As Thanksgiving Day is just three days away, I thought I would take the time to send out a "thought" that was not written for Thanksgiving, but brings Thanksgiving to mind for me each time I read it (and I do read it often since I have it hanging on the wall of my office)! I do know that for many the festive nature of Thanksgiving will be dampened a bit this year due to the continuing rise in Covid cases and the attending precautions advised. Yet, as I know most are aware, the lack of the normal ways of celebrating the day cannot in the least prevent the human heart from offering gratitude to God.
Paul and Silas sang hymns to God in a jail cell after being severely flogged (Acts 16:25). Likewise from his prison cell Paul would later write, "I thank God every time I remember you" (Phil. 1:3). And as the same epistle drew to a close, he wrote: "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, with prayer and thanksgiving, present your requests to God" (Phil. 4:6). Being confined against his will did not suppress or prevent Paul from being grateful, or from offering to God the gratitude which seemed to overflow in his heart regardless of his outward situation (Col. 1:3 / 1:12 / 3:15-17).
We would do well to remember Paul's admonitions to us -- through both his words and example -- as we are asked to diminish the size of our celebrations. After all, the real essence of the day is to give us an opportunity to pause, consider our countless blessings, and then offer to God our gratitude for each one.
This thought comes from Abraham Lincoln, on April 30, 1963, after the Senate asked him to "set apart a day for national prayer and humiliation." Much of what he said then (in the midst of a civil war) could have been written yesterday. I have always found it a good reminder for myself. I trust you might as well. Enjoy.
Whereas the Senate of the United States, devoutly recognizing the supreme authority and just government of Almighty God in all the affairs of men and of nations, has by a resolution requested the President to designate and set apart a day for national prayer and humiliation; and whereas it is the duty of nations as well as of men to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins and transgressions in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon, and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord; And, insomuch as we know that by His divine law nations, like individuals, are subjected to punishments and chastisements in this world, may we not justly fear that the awful calamity of civil war which now desolates the land may be but a punishment inflicted upon us for our presumptuous sins, to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole people?...
We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven; we have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity; we have grown in numbers, wealth, and power as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us. It behooves us, then, to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.
…All this being done in sincerity and truth, let us then rest humbly in the hope authorized by the divine teachings that the united cry of the nation will be heard on high and answered with blessings no less than the pardon of our national sins and the restoration of our now divided and suffering country to its former happy condition of unity and peace. In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.
Done at the city of Washington, this 30th day of March, A. D. 1863.ABRAHAM LINCOLN
For countless blessings, may you lavish thanks upon the Lord, "the Giver of all good gifts," Pastor Jeff
For those who want to read the entire text of the proclamation, click on the following link: