This Thursday is Thanksgiving Day in the United States, a day for giving thanks to God for the blessings He gives us. Not everyone in the United States celebrates Thanksgiving, and some who do celebrate it observe it in a wrong way, not giving thanks to God but just using the day as a day to enjoy the pleasures of this life: food, family, friends, and football.
But some in the United States observe Thanksgiving in a right attitude, giving thanks to God.
Probably most Church of God members in the United States observe Thanksgiving Day. It is optional for us, not commanded by God.
On this day I try to spend extra time in giving God thanks.
Here are some of the things I am thankful to God for.
I am thankful to God for His goodness. Mr. Armstrong talked about this. He said he was grateful that the greatest power in the universe, God, was a power for good, not evil. God is perfect in wisdom, power, righteousness, and love. All other benefits come from that. I am grateful for God's perfect, holy, righteous character.
I thank God for His creation, all of it: the angels, the physical universe with all the galaxies, stars, planets, and wonderful laws of nature, and of course, mankind. God's creative works are perfect.
I thank God for his plan to reproduce Himself in mankind. God offers us the wonderful gift of the opportunity to become members of His family forever, sharing rulership of this universe with Christ, and enjoying the happiness of eternal life in power and glory with God forever.
I give God thanks for Jesus Christ, for His sacrifice, suffering, and death to pay the penalty for the sins of mankind so we can be forgiven and saved, and for His saving work as savior, high priest, intercessor, advocate, teacher, head of the Church, and soon coming King over the earth. I thank God for the perfect example of Jesus Christ to teach us lessons of how we should love one another.
I thank God that He has provided a way, in the white throne judgment, for every human who has ever lived to have an opportunity to hear and understand the true gospel and be saved. No one will be left out of God's kingdom due to circumstances of birth in time and place. No one will be left out because Satan deceived them and they had no opportunity to understand and believe the truth. This shows God's love, justice, and mercy, and it is a great gift.
I am thankful to God that He has included in His plan for the salvation of mankind that there be a first fruits, a select group of called Christians in this age to be with Christ in the first resurrection, to rule the earth with Christ and help bring the rest of mankind to salvation.
I thank God for His word, the Bible, which instructs us in so many things. God's word is perfect. It is written by men, but inspired by God to be God's direct communication with every Christian. God's word cannot be broken and cannot fail. In the Bible, God gives us many promises. He gives us answers to the important questions of life. He guides us in detail to know His mind and how we should live. He teaches us the right way of life, the way that produces happiness in the long term. He shows us how to identify and embrace true doctrine and how to identify and reject false doctrine, even in detail. The Bible teaches us the true gospel from beginning to end.
I am thankful to God for the Church of God, that we may have fellowship with like-minded Christians, that we may be encouraged and instructed. I am thankful for God's ministry to instruct us and help us understand the Bible and for all their service and work.
I am thankful to God for the gift of His Holy Spirit to the Church to help us understand His word, the Bible, to help us understand spiritual knowledge, and to help us overcome and make progress in living God's way of life in spite of our evil, carnal nature.
I am grateful for the work God has done through Herbert W. Armstrong to build the Church of God in our time, to preach the true gospel and the Ezekiel warning to millions, and to restore many lost truths and doctrines through the Bible, including the plan of God as illustrated by the weekly Sabbath and the annual holy days and festivals of God.
These are general things I thank God for.
But I also thank God for His many blessings for me personally.
I thank God for calling me personally to be part of the Church and the first fruits, opening my mind to understand His truth and the Bible. All of us in the Church have been given the precious gift of the truth in this age, perhaps each of us being only one out of about 100,000 people on the earth to know the truth at this time. That is an awesome gift and calling.
I thank God for allowing me to support His work at this time with my tithes and offerings, my prayers, and my service.
I am thankful to God for His patience and mercy towards me, to forgive my sins and keep working with me to develop His righteous character in me, to correct me and teach me lessons in spite of my faults and weaknesses and my carnal human nature.
I thank God for the health I still have. Although I have health problems common to old age, I can still see, hear, think, and move around, and I can still use my hands for work.
I thank God for a roof over my head and food to eat.
I am thankful to God for the family members I have, though they are not in the Church: sisters, nephews, and nieces.
Then there are many detailed, personal blessings I enjoy that I give God thanks for, too numerous and detailed to list here.
Some of us set goals to put in a certain amount of time in prayer. One way to fill that time is by giving God thanks for his many blessings and to praise God for His goodness and works.
The Psalms are full of praise and thanks to God, and if anyone in the Church feels it is hard for them to think of things to pray about, I suggest mixing prayer with the reading of the Psalms. Rid a bit in the book of Psalms, then pray a bit, then read a bit more, then pray a bit more.
Thanksgiving Day can be a blessing in our relationship with God, if we use it properly. We should give God thanks every day, but on this day, for those who observe Thanksgiving, we can make an extra effort to give God thanks for His many blessings.
Here are links to other Thanksgiving Day messages from past years in this blog:
"Thanksgiving", dated November 25, 2011, link:
"The Greatest Gift", dated November 21, 2012, link:
"Give God Thanks", dated November 27, 2013, link:
"Should We Attend Thanksgiving Dinner with our Unconverted Families?", dated November 11, 2014, link:
"Giving Praise and Thanks to God", dated November 25, 2015, link:
"The Habit of Thanksgiving", dated November 22, 2016, link: