Thanksgiving

From the Archives: Now Thank We All Our God

The First Thanksgiving, 1621 (Jean Leon Gerome Ferris: 1863–1930)

Originally posted November, 2006.

To All Ye Pilgrims: Inasmuch as the great Father has given us this year an abundant harvest of Indian corn, wheat, beans, squashes, and garden vegetables, and has made the forests to abound with game and the sea with fish and clams, and inasmuch as He has protected us from the ravages of the savages, has spared us from pestilence and disease, has granted us freedom to worship God according to the dictates of our own conscience; now, I, your magistrate, do proclaim that all ye Pilgrims, with your wives and little ones, do gather at ye meeting house, on ye hill, between the hours of 9 and 12 in the day time, on Thursday, November ye 29th of the year of our Lord one thousand six hundred and twenty-three, and third year since ye Pilgrims landed on ye Pilgrim Rock, there to listen to ye pastor, and render thanksgiving to ye Almighty God for all His blessings.

It’s been 383 years since Governor William Bradford called the Pilgrims to the first Thanksgiving celebration in the New World. 156 years later, after a long, hard war for independence, our first President, George Washington, called the United States of America to a day of thanksgiving:

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Always for All Things

By Rev. C. H. Spurgeon

Sermon No. 1094, delivered on Lord’s-Day morning, February 2, 1873, at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

“Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Ephesians 5:20.

The position of our text in the Epistle is worthy of observation. It follows the precept with regard to sacred song in which Believers are bid to speak to themselves and one another in Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in their hearts to the Lord. If they cannot be always singing they are always to maintain the spirit of song. If they must, of necessity, desist at intervals from outward expressions of praise, they ought never to refrain from inwardly giving thanks. The Apostle, having touched upon the act of singing in public worship, here points out the essential part of it which lies not in classic music and thrilling harmonies, but in the melody of the heart. Thanksgiving is the soul of all acceptable singing.

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Special Thanksgiving to the Father

Preached January 15th, 1860 by C. H. Spurgeon (1834-1892) 

Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son. (KJV, Colossians 1:12-13)

This passage is a mine of riches. I can anticipate the difficulty in preaching and the regret in concluding we shall experience this evening because we are not able to dig out all the gold which lies in this precious vein. We lack the power to grasp and the time to expatiate upon that volume of truths which is here condensed into a few short sentences.

We are exhorted to “give thanks unto the Father.” This counsel is at once needful and salutary. I think, my brethren, we scarcely need to be told to give thanks unto the Son. The remembrance of that bleeding body hanging upon the cross is ever present to our faith. The nails and the spear, his griefs, the anguish of his soul, and his sweat of agony, make such tender touching appeals to our gratitude—these will prevent us always from ceasing our songs, and sometimes fire our hearts with rekindling rapture in praise of the man Christ Jesus. Yes we will bless thee, dearest Lord; our souls are all on fire. As we survey the, wondrous cross, we cannot but shout—

O for this love let rocks and hills
Their lasting silence break,
And all harmonious human tongues
The Savior’s praises speak.

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A Month of Giving Thanks

The month of Thanksgiving is upon us! Let us take some time today to reflect upon its meaning, beginning with this great passage of Scripture from Psalm 116 (NKJV):

For You have delivered my soul from death,
My eyes from tears,
And my feet from falling.
I will walk before the Lord
In the land of the living.
I believed, therefore I spoke,
“I am greatly afflicted.”
I said in my haste,
“All men are liars.”
What shall I render to the Lord
For all His benefits toward me?
I will take up the cup of salvation,
And call upon the name of the Lord.
I will pay my vows to the Lord
Now in the presence of all His people (NKJV, Ps. 116:8-14).

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Prayer Perfumed with Praise

A sermon (No. 1469) delivered on Lord’s-Day morning, April 20th, 1879, by C. H. Spurgeon
At the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington

“In every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.”—Philippians 4:6.

ACCORDING TO THE TEXT, we are both by prayer and supplication to make known our requests unto God. If any distinction be intended here, I suppose that by prayer is meant the general act of devotion and the mention of our usual needs; and by supplication I think would be intended our distinct entreaties and special petitions. We are to offer the general prayer common to all the saints, and we are to add thereto the special and definite petitions which are peculiar to ourselves. We are to worship in prayer, for God is to be adored by all his saints, and then we are to beseech his favours for ourselves, according to the words of the text, letting our requests be made known unto God. Do not forget this second form of worship. There is a good deal of generalizing in prayer, and God forbid that we should say a word against it, so far as it is sincere worship, but we want to have more of specific, definite pleading with God, asking him for such-and-such things, with a clear knowledge of what we ask.

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Giving Thanks at Thanksgiving . . . but Not to God

(From The Center for Vision & Values, Grove City College. Used by permission.)

By Dr. Paul Kengor

In 1789, America’s first president proclaimed a “day of public thanksgiving and prayer.” George Washington implored the heavens to “pardon our national and other transgressions” and urged the citizenry to practice “true religion and virtue.”

In 1863, Abraham Lincoln urged his countrymen to set aside the last Thursday of November “as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.”

Subsequent presidents continued this civic-religious tradition. “More than three centuries ago, the Pilgrims, after a year of hardship and peril, humbly and reverently set aside a special day upon which to give thanks to God,” said John F. Kennedy in his first Thanksgiving proclamation. “They paused in their labors to give thanks for the blessings that had been bestowed upon them by Divine Providence.” Quoting the Bible, President Kennedy affirmed: “It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord.”

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