The First Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving day is soon upon us, a day in which most households in America will prepare to partake of a feast consisting of turkey, with an assortment of other associated foods. There will be the usual sports events on this day as well, in which the men will sit around the television set drinking beer and stuffing themselves with junk food.

Thanksgiving day marks the start of the holiday season when stores start their holiday sales and people go out in droves to purchase their Christmas gifts. Lately, there has been a lot of fuss at least in my state of Massachusetts over the stores being open during such a prominently observed holiday such as Thanksgiving. The stores view this as another day of shopping to help balance their yearly books. The employees however, view this an infringement upon their ability to observe a sacred national holiday. What could possibly be more sacred than overeating and then watching television all day?

Most people will fail to think of the reason for the holiday in the first place that it is supposed to be a day of thanksgiving. Why is there a holiday called Thanksgiving, thanksgiving for what? In America we don’t seem to need a reason for a holiday anymore, call it anything you like, just give me a day off with pay is the attitude that many have. In the current economic state of America today just to have a job and a home in which to celebrate this holiday is good for starters. But to whom shall we be thankful if these things are currently in our possession?

The last thing that most people in America will think about this coming Thanksgiving day will be the true source of all that they possess. Contrary to what Mr. Obama has said publically, it won’t have come from the government, even if it had their name on it. And if anyone is tempted to think that their labor and ingenuity are responsible for their current prosperity or that of the nation, think again. There was a time when people in this land would have known the answer to this question that God is the source of all these things. Oh yes, we must work and apply ourselves in order to obtain the things we have. And it is true too that government seems to be in the business, of handing out the goodies of life more and more these days. But none of it would be there if not for God.

Consider the word of God:

O LORD, how manifold are Your works! In wisdom You have made them all. The earth is full of Your possessions — This great and wide sea, In which are innumerable teeming things, Living things both small and great. There the ships sail about; There is that Leviathan Which You have made to play there. These all wait for You, That You may give them their food in due season. What You give them they gather in; You open Your hand, they are filled with good. You hide Your face, they are troubled; You take away their breath, they die and return to their dust. You send forth Your Spirit, they are created; And You renew the face of the earth. (Ps. 104:24-30).

If we have anything in our possession, it came from God, whether we earned it or not. So then if we go without a home or a job this year what is there to be thankful for? Be thankful you have life, life with understanding that it has come from your Creator. God is great and greatly to be praised. Be thankful that you have strength to get out of bed today and do anything! If you have life today and able to read this, be thankful to God, your Creator who is also your provider. Every day should be a day of Thanksgiving, and it should be directed to God. Perhaps the absence of thankfulness may be the very reason that God withholds blessing. God is not simply in the business of benevolence as though He were Santa Claus. There is no such thing as entitlement when it comes to being a creature of His. God made this earth and all that is in it for His own glory. It is the duty of men to recognize this and to glorify Him by giving thanks to Him for what is received from His hand.

Consider our duty from Gods word:

Ps. 26:7- That I may proclaim with the voice of thanksgiving, And tell of all Your wondrous works.

Ps. 50:14- Offer to God thanksgiving, And pay your vows to the Most High.

Ps. 69:30- I will praise the name of God with a song, And will magnify Him with thanksgiving.

Ps. 95:2- Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms.

Ps. 100:4- Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.

Ps. 107:22- Let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, And declare His works with rejoicing.

Ps. 116:17- I will offer to You the sacrifice of thanksgiving, And will call upon the name of  the LORD.

Ps. 147:7- Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving; Sing praises on the harp to our God,

A day of Thanksgiving was originally commemorated by the continental congress in 1777 in remembrance of Gods gracious provision to our Pilgrim fathers who came to this country in the seventeenth century. These hearty souls braved the dangers of a sea voyage with their families to come to a new world in escape of severe religious persecution. Initially, the Pilgrims received help from the local Indians in planting a crop that was new to them, corn. The first harvest however, in the year 1621 in which they came was about to die due to an extreme drought. These faithful men of God, who had invested all including their lives to serve God, turned to Him in prayer.

Perhaps the best way to understand what happened is to read an eyewitness account, of the event which led to the first Thanksgiving, recorded by Cotton Mather in 1702 in his classic work, The Great Works of Christ in America:

“In one of the first Summers after their sitting down at Plymouth, a terrible drought threatened the ruin of all their summer’s husbandry. From about the middle of May to the middle of July, an extream hot sun beat upon their fields, without any rain, so that all their corn began to wither and languish, and some of it was irrecoverably parched up. In this distress they set apart a day for fasting and prayer, to deprecate tbe calamity that might bring them to fasting through famine; in the morning of which day there was no sign of any rain; but before the evening the sky was overcast with clouds, which went not away without such easie, gentle, and yet plentiful showers, as revived a great part of their decayed corn, for a comfortable harvest. The Indians themselves took notice of this answer given from heaven to tbe supplications of this devout people; and one of them said, “Now I see that the Englishman’s God is a good God; for he hath heard you, and sent you rain, and that without such tempest and thunder as we use to have with our rain; which after our Powawing for it, breaks down the corn; whereas your corn stands whole and good still; surely, your God is a good God.” The harvest which God thus gave to this pious people, caused them to set apart another day for solemn Thanksgiving to the glorious Hearer of Prayers!” (The Great Works of Christ in America, Vol 1, Chapter 3, Page 57).

Even the pagan Indians were moved to acknowledge the God of the Pilgrims in His deliverance from starvation. God heard the prayers of His people and undertook for them in their great need and distress, showing His mighty hand and rule over nature. These Pilgrims believed in the government of God to supply all their need. They also believed in civil government too for it is ordained of God for our well being according to Scripture (Rom. 13:1-7).

Has anyone in America today proposed a day of fasting and prayer concerning our current economic debacle? The crass idolatrous greed that we have engaged in as a nation has created an economic disaster that we are now feeling the full effects of. What about a day of fasting and repentance concerning those disgraceful sins of state sanctioned homosexual marriage and abortion which seem to define us as a nation now? It is impossible to offend God as a matter of public policy and think that we will prosper in it.

Today, there are few who think like these Pilgrim fathers did. The Public schools do not teach American history to the children concerning this. For me, its OK, I don’t want unbelievers teaching my children about religion. Parents have the responsibility to raise children who know the God that created them, the One who will also provide for them as well.

This year we ought to ponder these things as we approach another national holiday of Thanksgiving. Eat plenty of food, watch football, but do not forget to give God thanks!

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