THANKSGIVING SERMON



By Rev. Rusty Lee Thomas - Elijah Ministries

"As for me, says the Lord, this is My covenant with them: My Spirit who is upon you, and My words which I have put in your mouth, shall not depart from your mouth, nor from the mouth of your descendants, nor from the mouth of your descendants' descendants, says the Lord, from this time and forevermore (Isaiah 59:21)."

If one would ask the typical American why the Pilgrims braved a dangerous journey to come to the shores of America, most would declare, "They came to escape religious persecution or they desired the freedom to worship God according to the Bible." Though these perspectives have sentimental value for Christians in America, it does not square with the actual history the Pilgrims themselves recorded for posterity. The journal of William Bradford provides a more accurate depiction. It journals the Pilgrims determination to face unimaginable hardships to traverse the stormy seas of the Atlantic to come to the New World.

As you read this article, you will come face to face with the true reasons for their astonishing undertaking. You will learn of their perilous expedition that led to the Mayflower Compact and the first pure Christian settlement at Plymouth. It's my sincere prayer that once you read for yourselves their blessed testimony that you too will make a similar commitment as our Christian forefathers made in establishing our Constitutional Republic. For what established this blessed nation and prospered our country is the very solution that will eventually restore her to the God-ordained vision and the destiny it holds for us as a people.

The main reason why the Pilgrims did not come to America to escape religious persecution was the fact that they had already been afforded religious freedom in Holland. They escaped the religious persecution in England and were allowed to practice the Christian faith according to the Scriptures and their conscience without interference from the State. Why then, if they found what they needed in Holland would they endanger themselves and their families to come and settle in the New World?

According to Bradford, there were a host of considerations that provoked the decision to embark on the hazardous trip. Some of the reasons stem from their desire to preserve their own language and customs of life, while others involved their livelihood. It was difficult finding similar employment that they were accustomed to in England. Therefore, their work was hard and took its toll upon the health and well-being of not only the adults, but the children as well. The following quote from William Bradford summarizes these harsh working conditions and also provides a glimpse to the main purpose for coming to America.

Thirdly; as necessity was a taskmaster over them, so they were forced to be such, not only to their servants, but in a sort, to their dearest children; the which as it did not a little wound the tender hearts of many a loving father and mother, so it produced likewise sundry sad and sorrowful effects. For many of their children, that were of best dispositions and gracious inclinations, having learned to bear the yoke in their youth, and willing to bear part of their parents burden, were, oftentimes, so oppressed with their heavy labors, that their minds were free and willing, yet their bodies bowed under the weight of the same, and became decrepit in their early youth in that country, and the manifold temptations of the place, were drawn away by evil examples into extravagant and dangerous courses, getting the reigns off their necks, and departing from their parents. Some became soldiers, others took up them far voyages by sea, and other some worse courses, tending to dissoluteness and the danger of their souls, to the great grief of their parents and dishonor of God. So that they saw their posterity would be in danger to degenerate and be corrupted.

Notice that the Pilgrim's great dilemma was not religious persecution, but to their great grief and dishonor of God, they were losing their children to the culture of Holland. Think about the implications here. They were free to worship God as they wished, but at the same time, the Spirit of the Age were capturing the soul of their offspring. Now, put yourself in their shoes. What would you do Ma and Pa Christian? Especially, when you have to weigh the choices, which were: A) We can stay here and enjoy religious freedom while we continue to lose our children; or B) we can pack up all that we have and face various hardships by going to the New World.

In Bradford's journal, these various hardships were detailed, which included a journey by sea. Statistically, it could mean some of them would perish just by crossing the ocean. They wrestled with the knowledge that they would eat food and drink water that was foreign to their system, which could lead to sickness, disease, and death. They faced the uncertainty of how to tame and cultivate an unknown land, especially in the winter season. Finally, they suspected they could encounter hostile Indians who were not only unfriendly and mistrusting, but Indians that were of a savage nature, which, if they gained the upper hand would not only kill them, but would do so in a slow sadistic manner. Gee, with these kind of options available, it is easy to see why they wanted to come to these shores. The following quote by Bradford reveals the excruciating struggle, the troubling thoughts, and the grim prospects the Pilgrims would certainly endure as they contemplated whether or not to take the voyage across the sea.

The place they had thoughts on was some of those vast and unpeopled countries of America, which are fruitful and fit for habitation, being devoid of all civil inhabitants, where there are only savages and brutish men, which range up and down, little otherwise then the wild beasts of the same. This proposition being made public and coming to the scanning of all, it raised many variable opinions amongst men, and caused many fears and doubts amongst themselves. Some, from their reasons and hopes conceived, labored to stir up and encourage the rest to undertake and prosecute the same; others, again, out of their fears, objected against it, and sought to divert from it, alleging many things, and those neither unreasonable nor unprobable; as that it was a great design and subject to many unconceivable perils and dangers; as, besides the casualties of the seas (which none can be freed from) the length of the voyage was such, as the weak bodies of women and other persons worn out with age and travail (as many of them were) could never be able to endure.

And yet if they should, the miseries of the land which they should be exposed unto, would be too hard to be born; and likely, some or all of them together, to consume and utterly to ruinate them. For there they should be liable to famine, and nakedness, and the want, in a manner, of all things. The change of air, diet, and drinking water, would infect their bodies with sore sickness, and grievous diseases. And also those which should escape or overcome these difficulties, should yet be in continual danger of the savage people, who are cruel, barbarous, and most treacherous, being most furious in their rage, and merciless where they overcome; not being content only to kill, and take away life, but delight to torment men in the most bloody manner that may be; flaying some alive with the shells of fishes, cutting of the members and joints of others by piecemeal and broiling on the coals, eat the collops of their flesh in their sight whilst they live; with other cruelties horrible to be related. And surely it could not be thought but the very hearing of these things could not but move the very bowels of men to grate within them, and make the weak to quake and tremble.

Can we truly comprehend the incredible sacrifices, dangers, and toils these brave Pilgrims faced in order to raise their children in the fear and admonishment of the Lord? Can we appreciate the great lengths these committed parents went through to protect their children from the corrupting presence of a pagan culture? I think not! Especially when one considers that the vast majority of Christians in America still surrender their children to the humanistic temples otherwise known as our government sponsored schools to disciple them in anti-Christ pagan philosophies. Schools that will never teach what this article has revealed concerning the establishment of the first pure Christian Community on these blessed shores. In fact, if there is any mention of Thanksgiving, our young people are taught the Pilgrims gave thanks to the Indians for teaching them how to plant corn. No mention of thanking God! What a national travesty and betrayal against our God and the memory of those who paid with their lives the founding of America! In fact, one school designated Thanksgiving as a day of mourning.

This Thanksgiving as you gather with family take time to undo this ungratefulness. Thank God for the Pilgrims who endured unspeakable tribulations to raise godly families that would eventually establish our Constitutional Republic. Thank God for the blessed nation they bequeathed to us. Thank Him for the unprecedented freedom, liberty, and His bountiful blessings this holiday season. Consider as well, following the example of the Pilgrims by separating your children unto God from the corrupting influence of the government schools, and the pop, peer-oriented youth culture. We must come out of Babylon and live exclusively for the Kingdom of God. For the sake of your precious children, make the necessary sacrifices to pass on covenantal faithfulness to them. Pull your children and your grandchildren out of public schools and home educate them (contact us, if you need help), and worship God together as a family in your local Church. In so doing, you will be following the path of those who have gone before us and it will provide the first steps of reformation our nation so desperately needs.

In closing, I will leave you with another poignant quote by William Bradford. It highlights the founding vision and still awaited destiny of America. It affirms the faithfulness of the Pilgrims who threw themselves on the "barbed wire of life" and challenged their children to run right over their backs to fulfill their God-ordained purpose. It truly captures the Christian virtue stated by our Lord when he declared, "Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends (John 15:13)." Bradford writes, "Lastly, (and which was not the least), 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 of the kingdom of Christ in those remote parts of the world; yea, though they should be but even as stepping-stones unto others for the performing of so great a work."

There is a Christian song that sums up the heartfelt commitment of those courageous souls who went before us to carve out the Kingdom of God upon these shores. It is called, "May All Who Come Behind Us Find Us Faithful." The words capture the essence this Thanksgiving sermon has sought to communicate. "Let those who come behind us find us faithful, may the fire of our devotion light their way. May the foot prints that we leave, lead them to believe and the lives we live inspire them to obey." May all those who read these words pray to live out its message and meaning for future generations. May we understand, like the Pilgrims of old, that what we do with their example now will determine whether or not our posterity will be blessed or cursed by our memory. May we be found faithful.

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