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Summary: For Christians, thanksgiving should not end at the observance of the holiday, but should be a constant attitude of the soul.

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Thanksgiving Day began with the Pilgrims of the Plymouth Colony. In 1621, Governor Bradford appointed a day of thanksgiving, a day of feasting and expressing gratitude. Abraham Lincoln, in the midst of the Civil War, in 1863, established the annual celebration of Thanksgiving when he issued a proclamation that the last Thursday in November be set apart as a day of prayer and thanksgiving. Congress changed this day, in 1941, to the fourth Thursday in November. For Christians, thanksgiving should not end there, but should be a constant attitude of the soul. There should be thanksgiving for the:

I. Freedom to worship.

A. Our forefathers came to the New World to escape the bondage of those who would seek to regulate their faith and bring them under the bondage of a state religion.

B. In today’s politically correct environment where you have to be so careful to keep from offending anyone, we might all have to give reports like this fourth grader who reported on the origins of the Thanksgiving holiday. "The pilgrims came here seeking freedom of you know what. When they landed, they gave thanks to you know who. Because of them, we can worship each Sunday, you know where."

C. John 4:23 "But the hour cometh, and now is when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeks such to worship him."

D. Hebrews 2:15 "And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage."

E. John 8:31-32 "Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; [32] And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."

F. Ephesians 2:13-18 "But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace. And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father."

II. Grace to Endure.

A. For the Pilgrims, the road to freedom was not easy. They would endure many hardships. The Pilgrims would not fully understand in their lifetime the reason for the suffering that beset them. The first official Thanksgiving Day occurred as a unique holy day in 1621 - in the fall of that year with lingering memories of the difficult, terrible winter they had just been through a few months before, in which scores and scores of babies and children and young people and adults had starved to death, and many of the Pilgrims had gotten to a point where they were even ready to go back to England. They had climbed into a ship and were in that harbor heading back to England, ready to give up. It was only as they saw another ship coming the other way, and on that ship there was a Frenchman named Delaware, and he came with some medical supplies and some food, that they had enough hope to go back and to try to live in the midst of those adverse sufferings. Yet, they came to that first Thanksgiving with the spirit of giving and of sharing.

B. II Corinthians 12:9 "And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness..."

C. If you want a wonderful experience, take your New Testament and use a concordance to look up the two little words, "but God." See how many times human resources have been brought to an utter end; despair has gripped the heart and pessimism and gloom has settled upon a people; and there is nothing that can be done. Then see how the Spirit of God writes in luminous letters, "But God," and the whole situation changes into victory. (Ray C. Stedman, Man of Faith Christianity Today, Vol. 30, no. 5.)

D. Matthew 19:26 "But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible."

E. Hebrews 13:5-6 "Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. [6] So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me."

III. Blessings bestowed.

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