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Give Thanks with a Grateful Heart

Nov 7, 2003

Dear Friend of Mary Craig Ministries,

This is the month during which we focus on giving thanks. It goes back to the Pilgrims of Plymouth Colony and a harvest festival celebration. The Pilgrims were a Separatist group of Protestants desiring religious freedom from the Church of England. They wanted the government out of the church. They came to America in 1620 when England was under King James I, and when everyone was expected to belong to the Church of England.

It took 66 days for the Mayflower, their vessel, to sail across the Atlantic. The ship left Plymouth, England September 16, 1620, and arrived in America on Saturday, November 21, 1620. The place of their landing is called Plymouth Rock. The Pilgrims signed an agreement called the Mayflower Compact for self-government. It was winter in what is now Massachusetts.

More than 100 Pilgrims landed, but about half died before winter ended. Squanto, an Indian who became a friend and interpreter, taught the Pilgrims how to survive, how to plant crops, and how to store food (a lesson from the squirrels). In 1621, the first thanksgiving harvest festival was held.

The menu consisted of wild turkeys, cod, and bass, among other things. Indian friends came bringing five deer to the feast. They didn't sit around eating and patting themselves on the back for how they overcame the hardships of grief, pioneering, negotiating, building a new life, and paying the price for their religious freedom. They thanked God.

It gives a little perspective on the fact that the tax bills just came today in the mail. I know they are necessary if we want paved roads, police, fire fighters, public schools, parks, etc. But some years it's nice to have "a break." This year our taxes rose quite a bit. I don't remember them going down ever, but I suppose it has happened. It could happen, right?

November also starts out with the Tuesday voting in the general election. That's when as Americans we exercise our civil right to voice our choice through our vote. No vote, no voice, except for the ranting and raving in front of the TV or newspaper or radio, which might influence someone else's vote, but ...

So the Word of God tells us to give thanks in every thing for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning us. (1 Thess. 5.18) It's one of those verses we see as a hard saying when we first become believers in Jesus Christ. We're so just out of Egypt that we're still at the stage of murmuring and complaining and comparing and think the food back there in Egypt was better, although it's nice to be free of slavery. Maybe a lot of stuff back in Egypt is better. I'm sure for the Pilgrims that the food and beds and clothing and schools and social life of England had it all over the cold, barrenness, and rigors of Massachusetts pioneer life. It's just that religious freedom issue. It was just that desire the Puritans had for King James to purify (make clean) the Church of England. It was just about the government and the King being the head of the church. They separated, and they read the same Bible we're reading.

Crossing the Atlantic and surviving that first winter was a long, tough ordeal. I'm sure some or maybe many murmured and looked back at their Egypt. But on that November day in 1621 they gave thanks...to God. Ours would be a nation under God and a nation that would have a national holiday for giving thanks since President Abraham Lincoln's proclamation of 1862. Since 1939 Thanksgiving would be observed on the fourth Thursday of every November, by proclamation of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

It's important to give thanks to God for the bountiful blessings He has provided. It honors God (Psalm 50.23). It's commanded. When we fail to give thanks, we may find ourselves condemned (Romans 1.21). We're going to be doing it for all eternity (Revelation 4.9; 7.2) and it's good for us because it acknowledges the grace of God and guards our hearts from pride and arrogance. (Psalm 95; Romans 1.21; 1 Corinthians 4.7; Ephesians 5.4)

We ask God to bless what we eat and sanctify it (1 Timothy 4.1-5). Thanksgiving is something we should practice daily and determine that we will not be kept from doing it (Daniel 6.10). It keeps us from grumbling, which doesn't sit too well with God (Psalm 78; 1 Corinthians 10, e.g.) Grumbling limits the Holy One of Israel, and God is sovereign.

Public thanksgiving isn't new. The Messianic Psalm of David, Psalm 22.22, 25 says:
I will declare thy name unto my brethren: in the midst Of the congregation will I praise thee...My praise shall Be of thee in the great congregation: I will pay my Vows before them that fear Him.

I will give You thanks in the great congregation: I Will praise You among much people. (Psalm 35.18)

Such rejoicing in the Lord is good, for praise is comely for the upright. It may be done with music and musical instruments (Exodus 15; Nehemiah 12; Psalm 33) publicly and privately in proclaiming:

      1. God's goodness to the nations (1 Chronicles 16.7-36),
      2. His wonderful works in creation and redemption (Psalm 9.1; Isaiah 25.1; Psalm 136; Psalm 19; Psalm 139; Psalm 18; and Daniel 2.23, e.g.),
      3. His wonderful work in the lives of others (Psalm 109; 1 Thessalonians 1.2; 2 Thessalonians 1.3; Ephesians 1.16; Colossians 1.3),
      4. God grace to us, through others (1 Corinthians 9.10-12),
      5. Who God is, especially His goodness and lovingkindness (Psalm 100; Psalm 107; Jeremiah 33.11),
      6. What God will do in the future based on His promises and purposes (Psalm 79: Psalm 92; 2 Chronicles 20),
      7. God's grace in the midst of trials and tribulations, His
      8. sovereign purpose, and His preservation power (Psalms 7, 9, 28, 56, 69, 86, and 142; Jeremiah 33.10, 11; Daniel 6.10),
      9. God's revelation and Word (Psalm 19; Psalm 119),
      10. God's enabling (Daniel 2.17-23),
      11. God's grace and mercy which withholds from us the punishment our sins deserve (Psalm 103.6-12),
      12. God's gracious provision to all His creation (Psalm 104),
      13. Victories God has won for His people (Exodus 15),
      14. Blessings and joys of fellowship with Him, which come
      15. through Jesus and sometimes suffering (Psalm 73; James 1.1, 2) ,
      16. God's delivering His people from their afflictions (Psalms 35 and 79), and
      17. When great undertakings are completed due to God's grace (Nehemiah 12.31-47).

Wow! Well, when I consider all of the above, I will enjoy the Thanksgiving holidays even more, knowing some of the price paid for our freedoms here in America. And, it will make writing that check to the revenue collector a bit easier... a bit.
What is easy is following Paul's example of thanking Christ Jesus our Lord for enabling me and for putting me into the ministry as with me also, the grace of our Lord Jesus was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.(1 Timothy 2.12, 14) It's hard to believe we are in the 11th year of MCM and continuing to grow and expand.

November 23rd an MCM mission team will be ministering to the migrant
farm workers of South Florida through the Barnabas Project, and again we
need your help. I know that most of you are not local, but to those of you who are nearby, we need clothing, school supplies, children's toys and clothing, baby things, linens, and small, new items. Donations of money designated for the project will go toward the purchase of new items needed by the migrant workers.

Your gifts bless and encourage us as together we minister to people through, the Barnabas Project, Craighouse, the Internet, publications, and missions. Already, we are preparing to go into Zambia and Zimbabwe, and we need your help to do so. In His love,

Mary Craig

I thank my God always on your behalf,
For the grace of God which is given you
By Jesus Christ: That in everything you are enriched by Him,
In all utterance, and in all knowledge; Even as
the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you:
So that you come behind in no gift;
Waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ
(1 Corinthians 1.4-7)
 

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