This Thanksgiving holiday commemorates the 400th anniversary of the voyage of the ship named the Mayflower that was loaded with a band of 102 freedom seeking people, 41 of which were seeking religious freedom, later to be called the pilgrims, along with a crew of 30. On September 6, 1620, they set sail from Plymouth, England and eventually landed in what would be later called Plymouth, Massachusetts on December 21, 1620.
On November 11, 1620, after 66 days at sea, they sighted land and anchored at the tip of Cape Cod, (now Provincetown), far north of the territory officially granted to them in northern Virginia. On the cold, rocky shores of what would become “New England,” the pilgrims “fell upon their knees and blessed the God of heaven who had brought them over this vast and furious ocean.” (William Bradford’s journal)
Between November 11, and December 20, 1620, for 36 days they remained at Cape Cod. Here the 41 men, pilgrims and “strangers” together, wrote the Mayflower Compact. To avoid rebellion and anarchy in the new land, the men signed this legal covenant, (their constitution), thus establishing a self-government that promised equal rights and elections: “In the name of God, Amen. We, whose names are underwritten, the Loyal Subjects of our dread Sovereign Lord, King James, by the Grace of God, of England, France and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith, &. Having undertaken for the Glory of God, and Advancement of the Christian Faith, and the Honour of our King and Country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the northern parts of Virginia; do by these present, solemnly and mutually in the Presence of God and one of another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil Body Politick, for our better Ordering and Preservation, and Furtherance of the Ends aforesaid; And by Virtue hereof to enact, constitute, and frame, such just and equal Laws, Ordinances, Acts, Constitutions and Offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the General good of the Colony; unto which we promise all due submission and obedience. In Witness whereof we have hereunto subscribed our names at Cape Cod the eleventh of November, in the Reign of our Sovereign Lord, King James of England, France and Ireland, the eighteenth, and of Scotland the fifty-fourth. Anno Domini, 1620.”
On December 11, 1620, After signing the Mayflower Compact, an exploratory team of 16 men left in a “shallow,” (a small sailboat that could navigate shallow coastal areas more safely than the ship), to search for a place to settle. On the 11th, they landed at Plymouth Harbor, on the western side of Cape Cod Bay. They found a good harbor, rivers of fresh water, and fields cleared for planting, and saw no sign of the dreaded natives.
On December 21, 1620, The Mayflower sailed into the Plymouth Harbor. The Pilgrims had reached their new home.
Later William Bradford wrote of a second reason why they embarked on such a journey, “A great hope and inward zeal they had of laying some good foundation, or at least to make some way thereunto, for the propagating and advancing the gospel of the kingdom of Christ in those remote parts of the world, yea, though they should be but even stepping stones unto others for the performing of so great a work.” (Bradford becomes Governor of Plimoth Plantation)
As such, these faithful, brave, and courageous people risked all for the opportunity of religious freedom in their own lives, and also to further the gospel of the Kingdom of Heaven for the sake and glory of God our Father and His Son Jesus Christ.
As a result of God’s sovereign leading and Divine providence, by what these faithful men and women started and accomplished through much trial, tribulation, and persecution, our great country began and 400 years later exists today to continue to be a beacon of faith and hope to the entire world, Mat 5:14-16.
Mat 5:14-16, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; 15nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”
Imagine the faith and courage these individuals had to leave all of the comforts of their homes and the most powerful and prosperous nation on the earth at that time, to venture out into an unknown world and wilderness. It is great faith like theirs that has been a shining beacon throughout our history to motivate and move countless others to step out in faith for the great plans God has had for our people and nation. And, it is that example of courageous faith that you and I must continue to walk in today, if we want to continue to be a faithful generation and nation. We must be the examples for the current and next generation of what it means to throw off the material things of this world to follow wholeheartedly our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, as we have been noting in our current studies of Luke 16.
If we do not have the same commitment of faith that our forefathers had, we stand a risk of losing our great nation with its tremendous religious freedoms to profess the Kingdom of Heaven throughout the world in our generation. Therefore, let us continue to go forward courageously and faithfully in our current generation proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ and teaching the truth of His Word, in the face of mounting opposition. If not us, then who?
Psa 18:49, “Therefore I will give thanks to You among the nations, O LORD, and I will sing praises to Your name.”
Therefore, as we gather together with our family and friends tomorrow to commemorate and celebrate this great holiday, let us give thanks to our Lord for the trials, tribulations, and persecutions we are facing that can build up our souls with greater and more fervent faith, and for the wonderful blessings we have already received and that are waiting for us in the eternal state. And in that, lets us boldly proclaim the glory of our great God, with thanksgiving.
- 1 Thes 5:18, “In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
- Phil 4:6, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”
- Col 4:2, “Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving.”
- Psa 97:12, “Be glad in the LORD, you righteous ones, and give thanks to His holy name.”
- Psa 118:1, 29, “Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; for His lovingkindness is everlasting.”
- Rev 7:12, “Saying, “Amen, blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might, be to our God forever and ever. Amen”.”
- Heb 13:15, “Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name.”
Thanksgiving is why the Lord Jesus Christ gave the Church the ordinance to commemorate His victory upon the Cross, Mat 26:26-28; Mark 14:22-24; Luke 22:19-20; 1 Cor 11:23-26.
Psa 107:22, “Let them also offer sacrifices of thanksgiving, and tell of His works with joyful singing.”
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If you would like more information on this subject, you may watch/listen to lesson:
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A PERSONAL NOTE FOR YOU
If you have never accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, I am here to tell you that Jesus loves you. He loves you so much that He gave His life for you. God the Father also loves you. He loves you so much that He gave His only Son for you by sending Him to the Cross. At the Cross Jesus died in your place. Taking upon Himself all of your sins and all of my sins. He was judged for our sins and paid the price for our sins. Therefore, our sins will never be held against us.
Right where you are, you now have the opportunity to make the greatest decision in your life. To accept the free gift of salvation and eternal life by truly believing that Jesus Christ died for your sins and was raised on the third day as the proof of the promise of eternal life.
So right now, you can pause and reflect on what Christ has done for you and say to the Father:
“Yes Father, I believe that Your Son, Jesus Christ,
died on the cross for the forgiveness of my sins.”
If you have done that, I welcome you to the eternal Family of God!