Thanksgiving - it's the first of 3 holidays coming up…
Sheesh.. are holidays really necessary?, some of us may think. Well.. we need to be aware of the fact that holidays can have a different meaning and purpose in our lives than those perhaps that we have learned over the years or what the world continues to teach us.
The word holiday comes from the Greek word “kadosh” which means to set apart from sin; to devote to God – ‘holy day’ – ha! I think our holidays are very far removed from being holy these days… (my story.. memories of the day before Thanksgiving – did you know that the night before Thanksgiving is the highest drinking day of the year – what? That's right; over and above New Years Eve)
The Bible is full of examples of holidays.. especially in the old testament.. many were days of feasts, celebration, work was prohibited, people gathered for worship
Other holidays were more solemn.. they were opportunities for national repentance & cleansing, self-examination, and self denial like the ‘Day of Atonement’
What this means to us is that there truly is an appropriate time for both… you can make them what you need them to be as God guides you..
Perhaps this Thanksgiving you need separation and consecration to God during this time.. Or.. maybe you need to celebrate – rejoice – bask in the joy of gratitude…
No matter where you are or what you need, there are reasons for you to participate in some way in the Holidays…..’Holy Days’.. you/ we may just need to re-define them….. so.. let’s focus on that…
Re-defining Participation in the Holidays - "Holy Days"
1) Allow them to be personal – what you need and what God has designed for you – celebration or…. separation & consecration – we can actually take this time as a time to rest despite the presumed busyness – it will take discipline and some scheduling but we can do it!
2) Allow yourself to go through them right where you are --- but keep pressing toward truth, change, new experiences. What does this mean? Perhaps things are strained in your family right now and you are not in a good place emotionally.. give yourself permission to just ‘be’ and know your limitations. Don’t do things out of obligation.. only do those things out of ‘obedience’.. What is God asking of you – not, what are others expecting out of you/ guilting you to do? Perhaps you are single and you don’ t have family in the area – maybe God wants you to reach out to others and make a change this year – you provide something for those in the same situation (I know someone who is doing this for Thanksgiving - what a blessing) Again, remember to chose 'Obedience' not 'Obligation'
3) Allow this time to be a cultivation of the attitude of gratitude… (our family – we have a bean tradition at Thanksgiving that I picked up from Focus on the Family many years ago – sharing at the table what we are thankful for as the basket goes around and we put our bean in the basket. These have been very precious times in our family) --- Set aside time to remind yourself of the goodness of God.. Through others, through remembering answered prayer, through His word.. Let’s look at:
Psalm 103 Of David.
1 Praise the LORD, O my soul;2 Praise the LORD, O my soul,
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
and forget not all his benefits-
3 who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
4 who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
5 who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.
6 The LORD works righteousness
and justice for all the oppressed.
7 He made known his ways to Moses,
his deeds to the people of Israel:
8 The LORD is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger, abounding in love.
9 He will not always accuse,
nor will he harbor his anger forever;
10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
13 As a father has compassion on his children,
so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him;
14 for he knows how we are formed,
he remembers that we are but dust.
4 Reasons to give Thanks
not only does is affect our mood and attitude but…
1) We have the opportunity to experience peace
Philippians 4:6-7 (New King James Version) 6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
2) It gives us perspective on how Big God Is!
Psalm 69:30 (Amplified Bible)I will praise the name of God with a song and will magnify Him with thanksgiving,
Magnify the Lord - I always thought of this word as the same as praise because it is typically in context with praise and worship in the Word. However, consider this: when we magnify the Lord - we make Him bigger! and bigger! As God is magnified, made bigger in our lives, our problems, challenges, difficulties become smaller.
3) It gives God glory!
2 Corinthians 4:15 (New King James Version)15 For all things are for your sakes, that grace, having spread through the many, may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God.
4) Because Jesus Did!
1Cor 11:23-24 For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, "This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me."
Many of us have lost loved ones – probably all of us – and for some of us – it’s been recent – maybe this year, last year, a few years ago.. and every holiday we remember.. we go over memories of holidays with those who are no longer with us.. Maybe you smell something or see something that will all of a sudden remind you of them.. and then your heart is flooded with emotion.. your mind is filled with all the memories.
Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, challenged us… He challenged us to remember at the Lord’s supper/ His final Passover meal..… Even though we never touched him.. walked this earth with Him.. He wants us to remember just like we are taken back in time when we smell, see, taste something that reminds us of those we love who have gone before us.
What do we remember? Do you remember the answered prayers this month, this week? Remember His provision… remember His protection? Do you remember the first time you experienced His forgiveness? Remember the first time you felt His presence/ His love? We can all be thankful no matter what our circumstances may be today.. Let’s give thanks today as we spend time together with our friends and loved ones. Let's redefine our 'holy days' this year and make them better than they ever have been before!