This week our nation paused to celebrate the Holiday of Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, like many traditions we tend to forget the reason we have this holiday. Beginning with the Pilgrims, who in 1621 set apart a day for thanksgiving at Plymouth immediately after their first harvest; and continuing through George Washington and other U.S. presidents, a day for giving thanks was observed throughout the colonies and the young nation. It was not until 1863, however, that at the height of the Civil War, a national holiday of Thanksgiving was finally formalized by President Abraham Lincoln. In the midst of the most grim and bloodiest war in American history, Lincoln issued this proclamation: “to set apart and observe…a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.”
The value of Thanksgiving is not just to be grateful for the good things, but also to find Grace in ALL Things. The Apostle Paul said to the Thessalonian Believers:
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NKJV - Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
REAL THANKSGIVING is not simply a day on the calendar or a courteous way of interacting socially. (Although it would not hurt our culture to return to some simple niceties, like “Please” and “Thank you”). But the Apostle Paul was not goading the Thessalonians like a parent to a small child, “Now be sure to thank the nice God who has given you life and blessing.” J Rather, he was sharing with the Believers one of the essential Keys and distinctive marks of the Christian Faith: GRATITUDE… THANKFULNESS… THANKSGIVING.
In many ways, gratefulness is a barometer of one’s soul. The more prideful we are over our good fortune or alternately, the more bitter over our misfortune, the less we will be able to express thanksgiving with any measure of authenticity. Unfortunately, instead of an “Age of Enlightenment,” we are now living in an “Age of Entitlement.” The result of which is an ever-increasing level of cynicism, hard-heartedness, and ungratefulness.
The “THANKFULNESS” on the part of the Children of God is a recognition of the GRACE of God within our lives. This is evident not just when things go well, but especially when they do not. UNGRATEFULNESS has become the great SIN of our TIME! We feel that we are entitled to grace, thus, we are no longer grateful for it, however, GRACE IS NOT GRACE IF WE ARE ENTITLED TO RECEIVE IT. My friends, GOD DOES NOT OWE US ANYTHING, yet He chooses to give us His Love, Mercy, and Blessing.
Romans 11:35 NCV - No one has ever given God anything that he must pay back.
Lincoln offered the declaration of personal and national thanksgiving during times of great personal and national loss: his son had died and the horrors of a bloody war had encircled his every waking moment. Nevertheless, he recognized that God was not to be blamed for calamity, but rather that it was the Lord’s Mercy that brought bounty even in the midst of anguish.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 AMP - In every situation [no matter what the circumstances] be thankful and continually give thanks to God…
In 2 Corinthians 12, the Apostle Paul speaks about his pleading with the Lord concerning a “thorn in his flesh.” The Lord’s response was one of sufficient grace for His servant.
2 Corinthians 12:8-9 NIV78 –Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness…”
Beloved, deep down beneath all of our religious, political, ethnic, and socio-economic distinctions (and yes, divisions), there is our humanity. We are all human; we are all vulnerable; we are all mortal, and in some ways, we are all broken. We need a Redeemer, we need a Friend in the Highest of Places, we need the wonderful SUFFICIENCY OF THE GRACE OF ALMIGHTY GOD!
When in the midst of difficulty and even suffering, we long for the Day of Grace; and yet we really do not know when it will be. We do not know when this day may be that day. We do not know for sure, if it is a Sunday Morning Service, a Tuesday evening prayer meeting, the aisle of a grocery store, or behind the wheel of our car on our way to work. We do not know when is the Day of Grace. We do not know when the Touch of Heaven may come near. We do not know when the Beautiful One may touch our face and speak His Word into our Lives. But we do know that HE IS PROVIDENTIAL and HE IS SUFFICIENT! We do know…
Psalm 139:16 NIV - Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
Even in the midst of his anguish, Job declared…
Job 10:12 AMP - You have granted me life and favor, and Your providence has preserved my spirit.
Or consider Joseph. When he was in a pit having been betrayed by his brothers and sold into slavery, or fleeing from the advances of Potiphar’s wife, or rotting away in Pharaoh’s prison. He may not have fully understood the sufficiency of God’s Providence. But when he was elevated to the highest place in Pharaoh’s palace, and the very men who started his painful journey stood before him, He understood, and realized the Day of Grace.
Genesis 50:20 NET - As for you, you meant to harm me, but God intended it for a good purpose, so he could preserve the lives of many people, as you can see this day.
So too, we must trust that The Day of Grace is coming even in seasons of anguish, pain, and grief…there is SUFFICIENCY IN THE PROVIDENCE OF THE SOVEREIGN LORD OF THE HEAVENS…
Romans 8:28 VOICE - We are confident that God is able to orchestrate everything to work toward something good and beautiful when we love Him and accept His invitation to live according to His plan.
Revelation 21:5 AMP - “Write, for these words are faithful and true [they are accurate, incorruptible, and trustworthy].”
My dear friends, as the season is changing and we turn our attention to the sacred holidays of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and even the New Year, I want to remind you of the power that is resident within the Word of God. The Word of the Lord is Powerful, Incorruptible, Trustworthy, Authentic, and True. There is no battle too difficult, no task too daunting, no wound too piercing, no loss too profound, nothing is beyond the capacity of the Word of God speak life into. Write it down! Trust it; because the One who speaks it is Faithful and True! Our Lord Jesus said…
Matthew 24:35 VOICE - My words are always true and always here with you. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will never pass away.
This why the Psalmist would declare…
Psalm 119:89 NKJV - Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven.
The Lord proclaimed…
Isaiah 46:9-10 NIV - Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. 10 I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.’
Beloved, only God can make these kind of statements. There is no other Being…not an angel, not a King, not a Businessman, not a Pastor, absolutely NO ONE can make these type of statements and have them to be true. So please be reminded this morning that the Promises and Faithfulness of God have not been left behind. His Word is Active, His Spirit is powerful, His Grace is sufficient, and His Mercy is everlasting!
Hallelujah! I know that some have faced terrible tragedy and loss. The passing of loved ones, the battling of illnesses, the struggle of finances, and the hidden anguish we sometimes face within our own hearts. All of life’s difficulties and trials can take a toll upon us; and at some point along our journey, all of us face these seasons. Others of you are terribly concerned about the upcoming election, and certainly not without reason. We have much for which to pray; but I want to encourage you today to take the time to pause and remember that…
Proverbs 21:1 NLT - The king’s heart is like a stream of water directed by the Lord; he guides it wherever he pleases.
The Word of God is Faithful and True, the Lord God is The Sovereign of the Universe and…
Hebrews 13:8 NIV - Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
Dr. Tobey Montgomery