BY DONNA CHURCHILL
“But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”
“Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thy heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.” “Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him:…” “I waited patiently for the Lord and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry.”
(Psalm 27:14, Psalm 37:7a, Psalm 40:1)
I recently stumbled upon an old post I had written on my own personal blog page dated back to December, 2016. It reminded me of something God had showed me at that time. And even though Advent season and Christmas of 2021 is just a memory, this was a timely reminder for me and I’d like to share it with you.
As you may remember from a previous post here, I mentioned that I love celebrating the Advent season; the time of waiting, watching and anticipating the celebration of Christ’s birth. I love the Christmas season and all its “trappings.” I always try to get my shopping done early so I can enjoy the season. I love relaxing at home on a cold winter’s night, enjoying the lights on my tree, reflecting on what this season means spiritually and watching Christmas movies that have happy endings. I love happy endings!!
The Christmas season, too, has a happy ending. All our anticipating, waiting and watching culminates in the celebration of the birth of Jesus, our Savior, the One who has come to save us from our sin and from ourselves. He comes with a promise and it’s because we know that, that our season of waiting is so full of joyful anticipation – we know that our hope will be fulfilled! We know the answer! We know that what (who) we’re waiting for has come.
What God showed me all those years ago focused on all the other waiting periods in my life; other periods of anticipation, watching and waiting. I think most of you are like me in the sense that there are things you have been praying for and waiting for for a very long time and you long, truly long to see God move in answering those prayers. Whether it’s for a loved one’s salvation, a healing, a prodigal child, a promised promotion or raise, deliverance from a besetting sin, or whatever it may be, we continue to cry out to God and wait for His intervention. Sometimes we pray with hope in our heart and trust that God hears and will answer, but sometimes we cry out in frustration wondering why God seemingly doesn’t hear or care about our pleadings. We wait, but not always with the confidence that what we wait and hope for will be fulfilled.
What if we embraced the answer to our prayer like it was a done deal and began to live in Advent (a waiting season; a season of preparation) of this promise?
What if we could wait in joyful expectation, just as we do at Christmas time, anticipating, waiting and watching, believing the promise is in our future?
What if we could just enjoy the “trappings” of this “season” right where we are at?
Enjoy what God is doing in our heart as a result of this time of waiting?
Enjoy the “lights,” the “music,” the “decorations,” God is “putting up” in our heart during this, our personal “Advent” season?
Jeff Goins asks it so well – “What if we fell in love with the in-between times, relishing instead of resenting them?”
What if God isn’t “preparing” us for anything other than this very moment?
Scripture tells me that God hears and answers my prayers, therefore I need to live in the assurance that His Word is true and wait in joyfulness, anticipating how and when He is going to move! But in that anticipation, I believe God is doing something in me, too.
When we are in a state of waiting, God is moving!! He’s at work in our heart; what if we embraced what He is doing right now even when we can’t see it? What if we just believe it?
“Waiting is not always a bad thing; it can bring its own joy – the thrill of anticipation.” David Jeremiah
Just as our hearts are filled with anticipation during the Advent season, we need to embrace the waiting in our own personal advent with anticipation and expectancy in our hearts and the wonderment of how and when God will answer our prayers!
Because, surely He will!
But what if we find the answer was in the journey all along?
BY MARY SPENCE
Living in a pandemic has changed me. This is hard; so hard. We are tired. Tired of quarantines and stuff being out of stock, and paying twice the price for everything. Worried about loved ones and friends who are struggling to fight off the loneliness and depression. Learning to do everything in a new way. Like remote doctors visits. I can say for myself this is a time like none other I have ever lived through. It is hard, isn't it? Wondering if it's safe to go. Wondering if it's ok to stay away. We are stuck in this world but not of it. Surrounded by fear, division and hatred. Feeling frustrated and worried?
Take a deep breath...
I know that fear is a symptom of unbelief. I also know that His Word says, "So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." (Isaiah 41:10)
So l push through. Tell myself it's going to be ok. Try to trust in God's timing and His perfect plan. Trust on His grace and pray for His will. Even though it might be different than mine. What is the cure for a pandemic? Grace, God's peace, and Prayer. “Then Jesus said, 'Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.'" (Matthew 11:28-30 NLT)
After all, we are not called to have all the answers. We are just called to be focused on Him, make Him our number one priority and He will do the rest. So what are we to do while we wait? How can we be used by Him through all of this?
"You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven." (Matthew 5:13-16)
Our job is to pray. To reach out to others in distress. To offer a helping hand when someone else is in need.. As hard as it is for us as believers, just imagine how this feels to those who do not know Jesus. So take hope brothers and sisters. Even in these darkest days there is light. Be the light that causes others to see Jesus and believe.
Living in this pandemic has changed me. I look AT people when I talk to them now instead of past them. I listen to their words more closely now (mostly to hear through the mask). I watch what their body is saying in addition to their words. I am a much better friend since this pandemic has made me realize how delicate our hold on life really is. I have learned to treasure my time with my friends because I have seen how fast it can be gone. I have even seen that we can live without the "essentials" like toilet paper. My perspective on what is essential has changed. Yes, living in a pandemic has changed me.
Prayer: Father God. Help us to be strong in you. Show us the way when we are lost. Give us rest when we are tired. Cover us in your peace and protection. We thank you for your everlasting love and for the grace that you extend to each of us. In your precious son's name. Amen.
BY MARTHA CHEVALIER
"Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart"
Arriving home from school one day, years ago, my mom hollered out towards me, “they have arrived, your package is finally here!” I had ordered my first 3-pound package of live bees. My wish to tend a hive of honeybees was coming true, and I was scared! Simply put, I was afraid of bees. And now I had about 10,000 of then to deposit into the hive I had built with the help of my father and brothers. Truth be told, through the years that followed, I loved keeping bees. I most especially loved extracting the honey. Sticky, sweet and such a beautiful golden color. I loved the taste, the joy of filling up clear glass jars, and sharing my bees honey with family, friends, and neighbors. It’s been many years since I kept bees, but I literally still swoon when I spot the first wild honeybees stirring in the warm days of early spring.
Perhaps that’s why Psalm 19 remains one of my favorite verses of scripture.
The law of the Lord is perfect,
reviving the soul;
the decrees of the Lord are sure,
making wise the simple;
the precepts of the Lord are right,
rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is clear,
enlightening the eyes;
the fear of the Lord is pure,
the ordinances of the Lord are true
and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold,
even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey,
and drippings of the honeycomb. Psalm 19:7-10
God’s word is perfect, it revives us. It makes us wise. It causes us to be jubilant, filling our hearts with joy. His word enlightens and reveals hidden things we didn’t know. (Jer 33:3) Jesus reveals himself in His word. He is God incarnate. (John 1:14) He is our warm, fresh daily bread. His words are more precious than gold, they are sweeter than honey.
Recently I had the honor of teaching a small group of adult learners basic Bible knowledge. These dear people were not in any way, shape, or form Christ followers. They were adherents to alternative lifestyles. Interestingly, they soaked it up, eager and attentive to learn what the Bible was all about. I told them about Jesus and honey and gold. What a privilege. What a joy.
Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him! Psalm 34:8
BY JORDAN MAYER
"Then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature."
As we begin a new year, I find myself back at the beginning of the story in the book of Genesis. Like Noah and the flood, Abraham and Isaac, or Moses and the Red Sea, the creation account is familiar territory. So familiar, that I often find it challenging to ”see" it with fresh eyes. Not that I doubt that God can still teach me something from it, rather it’s my own human mind that is prone to gloss over the words, passages, and details that I have so often read. And so, as I started to read the first chapter, I prayerfully endeavored to set aside my preconceived ideas and notions. To allow myself to be once again caught up in the beauty, majesty, and wonder of the creation account.
As I started to read, one thing in particular continued to draw my attention. It was the role of God speaking in creation. “And God said” is repeated on each day of creation. God speaks and what is once formless and void explodes into light and then sky and land and seas and plants and stars and sun and moon and swarms of living creatures. All of this, by the power of His Word. No struggling or straining, God simply says, “Let there be”, and there was.
And yet His Word doesn’t simply fashion the material world, it breathes life into the creation. This is described most vividly with the creation of man. He is fashioned from the dust of the earth, but it is God’s breath that brings him to life. And then something amazing hit me from a passage in 2 Timothy. “All Scripture is breathed out by God…” (2 Timothy 3:16). When God speaks, life is created. And the life-giving power of God’s spoken Word is also present in His written Word. “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).
When we open the pages of Scripture, we are not simply reading a book. We are reading the very words of Creator God. We are experiencing something living and active that has the power to change hearts and minds. The very best of books may entertain our minds, cheer our hearts, or give us some manner of wisdom to live by. But it is God’s Word, and God’s Word alone, that has the power to change lives for eternity. It reaches down to the very depths of our soul and points us to the one with the words of eternal life (John 6:68).
You see, God’s Word is Jesus! “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men” (John 1:1-4). The same life He breathed into creation is the same life He offers us. It is the gift of eternal life. It is Jesus who can take what is formless and void and make it into something beautiful and full of life. So too it is Jesus who can take our bodies of death and declare us new creations (2 Corinthians 5:17). New self (Ephesians 4:24). New birth (1 Peter 1:23). New life (Ephesians 2:5).
BY JOYCE PELLETIER
"I waited patiently for the Lord; He turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire. He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord."
In a few short days, a new year begins. It happens every year. It seems odd that the year ends right after Christmas. With the birth of a Baby as important as Jesus, you’d think it would be the start of the year. I suppose that it’s a worldly stance. A new year is a chance to start anew.
Some of us make resolutions, many do not. It’s a time to reflect on what has taken place the last year of our lives. Some have been good, some not so much. Whether we like it or not, we are still wandering through this valley of the Pandemic. Most of us are saying in our hearts, “I’m so ready for this to be over.” I relate to this. I’m sick of masks, Covid tests, but it has not ended.
Only God knows how long we will have to endure this tragic time of shortages, illness, to vaccinate or not vaccinate. So many questions, yet there are not any concrete answers. What is truth is that our God is with us!
We fall prey to daily challenges of still wearing masks. Yet at the same time so many of our last three years has brought about so many new beginnings. Psalm 40 says it clearly – “I wait patiently” so often I have not waited patiently. Now I find myself with the onslaught of a new year, new experiences, rekindling old friendships, getting acquainted with the new friends, learning new things about myself that I’m not sure I like, but I can’t get away from the Pandemic Challenge! But I can control how I respond!
God promises us new mercies every morning. I am more aware that in each new moment, we get to move on one step at a time. Waiting isn’t easy, but if we trust God, we will get through this time. I find that I am more patient than a year ago, yet I still haven’t arrived. I know that in my heart, the past few years have come to mean so much more than I ever imagined.
I’ve made many new friends this year. And even though there were many moments of anxiety and fear to not move forward, God doesn’t leave me in the swamp. He carries me, He walks with me, He comforts me; and most importantly, He never gives up on me. His hand is always there reaching out. One of the important lessons is that we are all on the same playing field. Jesus, our Coach, is watching His team very carefully and for the needs of His Kids.
Ps 40:4 “Blessed is the one who makes the Lord his trust.” I’m reaching out to grasp His hand. Will you join me?
BY JEFF DAUGHERTY
As I sit down to write the devotional for this week, I keep drawing a blank. So, I am just writing with the hope that God will direct my path. Like the shepherds that were told of the new King by the Angel in Luke 2:8-13. Or the wise men who followed a star to the new King (Matthew 1:9-12). I continue to pray that God will direct my path. I admit that a heavenly host of Angels telling me which way to head would be helpful. Truth be told I know what I need to do. I have been called to Jesus, I just need to take that first step and go. But if I were there at that moment in Bethlehem, would He call me to go and follow the star? Would I be compelled to go and see the newborn King? As I listen to the Little Drummer Boy and start to think that I also have no gift to bring. I wonder if I am worthy of the great gift that He has given me.
That is when it hits me. The shepherds were not asked to bring gifts. They were simply told to go. We too have been called. But I was always taught that it was rude to show up without a gift. So now I am back to gifts again. So, what gift do I have that is worthy of a king? To the king who was born in a manger so many years ago, I bring a gift. I bring the greatest gift I possess. I give myself. Everything that I am, everything that I have, and everything that I ever will be, I give.
I do not have much. But what I do have, I give. You see, Christmas is not about gifts and decorations. It is about our receiving the greatest gift we could ever receive. He loved us and sent us His son. Christmas is about sharing that gift with those we love. And I share it with you.
BY JORDAN MAYER
"In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins."
1 John 4:9-10
There are so many amazing things about the birth of Christ, but this passage from 1 John reminded me of another. God's love was manifested in a real, physical way. Just as Jesus is the Word Made Flesh, He is also Love Made Flesh. He is the physical manifestation of God's love. He shows us what real love is, the lengths it will go, the depths it will reach, and the sacrifices it will make.
We all claim to love a great many things. In fact, we say it all the time. "I love my job". "I love my family". "I love to read". "I love you". It's easy to say, isn't it? But what we say in love pales in comparison to what we do in love. As John reminds us, love is not simply in word or talk but in deed and truth (1 John 3:18). So when we read "for God so loved the world that", we see God's love in action. The eternal, all-knowing, all-powerful Creator of the Universe willingly took on human flesh to make His love known. He who was infinite and limitless became finite and limited for us.
But the thing is, it's easy to love the loveable, to do good for good people. But what about those who don't deserve it? What about those who are clearly not good? What about us? It's in the midst of these questions that we uncover the true wonder of God's love. God sent us His Son, not because we are so good but because He is. In fact, it was while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8), enemies of God (Romans 5:10), children of wrath (Ephesians 2:3), that Christ came to die for us.
Think of that Holy Infant, so tender and mild. God, himself, made manifest to dwell among us. Think of what awaited that baby, of all that He would have to endure. And yet, realize that before the world began, He made the choice to come.
He took on human flesh...because He loves you.
He walked that weary road...because He loves you.
He bore that awful cross...because He loves you.
As I write this post, I am reminded of the verse from the hymn, "And Can It Be That I Should Gain":
He left His Father’s throne above
So free, so infinite His grace
Emptied Himself of all but love
And bled for Adam’s helpless race
‘Tis mercy all, immense and free
For O my God, it found out me!
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
BY JORDAN MAYER
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
Do you need some peace this Christmas season?
I find myself craving peace, perhaps more than usual. We are now two years into this global pandemic. Our country seems more divided than ever before. Right seems wrong and wrong seems right. Winter has arrived and with it comes colder weather, shorter days, and darker nights. For many people, the Christmas season is a mad dash to the finish line: decorating, buying, wrapping, traveling…surviving.
In more ways than one, our world is the very opposite of peace. It’s chaos and confusion. It’s pain and suffering. It’s darkness and despair. In a world such as ours, where is peace to be had and where is it to be found?
So many thousands of years ago, the prophet Isaiah foretold of the birth of a child. One with many names, but one in particular that sparks hope: Prince of Peace.
The world’s idea of peace is a calm and quiet home, work-life balance, good health, positive relationships, or enough money in the bank. And yet, five minutes in this world reveals just how fragile that kind of peace is. A loved one passes away, a routine visit to the doctor reveals a life-threatening illness, your kids won’t talk to you, or you lose your job. A moment’s peace is about all that can be had, but even that is fleeting.
Jesus offers a better way. A peace that surpasses understanding (Philippians 4:7). A peace that allows us to lie down and sleep (Psalm 4:8). A peace in the midst of tribulation (John 16:33). A peace at all times and in every way (2 Thessalonians 3:16). A perfect peace (Isaiah 26:3).
Before we can experience this peace of God, we must first experience peace with God. Remember that the birth of Jesus was the birth of a Savior. The angel told Joseph, “She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). It is our sin that separates us from God, and yet it was God who came down to provide the Way for peace. Christ has done the work; we simply need to accept it by faith. Then we may join with Paul in declaring, “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1).
Peace with God ushers in the peace of God. The kind of peace that is in Jesus, himself (Ephesians 2:14). One that is not rooted in circumstances, but firmly fixed in spite of them. It’s found in the assurance that “neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38).
This Christmas season, don’t settle for the peace that the world offers. Find it in the Prince of Peace. Find it in Jesus.
BY DONNA CHURCHILL
I had never celebrated Advent until several years ago – well into adulthood! It was never a tradition that we celebrated when I was growing up. Now that I know more about it and what it means, I look forward to it every year.
The time before Christmas is called Advent, a season of preparation for Christmas. Christians prepare for celebrating the birth of Jesus by remembering the longing of the Jews for a Messiah. During Advent, we’re reminded of how much we ourselves also need a Savior, and we look forward to our Savor’s second coming even as we prepare to celebrate His first coming at Christmas.
One definition of Advent is “the arrival of a notable person, thing, or event. The word Advent literally means “coming” or “arrival.” Advent is all about a season of preparation. A time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the coming Christ.
At this time of year, we often hear someone ask, “So, are you ready?” Usually that means – do you have everything done that you need to do – fix up and clean the house, decorate the house, buy the tree, decorate the tree, endless shopping to buy the presents, wrap the presents, do the baking, writing out and sending the Christmas cards, etc, etc.
But this question now reminds me of getting ready – not for the Christmas holiday – but getting reading to receive Him, born afresh and anew in my heart. That’s what Advent is really all about – the preparation of the heart to receive Emmanuel. Even though, as Christians, we’ve already received Him, our hearts can become complacent in appreciating the gift of His coming. That’s what I love about Advent. It reminds me again that the greatest gift, the greatest treasure I could ever receive, is indeed already mine!
Celebrating Advent causes me to slow down and focus on the Messiah and His presence in my life – at all times – but especially during this season which can rob our attention from Him and onto all the trappings the world deems so important this time of year. It causes me to quiet my spirit and sit before Him. It causes me to ponder His ways and search my heart. It causes me to reflect on how I’m celebrating the season and preparing for Him or it causes me to see where I fall short of that.
I have celebrated Advent using several different devotionals over the years. I love the daily readings that help me to “zoom in” on the Lord. Each day I stop, slow down and focus on some part of the Advent story. My heart is quieted and turned toward Him, which helps my focus for the day.
The first Sunday in Advent, (which was celebrated this past Sunday) we light the candle of Hope. And as we do, we’re reminded that our hope is in the person of Jesus Christ. We wait with hearts full of expectant hope for the one who has/will save us.
“And now, Lord, what wait I for? my hope is in thee.”
The second Sunday in Advent, we light the candle of Love.
“For God so loved…..that He gave….”
God so loved you…God so loved me. He gave…His only Son became God incarnate. He became man and experienced all that man can experience as man…because of love. He came and dwelt among us…as one of us. Emmanuel – God with us! And this is the love that 33 years later would go to the cross in my place, in your place, to reconcile us to the Father. This is the love that not only was born in a lowly stable, but is also born in our sin-stained, foul hearts when invited!
The third Sunday in Advent, we light the candle of Joy. Joy is not happiness and happiness is not joy. Joy originates from faith, for joy is the very essence of faith. Joy is lasting; happiness is temporal. Joy is rooted in our faith; happiness is rooted in the moment, a fleeting moment. Joy, true joy, focuses on Jesus and who He is; happiness focuses on self. Joy causes our attention to be captured by the Giver more than the benefit or gift received.
“That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that you also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.”
1 John 1:4
The fourth Sunday in Advent, we light the candle of Peace. Our world is not a very peaceful place right at the moment. With all that is happening, it would certainly seem peace is impossible to find. But into all this darkness and hopelessness comes one who offers us hope and says to us peace can be ours! True peace is only found in the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus – the Prince of Peace!
“And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
I love the readings of Advent and the anticipation created in my heart. I love the opportunity to turn my heart toward Him during this season. I feel a greater excitement of His presence in my day during this season. It’s like the excitement and anticipation a child feels waiting for Christmas.
But how much greater the “Gift” of Jesus than the temporal gifts we give each other??
Are you ready?
Are you ready……….to receive Him?
Are you ready………….…….to celebrate Him?
Are you ready to embrace His presence this Christmas season?
BY MARIE TIEMANN
The Lord instructs us to be Thankful. “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances. (1 Thess. 5: 16-18)
How did we come to have a national day of Thanksgiving and how and why is it relevant to the church? Why should we be thankful for the founding of this nation that we live in? How do I/we express our gratitude to God surrounding this event? To answer these questions, we’ll step back to the year of 1620, walk through time, and take a look at a couple of significant events and a few of the people God used during those years.
While reading the book EPIC, an Around the World Journey through Christian History, by Tim Challies, I learned about the development of the Bible and that the founding of our nation was very significant for the spread of Christianity and for the preservation of the Bible. Throughout the many years that the Bible was being written, printed, and spoken, many of the governmental leaders in Europe were trying to suppress the Bible and its spreading to the people by imprisoning and killing those who were faithful in exclaiming the gospel message. They became known as religious dissenters and later they left their homes, jobs and communities in order to escape the religious persecution.
On September 6, 1620, William Brewster and his family set sail on the Mayflower with 39 other religious dissenters to flee persecution so that they could worship in peace. The ship anchored near Cape Cod on November 11, 1620. It was a treacherous voyage across the Atlantic Ocean and during the first winter, the new settlers endured much hardship through the harsh climate without sufficient food or shelter. “In the new settlement William Brewster took on the role of the settlers’ pastor and spiritual leader. One of his biographers writes, “He alone held the Pilgrim church together during the early years of settlement, maintaining both its orthodoxy and its willingness to interact with nonseparating Puritans.“1 Brewster was faithful to the word of God and his service, yet he wasn’t aware of how his service would be so important for the future of this nation and to us today who live in a land of freedom where the gospel can continue to be proclaimed. Another important person and leader at the Pilgrim Plantation in Plymouth, Massachusetts was William Bradford, who was chosen as the first governor. In 1623, he called the Pilgrims to gather for a day of prayer and thanksgiving.
To All Ye Pilgrims- A Thanksgiving Proclamation Attributed to William Bradford, first Governor of the Colonies
“Inasmuch as the great Father has given us this year an abundant harvest of Indian corn, wheat, beans, squashes and garden vegetables, and has made the forests to abound with game and the sea with fish and clams, and inasmuch as He has protected us from the ravages of savages, has spared us from pestilence and disease, has granted us freedom to worship God according to the dictates of our conscience, now, I your magistrate, do proclaim that all ye Pilgrims, with your wives and little ones, do gather at ye meeting house, on ye hill, between the hours of 9 and 12 in the daytime, on Thursday, November ye 29th of the year of our Lord one thousand six hundred and twenty-three, and the third year since ye Pilgrims landed on ye Pilgrim Rock, there to listen to ye pastor, and render thanksgiving to ye Almighty God for all His blessings.”
The Lord continued to send other pastors and Christian leaders to this land in the years that followed. John and Charles Wesley traveled to America in 1735, followed by George Whitefield who arrived in 1739 and preached to thousands throughout New England. The Wesleys and George Whitefield were instrumental in starting the revival known as the Great Awakening.
On October 3, 1789 George Washington issued the nation’s first presidential proclamation in which he called the nation to set aside a day of thanks. Here is an excerpt of the proclamation:
“Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor—and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them and opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.
Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States 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—That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks—for this kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to becoming a Nation…”
I hope that you will someday have an opportunity to visit Pilgrim Plantation and discovery the Pilgrims’ experience and thank God for their endurance and steadfastness in their faith and bringing the Bible to this land. Maybe you’ll even find yourself becoming very fond of these great men and women, as I have, who endured great hardship and paved the way for us to live freely in this land. William Brewster’s chest is on display at the Pilgrim Hall museum. Another site that I highly recommend visiting is the Museum of the Bible where you’ll learn more of how the Bible was written and delivered throughout the world.
It’s easy to be thankful for the tangible things that I have and my job, friends, family and church, but I am forever grateful for God’s faithfulness to His children by giving us His son who endured the cross for me to live free from the penalty of sin and for His word that endures through all generations. I pray that His beloved church would continue to be faithful to His word and teach the next generations. “Give ear, O my people, to my teaching; incline your ears to the words of my mouth! I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings from of old, things that we have heard and known, that our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders that he has done.” Psalm 78: 1-4
I find that this prayer by John & Charles Wesley’s mother expresses my sentiments to my Lord very well. Susanna Wesley had 19 children.
“I thank thee, oh God, for the relief and satisfaction of mind that come with the firm assurance that you govern the world. Even the tumultuous and irregular actions of sinful men are nevertheless under thy direction and thy providence. You who are wise, good and omnipotent and have promised “to make all things work together for thy good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Roman 8:28 Thank you my God & Savior. “ Susanna Wesley (circa 1600’s)
HAVE A HAPPY AND BLESSED THANKSGIVING!
1 Challies, Tim EPIC An Around the World Journey Through Christian History, 2020,pg 83