Lesson 1: 3 Things to Do on Thanksgiving
Lesson Workbook (PDF) Click here
1. To reveal to students that they have plenty to give thanks for
2. To remind them that the thanks is due to God
3. To inspire them to practice thanksgiving in practical, meaningful ways
Celebration, Thankfulness, Thanksgiving
1 Thessalonians 5:18
OPENING PRAYER (5 to 10 minutes)
GROUP BUILDING (10 minutes)
This activity can be found in the lesson workbook, or you can simply pass out paper and pencils. Have the students write the letters spelling "THANKS" down the left hand side of the paper. Challenge them to come up with something they are personally thankful for. Something for each letter of "THANKS."
Explain that it is okay if not every answer is super-serious. In fact, use this time to laugh and have a good time. Allow about 2 minutes and then give the students time to share.
GETTING STARTED (5 minutes)
• What do you think of when you think of Thanksgiving?
• Do you think there’s anything wrong with those customs or symbols? Why/why not?
• Does anyone have a funny Thanksgiving dinner story they’d like to share?
Thanksgiving is more than turkey, football, and parades. It is a holiday, a “Holy Day.” As such, we should approach it with a Christian perspective. It has deep religious roots, and we weren’t the first to celebrate it. In fact, the practice of pausing to give thanks goes WAY back to the Old Testament.
DIGGING DEEP (30 minutes)
Let’s take a look at the practice of thanksgiving in the Bible. We will see 3 things we can do this Thanksgiving.
Read Leviticus 23:34-44
1. How many times is the name “God” is used in these verses? (10 times in 12 verses.)
2. What are some things in this text that the nation of Israel is supposed to pause and give thanks for? (The harvest, deliverance, etc.)
One of the first things they are urged to do is recognize that they are forgiven. That is certainly something to be thankful for!
Read Leviticus 23:42-43 (again)
1. What are the people told to live in? (Temporary shelter.)
2. Why are they instructed to do this? (So that their descendants would know that they had been delivered for captivity.)
3. How is this like how we’ve been forgiven? (We are free from the captivity of sin.)
We can be thankful, like Israel, that we are free!
We can also be thankful because we have peace and rest.
Read Leviticus 23:35-36 (again)
1. How many times does God prohibit working in this passage? (Twice.)
2. What days are they not to work? (The first and eighth days of the festival.)
3. Why do you think this is? (They had labored 400 years--they deserved rest.)
Just as He wanted it for Israel, God wants peace for us. And peace has come--through Jesus Christ. “The Word has become flesh” (John 1:14) and we no longer have to grasp for God. He has come. And He has come to bring us rest.
We can be thankful that we can cease striving and rest.
Lastly, we can be thankful that we have reason to celebrate.
Read Leviticus 23:37-39 (again)
The truth is that you have more than most. We read in this passage that God wanted Israel to celebrate what He had given to them. It was His provision that kept them going.
1. What are some ways God provides for you? (Parents, shelter, etc.)
2. What are some ways God provides yet you remain discontent? (A newer iPod, a better car, a bigger house, etc.)
3. When was the last time you stopped and celebrated what God has given you?
Especially around Thanksgiving, we should stop and celebrate. If you have anything for Thanksgiving dinner, you’re eating more than nearly 1 billion people in the world that day. And if you have heat in your house, you’re way ahead of most. In fact, if you have four well-constructed walls and a ceiling, you’re among the rich in the world.
We can be thankful for God’s provision. And an appropriate response is to celebrate!
MAKING IT REAL (20 minutes)
Forgiveness, rest, and celebration: What are some practical ways to do these three things? Let’s talk about that.
1. When it comes to forgiveness, what has God forgiven you of?
2. Who are some people you need to forgive?
3. How can wiping those slates clean help you be a better thanks-giver?
Here are some challenges about forgiveness:
• Call a family member you haven’t invited to dinner.
• Apologize to someone you know you’ve offended.
• Forgive tomorrow—you have been forgiven.
1. How can you slow down and experience more peace and rest during an extremely busy holiday season?
2. Why is rest important? What does it give you time to do?
Here are some challenges about rest:
• If you have holiday company, don’t work too hard making your house pretty, everyone has dirt. Enjoy your guests instead.
• Remember that Jesus Tabernacled among us.
• Turn off the television and the cell phone and relax! Peace has come.
1. Why do we sometimes choose not to celebrate but instead complain?
2. What was the most fun party you’ve ever been to?
3. Why can’t Thanksgiving be like that?
Here are some celebration challenges:
• Eat. Enjoy every bite. It’s from God!
• Laugh. Share funny stories. Encourage one another.
• Thank God for how much He’s blessed you with. Maybe write a list or go around the table with friends until nobody can think of anything new to say.
• Help someone who has less. Find a local shelter or homeless ministry and spend time with the people.