Thanksgiving Is Christian

Colossians 3:14-17 And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. [15] And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. [16] Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. [17] And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.

Next Wednesday night we will not have Church Services so that families will have time to prepare meals and get ready for the holiday we call “Thanksgiving”. So God placed it on my heart to talk to His Church about being thankful for what we have.

If you look up Thanksgiving on the Internet or search through the history books that our children are taught from in school you might find something about Thanksgiving. The sanitized version of Thanksgiving is that a group of people landed at Plymouth Rock. They had a hard summer, many died, and a hard winter was coming. But that first Thanksgiving the native American Indians came to the rescue, stepped in, and helped the settlers survive the winter.

But that’s not the whole story. You see, Satan doesn’t want you or your children to know much about Thanksgiving, because Thanksgiving is a Christian holiday. It was started by Christians called Pilgrims, believers who wanted to escape the religious persecutions of England. In England there Catholics and Protestants largely members of the Church of England. The Catholics bowed the knee to the Pope and – if the King was Catholic – to the King, while despising the Protestants. The Church of England was started by King Henry VIII. His first wife, Catherine of Aragon, had borne him only a daughter. He wanted his marriage annulled in order to remarry. The Pope refused to annul his marriage, so the King passed the Act of Supremacy which declared the King “the only supreme head of the Church of England”.

The Pilgrims (they initially called themselves “Saints”) had a choice in England. They could become Catholics with the Pope as their leader, or Anglicans with the King as their head. The Pilgrims chose instead to follow the King of Kings and Lord or Lords, Jesus Christ.

God planted the Pilgrims in America via the Mayflower. When the Mayflower landed at Plymouth Rock the governing documents for the colony was the Holy Bible and the Mayflower Compact. The Mayflower Compact stated:

In the name of God, Amen. We, whose names are underwritten, the loyal subjects of our dread Sovereign Lord King James, by the Grace of God, of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, King, defender of the Faith, etc.

Having undertaken, for the Glory of God, and advancements of the Christian faith and honor of our King and Country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the Northern parts of Virginia, do by these presents, solemnly and mutually, in the presence of God, and one another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil body politic; for our better ordering, and preservation and furtherance of the ends aforesaid; and by virtue hereof to enact, constitute, and frame, such just and equal laws, ordinances, acts, constitutions, and offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general good of the colony; unto which we promise all due submission and obedience.

In witness whereof we have hereunto subscribed our names at Cape Cod the 11th of November, in the year of the reign of our Sovereign Lord King James, of England, France, and Ireland, the eighteenth, and of Scotland the fifty-fourth, 1620.”

The first year in the New World was horrific. The Pilgrims explored the New World by day, but kept staying on board the ship, perhaps out of fear. By the following spring about half of the Pilgrims died of malnutrition and disease. They abandoned the ship and moved on shore and into the wilderness, but had little knowledge of how to survive in this harsh land.

One day two Native American Indians walked into the settlement. To their surprise, both Indians spoke English. Why? Because one of those Indians was Squanto, a member of the Pawtuxet tribe.

1 Give Thanks To God, For He Is In Control. He Loves His People. God tells us:

Colossians 3:14-15  And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. [15] And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. 

above all things LOVE and LET the peace of God RULE in your hearts. Don’t let fear rule, or yesterday, or the unknown, but let LOVE rule. When these two indians walked into Plymouth Colony the Pilgrims could have reacted with fear. They could have struck out and killed these aliens, different skin and differently clothed among them. But the Pilgrims – living for Jesus and loving one another – embraced these two strangers.

Had they not done so they would have all died.

Squanto’s story is very interesting, because his story is similar in some ways to the story of Joseph in the Scripture. Around 1608 – twelve years before the Pilgrims landed in the New World a group of English traders led by a Captain Hunt landed at Plymouth, Massachusetts. When the trusting Wampanoag Indians came out to trade, Hunt took twenty four of them as prisoners. He carried them to Spain where they were to be sold as slaves. Squanto was but a young boy among those prisoners. Just as Joseph told his brothers:

Genesis 50:20 …. you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive ….

God knew that the Pilgrims were coming, and that they would need help. Hunt kidnapped Squanto, and took him from his family. He was reduced to no more than a piece of furniture, a slave. Yet God was in control. God is always in control!

Job 12:10 In His hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind.

Psalm 115:3 Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases.

Isaiah 14:24 The Lord of hosts has sworn: As I have planned, so shall it be, and as I have purposed, so shall it stand!

Squanto could have been sold into hard slavery, but instead a Spanish Monks intervened and rescued the young boy from the slave markets. Sir Ferdinando Georges, an early English colonial entrepreneur related an account of the incident:

…it happened there had beene one Hunt … [who]seized upon the poore innocent creatures, that in confidence of his honestie had put themselves into his hands. And stowing them under Hatches, to the number of twentie foure, carried them into the Sraits, where he sought to sell them for slaves, and sold as many as he could get money for. But the Friers of those parts took the rest from them, and kept them to be instructed in the Christian Faith; and so disappointed this new and Devillish project.

Christian Friers – often called Monks – took Squanto and freed him. They taught him about Jesus, and to love the Lord. In 1618 Squanto was able to make his way from Spain to London, England. There he met John Slany, one of the shareholders of the Newfoundland Company and a backer of the Cupids Colony in Newfoundland. John Slany sent Squanto to the Cupids Colony in Newfoundland. During that same year the explorer Thomas Dermer came to the Cupids Cove Colony where Squanto was. Dermer wanted to go back to Plymouth, but Captain Hunt’s kidnapping of 24 Wampanoag Indians had made them hostile to the white man. Dermer thought that if he took Squanto with him that he could help make the peace, and he would be able to settle with the Indians. Squanto wanted to go home, so he agreed to go with Dermer.

When Squanto got home in 1619 both he and Dermer were horrified at what they found. An outbreak of “plague” had ravaged the area. The Wampanoag were decimated. 90% of the Native Americans in that area had died of plague, and Squanto’s entire family was gone. The plague had probably come in with Hunt and his ship years before, as the Indians never experienced plague until the white man brought it.

I can only imagine Squanto’s pain. Why would God – the God he had been taught by the Friers – why would this loving God allow him to come home, only to find everyone he knew to be dead? Was God this cruel?

No, God is not cruel – but He is in control. Though an evil man led evil men to kidnap and infect a trusting people, evil was not in control. Squanto settled down and became part of the Patuxet Tribe, a tributary of the Wampanoag Confederacy. One year later in 1620 the Pilgrims would land on Plymouth Rock, the very site was Squanto’s “home town”. After the harsh winter and near destruction of the Colonists Squanto and a friend would come into the camp in 1621 and show the Pilgrims how to plant corn and hunt in the New World. Had Squanto not been there they would have all died. Plymouth Colony Governor William Bradford wrote:

“Squanto “became a special instrument sent of God for [our] good . . . He showed [us] how to plant [our] corn, where to take fish and to procure other commodities . . . and was also [our] pilot to bring [us] to unknown places for [our] profit, and never left [us] ….”

The fall of 1621 was when the first Thanksgiving was celebrated. It was a three day festival of praising God and enjoying His bounty. There was no racism. White and Red men gathered together in peace and harmony and Christian love. God was in control. He was the King they all worshiped. The next year Squanto would die of fever. Governor William Bradford wrote that Squanto …

desir[ed] the Governor to pray for him, that he might go to the Englishmen’s God in heaven.”

Our God is an awesome God!

2 Be Thankful Unto God.

Colossians 3:15  … be ye thankful.

We who are His should be thankful. The Plymouth Colony eventually grew and America was founded. The British Colonies – misused and mistreated by a Parliament and a King many miles away eventually declared Revolution against England. One year after the Declaration of Independence the Continental Congress on November 1, 1777 proclaimed first Thanksgiving. The proclamation was written by Samuel Adams. The proclamation was 360 words long – one big sentence – that said:

Forasmuch as it is the indispensable duty of all men to adore the superintending providence of Almighty God; to acknowledge with gratitude their obligation to Him for benefits received…together with penitent confession of their sins, whereby they had forfeited every favor; and their humble and earnest supplications that it may please God through the merits of Jesus Christ, mercifully to forgive and blot them out of remembrance…it is therefore recommended…to set apart Thursday the eighteenth day of December next, for solemn thanksgiving and praise, that with one heart and one voice the good people may express the grateful feeling of their hearts and consecrate themselves to the service of their Divine Benefactor…acknowledging with gratitude their obligations to Him for benefits received….To prosper the means of religion, for the promotion and enlargement of that kingdom which consisteth ‘in righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost’.”

The world and the Politically Correct media do not want you to know this, but Thanksgiving started as a very clearly Christian holiday. The first Thanksgiving was December 18th – a Thursday – with the specific reason of expressing the grateful feeling of their hearts and consecrate themselves to the service of their Divine Benefactor acknowledging with gratitude their obligations to Him for benefits received.

It was all about Christ.

Congress on September 25, 1789 wrote a proclamation to President George Washington, which stated in part:

Resolved, That a joint committee of both Houses be directed to wait upon the President of the United States to request that he would recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God….”

President Washington responded with the following proclamation:

Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me “to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness”: Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the Beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted; for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us. And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplication to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations, and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our national government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a government of wise, just and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally, to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand, at the city of New York, the 3d day of October, AD 1789

George Washington

Thanksgiving in recent years has been denigrated to the point where it is a pig fest, where people gather to stuff their faces. Few will thank God for the meal before them. Yet God has been good to us, and Thanksgiving has from the beginning been a day set aside to offer thanks to our Creator for all He has done for us.

3 How Should We Thank God?

Colossians 3:16  … Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

a Obey His Word. The Apostle wrote “Let the WORD OF CHRIST dwell in you RICHLY”. Let His Word dwell in your hearts. Do not just hear it then walk away, but HEED it and LIVE by it. Jesus said:

Matthew 7:24-27 (KJV) Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: [25] And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. [26] And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: [27] And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.

We are to both HEAR and DO His Word. His Word must DWELL – BE AT HOME – in us. If Squanto had bore a grudge and did as had been done to him by the evil Captain Hunt the Plymouth Colony would have died out. If Plymouth had died America might never have been. Everything matters. God calls us to both HEAR and DO what He says whether we like it or not, because GOD KNOWS WHAT IS BEST. The love of Christ is best.

b Give God Offerings Of Yourself. We are told:

Colossians 3:16 (KJV) … teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs,

Teaching and admonishing” is something that is done ONE ON ONE. God gave Himself for you. Now YOU give yourself to OTHERS. Take time to share His Word with others. TEACH and ADMONISH one another in Christ’s Word. Call those who have slipped in sin, the backsliders who have wandered from Christ’s Church. Invite them back. Go visit them. Share what you have learned in His Word with others. Broadcast the seed of the Gospel to all. Thanksgiving has become so secularized because we have sang:

This little light of mine,

I’m a gonna let it shine!

Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine!

But what we as Christians have actually done is:

This little light of mine,

I’m a gonna hide it’s shine.

Hide it’s shine, hide it’s shine, hide it’s shine!

Squanto had to step far outside his comfort zone to walk into that Plymouth Colony. Having been kidnapped and kept in a hold in a ship with death all around him it took a lot for him to walk into the same place he had been trapped before. But he went because of God – and made a difference. A light hid under a bushel does nothing but go out. Let Christ shine! Be gracious!

c Do All To Honor God In Christ. We read:

Colossians 3:17 (KJV) And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.

Following the Civil War President Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation for Thanksgiving. The Proclamation reads:

The year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful years and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the Source from which they come, others have been added which are of so extraordinary a nature that they can not fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever-watchful Providence…. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign states to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere, except in the theater of military conflict, while that theater has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.

Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense have not arrested the plow, the shuttle, or the ship; the ax has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than theretofore. Population has steadily increased notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege, and the battlefield, and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice, by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners, or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility, and union.

In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Abraham Lincoln (October 3, 1863, passed by an Act of Congress.)

Live for Jesus!

May God touch your hearts this Thanksgiving Season!

Pastor David Buffaloe, Riverview Baptist, 798 Santa Fe Pike, Columbia, TN