Summary: Today's message is from our "Let's Talk About" series. Today's message is about Thanksgiving, understanding how it all began, and how we've lost what the Pilgrams sacrificed and died for. It also looks at how we can get back on track and be a people with a thankful heart.

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To better understand Thanksgiving Day, we need to understand why the Pilgrims left England in the first place. It all started in 1534 when England broke ties with the Roman Catholic Church, and Protestant Reformers saw this as an opportunity. In time these reformers came to be called Puritans (mainly because they wanted to “purify” the Church of England of Catholic traditions they believed not to be biblical).

After many years of struggling for change, some Puritans felt that little progress had been made; so they decided it was time to separate from the Church of England. This began the distinction between the Puritans and the Separatists. Though they shared the same theological beliefs and values, the Puritans remained part of the Church of England, while the Separatists chose to separate, and the Pilgrims were part of this Separatist group.

Unfortunately, the Church and State were intimately tied, and Separatists were considered treasonous and lived in danger of both persecution and imprisonment. Due to the hostilities, a small group of Separatists sailed to Holland In 1609.

For more than a decade, they enjoyed religious freedom and gathered openly for church. But with this freedom came difficulties. First was economic hardship. As immigrants they were at the bottom of the economic ladder and lived in extreme poverty.

Next, this freedom brought the dilution of their biblical values, especially among the young. Some of the young men and women began to assimilate into the Dutch culture and abandoning their faith.

William Bradford, a passenger on the Mayflower and governor of Plymouth, explained:

“Of all the sorrows most heavy to be borne (in Holland), was that many of the children, influenced by these conditions, and the great licentiousness of the young people of the country, and the many temptations of the city, were led by evil example into dangerous courses.”

With the desire to spread the gospel message the Pilgrims chose to immigrate once again, this time to America, and they were prepared to make tremendous sacrifices for future generations – and the sacrifices proved to be costly.

By the end of their first winter in 1620, half of the passengers who had sailed to America on the Mayflower were dead. Yet, they persevered and remained faithful to God. The next year, with the help of some local Indians they were able to plant crops and have a good harvest.

In spite of their losses they called for a celebration to thank God. God blessed them and America became a bastion of freedom, especially the freedom to worship God without fear from either church or governmental persecution.

And God chose to pour out His blessing upon their descendants and this new country. To use the words of Bradford, these Pilgrims became the “stepping stones” in the formation of what has arguably become the greatest nation on earth.

But America is no longer that beacon on a hill, because it’s no longer “One Nation Under God.” It’s a country where its spiritual life no longer centers upon a commitment to God or His church.

Instead, we are a nation that’s taken the Lord God of the Bible, the Lord God who helped founded this nation, out of every aspect of our nation’s life, where the Bible is being removed from our schools, and the Ten Commandments are being removed from our public buildings, and we are now seeing our businesses, organizations, and our government not only oppose the Bible, but those who hold to its truths.

What we have today is largely the same thing that faced the Separatists back in England and Holland. First, the government is trying to control the church. In 2014, the mayor of Houston tried to subpoena sermons, teachings, and all communications from several pastors to silence them from talking against immorality. The IRS is also trying to take away churches tax-exempt status if they speak against the state.

And more recently we are seeing State and local officials restricting and even prohibiting public worship while giving the green light for violent protest in our streets, and immorality within our schools.

And those who influence our youth are anything but Christian, and are youth are following these social influencer’s rebellion against God and the morals put down in God’s word.

And when it comes to celebrating this Holiday, it’s no longer a celebration of thanksgiving for all that God has blessed us and our country with, but rather it’s become a time of stuffing our faces and watching Thanksgiving specials and sporting events on T.V.

Further, Thanksgiving Day is little more than a launching pad for Christmas. Is it any wonder that the day after Thanksgiving is called “Black Friday,” and that’s because it helps retailers stay out of the red.

It seems like America today is stripping away our ability to thank God for what He has provided. Christian missionary, Elwood McQuaid said, “We are rapidly becoming a nation of ingrates – people for whom too much is never enough.”

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