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Posted by: Michael Stevenson on Thu, Mar 24, 2011

Americans observe Thanksgiving on the last Thursday of November. Yet, most have almost completely forgotten the true meaning. What should Thanksgiving mean to Americans—and most of all, to true Christians?

EVERY year, Americans gather on the last Thursday of November to observe what is known as Thanksgiving Day. We usually gather with a great feast of turkey, potatoes, yams, corn, pies and cakes and many other types of foods. Many gather around the television to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade from New York City. If you are of the average household, you enjoy this holiday each year—having your stomach grow a bit more. Chances are, you enjoy the great and bounteous meal that is set on the table. You might even watch the football game that is on television.

 If you are an average American, you have a great deal that you should be thankful for. But, how thankful are you? Do you really appreciate all the things which God has blessed you with? Are you thankful for this land and for what God has blessed America with?


 Most of us look back at the first Thanksgiving in the history of the United States and see that it was first kept by colonists in 1621. It was in that December that they kept a day in gratitude for the ending of a year that was grueling and one which had a very wonderful fall harvest, thus, the settlers gathered near Plymouth, Massachusetts where they gave thanks. They praised their God for the new land, that they were still yet alive, and for the great food that they had to eat. They knew that they were being given a very unique chance with great blessings and duties that came along with them.

 This festival soon became a popular holiday among New England states. During the following  years, several of the original thirteen colonies had adopted it as an annual observance. Thanksgiving had represented “a day of religious observance, set apart to give thanks for the blessings of the past year, as well as an occasion for family reunions, bountiful dinners and festivities in the home”—Encyclopedia Britannica, 1954 edition.

 President George Washington, in 1789, had declared that there should be a national day of thanksgiving which was to honor the new Constitution. But, it was not until the Civil War that Americans actually decided to keep Thanksgiving Day as a public holiday. In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln made a Proclamation that this holiday would be kept as an annual observance each year in November.

A Land Rich With Great Blessings

 The United States witnessed during the 19thCentury a great growth in wealth and influence that was unprecedented. In fact, the term “Land of Milk and Honey” began to be used to describe the awesome growth of the nation. With all the growth, there was more to be thankful than anyone could imagine. The masses of the world began to look to America as their new land of great hope and opportunity. To this day, people from many nations have yearned to share in the greatest nation on earth. In 1996 alone, there were over 916,000 legal immigrants who came into America.

 In it’s heyday, America had owned around half of all the riches of the world. There is no doubt that the United States still greatly enjoys the highest standard of living of any of the major industrial nations. Annual, the gross domestic product is at least $8 trillion. Its median family income is around $30,000 annually and the unemployment is over 4% however.

 Since the ending of the cold war, the U.S. has been labeled not only the world’s number one superpower—but also the world’s only superpower. However, this is fast changing. America is now declining as the superpower. China is fast becoming the superpower of the 21stcentury.

 Yet, the truth is that America still has a great deal to be thankful for—yet, most people have nearly forgotten what it means to be thankful—they have nearly forgotten that they have been living in a nation of great blessings and wealth.

 It is plain to see that with so much that has been bestowed upon the United States, there is much which we as a nation and its citizens need to be greatly thankful for—perhaps this is why we have had a national holiday in which we can give thanks.

 Dr. Fredrick Leonard, a prominent minister today in the Church of God Worldwide has stated that “Americans have been granted some of the choicest blessings, and with those blessings have come some of the greatest responsibilities with which we need to realize. If we do not, we will then forget altogether why we need to be thankful”—The Need for Thankfulness, Dr. Fred Leonard, 1997 edition.

 Today, we are a house that is divided. We have no national goal at all—we are rather just going along for the ride without any real reason.

 Where are we headed as a nation? Do we under-stand what is happening to our nation? Our very national identity is at stake. We are going downhill and as we slide downhill, we are drawing a huge negative impact upon ourselves.

 Our attitude as a nation is negative.

 There is great speculation as to whether or not the United States can last at the rate that it is declining. Some have estimated that it can’t last past another 20 years.

Prophecy Concerning Ingratitude

 Times indeed are changing in the United States. Since that first Thanksgiving in 1621 to today, times have changed dramatically. Along with our great rise in greatness and power, public ingratitude has also increased—especially in the past forty years. We have emerged as a nation that is not as thankful as we should be for what we were given from the Eternal. We are warned that “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful…”—2 Timothy 3:1-2.

 We look around us in the United States and we see that this prophecy is for certain happening. There are many who do not even keep Thanksgiving Day. One religion in particular refuses to even keep it. Yet, God’s people are keeping Thanksgiving Day because they understand that we are to be a thankful people, filled with thanks for what we are given.

 Yet, America has had a great history with God. Our forefathers had believed and had taught that. But what about our very leaders of today? Do they honestly feel that we are still a “one nation under God”? Many will agree that our leaders today do not even fear God—that our leaders today do not even know the meaning of “one nation under God.” Our leaders as well as our society as a whole has become unthankful (Romans 1:21-22).

 Our careless, godless, decadent life has stripped the very meaning and value from Thanksgiving Day and has made it as any other holiday—a holiday that is false and without meaning. Yet, the truth of the matter is that in the very beginning, Thanksgiving had real meaning—it had a real purpose.

 One leader had observed that “most people today are too busy and too concerned about the way to get than to give and they are not thankful anymore for what we have been granted.”

 We read from years ago that “Most people are too busy, too concerned with self to thank God. The day is filled with football games, drinking, gluttony. Thousands take to the roads in a mad scramble to ‘have a good time.’ The entire day is filled with the emphasis on self-gratification.

 “At some time in the 24-hour period most of our brethren manage to say ‘grace’ over a meal. But how many express heartfelt thanks to Almighty God?”—The Good News, August 1967.

 We are seriously in trouble in our nation. We are getting less and less away from what Thanksgiving Day really was for and getting more and more into just another fancy holiday that gives us time to have a “jolly” old time focusing on get rather than to give thanks. We no longer want to be concerned with what thanks really means. Most of our society has begun to focus on a way of escape rather than to focus on a way to get into the habit of giving real thanks.

 God has given nations a warning that we need to heed. He says that “Beware that thou forget not the Lord thy God, in not keeping his commandments, and his judgments, and his statutes, which I command thee this day: Lest when thou hast eaten and art full, and hast built goodly houses, and dwelt therein; And when thy herds and thy flocks multiply, and thy silver and thy gold is multiplied, and all that thou hast is multiplied. …And thou say in thine heart, My power and the might of mine hand hath gotten me this wealth. But thou shalt remember the Lord thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which he sware unto thy fathers, as it is this day. And it shall be, if thou do at all forget the Lord thy God, and walk after other gods, and serve them, and worship them, I testify against you this day that ye shall surely perish”—Deuteronomy 8:11-13, 17-19. Yes, we need to take heed here because we are going to perish if we continue on the trend with which we are going—forgetting what God has granted us and wanting to take credit for what we have.

 We need to remember that we were given all the things which we have by God—it was NOT by our own hands that we have these things—for God brought us here to this land and He gave us all the choicest blessings with which we are given. We need to therefore remember that we would not have what we have if God was not the One in charge of it all.

 God hates the attitude of ungratefulness and He wants us to repent of our sins before it is too late! Israel, both physical and spiritual is in a time period of which is putting us into danger because we “rich and increased with goods”—Revelation 3:17 and we have not given God the credit for it—rather, we have taken the credit upon ourselves and have not looked to God, thus becoming blinded by our wealth and by our pride.

 God deserves our utmost respect and if we continue to fail to give to Him the thanks for which we are given, then He is going to continue to strip us of our wealth until we have nothing!

 God is going to spew us out of His mouth because we fail to remember Him (Revelation 3:16) and because we fail to give Him the honor and respect which He is due to have. We are now lukewarm and even God’s very Church has become the lukewarm Laodicean Church.

 Yet, there is good news—good news that if we should simply thank God from our hearts and remember that it is He who has given us all the things which we have, the He will continue to bless us greatly with great blessings. We need to remember those blessings if we are faithful to Him (Deut. 28:1-14) and we need to remember also that if we fail to obey God and to keep His laws, then He will continue to strip us of our blessings.

 God is great and merciful. He is just like our own earthly fathers, He does not want the bad to happen to us—but at the same time, if we fail to keep His ways, then He is going to see to it that we are punished.

 “Turn to me, O Israel, for why will you die?” God has asked. Man has had 6,000 of his own rule, doing his way and has had the opportunity to turn to God. But, man has refused and has continued to go on his own way and now, God is punishing mankind for his failure to obey God’s laws.

 How much thanksgiving then should we have toward God for what we have been given? We need to remember that it is God who has allowed us to have a day in which we can give Him thanks for all the blessings we are given.

God Has Commanded Thankfulness

 There are many who fail to realize that it was God who has commanded us to be thankful and to give thanks for everything that we have. We in the Church of God “of all the people of the nation are able to fully enjoy the real promise that the special day of Thanksgiving gives to us—we are able to fully understand what it means to be thankful and to give thanks for all the great abundance with which we have been given”—Church News, November 1 2002.

 Thanksgiving is not just another day for Americans, it should also not be limited to just one time a year—but should be held all year long, should be a daily occurrence and should be one with which we take great joy in doing. God’s people enjoy giving thanks, or should enjoy giving thanks as we pause to reflect each day upon all the things with which God has blessed us with and therefore, we should want to “Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name”—Psalm 100:4.

 God tells us that His very own elect are a people of remembrance (Malachi 3:16) and therefore, we cannot ever afford to forget God at all and to give to Him thanks—especially now in our day we need to stop and consider God and give thanks to Him.

 It is God’s desire that we stop and thank Him for all things (Ephesians 5:20; 1 Thessalonians 5:18). Why is this? Because, God desires that we gain a righteous character within us. He knows that carnal people are not thankful for what they have. Those who are righteous are thankful and they are the ones who will give great thanks for all that they are given.

 Therefore, we should have thankfulness in our minds if we are a part of God’s Church—not an attitude of disgrace, greed, lust or vanity. Therefore, so that we can overcome our evil human nature, and to do away with our carnal mind, God has commanded that we should become a thankful people. When we are truly thankful, then our focus will be upon God rather than upon ourselves.

 The first thing that we do when we come to understand true thanksgiving, then we should be kneeling each and every day, including Thanksgiving Day—in gratefulness and thanks toward God for all that we are given.

 It would not be wrong to spend as much as a third of our prayer each day thanking God and giving Him the praise for what we have.

 Thanking god is a process that continues on. We are given great knowledge and understanding within the Church of God and God therefore expects us to improve daily, continuously, our character as we work on developing a righteous character in God. We have been told that “For unto whomsoever much is given of him shall be much required”—Luke 12:48.

 What Should You Give Thanks For?

 We need to be thinking daily about all the many blessings with which God has been faithfully blessing each one of us with. As we do this, we will then begin to find things with which we should be thankful for. Are you excited at all about being a member of God’s Church? Are you excited about the opportunity that you may be given to rule and reign with Jesus Christ in the Kingdom of God and to rule over earth? Are you thankful that at death, you will sleep and then the next thing you know will be waking up in the resurrection? Just what are you thankful for?

 There is a great deal to be thankful for. How many times are you pausing each day to give thanks for the Word of God? Just where would we be without the Word of God? Remember that our nation was founded upon the Word of God. What about all the many other things with which we are given? We have the constitution, we have the freedom to be able to express our beliefs. We are able to attend each year the Feast of Tabernacles.

 Do you realize that while you eat that physical food at Thanksgiving Day, there is also all the many spiritual types of food which you need to also be eating? God has given us commandment to be thankful for all the physical foods we enjoy and for all the spiritual foods we are able to feast upon.

 Are you teaching these truths to your spouse? Children? Do you strive each day to live God’s law of radiant health? Do you live each day all the things which will keep you from suffering while giving thanks for your sufferings (1 Peter 4:13). Remember that God also promises healing and for that we should also be thankful for.

 God requires of His people, both physical and spiritual Israel to offer Him the “sacrifice of thanksgiving” (Psalm 116:17). Now then, would it not be wise to be offering Him thanks each and every day as He has commanded us?

 Each year as we keep Thanksgiving Day, let us take stock and note all the blessings with which God has provided us with. Let us stop and reflect upon each thing that God is giving to us each and remember that a heartfelt thanks to the Creator for the greatness He pours out upon our land and upon us needs to be rewarded to Him with our thankful hearts—let’s truly put thanks back into Thanksgiving this and every year!



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