You ask any number of people what Thanksgiving means, and you will probably get that many different answers. For example, if you could have asked the first pilgrims who came to this country what thanksgiving meant to them, they might have said things like religious freedom, safety from the long journey across the sea, or expressed thankfulness that the Wampanoag Indians took pity on them and helped them plant corn, build shelter, and taught them how to survive in the new world.
Fast forward to 1789 and ask George Washington what thankfulness meant to him you get these words such as, “By the President of the United States of America. A proclamation: Whereas, it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor…
“Whereas, Both Houses of Congress have by their joint committee requested me `to recommend to the people of the United States a day of Public Thanksgiving and Prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God. . .’
“Now, Therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of Novembernext, to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be. . .” So read the very first Thanksgiving Proclamation. (Edited for space).
Fast forward to our day and time and ask people what thanksgiving means to them, and one might get answers such as, spending time with their friends and family, eating a large meal, or a day where one could watch football all day uninterrupted.
Now let’s go to the Bible and see what it means when it teaches about “thanksgiving”:
· 1 Thess. 5:18, “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
· Eph. 5:4, “Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.”
· Php. 4:6, “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”
· Col. 2:7, “rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.”
· Col. 4:2, “Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.”
· 1Tim. 4:4, “For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving,”
The Bible teaches that thanksgiving is one of the many attributes that each Christian should have in all circumstances. Although what we in America celebrate as a day of thanksgiving is a wonderful idea and a great reminder to be thankful, the Bible teaches us that thanksgiving is not seasonal but a way of life for the Christian.
So, what does thanksgiving mean to you?
By Mark T. Tonkery
If you have ever done any construction work, you learn that when a number of boards need to be the same length, you do not measure each board by the one previously cut. If you were to do so, the last board would not match the measure of the original board. You measure each board with your ruler to get the exact measure of every board. Only then will each board be equal to the same measuring standard.
The same is true of life if we will measure our lives by Jesus rather than measuring our lives by what the crowd is doing, the lasted trends, fashions, what’s “hot” or what’s not. Jesus in John 13:15 states, “For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.” The Bible reminds us that it is our duty to follow the example of Christ. Peter explains it this way, in 1 Peter 2:21 “…, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.” The word rendered “example” (the Greek, ὑπογραμμὸν hupogrammon) means properly “a writing copy,” such as is set for children; or an outline or sketch for a painter to fill up; and then, in general, an example, a pattern for imitation.
Jesus is our measure and our example the question is will we live as He lived and will we walk as he walked. (Author Unknown)
We all know that long-distance jets fly at very high elevations. There are good reasons to fly at 35,000 feet. The air is thinner so you have less drag and can go faster. You are flying above the weather, so storms and bad weather are not an issue. There is less likelihood of a collision either with things like dust storms or with other local objects that might be in the lower atmosphere.
For living things like birds, the same advantages would be present as well as protection from predators, but the cold temperatures and lack of oxygen were thought to make flying at high elevations impossible.
Our radar has evolved to the point where the newest radar can distinguish between birds, bats, insects, dust, and even pollen. Imagine the surprise of radar technicians when they detected swans flying at 27,000 feet and bar-headed geese flying at just under 30,000 feet. It turns out that most birds fly at very high elevations. Songbirds typically fly at 6,000 feet. Most ducks fly between 10,000 and 15,000 feet. How can they do that?
Most mammals cannot breathe well enough to survive at elevations of 20,000 feet or more. Birds are able to breathe because they have a complex respiratory system that provides a continuous flow of oxygen through their lungs. They do not depend on a diaphragm pushing air in and out of their lungs. That means that the birds can survive in thinner air longer, even when exerting themselves heavily as they do in flight. The layering of feathers that birds have is so efficient as an insulator that the cold temperatures of the high elevations is no issue for them.
Once again we have an example of how God has created creatures to do incredible things in ways that benefit them and allow them to survive in places we would not think possible. It is as if we are still trying to answer all the questions that God asked Job in Job 39:26, “Is it by your understanding that the hawk soars, Stretching his wings toward the south?” The answer is clearly “NO — It is a wisdom far beyond that of man.” (Data fro Discover, November 2005, page 88.)
There is a story told of a good king in Spain known as Alfonso XIX who learned that the boys who served in his court were forgetting to pray before their meals. So, he decided to teach them a lesson. He gave a banquet and invited them to attend. Midway through the dinner a ragged beggar came in, sat down, and began eating ravenously. When he was finished, he went out without saying a word.
“That ungrateful wretch ought to be whipped,” shouted the boys. “He ate the king’s food and never showed gratitude.” Quietly the king rose to his feet, and silence fell over the group. “Daily you have taken the rich blessings of life from the hand of your Heavenly Father,” said the king. “You’ve enjoyed His sunshine, breathed His air, eaten His food He has provided, and you have not bothered to say ‘thank you’ for any of them. You are more ungrateful than that beggar.”
How many of us are like those unthankful boys, we accept God’s daily blessings as commonplace, rather than the special gifts they are.
The Bible teaches us that as Christians we should be known for our thankfulness. We are to be the type of people who give thanks for our daily food and needs as Jesus did (Mt. 15:36). We are to give thanks for our salvation. 1 Cor. 15:57, states, “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” We are to give thanks when good is done for us. In Lk. 17:16 only one leper returned to say thank you to Jesus for when his leprosy was healed. Let’s be like that, thankful for when good is done to us. May we give thanks for Christ’s church. Rm. 16:4, Paul said, “he gave thanks for all the churches…”
Let’s give thanks always. Eph. 5:20, teaches, “giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,”
Over 550 times in the Bible thankfulness is mentioned or referred to, that is almost two Bible verses a day to remind us to be thankful. So, let’s give thanks!
By Mark T. Tonkery
Recently I heard a story that really struck home. Apparently, a woman was driving her husband’s classic BMW for a special appointment downtown. That car had been his life and joy. He spent hours finding original replacement parts, tuning the engine, fixing minor dents, and waxing the car. He worked on it a little time every Saturday and many evenings, but the car was a beauty.
As she drove the car, she thought what a joy it was, but suddenly someone changed lanes and nearly pulled into her. To avoid crashing she swerved to the right just as a big truck drove up beside her. She demolished the bumper and dented the fender of her husband’s car. What would he say? How could he ever forgive her? If she had only been a little more careful...
Shortly a policeman arrived to take an accident report. She got out her driver’s license and reached into the glove compartment to get the insurance papers and title. To her surprise, there was another smaller envelope inside with her name on it. The writing was her husband’s. A fearful sweat suddenly hit her. What would it say? He had often warned her about driving more carefully. She opened the letter and began to read it.
If you are reading this, you have likely had an accident. Don’t worry. I trust this means you are all right, and that is what really matters to me. Don’t worry about the car, it’s only metal and rubber and plastic. You are what really matters to me.
I love you. James
What a wise husband! He strengthened his wife’s love and admiration for him and his marriage and his potential for happiness and his self-respect and his... well, you see that it was a wise investment.
Is there room for a note in your glove box?
“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it ... So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.” —Ephesians 5:25, 28