Land of the Pilgrims’ Pride 11/22/98

Psalm 100:4 – 5
Page 886 Come Alive Bible

Jesus Christ taught us to pray. In the model He gave us is a symphony of praise and thanks: “FOR YOURS IS THE KINGDOM AND THE POWER AND THE GLORY FOREVER.”

We are so blessed we have reason to pause and thank Him. Let our hearts and voice resound with songs of praise:
“My country, ‘tis of thee, Sweet land of liberty, Of thee I sing:
Land where my fathers died, Land of the pilgrim’s pride,
From every mountain side let freedom ring!

Our fathers’ God, to Thee, Author of liberty, To Thee we sing,
Long may our land be bright with freedom’s holy light;
Protect us by Thy might, Great God our King!”

Our Lord desires and deserves our thanks. Our Pilgrim predecessors modeled it for us.

The Scripture says: “in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (I Thessalonians 5:18).

Note, “in everything give thanks.” Our response is a one word question, “everything?” Giving thanks is an act of the will. Feeling thankful is an act of the emotions. The text does not say in everything we should feel thankful. We simply don’t. However, we are inclined to give thanks once we become convinced of the truth in Romans 8: 28:
“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”

With that reference point we can give thanks. It must be readily conceded that at times circumstances don’t dictate a spontaneous desire to give thanks. Retrospect often gives reason to have done so.

Consider the Pilgrims progress and see if stages of their advance automatically called forth thanksgiving.

The Pilgrims were political refugees fleeing religious persecution. Having moved from their native England to Holland to avoid further persecution they soon found themselves isolated on the continent of Europe. There children were beginning to adopt the frivolous manners of the Dutch. In this could they give thanks? Yes! However, they didn’t feel thankful. They simply found in it reason to accept an offer by a group of English investors to fund a voyage to the new world. In exchange they promised their benefactors, the Merchant Adventurers, to work for them for seven years.

In July of 1620, they set sail on the Mayflower and the Speedwell. About 300 miles out to sea the Speedwell sprang a threatening leak necessitating a return to England. Could they now give thanks? Yes! However, you can well imagine emotionally they weren’t feeling thankful.

On September 6, 1620, after one aborted attempt, they crowded onto one ship and set out on their 65 day voyage to the new world. There were 44 Pilgrims and 66 persons known as “Strangers.” Their long and arduous journey caused sickness and death. Could they give thanks? Yes, but you can be sure they weren’t emotionally feeling thankful.

Their dread fear on the journey was of the Native Americans and potential deadly conflicts with them.

On November 11 a small party went ashore looking for food. They happened upon a Nauset Indian grave yard where they found baskets of corn which had been left as a gift to the dead. Their gathering of this unexpected bounty was interrupted by the angry Nauset warriors protecting their burial grounds.

At about this same time British merchant ships had captured some Native Americans and sold them in Spain as slaves. One was named Squanto. He worked his way to England and eventually back to his native land. Upon his return he learned all the members of his tribe had contracted a “white man’s disease” and died. He went to live as a “ghost” with another tribe.

On November 10 land was spotted. However, the Pilgrims didn’t land there they sailed on to Plymouth where they were greeted by the friendly Patuxet Indians.

That first harsh winter in their new land only 50 of their number survived. Could they give thanks? Yes! You can be sure they weren’t emotionally feeling thankful.

The next Spring a Native American named Samoset stepped from the forest and in broken English said, “Welcome, Englishmen.” He had learned a bit of English from traders along the coast. After an overnight visit he disappeared. Was it a trick by a scout sent to penetrate their ranks in preparation for an attack? Could they now give thanks? Yes! Still no emotional thankfulness however.

Soon Samoset returned with another Native American. His name, Squanto. The Native American sold as a slave in Spain had learned good English in the home land of the Pilgrims. Could they give thanks now? Yes. Now, they even had reason to feel thankful.

Squanto taught them how to tap maple trees for syrup, what plants were poisonous, and how to plant corn.

Out of hearts of thanksgiving in 1621 the Pilgrims met with 90 Wampanoag Indians for a time of thanksgiving. For three days they celebrated and feasted on clams, corn, codfish, geese, ducks, turkey, eel, bass, barley, venison, and corn bread.

This was the land of the Pilgrims’ pride.

Two years later in 1623 a drought threatened the Pilgrims. Governor Bradford issued a proclamation on November 29 that all the people should gather in the meeting house to “listen to ye pastor, and render thanksgiving to ye God for all His blessings.” Before the meetings were held rains came and the services became times of thanksgiving.

In 1789 President George Washington issued a Thanksgiving proclamation setting the last Thursday of November as a time of giving thanks for the new Constitution.

In 1863 Sarah Joseph Hale, author of the well known poem, “Mary Had a Little Lamb” persuaded President Lincoln to establish a day of Thanksgiving. The fourth Thursday of November was set.

In 1941 Congress established the fourth Thursday of November as a national holiday of Thanksgiving.

President Washington’s proclamation contained in part the following:
“It is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of All Mighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and to humbly implore His protection and favor, to pardon our national and other transgressions, to render our National Government a blessing to all of the people by being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discretely and faithfully executed and obeyed.”

Residents of the Land of the Pilgrims’ pride had reason for giving thanks and they did.

Thanksgiving is an act of the will. It comes from a certain mind-set. What is your mind-set? What ever it is you have trained yourself to have it. You can retrain yourself. For many reasons you will benefit by training yourself to be a grateful person.

King Alfonso XII of Spain was a devout Christian. It was called to his attention that the pages in his court were acting as ingrates and not expressing thanks before their meals. He invited them to a banquet. The table was lavish with varied foods. During the meal a meagerly dressed beggar entered and seated himself at the head table. He ate like a starving man. Got up and walked out without a word. At first there was a murmur among the pages then a critical complaint about the ill mannered stranger who did not express his gratitude.

Then King Alfonso spoke, “Bolder and more audacious than this beggar have all you been. Every day you sit down at a table supplied by the bounty of your Heavenly Father, yet you ask not His blessings or express your gratitude.” Gratitude to our Heavenly Father needs to be expressed far more than we do.

Find ways to say thanks. A little boy visiting his grandmother tried to show his thanks by making her a cup of coffee. It was undoubtly the worst cup of coffee she ever had, but she didn’t indicate it. As she was finishing she saw three of the child’s three little green Army men in the bottom of her cup. Before she realized it she blurted, “What is the meaning of this?”

The child replied, “You know, Grandmother, like it says on TV —- ‘the best part of waking up is soldiers in your cup.’”

Hans Selye in his book, The Stress of Life,” says research proves gratitude is the healthiest of emotions and revenge the most unhealthy.

Colossians 2: 6, 7 gives a model of proper praise and thanksgiving: “As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving” (Colossians 2:6, 7).

Three things are noted in this text in present voice, meaning we are to continue to do them.

They are:
EDIFICATION. In the word can be heard our word edifice which is a building. If you edify someone you build them up. When a person has the right regard for others there is no difficulty in “esteeming others better than self.” This is no self-put-down.

ESTABLISHMENT – “in faith.” Faith creates a spirit of praise. Train yourself to give thanks. Your day may begin and continue in a certain manner, but thanks can lift you up. Even though I clutch my blanket and groan when the alarm rings each morning, Thank you Lord, that I can hear it.

Even though I keep my eyes closed against the morning light as long as possible, Thank you Lord, I can see.

Even though I curl up in my bed and offer resistance against rising, Thank you Lord, I have the strength to rise.

Even though the first hour of my day is hectic, when one sock is missing, toast is burned, tempers are short, Thank you Lord for understanding friends and family.

Even though my table doesn’t look like one in a magazine and the menu is at time unbalanced, Thank you Lord, I have food.

Even though the routine of my job is at times monotonous, Thank you Lord, I have a job.

Thank you Lord for the gift of life.

You can find something for which to thank the Lord. Consider: a good yawn with a stretch. That’s so good. It deserves a thanks. A reachable itch that can be scratched. Knowing the answer to the quiz show question and answering before anyone in the room. A parking meter with time remaining on it. Hearing the laughter of a friend.

Have you thanked God for your financial and physical resources?

“…it is He who gives you power to get wealth…” (Deuteronomy 8: 18).

Sacrifice your ego and thank Him.

What would be your answer if the Lord were to ask you, “What have you done with the resources I have given you?”

One reason our Lord ask us to give in His name is to allow us to demonstrate our faith. When we give we acknowledge it all comes from Him and we are dependent upon Him.

Often it is said, “The church is always asking for money.” Not so, it is the world that constantly asks for money. The check-out clerk at the grocery store always asks for money. The mortgage company always wants money.

If you are like most folks each month you get a number of letters with windows containing bills. Are any of them from the church?

Who withholds a portion of every dollar you earn? It is not your Heavenly Father, but your Uncle Sam.

There are no free-lunches except at church. The price of admission and the cost of a seat hasn’t gone up in ages. The church offers free counseling, hospital visits, and a free newsletter without a subscription notice asking for money.

When a loved one dies the funeral home wants money. There is no charge at church.

You have to pay taxes to provide your child free public education, but your church Sunday School provides free Christian education at absolutely no charge.

The church requires no membership dues, no annual fee and never sends a bill. No other organization in the world operates that way.

The church exists to lovingly provide the love of Jesus. Any money given is voluntary and goes to provide ministries in His name. It constantly provides ministries without looking to see if the recipient has given anything or not.

EFFULGENCE – “abounding in it with thanksgiving.”

The Bible speaks of a “sacrifice of praise.” Sometimes we don’t feel thankful but we give thanks. When you praise someone or express thanks you sacrifice your ego. In giving thanks we are saying you did something for me and I grateful.

Have you thanked God for the people in your life? Have you affirmed your spouse, children, siblings, and friends? Have you sacrificed your ego enough to say “thanks.”

The people around you are all “possibilitiarians.” That is, they have the possibility of becoming someone wonderful. You can encourage them on their pilgrimage.

It is estimated that 6 of every 10 people who attend church come with a burden. What atmosphere do you help create to encourage them?

The text says we are to be “rooted.” That is perfect passive, meaning there is a time when we become once and for all rooted. That moment is when we trust Christ as Savior. Have you thanked God the Father for Christ? Has this expression of thanks been in the form of faith in Him as Savior? What do you believe?

Don Quixote said, “I have never had the courage to believe nothing.”