by Kevin Carson
Pastor, Sonrise Baptist Church, Ozark, MO
If you were asked to define Thanksgiving, it might go something like this. “Thanksgiving is a holiday in the United States, celebrated annually on the fourth Thursday of November which commemorates the Pilgrims’ celebration of thanks in 1621.” However, for many of us, this definition misses many of the nuances of our personal celebrations. To see those, let’s look into a few windows of a traditional Thanksgiving.
Window 1: We see a big table all set — plates, glasses, napkins, beautiful tablecloth, a ready table. Against the wall it looks like a buffet: several pies, some jam cake, and other types of goodies.
Window 2: We move just one window over and realize the window is cracked open. The aroma, oh the aroma! As we peek through this window we see a kitchen bustling with activity — several ladies all busy, sounds of much talking and laughter. The kitchen counters are bursting with plenty. It looks like the range top is full as well. The stove looks crammed. And did I mention the aroma?
Window 3: We turn the corner of the house and look through a window where there are children everywhere. These children are close to the same age as each other and filled with energy. We notice toys, hear stories, see imaginations at work, chuckle at the laughing, and there is fun all around.
Window 4: This room looks like the family room or living room. Regardless, men and older boys are everywhere. Not a whole lot of in-depth talking. Instead, it looks like maybe the Detroit Lions or Dallas Cowboys playing on television.
There are other traditions — the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, traveling, the special Thanksgiving prayer at dinner. Mere talking about Pilgrims, Indians, and the Mayflower fails to capture the depth, the nuances of tradition and memories, or the special place this day has in so many people’s lives.
Consider the Bible
I also think this is true when you hear someone say that the Bible is important for every Christian. It is easy to think in terms of reading a few verses each day, taking your favorite Bible to church with you, memorizing some verses special to you, and occasionally telling someone else about a particular verse or passage. However, for the Christian, the Bible is so much more. It would be a missed opportunity to overlook the nuances, depth, richness, and blessings of the Bible this Thanksgiving season.
To help us fill in the blanks, we need to look no further than Psalm 19. David writes:
The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul:
The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.
The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart:
The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.
The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever:
The judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether (vv. 7-9).
David teases out the character of the Bible. He describes the Mosaic Law by using several synonyms for it; however, this is true for the rest of the Bible as well. God’s Word is perfect (v. 7), sure (v. 7), right (v. 8), pure (v. 8), clean (v. 9), enduring forever (v. 9), true (v. 9), and righteous (v. 9). If we are not careful, these terms can roll off our tongue without considering the value of the resource God provides. There is reason to rejoice and to be grateful. David describes these characteristics and emphasizes the significance, quality, uniqueness, and reliability of the Bible.
David also describes the complete benefits of the Bible for the believer. Since the Bible is perfect, it restores life (v. 7). The Word of God preserves, renews, and refreshes the inner man or life of the one who studies it.
As a trustworthy, reliable, sure Word, the Bible makes the simple wise (v. 7). Here, David refers to the morally naïve or the one who is still young in the faith without understanding the difference between wisdom and folly, glory and shame, light and darkness, or right and wrong. The Bible provides a way to understand life, God, themselves, and others.
As guidelines and principles for living, the precepts of the Lord are right, just, fitting and appropriate to all of life’s circumstances (v. 8). They make the heart of the one who follows them happy. The believer’s inner man is full of joy and satisfaction because of obedience to God’s desires.
As morally and ethically pure, the commandment of the Lord opens man’s eyes (v. 8). The Bible sheds light on the purpose of life, reveals how to live in a Christ-honoring way, exposes how to apply wisdom in tough circumstances, and helps with discernment and insight.
As true, entirely righteous, and enduring, God’s Word helps produce the right kind of thinking and living (v. 9). The Bible, as used by the Spirit, changes the believer’s character and conduct.
Your Response This Thanksgiving
David appropriately reminds us that the value of the Bible is much greater than gold or the best food (v. 10). The Bible provides good warnings and promises great rewards (v. 11). David’s response: repentance and gratitude. May our prayer this Thanksgiving be similar to David’s: “May the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer” (v. 14).