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Governor Bradford Proclamation

The following proclamation was made by Governor Bradford in 1623, 3 years after the Pilgrims settled at Plymouth; To all ye Pilgrims, “Inasmuch as the great father has given us this year an abundant harvest of Indian corn, wheat, peas, 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 raids of the savages, has spared us from pestilence and disease, has granted us freedom to worship God according to the dictates of our own conscience; now I, your magistrate, do proclaim that all ye Pilgrims, with your wives and ye little ones, do gather at ye meeting house, on ye hill, between the hours of 9 and 12 in the day time, 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 Plymouth rock, there to listen to ye pastor and render thanksgiving to ye Almighty God for all His blessings.”

Two Little Words

A doctor wrote a letter of thanks to a schoolteacher for having given him so much encouragement when he had been in her class 30 years before. He later received this reply: "I want you to know what your note meant to me. I am an old lady in my eighties, living alone in a small room, cooking my own meals, lonely, and seeming like the last leaf on the tree. You will be interested to know that I taught school for 50 years, and yours is the first letter of appreciation I have ever received. It came on a cold, blue morning and cheered my lonely old heart as nothing has cheered me in many years."

Do Not Delay Expressing Appreciation

A young man was an organist in a large church in Texas. He was a fine musician, but, being blind, was unable to read in the faces of his audience the great pleasure his music was giving. His caressing touch on the keyboard sent out through its great pipes the songs of his soul. People would talk to each other about the beauty and the uplifting influence of his music. Often his music sent tears down furrowed cheeks. But no one ever thought to tell the organist, who was longing to hear a word of response.

One morning it was announced that he would not play after that service. His decision was final; another organist must be secured. After the service a woman who had enjoyed his music thoroughly went up to him, and said, very earnestly, "I am sorry you will not play for us any longer. I have enjoyed your music so much. It helped me greatly; it soothed and comforted me when I sorrowed. I have thought many times I would tell you what an inspiration I have received through your music. I thank you for it."

The young man's voice faltered and tears rushed to his sightless eyes as he whispered, "Oh, why didn't you tell me sooner? I needed comfort and inspiration, too."

Think of Those Who Have Less Than You

A mother and her two little children were destitute. In the depth of winter they were nearly frozen, and the mother took the cellar door off the hinges and set it up in front of the corner where they crouched down to sleep so that some of the draft and cold might be kept from them. One of the children whispered to her, "Mother, what do those poor children do who have no cellar door to put up in front of them?"

Finding the Blessings with a Thankful Heart

If one should give me a dish of sand, and tell me there were particles of iron in it, I might look for them with my clumsy fingers, and be unable to detect them; but let me take a magnet, and sweep through it, and it would draw to itself the most invisible particles. The unthankful heart, like my finger in the sand, discovers no mercies; but let the thankful heart sweep through the day, and as the magnet finds the iron, so it will find some heavenly blessings.

Go Ahead and Embarrass Thankless People

A mother took her three children to a restaurant to eat breakfast one morning. The smallest of the three children sat at the very end of the row. She saw other people being served and eating right away without stopping to say thanks. It surprised her. When the food was served to her, she shouted out to her mother: "Mommy, don't people ask the blessing in this place?" You can well imagine the embarrassment of those present. Her mother tried to hush her. But, the waitress said to little Mary, "Yes, we do, sister! You give thanks!"

Amazingly, at that very moment everybody else also bowed their heads and offered thanks.

Embarrass them and maybe you will bring them to their senses to say "Thank you, God."

If You Think, You Must Thank

Sir Moses Montefiore, the Jewish philanthropist, had as the motto of his family, "Think and Thank." In the old Anglo-Saxon, thankfulness means "thinkfulness." Thinking of all God's goodness draws forth gratitude.

How Rich Are You?

They huddled inside the storm door-two children in ragged, outgrown coats.

"Any old papers, Lady?" they asked a passerby.

She was very busy; she wanted to say no, until she looked down at their feet wrapped only in thin little sandals, sopped with sleet. "Come on in and I will make you a cup of cocoa," she said. There was no conversation. Their soggy sandals left marks on the clean hearthstone.

Cocoa and cake would fortify against the chill outside. After serving them, she went back to the kitchen and started on her household budget as they sat enjoying the warmth.

After a few minutes, the silence in the front room struck through to her. She looked in.

The girl held her empty cup in her hands, looking at it. The boy asked in a flat voice, "Lady, are you rich?"

"Am I rich? Mercy no!" She looked at her shabby slipcovers.

The girl put her cup back in its saucer carefully. "Your cups match your saucers." Her voice was old with a hunger that was not of the stomach.

They left then, holding their bundles of papers against the wind. They had not said thank you. They did not need to. They had done more than that. Plain blue pottery cups and saucers-but they matched. She tested the potatoes and stirred the gravy. "Potatoes and brown gravy, a roof over our heads, my husband with a good, steady job-these things matched, too," she mused.

She moved the chairs back from the fire and tidied the living room. The muddy prints of small sandals were still set upon the hearth, and she let them be. "I want them there in case I ever forget how very rich I am," she told herself.

Harvest of the Heart at Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is the harvest of the heart
After the fruit and grain are stored away.
The quiet season of remembering,
The moment when we pause to praise and pray.

"In All Things"

"Gratitude is what always spoils life when it is left out." A thankful spirit enables one to praise God even when circumstances are difficult.

Alexander Whyte, the Scottish preacher, always began his prayers with an expression of gratitude. One cold, miserable day his people wondered what he would say. He prayed, "We thank Thee, O Lord, that it is not always like this."

Observing Thanksgiving

"Count it all joy" (James 1:2).
Count your blessings instead of your crosses;
Count your gains instead of your losses.
Count your joys instead of your woes;
Count your friends instead of your foes.
Count your smiles instead of your tears;
Count your courage instead of your fears.
Count your full years instead of your lean;
Count your kind deeds instead of your mean.
Count your health instead of your wealth;
Count on God instead of yourself.

I Give Thee Humble Thanks

"Giving thanks for all things..." (Ephesians 5:20).
For all the gifts that Thou dost send,
For every kind and loyal friend,
For prompt supply of all my need,
For all that is good in word or deed,
For gift of health along life's way,
For strength to work from day to day-
I give Thee humble thanks.
For ready hands to help and cheer,
For listening ears Thy voice to hear,
For yielded tongue Thy love to talk,
For willing feet, Thy paths to walk,
For open eyes Thy Word to read,
For loving heart, Thy will to heed-
I give Thee humble thanks.
For Christ who came from heaven above,
For the cross and His redeeming love,
For His mighty power to seek and save,
For His glorious triumph o'er the grave.
For the lovely mansions in the sky,
For His blessed coming bye and bye-
I give Thee humble thanks.

Those Who Do Not Give Thanks

A godly farmer was asked to dine with a well-known gentleman. While there, he asked a blessing at the table as he was accustomed to do at home. His host said jeeringly, "That is old fashioned; it is not customary nowadays for well-educated people to pray before they eat." The farmer answered that with him it was customary, but that some of those on his farm never prayed over their food. "Ah, then," said the gentleman, "they are sensible and enlightened. Who are they?" "My pigs," the farmer answered.

Two Hundred Miles of Thanks

If you are grateful, say so! Thanksgiving is only half said until you have done something to show your thankfulness.

A missionary to India was traveling through a city and stopped to speak to a man beside the road. He talked with the man for a time about Jesus. Then, having to travel on, he gave him a few pages of the Bible in the man's language. The Indian read them and was thrilled to learn of Jesus.

To show his gratitude, the man measured the footprints left by the missionary, and made a pair of moccasins. He then traveled 200 miles to give them to the missionary as an expression of thanks.

The missionary's life was enriched by the gift, but the Indian man was much more enriched because he had expressed his thanks.

Have you ever tried to give 200 miles of thanks?

Try it-you will be a better person because of it.

Spiritual Maturity

One day, Johann Tauler of Strosbourg met a peasant.

"God give you a good day, my friend," he greeted him. The peasant answered briskly, "I thank God I never have a bad day."

Tauler, astonished, kept silent for a moment. Tauler then added, "God give you a happy life, my friend." The peasant replied composedly, "I thank God I am never unhappy."

"Never unhappy!" cried Tauler bewildered, "What do you mean?"

"Well," came the reply, "when it is sunshine-I thank God, when it rains-I thank God, when I have plenty-I thank God, when I am hungry-I thank God; and since God's will is my will, and whatever pleases God pleases me, why should I say that I am unhappy when I am not?"

Tauler looked upon him with awe. "Who are you," he asked. "I am a king," said the peasant.

"A king?" Tauler asked, "Where is your kingdom?" The peasant smiled and whispered softly, "In my heart."

Their Money Is Worth

Rudyard Kipling at one time was so popular that his writings were getting ten shillings per word. A few college students, however, did not appreciate Kipling's writings; they facetiously sent him a letter and enclosed ten shillings. It read, "Please, send us your best word." They got back a letter from Kipling that said, "Thanks."

The Art of Thanksgiving

The art of thanksgiving is thanksliving. It is gratitude in action.
It is thanking God for the gift of life by living it triumphantly.
It is thanking God for your talents and abilities by accepting them as obligations to be invested for the common good.
It is thanking God for all that men and women have done for you by doing things for others.
It is thanking God for happiness by striving to make others happy.
It is thanking God for beauty by helping to make the world more beautiful.
It is thanking God for inspiration by trying to be an inspiration to others.
It is thanking God for health and strength by the care and respect you show your body.

The Best Thanksgiving Day

As we gather 'round our firesides
On this new Thanksgiving Day,
Time would fail to count the blessings
That have followed all our way;
Grace sufficient, help and healing,
Prayer oft answered at our call;
And the best of all our blessings,
Christ Himself, our all in all.
While we love to "count the blessings,"
Grateful for the year that's gone,
Faith would sweep a wider vision,

Hope would gaze yet further on.
For the signals all around us
Seem with one accord to say,
"Christ is coming soon to bring us
Earth's last, best
Thanksgiving Day!"

Why Only One Day for Thanksgiving?

Charles Dickens said that we are somewhat mixed up here in America. He told an audience that instead of having one Thanksgiving Day each year we should have 364. "Use that one day just for complaining and griping," he said. "Use the other 364 days to thank God each day for the many blessings He has showered upon you."

Why Be Thankful?

"I do not have to thank anyone for anything I have," an old miser grumbled. "Everything I have I got the hard way-by the sweat of my own brow."

"But who gave you the sweat?" asked his neighbor.

The old miser hung his head in guilty silence. He could not ignore the fact that God had given the "sweat," the strength to work hard and gain material wealth.

Yes, everything that we are or that we possess is because of God's lovingkindness. Therefore, it is good for us all to pause at least once a year and say, "Thank You, God." Actually, everyday should be one of thanksgiving. Why? Because of spiritual and material blessings.

Mrs. Green thanked Tom, the grocery boy, for delivering a loaf of bread.

"Do not thank me. Thank Grocer Jones," Tom smiled. "He gave me the loaf to deliver."

But when she thanked the grocer, he said, "I get the bread from Baker Brown. He makes it, so he deserves the thanks."

So Mrs. Green thanked the baker. But he told her that Miller Milligan should be given the gratitude. "Without Miller Milligan's flour, I could not make bread," Brown replied.

The miller told her to thank Farmer Foster because he made the flour from Foster's wheat. But the farmer also protested, "Don't thank me; thank God," Foster said. "If He did not give my farm sunshine and rain, I could not grow wheat."

Yes, even a common loaf of bread can be traced back to God, the Giver of "every good and perfect gift" (Jos_1:17).

We've Won

Napoleon said, "Battles are won, not by men, but by a man." He was right in more ways than one. Victories are won, not by Christians but by Christ. It is our privilege and joy to share in His victory. Like the small boy who jumped up and down shouting "We've won, we've won!" at a football game-though he was not a member of the team or of the school represented by the team, we too can rejoice in a victory with which we associate ourselves. We can live in joy and triumph. We can shout, "We've won!" over the victory that was accomplished by our Lord Jesus Christ on Calvary nearly 2,000 years ago.

Count Your Blessings

A poverty-stricken woman was found on Christmas Day eating a dinner that consisted of a piece of bread and a small fish. A minister who visited her spoke commiseratingly of the poverty of her fare, to which the old woman with face aglow, replied, "Poor fare? Dear heart, don't you see that the Lord has laid tribute on land and sea to feed me this blessed Christmas Day?" This woman owned the earth, though she ate only bread and herring for Christmas dinner.

Victory through Christ

An American admiral had a small card printed and circulated among his subordinates and workers. On it in gray type was this background: "It Can't Be Done," and then, in bold black type across this was printed, "But Here It Is." As we look at sin and realize its strength, defeat would seem to be inevitable were it not for Christ. "But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." The phrase "which giveth us" is a present participle (didonti) in Greek. A better translation would be "who keeps on giving us." This is not just one victory that God gives us but a constant experience of victory through Christ.

Dumber Than the Animals

One year when Christmas Day came on a Sunday, a farmer decided to go to church. (Like some people, he thought he was fulfilling his religious obligation by going to church twice a year-at Christmas and Easter!) The sermon that day was preached from the text, "The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider" (Isa_1:3). Isaiah is saying that man is dumber than the animals. After church the farmer returned home and stood among his cows. One of them began to lick his hand-a practical demonstration of the sermon he had just heard. Strong man though he was, the farmer began to weep as he thought, "God did much more for me, and yet I never thanked Him. My cow is far more grateful than I am. What do I ever give her other than grass and water?"

Gratitude to God

Men will endure almost anything as long as they have hope. Cyrus Field said he was nearly in despair on many occasions as he sought to make his vision of the transatlantic cable a reality. Some called it a "mad feat of stubborn ignorance," that a man should endure all that he and his co-workers went through to make this feat possible. "Many times," he confessed, "when wandering in the forests of Newfoundland in the pelting rains, on the decks of ships on dark, stormy nights, alone, far from home, I have almost accused myself of madness and folly to sacrifice the peace of family, and all the hope of life, for what might prove, after all, but a dream.... And yet one hope has led me on; and I have prayed that I might not taste death til this work was accomplished. That prayer is answered. And now, beyond all acknowledgments to men, is the feeling of gratitude to God."

God's Gift of Laughter

It is said that Dr. Theodore Cuyler and Mr. Spurgeon were once out in the fields enjoying God's sunshine and the beauties of nature. Dr. Cuyler told a story at which Mr. Spurgeon laughed until his sides shook. Suddenly Mr. Spurgeon said, "Theodore, let's get down on our knees and thank God for laughter." And these two happy Christian preachers knelt in the field and thanked God for His great gift of laughter.

Recognize God's Blessings

A gentleman of wealth, but a stranger to a personal knowledge of God, was walking alone through his grounds one evening. Coming to the small hut of a poor man who earned his family's bread by his daily labor, he heard the continuous sound of loud speaking. Curiosity prompted him to stop and listen. The man of the house happened to be at prayer with his family. As soon as the gentleman could distinguish the words, he heard him give thanks to God for the goodness of His providence in giving them food to eat and clothes to put on, and in supplying them with what was necessary and comfortable in the present life. He was immediately struck with astonishment and confusion, and said to himself, "Does this poor man who has nothing but the meanest fare, and that purchased by hard work, give thanks to God for His goodness to himself and family, while I, who enjoy ease and honor, and everything that is pleasant and desirable, have hardly ever bent my knee or made any acknowledgement to my Maker and Preserver?" This incident was the means used by God to bring this rich man to a realization of his lack of what makes a person really blessed. It was not long before he accepted the Lord Jesus Christ, whose blessing is evidence in both poverty and riches.

Counting My Blessings

Missionary Benjamin Weir was held hostage in Lebanon and imprisoned under miserable conditions for 16 months. In his first interview after his release, he was asked how he spent his time and how he dealt with the boredom and despair. His answer stunned the reporters. He simply said, "Counting my blessings."

"Blessings?" they responded.

"Yes," he explained. "Some days I got to take a shower. Sometimes there were some vegetables in my food. And I could always be thankful for the love of my family."

Vernon C. Grounds comments, "We can understand why the reporters were astonished. It's hard for most of us to be consistently thankful for the commonplace blessings that make life pleasant and comfortable — the unfailing supply of our daily needs, the provision of food and shelter, the companionship of friends and families. There are times when we may even forget the wonderful mercies of God's redeeming grace.

"Paul and Silas, though they were beaten, thrown into prison, and placed in stocks, were still "singing hymns to God" (Acts 16:25). May we learn from them, and from Benjamin Weir, to count our blessings no matter what our circumstances. We have many reasons to rejoice." (From Devotionals and More)

Getting Around to God

One Thanksgiving season a family was seated around their table, looking at the annual holiday bird. From the oldest to the youngest, they were to express their praise. When they came to the 5-year-old in the family, he began by looking at the turkey and expressing his thanks to the turkey, saying although he had not tasted it he knew it would be good. After that rather novel expression of thanksgiving, he began with a more predictable line of credits, thanking his mother for cooking the turkey and his father for buying the turkey. But then he went beyond that. He joined together a whole hidden multitude of benefactors, linking them with cause and effect.

He said, "I thank you for the checker at the grocery store who checked out the turkey. I thank you for the grocery store people who put it on the shelf. I thank you for the farmer who made it fat. I thank you for the man who made the feed. I thank you for those who brought the turkey to the store."

Using his Columbo-like little mind, he traced the turkey all the way from its origin to his plate. And then at the end he solemnly said "Did I leave anybody out?"

His 2-year-older brother, embarrassed by all those proceedings, said, "God."

Solemnly and without being flustered at all, the 5-year-old said, "I was about to get to him."

Well, isn't that the question about which we ought to think at Thanksgiving time? Are we really going to get to him this Thanksgiving?

Joel Gregory, "The Unlikely Thanker," Preaching Today, Tape No. 110.

The Statue

An Iraqi artist named Kalat was for years forced by Saddam Hussein to make the many hundreds of bronze busts of Saddam that dotted Baghdad. After the overthrow of Saddam, he was so grateful that the Americans liberated his country, he melted 3 of the fallen Saddam heads and made a memorial statue dedicated to the American soldiers and their fallen comrades. To the left of the kneeling soldier is a small Iraqi girl giving the soldier comfort as he mourns the loss of his comrade in arms. This artistic expression of thankfulness is now on display outside the palace that is home to the 4th Infantry division.

Only One Came Back

Why did only one cleansed leper return to thank Jesus? The following might be some suggestions why the other nine did not return:
One waited to see if the cure was real.
One waited to see if it would last.
One said he would see Jesus later.
One decided that he had never had leprosy.
One said he would have gotten well anyway.
One gave the glory to the priests.
One said, “O, well, Jesus didn’t really do anything.”
One said, “Any rabbi could have done it.”

One said, “I was already much improved.”

Rudyard Kipling and his wealth

Rudyard Kipling was a great writer and poet whose writings we have all enjoyed. Unlike many old writers, Kipling was one of the few who had opportunity to enjoy his success while he lived. He also made a great deal of money at his trade.

One time a newspaper reporter came up to him and said, "Mr. Kipling, I just read that somebody calculated that the money you make from your writings amounts to over a hundred dollars a word; Mr. Kipling raised his eyebrows and said, "Really, I certainly wasn’t aware of that."

The reporter cynically reached down into his pocket and pulled out a one hundred dollar bill and gave it to Kipling and said, "Here’s a hundred dollar bill, Mr. Kipling. Now, you give me one of your hundred dollar words." Mr. Kipling looked at that hundred dollar bill for a moment, took it and folded it up and put it in his pocket and said, "Thanks."

Thanks for the Help

Alex Haley, the author of Roots, had an unusual picture hanging on his office wall. It was a picture of a turtle on top of a fence post. When asked, "Why is that there?" Alex Haley answered, "Every time I write something significant, every time I read my words and think that they are wonderful, and begin to feel proud of myself, I look at the turtle on top of the fence post and remember that he didn’t get there on his own. He had help."

That is the basis of thankfulness - to remember that we got here with the help of God, and that He is the provider of every blessing we have. - Melvin Newland, Central Christian Church, Brownsville, TX.

Giving Thanks for Fleas

Corrie Ten Boom in The Hiding Place relates an incident that taught her an important principle. She and her sister, Betsy, had just been transferred to the worst German prison camp they had seen yet, Ravensbruck. Upon entering the barracks, they found them extremely overcrowded and flea-infested. Their Scripture reading that morning in 1 Thessalonians had reminded them to rejoice always, pray constantly, and give thanks in all circumstances. Betsy told Corrie to stop and thank the Lord for every detail of their new living quarters. Corrie at first flatly refused to give thanks for the fleas, but Betsy persisted. She finally succumbed. During the months spent at that camp, they were surprised to find how openly they could hold Bible study and prayer meetings without guard interference. It was several months later when they learned that the guards would not enter the barracks because of the fleas. - Corrie Ten Boom, The Hiding Place

How Robinson Crusoe Gives Thanks

The apostle Paul didn’t say to give thanks “for” all circumstances, but “in” all circumstances. All our circumstances in life are not good, but there will always be something in those circumstances for which to give thanks.

When Robinson Crusoe was shipwrecked on a lonely island he thought of both the good and the bad.

- He was cast onto a desolate island, but he was still alive, not drowned as all of his ship’s company was.

- He was divided from mankind, but he was not starving.

- He had no clothes, but he was in a hot climate where he didn’t need them.

- He was without means of defense, but he saw no wild animals.

- He had nothing to speak of, but God had sent the ship so near to the shore that he could get out of it all things necessary for his survival.

So he concluded that there was not any condition in the world so miserable but that there was something positive for which to be thankful. - Steve Shepherd in "Thanksgiving"

Give Thanks for Who He Is

In 1789, our nation’s first President, George Washington, issued the following 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,

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. ---

SOURCE: Joel Curry in "Give Thanks for Who He Is"

The Perfume of Thankfulness

Bernard of Clairvaux speaks of a “perfume compound of the remembered benefits of God.” Such a fragrance is easily obtained by spending a season in praise for the things God has already done. Not just by saying thank you, but by expressing a life of gratitude. Every born-again Christian should be giving off a pleasing odor. The fragrance of remembering is quite different from a false praise to get from God.

Ten lepers received their health; that was the benefit. Only one came back to give thanks to the Lord Jesus (Luke 17:17). That was the perfume. Unremembered blessings are like dead flies that lie in the anointing oils, they can become a fragrance of dead worship and bring a bad smell to a holy God. Remembered blessings, thankfulness for the Lord’s present favors and a rejoicing in His promised graces become like a blend of myrrh, and aloes and cassia thus making forth an ingredient for a pleasant aroma of praise. ---

SOURCE: The Best of Tozer, Book One

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