Thanksgiving and God’s Presence
The origin of Thanksgiving can be traced back to December of 1621. “The Pilgrims left Plymouth, England on September 6, 1620. Their destination? The New World.” (www.Christiananswers.com) A Pilgrim is a traveler who travels for religious reasons. The Pilgrims was a Christian group that came to America from England looking for religious freedom. On December 13 of 1621 the grateful Pilgrims established a three-day feast celebration specifically to thank God. (www.Christiananswers.com) Also reports that even as their is historical evidence of special Thanksgiving Services, without a doubt that the Pilgrims gave us the first Thanksgiving Feast.
In 1789, President George Washington issue America’s first Day of Thanksgiving to God under its new constitution.” In 1942 Congress declared the fourth Thursday of November as the official Thanksgiving Day.
Today we will see plenty of food in many American tables around our nation. Many started their cooking yesterday and with very little sleep will camp-out tonight in front of their favorite store waiting for the Black Friday Deals… Oh, so exciting, right? For many, the success of the celebration is indeed measured by the amount of food available; as a bonus, the start of Christmas is announced by the sounds of Black Friday. But is that what Thanksgiving should be all about? We have taken this amazing day of reflection in our history and we have turn it into a day of gluttony where the least we do is indeed thank God for His many blessings over our lives.
As you can see, historically speaking, Thanksgiving is a deeply rooted Christian celebration. Thanksgiving is indeed more than just a once a year celebration. The seriousness of the practice of thanksgiving is that, without a thankful heart, we will never be able to experience God’s manifested presence. The Bible tells us in Psalms 100:4
“Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.” NKJV
Let us explore together some of the benefits of God’s Presence:
1. In the presence of God we find rest: (Exodus 33:14 NKJV) “And He said, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”
The word Presence here is: “An adverb meaning before, in front of. It is used to indicate physical position, in front of something.”
Many people, will enjoyed a four-day weekend off from work, however they will go back to work Monday extremely tired. You know why? Because they are totally missing what Thanksgiving is all about; they are missing His presence. We will enjoy tables filled with all kinds of colors and all kind of delicious food. However, even as our bellies will be full, our hearts will be empty, as many are not sensing God’s amazing presence.
In Psalms 16:11 we find three very powerful benefits of God’s presence:
“You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” NKJV
2. In the presence of God we find wisdom:
The wisdom of God is God showing us the path of life; the only life that count; a life according to God’s way of doing things. In Him we find wisdom to move, wisdom to stay and wisdom to wait.
3. In the presence of God we find joy:
Many will engaged not only in overeating, but also in over-drinking. They engage in these activities looking for happiness. Some will find a temporary happiness enticed by the alcohol; but only in God’s presence we are able to find joy. Without God there is no true joy!
4. In the presence of God we find pleasure:
*The word Presence here means: “A masculine plural noun meaning a face.”
The word pleasure here means: “Pleasant, delightful. It is used of persons who are pleasant and a joy to be around. They display attitudes that please others, such as David and Jonathan (2 Sam. 1:23). It refers to those who are delightful to enjoy”
5. In the presence of God we find a hiding place; a place where whatever people have to say about us, good or bad, will not affect us:
“You shall hide them in the secret place of Your presence From the plots of man; You shall keep them secretly in a pavilion From the strife of tongues.” (Psalms 31:20 NKJV) (Same word for presence previous discussed)
Many people are greatly affected by what others say; if people say good things they become prideful and arrogant; if people say bad things they become angry and depress. That happens when we live lives outside of God’s manifested presence. In God’s presence we find al the validation we need and more; in God’s manifested presence the words of men loose power one way or another.
6. In the presence of God we find the time to be refreshed:
(Acts 3:19 NKJV) “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord…”
The word Presence here means: “The part toward, at, or around the eye. Hence, the face, countenance, presence, person.” Other words for refreshing are: “Uplifting, inspirational, energizing, and revitalizing.” These are other benefits of God’s presence; these are some of the things we missed, even in Thanksgiving as we insist in making it all about food.
When we find ourselves constantly tired, we are lacking God’s manifested presence in our lives. When we find ourselves loosing our way, we are lacking God’s manifested presence in our lives. When we find ourselves depressed, we are lacking God’s manifested presence in our lives. When we become a very difficult person to be around, we are lacking God’s manifested presence in our lives. When we find ourselves affected by whatever anybody has to say about us, good or bad, we are lacking God’s manifested presence in our lives. And, when we find ourselves feeling down, we are lacking God’s manifested presence. It is my prayer that we make thanksgiving a life style and not just a once a year feast. It is my prayer that today God open our hearts for us to realize how bless we are and the unending reasons we have to be grateful. Happy Thanksgiving Day!
 Baker, W., & Carpenter, E. E. (2003). The complete word study dictionary: Old Testament (554). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers.
 Baker, W., & Carpenter, E. E. (2003). The complete word study dictionary: Old Testament (906). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers.
 Baker, W., & Carpenter, E. E. (2003). The complete word study dictionary: Old Testament (739). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers.
 Zodhiates, S. (2000). The complete word study dictionary: New Testament (electronic ed.). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers.