Tag Archives: Thanksgiving

The First Thanksgiving

thanksgiving-2903166_960_720When I mention Thanksgiving, what thoughts come to mind? Are there memories of a family gathering, or a big turkey dinner with all the trimmings? At my parent’s house we watched football games on TV (before and after our meal).

According to my smart phone, the word Thanksgiving is defined as an “expression of gratitude, especially to God.” When I looked up the definition of gratitude, my phone said, it is a quality of being thankful. Notice how the words “thanksgiving” and “gratitude” describe each other. Thanksgiving is showing gratitude and gratitude is being thankful.

When was the first thanksgiving? Most people would say it happened several hundred years ago in Plymouth, Mass. when the first pilgrims came to America and gathered around a table with their Indian guests. Was that really the first thanksgiving, or did one occur much earlier in history?

According to David Mathis in his article, “The True Story of Thanksgiving,” the first thanksgiving began thousands of years earlier. Genesis 1:27 us that God created man and woman in his own image. God created us to show Him gratitude, to give Him thanks and to worship Him. The first thanksgiving occurred in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve thanking and praising their Creator.

“Let them praise the name of the Lord, for his name alone is exalted; his splendor is above the earth and the heavens.” Psalm 148:13

We all know the story of Adam and Eve. They were created perfect. Death had yet to come into existence. They had everything they could ever want provided for them in the Garden of Eden. That is, until the tempter, began spreading his venom around Eden. Satan, being full of pride and love of self, showed ingratitude towards God. Ingratitude is a form of rebellion. It is through ingratitude towards God that sin abounds. The Apostle Paul in Romans 1:21 puts it this way, “Although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.”

Ingratitude would lead Adam and Eve into sin.  Satan brought to their attention one thing they did not have.  They began to believe his lie that God was holding something back from them. God must not care about them. They began to covet the one thing they couldn’t have, to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. They stopped being thankful for God’s provision and gave in to rebellion. When they ate the fruit, God’s judgment fell on them. Sin separated them from God and death followed sin.

From that day forward, humankind has been self-centered and materialistic creatures believing they can do a better job than God at providing for their needs. We want to determine what is right and wrong in our own minds. People are concerned more with their deprived physical needs than about their spiritual, eternal well-being. What people fail to realize is that God knows us better than we know ourselves.

Isn’t it reassuring to know God didn’t abandon us to our foolish darkened hearts? God sent his son Jesus into a thankless, ungrateful world. Here on earth he lived a flawless life, showering God with gratitude, thanksgiving and praise. Jesus exemplifies the word “thanksgiving.” The Gospels are filled of examples of Jesus giving thanks to God:

When Jesus fed the 4,000, “he took the seven loaves and the fish and having given thanks he broke them and gave them to the disciples. (Mark 8:6)

Before Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, he lifted up his eyes toward heaven and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me.” (John 11:41).

The “Lord Jesus on the night he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said this is my body which is for you; do this in remembrance of me. In the same way after supper he took the cup, saying this the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” (1 Corinthians 11:23-24)

Communion is sometimes referred to as the Eucharist. Eucharist comes from the Greek word Eukaistos, which actually means “Thanksgiving.”

Jesus didn’t just model thanksgiving for us. He died on the cross for our ingratitude, for our failing to exalt God, to praise him and worship Him as Lord. When we place our faith in Jesus, he redeems us from a life of ingratitude and restores us to fulfill the purpose for which we were created: to be thankful and grateful to God.

This is why it is important for us to be constantly striving to be more like Jesus, the only person who lived a perfect life of gratitude, honoring his father, God.

When we pray we need to remember to be thankful.

“Don’t be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”  Philippians 4:6  

When we worship God we need to be thankful. The book of Psalms is full of thankful worship verses.

“Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song.” Psalm 95:2

“I will praise God’s name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving.” Psalm 69:30

When we walk with God we need to remember to be thankful.

“As you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.” Colossians 2:6-7

But we’re human aren’t we. There are times we fail miserably at being thankful, like when things aren’t going well for us. We can easily be overcome by hurt and tragedy. When we face trials we have a tendency to blame God.

When we face those trials we need to remain especially thankful.

But how do we do that? First, we can remain thankful by standing on the promises of God. Second, we should remember past and current blessings God has bestowed on us. Yes, count your blessings name them one by one!

My wife visited her family in North Carolina recently. When it came time to fly home, I prayed God would give her an uneventful and safe return. Her fight home, which should normally take about 3 hours turned into quite an ordeal, lasting well over 9 hours. I thought I had covered all my bases with my prayers and found myself having a tough time coping with her having to change planes, miss a connecting flight, and endure hour after hour of delays all caused by bad weather.

The ordeal continued to spin out of control at a time I needed God most. It became increasingly difficult for me to believe God was listening to my prayers. Thoughts like, “Does he really care about my wife and me” crept into my head. It wasn’t until she and I were safely together again that I learned just how involved God was guiding her every step. I felt ashamed when I considered my feelings of ingratitude. My heart turned to repentance and thanksgiving.

From now on I will always think of this incident in my life when I come across the verse:

“And we know (there’s a promise in those three words). And we know that in all things God works for good to those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

My wife will likely remember the promise I texted her in the midst of her ordeal :

“Be still and know (the word “know” is a promise) that I am God.” Psalm 46:10.

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May this Thanksgiving be a special time of blessing for you. Remember to give thanks to the God who created you, to the One who sustains you, and to Him who will never leave you or forsake you.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind.  Psalm 107:8

Table Scraps – “love” (2015)

ullyelynodWith Thanksgiving behind us on the calendar our challenge now becomes how do we carry that attitude of thanksgiving through the entire holiday season? For my third table scrap I thought I’d take a look at the word “love.” No doubt the word was used often in conversation throughout Thanksgiving day at your family gathering. Expressions of love were probably used in reference to family members, football teams, perhaps a favorite food, the weather, and possibly an article of clothing.

How much thought do you think each person put into their proclamation, “I love _______ “? Before you allow a wave of guilt to wash over you, I should point out that we only have one word for love in the English language. So, “I love this apple pie,” “I love your sweater” or “I love God” are verbally expressed the same.

The Greek language has many words for love. Roman Krznairic in his article that appeared in Sojourners magazine lists six different Greek words for love. Three of the four most common Greek words for love appear in Greek translations of the Bible, one surprisingly does not.

Eros.  It is commonly associated with sexual passion or desire. Krznairic calls it a “fiery and irrational form of love that could take hold of you and possess you.” Our culture has become obsessed with this type of love. I find it interesting that Eros is not found in Greek translations of the Bible.

According to Precept Ministries International, eros love says, “I love ____ because it makes me happy” (you can fill in the blank with anything your heart desires).

Storge.   This is the word for self-love. Krznairic refers to is as “philautia” and says “the idea was that if you like yourself and feel secure in yourself, you will have plenty of love to give others.” When self-love is abused it takes on the form of self-absorption or self-obsession. Some define storge as natural love that emanates from within, like the love a parent naturally has for his or her child.

According to Precept Ministries International, storge love says, “I love you because you are my child (spouse, parent, dog, etc.).  Krznairic would say, “I love you because I am able to love myself.”

Phileo.  Friendship and companionship are key ingredients in this word for love. It is not referring to the friendship or following that we strive to compile on Facebook or Twitter, however.  Krzainric describes it as “the deep comradely friendship that developed between brothers in arms who fought side by side on the battlefield. It is about showing loyalty to your friend…”

According to Precept Ministries International, phileo love says, “I love you because we are friends.”

Agape.  Agape is love that is selfless, love that will make sacrifices for others and genuinely cares about their well being. This type of love is rapidly becoming scarce in our society today. Precept Ministries International says, “this love keeps on loving even when the loved one is unresponsive, 
unkind, unlovable, and unworthy. It is unconditional love.” The Bible states that God’s love for us is agape love.  Agape love says, “I love you because unconditionally.”

“For God so loved (agape) the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) 

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I don’t know about you but when I am struggling to show love to someone, I need only to remind myself of how much God loves me.  With that thought in mind…

How will I demonstrate my love to others this holiday season?

Will I show God how much I love Him by keeping Christ in Christmas this year?

Table Scraps – “thank you” (2015)

IMG_0904With the holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas fast approaching, I thought it would be interesting to take a closer look at some words or phrases we use in conjunction with family gatherings.  For my first table scrap, I chose the words “thank you.”

It would be interesting to count the number of times the expression was used on a given occasion. Would we be pleased at the number of times the words were used, or surprised by its misuse?  Some table conversation:

“…Can somebody pass me the potatoes?”

“Here you go, Timmy,” aunt Sandy replies.

“What do you say, Timmy?”

“M-o-m,” Timmy whined. “Okay, okay – thank you.”

“…I was at Sears the other day and they had this display of perfume samples on the counter. You know, the ones in that sultry commercial with the race-car driver. Well, I snatched up some of those freebies, thank you very much…”

“…Our neighbor must not be doing well. He never made it outside this year to rake up his leaves. The boys and I went over to get his leaves under control. His _____ leaves keep blowing in our yard. You would think the least he could do is come outside to say thank you.”

Saying, “thank you” implies you are grateful for receiving something. Our thanks are directed towards someone besides ourselves, hence the word “you.” As a child I was reminded at every turn to say, “thank you.” After a while it became a habit and now I do it many times without even thinking. For many of us it has become more of a reflex, like having your knee tapped by a rubber hammer at the doctor’s office.

I am a person who believes in prayer and prays constantly for God’s blessing.  Sometimes thank-youit’s for help, healing, protection, understanding, wisdom, mercy… (the list is long and never-ending). How many times have I forgotten to simply say, “thank you” when even the smallest prayer is answered?

The next time you use the words “thank you” consider the following:

  • Have I considered what it may have cost someone, in time, money or inconvenience to satisfy my need, want, or desire?
  • How appreciative am I really?
  • Why exactly am I thankful?
  • Does my expression of thankfulness compel me to act differently?
  • Has my thankfulness changed me somehow, making me less selfish or cynical?
  • Are there more things in my life that I should be thankful for?
  • Who else should I be thanking?
  • While being thankful, have I ever lingered in a moment of gratitude? If so, has it made me see life as being more precious somehow?

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 ESV

Table Scraps – “love” (2015)

ullyelynodWith Thanksgiving behind us on the calendar our challenge now becomes how do we carry that attitude of thanksgiving through the entire holiday season? For my third table scrap I thought I’d take a look at the word “love.” No doubt the word was used often in conversation throughout Thanksgiving day at your family gathering. Expressions of love were probably used in reference to family members, football teams, perhaps a favorite food, the weather, and possibly an article of clothing.

How much thought do you think each person put into their proclamation, “I love _______ “? Before you allow a wave of guilt to wash over you, I should point out that we only have one word for love in the English language. So, “I love this apple pie,” “I love your sweater” or “I love God” are verbally expressed the same.

The Greek language has many words for love. Roman Krznairic in his article that appeared in Sojourners magazine lists six different Greek words for love. Three of the four most common Greek words for love appear in Greek translations of the Bible, one surprisingly does not.

Eros.  It is commonly associated with sexual passion or desire. Krznairic calls it a “fiery and irrational form of love that could take hold of you and possess you.” Our culture has become obsessed with this type of love. I find it interesting that Eros is not found in Greek translations of the Bible.

According to Precept Ministries International, eros love says, “I love ____ because it makes me happy” (you can fill in the blank with anything your heart desires).

Storge.   This is the word for self-love. Krznairic refers to is as “philautia” and says “the idea was that if you like yourself and feel secure in yourself, you will have plenty of love to give others.” When self-love is abused it takes on the form of self-absorption or self-obsession. Some define storge as natural love that emanates from within, like the love a parent naturally has for his or her child.

According to Precept Ministries International, storge love says, “I love you because you are my child (spouse, parent, dog, etc.).  Krznairic would say, “I love you because I am able to love myself.”

Phileo.  Friendship and companionship are key ingredients in this word for love. It is not referring to the friendship or following that we strive to compile on Facebook or Twitter, however.  Krzainric describes it as “the deep comradely friendship that developed between brothers in arms who fought side by side on the battlefield. It is about showing loyalty to your friend…”

According to Precept Ministries International, phileo love says, “I love you because we are friends.”

Agape.  Agape is love that is selfless, love that will make sacrifices for others and genuinely cares about their well being. This type of love is rapidly becoming scarce in our society today. Precept Ministries International says, “this love keeps on loving even when the loved one is unresponsive, 
unkind, unlovable, and unworthy. It is unconditional love.” The Bible states that God’s love for us is agape love.  Agape love says, “I love you because unconditionally.”

“For God so loved (agape) the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) 

IMG_0289

I don’t know about you but when I am struggling to show love to someone, I need only to remind myself of how much God loves me.  With that thought in mind…

How will I demonstrate my love to others this holiday season?

Will I show God how much I love Him by keeping Christ in Christmas this year?

Table Scraps – “thank you”

IMG_0904With the holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas fast approaching, I thought it would be interesting to take a closer look at some words or phrases we use in conjunction with family gatherings.  For my first table scrap, I chose the words “thank you.”

It would be interesting to count the number of times the expression was used on a given occasion. Would we be pleased at the number of times the words were used, or surprised by its misuse?  Some table conversation:

“…Can somebody pass me the potatoes?”

“Here you go, Timmy,” aunt Sandy replies.

“What do you say, Timmy?”

“M-o-m,” Timmy whined. “Okay, okay – thank you.”

“…I was at Sears the other day and they had this display of perfume samples on the counter. You know, the ones in that sultry commercial with the race-car driver. Well, I snatched up some of those freebies, thank you very much…”

“…Our neighbor must not be doing well. He never made it outside this year to rake up his leaves. The boys and I went over to get his leaves under control. His _____ leaves keep blowing in our yard. You would think the least he could do is come outside to say thank you.”

Saying, “thank you” implies you are grateful for receiving something. Our thanks are directed towards someone besides ourselves, hence the word “you.” As a child I was reminded at every turn to say, “thank you.” After a while it became a habit and now I do it many times without even thinking. For many of us it has become more of a reflex, like having your knee tapped by a rubber hammer at the doctor’s office.

I am a person who believes in prayer and prays constantly for God’s blessing.  Sometimes thank-youit’s for help, healing, protection, understanding, wisdom, mercy… (the list is long and never-ending). How many times have I forgotten to simply say, “thank you” when even the smallest prayer is answered?

The next time you use the words “thank you” consider the following:

  • Have I considered what it may have cost someone, in time, money or inconvenience to satisfy my need, want, or desire?
  • How appreciative am I really?
  • Why exactly am I thankful?
  • Does my expression of thankfulness compel me to act differently?
  • Has my thankfulness changed me somehow, making me less selfish or cynical?
  • Are there more things in my life that I should be thankful for?
  • Who else should I be thanking?
  • While being thankful, have I ever lingered in a moment of gratitude? If so, has it made me see life as being more precious somehow?

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 ESV