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Give Thanks For the Right Things and For The Right Reasons

"...looking only at Jesus, the originator, and perfecter of the faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." Hebrews 12:2

We must have a crystal clear objective in mind to quantify "winning" or success in our lives. What is the goal or ambition of your life? How you answer that question makes all the difference in your life, family, and nation.

"Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he." Proverbs 29:18 KJV

He that keeps the law is happy only if he also knows why he keeps it!

William Bradford, the first governor of the Plymouth colony of Massachusetts, knew about vision. He and his family and fellow Puritans suffered immensely in their attempt to establish a stable colony in the "new world" of what would be some the United States of America. Bradford and the Pilgrims, as we call them, endured the dangers of the sea, sickness, plague, harsh winters, hunger, betrayal, and one of the greatest fears: the unknown. Many Pilgrims lost their lives in the struggle. What was the purpose of all this suffering and sacrifice? What was the goal? Governor Bradford stated his goal in His proclamation of Thanksgiving Day November 29th, 1623:

To all The Pilgrims:

In as much as the great Father has given us this year an abundant harvest of Indian corn, wheat, peas, beans, squashes, and garden vegetable, and has made the forest to abound with game and the sea with fish and clams, and inasmuch as He has protected us from the ravages of the savages, has spared us from pestilence and disease, has granted us freedom to worship God according to the dictates of our conscience...on Thursday, November 29th...render Thanksgiving to the Almighty God for all His blessings.

William Bradford had a purpose for safety, food, and health. Those blessings were not the goal, but a means to an end. Willaim Bradford and the Pilgrims suffered and sacrificed so much to gain the freedom to worship God according to conscience; that was the goal.

The inverted nature of our Thanksgiving celebrations today is that we celebrate the food as the goal rather than the means to an end. The food is a wonderful part of the celebration, but the end goal of the food is to enable us to worship God in spirit and truth. Today, we have the freedom the pilgrims suffered to secure, but we do not embrace the reason they secured it. William Bradford warned about this happening through an engraving on his tombstone:

"What our fathers with so much difficulty attained do not basely relinquish." (Written in Latin).

My effort today is to place before us precisely what the pilgrims "obtained" and to ask the question: "what are we trying to obtain?"

Do we want a good economy? For what purpose?

Do we long for good health? What cause requires our strength?

Do we fight for liberty? What will we do with our freedom?

William Bradford's goal was the freedom to worship God according to his conscience. For this goal, William Bradford needed food, funds, and freedom. Citizens of the United States of America have enjoyed all three of the means in abundance. But have we used the means for the sake of the end? Of late, we have not.

I enjoy food, I love my health, and I cherish my freedom. But above all, I love my God created and sustains me with these and other good gifts. Life and all its goodness is the gift of God. We are never fully living our lives until we also continually give God the glory due to His name. The goal set before us is the opportunity to become the true image-bearers that God designed us to be. Attaining this goal begins with worship, for "you become what you behold." We worship and give thanks to God for food, health, and freedom because they are some of the means by which we experience God's goodness. But these good things are not an end in themselves. The goal of this life is to become so thoroughly convinced of the utter goodness of God that we strive with every part of our being to reflect His nature and bring His good world into His good order. So, let us be thankful for the means by which we are strengthened toward this end, whether the means is food, freedom, or suffering. God uses them all, and He is infinitely worthy of thanks.

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Wow, Great post! Thank you this truly blessed me.

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