American Thanksgiving can be a wonderful holiday celebration. I say it CAN be. It may be (and no doubt it is) nothing other than yet one more day to feed the many appetites of the flesh--food, fun, football [American style], and a day or two off from our vocations. None of these, mind you, is necessarily bad in itself. But it was originally planned to be a day commemorating God's protection and providence in bringing the religiously disenfranchised to a new world where they might find freedom to worship God as conscience dictated. Indeed, all men are free to worship God (god) in any way they wish. They are--make no mistake about it--NOT free to create God; that is something quite outside the purview of their abilities. And the right worship of God is not something which we may determine. We need the help of God in his holy Word, the Bible. The true God has and will exercise his unique right to determine HOW he is to be worshiped.
That said, for those who submit to God's Kingship, there is very much for which we might be thankful, not the least of which is the forgiveness of sin, which paves the way to a blessed life with God both here and forever in heaven. But many mistake the basis of God's forgiveness of sin. First, they imagine their sins are not as bad as God knows them to be! Second, beyond that they may imagine God to be that grandfatherly and somewhat demented "deity" who fumbles about boringly in heaven, one who naively winks and "forgives" us all because he really thinks a lot of us. After all, we "mean well," and (many mistakenly think) he needs us! Nothing could be further from the truth. Man has grossly offended the thrice-holy God. He needs no one, for the Godhead is complete within itself. Furthermore, most don't seem to realize (or they've forgotten) that man is intensely unholy and therefore God cannot have them in his presence. “You . . . are of purer eyes than to see evil and cannot look at wrong, ” (Habakkuk 1:13a). So, there are huge hurdles to overcome. Many don't seem to understand this today.
So, with this in mind I thought it vital to our right teaching and therefore to our correct celebration to quote Oswald Chamber's devotion for November 19th. Please read this slowly. Much is gotten into few words. But critical words they are. If you appreciate this, you may just be well along your way to a proper giving of thanks to Him who who is most worthy of all praise. May God bless you.
And when He is come, He will convict the world of sin.… John 16:8
Very few of us know anything about conviction of sin; we know the experience of being disturbed because of having done wrong things; but conviction of sin by the Holy Ghost blots out every relationship on earth and leaves one relationship only—“Against Thee, Thee only, have I sinned.” When a man is convicted of sin in this way, he knows with every power of his conscience that God dare not forgive him; if God did forgive him, the man would have a stronger sense of justice than God. God does forgive, but it cost the rending of His heart in the death of Christ to enable Him to do so. The great miracle of the grace of God is that He forgives sin, and it is the death of Jesus Christ alone that enables the Divine nature to forgive and to remain true to itself in doing so. It is shallow nonsense to say that God forgives us because He is love. When we have been convicted of sin we will never say this again. The love of God means Calvary, and nothing less; the love of God is spelt on the Cross and nowhere else. The only ground on which God can forgive me is through the Cross of my Lord. There, His conscience is satisfied.
Forgiveness means not merely that I am saved from hell and made right for heaven (no man would accept forgiveness on such a level); forgiveness means that I am forgiven into a recreated relationship, into identification with God in Christ. The miracle of Redemption is that God turns me, the unholy one, into the standard of Himself, the Holy One, by putting into me a new disposition, the disposition of Jesus Christ.
Chambers, O. (1986). My utmost for his highest: Selections for the year. Grand Rapids, MI: Oswald Chambers Publications; Marshall Pickering.