Standing anxiously next to my mom, my 4 year old little feet fidgeted inside my red sneakers as the nice wrinkled lady standing across from me offered a cookie from a plate she was holding. I jumped forward, grabbed one, and ran back to my mother’s side, hiding behind her long blue plaid skirt. My mother nudged me, “What do you say?” With a mouthful of cookie I mumbled, “Thank you,” barely casting a glance at my benefactor, seeking out for where the toys were hiding instead.
While this is considered cute and childish, isn’t this what we do on Thanksgiving Day?
We hover around the kitchen as great aromas waft in the air, trying to avoid the evil glances from the cooks as they stress to get all of the traditional favorites made to perfection at the exact same time. We barely avoid the slap on the hand as we try to sample a little morsel dangling near the edge of a platter. To kill the time, we flip through the parades on TV- with their floats, balloons, bands, dancers, singers, clowns, and elves dressed in red. We sort through the paper to find out when the first football game will come on and memorize the channel listing. We check which stores are going to be open early on Friday and what the specials are- while calculating if the savings are worth fighting the crowds. We quickly prepare the table with napkins, plates, beverages, and utensils - getting more anxious with each minute that passes, hoping that dinner does not interfere with the kickoff.
Finally, the meal is ready. We grab a plateful and run back to our place at the table. We mumble a quick, “Thank you,” while in just a few minutes, we wolf down the delicacies that took hours to prepare. Then we run to the TV, just in time for the first whistle, leaving the mess behind.
If this is all we have to be thankful for, it is no wonder our country is in distress.
Abraham Lincoln, in the midst of national unrest, proclaimed a national day of thanksgiving. After recollecting the great many blessings bestowed on our nation, he wrote this:
“No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and 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 next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.“ – Abraham Lincoln (Proclamation Establishing Thanksgiving Day, October 3, 1863).
Look at all the components Lincoln specified in his proclamation:
1. To set apart a day.
2. Humble ourselves before God and acknowledge Him.
3. Give Thanks to God.
4. Give Praise to God.
5. Seek forgiveness for personal/national perverseness and disobedience.
6. Think about the widows, orphans, mourners and those who are suffering.
7. Ask God to heal the wounds of our nation.
8. Ask God to restore our nation.
This is more than a mere “thank you” while we have our mouthful of goodies and our mind on other things.
It should be a day as spoken by God, “if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to prayer made in this place.” - 2 Chronicles 7:14-15
Will you share this with your family Thanksgiving Day?
Pastor Jay Merritt
There’s an American tradition that was introduced in the late 1800’s that has many striving for the wrong goal – retirement. While some may find it appealing to quit the world and sit on the front porch in a rocking chair, or play golf for 20 years, I do not find any references in the Bible to support such goals.
The Bible speaks about this attitude, “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!” - 2 Timothy 3: 1-5
The Bible does not speak about people of faith retiring from service, in fact it says the opposite in James 2:20 “But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?”
When Jesus was born, Mary and Joseph found a wonderful woman named Anna, still serving the Lord well into her 80’s, “She was of a great age, and had lived with a husband seven years from her virginity; and this woman was a widow of about eighty-four years, who did not depart from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day.” - Luke 2:36-37
Time is the most precious gift God has given us outside of salvation through Jesus Christ. If we are able to work all of our life to finally be able to spend each day free of the burden of a time clock, may I suggest that we all turn our efforts toward serving God and man with that free time as Anna did.
Consider several other “senior citizens” like Anna from Bible history:
Noah lived over half his life before he had kids. God called Noah to build the ark AFTER Noah’s kids were born. None of us would be here today if Noah had told God, “I’ve done my time, find someone else.” He was old, but he did not quit!
Moses was a great leader who did not get the call to rescue the slaves from Egypt until he was 80 years old. He worked another 40 years after parting the Red Sea, to lead God’s people to the shores of the Promised Land. When he died, “His eyes were not dim nor his natural vigor diminished.” - Deuteronomy 34:7
Caleb was 85 years old when he was among the few of the older generation to enter the Promised Land. He said of himself, “As yet I am as strong this day as on the day that Moses sent me; just as my strength was then, so now is my strength for war, both for going out and for coming in.” - Joshua 14:11. He not only reached his goal, but continued to fight for many years to defend what God had given them.
I am acquainted with an older gentleman who reminds me of Caleb. He is 84 years old, still has a business card and is ready to work in a moments notice. He volunteers at the local food pantry, is faithful to his church and he gives God all the glory for his long life. I find him to be very a great example of this teaching.
In churches across America I hear our great generation of seniors reciting from the same playbook, “I paid my dues. I’m not serving anymore.” After 40 years of Christian service, our seniors are quitting. I exhort you – DON’T QUIT SERVING GOD! The next generation needs your wisdom. Bite your tongue if the music, clothing and decoration is not your style, but speak loudly with your Godly and Biblical experience. Work alongside the pastor, not against him. After 40 years in Church you are old enough to feed rather than waiting to be fed.
Why did God put us through all the experiences and trials in our long lives? So “…that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” - 2 Corinthians 1:4. I know that I could not minister to someone who had lost their mother, until I had lost mine. I could not minister to someone who is jobless unless I had become suddenly without a job. Think of all the experiences and comfort you can share if you don’t quit!
Likewise, we cannot teach of the forgiveness of God, unless we ourselves have experienced it.
Be able to say “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” – 2 Timothy 4:7
Pastor Jay Merritt
Pastor Jay Merritt writes about God in every day observations.