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living gratitude

Canadian Thanksgiving Day, celebrated on the second Monday of October, finds its earliest roots in the 1578 expedition led by Englishman Martin Frobisher. After the explorer had lost one of his ships and had his entire venture threatened by severe weather conditions, the remaining ships of his company came together in that Far North bay named after him, Frobisher Bay.

It was there that one of the adventurers, Robert Wolfall, led the men of the expedition in a worship service at which they celebrated thanksgiving for their survival through those treacherous icy waters.
 
In the United States, President Abraham Lincoln declared a Day of Thanksgiving for the last Thursday of November 1863. That began a tradition that has lasted until today.

It is a time we often remember the experience of the Pilgrims in early Massachusetts. After surviving their first devastating winter in the “new world,” they were able to plant and harvest crops. In gratitude to God for His blessing, they invited their Native American friends to a three-day feast of thanksgiving.
 
Both of these celebrations mark a long tradition of declared religious celebrations of Thanksgiving that have at their root the acknowledgment that all good things come from God.
 
In a far earlier time Paul, the apostle of Jesus, gave this admonition: “Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus” (1 Thess. 5:18, NLT).
 
I heard recently about a member of one of the churches of the North American Division. This man goes about consciously looking for God’s blessing in his life; it might be a new friend, a business success, or just feeling especially healthy one day. But when he recognizes that he has been blessed by God, he puts $1 bill or a $5 dollar bill in a cup in the cup holder of his car.
 
Here’s where it really gets good: Once the cup in his car has been filled with money, he begins to look for someone in need. And when he finds that person, he “empties the cup” as a blessing on their life and as his offering of thanksgiving. This is his very personal and meaningful way of  sharing God’s blessings with others. It’s how he shows his thankfulness  to Christ.
 
Those words of Paul in 1 Thessalonians are a strong reminder to us that we are not our own, but are possessed by Jesus. So closely are we aligned to Him that we live by His words. In our humanity we may look at our situation, whatever it is, and become discouraged, even bitter. But as followers of Christ we express gratitude in even the most difficult situations.

So much so that when we feel unappreciated, even misunderstood, we find great hope in His words: “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matt. 5:11, 12).
 
It has been said that Christians are blessed to be a blessing. I don’t know what is going on in your life. I don’t know if you are at a high point or a low point. But why not look around you and identify those ways in which God has blessed you? During this Thanksgiving season look around and show your thankfulness to God by being a blessing to someone in need.

Pastor Dan Jackson

Note: This article was printed in the November 2013  Adventist World, NAD edition.

About the Author
Roger Hernandez Pastor Dan Jackson is the president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in North America. He wishes you a Happy Thanksgiving! 

 
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