By presidential proclamation, the fourth Thursday in November is set aside as a day of Thanksgiving in the United States. Canada’s Thanksgiving Day is observed on the second Monday in October. Britain’s churches celebrate a “Harvest Festival” during September or early October, with gifts for those in need. In Australia and New Zealand, a date is selected, usually by the minister of the church, when Christians acknowledge with gifts their thanksgiving to God.
This year as we observe our season of thanksgiving, let us be grateful not only in word but also in deed. Let our gratitude find expression in a resolve to live a life more unselfish and more consecrated to Jesus Christ.
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When we sit around our tables laden with sumptuous delicacies, let us not forget that many around the world will go to bed hungry. As we enjoy the comforts of our cozy homes, let us not forget that great numbers have no homes to go to. When we step into our cars, let us not forget that many people in the world cannot afford even a bicycle.
As we go to our churches to thank God for material and spiritual blessings, let us remember that millions have never heard the Gospel story of salvation. Let us remember the servants of God in many parts of the world who deprive themselves in order to take the Gospel to the millions who have not yet been reached with the message of Christ.
In the Lord’s Prayer as recorded in the sixth chapter of Matthew, we read, “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11). Scripture teaches that the good things of this life are the gifts of God, and that He is the giver of all our blessings. James declares that “every good gift … is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights” (James 1:17). The knowledge that builds our great scientific instruments is a gift from Heaven.
Whatever material things we enjoy were given to us by God for spiritual ends. Some people have asked, “Why should those who have plenty pray, ‘Give us our daily bread’?” The Bible teaches that even those favored with plenty should pray this way in order to have a blessing upon their provisions and to teach them their continued dependence upon God.
Christ said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). That is a word of blessing. Though the bread is in our hand, the blessing is in God’s hand. If God would withhold His blessing, nothing we have would do us any good. Our food would not nourish us and our clothes would not warm us.
One of the frightening passages in the Bible is found in Psalm 106:15. It reads, “He gave them their request, but sent leanness into their soul.” Many people have riches today, but their souls are lean, their hearts are cold toward God, their consciences are dulled and their minds are blinded. They know spiritual poverty here, and the moment they die, they will know material poverty as well.
The very prosperity that we know should lead us to repentance. Our prosperity should drive us to our churches to give humble thanks to God. American and Commonwealth citizens are considered rich in comparison to the rest of the world. If you read a passage in the Bible that refers to a rich man, that probably means you. Jesus said, “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God” (Luke 18:24). Because of our riches, the snares, temptations, trials and difficulties on the road to Paradise are experienced by almost all of us.
Christ taught also that to whom much is given, of them much shall be required. Someday God will ask for an accounting of our stewardship. A great percentage of the wealth of the nations of the world is being expended on alcohol, gambling, entertainment, cosmetics and overeating. We are enjoying the bounty that God has bestowed upon us, but often we are biting the hand that feeds us.
The Bible teaches that God delights in giving, and that He gives even to His enemies. Men and women spread nets and snares for their enemies, but God spreads a table. The dew forms on the thistle as well as on the rose. The rain of God’s mercy falls upon even the worst of people. God puts bread in the mouths that are opened against Him. God feeds millions, and they fight against Him. He gives them bread, and they give Him rebellion. Not only do the ungrateful millions forget his mercies, but they abuse Him. The Lord said to Jeremiah, “When I had fed them to the full, then they committed adultery” (Jeremiah 5:7). They were striking the hands that had relieved them.
God gives people wisdom, and they serve the devil with it. He gives them strength, and they waste it in fornication. He gives them food to eat, and they lift up their heel against Him. They are like Absalom, who, as soon as his father David had kissed him, plotted treason against him.
However, the Bible warns that a day is coming when those who sin against their Giver and abuse God’s royal favors, will face a terrifying judgment. They will scream for mercy and call for the rocks to fall on them and hide them, but they will not escape the wrath of God. All of God’s giving ought to drive us to thanksgiving. He is the founder and giver of all our blessings and is entitled to all our acknowledgments. The Bible says that all the rivers come from the sea, and thither they return again. Likewise, all our gifts come from God, and to Him must all our praises return.
We are told in Psalm 119:165 that peace is also a gift of God. He has a formula for peace. His formula is in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ, whom He has designated as Prince of Peace. The nations of this world have rejected the peace that God offers. They plan and build for war. Yet there are millions of people around the world who do have peace at this moment, because they have found the secret of peace. They have peace in their hearts, as the Bible teaches: “Having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1).
The real war in which men and women are engaged is a war of rebellion against God. This rebellion has brought about destruction, suffering, misery, frustration and a thousand and one ills to the population of the world. God longs to see this rebellion cease. He has sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to the cross as a demonstration of His love and mercy. He asks us to come to that cross in repentance of our sins and submission of our will to Him. He promises a peace treaty for all who will come by faith.
Several years ago, I received a letter from a man who said that he had been on the verge of alcoholism. His home had broken up, and twice he had been on the brink of committing suicide but had not gone through with it. With this deep need in his soul, he came to one of our Crusade meetings. As he sat among the thousands of people, he felt lonely and miserable. He hated himself and despised God. He made fun of Cliff Barrows as he led the singing. When the offering was taken, he thought, “What a racket!” When I stood to preach, he sneered.
This man was a University of California graduate who had taken several speech courses. He said that during the first five minutes I broke every rule of speech he had ever learned. Yet even as I spoke, another voice began speaking to his soul. That night I preached on the text, “What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” (Mark 8:36). At the invitation, this man—who had cursed God and made fun of his wife’s churchgoing—felt himself pulled out of his seat by an irresistible power. Tearfully, he made his way to the front of the auditorium to stand with the others, indicating a need of repentance and asking to receive Christ as Savior.
In his letter, he wrote: “That night I made my peace with God. I never dreamed what a transformation would take place in my life. I lost all taste for alcohol and have not uttered a swear word since that night. My business is prospering. I am back with my family, and we are enjoying daily Bible readings and prayers. I have joined the church and was recently asked to teach a Sunday School class. I wish to thank you, but most of all I want to give thanks to Him who died on the cross to make it all possible.”
Thanksgiving? Yes. Let us get on our knees humbly and thank God for the blessings He has given us, both material and spiritual. They have come from His hand. Let us not neglect to thank Him. ©1972, 1994, 2002 BGEA
Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, New King James Version.
COME TO CHRIST TODAY
Jesus taught that you must be born again. That can happen today if you will repent of your sin and by faith receive Christ as your Lord and Savior. If you’ve never done that, do so today—right here and now. If you will do that, God promises to give you a new beginning and a new life that is both abundant and eternal. Right now, wherever you are, you can begin a relationship with God. It’s the most important thing you’ll ever do.
START BY SIMPLY TALKING TO GOD.
You can pray a prayer like this:
“Dear God, I know that I am a sinner. I’m sorry for my sin. I want to turn from my sin. Please forgive me. I believe Jesus Christ is Your Son; I believe He died on the cross for my sin and You raised Him to life. I want Him to come into my heart and take control of my life. I want to trust Jesus as my Savior and follow Him as my Lord from this day forward. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.”
DO IT RIGHT NOW.
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Photo: Russ Busby/©1972 BGEA
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