Today, in America, we celebrate a national holiday called “Thanksgiving.” It is a day that is to be given over to giving thanks to God for all his wonderful blessings and provisions, for it originated as a harvest festival. And, it is traditionally celebrated with a meal of Turkey, bread stuffing (dressing), cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and/or sweet potatoes, and some kind of green vegetable, plus pumpkin pies and other pies for dessert.
Sing to the Lord, all the earth!
Tell of his salvation from day to day.
Declare his glory among the nations,
his marvelous works among all the peoples!
For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised,
and he is to be feared above all gods.
For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols,
but the Lord made the heavens.
Splendor and majesty are before him;
strength and joy are in his place.
1 Chronicles 16:23-27 ESV
So, this begs the questions, “In what ways does God want us to give him thanks?” And, “Does this national holiday truly give to God the kind of thanks, honor and praise that he desires?” Or, “Is it just an idol, a tradition that we follow, and God is not truly honored by our celebrations at all?”
I believe it is possible to celebrate the holiday of Thanksgiving and to truly not give God the kind of praise and thanksgiving that he desires or that he deserves at all. I believe that we can call the day a day of thanksgiving, while ignoring God entirely, and while living to the flesh, and just doing what pleases the flesh, including eating too much food, and just spending the day entertaining ourselves and talking about the things of this world.
I have even seen Thanksgiving Day celebrations where thanks were not even given for the meal, let alone for anything else, and God was never mentioned. And, this was among those who professed faith in Jesus Christ.
For, the holiday had become just about eating too much food until people were stuffed even to the point of feeling sick for having eaten too much. And, it had become a day of self-indulgence and self-gratification rather than a day set aside to give true honor, glory and praise to God. For, it had become a day of feeding the flesh, not of giving true gratitude to God.
Is God pleased?
So, is God pleased by these kinds of celebrations? No, he isn’t! So, what does he want in the way of our thanksgiving and praise? He wants top billing! That’s what He wants! He wants the day and every day to be about Him, to honor him, though not just with our lips, but with our lives, by how we live our lives, for him and his righteousness and not for the flesh.
He wants us to choose to cling (adhere, cleave) to Him and to his ways, which are godly ways, and for us not to cling to “other gods” (idols) of this world. And, so this morning he is having me take a look at some of these “other gods” that Americans, including American Christians, cling to, often to the exclusion of God, or in usurping God by replacing him in his rightful position as Lord of our lives with other “lords” we follow, instead.
Another holiday that Americans celebrate around this time of the year is Christmas. Christmas is typically regarded by Christians as the celebration of Christ’s birth, but it is a mixture of paganism and Christianity, which I believe is purposeful, and is a design of Satan, not of God.
For, who, in reality, gets top billing on Christmas Day in America, even among Christians? Santa Claus, hands down! And, if not Santa, then commercialism, greed, materialism, partying, games, fun, entertainment, and, again, self-pleasure, self-indulgence, and self-gratification.
For, the food, the games, the tree, the decorations, the partying, etc. have nothing to do with celebrating Jesus Christ. In fact, the only thing he asks us to do specifically in remembrance of him is to take communion, in a worthy manner, where we remember his body and his blood which were given for us that we might die with him to sin and live with him to righteousness (Lu. 22:18-20; 1 Corinthians 11:23-25; 1 Pet. 2:24).
And, Santa (alias Satan) is a false god, who is given the attributes of Almighty God. And, who wanted to be God? Satan. And, who steals the hearts of boys and girls throughout the world on Christmas Day? A helpless baby lying in a manger? Or, an all-powerful Santa who flies through the air and who brings gifts to all the children of the world in a single night? I think the answer to that question is quite obvious.
[See: Pagan Revelry]
The church can be another idol, but not so much the true church, but the institutional market-driven church which is a business of human-making, and which is about building earthly kingdoms of men more than or in place of being about building God’s eternal kingdom. For, they often follow business models and marketing schemes for how to “build” the church, rather than following the teachings of the scriptures on how to build up the body of Christ, that we might all reach maturity in Christ.
Most of these institutional churches, at least here in America, are state churches, in reality, for they have willfully partnered with the government in an unholy union, which God forbids, which then puts the government as head of this church, which is not the true church, because the body of Christ is not an institution of men or a business or a corporation under any government. But, his body has joined with these state churches.
And, many of these institutional churches, which do have the true church as part of them, are following man-made religion, a diluted gospel, marketing schemes of men, and humanistic philosophy instead of God Almighty, the Holy Spirit, and the Word of God. And, God also forbids turning his house into a marketplace, for it is to be a house of prayer, and that house is us, his true church, his body.
Government worship has been foundational in evangelical Christianity in America all of my life. From early on in my life I was taught, not just in public school, but in the church gatherings, to pledge (vow) allegiance (fidelity) to the American flag (republic, government) with hand over heart, signifying that my heart and my loyalty and devotion were given to the government of the USA. But, only God should get that kind of allegiance, devotion, loyalty and fidelity from me, a follower of Christ.
Also, in the gatherings of the church we periodically sang patriotic songs giving worship, glory and honor to our government, and we honored and praised our military as our “saviors” who were the ones keeping us safe from harm. They were to be considered our heroes, and we were to look to them as the ones who were insuring our safety. But, God/Christ is our only Savior, and he is the one who protects us, and he is the one who keeps us safe and who provides for our needs, and he gives us the freedoms that we have.
So, we are not to give such worship to the government, which is not godly, and which, if truth be told, is anything but godly. Our government is not to be an idol to us, and our presidents and leaders are not our saviors, either, who are going to improve our life situations. In fact, if truth be told, they are not working for us, but against us. Take a look at Agenda 21, for example.
Our True Worship
So, how can we give God our true worship, praise, and thanks today and every day? We can do so first of all by choosing to cling to his way of holiness and righteousness and by refusing to cling to the idols of this world and the idols of our flesh. We need to forsake all other gods/idols, i.e. anything to which we give our worship, praise and devotion in place of or over God, or in combination with our worship of God.
And, we need to walk in the fear of the Lord in giving God (Jesus Christ) our wholehearted devotion and obedience. He needs to get top billing in our lives, and our lives are to be about Him, not about pleasing ourselves and feeding our own flesh. We are to be for his glory and praise.
And, then we need to not only be living for him, every day, and making him truly Lord of our lives, thus considering him in all that we do, and doing what he desires of us and what will truly give him honor and praise, but we are to be sharing him with others, especially with other believers in Jesus. Our conversations need to be about him, not mostly about the things of this world and about our own pleasures and pastimes. We are to make him known, and make his will and purposes known, not make ourselves known.
Songs in the Night
An Original Work / December 18, 2013
“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.” Acts 16:25 NIV ‘84
Lord, I praise You forevermore.
You, my Savior, I now adore.
Hope in heaven awaiting me,
Because You died at Calvary.
I have been forgiven,
And I’m bound for heaven.
Jesus set me free from
All my sin, I say.
I will praise Him always!
Lord, I love You for all You’ve done:
Overcame death, my vict’ry won!
Jesus saved me, and now I’m free!
I rejoice in His love for me.
I will walk in vict’ry!
My sin is but hist’ry!
I am free to please Him
With my life today.
I will love Him always!
Lord, I thank You for giving me
A new life bought at Calvary.
Loving Jesus, I meet with Him.
Tender mercies now flow within.
Lord, I am so thankful;
Through my Lord, I’m able
To sit at His table;
Fellowship with Him.
I will thank Him always!