When we think of Thanksgiving, we usually think of Pilgrims and Indians gathered for a harvest feast at Plymouth, but it was Abraham Lincoln who gave us Thanksgiving as a national holiday.

Prior to Lincoln, each state celebrated Thanksgiving on different dates according to the discretion of each state’s governor. In 1863, in the middle of the Civil War, Lincoln issued a presidential proclamation for a national day of Thanksgiving.

After noting the many blessings of God in spite of the Civil War with all its suffering and severity, Lincoln wrote in his proclamation, “No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.”

We must never take the blessings of God for granted. He holds every nation of every age accountable. We cannot descend into the chasms of corruption, deception, anger, prejudice, arrogance, greed and immorality and expect God’s blessings to remain upon us.

Jeremiah counseled, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Do justice and righteousness, and deliver the one who has been robbed from the power of his oppressor. Also do not mistreat or do violence to the stranger, the orphan or the widow; and do not shed innocent blood … If you will not obey these words, I swear by Myself,’ declares the Lord, ‘that this house will become a desolation. … Did not your fathers eat and drink and do justice and righteousness? Then it was well with him. He pled the cause of the afflicted and the needy; then it was well. Is not that what it means to know Me?’ declares the Lord” (Jeremiah 22:3,5, 15-16).

Thomas Jefferson’s words are inscribed on the Northeast Portico of the Jefferson Memorial: “Can the liberties of a nation be secured when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God? Indeed I tremble for my nation when I reflect that God is just, that His justice cannot sleep forever.”

In an interview with Jeremiah Greever, Eric Metaxas, author of “Bonhoffer” and “If You Can Keep It,” reflected on the failure of the German church to confront and oppose the rise of totalitarianism under Hitler. He referred to Alexis de Toqueville’s assessment concerning America in 1835, “Liberty cannot be established without morality, nor morality without faith … despotism may govern without faith, but liberty cannot.”

As we enter the 2020 presidential election, it is important that we approach this Thanksgiving with humility, gratitude and prayer that as individuals and a nation we might fulfill God’s will in our treatment of one another and the nations of the earth.

(Bill Tinsley has served as pastor, church planter and missions executive. In 2009 he launched the Tinsley Center, LLC to promote authentic faith that changes lives. He lives in Fort Collins, Colorado, with his wife, Jackie. Email Bill at bill@tinsleycenter.com. A Thanksgiving Gift: Bill Tinsley’s devotional book, Authentic Disciple: Sermon on the Mount free eBook on Amazon Nov. 26-30. Email bill@tinsleycenter.com.)

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