In the United States, Thanksgiving Day is observed the fourth Thursday of November each year.
Canadians observe their national Thanksgiving holiday the second Monday in October of each year.
The governments of both the United States and Canada have recognized this day as a day of thanks and have declared it to be a national holiday. It originally was observed when the first settlers on the North American continent set aside a day to celebrate the completion of a good harvest and abundant crops. In recent years it has been a day set apart to give thanks for the blessings of the past year and an occasion for family gatherings and visiting of friends.
Although Thanksgiving Day is not on the church calendar as a religious holiday, it nevertheless gives an opportunity to remember the blessings that God has bestowed upon mankind. Our forefathers came to the North American continent in search of freedom and a new start in their lives. Today, we enjoy many freedoms and blessings from the hand of God. One of our freedoms is the freedom to worship openly and freely. God has given our lawmakers and rulers wisdom and understanding so these freedoms have been incorporated in our laws of the land.
Second, God, in this present time, has blessed us abundantly with many temporal blessings. The standard of living today is perhaps the best ever. However, along with the riches and blessings of the present time has also come a change in the attitudes of some. Mankind begins to forget the Creator of all things. One's own strength, wisdom, power and riches have become the most important matter. The riches and pleasures of this world begin to rule the heart and the love of God begins to grow dim and fade away. In spite of this, God still allows the sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain to fall on the just and the unjust.
Finally, the greatest reason for thanksgiving is that God in his great love has given His only begotten Son for the sins of the world, so that whosoever believes upon him would not need to perish, but could have everlasting life. (John 3:16)
How does this apply to people today? We are taught in the Bible that all mankind became sinful, when the first human pair fell in the garden. As a result of this fall, all mankind became and still is corrupted and sinful. There is none that can do good; no, not one.
How are we sinful, one may ask. Jesus taught for example, that if you have had anger in your heart toward someone, you have already transgressed the commandment that teaches that thou shall not kill. Or if a man looks at a woman with lust in his heart, he has already committed the sin of adultery. If a person is guilty of even one part of the law, then one is guilty of the entire law. How then can one be saved?
Of ourselves or by our own efforts, we cannot be saved. Jesus teaches to seek for the kingdom of God and its righteousness. There one is able to hear the gospel message of forgiveness of sins through the redemption work of Jesus Christ.
God sees the sacrificial work of his Son as an acceptable offering for our sins. There is no other way that will lead to everlasting life. Apostle Paul says that there is no other foundation laid than that which is Jesus Christ.
In the midst of today's changing society and values can still be found that place of refuge where God's Word remains unchanging. Jesus teaches that the kingdom of God is among men and still offers forgiveness and peace. One can still hear the tidings of the forgiveness of all sins in Jesus' name and blood.
Then one experiences indeed the greatest meaning of Thanksgiving.
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