On October 3, 1863, during the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed that a National Thanksgiving Day be held on the last Thursday of November. He called for this day because “we are prone to forget the source from which [our blessings] come.” He spoke of our need to be mindful of the “ever watchful providence of Almighty God.” In the midst of tremendous turmoil in the nation, he spoke of “the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.” He called for all citizens to observe this day “as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.” He continued. “And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged.” On November 20, 2022, let us heed this call and “abound in thanksgiving” (Colossians 2:7).
If you want to abound with thanksgiving; surrender your life to Jesus. Paul wrote, “Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord…” (Col 2:6). Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ (Messiah) and He is the Lord. You cannot accept Jesus as Savior without surrendering to Him as Lord. Remember our definition of a disciple from Matthew 4:19. Jesus said, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” A disciple is one who: 1) follows Jesus, 2) is being changed by Jesus, and 3) is committed to Jesus’ mission to seek and save the lost.
Walk in Christ
If you want to abound with thanksgiving, surrender your life to Jesus and “walk in Him” (Col 2:6). When the Bible speaks of the Christian’s walk, it is referring to a way of life and/or behavior. It refers to the lifestyle of a Christian who is living for Jesus. Paul wrote to the Ephesians, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we should walk in them” (Eph 2:10). What does it mean to walk “in Christ”? Paul uses two illustrations: agriculture and infrastructure.
Firmly Rooted in Christ (Source)
Paul’s first illustration is from agriculture. If you have ever grown plants, you know that they need good soil and plenty of room for the roots to spread. This illustration speaks of the organic growth that should occur in discipleship. “Having been firmly rooted” in Christ means that He is the soil into which your roots grow. The spiritual growth we need comes from being nourished through Jesus. He is the source of our faith and growth.
Being Built Up in Christ (Strength)
Paul’s second illustration is from construction. The first rule of building is to make sure you build on a strong foundation. Jesus spoke a parable about building your house on the rock. He said, “everyone who hears these words of Mine and does them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock” (Matt 7:24). The foundation is important as well as the process of building. This illustration speaks of the intentionality that should occur in discipleship. Being firmly rooted in Christ we need to be built up in Him. Disciples are made as members of local churches who pray, read the Bible, serve Christ together, and use their spiritual gifts for the glory of God and the good of others.
Established in Your Faith in Christ (Shield)
You are being instructed in Christ to be firmly rooted in Christ and be built up in Him. This results in you being established in your faith. As you navigate the trials of each day, your faith is confirmed and strengthened. Peter wrote, “the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:7).
Abounding with Thanksgiving
When you are walking with Christ, you can abound with thanksgiving. When Paul speaks of abounding, he is talking about having more than enough! Your cup overflows! You have so much thanksgiving that you have to share. God wants Christians to abound with thanksgiving so that we can share it with others. Is this true of you?
Abraham Lincoln was not the first President to make a Thanksgiving declaration. In 1789, President George Washington issued the following proclamation:
Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor and also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions–to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually–to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed–to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord–To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us–and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.https://www.mountvernon.org/education/primary-source-collections/primary-source-collections/article/thanksgiving-proclamation-of-1789/
Seek the Lord in prayer. Confess your sins and give Him praise for His mercy upon you and our nation. Pray for our nation. Pray that marriage is held in high esteem. Pray that all life is valued. Pray that true religion is encouraged. Pray that our government rewards righteousness (as defined by God) and punishes wickedness (as defined by God). Remember, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord” (Ps 33:12).