Summary: Throughout history, God has shown His love by providing hope where there seemed to be no hope, salvation when it seemed that all was lost, & provision of every kind for those in need. (Powerpoints available - #314)
MELVIN M. NEWLAND, MINISTER
RIDGE CHAPEL, KANSAS, OK
(Powerpoints used with this sermon are available for free. Simply email me at email@example.com and request #314.)
TEXT: Psalm 150:6
"Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise ye the Lord!" (Ps. 150:6)
Throughout history, God has shown His love by providing hope where there seemed to be no hope, salvation when it seemed that all was lost, & provision of every kind for those in need.
For example, the early Pilgrims in America experienced God's special provision when it seemed that death might take them all.
ILL. Peter Marshall's book, "The Light & the Glory", tells how the Pilgrims at Plymouth endured extreme hardships in America. Three long months at sea aboard the Mayflower & a brutal winter left them worn-out, desperately hungry, & vulnerable to disease.
Their daily existence was a struggle. Their only barrier against the harsh New England weather was makeshift homes of branches & dried mud. Because they were not yet knowledgeable about their new environment, their gardens failed to be productive.
Food was precious & every meal was measured out carefully. And during their first winter nearly half of them died. But despite their hardships the Pilgrims continued to thank God, & daily asked for His strength to help them endure.
Then one Sunday morning, the Lord sent evidence that He had heard their prayers. Their service was interrupted by an unexpected guest, an Indian chief who saw their hopeless situation & returned with a helper named Squanto.
You see, 12 years before, a group of English traders led by Captain Hunt had sailed to this area. When the trusting Wampanoag Indians came out to trade, Hunt took them prisoner, transported them to Spain, & sold them into slavery.
But God had a plan for one of the Indian slaves, a boy named Squanto. Squanto was bought by a Spanish monk who treated him well & taught him the Christian faith. Squanto eventually ended up in England, working in the stable of a man named John Slaney. Slaney befriended Squanto, & promised to put him on a ship back to America.
Finally, in 1619, a ship was found that would take him, & Squanto was home-ward bound. But when he arrived, more heartbreak awaited him. An epidemic had wiped out his entire village. We can only imagine how he felt., "Why has God allowed me to return home, only to find everyone I love to be dead?"
A year later the answer came. A shipload of Pilgrims arrived & settled on the very land once occupied by Squanto's people.
And that next spring, when Squanto was brought to meet them, he greeted the startled Pilgrims in English. Listen to these words from the diary of Pilgrim Governor William Bradford:
"Squanto became a special instrument sent of God for [our] good ... He showed [us] how to plant corn, where to take fish & to procure other commodities ... & was also [our] pilot to bring [us] to unknown places for [our] profit, & never left [us] till he died."
Who but God could so miraculously weave together the lives of a lonely, heart-broken Indian & a struggling band of English Pilgrims?
When that first full harvest yielded abundantly, Gov. Bradford declared a day of feasting & thanksgiving. He invited the Indian chief to the feast, but the small group of Pilgrims were overwhelmed when he showed up with 90 of his braves.
You see, they didn't have nearly enough food for that many, & no idea how they would be able to feed them. However, the problem was solved as the Indians presented them with 5 dressed deer & 12 fat wild turkeys for the feast.
But the Pilgrims' trials were far from over. A ship called "The Fortune" arrived with 35 more colonists who had brought no provisions - no food, no extra clothing, no equipment - just themselves.
With such a population increase the food supplies began to dwindle. Then the rains failed to come & their crops began to wither before their eyes. At their lowest point, the Pilgrims were reduced to a ration of 5 kernels of corn apiece.
In desperation they called a prayer meeting of the entire settlement & cried out to God for 8 hours. Their prayers were answered & rain began to fall. And when they harvested their crops, a second Day of Thanksgiving was declared.
Once again the Indian chief was an honored guest; & this time he brought along 120 braves. Again the feast included wild game & turkey, only this time one course was different.
The very first course, served to each Pilgrim, consisted of just 5 kernels of corn as a reminder of God's answer to their prayers.
SUM. The Pilgrims' response to their affliction is seen in their writings that express deeply thankful hearts. We can learn many lessons about sincere thankfulness & the amazing providence of Almighty God from their example.