A Post from the archives:
Our cat, Shiloh, relaxing in the middle of my dining room sidebar. She will need to find a new napping place tomorrow.
A Harvest of Thanksgiving
Be present at our table, Lord;
Be here and everywhere adored.
These mercies bless, and grant that we
May feast in fellowship with thee.
– A Table Grace
Steamy hot dishes, traditional and new recipes, laughter, and the joy of family and friends coming together from near and far, are hallmarks of American Thanksgiving. Yet for all its camaraderie, we should never lose sight of the real reason for the celebration-gratitude for the blessings we have received. These blessings, said Abraham Lincoln as he proclaimed Thanksgiving Day a national holiday in 1863, “are the gracious gifts of the Most High God.”
In Joel 2:21-27 and Psalm 126, both the prophet Joel and the psalmist write of the celebrations that take place when the harvest is gathered in. And both pause to give homage and thanks to God recognizing, and rightly so, that
“The LORD has worked miracles for his people” (Psalm 126:2b), and “The LORD works wonders and does great things” (Joel 2:20b, 21a). The prophet also acknowledges that despite our tendency to misplace our gratitude, God reminds us, “I am the LORD your God-there are no other gods” (Joel 2:27b).
President Lincoln made his proclamation against a backdrop “of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity.” Today, we take our places around the table, many of us with feelings of ambivalence at wars in which we are engaged, at the jihad for which our opponents point accusing fingers. Yet, there are other wars to be waged. The battle for our hearts and minds in this day and age is equally fierce because we “are fighting against forces and authorities and against rulers of darkness and powers in the spiritual world” (Ephesians 6:12b). We are fighting to maintain moral and spiritual integrity, yet all the while worrying at what cost. God’s message comes through with remarkable clarity:
“Don’t worry and ask yourselves, ‘Will we have anything to eat? Will we have anything to drink? Will we have anything to wear? …Your Father in heaven knows that you need all of these. But more than anything else, put God’s work first and do what he wants. Then the other things will be yours as well‘” (Matthew 6:31, 32b, 33)
Don’t worry…put God’s work first
What a sobering thought! “Don’t worry…put God’s work first and do what he wants.” As we place emphasis on doing what God wants, we must harness the power of prayer and pray for those “in power, so that we may live quiet and peaceful lives as we worship and honor God” (1 Timothy 2:2b). But, we must also be cognizant that when we devote ourselves to God’s work, it sometimes puts us in direct conflict with those who seek to do evil. It is then that we must “put on all the armor that God gives” so that “when the battle is over, [we] will still be standing firm” (Ephesians 6:13b).
There is much to be thankful for on this Thanksgiving Day
Despite life’s difficulties, there is much to be thankful for on this Thanksgiving Day …life, health, strength, family, friends, and a God who loves us enough to supply all our needs. This is indeed cause for celebration. How can we show gratitude to God? What harvest of thanksgiving can we bring? Abraham Lincoln recommended “offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him…” and the apostle Paul puts it succinctly, giving us food for thought as he calls us to a posture of singular worship:
There is only one God,
and Christ Jesus is the only one
who can bring us to God.
We may be sitting at the table wearing armor, but thank God our Lord is present and we give thanks knowing “in everything we have won more than a victory because of Christ who loves us!” (Romans 8:37)
Due to a heavy holiday baking schedule I borrowed today’s devotional from the Bible Resource Center’s e-Bulletin Series – an online ministry of the American Bible Society. The Bible Resource Center is also home to an extensive collection of Bible Resources for the Thanksgiving Holiday.