THE FIRST NATIONAL THANKSGIVING
The first national Thanksgiving Day was not celebrated in New England but in the land of Israel. King David inaugurated the Custom some 3000 years ago. The Bible does not record any celebration previous to that time. Others after David led the people of Israel in songs of thanksgiving, but always according "to the ordinances of David, King of Israel," (Ezra-3:11, and Neh.12:24). It was his influence more than any other which led the nation in a spirit of praise.
The first national Thanksgiving Day, came when David installed the Ark of the Covenant in the tent he had prepared. For the occasion he composed the beautiful Psalm given us in First Chronicles 16:7-36 part of which he included in Psalm 105. On that day, we read, "David delivered first this psalm to thank the Lord, into the hand of Asaph and his brethren." It was a beautiful expression of gratitude beginning with the words: "Give thanks unto the Lord, call upon His name, make known His deeds among the people. Sing unto Him, sing Psalms unto Him, talk ye of all His wondrous works."
Such praise was the fruit of many years of faithfulness on the part of their covenant-keeping God. It marked a high point in His dealings with them. Apparently it takes something out of the ordinary like this to move us, as they were moved, to give thanks to Him.
The ordinary things of life-which are just as wonderful-we are prone to take as a matter of course. That is why the apostle reminds us to be ...thankful "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.(Col. 3:15,17)
November 1, 1973
What can be said about Thanksgiving that hasn't been said over and over again? We are familiar with the story of the first Thanksgiving, the Pilgrim tragic struggle against starvation and sickness during the first winter and the abundant harvest of the following year. With grateful hearts they held a celebration of praise and thanksgiving to a loving and benevolent God.
The wonder, to me, is that thru all these years, God has continued to pour out His bounty in increasing measure and with such certain regularity that, too often we take all His gifts for granted. We have a ready "thank you" for a human friend who gives us a gift or helps us in time of trouble. How greater then is our need to acknowledge God as the giver of all things. How often we refer to a blessing as "good fortune or a "lucky break."
As a nation, America has much for which to be thankful, in addition to the material wealth. The tragedy and shame of Watergate is still in our minds, but the weakness of individuals has proven the strength of the nation and its Constitution, in this Bi-Centennial year, at the many celebrations, we have glimpsed life as it used to be. We were made to realize more clearly, the vast progress in technology and science which spans the intervening years, and, the general improvement in health human comfort and convenience.
In January, a new president will be inaugurated. In many nations, such a change-over would be accomplished by turmoil and blood-shed.
We should be thankful for the smooth transfer of authority in this country. The devout Pilgrims freely and openly gave thanks to God. How seldom do we hear God's name except in profanity. How sad to hear Him casually referred to in song and in speeches as "Somebody," "He", "The, man upstairs," etc. Are we no longer on speaking terms with our Maker? How much longer can we hope for God's patience and care to continue? During the coming Thanksgiving Season, may we, individually and as a nation, humbly thank God for all His blessings.
November 9, 1976
"O that men would give thanks to God for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men." Psalms 107:8
The other day as I was preparing wood for our fire-place, I began to think of the past and the many blessings that we have received from God. Of course, it is impossible to recall and name each blessing. (Try it some time when you have a week or two with nothing else to do.)
At the top of our list should be our spiritual heritage-The Bible that is available to all who live in America. (Think of all the countries where the Bible is forbidden.) How we should prize it, use it frequently and follow its laws.
We should thank God for the Church and that it stands upon the Rock, Christ Jesus and its future is secured by the promise of Christ that the gates of hell should not prevail against it." We should thank God for salvation that was purchased for us by Christ thru suffering and death on Calvary's cross and is offered to whosoever that will receive it by faith. A salvation that removes the condemnation and penalty for sin and assures of eternal life with Christ in God's glorious heaven. As Americans, we should thank God for our great and beloved country that guarantees every citizen the right of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. A nation that gives us the right to worship God according to the dictates of our hearts without fear of trial or persecution.
Let us be thankful for the institution of the home and if our home is a Christian home, let us be doubly thankful.
Now, "Count your many blessing. Name them one by one and it will surprise you what the Lord has done."
Nov 15, 1978
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