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       We are about to enter the holiday called Thanksgiving in North America. This particular holiday was first observed in this country in 1619 in Virginia. When thirty-eight English settlers aboard the ship “Margaret” arrived by way of the James River on December 4, 1619, a religious celebration was held. The charter of the London Company, which had planned and sponsored the journey declared: "that the day of our ships arrival at the place assigned for plantation in the land of Virginia shall be yearly and perpetually kept holy as a day of thanksgiving to Almighty God."   This should always be done.

      Per Wikipedia, the more familiar Thanksgiving precedent is traced to the Pilgrims and Puritans who emigrated from England in the 1620s and 1630s. They brought their previous traditions of Days of Fasting and also Days of Thanksgiving with them to New England.   The 1621 Plymouth, Massachusetts thanksgiving was prompted by a very good harvest.   Perhaps this is why a familiar symbol of “Thanksgiving” is a cornucopia.

     It is sad indeed that so many folks wait until this holiday to think about the many blessings they have. We know that all are recipients of the bountiful blessings bestowed on mankind.   This is the idea behind the teaching of the Lord in Matthew 5:43-45 in the Sermon on the Mount. Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. 44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.   Do not the “just” and the “unjust” alike receive the innumerable blessings God has richly supplied to all His creation? Do not all benefit from the sun and its warmth upon the earth as well as the rain which falls upon all?   The answer to this is obvious.  

     Then why are not all grateful, especially at this time of the year? This answer is also readily apparent. It is because they have forgotten God, the source of all blessings.   We can read in Romans 1:20-21 what happens when one forgets God and shows no gratitude for His many blessings.   For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: 21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. When man forgets God, he tends to follow his own imaginations. This causes one to be unthankful as well as leading one toward his own destruction. Need we be constantly reminded of our total dependance on God, which Jeremiah 10:23 clearly shows?   O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.

     The Holy Spirit, had the penman in James 1:17, remind the scattered Christians to whom he wrote why they should be thankful, even in the face of persecution. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. Since God is “good”, and all His “gifts” to man are also good, should not mankind recognize this and be thankful? Some do, but sadly, so many do not. This causes us to again ask: “why is ingratitude so predominant in the lives of so many people?”

     Jesus provides some insight to this issue in Matthew 6:24 as He continued the Sermon on the Mount. He said: No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. In this application, the “masters”, or that which one could serve, is God, or mammon. Mammon is the love of wealth (money). The same point can be made of self.   Indeed, one can love “self” more than God. 2Timothy 3:2 references those who fall into that category. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,

     As we have seen, when one “loves self” they are also “unthankful”. In the reading of Romans 6:16 we see the fallacy of serving “self”. If we serve self we are sinning and are proceeding toward spiritual death. Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? Is not the love of self the same as “yielding to self”?   If we yield to self and serve self, are we not less likely to be thankful to God?

       Don’t fall into the error of ingratitude. And don’t wait until a “holiday” to be thankful to God for all He has provided.   After all, 2Peter 1:3 shows us God has left nothing out in His Provisions for us, as well as the means by which we can know these things. According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:

     Each should be thankful to God for all the material and spiritual blessings He offers. But we shouldn’t wait until a certain holiday to do so.   Show God your love by obeying the gospel and continue to show Him your gratitude and appreciation by following His Word every day.

Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

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