The First Thanksgiving

The early years after the birth of the United States of America were filled with challenges, conflict and civil concerns with establishing a government and society that would endure the tests of time. However, the leaders of that day always found time to give public thanks for the favor and blessings of God.  They saw God as provider, protector and savior and, therefore, directed the people of this newly born nation to honor, extol and thank Him for who He was and what He had given them. They were openly public in their thankfulness and in their declaration of Him as God of the new nation. So in honor of our founder’s wisdom in seeking and thanking our Lord and Savior I offer here the full content of President George Washington’s presidential proclamation establishing the first official Thanksgiving Day. May it bless you this Thanksgiving Day!

“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 and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:"

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; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been able to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted' for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand, at the city of New York, the 3rd day of October, A.D. 1789.”
(signed) G. Washington


What Do You Believe?

“The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart”, that is the word of faith we are proclaiming. That if you confess with your mouth “Jesus is Lord” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved." Rom. 10:8-10 

Paul wrote these words to describe the mystery of faith and belief under the new covenant. Notice he says that we believe in our heart. It does not say we believe in our ‘soul’, or our ‘spirit’ but our ‘heart’. The heart is the intersection of the human soul and the born-again spirit converging our thoughts and will with the righteousness, truth and holiness of our born-again spirit-man.  The heart is the epicenter of believing while our born-again spirit is the epicenter of truth, righteousness and holiness.  We make decisions, especially important decisions, from our hearts. From the overflow of the heart we speak. The Word tells us to guard our heart. As we think in our heart so are we. It is the place of believing and, therefore, the place of living life.
Jesus spoke of the power of believing numerous times including in John 5. He was addressing the Pharisees who did not believe He was the messiah and He said to them, ‘If you believed Moses, you would believe me for he wrote about me. But since you did not believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say? (John 5:46, 47)  The Pharisees, while thinking they were believers in the scriptures, never really BELIEVED! They never really embraced the essence of the law or the prophets. They were outwardly compliant but inwardly resistant to Truth. They lived outwardly what they believed inwardly, i.e. to put forth a good image, to do good things, and to impose an outwardly righteous standard on everyone…while never believing the central point, believing in their heart the central truth…the Word of God.  What Jesus said did not line up with their hearts. Therefore, they did not believe what Jesus said. 

There is power in what we believe in our hearts. It reveals who we are in our decisions. It affects everything in life. Jesus was so bold that in John 8:44 he said to the Pharisees, ‘You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire.’ Strong words!! A confrontational challenge to what they really believed versus what they said they believed!   Jesus was not afraid to challenge them. 

Today the Holy Spirit is not afraid to challenge what you and I believe, not just in our heads but in our hearts! He will speak directly and indirectly to challenge the beliefs of our heart…that place of decision where we choose to follow the ways of the Kingdom of God or the Kingdom of man. The Pharisees were all about the kingdom of man, pleasing man, satisfying an outward expression of the law so men would be impressed and their image would be re-enforced.  

Today I challenge you, a leader in some sphere of ministry, to consider your heart. Do your decisions match up with who you are in Christ, with your call to ministry, with your purpose for living, with the imputed righteousness and truth of Christ in you? Does the intersection of soul and spirit bring forth the fruit of the Spirit in your ministry and in your family?  

Do a heart check and see what the Holy Spirit says. Also check out Deborah’s recent two part audio series on the closely related topic of faith at www.crossfirechurch.us. Listen to these messages and…have ears to hear.