Derek Smith, Lead Pastor LHBC 

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

When we think about Thanksgiving we often times have such nostalgic warm thoughts about it. We think of family and food and football, but the first Thanksgiving in America was much different than this. It was in the fall of 1621, one year after the Pilgrims landed. 102 Pilgrims left Holland, then stopped briefly in England before sailing to America. They were at sea for 66 days. There were fierce Atlantic storms, so severe that at the half-way point the sailors debated whether or not to turn back to England. They had miniscule accommodations and all 102 Pilgrims dwelt below deck in the ship’s hold which was smaller than a volleyball court! With the hatches closed to keep out the beating ocean, the air grew foul, making their sea-sick condition even worse. There were no fires and little water. Two Pilgrims did not survive the journey, and two were born at sea.

When they landed in Massachusetts, they had no place to go. There were no villages, no stores, and no one to welcome them. There was no way to restock their ship. They lived on and off the ship surviving basically on the ships provision through the first winter. They built one make-shift building and lived in fear of the Natives who were not known. They were supposed to land somewhere near modern day New York City on the Hudson river, but strong winds kept them from getting there. 47 of the 102 pilgrims died during the first winter.

However, Governor William Bradford was a powerful man of faith and he wrote concerning their faith, “God gave them health and strength in a good measure; and shewed them by experience ye truth of yt word, Deut. 8. 3. Yt man liveth not by bread only, but by every word yt proceedeth out of ye mouth of ye Lord doth a man live.” In the midst of this hardship Bradford and the people were truly grateful.

Toward the end of 1 Thessalonians the Apostle Paul gives some practical instructions for life. In our passage today he talks about three things we should always do. First, he says we should always rejoice. No matter how hard life gets, we must never forget that Jesus is Lord and our home is in Heaven. This gives us deep abiding joy. Second, he says we should pray always. In dark times pray. In good times pray. In sad times pray. In happy times pray. Pray always. Last, he says we should give thanks always. How can you be thankful for everything? You remember that the Lord is at work in everything molding us to His image. Somehow He is working all things out for His glory, believe it and thank Him for it! 

Every day should be Thanksgiving Day. Pray always. Rejoice always. Give thanks always, for this is the will of God for your life. Just like those pilgrims, praise Him no matter what. Don’t just pass the Turkey and dressing, pass the Word that Jesus is Lord and worthy of our praise. You’ll be happier and those around you will be changed. 

Father God, You are at work in everything. I believe it today and I am grateful for it all. Somehow You are bringing about Your glorious will in my life. Help me seek You always Lord. In Jesus name, amen. 

Hebrews 13:15-16
Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.