Is Thanksgiving For Gorging Or Being Thankful?

This week is the beginning of the holiday season, a time when many people remember those who have less than them by providing meals, presents and necessities of life. This seasons of caring for our brothers and sisters starts with Thanksgiving Day.

But, what is Thanksgiving Day?

    Is it a day for family and friends?

    Is it a day of gorging ourselves on food?

    Is it a day for watching football?

What is Thanksgiving Day?

Thanksgiving as an attitude – not a day. It’s a day for:

Reflecting on God’s Grace.
It is a day for reflecting on the gift of God’s grace and his forgiveness of our every failure, fault and sin. The words of Ephesians 2:8 say:

For it is by God’s unmerited favor that you are delivered from judgment and made partakers of Christ’s salvation through your faith. And this salvation is not of your own doing, it came not through your own striving, but it is the gift of God.

Remember that He gave His only Son that we would not have to live and die in hopelessness, but be saved and enter in the kingdom of heaven.

What is Thanksgiving Day? It is a day for:

Reflecting On God’s Goodness.
As we have faced the storms, sorrows, and adverse situations this past year, there have been times that we wondered if anyone, much less God, really cared. We may have become homeless, lost dear ones in our lives, had significant changes in where we are in life. But we hear in Lamentations 3:22-23:

It is because of the Lord’s mercy and loving-kindness that we are not consumed, because His tender compassions fail not.

Think about all the things you DO have and all of the other people who have nothing. Don’t dwell on what is missing; be grateful for what you have and the goodness of God.

What is Thanksgiving Day? It is a day for:

Reflecting on God’s Guidance.
It is a day for reflecting that when we are looking for the right direction, when we are looking for the right door to open, or we are in a situation where we didn’t know what to do, God was always there, whether we listened or not. Let’s not forget the words of Proverbs 3:5-6 this Thanksgiving Day,

Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths.

Remember that you can pray for guidance, talk to others who share your hopes and dreams. Through prayer and other people, God is always there to help us achieve to our best lives.

How many of you will say,

    I’m going to remember what Thanksgiving Day is, it’s a day to reflect on God’s grace, it’s a day to reflect on God’s goodness, and it’s a day to reflect on God’s guidance.

When we stop and think about everything that we are blessed with we can only be thankful. Apostle Paul said it best in Philippians 4:12-13:

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

But, when life seems to always be handing us lemons, why should we learn to be thankful?

First, we must learn to be thankful or we will become bitter. A bitter person is constantly dissatisfied with their life. Nothing makes them happy and they purposely make life miserable not only for themselves, but also for those around them. The bitter person becomes absorbed with the question of ‘why me.’ He feels that he has been short-changed.

Secondly, we must learn to be thankful or we will become discouraged. No one is immune from hardships. Where would you be right now, if it were not for God and God’s people? Where would you be? Would you be:

    Isolated?
    Mentally broken?
    Financially ruined?
    Physically destroyed?

God has never let you down.

Lastly, We must learn to become thankful or we will become arrogant. God’s truth teaches us that none of us are independent. When we give thanks, we reach beyond ourselves. When we think we control our own lives we set ourselves up for. How quickly trouble can come;. a telephone call and our life is turned upside down. A national crisis and the Dow takes a dive, retirements are gone, and jobs are lost. How quickly our lives can change.

What happens when we become thankful?

Being a thankful person can INCREASE YOUR PERSONAL HAPPINESS.
Most of us think that our happiness is determined by our circumstances. We’ve been taught that our happiness is somehow dependent on how well things go for us. But really our happiness is determined by attitude. It is really in how we see things. Happiness is really determined by our perspective in life not by circumstances. If we learn to be thankful people despite circumstances that will greatly improve our happiness.

Being a thankful person can also IMPROVE YOUR WITNESS FOR CHRIST.
Being thankful will make us better witnesses for Christ. When we are thankful, joyful, upbeat people, we attract the lost with our spirit of thankfulness.

Being a grateful person will also ENHANCE YOUR RELATIONSHIPS.
Just imagine how much better your relationships with others would be if you expressed your thanks for each other from time to time. Instead of picking at each other faults so much, what if you just stopped and became thankful for each other.

A thankful heart will SOLIDIFY YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD.
There is something inside of each of us that needs to give thanks to God. When you spend time giving thanks to God for all you have, you feel close to him. It is God’s plan, his will for us to give thanks to him. He made us for that.

Even though we will all will enjoy being with friends and relatives, stuffing our faces with food until we can hardly move, watching endless hours of football, that is not what Thanksgiving Day is really about.

This Thanksgiving Day, we need to remember:

    Day by day, step by step, we can be assured that we have a God in heaven who created us, we have a Son from heaven who saved us, and we have a Holy Spirit alongside to guide us.

And He never stops caring for us.

Amen.
 
 
Delivered to In The Garden, Trinity Episcopal Church on Capitol Square, Columbus, OH 24 November 2013

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