The holiday that helps

Thanksgivings on Special Occasions - Fourth in a series

Continuing now in an exploration of Thanksgivings on Special Occasions, a “protestant permission” (see related post), we come to the days leading to Easter.

Any Christian holiday should magnify Jesus Christ. If it turns the spotlight from the Lord to any other thing, it is not a holy day. A minister has the work of helping the flock to renew their inner selves to love Christ more. How might that be done?

Here is a list that amplifies the ways that Jesus humbled himself, as Paul writes in Philippians, He humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. (Phil 2:8) Reading this list helped me to renew my mind and heart to worship God. It is taken from Pastor David Guzik’s commentary on the Philippians verse.

  • He was humble in that he took the form of a man, and not a more glorious creature like an angel.
  • He was humble in that He was born into an obscure, oppressed place.
  • He was humble in that He was born into poverty among a despised people.
  • He was humble in that He was born as a child instead of appearing as a man.
  • He was humble in submitting to the obedience appropriate to a child in a household.
  • He was humble in learning and practicing a trade – and a humble trade of a builder.
  • He was humble in the long wait until He launched out into public ministry.
  • He was humble in the companions and disciples He chose.
  • He was humble in the audience He appealed to and the way He taught.
  • He was humble in the temptations He allowed and endured.
  • He was humble in the weakness, hunger, thirst, and tiredness He endured.
  • He was humble in His total obedience to His Heavenly Father.
  • He was humble in His submission to the Holy Spirit.
  • He was humble in choosing and submitting to the death of the cross.
  • He was humble in the agony of His death.
  • He was humble in the shame, mocking, and public humiliation of His death.
  • He was humble in enduring the spiritual agony of His sacrifice on the cross.

Jesus Christ is worthy of our highest praise. If you are one who celebrates Lent or Maundy Thursday or Good Friday, did—or would— this list assist you to renew your adoration of Him? It was helpful to me in writing this post. We don’t need to wait for a holy day for a revived heart of praise for the Lord. Yet life becomes routine, and holidays help to refresh our spirits— when renewal in Christ is realized.

Consoled by Praise

The consolations of God - Thirteenth in a series

When Leah gave birth to her fourth son, she was thankful and named him Praised, or Judah. (Gen 29:35) Thus, the branch that grew from Jesse, The Lord, (Isa 11:1), was prophesied in his name as a Word of Praise. Israel's consolation (Luk 2:25) is the perfect Word.

Perhaps when we feel in need of being consoled, praising God does not occur to us. We want him to stoop to our need as he characteristically does. (Phil 2:6-8) Yet, praise is a great consolation: It fills us with truth, we are uplifted and our hearts are settled. So, at those times when we feel a deep need for God's succoring, seeking it through praise is wise.

First, that is the way of obedience. Paul reminds us to think on what is praiseworthy. (Phil 4:8) In Hebrews, we are encouraged to praise continually. (Heb 13:15)

Next, we know that disappointments and trials are temporary: Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope in God: for I shall yet praise him, [who is] the health of my countenance, and my God. (Ps 43:5) Let's not "take up housekeeping" in the valley.

Also, it is a beautiful thing to do: Rejoice in the LORD, O ye righteous: [for] praise is comely for the upright. (Ps 33:1) Comely means beautiful.

And, it's good and pleasant to praise God. We then feel better. (Ps 135:3)

God comes to our rescue as we praise: Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me: and to him that ordereth [his] conversation [aright] will I shew the salvation of God. (Ps 50:23)

We know we can trust that his works are wonderful (Ps 107:8, 15, 21, 31) and all things work together for good for those who love the Lord. (Rom 8:28)

If he answers before we call (Isa 65:24), why should we not praise before we groan?

Why let rocks take our place? "I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out." (Luke 19:37-40)

Jesus was sent… to give us the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness so that we may be known as God's own, to glorify him. (Isa 61:1-3)

Praise the Lord!

A Call for Thanksgiving

Thanksgivings on Special Occasions - First in a series

Most Americans look forward to Thanksgiving, but perhaps most do not realize that it is a Protestant permission, in a manner of speaking.

In the early days of the Reformation, Christian leaders met to discuss the formalities of the church and to establish rules for worship. How should the worship service begin? What is the correct posture in church for times of prayer— stand, sit or kneel?

What are the sacraments to be observed, and how ought they to be administered and by whom? Should a man not called into the pastorate be allowed to serve communion? Should any special days be acknowledged in addition to the day of rest, the Sabbath, on Sundays?

Their careful studies and decisions may be read in articles on the internet and in documents such as the Westminster Confession and The Directory of Publick Worship.

In the Directory, a section is devoted to the Observation of Days of Public Thanksgiving. Although the time of reformation proclaimed an end to the feast days of the Roman church that had no basis in Scripture, the reformers saw good purpose in special days being set apart for thanksgiving or for fasting, as occasions may dictate. The Anglican church accepted the concepts of the Reformation.

So, the descendants of the Pilgrims and other early Americans could embrace President George Washington’s call for a Day of Thanksgiving which he issued on October 3, 1789, 230 years ago today. The special day would be celebrated on Thursday, November 26 (1789). You can read Washington’s proclamation here.

The Pilgrims are credited with celebrating the first Thanksgiving:

The American Thanksgiving also has its origin in the faith practices of Puritan New England, where strict Calvinist doctrine sanctioned only the Sabbath, fast days and thanksgivings as religious holidays or “holy days.” To the Puritans, a true “thanksgiving” was a day of prayer and pious humiliation, thanking God for His special Providence. Auspicious events, such as the sudden ending of war, drought or pestilence, might inspire a thanksgiving proclamation. It was like having an extra Sabbath during the week. Fasts and thanksgivings never fell on a Sunday. (ref)

Thus, when President Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday of November as a national holiday (holy day), he stood in a long tradition of Americans desiring to thank God for his bountiful care.

He declared this on October 3, 1863, which, after enumerating the blessings of God on America, read, in part:

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. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.

Thanksgiving was made a fixed, national holiday to be celebrated the fourth Thursday of November by Congress on October 6, 1941, and the resolution was signed by President Franklin Roosevelt later that year.

Do we celebrate Thanksgiving as a holy day devoted to thanking God for blessing us in America? Even at this late date since the founding of our republic, there is so much to be thankful for.

Offer unto God thanksgiving; and pay thy vows unto the most High: And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me. (Ps 50:14-15)

This is the first in a brief blog series, “Thanksgivings on special occasions.” The series will pick up again in November.

Thanksgivings on Special Occasions blog series slideshow image credits: Pixabay.com - Easter-Andy Frazier, Thanksgiving dinner-free-photos, Christmas tree-Skeeze.

Attention Readers

Have you visited the Biotech Blog on this website? Find information and resources to help you think about biotech as a Christian.

During the summer of 2017, I explored the topic of kidney donation. Is it right for a society to permit that? To encourage it? What do you think? Read the Live Kidney Donation Series!

Should you sign your driver’s license to be an organ donor? Is cremation OK with God? Do these practices undermine the Christian doctrine of the Resurrection?

Learn more. The conscience cannot function without facts.


Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. -Mat 5:14

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