The Benefits of Thanksgiving
by Cooper Abrams
INTRODUCTION: In the spring of 1621, after landing at Plymouth the previous year, the Pilgrims were not in good condition. They were living in dirt-covered shelters, there was a severe shortage of food and nearly half of them had died during the winter. They obviously needed help. Two Indians, Squanto -- also known as Ti-squan- tum (Tis-SKWAN-tum) -- and Samoset, who had been observing the colony for several days, decided to enter the camp and welcome the strangers. The Pilgrims were very surprised to meet two Indians who spoke English.
Squanto, who probably knew more English than any other Indian in North America at the time, decided to stay with the Pilgrims for the next few months and teach them how to survive in this place. He brought them deer meat and beaver skins. He taught them how to cultivate corn and other new vegetables and how to build Indian-style shelters. He pointed out poisonous plants and showed how plants could be used as medicines. He explained how to dig and cook clams, how to get sap from the maple trees, use fish for fertilizer, and dozens of other skills needed for survival. By the time fall arrived, things were going much better for the Pilgrims, thanks to the providential help they had received. The corn they planted had grown well. There was enough food to last the winter. They were living comfortably in their Indian-style wigwams and had also managed to build one European-style building out of squared logs. This building served as their first church. They were now in better health and they knew more about surviving the new land. They decided to have a Thanksgiving feast to celebrate their good fortune. They had observed Thanksgiving feasts as religious obligations in England for many years before coming to the New World.
Captain Miles Standish, the leader of the Pilgrims, invited Squanto, Samoset, Massasoit (the leader of the Wampanoags), and their immediate families to join them for a celebration, but they had no idea how large Indian families could be. As the first American Thanksgiving feast was about to begin, the Pilgrims were overwhelmed by the large turnout of ninety relatives that Squanto and Samoset brought with them. The Pilgrims were not prepared to feed this gathering of people – especially when you consider that the celebration was to last three days. Seeing the shortage of food, Massasoit gave orders to his men within the first hour of his arrival to go home and get more food. Five deer, many wild turkeys, fish, beans, squash, corn soup, corn bread and berries were brought to the feast. Captain Standish sat at one end of a long table and Clan Chief Massasoit sat at the other end.
For three days the Wampanoags feasted with the Pilgrims. It was a special time of friendship and thanksgiving between two very different groups of people. A peace and friendship agreement was made between Massasoit and Miles Standish giving the Pilgrims the clearing in the forest where an Indian village once stood to build their new town of Plymouth.
On June 20, 1676, the governing council of Charlestown, Mass. held a meeting to determine best how to express thanksgiving to God for the good fortune that had seen their community securely established.
The Continental Congress issued a Thanksgiving Proclamation for November 1782.
Eighty years later, President Lincoln declared the last Thursday in November as the official Thanksgiving Day. Even later, the U.S. Congress set the fourth Thursday in November as the special day of observance. The fourth Thursday is not always the last Thursday.
America has been a Christian nation from the very beginning. But things have changed dramatically in the past 35 years.
The history revisionist are trying hard to pervert what really happened. One web site for teachers has the Indians praying a pagan prayer to their gods. Not mention of the Pilgrims praying to Almighty God and giving him thanks. The revisionist would have you believe that the pilgrims were thanking the Indians for their bountiful harvest. They were very grateful for the Indians who helped them...but their prayer of thanksgiving were to the Lord.
(2) This nation was founded as a nation under God. There are forces in the land that are hell-bent on changing that... such as the ACLU, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, People for the American Way, NOW, PP, the national news media, the entertainment industry, the NEA, etc.
(3) The problem is spiritual... not political.
(4) Let us this morning look at what the Bible tells us is true thanksgiving Let consider who benefits for being thankful to the Lord?
I. THANKFUL PEOPLE ARE JOYFUL.
2. Isaiah 26:3 states it this way, "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee."
3. The peace "which passeth all understanding" means it is a peace that surpasses all that men can conceived or imagine. The words "shall keep" is a military term, and means that the mind would be guarded as a camp or castle is. It would be preserved from the intrusion of anxious fears and alarms.
4. The Bible commentator Barnes, has this to say on this verse: "It is only in him that the mind can be preserved in peace. It is not by mere confidence in God, or by mere prayer, but it is by confidence in God as he is revealed through the Redeemer, and by faith in him. Paul never lost sight of the truth, that all the security and happiness of a believer were to be traced to the Savior."
2. A believer has much to be thankful for;
B. A believer who is thankful to God understands that life is very short. The Pennsylvania Dutch have a saying "Too soon old and too late smart." Many believers spend years spinning their wheels and are very late determining God's ultimate purpose for them. Some never do.
Today there are growing numbers of people who considered themselves to be CONSUMERS.....RATHER THAN GIVERS. They come to church to be served, not to serve others. Some when called on complain about having to serve and point the finger at people who are not doing their share. Do you understand that with that attitude...no matter what the church member does there is no reward for them and it does not please the Lord. We are to serve with gladness...thanking the Lord for the opportunity.
(2) Grateful Christians know that God's will is always expandable. Don't drive your stakes too deep. As we grow, we see the picture more clearly. As our ministry is blessed and our vision enlarges, God's will becomes more encompassing. I was saved in January of 1972.... called to the ministry in 1977... and His leading has been "tweaked and clarified" continuously.
(3) Thankful people also know God's will is clear and measurable. While it is not always necessary or good to seek a sign (or put out a fleece) to know God's leading-- He always gives inner and outward witness to that which pleases or displeases Him. 1 John 2:27 declares "But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him."
(4) Thankful people know God's will is always energized by conviction. Conviction is the unshaken confidence that I am His and He is mine-- that His Word is true--that He knows, cares and watches over me--that where He guides, He provides--that His grace is always sufficient--that he will never put more on me than He will put in me to bear it up--that He may humble me but never humiliate me--that He will never leave me alone.
2 Corinthians 1:27-29 "But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence."
Do you not thank the same thing is true with God? It is serious business to be arrogant toward God.
Lets be really serious for a moment. Listen to what 1 Corinthians 11:27-30 referring to the Lord's supper, when we are to remember the sacrifice and sufferings of the Lord Jesus Christ for our sins.
Psalm. 103: 1-2 "Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits:"
Psalm 22:3 "But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel."