"O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: for his mercy endureth forever. O give thanks unto the God of gods: for his mercy endureth forever. O give thanks to the Lord of lords: for his mercy endureth forever. To him who alone doeth great wonders: for his mercy endureth forever."
—Psalms 136: 1-4
People don’t typically think of Thanksgiving as a religious holiday but when you consider the name "Thanksgiving" you have to ask, who are you giving thanks to? Not only that but where does the term holiday come from? Well, it comes from the term "holy-day."
Of all the things you are thankful for, what would be at the top of your list? Would material things be on the top? Certainly, we are thankful for the necessities of life. But it is the immaterial that matters most. Just as the spirit gives life to the body (and not the other way around), so do the immaterial things supersede the material.
We are going to focus on four general topics those things we are thankful for: faith, family, fellowship and flag.
Faith — Hebrews 11:1 says that "Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." Faith is not something that can be tested in a laboratory; it isn’t something that you can hold in your hand. But when you have it, you know it, and one of the best ways to know it is to put your faith into action.
I have news for the people who would say, "I have faith because I believe in God." That’s not the issue. Adam and Eve believed in God, they spoke with God, they knew full well that he existed. But when God gave them his word (not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil), did they believe God’s word? Did they exercise faith? They didn’t believe what he said — they lacked faith because their actions didn’t conform to God’s word.
As Christians, our actions need to be in line with our profession. James 2:14-16: "What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,’ but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?"
"Faith is the substance of things hoped for the evidence of things not seen," Hebrews 11:1. We are thankful for the living faith that God has given to his people and although it cannot be held, weighed or measured, the evidence of faith can be seen when we put it into action. And there is no better time of year to do that then the holiday season.
So we are thankful for the Christians’ faith, and we are also thankful for our family. Thanksgiving is the busiest time of year for traveling. Why is that? Because it is the time when many people travel to visit family. What is more important than your family? God is No. 1, but when it comes to earthly things, family should be number No. 1.
This leads us to the next thing that we are thankful for — fellowship. We are thankful for the fellowship we enjoy, not only here at Revelation Life Center Church but also the fellowship we have with all believers wherever they may be.
Now in the book of Genesis, it speaks about the six days of creation. "On the first day God said ‘Let there be light’ and there was light, and God saw the light, that it was good…"
And this goes on, everything that God created he saw that it was good. And when his creation was finished, we read in Genesis 1:31: "Then God saw everything that he had made, (man included) and indeed it was very good."
The first time in the Bible that we see God saying that something wasn’t good is when he said, "It is not good that man should be alone." Now we know in that verse God was talking about the relationship of marriage, but it’s also true that God didn’t create man to be all by himself. When Jesus spoke of building the church he used the word assembly — the fact of the matter is in order for man to be truly happy, in order to be truly blessed, we need one another.
One of the ways Jesus described hell is the use of the phrase "outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." It could very well be that the torment of hell is that of extreme loneliness, away from others, separated from God in total darkness for all eternity. No, it is not good that man should be alone.
We should be thankful for all our family, church family, friends, loved ones we ought to be very thankful and it certainly doesn’t hurt to let people know how much you appreciate them.
So we need to be thankful, thankful to God for our faith, our family, our fellowship and finally our flag. Of course, by this I mean we are thankful for the land that we live in. What do you see when you look at the American flag? Freedom, liberty, honor, tradition, one Nation under God. Certainly, we remember those who fought and died to give us those things and we thank God for their service and sacrifice.
Romans 13: 1-2: "Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves."
I think one of the major problems we have in this country is that people don’t respect the rule of law. God says let every soul be subject. Now God doesn’t say we have to agree with everything. He doesn’t even say that those in power are always right, but he does say we all must be subject.
What can we do about it? As individuals, probably not very much. But as a people we ought to be united against violence, destruction and lawlessness. God has provided for our every need in that we are a wealthy nation. Just think about all the charities, all the soup kitchens, all the groups like the Outreach Ministry. If somebody is in need there is no shortage of options and there is no shortage of people who are willing to help. There are many reasons to be optimistic. I think many people, if not most people, are willing to help their fellow brothers if they are in need.
Heath is the pastor of Revelation Life Center and a member of the United Ministerial Alliance.