"In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God ..."
Copyright © 1999 by Diane S. Dew
The Historical Document Establishing Thanksgiving a National Holiday
State of New-Hampshire. In Committee of Safety, Exeter, November 1, 1782 : Ordered, that the following proclamation for a general thanksgiving on the twenty-eighth day of November instant, received from the honorable Continental Congress, be forthwith printed...
STATE OF NEW-HAMPSHIRE.
THAT the following Proclamation for a general THANKSGIVING on the twenty-eighth day of November [instant?], received from the honorable Continental Congress, be forthwith printed, and sent to the several worshipping Assemblies in this State, to whom it is recommended religiously to observe said day, and to abstain from all servile labour thereon.
M. WEARE, President.
Done in Congress, at Philadelphia, the eleventh day of October, in the year of our LORD one thousand seven hundred and eighty-two, and of our Sovereignty and Independence, the seventh.
JOHN HANSON, President.
Washington's 1789 Thanksgiving 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 Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me "to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:"
Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted' for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.
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 show kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, 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.
Given under my hand, at the city of New York, the 3d dy of October, A.D. 1789.
(signed) G. Washington
Abraham Lincoln's Thanksgiving Proclamation*
The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle, or the ship; the axe had enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. 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, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.
* from the collection of Lincoln's papers in the Library of America series, Vol II, pp. 520-521
"Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with
A. In the Old Testament, "sacrifices" of thanksgiving were offered.
Leviticus 7:12, 13, 15; 22:29
B. Some were even "appointed" to the office of giving thanks indicating its great importance.
1 Chronicles 16:4 (the Levites)
C. In the New Testament, "the fruit of our lips" is a type of offering or sacrifice to God.
Hebrews 13:15 "... let us offer the sacrifice of praise
D. God desires genuine gratefulness: from the heart.
Psalms 54:6 Willingly I will sacrifice to Thee;
I will give
II. God commands us to be thankful.
Psalms 50:14 Offer unto God
thanksgiving; and pay thy vows unto
A. Every gospel depicts Jesus, who is our example, giving God thanks.
Matthew 11:25, 26; 26:27, 28
B. Daniel was obedient to be thankful even when forbidden by the authorities.
Daniel 6:10 Now when Daniel knew that the document was
C. It is "good" for us.
Psalms 92:1 It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord ...
1. It is a mighty tool in ushering us into the Presence of God.
2 Chronicles 5:12, 13
2. It causes us to abound in the faith.
Colossians 2:7 Rooted and built up in him, and stablished
3. It yields the peace of God in our hearts and minds.
Philippians 4:6, 7
D. It honors and magnifies God.
E. It is God's will.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 In every thing give thanks: for this is
F. It is a good spiritual indicator of our spiritual condition.
1. The wicked are ungrateful:
"For ... they did not honor him as God,
2. But "the righteous shall give thanks unto thy name." (Psalms 140:1)
III. How should we give thanks?
A. Audibly: with our voice, not just in our thoughts.
Psalms 34:1 (cp. Psalms 71:8; 109:30) ...in my mouth...
1. In verbal testimony.
1 Chronicles 16:8 (cp. Psalms 105:1) Give thanks unto
2. In music.
1 Chronicles 16:7
a. With song.
2 Samuel 22:50 Therefore I will give thanks unto
b. With musical instruments.
Nehemiah 12:27 Now at the dedication of the wall of
3. With prayer.
Nehemiah 11:17 ...the leader in beginning the
4. With shouts of joy.
Psalms 100:1 (cp. Jeremiah 30:19)
Hebrews 12:28 ...let us show gratitude...
1. Among the nations (heathen).
Psalms 57:9 (cp. Psalms 18:49; 108:3) I will give thanks
2. In the company of God's people.
1 Chronicles 16:4, 7; 23:30
C. Privately, at home.
Daniel 2:23; 6:10
IV. When should we give thanks?
A. In every circumstance.
Ephesians 5:20 (cp. Ephesians 1:16; 1 Thessalonians 1:2)
B. While entering his presence.
Psalms 100:4 (cp. Psalms 95:2) Enter into his gates
C. Continually; habitually.
Ephesians 1:16; 5:20 "always"
1. Even in the middle of the night.
Psalms 119:62 At midnight I shall rise to give thanks to Thee ...
2. Three times a day.
Daniel 6:10 ... kneeling on his knees three times a day,
3. Every morning and every evening.
1 Chronicles 23:30 And they are to stand every morning
V. For what should we give thanks?
A. For victory.
Psalms 18:47-49 It is God that avengeth me ... He delivereth
1. Over sin.
2. Over death and the grave.
1 Corinthians 15:57
B. For his goodness and mercy (forgiveness).
1 Chronicles 16:34-35 O give thanks to the Lord, for He
C. For his protection.
2 Samuel 22:49 And that bringeth me forth from mine enemies:
D. For his holiness and faithfulness.
Psalms 30:4 (cp. Psa 97:12) ... give thanks at the
E. For the wonders of creation and life.
Psalms 139:14 I will give thanks to Thee, for I am fearfully
F. For his truth, his righteous ordinances and judgments.
Psalms 119:7, 62; 138:1, 2
G. For food, drink and other provisions.
Matthew 15:36 ...and taking the seven loaves, He gave thanks...
H. For healing.
Luke 17:12-18 and he fell on his face at his feet, giving thanks
I. For the evidence of God at work in the lives of God's people.
Psalms 109:30, 31
1. For their zeal.
2 Corinthians 8:16
2. For their love and growing faith.
2 Thessalonians 1:3 We ought always to give thanks to
3. For their generosity in donating toward the work of God.
1 Chronicles 29:6-14
4. For their acceptance of truth and obedience to the teaching.
1 Thessalonians 2:13 ...we also constantly thank God
5. For the proclamation of their faith into all the world.
Romans 1:8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ
J. For spiritual gifts (i.e., speaking in tongues) and ministry.
1 Corinthians 14:18 I thank God, I speak in tongues more
K. For salvation and conversion of the unsaved.
1 Corinthians 9:15
L. For wisdom and power.
Daniel 2:23 ...I give thanks and praise, for thou hast given
M. For answered prayer.
N. For everything.
2 Corinthians 9:11
O. For all men.
1 Timothy 2:1
P. For the preciousness of God's presence.
VI. The secret of maintaining a grateful heart is contentment.
A. Thank him daily.
Psalms 68:19 Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us
B. Thank him no matter what happens.
Philippians 4:11 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I
VII. This is what we will be doing "forever" in eternity (Psalms 30:12; 44:8; 45:17; 52:9; 79:13) even as the angels and 420 elders in heaven at the reign of God (Revelation 4:9; 7:11, 12; 11:16, 17).
© 1999 by Diane S. Dew
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