"O give thanks unto the LORD, for he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever" (1Chronicles 16:34).

To be thankful for something, we have to have someone to be thankful to.  It doesn’t make sense to just say “I am thankful” to the wind, into the thin air.  We need a “recipient” to receive our thanks to make it complete.  How could we give thanks if there were not a recipient to receive them?  Thanksgiving Day is an American tradition, and it’s not just to eat turkey and pumpkin pie.  It is a time for reflection on our blessings and to give thanks to the One who is the Provider.  It goes back to our beginning and encompasses the nation beginning with its leaders.  While good eats are a symbol, it is much deeper than the family and the table spread before them.

The beginning:  On September 6, 1620, more than 100 people left Plymouth, England on a ship named "Mayflower” on a mission to find the religious freedom that they so greatly desired.  At sea for 65 days, on a cold and damp wooden ship, they ate cold food; they were afraid to set the ship on fire heating it.  It was a merchant ship and certainly not a "cruise" ship.  They endured the hardships to reach the land of their dreams, dealt with illness which took the life of one of them; and finally arrived at Plymouth.  Their first winter was devastating and less than 50 of them survived.


On March 16, an Indian named Samoset walked into their settlement and surprised them with the greeting, “Welcome, Englishmen.”  Samoset introduced them to Squanto (Tisquantum) who had been to England and spoke English; he served as their guide and interpreter.  Squanto taught them how to tap the maple trees and to plant Indian corn, pumpkin and peas, wheat and barley.  He taught them how to catch eels and use them as fertilizer for the maize.  Governor Bradford called him a “spetial (sic) instrument sent of God for good.”

Their October harvest was abundant; they had built homes and were at peace with the Indians.  It was time for a celebration!  The Pilgrim governor, William Bradford, proclaimed a day of thanksgiving which would be celebrated and shared with their friendly Indian neighbors.  He sent “four men fowling” and they brought back deer, duck and geese for the feast.  The celebration included races, games and skillful exhibits by both the Pilgrims and the Indians; it lasted three days.

In November 1622, Squanto became ill and asked the governor to pray for him to go to the Englishman’s God in Heaven.  He asked Governor Bradford to give his belongings to his Plymouth English friends as an expression of his love.

The second year was not as bountiful for the Pilgrims since they were not used to growing corn and other vegetables, and they shared what they had with newcomers so everyone ran short of provisions.  The third summer was dry and hot and they watched their crops dying in their fields.  Governor Bradford ordered a day of fasting and prayer, and very soon the rain came.

November 29 was proclaimed a day of thanksgiving, and it is believed that was the real beginning of our Thanksgiving Day.  The Continental Congress suggested a day of national thanksgiving in the late 1770’s.  In 1863 President Abraham Lincoln appointed a national day of thanksgiving.  Since then each president has issued a Thanksgiving Day proclamation, usually the fourth Thursday of November as a national holiday.  May it continue with the current president and futures ones until the Lord returns!


Who was to be thanked on this special day proclaimed by national leaders?  A day of thanksgiving–to God—had been celebrated since the Pilgrims observed it and subsequently proclaimed by our national leaders to be a national holiday.  

Back to the earlier question:  How could we give thanks if there were not a recipient to receive them?  Who better to receive than the One who created all things for which we give thanks?  Our thanksgiving begins to the Receiver—Creator of the universe, and extends to each other as we invoke God’s blessings on His creation.  Imagine the fallout if we gave thanks to God for each other and eliminated all animosity.  Of course that is fantasy, because as long as there is a devil there will be evils and disunity among earth’s inhabitants.


But that should not happen to God’s people!  Sadly, it does.  Could we set aside this Thanksgiving Season to wipe out past grievances and disagreements, allow forgiveness to do its perfect work and just be thankful?  God extended His perfect forgiveness to us with expectations that we would do the same for each other; you know, the unconditional kind that prefers its brother before itself and loves “anyhow.”


Contrary to the naysayers who say prayer has no place in our schools, government and public places, our nation was founded by pray-ers.  Those who say our forefathers did not intend for our religious life to overlap our public lives are dead wrong!  They are ignorant of America’s history.  Their agenda has nothing to do with preserving “separation of church and state,” it has to do with their own personal emptiness that has not been touched by a loving, giving and forgiving God or their rejection of Him.  Those who know God know that a relationship with Him (not mere “religion”) makes for a better people which makes a better nation.  Why would we not want a better nation?  Makes no sense to me.

"If we are, as many declare, a 'nation of laws,' we would be wise to acknowledge that these laws are the Judeo-Christian values found in the Bible, enunciated in our Declaration of Independence, established as law by our Constitution, and by the Constitutions of our states.  Movement away from these values would so fundamentally change America that it would forever cease to be the America envisioned by our founding fathers."

....Rev. Daniel L. Black, "Pathway Press.

Amen!  Brother Black!


May we not allow those who reject our God and would limit expression of our religious freedom to be successful.  May it cause us to become more determined to live a godly life in their presence and be more thankful for our thus-far free nation and pray for them lest we lose that freedom by their efforts and our default. 


Thank God for our Freedom; may it long ring true.

Thank God who gave His Son, Jesus, to die for our salvation.

Thank Jesus who was willing to nail our sins to His cross and pay for them.

Thank God who sent the Holy Spirit promised by Jesus to be by our side and never leave us.

After all of that thanksgiving, the list of other blessings would be too long to add here.  Make your own list and make this November holiday truly a day of Thanksgiving—to God, and then let it become a habit that lasts all year.

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@  There's Good News November 2009


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