Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A Thanksgiving Message

Every year at this time, I find it interesting that Thanksgiving Day does not seem to be surrounded by the same kind of controversy as Christmas and Easter.You know, Christmas and Easter always bring mention of God and Jesus so some people get upset.They just don’t want to hear about Jesus or God.
But Thanksgiving seems to be ok, because there is not much mention of God anymore.That always makes me wonder. If you are not giving thanks to God, who are you giving thanks to? I mean, who does an atheist give thanks to? Maybe it is to those wonderful gas molecules, that were somehow floating around when suddenly there was this  “big bang” and life began. Thank you Mr Molecule. Or, maybe he or she should thank Charlie the Chimpanzee, who they believe was one of their ancestors. Thanks Charlie for mutating just enough to make  us what we are today! Wait, I know. It must be to that “cosmic flow of energy” that surrounds us as we become “one with the universe” May the Force be thanked!
Seems strange to me that we can miss the whole point, that Thanksgiving is about giving thanks to the Creator. At least that is what our forefathers thought.Certainly our public schools don’t do a very good job anymore of teaching about the origin and tradition of giving thanks to God on this day. According to their revised version, we were just thanking the Native Americans for their saving the day.
Well, here is some real history behind our tradition of giving thanks to God.
The first New England Thanksgiving was celebrated less than a year after the Plymouth colonists had settled in the new land of Massachusetts Bay Colony. The first dreadful winter in the colony had killed nearly half of its members.
But new hope emerged in the summer of 1621 when the corn harvest brought rejoicing. Governor William Bradford decreed that a three-day feast be held beginning on December 13, 1621. Thus came about a Thanksgiving Day set aside for the special purpose of prayer as well as celebration.
The custom of Thanksgiving Day spread from Plymouth to other new England colonies. During the Revolutionary War, eight special days of thanks were observed for victories and deliverance from perilous times. On November 26, 1789, President George Washington issued a general proclamation for a day of thanks. For many years there was no regular national Thanksgiving Day in the United States until President Lincoln in 1863 proclaimed the last Thursday in November as "A day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father." As one studies early American history it becomes obvious that our early settlers and forefathers expressed their "thanksgiving" and their "gratitude" to God daily rather than once a year. As a nation we need to go back to the pilgrims' fine art of gratitude toward God!
At least as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, I think we know to whom we give thanks!
Each year on Thanksgiving, we have the family gathering at our house.One of the traditions we have is to take some time just before we pray for the meal, to give every person a chance to tell God what they are thankful for this year. I am sure that many of you have similar traditions.I am also sure that you hear many of the same things that we do in our house. Thanks for our homes, families, jobs, food on the table, clothes on our back and often times our grandchildren mention their pets.
This is in the tradition of our forefathers and it is great thing. I think it help us to remember that it is God who has provided all these things for us But we also know that there are many people, all over the world, who do not have many of the things we are thankful for. They are in need of just the basic necessities.
And maybe right now you don’t have a lot of things that we just mentioned. Maybe you are out of a job. Maybe you don’t have any family and maybe you don’t even know where your next meal is going to come from, so you feel like you have no reason to give thanks to God.  Maybe you are even angry at Him for your circumstances, but if you are a believer in Christ, you need to listen to what the apostle Paul tell us in 1 Thess 5:18.
“Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus “
How is that possible when your life circumstances may seem so dire? Well, it must be possible because Paul say it is God’s will that you do so. I believe it is only possible when you realize that God has provided the one thing that we all need most. The one thing that is more important than any earthly, temporal need that we might have.
What is it? It is redemption. Redemption from the judgment of God, which is the just penalty of our sin. That redemption is only possible because Jesus Christ paid the required price and took the penalty of our sin upon himself with His death on the cross.It was a price we could not pay, because it could only be paid by one who had  no sin.
What’s more, is that His death proves something beyond a shadow of doubt. It proves God’s goodness and love toward His creation. In John 3:16 He tells us that the reason that God gave His only son, Jesus, was because He so loved the world.
You know, I get a little upset at some of these emergent church leaders that say that judging anyone, sending them to Hell because they do not accept Christ, would make God out to be a moral monster. It would not be something a loving God would do.
That kind of statement shows their total lack of belief in the veracity of scripture and the foolishness of human thought. Would the lack of judgment on an unrepentant murderer like Adolf Hitler be a loving act? Would God be loving, if He allowed Hitler into heaven with all those he murdered?
Look, God does not need to do anything more than He already has to prove His love toward us. He has proven it at the cross. He has given all of us a way to escape judgment, by accepting Jesus Christ as  our Lord and Savior, the substitute for us. So we can be thankful, if for no other reason than because we know God loves us and has given us the opportunity to have a relationship with Him, thanks to Jesus’ death on the cross
Maybe you are reading this and you have not yet experienced the love of God and what it means to have a relationship with Him. Maybe you are heading into this Thanksgiving with fear and doubt about your future and you believe that you have no reason to be thankful to God.
I wan to let you know that God loves you! He desires to have a relationship with you and to bring you redemption. 2 Peter 3:9 says ”The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”  ESV
On the right side of this blog site, you will see a section entitled “How to become a Christian". It is there to help you understand how to accept Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord and to come into relationship with Him. You can do that right now and experience God’s love and care for you and receive eternal life. Then you will truly be able to give thanks to God!
God bless, Coach


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