Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Thanksgiving 2014

This post is a tribute to one of my favorite all American holidays....Thanksgiving!


"We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing;
He chastens and hastens His will to make known.
The wicked oppressing now cease from distressing.
Sing praises to His Name; He forgets not His own.
Beside us to guide us, our God with us joining,
Ordaining, maintaining His kingdom divine;
So from the beginning the fight we were winning;
Thou, Lord, were at our side, all glory be Thine!
We all do extol Thee, Thou Leader triumphant,
And pray that Thou still our Defender will be.
Let Thy congregation escape tribulation;
Thy Name be ever praised! O Lord, make us free!"

Words and Music By Adrianus Valerius (1626)

Thanksgiving Day On Walton's Mountain

  A Reason To Give Thanks

Freedom is indeed the greatest gift that has been bestowed on the United States of America and yet, what many people today fail to realize is that true freedom can only be experienced when we choose to honor God first and foremost in our lives.

  “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.”
- George Washington

"The practice of morality being necessary for the well being of society, He [God] has taken care to impress its precepts so indelibly on our hearts that they shall not be effaced by the subtleties of our brain. We all agree in the obligation of the moral principles of Jesus and nowhere will they be found delivered in greater purity than in His discourses."
-Thomas Jefferson  

"I have examined all religions, and the result is that the Bible is the best book in the world."
-John Adams

 " I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth- that God Governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid? We have been assured, Sir, in the sacred writings, that "except the Lord build the House they labor in vain that build it." I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without His concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better, than the Builders of Babel: We shall be divided by our little partial local interests; our projects will be confounded, and we ourselves shall become a reproach and by word down to future ages."
-Benjamin Franklin

 Although much has been said and written about both Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin as being the "least religious" of the Founding Fathers of America, apart from the fact that both men have long since departed from this earth and are no longer here to speak for themselves, how much they believed in religion and how much they believed in God and their personal relationship with Him remains a matter of speculation. 
There are atheists and other self-proclaimed, "non-religious" people who remain adamant that these two men were deists with no real allegiance to Jehovah God or Yeshua. On the flip side of this argument, there are evangelical Christians who claim that both Jefferson and Franklin were devout men of faith and that much of what they did say about their belief in God has either been taken out of context or misunderstood all together, especially by those in the opposing camp hoping to change America into a secular and godless place.
Religion, with all it's rules and rituals, is sinful man's attempt to understand the will of Almighty God. Yeshua Himself told us, "Not all religious people are Godly people."  Those who bow to religious legalism are too often bereft of the ability to love their neighbor as themselves. You do not gain entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven by keeping a set of rules and regulations. The reason why God gave us the Ten Commandments was to reveal to the sinful mind of man what sin is, and yet, He knew that man, in his inherent rebellion, could never keep these laws.
 This is why Yeshua came to live among us.  God sent His only begotten Son into the world to become our substitute on the cross.  His precious shed blood cleanses us from our sins and brings us into right standing with the Father in heaven.  We can only claim to be good and righteous because Yeshua was good and righteous first.  

"For the grace of God, His unmerited favor and blessing, has come forward for the deliverance from sin and the eternal salvation for all mankind. It has trained us to reject and renounce all ungodliness and worldly desires, to live discreet, temperate, self-controlled, upright, devout, spiritually whole lives in this present world.
Awaiting and looking for the fulfillment, the realization of our blessed hope, even the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Christ Jesus the Messiah, the Anointed One.
Who gave Himself on our behalf that He might redeem us from all iniquity and purify for Himself a people to be peculiarly His own, people who are eager and enthusiastic about living a life that is good and filled with beneficial deeds."
Titus 2:11-14
Although the secular camp has been in America even before we became a nation, sewing seeds of  dissent towards honoring God, it is without doubt that America is a nation which has been blessed by Almighty God in many ways.  It could have only been the hand of Divine Providence working behind the scenes during the fight for our independence from the British Crown in the Revolutionary War.

 Those rag-tag bands of volunteering farmers and blacksmiths called Minute Men were certainly no match for the mighty army of Red Coats sent here to quell the uprising in the Colonies and yet,  without going into the long and laborious details, America miraculously won her freedom!
However, not even one hundred years later, an evil institution called slavery tried to divide and conquer the fledgling United States of America, pitting free northern states of the Union against the slave-holding southern states of the Confederacy.  Both groups felt justified in their cause, however, it was NEVER in the plans of Almighty God for even one poor unfortunate soul to be brought to these shores in chains to be sold into human bondage!

Once again, the greed and selfishness of wicked man prevailed over the laws and precepts of Almighty God.  Many slaveholders took the Bible out of context in order to justify keeping their fellow human beings in bondage to them. It took a bloody civil war to put wrong to right and preserve the Union, and yet, although President Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves, he, nor any national leader proceeding him right up to this present day has never stood before the people of this nation and called for a time of repentance and prayer before the throne of Almighty God for this terrible offense committed in His sight.  This has allowed the enemy of the souls of mankind a wide open door to come into our land and fuel the fires of racial hatred, anger, bitterness and  resentment, not to mention nurture an unforgiving spirit in the hearts of  many generations of the American people.
God's Word should never be taken out of context for the purpose of condemning someone or justifying behavior that is clearly immoral, especially to deem a fellow human being as inferior due to the color of their skin or ethnic origin.  God is not only no respecter of persons, but He is deliberately colorblind.  He alone sees the color of our hearts.

 During His earthly ministry, when Yeshua was led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by Satan, He set an example for all of us when He encountered the devil, who challenged Him with Scripture.  Yeshua did not challenge him back, but admonished the enemy with the truth of God's Word.  The word, "admonish" means to correct.  In addition to encouraging and edifying the body of Christ, the main use of God's Word is to admonish those who have stumbled into sin to see the error of their way and their need for repentance and to help them get back on the right and only path to God, by believing and trusting in the Lord Yeshua Ha'Mashiach!

The Origin Of Thanksgiving

 "It came without either wind or thunder or any violence, and by degrees in abundance, as that ye earth was thoroughly wet and soaked therewith, which did so apparently revive and quicken ye decayed corn and other fruits as was wonderful to see, and made ye Indians astonished to behold; and afterwards the Lord sent them such seasonable showers, with interchange of fair warm weather as, through His blessing, caused a fruitful and liberal harvest, to their no small comfort and rejoicing."
-Governor William Bradford, Plymouth Colony 

The First Thanksgiving

"Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all you lands! Serve the Lord with gladness! Come before His presence with singing!
Know, perceive , recognize, and understand with approval that the Lord is God! It is He Who has made us, not we ourselves and we are His! We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
Enter into His gates with thanksgiving and a thank offering and into His courts with praise! Be thankful and say to Him, bless and affectionately praise His name!
For the Lord is good; His mercy and loving-kindness are everlasting, His faithfulness and truth endure to all generations."
Psalm 100 

Why is it that our pilgrim forefathers and mothers had no problem honoring God first and foremost with their lives?  How is it that they knew that only God could have rescued them from the religious persecution and hardship in England and brought them safely across the stormy Atlantic to start new lives in the Promise Land called America?
The pilgrims arrived here safely after weeks of uncertainty and deprivation aboard tempest-tossed wooden ships,  only to be threatened by starvation, sickness, and hostile Indians who wanted to kill these fair-skinned newcomers invading their shores.

  Yet, God also sent them an Indian named Samoset, who, along with his friend and fellow Christian believer, Squanto, not only spoke to the pilgrims in their own language, but taught them how to survive the brutally cold New England wintertime.

  Both Squanto and Samoset remained loyal friends to the early settlers of America and both helped forge a long-lasting peace treaty between the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Indians.
In the summer that followed, the Pilgrims remained steadfast in their prayers of thanksgiving to God for all His blessings, especially for the help and advice they received from their Indian friends and neighbors who helped them reap a bountiful harvest that year. 

"Your castles and strongholds shall have bars of iron and bronze, and as your day, so shall your strength, your rest and security be. There is none like God, Who rides through the heavens to your help and in His majestic glory through the skies. The eternal God is your refuge and dwelling place."
Deuteronomy 33:25-27

 In December, 1621, the grateful Pilgrims declared a three day celebration of thanksgiving, shared with them by their Indian friends and which included  turkey, corn bread, and of course, cranberries!  The Indians brought deer and shellfish, lobsters, wild berries and other food to this large feast.  Young Pilgrim men and boys challenged their Wampanoag neighbors in foot races, wrestling matches, and  other athletic events.

"Thank God in everything, no matter what the circumstances may be, be thankful and give thanks, for this is the will of God for you who are in Christ Jesus the Revealer and Mediator of that will."
1 Thessalonians 5:18

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