Let us exalt His name together

Published 10:34 am Thursday, November 30, 2017

I’ve always enjoyed Thanksgiving with my family, but many times I become distracted from the intended purpose. I also confess that sadly between football, conversations, and pumpkin pie, there is not always a lot mentioned about being thankful.

Unfortunately, many have forgotten or maybe they have never known the history of human suffering that is associated with the Pilgrims. It’s been recorded that the new colony was focused on giving God thanks for His blessings and protection, as William Bradford is quoted:

“Being thus arrived in a good harbor, and brought safe to land, they fell upon their knees and blessed the God of Heaven who had brought them over the vast and furious ocean, and delivered them from all the perils and miseries thereof, again to set their feet on the firm and stable earth, their proper element. Thus, out of small beginnings greater things have been produced by His hand that made all things of nothing, and gives being to all things that are; and, as one small candle may light a thousand, so the light here kindled hath shone unto many, yea in some sort to our whole nation; let the glorious name of God have all the praise.”

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Clearly, the pilgrims of the Plymouth colony worshiped God and appreciated Him for all they had, but today the meaning of Thanksgiving is almost completely lost under an endless avalanche of media hype, sales advertisements, marketing gimmicks and aggressive commercialism.

Like all of God’s people since the beginning (not just the Pilgrims), this week we give thanks to the Lord for all He has done for us.

I know in my own life, I’m truly thankful to Christ for allowing me the opportunity to learn and grow in my relationship with Him. I realize there are hard times and many problems and difficult situations, but all in all we are so fortunate to have God’s love and how He longs to surround us in His peace. I published a book a couple of years ago called, “A Lifestyle of Worship” and it’s about becoming determined to develop an awareness of God’s presence in all we do in order to have a more clearer understanding about who He is. Our Thanksgiving holiday is more than a day off from work, a celebration ritual or a Black Friday sale, it’s a state of mind where we can appreciate our eternal salvation every day.

It’s wonderful to have a roof over our heads, good health and a long list of blessings, but I’m especially grateful for God’s infinite love and mercy. I’m embarrassed to admit that I do not always wake up in the mornings and think about such important things. Why? Because I’m too occupied with trying to control my own decisions and lean on my own understanding. It will take perseverance and serious dedication to continually concentrate on how worthy He is of our gratitude and praise. “O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together” (Psalm 34:3).

So, we see that Thanksgiving is actually expressing our love to God and those who desire to know Him personally will discover that we do not love Him for what He can do — but just for who He is. Above my fireplace at home, there’s a log engraved with Matthew 22:37 and 38 and I ask God all the time to please show me the depths of this spiritual truth: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.”

Every word that has ever been spoken and every book that has been written can only scratch the surface in describing God’s endless generosity and glorious Majesty.

Brother Lawrence, whose 17th  century work, “The Practice of the Presence of God,” details his discipline to become so focused on everything around him that he might consider all situations as an opportunity to serve Christ and be thankful for His goodness.

It’s my prayer today, that I may never take God’s grace for granted or allow myself to become spoiled with His blessings, but instead to not only be sincerely grateful for all He has done in my life, but that I may be willing to demonstrate His great love and compassion to others.

Dr. Billy Holland is a Christian author, outreach minister and community chaplain. To learn more visit: billyhollandministries.com.