" give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus."  1 Thessalonians 5:18 New International Version (NIV)

With the Thanksgiving holiday fast approaching I wanted to take some time to share my thoughts on what Thanksgiving means to me in light of my relationship with an all-knowing, covenant keeping Father.

Thanksgiving Day in America is a public holiday celebrated on the fourth Thursday In November. It originated as a harvest festival celebration.  What I find fascinating is President Abraham Lincoln's proclamation of a national day in 1863, "Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens."  Merriam-Webster's defines beneficent as "doing or producing good."

History of Thanksgiving

In November 1621, after the Pilgrims’ first corn harvest proved successful, the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest feast that is acknowledged today as one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations in the colonies.  The Pilgrims held their second Thanksgiving celebration in 1623 to mark the end of a long drought that had threatened the year’s harvest and prompted Governor Bradford to call for a religious fast.

"The land yields its harvest; God, our God, blesses us." Psalm 67:6

For more than two centuries, days of thanksgiving were celebrated by individual colonies and states. It wasn’t until 1863, in the midst of the Civil War, that President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day to be held each November. History of Thanksgiving

God’s Covenant with Man

The infinite, all-powerful, changeless God of the universe has chosen to deal with men in the form of covenants.  Throughout history, God has made various covenants, or agreements, with human beings. These covenants lay out the terms of the relationship God wants to have with humanity.

The Bible speaks of seven different covenants, four of which (Abrahamic, Palestinian, Mosaic, Davidic) God made with the nation of Israel.  What are the covenants in the Bible? Of those four, three are unconditional in nature; that is, regardless of Israel's obedience or disobedience, God still will fulfill these covenants with Israel. One of the covenants, the Mosaic Covenant, is conditional in nature. That is, this covenant will bring either blessing or cursing depending on Israel's obedience or disobedience. Three of the covenants (Adamic, Noahic, New) are made between God and mankind in general, and are not limited to the nation of Israel.

After the flood, Noah built an altar and offers a sacrifice to God. "Then Noah built an altar to the LORD, and there he sacrificed as burnt offerings the animals and birds that had been approved for that purpose. The odor of the sacrifice pleased the Lord, and he said to himself, “Never again will I put the earth under a curse because of what people do; I know that from the time they are young their thoughts are evil. Never again will I destroy all living beings, as I have done this time. As long as the world exists, there will be a time for planting and a time for harvest. There will always be cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night.” " Genesis 8:20-22  rainbowThe first thing done after the flood was an act of worship. God was pleased and made a promise to never destroy the earth again. He is faithful and just to keep His promises. "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." 1 John 1:9

 

The New Covenant

The new covenant comes through the death of Jesus Christ. Luke 22:20 NIV, "In the same way, after the supper He took the cup, saying, 'This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is poured out for you."

The new covenant means we can go directly to God through Christ. Hebrews 7:22 NIV, "Because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant." better-covenant-title

"And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!"

There is forgiveness of sins only through the new covenant. Hebrews 9:14-15, NIV, "How much more, then, will the blood of Christ , who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God! For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that He has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant."

"All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin[ for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."  2 Corinthians 5:18-21

"Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness;" 2 Corinthians 9:10

God's mercies endure forever.  So on this Thanksgiving I encourage you and your family to give thanks not only on Thanksgiving Day, but everyday to the beneficent God who always produces good!

We have so much to be thankful for in spite of all that may be happening in our midst, because God is still on the throne!  We no longer have to express our thankfulness with burnt-offerings, but with praise and thanksgiving to God. The only sacrifices mentioned in the New Testament are the sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving. Hebrews 13:15 says, "Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise--the fruit of lips that openly profess his name." God loves us and He loves our worship and praise and our thanksgiving.  h8211r

May the fruit of our lips openly give thanks to the high and lofty One this Thanksgiving. "For this is what the high and exalted One says-- he who lives forever, whose name is holy: "I live in a high and holy place, but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite." Isaiah 57:15

Many blessings awaits you!

Published by Dr. A. Francine Green