Thanks Be Unto God
by Tom Stewart
November 19, 1999
Recently, I was speaking to an acquaintance about the mercies of
God, that "it is of the LORD'S mercies
that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not"
(Lamentations 3:22). My acquaintance seemed oblivious to the Merciful God's lovingkindness
in delivering his life repeatedly from certain death. "Oh
that men would praise the LORD for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the
children of men!" (Psalm 107:8, 15, 21, 31). As we conversed,
he attempted to compliment my intellect by remarking that my work was unworthy of
me, as I am a mechanic. "And let ours
also learn to maintain good works for necessary uses, that they be not unfruitful" (Titus 3:14). To this, I replied that, to the contrary, I was treated better
than I deserved. "This is a faithful saying,
and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners;
of whom I am chief" (1Timothy 1:15).
Later in the day, I began to reflect upon the conversation, and especially, my acquaintance's seemingly limitless lack of grasp of the Mercy of God. "Know therefore that the LORD thy God, He is God, the Faithful God, which keepeth Covenant and mercy with them that love Him and keep His Commandments to a thousand generations" (Deuteronomy 7:9). It is not mere poetic speech to ascribe to God unlimited praise for being the Source of All Good, because the LORD Jesus Christ verified that very fact in the Gospel of Mark. "There is none good but One, that is, God" (Mark 10:18). That God is the Source of All Good is assumed entirely throughout the New Testament. "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from Above, and cometh down from the Father Of Lights, with Whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning" (James 1:17).
Also, it is not a figment of our imagination that a grateful, forgiven sinner, would look upon his former estate, and truthfully remark "that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief" (1Timothy 1:15), because the most odious crime committed against the LORD, is that which was committed by the truly penitent. "3 For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. 4 Against Thee, Thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Thy sight: that Thou mightest be justified when Thou speakest, and be clear when Thou judgest" (Psalm 51:3-4). Jacob proclaimed his sense of unworthiness of God's mercies and truth. "I am not worthy of the least of all the Mercies, and of all the Truth, which Thou hast shewed unto Thy servant" (Genesis 32:10). John the Baptist announced Christ's worthiness, by contrasting his own sense of unworthiness. "But, behold, there cometh One after me, Whose shoes of His feet I am not worthy to loose" (Acts 13:25). And so, the examples can be multiplied, where the Saints have acknowledged our complete sense of unworthiness of all the mercies and grace of God. "Thanks be unto God for His Unspeakable [Indescribable] Gift" (2Corinthians 9:15).
Neither my acquaintance nor we, can really feel grateful to God "for His Unspeakable Gift" of the LORD Jesus Christ, unless the LORD has humbled us to notice that we are "but dust and ashes" (Genesis 18:27), and that He is the "High and Lofty One That Inhabiteth Eternity" (Isaiah 57:15). When we rightly understand our unworthiness in light of God's Worthiness, then God can move mightily, as He did for the Godly Roman centurion. "6 Then Jesus went with them. And when He was now not far from the house, the centurion sent friends to Him, saying unto Him, LORD, trouble not Thyself: for I am not worthy that Thou shouldest enter under my roof: 7 Wherefore neither thought I myself worthy to come unto Thee: but say in a word, and my servant shall be healed... 10 And they that were sent, returning to the house, found the servant whole that had been sick" (Luke 7:6-7, 10).
True Thanksgiving gushes from the hearts of the Saints to the Worthy God for everything that we have so bountifully received. "I will call on the LORD, Who is Worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies" (2Samuel 22:4). As we "grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our LORD and Saviour Jesus Christ" (2Peter 3:18), we can better and better appreciate just how Worthy the LORD is. So much will we recognize our LORD's Worthiness, that the more we contemplate it, the more we break out in praise and thanksgiving. "Thou art Worthy, O LORD, to receive glory and honour and power: for Thou hast created all things, and for Thy pleasure they are and were created" (Revelation 4:11).
Thanksgiving Day is a national holiday, celebrated in the United States on the fourth Thursday of November, since 1863, for blessings received during the year. In Canada, it is celebrated on the second Monday in October. Traditionally, the practice of setting aside a day of Thanksgiving, can be traced back to the Pilgrims, the colonists of Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1621. But, the Seven Feasts of Israel (Leviticus 23) are the source for the later practice of thanksgiving feasts. [See our article, "The Appointed Times" ---New Window, for more background on these feasts.] "And ye shall proclaim on the selfsame day, that it may be an holy convocation unto you: ye shall do no servile work therein: it shall be a statute for ever in all your dwellings throughout your generations" (Leviticus 23:21).
May this Thanksgiving Season remind us that "in every thing [to] give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you" (1Thessalonians 5:18), for He alone is Worthy of praise!
Lincoln's Thanksgiving Proclamation
"It has seemed to me fit and proper that God should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one 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 as a day of Thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens."
--Abraham Lincoln - October 3, 1863
Lincoln's Thanksgiving Proclamation ---New Window
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