Thanksgiving, why?

In the year 1789, our nation voted to create a day of national gratitude for our freedoms and supplication to God for national sins committed. This day appears to no longer be celebrated for these reasons, and this is, in my opinion, a national tragedy. I know that Thanksgiving was yesterday, but since I did not post yesterday, I thought I would post this today for your encouragement. Perhaps this short address from George Washington might form how your family celebrates next year, or at least help you as you consider the season. There is much more to this holiday than we celebrate in these modern days:

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“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.’ 

“Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, Who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be. That we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks, for his kind care and protection of the People of this country previous to their becoming a Nation, for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of His providence, which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war, for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed, for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted, for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

“And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions, to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually, to render our national government a blessing to all the People, by constantly being a government of wise, just and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed, to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shown kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord. To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and Us, and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.”

 

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Our Pleasure and Advantage, Work!

This morning, I was reading in Matthew Henry’s commentary regarding the fourth day of creation when I was struck by a point that he made regarding God’s creation. he writes concerning the Sun and Moon:

They do also give light upon the earth, that we may walk (Jn. 11:9 ), and work (Jn. 9:4 ), according as the duty of every day requires. The lights of heaven do not shine for themselves, nor for the world of spirits above, who need them not; but they shine for us, for our pleasure and advantage.

He states that the lights of Heaven shine for “our pleasure and our advantage”. This appears to echo the great words of the Westminster catechism which asks “what is the chief end of man?” The wonderful answer is, “to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” It would seem that, in pointing us to the Sun and Moon as workers for our advantage and pleasure, Matthew Henry is stating that these work so that we might glorify God and enjoy Him. It is then tragic when He points out what men typically do with the light given by these luminaries:

Lord, what is man, that he should be thus regarded! Ps. 8:3Ps. 8:4. How ungrateful and inexcusable are we, if, when God has set up these lights for us to work by, we sleep, or play, or trifle away the time of business, and neglect the great work we were sent into the world about! The lights of heaven are made to serve us, and they do it faithfully, and shine in their season, without fail: but we are set as lights in this world to serve God; and do we in like manner answer the end of our creation? No, we do not, our light does not shine before God as his lights shine before us, Mt. 5:14 . We burn our Master’s candles, but do not mind our Master’s work.

Let us, friends by faithful to our master as His luminaries are faithful to serve us! Lets not trifle away the day on vain things, but rather let us be about glorifying God and enjoying Him! How does one go about this work? In a day when “audacious faith” and “mighty acts” are preached to the believer, it would be wise to remember the words of the apostle Paul in 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12. We are there commanded to lead a quiet life and to be about our business. Are you a plumber or a carpenter? perhaps you are a teacher or a parent in the home? Then be about honoring God in your work and testifying to His goodness as you are able. Do not be a lazy worker, but seek to honor the Lord where you are. In being faithful and working to His glory, you are testifying to His goodness and faithfulness on your behalf. Come friends, let us be faithful like the luminaries, and let us see that they work for our pleasure (enjoyment) in God and our Advantage (glorifying Him) in our work.

Troubles

There is a type of Christianity today that teaches that Jesus is here to ease all of our earthly troubles. However, they are unable to produce legitimate texts to support their position. We are told to count it all joy when we face trials and tribulations (and these are not the little difficulties of having unruly children). God’s common grace ensures that we will have the good things, but it also means that the wicked will enjoy the good things of the earth as well. So too, the bad will dog the heels of all who dwell on this earth. We serve a sovereign and risen Lord, but we will not see Heaven here. That is, not until it comes to Earth at Christ’s return. However, take heart dear Christian, we might die in the midst of troubles on this earth, but these troubles are only designed to make you yearn so much more for Heaven. These earthly troubles are the worst you will face, and soon they will be no more. Let us take to heart the words of J. C. Ryle.

“If we are true Christians, we must not expect everything smooth in our journey to heaven. We must count it no strange thing, if we have to endure sicknesses, losses, bereavements, and disappointments, just like other people. Free pardon and full forgiveness, grace by the way and glory to the end – all this our Savior has promised to give. But He has never promised that we shall have no afflictions. He loves us too well to promise that.” ~ J.C. Ryle

The Bible

Here we have a section from the introduction of Matthew Henry’s commentary on Genesis. His commentary work is the best devotional material I have found, and he is often much more insightful than our modern critical commentators. Perhaps today, we might consider this view of the Bible and be reminded of the majesty of the book and the beauty of its creator.

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We have now before us the holy Bible, or book, for so bible signifies. We call it the book, by way of eminency; for it is incomparably the best book that ever was written, the book of books, shining like the sun in the firmament of learning, other valuable and useful books, like the moon and stars, borrowing their light from it. We call it the holy book, because it was written by holy men, and indited by the Holy Ghost; it is perfectly pure from all falsehood and corrupt intention; and the manifest tendency of it is to promote holiness among men. The great things of God’s law and gospel are here written to us, that they might be reduced to a greater certainty, might spread further, remain longer, and be transmitted to distant places and ages more pure and entire than possibly they could be by report and tradition: and we shall have a great deal to answer for if these things which belong to our peace, being thus committed to us in black and white, be neglected by us as a strange and foreign thing, Hos 8:12. The scriptures, or writings of the several inspired penmen, from Moses down to St. John, in which divine light, like that of the morning, shone gradually (the sacred canon being now completed), are all put together in this blessed Bible, which, thanks be to God, we have in our hands, and they make as perfect a day as we are to expect on this side of heaven. Every part was good, but all together very good. This is the light that shines in a dark place (Pe2 1:19), and a dark place indeed the world would be without the Bible.

– Matthew Henry (Introduction to the Commentary of Genesis)