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Only A Day of Thanksgiving?

America, the land we live in, is a great blessing from GOD. The liberty we all enjoy can be used for good or evil, but for those who love the Lord GOD it is a land that allows freedom of worship and the giving of thanks to GOD, mostly without fear of retaliation, from anyone.

The Pilgrims who sailed to this country aboard the Mayflower were originally members of the English Separatist Church, which was a Puritan sect. They had earlier fled their home in England and sailed to Holland to escape religious persecution. There, they enjoyed more religious tolerance, but they eventually became disenchanted with the Dutch way of life, thinking it ungodly. Seeking a better life, the Separatists negotiated with a London stock company to finance a pilgrimage to America. Most of those making the trip aboard the Mayflower were non-Separatists, but were hired to protect the company's interests. Only about one-third of the original colonists were Separatists.

The Pilgrims set ground at Plymouth Rock on December 11, 1620. Their first winter was devastating. At the beginning of the following fall, they had lost 46 of the original 102 who sailed on the Mayflower . But the harvest of 1621 was a bountiful one. Because of the bounty the remaining colonists decided to celebrate with a feast, which included ninety-one Indians who had helped the Pilgrims survive their first year. It is believed that the Pilgrims would not have made it through the year without the help of the natives. The feast was more of a traditional English harvest festival than a true "thanksgiving" observance. It lasted three days.

Governor William Bradford sent "four men fowling" after wild ducks and geese. It is not certain that wild turkey was part of their feast. However, it is certain that they had venison. Interestingly, the term "turkey" was used by the Pilgrims to mean any sort of wild fowl.

Beside the turkey, another modern staple at almost every Thanksgiving table is pumpkin pie. But it is very unlikely that the first feast included that treat. The supply of flour had been long diminished, so there was no bread or pastries of any kind. However, they did eat boiled pumpkin, and they produced a type of fried bread from their corn crop. There was also no milk, cider, potatoes, or butter. There were no domestic cattle for dairy products, and the newly discovered potato was still considered by many Europeans to be poisonous. But the feast did include fish, berries, watercress, lobster, dried fruit, clams, venison, and plums.

This "thanksgiving" feast was not repeated the following year. But in 1623, during a severe drought, the pilgrims gathered in a prayer service, praying for rain. When a long, steady rain followed the very next day, Governor Bradford proclaimed another day of Thanksgiving, again inviting their Indian friends. Many years passed and it wasn't until June of 1676 that another Day of Thanksgiving was proclaimed.

On June 20, 1676, the governing council of Charlestown, Massachusetts, held a meeting to determine how best to express thanks for the good fortune that had seen their community securely established. By unanimous vote they instructed Edward Rawson, the clerk, to proclaim June 29 as a day of thanksgiving. It is notable that this thanksgiving celebration probably did not include the Indians, as the celebration was meant partly to be in recognition of the colonists' recent victory over the "heathen natives,"

The next October, in the autumn of 1777, marked the first time that all thirteen colonies joined in a thanksgiving celebration. It also commemorated the patriotic victory over the British at Saratoga. But it was a one-time celebration.

George Washington proclaimed a National Day of Thanksgiving in 1789, although some were opposed to it. There was discord among the colonies, many feeling the hardships of a few Pilgrims did not warrant a national holiday. And later, President Thomas Jefferson scoffed at the idea of having a day of thanksgiving.

It was Sarah Josepha Hale, a magazine editor, whose efforts eventually led to what we recognize as Thanksgiving. Hale wrote many editorials championing her cause in her Boston Ladies' Magazine , and later, in Godey's Lady's Book . Finally, after a forty-year campaign of writing editorials and letters to governors and presidents, Hale's obsession became a reality when, in 1863, President Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday in November as a national day of Thanksgiving.

Every president proclaimed Thanksgiving after Lincoln. The date was changed a couple of times, most recently by Franklin Roosevelt, who moved it up one week to the next-to-last Thursday in order to create a longer Christmas shopping season.  Public uproar against this decision caused the president to move Thanksgiving back to its original date two years later. Finally in 1941, Thanksgiving was finally sanctioned by Congress as a legal holiday, as the fourth Thursday in November. So we celebrate it today some sixty years later.

In the Old Testament, gratitude to GOD was the only condition in which life could be enjoyed. For Jews, every aspect of creation provided evidence of GOD's lordship over all life. The Hebrew people thanked Him for the magnificence of the Universe.

The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.  Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge.   There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard.  Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun, Psalm 19:1-4

We are absolutely surrounded by GOD's great handiwork and His fantastic display of craftsmanship. Anyone who wants dramatic proof of GOD's existence only has to look to the heavens for the evidence. Surely we should feel a sense of unimaginable gratitude towards our Creator when we look at his craftsmanship in nature and the heavens, thanking Him with all our hearts for the beautiful home He has created for us, and the truth it reveals about Him.

In the Book of Romans the apostle Paul referred to this psalm when he explained that everyone knows about GOD because nature proclaims His existence and power. From this information we understand that all people should realize the existence of GOD because nature points us to the Creator.

Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.  For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:  Romans 1:19-20

So, now do we know to whom all the nations of the world should be giving thanks? Of course we do!! No one has an excuse for not believing in GOD?  GOD has revealed His existence ("Godhead" or divine nature) in His creation.  Every person, therefore, either accepts or rejects God. Do we think that there will be acceptable excuses when GOD comes to judge our response to Him?  Not very likely!

Now while the design, intricacy, and orderliness of the Universe gives proof of a personally involved Creator, this does not nullify the need for a message of salvation. This is where we come in. We must explain to others how they can have a relationship with GOD, and salvation through Jesus Christ our Lord. GOD wants us to explain His love, mercy, and grace to the world.

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Matthew 28:19-20

Praise and thankfulness should be a regular part of our daily routine, not reserved for just one day out of the year. We must always remember what GOD has done for us; we must always be ready, willing, and able to tell others about it, offering gifts of self, time, and resources to accomplish the task GOD has set before us.

We can and should offer praise and thanksgiving to GOD on a continual basis.

By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.  Hebrews 13:15

In 1891 August L. Storm who while in service to the Swedish Salvation Army, penned the words to the hymn, "Thanks to GOD".  This man, long since gone to be with the Lord, believed and obeyed the words of the Lord regarding thanksgiving.

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.  1 Thessalonians 5:18

Read the words below.  Make them yours.

Thanks to God for my Redeemer,
Thanks for all Thou dost provide!
Thanks for times now but a memory,
Thanks for Jesus by my side!
Thanks for pleasant, balmy springtime,
Thanks for dark and stormy fall!
Thanks for tears by now forgotten,
Thanks for peace within my soul!

Thanks for prayers that Thou hast answered,
Thanks for what Thou dost deny!
Thanks for storms that I have weathered,
Thanks for all Thou dost supply!
Thanks for pain, and thanks for pleasure,
Thanks for comfort in despair!
Thanks for grace that none can measure,
Thanks for love beyond compare!

Thanks for roses by the wayside,
Thanks for thorns their stems contain!
Thanks for home and thanks for fireside,
Thanks for hope, that sweet refrain!
Thanks for joy and thanks for sorrow,
Thanks for heavenly peace with Thee!
Thanks for hope in the tomorrow,
Thanks through all eternity!

We know what GOD has done for us, is doing for us and will do for us in the future. He is there. He is in love with us.  We have plenty to be thankful for. It would take more than just one day to express our thanks to GOD Almighty!  We all should have a wonderful day of Thanksgiving towards GOD, both now and always.

Be blessed and meditate or meditate and be blessed!!!!.. The choice is yours!!
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