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A Thanksgiving Day Devotion

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SIH STSTA ICONIt is commonly believed that the first Thanksgiving celebration took place in 1621.  This feast was attended by both Pilgrims and Indians who joined together to thank God for their bountiful harvest of the previous year.  This celebration was continued by the first American colonies, and later by the United States, as a time of thanksgiving for the blessings that God had bestowed upon the American people.

The official Thanksgiving Day holiday was started in 1863 when Abraham Lincoln, at the end of the Civil War, asked Americans to set aside the last Thursday of November as a day of thanksgiving to God for the blessings He had shown to America (one of which was an end to the Civil War).

In 1939 FDR moved the holiday to the prior week.  He did this to help businesses by giving them a longer holiday shopping period.  Finally, in 1941 the fourth Thursday in November was declared by Congress to be the official holiday of Thanksgiving.

Clearly, the Thanksgiving holiday began, and was continued, as a time to give thanks to God for the blessings He has bestowed upon our country and its individual citizens.  Most presidents in their Thanksgiving Day proclamation clearly declare that the day is set aside to give thanks to God for the blessings He has given to us. One example of this is George Bush’s Thanksgiving Day proclamation of 1990…

“Now, therefore, I, George Bush, president of the United States of America, do hereby call upon the American people to observe Thursday, November 22, 1990, as a National Day of Thanksgiving and to gather together in homes and places of worship on that day of thanks to affirm by their prayers and their gratitude the many blessings God has bestowed upon us.”

There can be no doubt, historically, Thanksgiving is a day set aside for giving thanks to God Almighty for His many blessings He has given to us.  As this Thanksgiving Day approaches let us be sure to verbally explain to the younger generations the wonderful history behind the celebration.  Also, let us be sure that we all have a true thankful attitude towards our God for all His manifold gifts of grace He has given to each of us.

Did you know that everyday should be Thanksgiving for the Christian?

“In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. “ (1Th 5:18)

Let’s see what the Bible says about “The Christian’s Thanksgiving Day”…


Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations. (Psa 100:3-5)


In our text we find three basic questions about Thanksgiving answered:

Question #1 – Who are we to thank? – vs 3

“Know ye that the LORD he is God:”

  1. Our God is specifically identified as “LORD” which is the Hebrew word “Jehovah”.  This word teaches us that our God is “the self existent, eternal One”.    In other words, He is the One true God.  There are many false gods in this world; but, He is the only God that truly exists eternally.  (Psa 83:18, 1 Tim 1:17)

 “it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves;”

  1. Our God is identified as our Creator.  He is the One to whom we owe our existence.  We owe our physical life to Him.  But we also possess our spiritual life because of Him. (Acts 17:28, John 17:1-4)

“we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.”

  1. Our God is identified as our Leader and Shepherd. Here, the word for “people” is describing a tribe or a nation.  In other words, we are a part of the tribe or nation that He is leading.  Another way of putting it is we are like sheep that are cared for by a Shepherd.   He leads us, feeds us, and protects us throughout our life’s journey.  (John 10:25-30)

Question #2 – How should we thank Him? – vs 4

“Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise:”

  1. We should verbally thank and praise Him.  To “thank” here is a word related to a choir of worshippers singing of His works.  To “praise” means to sing hymns exalting Him.  In other words, we are to verbally tell other people what He has done for us and, in doing so, place Him above all other people and gods of this world.  (1 Chr 16:8 )

“be thankful unto him,”

  1. Here we find our inward attitude is important as well.  Not only are we to verbally be thankful but we are to have a thankful spirit within us as well.  The word here for “thankful” speaks of extending the hand… much like an infant in need of their parent will hold up their hands asking to be picked up and taken care of.  We should always have an infant’s attitude recognizing our constant need of His care for us.  Truly without Him we can do nothing! (John 15:4-6, Acts 5:38-39)

“and bless his name.”

  1. To “bless” means to kneel down.  This speaks of our need to recognize His greatness and our need to be humble in His presence.  We bring ourselves to a point of submission and total reliance on Him when we sincerely say… “Not my will but thine be done” in all areas of our lives. (Luke 22:41-42)   This is the true submissive spirit of a thankful heart doing all in the name of Christ.  (Col 3:15-17)

Question #3 –  Why should we thank Him? – vs 5

“For the LORD is good;”

  1.  Why do we thank Him… Because He is a “good” Lord.  In other words, He is a God that does bountiful, beneficial works on our behalf.  He is a gracious God, working on our behalf even though we do not deserve His blessings. (Neh 9:17, Joel 2:13, 2 Cor 4:12-15)

” his mercy is everlasting;”

  1.  We thank Him because He is eternally merciful to us.  He shows us “mercy” when He withholds harm from us even though we justly deserve that harm to come upon us.  The greatest example of His mercy is an eternity in the Lake of Fire.  Even though we deserve an eternity in hell, He withholds it from those whom He has forgiven.  This is truly an act of His great everlasting mercy.  For this He deserves a lifetime of our thanks. (Psa 103:8-11)

“and his truth endureth to all generations.”

  1. Finally, we are told we should be thankful for His Word that He has given to us.  It is this timeless Word that holds the message of salvation, the keys to successful living on earth, and great promises of our eternity with Him.  Without His Word, we would all be destined for a life of spiritual failure as well as an eternity in hell. (Psa 119:105, Prov 6:23, Phil 2:14-17)


For the Christian….

As we take time to celebrate the Thanksgiving season, let’s remember to take a time out and specifically thank the Lord for all of His many blessings He has given to us.   Let’s tell others about what He has done for us.

“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.”(1Ch 16:8-9)

For those who have never trusted in Christ…

Take time out to read the Lord’s Word and see what He did by sending His Son to die on the cross and pay the price for the sins of His people. (Titus 3:4-7, Roms 5:8-11, 2 Cor 5:19-21, 1 Jhn 4:9-10).  After doing all of this for His people, surely we can do what He asks of us.

What is His desire for our life? We are to turn from our sins and our false beliefs and rely on the message of the gospel to show us the truth about the way of salvation….

“And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.”(Mar 1:15)

After turning to Christ and trusting in His work to save us from our sins, we can join with other true believers and say…  “Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.” (2Co 9:15)

You may also like the SIH 2012 Thanksgiving Devotion:

Also SIH is celebrating Thanksgiving the entire month of November 2012 with a series of much shorter daily devotions the series begins here:


To see this lesson taught on video please go to my Video Blog at

If you have any questions concerning this blog, or if you have a subject you would like discussed, please feel free to email me at    I will answer all emails via my blog, email, or both.

Take A Look At My Wife’s Artistic/Scriptural Devotion Blog

Follow my Squidoo Instructional Lens “Presenting God’s Grace” “The Solemn Obligation To Present the Doctrines of Grace to the Lost and Saved Alike”

May the Lord bless your study of His Word.  Like God’s Word… may your soul’s salvation and your life’s faithfulness be “Settled in Heaven.”



  1. Patti (PJ) says:

    Hey Rob! I can’t say thank you enough for always taking the time to really think about your comments that you write to me. It means so much. I know I have gone through many trials also to help me come closer to God. I have come to believe that the “Fire” must symbolize different things in the Bible I guess depending where in the Bible we read it. For example when we use the phrase “on fire for God”. We’re talking about the zeal and the passion we have for God.
    I loved your post tonight. Psalm 100 was my favorite verse while I was growing up and is still one of them today, although I also like Matthew 6:33, and Psalm 103.

    God Bless,

    • Rob Barkman says:


      You are very right about fire representing different truths throughout the Bible. It all depends on the context. By the way, one of the most interesting dual symbol I have found is the symbol of a snake. In the Garden of Eden, Satan took the form of a snake. But in the wilderness wanderings of Israel, Moses was instructed to place the image of a snake on a pole. The Israelites were instructed to look upon the snake to receive healing from the viper bites they had received. Here, the snake on the pole was a picture of Christ on the cross, through which we receive spiritual healing. So a snake in one context pictures Satan while in another context pictures Christ! I always trhought that was amazing.

      A quick thanks to you for your comments, as well. They add alot to my blog, And I appreciate your spirit in your comments. That’s why I try to take my time to comment on your blog. I know how much comments, in the right spirit, can add to a blog. May the lord continue ot bless you , PJ.


  2. Patti (PJ) says:

    Hi Rob! Thank you for blessing me with your comments. I definitely consider them a blessing because I learn so much from you and also I consider it a blessing if I am able to encourage with my blog , or actually I consider it God’s blog, I’m just the secretary. I try to convey what He tells me to. I loved your post. Believe it or not, I thought Thanksgiving was still the last Thursday of November! LOL! I never thought about it because when our family celebrates Thanksgiving, my husband and I usually end up going to another family member’s house because it’s just us we have no children, and hubby can’t see spending a lot of money for all the fixings for the two of us. Anyway, the day changes for the convenience of whoever is having it. Sad, but true.

    It never dawned on me that it has been changed, let alone so many times. In a way it’s kind of sad that the reason for the change was for commercial reasons. It would be different if the the reason was for spending more time in church, but you can probably bet that will never happen. LOL!

    I also enjoyed your references about the snake. I never put the snake on the rod together with Christ. I knew that it was where the medical symbol (I can’t remember the name for it) came from, but never associated it with Christ. That was a really neat reference to learn. Thank you again so much, you are a definite blessing to me.

    God Bless you and yours,

    • Rob Barkman says:


      I’m with you… I only try to share what the Lord has given to me… I’m thankful you are blessed with them. Yeh, I know the history of the Thanksgiving date change is kinda depressing. And FOR SURE they will never change it to spend more time in church… I’m afraid those days of putting God first in our country are gone unless the Lord works a real miracle.

      Oh by the way, hope you guys enjoy your Thanksgiving… my wife, mother inlaw and myself are home for the holiday. We are having a family friend over to share with them as well.

      Hope you receive a blessing tomorrow at church. May God bless you.


  3. Patti (PJ) says:

    Hi again! It’s a good thing you aren’t limited space for comments! LOL! I was re-reading my comment to you (which I should do BEFORE I click post, but anyway, I noticed at the top when I was talking about blessings, I don’t feel that I was very clear on my statement. I meant to say I consider it a blessing to me when my blog is able to encourage someone. In this way, I know that it’s God’s work and not my own, because I definitely do not have a way with words. I hope that makes sense.

    God Bless,

    • Rob Barkman says:


      No problem I got what you meant without any explanations… YOu seem to be like me… overcritical of my writing… can never seem to get it exactly like I want it… ugh.


  4. sagescenery says:

    Pastor Rob, Thank you for so clearly explaining our Christian views and practices…as we come into this season of harvest and Thanksgiving to our God…from whom all blessings flow! Amen! Great post!

    Reblogging on: godssceneryandpromises

  5. sagescenery says:

    Reblogged this on godssceneryandpromises and commented:
    Pastor Rob, Thank you for so clearly explaining our Christian views and practices…as we come into this season of harvest and Thanksgiving to our God…from whom all blessings flow! Amen! Great post!

  6. Citizen Tom says:

    Reblogged this on Citizen Tom and commented:
    The election is over. Our candidates did their best, but too many of us did not vote for the best among them. So we will now have to live with the results, and so we will receive the opportunity to learn from our foolishness.

    Some among us will complain that they are not to blame. They will say they did vote for the best candidate, and perhaps God will not hold them accountable. Nevertheless, so long as we keep electing big spending crony capitalists who preach the “gospel” of Socialism, we will all suffer more and more as time passes. Therefore, whether we voted for the right candidates or not, we will all have ample opportunity to learn from our foolishness.

    What should we learn first? We should learn to rejoice, pray, be thankful.

    1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 English Standard Version (ESV)

    16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

  7. Profoundly inspiring and uplifting post.>To be grateful for the blessing of Our Lord and savior. Great devotion.Blessings.jalal

  8. Reblogged this on The Narrowing Path and commented:
    Happy Thanksgiving Day to all of my American brothers and sisters in Christ, who now know the true meaning of life and all that we have to be thankful for. May God richly bless you with every spiritual blessing, and some practical ones as well. In Christ’s love, Sherryn

  9. Ann says:

    Thanks for sharing, Rob

    Loved it!


  10. rodi says:

    Great post! Thank you!

  11. Lena Rae says:

    You’re one of a few people who read my blog. I am thankful for you and your encouragement! Now that we are in the Christmas season – Merry Christmas to you.

    • Rob Barkman says:

      Merry Christmas to you as well! Keep on faithfully blogging… it takes quite awhile to build up a following. You are doing a fine job. May the Lord bless you and your family and also your blogging ministry!

  12. Wow! This is in alignment with my November thoughts about giving thanks daily on my website. Praise the Lord. You did GOOD! Bless you Pastor Rob and your family each and every day. I thank the Lord for your postings, saves me research when a subject hits. 🙂
    Thank you!

    • Rob Barkman says:

      Hi Sheila,

      I believe that counting our daily blessings and being thankful on a daily basis is one of the keys to sustaining Godly joy in our lives. Looking forward to your thoughts on Ecclesiastes. It is a wonderful book, glad you are going through it! May the Lord bless your family this Tahnksgiving season and throughout the year..

  13. Charlee Felice says:

    I just finished reading your devotional on Thanksgiving. I am humbled by your words and thorough explanation of its roots, its meaning, and its application to our lives.
    I am grateful to God that We made this great connection.

    God be with you each and every day.


    • Rob Barkman says:


      Thank you so much for the kind words. As you and I both understand… anything good that comes from the postings here at SIH blog flow from the gracious intervention of our Lord. I thank Him for allowing the devotional to be blessing to you.

      By the way, I really appreciate your posting on The Bible:Our Inspiration. It presented some very very important truths in a very understandable way. Thank you for the blessing of that posting as well.

      I trust you and your loved ones will have a wonderful blessed Thanksgiving Week!

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