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A Heart of Thanksgiving

Psalm 9:1

I will praise you, Lord, with all my heart and tell about the wonders you have worked.

As we prepare to enter what we call the Holiday Season this next week we will be celebrating Thanksgiving. Families get together and it is a very special time.

The origin of the Thanksgiving celebration began on December 13th 1621 when the Pilgrims in Massachusetts during their second winter in America gathered together on the decree of Governor William Bradford who set aside a day of feasting and prayer so that they could show their gratitude that they were still alive.

The first winter had killed 44 of the original 102 colonists. At one point daily food ration was five kernels of corn apiece, but then an unexpected trading vessel arrived, swapping them beaver pelts for grain, providing for their need. The Pilgrims had come to seek religious freedom and opportunity in America. That day they gave thanks to God for His provision to them.

He helped them-

  • To find 20 acres of cleared land

  • That there were no hostile Indians in that area

  • For their newfound religious freedom

  • By providing and interpreter to the Indians in Squanto

For the next three days the feast and games went on along with the 80 Indian friends they had made who brought wild turkeys and venison. Prayers were offered, sermons were preached, and songs of praise were sung.

Since that time in the United States Thanksgiving has been celebrated as a day to give thanks to God for His gracious and sufficient provision. It was President Abraham Lincoln who officially set aside the last Thursday of November, in 1863, “as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father.”

Then in 1941, Congress ruled that after 1941, the fourth Thursday of November would be observed as Thanksgiving Day and be a legal holiday and this coming Thursday we all celebrate Thanksgiving with family and friends giving thanks and praise unto a giving God.

Thanksgiving is found in the Scriptures from cover to cover. In the Book of the Beginning, Genesis, you will find accounts of individuals offering sacrifices out of gratitude for what God had done. God’s people Israel sang a song of thanksgiving as they were delivered from Pharaoh's army after the crossing of the Red Sea as recorded in Exodus 15.

The Law of Moses set aside three times each year when they were to gather together.

All three of these times involved remembering God’s provision and grace. There was the-

  • the Feast of the Passover also called the Unleavened Bread in Exodus 12:15-20

  • Harvest or Pentecost found in Leviticus 23:15-21

  • Tabernacles or Feast of Ingathering as seen in Leviticus 23:33-36

Harvest and Tabernacles took place specifically in relation to God’s provision in the harvest of various fruit trees and crops.

We can look to The Book of Psalms for songs of thanksgiving, whether for God’s grace to His people Israel through His mighty deeds, or for His individual graces.

We learn in the New Testament to give thanks to God. Thanksgiving is to always be a part of our prayers. We are reminded clearly in God’s Word to give thanks by-


1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

16 Rejoice always!

17 Pray constantly.

18 Give thanks in everything, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.


Philippians 4:6

"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God"


1 Timothy 2:1

"Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men"

Of all of God’s gifts, the greatest one He has given is the gift of His Son, Jesus Christ.

On the cross of Calvary, Jesus paid our sin debt, so a holy and just God could forgive us our sins and give us eternal life as a free gift.

This gift is available to those who will call on Christ to save them from their sin in simple but sincere faith.

In John 3:16 Jesus tells us that-

16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

Romans 10:13

13 For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

For this gift of His Son, the gift which meets our greatest need, the Apostle Paul said it this way in 2 Corinthians 9:15-

"Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!"

Like the Pilgrims, we have a choice. In life there will always be those things that we can complain about. Can you imagine what the Pilgrims were saying after having lost many of their loved ones that first winter? During the long days and nights with minimal food and shelter.

Regardless of what occurs in life there will always be opportunities to be thankful. We are all aware that society has become increasingly secular.

For many of you the idea of “giving of thanks to God” during the annual Thanksgiving holiday was something taught and observed in school and certainly in church. However, today it is being overlooked, it is for many only a time to get together with family and friends for a meal, watch a parade and even a football game.

James 1:17 tells us that-

17 Every generous act and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights; with Him there is no variation or shadow cast by turning. 

God is good, and every good gift comes from Him. For those who know Christ, God also works everything together for good, even events we would not necessarily consider good.

Romans 8:28-30 reminds us-

28 We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose. 

29 For those He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers. 

30 And those He predestined, He also called; and those He called, He also justified; and those He justified, He also glorified.

May He find us to be His grateful children?

Wishing you and your family a Happy Thanksgiving.

In God’s Grace,

Elbert Nasworthy

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