Happy Thanksgiving!

From the Desk of: Mat StaverThanksgiving


Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.
 
For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations. Psalm 100:4-5
Thanksgiving is not only a time to express gratefulness to God for His provision but also a time to teach children about America's true heritage.
 
Public acknowledgements of the providence of God have been part of the history and traditions of this nation--from the Pilgrims, to the Founding Era, to the Civil War, and today. In fact, George Washington's Thanksgiving Proclamation reveals important information about the meaning of the First Amendment.
 
On Friday, September 25, 1789, the Bill of Rights was ratified by the Senate. The First Amendment was approved by Congress and sent out to the states for final approval. However, after the Framers completed the Bill of Rights, Elias Boudinot, a member of the House of Representatives, said he could not think of letting the session pass without offering an opportunity to all U.S. citizens to return thanks to God for His many blessings. That same day, the U.S. House passed the following resolution:
 
"Resolved, that a joint committee of both Houses be directed to wait upon the President of the United States, to request that he would 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 signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a Constitution of Government for their safety and happiness."


On Saturday, October 3, 1789, President George Washington declared November 26, 1789, a national day of Thanksgiving to thank God for the Constitution and our new American government:
 
"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 signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness."
 
That same year, the Protestant Episcopal Church, of which President Washington was a member, announced that the first Thursday in November would become the regular day for giving thanks, "unless another day be appointed by the civil authorities." In fact, by 1815, the various state governments had issued at least 1,400 official prayer proclamations, almost half for times of thanksgiving and prayer and the other half for times of fasting and prayer.

But it wasn't until many years later, in 1863, that Thanksgiving became established in our national consciousness as an annual celebration. During the darkest nights of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln called on the nation to pause and give thanks:
 

"It has seemed to me fit and proper that [the gifts of God] should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged with one heart and one voice by the whole American people. I do, therefore, invite my fellow citizens . . . 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."
 
Following Lincoln's example, in the midst of today's challenging times we need to take time to thank God for all He has done — and join in Washington's call for a unified prayer for forgiveness!
 
It is important to teach our future leaders about America's true heritage and biblical foundation. We have so much to be thankful for in America, and the Founders wanted to make sure future generations never forgot that.

So, as your family gathers today, I encourage you to set aside time for truly giving thanks. Recount the history of Thanksgiving and invite each person at your table to share at least one thing they are thankful for. And let's carry this truly American and profoundly biblical holiday forward to a new generation!

May God bless you richly and abundantly this Thanksgiving!
 
Mat Staver