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Celebrating Thanksgiving

Up until the last week, I thought Thanksgiving was a uniquely American holiday. This year does mark 400 years since the first Thanksgiving holidays were celebrated with pilgrim settlers and Native Americans in America. But as I researched it a bit, I found that many countries around the world, including Japan, celebrate Thanksgiving. It is often tied to the harvest, being thankful to God for His provision.

In Japan, they have a holiday called 勤労感謝の日 or “Labor Thanksgiving Day.” This holiday is a day off to commemorate harvest and production and thank each other for their hard work. While this day is set on November 23, the American holiday of Thanksgiving is fixed to the 4th Thursday of the month of November. The staple of the American celebration is a big meal centered around Turkey and fellowship, thanking God as the provider of all good things.

This year more than many others in the recent past Thanksgiving was especially meaningful. I think a big part of that was the challenging year of 2020 that we’ve all just come through. I can look back and see God’s loving care for us in the midst of so many difficulties. This fills my heart with thankfulness and joy, because I know His loving protection is a very real and tangible part of my life. Psalms 91:1-7 says this:

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.[a]
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
    my God, in whom I trust.”

Surely he will save you
    from the fowler’s snare
    and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his feathers,
    and under his wings you will find refuge;
    his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
You will not fear the terror of night,
    nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
    nor the plague that destroys at midday.
A thousand may fall at your side,
    ten thousand at your right hand,
    but it will not come near you.

Psalms 91:1-7

These are amazing promises! They are real and wonderful and fill me with faith. Did you notice in verse 1 that it’s for “whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High God.” What does that mean? These promises are predicated on a very special condition, seen in verse 9

If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
    and you make the Most High your dwelling,
10 no harm will overtake you,
    no disaster will come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you
    to guard you in all your ways;

Psalms 91:9-11

This protection isn’t for everyone — it’s only for those who run to the LORD for their protection and say out loud “The Lord is my refuge.” They don’t run to money. They don’t trust religion. They don’t put their ultimate hope in technology, medicine, science or abilities or talents or vaccinations or the list goes on and on. These things aren’t bad things, in fact they can be very beneficial, but they aren’t true protection and salvation either.

This is a theme that runs strongly through the Bible — it’s one of the main themes of the Bible, that the LORD is the only one we can call upon for salvation.

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

Romans 10:9

Just as we learn in the Psalms of the promises that belong to those who call upon the name of the LORD, we later learn what the Psalmist didn’t know at the time He wrote his Psalm — that the name of the LORD is Jesus. We must declare Jesus as our LORD out loud for these promises to be active in our lives.

To proclaim Jesus is Lord is to put Him first in our life. It’s to acknowledge that He is the ultimate authority above every other and His Word is our authority for right living. Faith in Jesus comes as we read His Word, as we ask God for revelation of who He is so we can know and follow Him. Then we can proclaim with a heart full of faith “Jesus is LORD” and live a rich and full life in the promises of God!

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