Today is a high stress day for many families as they prepare all sorts of dishes that they wouldn’t normally eat at one time (or in such volume), plus a host of pies and desserts. They’ll decorate their houses maybe, prepare for the Macy’s Day Parade and a football game, maybe even go out early and hunt deer. It’s a diverse day with the many even planning their Black Friday expedition for the wee hours of the next morning.
But, Thanksgiving was built off a small group of people who came to the massively large expanse of forests to build a quiet, humble life. They were thankful to God and to the American Indians who helped them in their new settlement. None of them could see what the future would bring to the New World, and in fact, many died early on from the harsh winters and such, never really experiencing these new lands.
Everything we learned about humanity from the Garden of Eden comes to bear on the story of the United States. It’s the story of all humanity really.
Remember, Eve not only wasn’t satisfied with the variety of fruit trees she could eat from, but she was tempted by Satan in the area of being a god as Satan challenged the goodness and love of the Lord, and insinuated that He was holding back deity from her. That one act of disobedience set the whole of humanity on a course to self-destruction and separation from God.
America was populated with pagan Indians. Some Christians came to the New World, but even then the majority of Europeans were just as pagan. Many of the Indians had a long history of fighting and killing other tribes over their lands, and sought dominance. When the Europeans came, this same desire brought war and destruction to the Indians who then shifted their fighting towards the aggressive settlers. But, again, this wasn’t a Europeans vs. Indians phenomena, this was the history of man repeated for thousands of years such as in India, Mongolia, China and Japan, in the African continent, and so forth. In fact, Hawaiians fought Hawaiians for quite some time before Captain Cook showed up, and it wasn’t long thereafter before Hawaii was stripped of its sovereignty as a nation. It’s the sad history of sin in a world full of sinners.
- James 4:1-5 What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures. You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: “He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us”?
The narrative being spread around today is that Thanksgiving shouldn’t be celebrated because it is merely a celebration of white, empirical, Europeans dominating and murdering native peoples. This narrative is false, of course, because the true narrative of humanity is found in the above passage in James. Just go to the Bishop Museum in Oahu and see bowls with teeth in them as one Hawaiian tribe dominated another, and slaughtered them. Look throughout African history as Africans have slaughtered Africans. Look in Asian history, European history, world history and this repeats itself over and over again! It’s not the fault of any one “race” for we are all of the human race. It’s the fault of our sin natures ruling us as we seek to be gods.
But, we are Christians and that should set us apart from the world (again, you see this in the above passage in James). We need to slay our sin nature, slay the drive to be in control, slay our lusts. We have that power because we have the Spirit of God within us. As we discussed yesterday, it begins by being content with what we have because all good gifts come from God, and we ask Him to help supply our “daily bread”. We trust in an intimate, sovereign, loving Lord Who we are to worship and exalt. This is the key to a Christian’s life set apart from the world. And, with that trust comes the natural outpouring of thanks, 365 days of the year.
- History isn’t perfect because people are not perfect. But, a day such as today dedicated to thankfulness should cause us to pause and reflect on how much God has blessed us despite who we really are deep down inside. Think now of how God has graced you in your personal and physical life (from air conditioning to our families, from McDonald’s to Tommy Bahama—we can thank God for all of these pleasures of life He has allowed us to experience): ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
- Remember, Isaiah 43:25 tells us that God saves us for His glory. In other words, He did notneedto save any of us—but He choseto! Thank Him now for your salvation and the wonderful spiritual blessings He’s bestowed on you: ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
- God ordains each and every nation and each and every leader (Daniel 5:21; Romans 13:1; Hebrews 13:7). That means that He has ordained that right now, in 2019, that the United States of America, and Canada, and the Philippines, and any other country that our church members hail from, are to exist. That means each leader is there because He’s placed each in that position. Since we’re here in Hawaii, thank God now for the United States, for the blessings He’s given us through this country, for His involvement even in the affairs of our nation and state: ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
- Paul thanked God for the people (individually) and churches (collectively) he was involved in (e.g. Philemon 1:3; I. Corinthians 1:4; Romans 1:8). Think of Christians in your life, churches (such as Legacy in Hilo, and Pahala Baptist), members of this church, and so forth that you thank God for: ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
- Lastly, on this Thankful Thanksgiving Thursday, read each of these verses and pray them back to God:
- Revelation 11:17 “We give You thanks, O Lord God, the Almighty, who are and who were, because You have taken Your great power and have begun to reign.”
- I. Thessalonians 5:18 in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
- Psalm 97:12 Be glad in the LORD, you righteous ones, And give thanks to His holy name.
- Psalm 18:49 Therefore I will give thanks to You among the nations, O LORD, And I will sing praises to Your name.
- I. Chronicles 16:35 “Save us, O God of our salvation, And gather us and deliver us from the nations, To give thanks to Your holy name, And glory in Your praise.”
- Psalm 79:13 So we Your people and the sheep of Your pasture Will give thanks to You forever; To all generations we will tell of Your praise.