Living With An Attitude of Thanksgiving (11-26-17)

In view of the “Thanksgiving Holidays” we traditionally gather with our families and relatives (perhaps from several generations) to reacquaint, meet new additions, and express our appreciation for them with thanksgiving because of the physical connection, common bond, and origins that we came from. This gathering of family members during this time of year is centered around the importance and appreciation of family and a traditional American meal. Today, Thanksgiving Day is celebrated and recognized as a national holiday that was established by Congress in 1789, after Congress had requested a proclamation by George Washington. It has been celebrated as a federal holiday every year since 1863. During the American Civil War President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national day of “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens,” that is to be celebrated on the last Thursday in November. More specifically here in America, this celebrated holiday of Thanksgiving originated from the Pilgrims at Plymouth in 1621. “The event that Americans commonly call the “First Thanksgiving” was celebrated by the Pilgrims after their first harvest in the New World in October 1621.  This feast lasted three days, and as accounted by attendee Edward Winslow, it was attended by 90 Native Americans and 53 Pilgrims. The New England colonists were accustomed to regularly celebrating “thanksgivings” days of prayer thanking God for blessings such as military victory or the end of a drought..” (Wikipedia) Being thankful for our life, health, families, and for being able to sustain life is something we should be thankful for daily and not just once a year. As Christians, our thanksgiving and praise should be directed upward to our Heavenly Father continually, who gave us life and made these blessings available for us to enjoy. Romans 12:1 states, “I beseech you therefore brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.” Our whole demeanor, or attitude, every second of our existence, should be filled with thanksgiving and appreciation to our Father for creating us, creating a plan of reconciliation through His gospel, the shedding of His blood, and preparing a heavenly home for our souls. Col 1:12-14 echoes this point for it says, “giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins..” We should be very thankful that if we remain faithful to God until death, or until He returns, that this old physical body (terrestrial) will be transformed or changed in a spiritual (celestial) body and we will no longer have to endure and suffer pain and sickness. What a blessing it is to know that our Lord is worthy of keeping His promises, and I am sure we’re all looking forward to the next phase for the redeemed and the promise of a heavenly home. John 14:2-3, says, “In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so I would have told you..  I go to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.”  Truly, we have many blessings to be thankful for and they are innumerable. Something I highly recommend that we all do is when things become difficult, and we seem to be struggling trying to get through the many challenges that we must face in this life, is to start naming as many blessings as you can think of (i.e., the air we breathe, gravity, our jobs, etc…) and before you know it we come to realize that the struggles we face are very small compared to the blessings that God has already given to us, and the additional blessings that we are yet to receive from our loving and graceful God. For reinforcement from God’s Holy Writ, Romans 8:18, reminds us, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” Thanksgiving or thankfulness is praise and appreciation that we should express and show towards God at all times, and this can be easily found in a strong faith coupled with a high level of obedience. Each time we approach our Heavenly Father in prayer, it should be done with humbleness, reverence, and thanksgiving. Psalms 100:3-5 brings this point out, “Know that the Lord, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves, We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.  Enter in His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise.  Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.  For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, And His truth endures to all generations.” During the traditional “Thanksgiving Holiday,” we are drawn to our families once a year because of the bloodline, lineage, and the common bond we share. This is a good thing because staying close and in connection with our physical families is very important in helping us understand where we came from and where we are going. Furthermore, as Christians, there is another connection we should have when we are talking about being thankful, and that is our “spiritual family.” Hopefully, in our congregation at Southeast there is an attraction (not talking about a physical one but a spiritual connection and closeness) that is prevalent between our brothers and sisters in Christ and the common bond that we share as Christians. We should be thankful and overjoyed that we have brothers and sisters who are serving alongside of us and are in the “same boat” striving to be faithful until death and to receive that eternal reward. We need to be encouraging and assisting one another to be successful in this Christian race that we are in. Do you know who is in the fight for eternal life along with you? The eldership of this congregation would like to encourage and challenge you to step out of your comfort zone and meet, fellowship, and get to know other brethren in this congregation because fellowship and encouragement is a two-way street.  In like manner, as you are drawn to your physical family, you should even more so be drawn to your spiritual family who are all striving for the same goal. I leave you with this passage of emphasis and exhortation: Romans 12:9-16, “Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord, rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion

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