Thanksgiving That God Is In Control Of The Future
Five Things to Thank God for on Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving has become a secular holiday. It is a time for family get-togethers, sports events and shopping trips. There is some, but not enough giving of thanks on Thanksgiving. Moreover, when gratitude is felt, it frequently remains just a feeling that is not directed toward a good and personal God.
Then too, when people thank God, it is usually for the material blessings of money, successes and achievements in life. We do well to thank God for these things. However, there are spiritual things for which few thank Him. He showers us with blessings that are unrecognized, forgotten and neglected. They deserve our gratitude.
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The terrible moral crisis in the Church and society only makes this special gratitude more necessary. Living the life of a Catholic is extremely difficult in our days. These spiritual gifts sustain us as we fight the terrible Culture War that rages in our nation. They fill us with hope for a future return to order.
Thus, there are five such things I will be thanking God for on Thanksgiving.
I will be thanking God for His loving Providence. This year, He made me neither rich nor poor. He provided for me so that I might have no major wants and thus remain engaged in the fight for His cause. In the midst of all my struggles, I can say I sensed the presence of an ordering action found in the Creator and which is called Providence.
This Divine Providence did not only take care of my material wants. Above all, God provided for my spiritual needs as God supported me in all my efforts to oppose the evils of the day. Thus, it is that theologians define Divine Providence as “the plan conceived in the mind of God according to which he directs all creatures to their proper end.”
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I will thank God for always being there amid the trials of life to provide for me and direct me to my proper end which is to be ever closer to Him and work for His greater glory.
I sensed the presence of an ordering action found in the Creator and which is called Providence – “the plan conceived in the mind of God according to which he directs all creatures to their proper end.”
I will be thanking God for putting sublime things in my path. He protected me from the gaudy or extravagant spectacles that could have entertained me and catered to my worst passions. There were neither cruise ships nor casinos in my path with their frenetically intemperate distractions that lead individuals and societies into vice and decadence.Instead, God put in my path those sublime things of transcendent excellence that cause souls to be overawed by their magnificence. Sublime things provoke what Edmund Burke rightly calls “the strongest emotion which the mind is capable of feeling.”
Throughout history, this is represented by extraordinary panoramas, works of art, music, liturgy, ideas, or heroic feats that have been called sublime. These things captivate souls and speed them in their quest towards plenitude.
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Thus, God gives me those very accessible and sublimely beautiful things that reflect Him. He provided me with spectacular sunsets and marvelous scene of nature. I was awed by beautiful music and uplifting manifestations of the arts. He allowed me to pray in magnificent churches and attend heavenly liturgies.
These things sustain me in the fight against a corrupting society. They provide me with images of what a truly Christian society might be. They strengthen me in the fight for Him.
I will thank God this Thanksgiving for providing me with these moments of awe. They did not happen all the time, but at those moments in the fight when I needed them.
I will thank God for giving me all those special people that fill the ranks of those who fight for Him. I will thank him for my own calling to be part of this great struggle.
I will thank God for giving me special people who help me overcome my insufficiency in the face of the today’s crisis. They allowed me to see that I am not alone in the battles for the future of our nation.
God also provides society with leaders and models. He provides and calls forth what sociologists call “representative characters” who perceive the ideals, principles, and qualities that are desired and admired by society and translate them into concrete programs of life and culture. I will thank God for those above me that give me direction, counsel and support.
There are so many blessings found in the Catholic family that bind us together in charity and support. There are also those less able and fortunate that God puts in our path so that we might practice charity, patience and leadership.All this is so contrary to the individualism of our days. Remnants of this social framework provide the elements for a more efficient and virtuous fight against a culture that seeks to destroy all Christian bonds. I will thank God for giving me all those special people that fill the ranks of those who fight for Him. I will thank him for my own calling to be part of this great struggle.
I will thank God for all the crosses that He has sent me. The greatest cross is living in a world that does not acknowledge Him as King and worthy of all praise and adoration. I know these sufferings are given to me for my good so that they may serve to unite me more to God and Holy Mother Church.
Ten Maxims for Carrying Your Cross
By dying to self, I can show my love for Him who died for me.
By accepting the Way of the Cross, I can embrace the path to imitate Christ, who took His mission to its final consequences and was obedient unto death.
I can be comforted by the fact that the Cross is the way to reform society. It is the sublime perfume of the Cross’ self-denial that gives value, meaning, and beauty to all things human.
I will thank God for this great mother. She is the means by which all can be accomplished, and victory obtained, as promised at Fatima.
Thus, on this Thanksgiving, I will thank God for the honor and privilege of carrying these crosses in union with Him.
Finally, I will thank God for the Mother He gave us. Without this great gift, everything would be impossible. The Blessed Mother is the source of our strength and confidence.
We are favored by the maternal affection of a mother who intensely desires our good and the good of society incomparably more than we do. Amidst setbacks and defeat, she rallies to our assistance. We need only to be among those who have “fled to her protection, implored her help and sought her intercession.” She leaves no one “unaided.”
On this Thanksgiving, I will thank God for this great mother. She is the means by which all can be accomplished, and victory obtained, as promised at Fatima.
Thus, while life in these corrupting and violent times is difficult to navigate, there is much to be thankful for. We are truly blessed to be sustained by God in the fight for our nation’s future. May we make this Thanksgiving different and thank God for the spiritual things that few thank Him for.
Thanksgiving: Echoing the Grace of God
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Giving thanks is no small thing for the Christian.
But far too many of us have the wrong impression. Deep down we may see the summons to thanksgiving as pretty peripheral. Giving thanks—whoop dee doo—What really excites me is fill-in-the-blank.
It is tragic when gratitude seems obscure to the very people who have the most to be thankful for. To sinners forever saved by grace, thanksgiving should be significant. Even central. Healthy Christians are thankful Christians.
Central to Honoring God
In fact, Romans 1:21 shows us that thanksgiving is what we were created for, and it is “at the heart of what it means to be a Christian,” says Tremper Longman.
Although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. (Romans 1:21)
There it is. Side by side with honoring God is giving him thanks. Don’t underestimate the centrality of thanksgiving. Gratitude is essential in doing whatever we do to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31). This no small thing.So Longman gives us this jarring angle: “The real difference between a Christian and a non-Christian is that the former gives thanks to God” (How to Read the Psalms, 144).
In A Praying Life, Paul Miller adds some similar reflections about the centrality of thanksgiving for the Christian.
While it was thanklessness that was “the first sin to emerge from our ancient rebellion against God’ (Romans 1:21), in our ongoing redemption, it is thanksgiving that “replaces a bitter spirit with a generous one” (89–90). (For a strong couple pages on “Cultivating a Thankful Spirit,” see Miller’s Praying Life, 89-91.)
Thanksgiving is important—essential—because the Christian life, from the beginning to end, is a life of extraordinary grace.
Created to Echo Grace
Thanksgiving “exults in grace,” writes John Piper. Gratitude was “created by God to echo grace.” We were created by God to echo his grace, and we’ve been redeemed by Jesus to echo his astounding grace all the more. Piper continues,
I exalt gratitude as a central biblical response of the heart to the grace of God. The Bible commands gratitude to God as one of our highest duties. “Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise. Give thanks to him, bless his name” (Psalm 100:4). (Future Grace, 32)
There it is again. Note the close connection between thanksgiving and the massive biblical reality of honoring and glorifying God. Thanksgiving is big time.
Echoing Grace Without Nullifying It
But a danger lurks. The Bible doesn’t have much, if anything, to say about obeying gratitude. Giving thanks to God for what he has given to us is precious and essential—and so is trusting him for his ongoing provision in the future. Thanksgiving is beautiful, but it can go bad on us, if we try to give it Faith’s job.
There is an impulse in the fallen human—all our hearts—to forget that gratitude is a spontaneous response of joy to receiving something…. When we forget this, what happens is that gratitude starts to be misused and distorted as an impulse to pay for the very thing that came to us “gratis” [free]. This terrible moment is the birthplace of the “debtor’s ethic.”
The debtor’s ethic says, “Because you have done something good for me, I feel indebted to do something good for you.” This impulse is not what gratitude was designed to produce.
God meant gratitude to be a spontaneous expression of pleasure in the gift and the good will of another. He did not mean it to be an impulse to return favors.
If gratitude is twisted into a sense of debt, it gives birth to the debtor’s ethic—and the effect is to nullify grace. (32)
Thanks for the Past, Trust for the Future
Thanksgiving must learn to delegate, and not attempt to do all the work itself. Thanksgiving has an indispensible ally named Faith, and they need to stay in good communication.
Gratitude exults in the past benefits of God and says to faith, “Embrace more of these benefits for the future, so that my happy work of looking back on God’s deliverance may continue.” (38)
And Faith is eager to respond, “Thank you, Thanksgiving, for sending me your impulses of delight in what God has done. I’ll happily transpose those into faith and keep on trusting him. I’ll keep believing in Jesus for more grace.”
More Grace to Come
May God be pleased to fill us to overflowing with thanksgiving for his amazing graces—the greatest of which is the gift of himself in the person of his Son.
And may thanksgiving give rise to great hope that the God who has so richly provided for us to date, will most certainly give us everything we need for our everlasting good—and increase for all eternity in showing us “the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:7).
The grace we’ve seen so far is only a taste of the grace that is to come. Have your thanksgiving ready. There will be much more echoing to enjoy.
8 Bible Verses That Remind Us God is in Control
Anxiety and fear are relentless. These are two of the enemy’s most popular weapons that he uses against us. Unchecked fear can keep you in bed for hours past what is healthy or wise. Anxiety can also show us as a fiery anger, in unkind speech and hurtful attitudes.
The longer you struggle with fear, the more ly it is for you to be overwhelmed by it, allowing it to control your every decision and move. Choosing not to deal with it can leave you with scars.
Even still, we have a promise that “God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability” (1 Corinthians 10:13), and this includes the sinful unbelief of an anxious heart.
One of the best ways to rid yourself of the fear that is plaguing you is to turn to Scripture. Here are eight Bible verses that remind us God is in control.
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
Sometimes, we can read certain verses from Scripture a hundred times and fail to take them to heart the way the Lord wants us to. Other times, we can linger on a verse or two, and let them minister life, healing and comfort to us.
Isaiah 41:10 is so rich with the promises of God that it warrants some special attention from us. Ultimately, the Lord wants to impart to us through this verse that we shouldn’t be afraid. “Fear not [there is nothing to fear].
” On reason why God warns us against fear is that it can short-circuit the answered prayers and blessings that He has in store for us.
“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”
By definition, a refuge is a safe place. When the Bible describes God as our refuge, it is saying that God is our safe place when we need protection from something.
Knowing God is our refuge enables us to trust Him more freely. We need not fear situations or people who threaten our well-being, whether in a physical or spiritual sense.
There is no situation we will ever face that is God’s control, so the best place to be, always, is right with Him.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
According to data released by Amazon on the most highlighted passage in Kindle ebooks, the most popular passage from the Bible is this passage from Philippians.
Most biblical scholars agree that the apostle Paul composed Philippians while he was in prison so the fact that Paul was able to reject anxiety even during his own imprisonment makes the passage all the more encouraging.
Although it might seem novel to see biblical writers addressing modern worries, the lesson from this passage is timeless and can affect anyone. The life of faith is filled with constant challenge to risk more to become our true selves.
1 John 4:18
“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The One who fears is not made perfect in love.”
In the previous verse (verse 17), John tells us how to have confidence or boldness on the Day of Judgment. And in verse 18, he tells us how to cast fear our lives.
These are simply positive and negative ways of saying the same thing: getting rid of fear is the negative way of saying become confident. John wants to help us enjoy confidence before God.
He does not want us to be paralyzed or depressed by fear of judgment.
“When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul.” Psalm 94:19
What this Psalm tells us is that even in rough or desperate situations, we can be filled with the joy of the Lord. He is our consolation and His Word eases anxiety nothing else can. God can bring joy to your soul even during times when you’re most anxious by simply knowing that He’s present and trusting in His power.
“Do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes.
Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them.
And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?”
Life is more than food and clothing. God has reminded us of that throughout the Scriptures. Jesus reminded us of it when He faced temptation from Satan.So we shouldn’t worry because God will take care of the big stuff and the little stuff. Worrying doesn’t change things, big or small, except to make those problems appear worse than they really are.
So why let ourselves get so worked up into a frenzy over “big things”? Cast your cares on God and then trust in His wisdom.
Thanksgiving: A Timeless Lesson
The Yoruba people of West Africa have an old saying: “However far the stream flows, it never forgets its source.” But, we may ask, have the people of the United States forgotten the source of their blessings?
The United States observes the national holiday of Thanksgiving, dedicated to remembering the many blessings America enjoys: hills and plains filled with mineral riches; fertile soil that grows endless crops of grain; waters teeming with fish; pastures feeding millions of head of livestock; forests for building homes, schools, hospitals and industrial complexes; two long borders on oceans providing transportation, food and natural barriers for defense.
There is more, of course. But, when we ask ourselves how we have been blessed, another question should come to mind: How grateful are we for these blessings? And, perhaps more crucial, do we remember the real source of these blessings?
Although Thanksgiving Day is an American institution, any country derives the benefits from following the biblical principle of always being thankful to God for His bountiful blessings.
The origins of Thanksgiving
The first Thanksgiving celebration, in 1621, lasted three days. Plymouth Colony’s Governor William Bradford, issued a thanksgiving proclamation, and for three days the Pilgrims feasted with their Indian guests on wild turkey and venison.
Days of thanksgiving were celebrated sporadically until President George Washington proclaimed a nationwide day of thanksgiving on November 26, 1789. He made it clear that the day should be dedicated to prayer and giving thanks to God.
Due credit for finally establishing Thanksgiving Day as a lasting national holiday goes to Sarah J. Hale, editor and founder of the Ladies’ Magazine.
Her editorials and letters to President Abraham Lincoln resulted in Lincoln’s proclamation, in 1863, designating the last Thursday in November as a national holiday of thanksgiving.
Later, in 1941, Congress adopted a joint resolution setting the date on the fourth Thursday of November.
For 376 years, and with few exceptions, this holiday has been kept. But what does it mean to us? Do we truly show our gratitude to God for His bountiful blessings, or are they merely something we’ve come to take for granted?
The rigors of pilgrimage
America is a nation of immigrants. In the New World, settlers sought spiritual and economic renewal. America represented an opportunity to escape war, despotism, material want and religious persecution. The New World was a place to avoid some of the problems of the Old World.
But the earliest settlements of New England were not established easily. The first permanent settlement had its origins in the restlessness of a small, devoutly religious group of Englishmen living in the Netherlands. Since they felt that their only hope was withdrawal from the established church, they were called Separatists.
Persecution had forced them to flee to Holland in 1609. Yet, after a decade in the Netherlands, the English Separatists were eager to move again. Holland’s society was hospitable and tolerant, but it was too densely settled for the Separatists, who desired to remain apart from the world.William Bradford, in his History of Plymouth Plantation, explained why the Separatists moved from Holland: “But that which was more lamentable, and of all sorrows most heavy to be borne, was that many of their children … were drawn by evil examples into extravagant and dangerous courses, getting the reins off their necks and departing from their parents. Some became soldiers; others took upon them far voyages by sea; and others some worse courses tending to dissoluteness and danger of their souls to the great grief of their parents and dishonor of God” (Louis B. Wright, The Atlantic Frontier, Cornell University Press, Ithaca, New York, 1959, p. 105).
Another of their reasons, says Bradford, was an “inward zeal … of laying some good foundation … for the propagating and advancing the gospel of the kingdom of Christ in those remote parts of the world; yea, though they should be but even as stepping stones unto others for the performing of so great a work” (Wright, p. 106).
So it was that the Mayflower weighed anchor September 16, 1620, with 101 prospective settlers aboard.
After 65 storm-tossed days, the Mayflower landed, not on Virginia soil that the sojourners had contracted for, but at Cape Cod.
Ill and weary, the Pilgrims abandoned their hope for Virginia land and settled in New England. Throughout the rough voyage, they had lost one by death and added two by birth (ibid.).
Landing in November, they were unprepared for the harsh winter ahead. They had been led to believe glowing reports that the fertile country would have a climate similar to southern France, since the two areas lie at the same latitude.
Instead, the Pilgrims were confronted with a severe winter on a rockbound coast. Come spring, half of the Mayflower passengers were dead, including 13 of the 18 married women. William Bradford led the survivors, now settled at Plymouth.
His leadership would be considered strict and even harsh by today’s norms, but it helped the early Pilgrims survive.They escaped Indian attacks during that first winter. “By a freak chance, two Indians in the neighborhood, Samoset and Squanto, could speak English, and the settlers made a treaty with a tribal chief through them” (Wright, p. 108). The settlers thought it an act of God that these two English-speaking Indians were available to help them through their time of distress.
The settlement at Plymouth survived. When the Mayflower sailed for home in April 1621, not one of the settlers returned on it.
By autumn, with health restored, the settlers gathered their harvest and celebrated with a feast, washing down roasted venison, wild duck and cornbread with wine made from native grapes.
Thus they began the tradition of Thanksgiving that President Lincoln declared a national holiday in 1863.
Lincoln and Thanksgiving
James Russell Lowell wrote an introduction to The Works of Abraham Lincoln, State Papers, 1861-1865 (edited by John H. Clifford and Marion M. Miller, The University Society, New York, 1908, Vol. 6).
In it Lowell describes the terrible conditions facing the Union and Mr. Lincoln.
He especially addresses the notion that from that time forward the South and North would experience increasing difficulty feeling at ease and comfortable with one another. It was a sad time.
Note part of the “Proclamation of Thanksgiving” that President Lincoln delivered October 20, 1863: “It has pleased almighty God to prolong our national life another year.
Now, therefore, I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, do hereby appoint and set apart the last Thursday of November next as a day which I desire to be observed by all my fellow citizens, wherever they may then be, as a day of thanksgiving and praise to almighty God, the beneficent Creator and Ruler of the universe. “And I do further recommend to my fellow-citizens aforesaid, that on that occasion they do reverently humble themselves in the dust, and from thence offer up penitent and fervent prayers and supplications to the great Disposer of events for a return of the inestimable blessings of peace, union, and harmony throughout the land which it has pleased him to assign as a dwelling-place for ourselves and for our posterity throughout all generations” (ibid., p. 166).
These expressions of praise, thankfulness and humility can guide us in the late 20th century, as some presidents of this century have reminded us. How far have we come as a society since President Lincoln’s formal proclamation?
Modern signs of ingratitude
Sadly, much of society has strayed from the moral and religious underpinnings that characterized America’s earlier years. Hedonism-“If it feels good, do it”-has become the order of the day, continually evidenced in the entertainment media and modern culture.
Self-oriented social fragmentation is replacing a once-common outlook of concern about our personal example and the welfare of others. Increasingly, the prevailing attitude is epitomized by the saying, “I’ve got mine; you get your own.
” These attitudes are pervasive, corrupting the lives of our children, our future leaders.
President Lincoln issued a timeless warning: Our greatest enemy is not beyond our shores, but the enemy within.On January 27, 1838, he warned his fellow Americans with these words: “All the armies of Europe, Asia and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the earth (our own excepted) in their military chest; with a Bonaparte for a commander, could not by force, take a drink from the Ohio, or make a track on the Blue Ridge, in a trial of a thousand years.
“At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad.
If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide” (Don E.
Fehrenbacher, Abraham Lincoln, Speeches and Writings, 1832-1858, Literary Classics of the United States, New York, 1989, pp. 28-29).
One of the greatest basic weaknesses of human nature is that of ingratitude. The Bible has much to say about it.
After their Exodus from Egypt, the ancient Israelites spent 40 years wandering in the wilderness until the earlier, faithless generation died out.
In the book of Deuteronomy, God through Moses reminded members of the new generation of the importance of obedience if they were to learn from the sad example of their parents.
They were exhorted to remember God’s law and their parents’ lack of obedience to it. The law was to be repeated in their hearing lest they forget God’s requirements and be cursed.
Moses repeated God’s Ten Commandments to Israel (Deuteronomy 5). God expressed His sorrow that Israel simply didn’t have the heart to obey Him consistently: “Oh, that they had such a heart in them that they would fear Me and always keep all My commandments, that it might be well with them and with their children forever!” (Deuteronomy 5:29).
Lack of obedience to God may indicate ingratitude. If we acknowledge that God’s standards are superior to ours, but we fail to obey them, we indicate our lack of understanding, our personal weakness or a willfulness to disobey. All may demonstrate our lack of gratitude for what God has given us. An attitude of thankfulness, on the other hand, can help counteract this weakness.
We see these principles clearly brought out in Scripture. In Deuteronomy 8 God addresses the importance and blessings of gratitude and strongly cautions us to avoid the curses of ingratitude. “Every commandment which I command you today you must be careful to observe, that you may live and multiply, and go in and possess the land of which the LORD swore to your fathers” (Deuteronomy 8:1).Moses reminded the people of how God had so carefully taken care of them in the wilderness.
He miraculously fed them with manna 40 years, but also reminded them that “man shall not live by [physical] bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the LORD (Deuteronomy 8:3).
Their garments didn’t wear, nor did their feet swell, during those 40 years in the wilderness (Deuteronomy 8:4).
Biblical warning against ingratitude
Since God was bringing His people Israel into a fertile, productive land, filled with “brooks of water, of fountains and springs, . . . a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive oil and honey” as well as mineral wealth, they should have been grateful (Deuteronomy 8:7-9).
God warned them about the all-too-human weakness to give oneself, not Him, credit for what one has.
“When you have eaten and are full, then you shall bless the LORD your God for the good land which He has given you.
Beware that you do not forget the LORD your God by not keeping His commandments, His judgments, and His statutes which I command you today, lest-when you have eaten and are full, and have built beautiful houses and dwell in them; and when your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and your gold are multiplied, and all that you have is multiplied; when your heart is lifted up, and you forget the LORD your God . . . , then you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gained me this wealth’…
“Then it shall be, if you by any means forget the LORD your God, … you shall perish, because you would not be obedient to the voice of the LORD your God” (Deuteronomy 8:10-20, emphasis added).
This warning against ingratitude is not for ancient Israel alone. Lack of gratitude to God is all too common across the ages! The apostle Peter exhorts his readers not to forget God’s blessings and promises so freely given them (1 Peter 1:2-7).
Gratitude plays a major role in any kind of right relationship with God!
The blessings of gratitude
Most people overlook a simple fact recorded thousands of years ago: “The earth is the LORD’S, and all its fullness, the world and those who dwell therein” (Psalms 24:1). All our blessings come from God, but our actions don’t always acknowledge this wonderful truth.
To its credit, America has set aside Thanksgiving Day for annually reflecting on national blessings. Of course, we should all be thankful every day of every year, but there is certainly nothing wrong with a special day every year to remind us that we should continually be thankful.
In 1621 Plymouth Colony-made up of refugees seeking religious freedom in the New World-observed the first day of Thanksgiving to honor the God who had preserved their lives through a harsh winter, then blessed them with a good summer and a plentiful fall harvest. On October 20, 1864, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed Thanksgiving Day to be an American national holiday, a time during which he called on all its citizens to thank the great God who bestowed such great bounties on them.All nations would do well to remember the wise axiom of the Yoruba people of West Africa: “However far the stream flows, it never forgets its source.” May all peoples of the earth remember to give thanks to God, from whom all blessings flow (James 1:17).