Dad will be sharing this devotional today as we are gathered together with family and friends for this Thanksgiving holiday, taking the time to ponder on why we are gathering and how much we have to be thankful for.
I hope you are blessed by it and Happy Thanksgiving!
What is the holiday, Thanksgiving to you?
Family tradition of fellowship, food and football? A long weekend with no school?
What is it truly?
William Bradford said “"All ye Pilgrims with your wives and little ones, do gather at the Meeting House, on the hill… there to listen to the pastor, and render Thanksgiving to the Almighty God for all His blessings."
It is an American, Christian tradition instituted in the year 1623 by the English Puritan Separatists we know as “The Pilgrims”.
Who were the Pilgrims and where did they come from:
During the reign of Queen Elizabeth, Puritan-leaning religious opinions were generally tolerated, but when King James came to power in 1604 the Church of England again began to root out, prosecute, and jail those who openly believed the Church needed to be purified of its false ceremonies, non-Scriptural teachings, and superstitious rituals. Across England, small groups began to separate themselves from their persecuting Churches, to form their own secret congregations. One such group was centered not too far from Sherwood Forest, in a small village in Nottinghamshire named Scrooby. Led by Richard Clyfton, John Robinson, and William Brewster, by 1606 the group was secretly holding meetings in Scrooby Manor, where Brewster was employed as the postmaster. It was not long, however, before the authorities were onto them. The group made the decision to flee England to Holland, where they had heard they could practice their religion without the threat of jail, punishments, and fines. After several failed attempts in 1607, they all managed to make it to Amsterdam in 1608, and later migrated en masse to Leiden, Holland in early 1609.
Why did the Pilgrims leave Holland?
Reasons for departure are suggested by Bradford, when he notes the "discouragements" of the hard life they had in the Netherlands, and the hope of attracting others by finding "a better, and easier place of living"; the "children" of the group being "drawn away by evil examples into extravagance and dangerous courses"; the "great hope, for the propagating and advancing the gospel of the kingdom of Christ in those remote parts of the world."
History / derivatives of the holiday:
Henry Laurens on Thanksgiving
This is the origin of our annual Thanksgiving Day celebration.
Congress of the United States has proclaimed National Days
of Thanksgiving to Almighty God many times throughout the
following years. On November 1, 1777, by order of Congress,
the first National Thanksgiving Proclamation was proclaimed,
and signed by Henry Laurens, President of Continental
Congress. The third Thursday of December, 1777 was thus
officially set aside:
"…for solemn thanksgiving and praise. That with
one heart and one voice the good people may
express the grateful feelings of their hearts, and
consecrate themselves to the service of their
Divine Benefactor;… and their humble and
earnest supplication that it may please God,
through the merits of Jesus Christ, mercifully to
forgive and blot them (their manifold sins) out of
remembrance… That it may please Him… to take
schools and seminaries of education, so necessary
for cultivating the principles of true liberty, virtue
and piety under His nurturing hand, and to prosper
the means of religion for the promotion and
enlargement of that kingdom which consisteth of
'righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost'…"
George Washington on Thanksgiving
On January 1, 1795, our first
United States President, George Washington,
wrote his famed National Thanksgiving
Proclamation, in which he says that it is…
"…our duty as a people, with devout reverence and
affectionate gratitude, to acknowledge our many
and great obligations to Almighty God, and to
implore Him to continue is… our duty as a people,
with devout reverence and affectionate
gratitude, to acknowledge our many and great
obligations to Almighty God, and to implore Him
to continue and confirm the blessings we
Thursday, the 19th day of February, 1795 was thus set
aside by George Washington as a National Day of
Abraham Lincoln on Thanksgiving
On October 3, 1863, Abraham Lincoln proclaimed, by Act of
Congress, an annual National Day of Thanksgiving "on the last Thursday of November, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens." In this Thanksgiving proclamation, our 16th President says that it is…
"…announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by
all history, that those nations are blessed whose
God is the Lord… But we have forgotten God.
We have forgotten the gracious hand which
preserved us in peace and multiplied and
enriched and strengthened us, and we have
vainly imagined, by the deceitfulness of our
hearts, that all these blessings were produced
by some superior wisdom and virtue of our
own… It has seemed to me fit and proper that
God should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully
acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice,
by the whole American people…"
Franklin D. Roosevelt on Thanksgiving
On December 26, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a joint resolution of Congress changing the national Thanksgiving Day from the last Thursday in November to the fourth Thursday. Two years earlier, Roosevelt had used a presidential proclamation to try to achieve this change, reasoning that earlier celebration of the holiday would give the country an economic boost.
Why were the Pilgrims thankful?
They had ability to practice religious freedom
God’s provisional blessings
God Commands our thankfulness:
Psalms 100:4 Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. KJV
Col. 3:15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. ESV
There are some 95 verses in the Bible that exhort us to “give thanks” to God.
What are we thankful for? To whom are we thankful?