(Thanksgiving Devotional 2015)
It 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 publically give thanks to God for the blessings He has bestowed upon our country and its individual citizens.
Even our government understood that simply talking about being thankful for what the Lord has done for us was not enough. The Thanksgiving celebration is the way that our government has decided to allow its citizens to actively thank the Lord for His many blessings. They did this by taking legislative action and declaring Thanksgiving a national holiday that gives time for all our citizens to stop, reflect upon the Lord’s blessings in their nation, families and personal life and then celebrating these wonderful blessings.
Sadly, some Christians believe that the verbal giving of thanks to the Lord is an adequate way to show their thanks to Him; but what does the Bible say?….
For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.”
In the Word of God, the Apostle Paul has a lot to say about the outward manifestation of a Christian’s thankfulness for all that their Lord has done for them. One of these texts is found in Romans 11:36 – 12:1. This will be our text for this devotional time…
First, Paul explains the basis of our need to proper appreciate all the Lord has done for His people…
“For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.
“For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things:
of Him – all things, people and events in life come from Him.
through Him – all things, people and events in life are sustained by Him.
to Him – all things, people, and events in life are used by Him for His glory and our benefit.
He is the Creator of all, He is the Sustainer of all, He is the One that controls all…
Colossians 1:14-17 KJV – “In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:
Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.”
All of our friends, loved ones and acquaintances; all of the precious events that take place in our life; and all of the blessings that we have received, including our physical life, talents, abilities and, most importantly, our spiritual life…. They all find their origin in Christ.
Put very simply… the Lord is our All in All. Without the Lord we could do absolutely nothing, we would have no family or friends; no talents; no abilities; no physical life; and most importantly, no salvation.
“to whom be glory for ever. Amen.”
Because of this, He is to be glorified and honored throughout our lifetimes…
Secondly, Paul explains our need to live lives that clearly displays our thankfulness by our actions…
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.”
I beseech you therefore, brethren,
“beseech” – to urgently encourage
Paul now speaks to us with urgent words of encouragement for us to actively show our appreciation to Christ in our lives. Not only is our words of thanks important, but also our lives should display our thankfulness as well.
by the mercies of God,
Living lives that display our thankfulness to Christ can only be done through the merciful intervention and enabling of Christ.
1 Peter 2:10-12 KJV – “Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy. Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.”
that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice,
How can we show our thanks to Christ for all He has done for us? By giving of ourselves for the cause of Christ. We can do this by taking advantage of every opportunity that is opened to us to turn over our bodies (by bearing Spiritual fruits through our talents, intellect, speech, and actions) to Christ for His use.
Whenever we do this, motivated by a heart-felt appreciation of all He has done for us, we are displaying our thankfulness to Christ to the lost and saved who are around us.
When we live our lives as a living sacrifice for Christ, we are surrendering the lusts of our flesh to the will of Jesus Christ.
In doing so, we will find ourselves living lives that are separated FROM sin and the sins of this world and, at the same time, our lives will be lived TO fulfill Christ’s will. This is what it means to live a holy life for Christ.
acceptable unto God,
Being a living sacrifice is making a sacrifice that is pleasing to our God. After all this is one of God’s great purposes in saving us from our sins…
Ephesians 2:8-10 KJV – “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”
which is your reasonable service.”
When we recognize, consider, and appreciate all that our Lord has done for us… in humbling Himself as a man; coming to a sinful earth; being mocked, ridiculed, and scorned; being falsely accused and tried; and finally, dying on the cross for us…. it is only reasonable that we would give our entire lives to Him.
Philippians 2:5-10 KJV – “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;”
During this Thanksgiving holiday celebration, the desire of our heart should be to come to… a greater recognition of the Lord’s many blessings in our lives; a greater appreciation of His love and grace that He has shown to us; a greater desire to submit to His desires; and finally, put our thankfulness in action by serving Him in greater ways.
When we consider all that He has done for us, may the Lord put a new song of praise in each of our mouths and actions, as we share the wonders of His grace with others and be the source of truth to those who so desperately need Christ…
Psalms 40:1-3 KJV – “To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David. I waited patiently for the LORD; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry. He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings. And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the LORD.”