Those who walk in pride will have a long fall.

Humility is the opposite of arrogance, pride, boastfulness, vanity, ambition, entitlement. And it is only with sincere humility that you can get along with others. Marriages, relationships, partnerships, teams can be destroyed because of pride or they can be  great because of humility. If you learn and practice authentic humility in your life, God will bless you.

With a humble and grateful attitude, we can see our true dependence on God. We can realize that He is all and we are but His dependents, His children. When I humble myself to praise Him, it is the key to prayer. We enter into His Presence with thanksgiving, praise and worship and from there our prayers are heard and answers are on the way!

Hebrews 13:15 (MKJV) By Him, then, let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips, confessing His name.

It's not always easy to praise God. Sometimes we are sick, we don't feel good, we're tired, we have a lot to do. But this scripture reminds us that we should make a "sacrifice of praise". We do it even when we don't feel like it. And, from my experience, it doesn't take long before you do feel like it. Once you put your focus on God and begin to thank Him, soon you will be so full of praise that you can hardly express it.

Ephesians 5:19-21 (ERV) Encourage each other with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your hearts to the Lord. (20) Always give thanks to God the Father for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. (21) Be willing to serve each other out of respect for Christ.

So having a humble and grateful heart is important to the idea of Thanksgiving. It is the entrance to praise and worship. What is the difference between praise, worship and thanksgiving? Praise means the act of expressing approval or admiration. Worship means reverent honor, adoration and homage paid to God. I begin with a humble and grateful heart to give thanksgiving. From there I am moved to give God praise, to admire Him. And then I move into worship, the reverence, awe and adoration I feel for Him.

How do we thank, praise and worship God? We humble ourselves, we put our focus on Him. We begin with uttering thanks. Sometimes we do this in a physical way such as bowing our heads or bending our knees in humble thanks. Then our hearts are moved into praise. Here we can sing our praise, clap, praise Him with instruments, dance, shout our praise. And then we move into worship where we adore Him with as much as we have within us. That may be in prostration, or bending the knee, with tears of love, with our hands held out, immersed in an outpouring of love. A reverential attitude of mind and/or body.

Psalm 35:18 (CEV) And when your people meet, I will praise you and thank you, Lord, in front of them all.

Psalm 5:7 (CEV) Because of your great mercy, I come to your house, LORD, and I am filled with wonder as I bow down to worship at your holy temple.

Luke 4:8 (CEV) Jesus answered, "The Scriptures say: 'Worship the Lord your God and serve only him!' "

John 4:23-24 (MKJV) But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such to worship Him. (24) God is a spirit, and they who worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth.

Exodus 34:8 (MKJV) And Moses made haste and bowed toward the earth, and worshiped.
Genesis 17:3 (MKJV) And Abram fell on his face. And God talked with him,

Psalm 84:2 (MKJV) My soul longs, yea, even faints for the courts of Jehovah; my heart and my flesh shout for joy to the living God.

1 Timothy 2:8 (MKJV) Therefore, I desire that men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.

Exodus 4:31 (MKJV) And the people believed. And when they heard that Jehovah had visited the sons of Israel, and that He had looked upon their affliction, then they bowed and worshiped.

We can also praise God in ways you may not have thought of. Obeying Him is one way to worship Him. Giving generously to those in need is pleasing to God. Living a life that would please God is another way to worship Him. Telling others about His wonders and love is another way. Being all talk and no action means your praise and worship is shallow, not very real.

So what am I thankful for today? Besides all the usual things such as my salvation, my family, my home, food to eat... there is one special thing I am thankful for this year: my husband, Stan, is still alive and well after a nearly fatal work place accident that happened the first of May. God saved his life, saved his health and he still has a job. We've been married 37 years and I have always loved him. Our love has grown deeper over the years. There have been times when I thought I didn't love him but that was temporary. LOL! But, after that accident, when I didn't know what had happened or whether he would live or die... I knew how much I needed him. Let me say, that I don't worship Stan, I worship the God who gave Stan to me and who kept him safe during his accident. And I know, one day, Stan or I will pass on to glory. God will be with us then as well. He will walk through the hard times with whichever one is left behind. It will only be for a short time, then we will reunite in Heaven. But that time of grief will be a terrible hardship on the one left. But God will see us through because HE is our God! I love and need Stan but God is my God, my Hope and my Salvation! To Him be all the glory and praise forever! I am so thankful that God never ages, never dies, never leaves me, never changes. Oh, how thankful and how much I love Him. Amen and amen!!!

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