Praising God in Thanksgiving

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Praising God in Thanksgiving

Article by Dennis Call

Thanksgiving in the United States dates back to the Colonial period of American history and the 1621 celebration at Plymouth Plantation. It was here that settlers hosted a three-day celebration of a successful growing season. It became an official holiday in 1863, at the height of the Civil War, when Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation imploring all Americans to ask God to “commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife” and to “heal the wounds of the nation.”
The Theology of Thankfulness

Thanksgiving though is a deeply theological act. Thankfulness is a key component of our worldview, revealing as Dr. Al Mohler has said, “what we truly believe about God, ourselves, and the world we experience.” The author of I Chronicles implores us to “give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; for His lovingkindness is everlasting.” The unalienable rights the American founders identified in the Declaration of Independence barely scratch the surface of what we ought to be thankful for each and every day, as well as this holiday season. An attitude of gratefulness should be especially poignant as we celebrate the greatest gift ever offered, forgiveness of sin through the death of the Son of the Living God.

We all have loved ones, experiences, and things we enjoy most days. But those things apart from God are robbed of their true meaning and that is drive us to be grateful for our very existence and ability to enjoy anything. In writing about the common grace of “all of the goods that we experience, all the good experiences, the very existence of a breathable atmosphere, and drinkable water, the very fact that we are given life and vitality, all of this has to be explained by something that is beyond proximate explanation, beyond proximate agency, beyond proximate thankfulness,” Dr. Mohler points us to the living God to whom we are ultimately thankful.
What are You Thankful For?

There is much for us to be thankful for. As the Psalmist wrote, “give thanks to the Lord, for He is good (Psalm 107:1); give thanks to the God of heaven, for His steadfast love endures forever (136:26); All the kings of the earth shall give you thanks O Lord, for they have heard the words of your mouth (138:4); surely the righteous shall give thanks to your name, the upright shall dwell in your presence (140:13).”

For those of us in Christ, we are commanded to “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you (I Thess 5:18),” giving our thanks “to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ (I Cor 15:57).” In contrast, the apostle Paul describes the ungrateful in Romans 1:21, “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to Him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.”

Recognizing God as the giver of all grace, whether common grace as Paul shared with the Athenians, “For in Him we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28),” or the grace we receive through faith in Christ for salvation. When we see God’s goodness extended toward us, we should be grateful, and gratefulness drives us to give thanks to Him, the “author and perfecter of our faith.”

This holiday season what are you thankful for? We would love to hear what you’re thankful for, please leave your message of thanksgiving and praise in the comments below.

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Dennis Call

Dennis Call joined the Army as an infantry officer shortly after the 9/11 attacks on our country, serving fourteen years on active duty.  During his Army service, Dennis deployed for thirty-three months to Iraq and Afghanistan in support of the Global War on Terror.  Prior to joining the Army Dennis served as the Director of College Ministries at First Baptist Church in Texico, N.M. where he mentored students at Eastern New Mexico University in Portales, N.M.  Dennis and his amazing wife Katie live in Colorado Springs, CO with their five children (four boys and one super sweet daughter).    

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