We want this Thanksgiving to be all it implies. Do not let it be perverted, mingled with dross; but let it be what its name implies—giving thanks. Let our voices ascend in praise. Let our hearts lay hold on the Exalted One; for the train of His glory fills the temple.
We should individually aim for a higher and holier standard. The mind will surely become dwarfed if it is continually occupied with earthly things. But if trained to dwell upon heavenly, eternal themes, it will be expanded, elevated, and strengthened. . . . We fail to obtain the wisdom God has brought within our reach. Suppose we change this order of things, and begin from today to train the thoughts to dwell upon the great plan of salvation, devoting less time to self-serving. Suppose you try to count all your blessings. You have thought so little upon them, and they have been so continual, that when reverses or afflictions come, you are grieved, and think God is unjust. You do not call to mind how little gratitude you have manifested for all the blessings of God. You have not deserved them; but because they have flowed in upon you day by day, year by year, you have looked upon them as a matter of course, thinking it was your right to receive every advantage, and give nothing in return. . . . The blessings of God are more than the hairs of our head, more than the sands of the seashore. Meditate upon His love and care for us, and may it inspire you with love that trials cannot interrupt nor afflictions quench.
Let us give thanks unto the Lord; for He is good, and His mercy endureth forever. What kind of a Thanksgiving shall we keep—one to ourselves, bestowing all our benefits upon ourselves and receiving the attentions of others, but bringing no thanksgiving offering to God? This is idolatry of the most offensive character in the sight of a jealous God. Everything should be avoided that would have a tendency to draw our hearts’ worship from God. Let not any more Thanksgiving days be observed to please and gratify the appetite, and glorify self. We have reason for coming into the courts of the Lord with offerings of gratitude that He has preserved our lives another year.
Satan has sought to destroy the true purpose and design of Thanksgiving, to turn away from God the honor due Him, and to center it upon ourselves.
Parents, do not neglect to impart to your children the very education they should have. Upon their birthdays, instead of calling their attention to themselves by giving them presents, teach them to come with an offering to God. . . . In many cases, birthday gifts have proved a detriment rather than a blessing. The children should be educated to look to God as the giver of life, their protector and their preserver, and to come to Him with an offering for all His favors. Every opportunity should be employed to implant in their hearts right views of God and His love for us. Nothing should be done to foster in them vanity, self-esteem, or pride. Teach them to review the past year of their life, to consider whether they would be glad to meet its record just as it stands in the books of heaven. . . . Teach them the knowledge of the Lord, His ways, His precepts. “Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.” We want the children to learn to look away from self to heavenly things, there to bestow their thanksgiving.
God has spared our lives till this day; now how shall we keep it, with feasting and gluttony? Is this a true thanksgiving to God? No; we are to render thanks and thank offerings for the mercies bestowed upon us every day during the past year. How should we keep Thanksgiving ? “When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor thy rich neighbors; lest they also bid thee again, and a recompense be made thee. But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind; and thou shalt be blessed, for they cannot recompense thee; for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.” This is the kind of a feast God instructs us to give. How many will follow these specific directions of God’s Word by calling the poor to their homes with words of sympathy and the spirit of beneficence, and thus make such a feast as will be pleasing to God? Satan has sought to destroy the true purpose and design of Thanksgiving, to turn away from God the honor due Him, and to center it upon ourselves.
Now is the time when God should be praised for His goodness and bountiful gifts to the children of men. You may say, “What has the Lord done for us?” Much in every way. You have the products of the earth, filling your barns, your granaries, your storehouses. In this you have abundance for which to give thanks. Here are your children. They are clothed, and you have fuel, food, and shelter. You should not only praise God, but you should come into His courts with a thank offering. How many of us have trained ourselves to bring an offering to Him? I remember a brother’s once taking us to his granary, saying, “You see my barns and granaries are so full I shall have to build an addition; for I do not know where to bestow the products of my ground.” And a little after, speaking of a poor widow, he said, “I do not see how she will take care of herself this cold winter. I fear she will have a hard time of it, indeed.” I said, “Who gave you these things you have just shown me! Was it not the God of heaven? You say it was; then it is your duty to give of your plenty to that poor widow. Thus you can answer this question yourself.” He had not seen it in that light. He had thought helping the poor from his bounty was another consideration. God help you to open your hearts to suffering humanity; for they are the purchase of high heaven. Christ identifies His interests with those of His needy, suffering children; and neglect done to them is registered in the books of heaven as done to Christ in the person of His saints.
Seventh-day Adventists believe that Ellen G. White (1827-1915) exercised the biblical gift of prophecy during more than 70 years of public ministry. This portion of a Thanksgiving sermon delivered at the Dime Tabernacle, Thursday, November 27, 1884, was printed in the Review and Herald, December 23, 1884.