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Exodus 23:16 [Full Chapter]   (www.BibleGateway.com link) 

“Celebrate the Festival of Harvest with the firstfruits of the crops you sow in your field. “Celebrate the Festival of Ingathering at the end of the year, when you gather in your crops from the field.

I’m one of those people who wants to enjoy Thanksgiving before jumping into all the craziness of the holidays.  History tells us that the first Thanksgiving was about gratitude, sharing and reaching out to others.  Times had been harsh for the Pilgrims trying to survive at Plymouth.  Many perished.  Those who survived did so with help from the Indians.  To celebrate their first harvest and show appreciation to their new friends, the Pilgrims broke bread with the Indians.

Being faithful Christians, I imagine they began with prayer, focusing not on their struggles, losses and things they were without; but instead givng thanks for what they did have – shelter, food, each other and their very own lives.  In giving thanks, they displayed hope for their future, even though life was very bleak at times.

After delivering the Israelites from the Egyptians, God explained to the Israelites that He wanted to set them apart from others as a holy nation.  He began teaching them what it meant to be holy and live righteously.  One of God’s instructions was to hold a Festival of Harvest to celebrate the firstfruits of the crops they would sow and grow, and then celebrate the Festival of Ingathering at the end of they year after they had gathered in their crops.  It seems likely to me that this was the inspiration for the first Thanksgiving.  The Pilgrims may have observed this religious tradition in their native country, but Thanksgiving at Plymouth would be different.  The Pilgrims included the Indians, wanting to not only give praise and thanksgiving to God, but also to show appreciation and gratitude to the Indians.

Observing Thanksgiving is the perfect way to center our hearts before getting caught up in the busyness of Christmas.  This year I’m going to do something new, something I’ll call THANKS(4)GIVING.

In the spirit of the first Thanksgiving that was about gratitude, sharing and reaching out to others, I’m going to send notes or messages to people letting them know I’m thankful for something they’ve done that blessed, helped or inspired me.  I’m going to tell them, “Thanks for giving” of themselves.  My gratitude will be for their kind or encouraging words, help they gave,  an opportunity provided, or kindness shown.  The recipients might be people I know well, or someone I’ve never met whose words or story  made a positive difference.  Maybe it will be a teacher who made difference for my child,  the worker at a business I frequent whose positive, cheerful attitude brightens my day,  someone who went above and beyond what was expected of them. or a dear friend who’s good and godly ways inspire me – like an elderly friend who sometimes despairs, but stays strong in faith.

It is my hope that THANKS(4)GIVING will not just prepare my heart with appreciation and gratitude, but also be a gesture of positivity and encouragement for others.

I challenge myself to send a THANKS(4)GIVING note or message to at least 4 people, and I challenge you to do the same!

May you have a happy and blessed Thanksgiving.  Be sure to save room in your tummy for dessert, and room in your heart for thanks and giving!

“Thanks be to God for his unspeakable gift.” – 2 Corinthians 9:15 KJV

” I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.” – Ephesians 1:16 NIV

Blessings to all,

Renee

 

 

 

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