and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen." Rev. 7:12
Well, my favorite time of the year has arrived - fall (or autumn). It's my favorite for several reasons, one of which is my favorite holiday - Thanksgiving. However, it's my fervent belief that the idea of "giving thanks" shouldn't be relegated to just one day a year. Rather, we should be of the mind to always be thankful. Maybe it's better said this way: that we should remember to always be thankful. With that said, I'd like to offer some thoughts on both this actual holiday and the general concept of "being thankful" for you to consider.
As to the actual holiday, "Thanksgiving Day," it came into official being in America on Oct. 3rd, 1789 when President George Washington read the "Declaration of Thanksgiving" and declared it to be observed on Thursday, the 26th of November. Of course that day has been changed over the years to its present date of observance being the 4th Thursday of November.
Before I leave the reading of this proclamation by President Washington I'd like to mention a few phrases contained in it. He said that this day should 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." He said that we should "render unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection."
I'll just mention a couple of other statements from this declaration and then we'll move on to some further thoughts in our lesson. He mentioned that some of the things we, as a nation, should be thankful for are; "the civil and religious Liberty with which we are blessed." Then, that we should, in general, be thankful "for all the great and various favours which He hath been pleased to confer upon us."
It's sort of hard to imagine a government and politicians saying things like that today, isn't it? I'll speak a bit more to this in a moment.
Let me tell you about another "declaration" of thanksgiving that occurred a few thousand years earlier. Oh yeah, we're not the first to recognize that an official day of thanksgiving be observed. You remember good old Nehemiah, don't you? Well, at least reading about him in the book by the same name. As a little background information on him, he was an honored servant to the king of Persia while the Jews were in captivity. Being such, he was allowed to return to Jerusalem and begin rebuilding the walls of the city.
At the completion of the wall building they appointed a day for the dedication ceremony. It tells us in Neh. 12:27 that this day was set up to be a "day of gladness and thanksgiving." And just who do you suppose they thanked? Further on in verse 46 we read that they offered "songs of praise and thanksgiving unto God."
Reading those passages and thinking about what Pres. Washington said in his declaration made me think about a fairly recent news event occurring in our just-over election. Do you recall where one of our political parties had removed any reference to God in its platform and had to vote to put Him back in?
They remind me of something a person once said to me. He said, "Isn't it interesting...all these people who want to take God out of our lives have no problem celebrating Thanksgiving. Exactly who do they thank?" What a great question.
I don't really like dating myself, but I recall a phrase that was once commonly heard used. I'm referring to the phrase "much obliged." We don't hear that much anymore, do we? I like it because it reflects the attitude of gratefulness. Of people who have gratitude for what they've received. I believe that when we do our best to remove God from society, we end up with a strictly "secular society."
Enlarging on this thought, it's my belief that a "secular society" is an "ungrateful society." It becomes just the opposite, it becomes an "entitlement society." When it reaches that disposition they don't feel "obliged" to be grateful for anything that they've beneficially received. They're entitled to it so where's the need to thank anyone, especially God.
You know the Bible tells us what a "secular society" looks like. Open your Bible to 2 Timothy the 3rd chapter and note some of the characteristics of a godless society (secular or worldly) especially that it is "unthankful." (Vs 2) You'll also see that this kind of society is made up of "the covetous, the boasters, the proud, the blasphemers, the disobedient to parents and the unholy." I have a great fear that much of our current-day society fits these characteristics.
There is a phrase seen several times throughout the Bible that I like and it relates well with my thoughts today. The phrase - "due season." As in, things occurring at the appropriate time. I mentioned earlier that this time of the year is my favorite season and I see this holiday as being the most appropriate time for an official observance of thanks.
It's the "due season" for several reasons. I like the clear and warm days, coupled with the cool nights. I like the beauty we see around us at this time of the year. The leaves changing colors, and in some parts of the country, it is spectacular. It's also an appropriate time because of harvest and the reaping of God's bounty we are so richly blessed with. All in all, it's just "due season" for "thanksgiving."
In closing, this coming Thursday let's take a lesson from Israel of Nehemiah's day and render our "thanks unto God" first and then try not to commit suicide with a fork afterward. Furthermore, let's always be "grateful" and "much obliged" to Him every day of the year and strive to not become a member of the "secular society."
I'll leave you with a closing passage that should always be paramount in a Christian's way of life:
"And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also
ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful." Col. 3:15