Thanks and Humility to God

It would probably come as a shock to the public for a modern president to so aggressively make a claim for the need for thanks and humility to God, but such was the culture of America that such a proclamation was seen as normal and expected until very recently. 

Why Thanksgiving is on the Last Thursday in November

President Lincoln did it during the Civil War.

From the beginning, America has proclaimed national days of thanksgiving. In November of 1783, Congress proclaimed:

“[S]et apart the second Thursday in December next, as a day of public thanksgiving, that all the people may then assemble to celebrate with one voice grateful hearts and united voices, the praises of their Supreme and all bountiful Benefactor, for his numberless favors and mercies. That he hath been pleased to conduct us in safety through all the perils and vicissitudes of the war; that he hath given us unanimity and resolution to adhere to our just rights; that he hath raised up a powerful ally to assist us in supporting them, and hath so far crowned our united efforts with success, that in the course of the present year, hostilities have ceased, and we are left in the undisputed possession of our liberties and independence….”

There were other times of thanksgiving, but the official Thanksgiving celebration didn’t move to the last Thursday of November until 1864 as the result of President Abraham Lincoln’s proclamation on October 20 of that same year. Here it is:

By the President of the United States of America
A Proclamation

“It has pleased Almighty God to prolong our national life another year, defending us with His guardian care against unfriendly designs from abroad and vouchsafing to us in His mercy many and signal victories over the enemy, who is of our own household. It has also pleased our Heavenly Father to favor as well our citizens in their homes as our soldiers in their camps and our sailors on the rivers and seas with unusual health. He has largely augmented our freepopulation by emancipation and by immigration, while He has opened to us new sources of wealth and has crowned the labor of our workingmen in every department of industry with abundant rewards. Moreover, He has been pleased to animate and inspire our minds and hearts with fortitude, courage, and resolution sufficient for the great trial of civil war into which we have been brought by our adherence as a nation to the cause of freedom and humanity, and to afford to us reasonable hopes of an ultimate and happy deliverance from all our dangers and afflictions:

Now, therefore, I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, do hereby appoint and set apart the last Thursday in November next as a day which I desire to be observed by all my fellow-citizens, wherever they may then be, as a day of thanksgiving and praise to Almighty God, the beneficent Creator and Ruler of the Universe. And I do further recommend to my fellow-citizens aforesaid that on that occasion they do reverently humble themselves in the dust and from thence offer up penitent and fervent prayers and supplications to the Great Disposer of Events for a return of the inestimable blessings of peace, union, and harmony throughout the land which it has pleased Him to assign as a dwelling place for ourselves and for our posterity throughout all generations.

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

Done at the city of Washington, this 20th day of October, A.D. 1864, and of the Independence of the United States the eighty-ninth.”


It would probably come as a shock to the public for a modern president to so aggressively make a claim for the need for thanks and humility to God, but such was the culture of America that such a proclamation was seen as normal and expected until very recently. 


taken from

Liberty Under God for All People


by Jennie Augusta Brownscombe (1850-1936)

Institute on Religion & Democracy Press Release
November 24, 2015
Contact: Jeff Walton office: 202-682-4131, cell: 202-413-5639, e-mail:

“The Pilgrim escape to New England emblematizes the centuries-long quest for liberty to worship God without coercion, a liberty that hundreds of millions from different faiths in our world do not have.”
-Mark Tooley, IRD President

Washington, DC—Americans like to complain, and are in a particular funk in recent times. But IRD President Mark Tooley reminds us all that this Thanksgiving there is much reason for gratitude, and as always even more reason for prayer on behalf of many globally who lack religious liberty.

IRD President Mark Tooley commented:

“All Americans and Christians especially should robustly celebrate Thanksgiving in gratitude to God for His ceaseless blessings, our continued material abundance, the relative (but never entire) peace that our nation now enjoys, and above all religious freedom in our nation, which remains under siege throughout the world, and is challenged at times even in our own country.

“More than any other group globally, Christians are under threat and restriction by many tyrannical regimes and violent ideologies. Our prayers this Thanksgiving must remember them.

“The Pilgrim escape to New England emblematizes the centuries-long quest for liberty to worship God without coercion, a liberty that hundreds of millions from different faiths in our world do not have.

“The feast celebrated by Pilgrims and Indians also models a transcultural and transracial harmony possible by divine grace and good will. May we always honor their persevering faith and continue today the quest for liberty under God for all people.”

The Indignity of Giving Thanks

The Indignity of Giving Thanks

The spirit of thanksgiving runs against the temptation we face as human beings to assert our self-sufficiency. Few of us enjoy the feeling of indebtedness; a fact easily demonstrated by our oft-unsolicited readiness to return a favor once someone has expressed kindness to us. I owe you one, I will return the favor, and I am in your debt are some of the ways in which we express this attitude. Such responses, together with the more modest one, please let me know what I can do for you, allow us to express gratitude without acknowledging the chronic shadow of dependence that so rudely dogs our entire threescore and ten.


Not only does this inability to express gratitude without our own autonomy stealing the show sometimes rob of us of the joy of affirming the contribution of others to our wellbeing, it also shrivels up our desire to worship God. An unexamined sense of self-sufficiency instills in us a subtle but false attitude of entitlement, thus making it difficult for us to accept the sense of vulnerability that is part of true gratitude. Ever since the tempter said to Adam and Eve in the Garden, “You will be like God,” human beings have never given up the temptation to either elevate ourselves to the level of God or pull God down to our level, so we can deal with God as equals. We are always looking for a chance to say to God, “I can take it from here.”


Such an attitude of entitlement, I believe, occupies a central role in the story of the ten lepers in Luke 17.  While all ten are healed by Jesus, only one of them returns to express gratitude. In his editorial comment, Luke informs us that the one who returned to give thanks was a Samaritan, and Jesus refers to him as a foreigner. Undoubtedly,lepers this implies that the other nine were Jews. Could it be that the Jewish lepers felt entitled to the services of this Jewish prophet and their God? If God were to begin to right wrongs in the world, wouldn’t the most logical place to begin be among his own chosen people? Judging by Jesus’s expression of surprise in the passage, it seems the only words one would have expected from the mouths of the nine lepers would have been, “It’s about time!” Without a clear sense of how little we are entitled to, we cannot really come to terms with the need for gratitude—for an attitude of entitlement is an effective impediment to gratitude.


But everything we know about ourselves and our world speaks loudly against this tendency to self-sufficiency. As human babies, we all begin our lives at the highest level of dependence, and none of us really outgrows all degrees of dependence. We depend on parents, teachers, peers, coaches, and others to open doors for us in life. Even in places where commitment to personal autonomy is likely to produce more martyrs than religious conviction, dependence on others is still a living reality whose attempted concealment is gradually unveiled by the onset of old age. From the inventions that give us comfort in this world to the young soldiers who give their lives in the battlefields to protect our livelihoods, an unobstructed view of our lives reveals the fact that we all owe debts that we can never repay. We will never begin to worship God until we recognize that we are bankrupt debtors, for an attitude of gratitude is an indispensable impetus to worship.


Like skilled gourmet chefs spicing up their delicacies, Scripture writers sprinkle their words with admonitions and exaltations regarding gratitude, frequently tying it together with worship. For example, in the midst of a dark catalogue of humanity’s journey away from God, the apostle Paul lays the blame on our unwillingness to glorify God or give thanks to God. Similarly, the author of Hebrews grounds our worship of God in gratitude. He writes, “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe” (Hebrews 12:28). It is impossible to worship God without gratitude, and it is impossible to be grateful while clinging to self-sufficiency and entitlement at the same time. Yes, there is some vulnerability in gratitude sincerely expressed, but that is because we are relational beings whose deepest needs can only be met in partnership with others and ultimately with God. While an attitude of entitlement is an impediment to gratitude, an attitude of gratitude is an indispensable impetus to worship. Show me a person whose life is characterized by gratitude, and I will show you a person whose soul is poised to worship God.


J.M. Njoroge is a member of the speaking team at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.

reblogged from



Louie Schwartzberg is an award-winning cinematographer, director, and producer whose notable career spans more than three decades providing breathtaking imagery for feature films, television shows, documentaries and commercials.

This piece includes his short film on Gratitude and Happiness. Brother David Steindl’s spoken words, Gary Malkin’s musical compositions and Louie’s cinematography make this a stunningly beautiful piece, reminding us of the precious gift of life, and the beauty all around us.

Gratitude springs from acceptance of the gifts and the conditions and the circumstances that God gives. Are you grateful for the place that you live? Are you grateful for the job that God has given you to do? How many of you have thought today of thanking God for the work that He has given you to do?

What makes a holy woman or a holy man. One characteristic is gratitude. I think we might divide up all the people in the world into two classes-the complainers and the thankful. Which are you? There’s a difference between a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day and a peaceful and a happy one. I think that it does not depend nearly so much on what happens as it depends on your attitude and your response.

If you dwell on your own feelings about things, rather than dwelling on the faithfulness, the love and the mercy of God, then you’re likely to have a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. Our feelings are very fluctuating and ephemeral, aren’t they? We can’t depend on them for five minutes at a time. But dwelling on the faithfulness and the love and the mercy of God is always safe, because He is the same yesterday, today and forever.

Now I’m one who is having to learn this lesson of gratitude. Not that I don’t have thousands of things to be grateful for, but I also happen to be born with an extremely critical mind. It’s very easy for me to pick on the one thing that’s wrong rather than to concentrate on the ten things that were right. That goes for a lot of different areas of my life.

I realize that I don’t spend nearly enough time praising God. I try to begin my quiet time with acts of praise. Very often, it’s helpful to use somebody else’s words to do that. I think hymns are a wonderful help, so let me just make that tiny suggestion that you begin your day with thanking the Lord. There are a lot of things you can think of yourself. The very fact that you’ve had a good sleep in a comfortable bed and that you’re able to get out of bed and the measure of health that you have and the work that you have to do-all of those things you can thank God for.

But it’s great to use the exalted words, perhaps, of the Psalms. Psalm 138 would be a good one to start with. “I will praise Thee, O Lord, with all my heart. Boldly, O God, will I sing psalms to Thee. I will bow down towards Thy holy temple. For Thy love and faithfulness, I will praise Thy name; for Thou hast made Thy promise wide as the heavens.” Psalm 138. Try that one. It would be a good idea to memorize it, an act of praise to God.

There’s always plenty to complain about, I guess, if your life is controlled by your feelings. But there’s always much more to thank God for if our lives are controlled by our dwelling on His faithfulness, His love and His mercy.

I had a very encouraging letter from a lady who had listened when I interviewed my friend Gail Sommers. She says, “Gail Sommers spoke the truth as few Christian women have the boldness to do. The wonderful fact is that Gateway To Joy was equally daring to air it. I grow so weary of middle-of-the-road stances on this issue.” Gail had been talking about working mothers, and Gail herself is a part-time working mother.

This lady who writes says, “I am 47 years old, a mother who gave up a professional career to stay home.” She goes on to say that she doesn’t find the care of children easy, as Gail Sommers herself admitted. It’s a tough job. But she says, “Nonetheless, having the opportunity to be a homemaker and mother gave me true fulfillment. As I was reminded of this during the week’s broadcasts, I was able to go to my husband and thank him for having given me that opportunity and blessing.”

Let me say here that those of you who are able to stay home to take care of your children because your husband is willing to let you stay home and doesn’t insist upon your getting a job to supplement the family income, have you thought of thanking him? This was a good reminder in this letter. This lady went to her husband and thanked him.

She goes on to say, “There is no explaining the contentment I felt as I mothered. Though I knew we had to do without some material things and though I knew there was always the awareness in my husband’s mind that some things we could not afford, I had not ever specifically thanked him for enduring the pressures as provider and for keeping the value of his wife being at home.”

To you men who endure the pressures as provider, may I say thank you, especially those of you who are willing to make sacrifices in order to allow your wives to stay at home. And of course, the wife has to be willing to make the sacrifices of not having the material things that would be possible with a double income.

I go on with the letter. “As I shared with him my gratitude for the intangibles of fulfillment as a woman and contentment as a wife, I could see that he was blessed. He was happy with our family style, but yes, he did regret that he couldn’t provide for all the things we needed. Telling him as I did, and anchoring it in the thinking I did as I listened to your programs, gave him a broader view of the true provisions he had made for us. Your program blessed me and my husband.” I do thank you.

She goes on to say that she had home schooled for six years. She was glad about my open-mindedness on that subject. She says, “For all your labors to produce this program, know that this woman is deeply appreciative.”

In Romans 5:3-5 we read, “Let us be full of joy now. Let us exult and triumph in our troubles and rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that pressure and affliction and hardship produce patient and unswerving endurance; and endurance, fortitude, develops maturity of character; that is, approved faith and tried integrity. And character of this sort produces the habit of joyful and confident hope of eternal salvation. Such hope never disappoints or deludes or shames us, for God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”

Thank God even in the midst of your troubles. Remember who it is who writes this way. It’s Paul the Apostle, who had been through a good many trials and tribulations that most of us know nothing about. Things like floggings and shipwrecks and imprisonments. But he says, “We can be full of joy here and now. We can rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that pressure and affliction and hardship produce patient and unswerving endurance.”

Some of you are experiencing difficult pressures today. Hardships. Can you be grateful for those? Not because of the hardship in itself, but because God’s promises that they can produce patient and unswerving endurance. But they’re not going to produce that patience and endurance unless you accept them. So gratitude springs from acceptance of the gifts and the conditions and the circumstances that God gives.

Are you grateful for the place that you live? Are you grateful for the job that God has given you to do? How many of you have thought today of thanking God for the work that He has given you to do? Maybe you’re ambitious for another job, a different kind of a job, or a promotion. Maybe you’re ambitious to get a job and you haven’t gotten one yet. Can you accept the fact that today this is the will of God? Wherever you are, whatever you have or don’t have, this is the will of God for you today.

How do I know that? I don’t know you. I don’t know your circumstances. But I do know what the Word says. “Everything that happens fits into a pattern for good, to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” His purpose in you and me is to make us holy, to shape us into the likeness of His Son, Jesus Christ. It is this particular set of circumstances in which you live, the particular events of today, that give you the opportunity to say, “Thank You, Lord. I know that You’re at work in this and I know that Your purpose for me is thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give me a future and a hope.”

-Elisabeth Elliot

20 Tips for a Positive New Year

20 Tips for a Positive New Year (Updated for 2012)

20121. Stay Positive. You can listen to the cynics and doubters and believe that success is impossible or you can trust that with faith and an optimistic attitude all things are possible.

2. Take a morning walk of gratitude. I call it a “Thank You Walk.” It will create a fertile mind ready for success.

3. Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a college kid with a maxed out charge card.

4. Zoom Focus. Each day when you wake up in the morning ask: “What are the three most important things I need to do today that will help me create the success I desire?” Then tune out all the distractions and focus on these actions.

5. Instead of being disappointed about where you are, think optimistically about where you are going.

6. Remember that adversity is not a dead-end but a detour to a better outcome.

7. Don’t chase success. Instead decide to make a difference and success will find you.

8. Get more sleep. You can’t replace sleep with a double latte.

9. Don’t waste your precious energy on gossip, energy vampires, issues of the past, negative thoughts or things you cannot control. Instead invest your energy in the positive present moment.

10. Mentor someone and be mentored by someone.

11. Live with the 3 E’s. Energy, Enthusiasm, Empathy.

12. Remember there’s no substitute for hard work.

13. Believe that everything happens for a reason and expect good things to come out of challenging experiences.

14. Implement the No Complaining Rule. Remember that complaining is like vomiting. Afterwards you feel better but everyone around you feels sick.

15. Read more books than you did in 2011. I happen to know of a few good ones. 🙂

16. Don’t seek happiness. Instead decide to live with passion and purpose and happiness will find you.

17. Focus on “Get to” vs “Have to.” Each day focus on what you get to do, not what you have to do. Life is a gift not an obligation.

18. Each night before you go to bed complete the following statements:

I am thankful for __________.

Today I accomplished____________.

19. Smile and laugh more. They are natural anti-depressants.

20. Enjoy the ride. You only have one ride through life so make the most of it and enjoy it.

-Jon Gordon

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Thanksgiving – A Day Of Freedom

As the Thanksgiving Holiday comes to a close, I’d like to share one more post about my favorite holiday! Below is a composite of several Thanksgiving themed blog posts and articles from Voice of God Recordings and Young Foundations. Check out all the videos, audios, pictures, and even recipes. Enjoy!

Thanksgiving – A Day Of Freedom Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Tomorrow marks the memorable day of Thanksgiving. It’s a day to not only reflect the thanksgiving of the free nation that we live in, but the thanksgiving in our hearts of the resurrected Jesus Christ that gave His life on Calvary to give us Eternal freedom.

As you bow your heads around the table to thank God for your freedom and the natural food that He has grown and fixed for you, remember that something had to die so that you could have those things. Millions of soldiers died so that you could live under freedom of religion. The very food you’re eating had to die so that you can live. If something doesn’t die, you do not live, and if Christ had not died, you could not live.

How can we give thanks to God for so many blessings? For His Life. For His Love. For His grace. For our families. For our freedom. For this Message. We are a blessed and free people! Free from sin. Free from bondage. Free from sickness. Free from death.

The Son has made us free, and we are free indeed to serve our Lord and our Father. We thank Thee. Talk about a thanksgiving day for freedom, we’ve got a real… Every day’s a thanksgiving day; every hour’s a thanksgiving day. I, who was once blind can now see; I, who was a sinner am now saved. O God, how free we are, how we can give You thanksgiving, thanksgiving from our heart that Jesus Christ the Son of God is not dead but He’s alive among us tonight…William Branham 1959-11-26

To view past Thanksgiving articles, follow the links below:

Thanksgiving 2007:

(Click the picture or Title to be taken to the full article and audio story)

The Persecution Thursday part 1, November 01, 2007

The persecution has begun. The papacy and British Government want complete control of the people. Protestants around the countryside are refusing to give up their religious freedom without a fight. But it is a fight and stand that will most assuredly end in death and persecution for many of God’s children. For years to follow, the insurrection would continue with much fighting and intolerance. Hundreds, if not thousands are martyred for the cause of free worship. The “Puritans” are fleeing whenever the opportunity arises. Many don’t make it out of the country alive, but small groups are making their way to Amsterdam, where they hope to find peace.

The Journey Friday part 2, November 09, 2007

It’s time to go. Preparations have been made, and the weather is cooperating. The pastor is giving a sermon out of the book of Ezra. Spirits are high, but nervous. Some people are laughing, some are crying. People are separating from family and friends, but they are doing it willingly. They have decided to make this journey by their own free will.

The First Winter Friday part 3, November 16, 2007

The Pilgrims arrive in America under fair weather. Many men fall on their knees and bless God for delivering them from the perils and miseries of their past.

The First Thanksgiving Wednesday part 4, November 21, 2007

It's March 16, 1621. The Pilgrims are amazed when a friendly native named Samoset approaches them. He speaks broken English, but tells them of a man from the Wampanoag tribe that speaks good English and can help them. In a few days the Pilgrim leaders are introduced to the native called Squanto. He speaks amazingly well and introduces them to the local Wampanoag tribal leaders. The two groups of men talk all night, and agree to live in peace. A treaty is signed that will remain in place for 50 years.

Thanksgiving 2008, November 26, 2008

We often ponder the many blessings in our lives during the Thanksgiving season and all the things we ought to be thankful for.

Thanksgiving 2009, November 26, 2009

What are you thankful for? This was a common question that we asked many people over the past several weeks. You’ll see in the video above that the answers we received varied from orange juice, to kitty cats, to family, and most importantly, God.

Thanksgiving 2010 – Freedom, November 22, 2010

"If it's worth something, it's worth dying for." It was religious persecution that our forefathers fled from. It landed them on Plymouth Rock where this great nation of ours was founded on freedom of religion. As Brother Branham said, "And according to the Bible, of Revelations the 13th chapter, God had promised them an oasis and a place, for the woman was carried into the wilderness where she was fed for a time, time, and a dividing of time. God had made the promise to America, or to the church (to the woman) to come into this country."


Thanksgiving Recipes:

Apple Butter | Honey Butter | Cranberry Orange Muffins |

Sister Jeans Cranberry Relish | Broccoli Casserole | Mashed Potato Casserole |

Turkey Stuffing | Sweet Potato Souffle | Dutch Apple Pie

At the 2009 Giving Thanks dinner for the elderly, there were many delicious recipes that the sisters made. Even though some of these are family secret recipes, we've decided to let a few of them out for you to use in your holiday baking. Don't tell anyone!


President Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 Thanksgiving Proclamation

President Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 Thanksgiving Proclamation:


The year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields 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 of Almighty God.

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 as the iron and coal as of our precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. 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 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 imposition of the Almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the divine purpose, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility, and union.

A Day of ‘Public Thanksgiving and Prayer’

A letter from the president of The Heritage Foundation:


A Day of ‘Public Thanksgiving and Prayer’

Most of us have heard or read at least part of Abraham Lincoln’s Thanksgiving proclamation at some point. But even those who have heard it many times can overlook two important aspects of this important document.

The first is its timing: October 3, 1863. The nation had already endured two years of appalling carnage on the battlefields of the Civil War. And although Gettysburg and the fall of Vicksburg seemed to mark a turning point in favor of the Union, there was no clear light at the end of the tunnel. In fact, much more blood would be shed in the months ahead.

And yet President Lincoln paused at this time of unimaginable crisis not only to urge Americans to give thanks, but to note how blessed our nation is. “The year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies,” the first sentence reads. He lists those blessings in terms so strong and soaring one could almost forget this was one of our nation’s darkest hours.

Nearly 150 years later, this is a perspective check. If Lincoln could encourage his fellow Americans to give thanks at such a bleak time, how can any of us complain about our lot? How can we read about polls that suggest our best days are behind us, that all we can do is manage our “inevitable” decline? What nonsense.

That’s not to say we don’t have difficulties. We do — serious ones. And no, the answer isn’t to crack a phony smile and pretend everything’s great. We need to do what past generations have done: look our problems squarely in the eye, roll up our sleeves and get the job done. We make mistakes, but we learn from them. But to give up? No. Such a defeatist attitude is unworthy of a free people.

The second aspect of Lincoln’s proclamation that’s sometimes forgotten is the reason given for the holiday. To give thanks, yes, but not just in general — to give thanks to God. “No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things,” he writes. “They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.”

Whoa — hold on there. Somebody get the ACLU. How un-PC can a president get? Wasn’t Lincoln worried that he might offend some of his listeners?

Hardly. He was following in the hallowed footsteps of George Washington. Notice the date of Lincoln’s proclamation: October 3. On that same day in 1789, the nation’s first president gave his Thanksgiving proclamation. And like Lincoln, he was clear about who deserved our gratitude.

Washington called that day on all Americans to observe a day of “public thanksgiving and prayer” devoted 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.”

This shouldn’t surprise anyone. “Of the many influences that shaped the American concept of liberty, the first and most formative was faith,” writes author and Washington scholar Matthew Spalding. The Founding Fathers knew the First Amendment didn’t forbid public mention of God. It simply meant there could be no official state church.

They also knew that, whatever church an American belonged to, he ought to give thanks to Almighty God. Not because we’re living in some heaven on earth — that’s impossible. But because despite our problems, we’re incredibly blessed. We live in a land that recognizes our right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. In a world beset with death, tyranny, disease and famine, that’s nothing short of a miracle.

We need to act like we believe that. And the best way to start is to say thanks.

Edwin J. Feulner
President, The Heritage Foundation

Seven Important Quotes to Read at the Thanksgiving Table

Seven Important Quotes to Read at
the Thanksgiving Table

1. The Old 100th: The Thanksgiving Psalm of the Pilgrims

It was their deep devotion to God, commitment to sound doctrine and the pure faith which primarily motivated the Pilgrims to endure great trials and hardships for the hope of a multi-generational vision of victory. In obedience to God and to strengthen their spirits, the Pilgrims became known as people of song. They loved to sing and did so often, not only during the meeting of the church, but in the course of daily life. The Psalms were in the forefront of their musical repertoire for life, and few Psalms were as beloved as “The Old 100th.” Because books like psalters were precious and rare, they practiced a form of congregational singing in which one line would be sung or “called out” and the congregation would sing it back in unison. Here is the Old 100th, from the Geneva Bible, set to verse, Pilgrim style:

Shout to Jehova all the earth,
Serve ye Jehova with gladness,
Enter his gates with singing mirth,
No that Jehova, he God is.

It’s He that made us and not we,
His folk and sheep of His feeding
Oh with confession enter ye
His gates, his courtyards with praising.

Confess to him, bless ye his name,
Because Jehova he Good is.
His mercy ever is the same,
And his faith unto all ages. Amen.

2. The Greatest Quote Concerning the Resolve of the Pilgrims

The simple sentence below by William Bradford is one of the most powerful in all of Christian literature, for it is a commentary on the meaning of holy risk-taking and the pursuit of righteousness and the kingdom of God:

So they committed themselves to the will of God, and resolved to proceed.

3. William Bradford’s Multi-Generational Vision

Just over fifty Pilgrims survived the first winter. But from them came more than thirty million descendants and a nation conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights. More importantly, their vision was one of holy, Christ-centered, multi-generational faithfulness.

Last and not least, they cherished a great hope and inward zeal of laying good foundations, or at least making some ways toward it, for the propagation and advance of the gospel of the kingdom of Christ in the remote parts of the world, even though they should be but stepping stones to others in the performance of so great a work.

And also:

Thus out of small beginnings greater things have been produced by His hand that made all things of nothing, and gives being to all things that are; and, as one small candle may light a thousand, so the light here kindled hath shone unto many, yea in some sort to our whole nation; let the glorious name of Jehovah have all the praise.

4. The Mayflower Compact: The Document That Shaped American Freedom under Christ

It has been persuasively argued that the Mayflower Compact, signed just prior to the Pilgrim’s arrival in Plymouth, was not only the critical step to quelling unrest and ensuring the unity and success of the Pilgrim society, but it became a foundation for the covenantal understanding of government under God embraced by the colonies and later the Founding Fathers. Significantly, this document appears to be an inspiration for later charters like the Declaration of Independence. It was a document signed by male heads of household and drafted with the goal of establishing a holy and orderly civil society. It begins with the awe-inspiring words — “In the name of God, Amen” — which is arguably the most powerful introduction of any document in the history of Western Civilization.

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. Anno Dom. 1620.

5. The Eyewitness Accounts of the Thanksgiving Story from Gov. Winslow’s Mourt’s Relation, and from Governor William Bradford’s Of Plimouth Plantation

There are two and only two primary source accounts of the first Thanksgiving. They are presented below in the original English. They must be read in the context of the larger record given by Bradford and Winslow concerning the Pilgrim story.

The Thanksgiving Story as Told by Edward Winslow

Our harvest being gotten in, our governour sent foure men on fowling, that so we might after a speciall manner rejoyce together, after we had gathered the fruits of our labours ; they foure in one day killed as much fowle, as with a little helpe beside, served the Company almost a weeke, at which time amongst other Recreations, we exercised our Armes, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and amongst the rest their greatest king Massasoyt, with some ninetie men, whom for three dayes we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five Deere, which they brought to the Plantation and bestowed on our Governour, and upon the Captaine and others. And although it be not always so plentifull, as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so farre from want, that we often wish you partakers of our plentie.

The Thanksgiving Story as Told by William Bradford

They begane now to gather in ye small harvest they had, and to fitte up their houses and dwellings against winter, being all well recovered in health & strenght, and had all things in good plenty; For as some were thus imployed in affairs abroad, others were excersised in fishing, aboute codd, & bass, & other fish, of which yey tooke good store, of which every family had their portion. All ye somer ther was no want.  And now begane to come in store of foule, as winter approached, of which this place did abound when they came first (but afterward decreased by degrees).  And besids water foule, ther was great store of wild Turkies, of which they tooke many, besids venison, &c. Besids, they had about a peck a meale a weeke to a person, or now since harvest, Indean corn to yt proportion.  Which made many afterwards write so largly of their plenty hear to their friends in England, which were not fained, but true reports.

6. The Great Declaration of Praise and Thanksgiving Offered by William Bradford for the Providential Deliverance of the Pilgrims

May not and ought not the children of these fathers rightly say: “Our fathers were Englishmen which came over this great ocean, and were ready to perish in this wilderness; but they cried unto the Lord, and he heard their voice, and looked on their adversity, etc.” Let them therefore praise the Lord, because he is good, and his mercies endure forever. Yea, let them which have been redeemed of the Lord, show how he hath delivered them from the hand of the oppressor. When they wandered in the desert wilderness out of the way, and found no city to dwell in, both hungry, and thirsty, their soul was overwhelmed in them. Let them confess before the Lord his loving kindness, and his wonderful works before the sons of men.

7. Pastor John Robinson’s Wise Words of Counsel to the Departing Pilgrims on Their Duties in Building a New Christian Society

The letter of John Robinson to the departing Mayflower Pilgrims ranks as one of the greatest pastoral letters with the most far-reaching influence in all of history. Robinson made the difficult decision to stay behind with those members of the congregation who would not or could not make the journey.

The letter is brilliant for its precision and the powerful concepts communicated, but most importantly, it really embodies the wisdom and holiness of the life and worldview of the Scrooby congregation. Some of the concepts of this pastoral letter were actually incorporated into the Mayflower Compact, a document which itself was built upon themes articulated in the Scrooby Covenant of 1607. Below is a quote, but make sure to read the letter in its entirety.

Lastly, whereas you are become a body politic, using amongst yourselves civil government, and are not furnished with any persons of special eminency above the rest, to be chosen by you into office of government; let your wisdom and godliness appear, not only in choosing such persons as do entirely love and will promote the common good, but also in yielding unto them all due honor and obedience in their lawful administrations, not beholding in them the ordinariness of their persons, but God’s ordinance for your good; not being like the foolish multitude who more honor the gay coat than either the virtuous mind of the man, or glorious ordinance of the Lord. But you know better things, and that the image of the Lord’s power and authority which the magistrate beareth, is honorable, in how means persons soever. And this duty you both may the more willingly and ought the more conscionably to perform, because you are at least for the present to have only them for your ordinary governors, which yourselves shall make choice of for that work.

Robinson also wrote:

This holy army of saints is marshaled here on earth … under the conduct of their glorious Emperor, Christ. Thus it marches in this most heavenly order and glorious array, against all enemies … peaceable in itself, as Jerusalem … terrible to the enemy as an army with banners, triumphing over their tyranny with patience, their cruelty with meekness, and over death itself with dying. . . . The gates of hell, and all the principalities and powers on earth shall not prevail against it.

Happy Thanksgiving!

by: Vision Forum Ministries’ Doug Phillips