The Fundamentals of Thanksgiving

Think of that little band of people who crossed the Atlantic in a boat that was 26 feet by 112 feet and landed on the New England coast during a bitter cold winter. At times that first year the daily ration of those who were well was only five grains of corn. In early New England, it was the custom at Thanksgiving time to place five kernels of corn at every plate as a reminder of those stern days in the first winter when the food of the Pilgrims was to depleted that only five kernels of corn were rationed to each individual at a time. The Pilgrim Fathers wanted their children to remember the sacrifice, sufferings, and hardships through which they had safely passed — a fitting hardship that made possible the settlement of a free people in a free land. They wanted to keep alive the memory of that sixty-three-day trip taken in the tiny Mayflower. They desired to keep alive the thought of that stern and rock-bound coast, its inhospitable welcome, and the first terrible winter which took such a toll of lives.

They did not want their descendants to forget that on that day in which their rations was reduced to five kernels of corn, only seven healthy colonists remained to nurse the sick, and that nearly half their members lay in the windswept graveyard on the hill.

They worked seven years to repay London the loan for their trip. That was before the days of credit cards. After suffering every kind of hardship, they had a harvest of 21 acres of corn and in the fall of 1621, they immediately offered thanks to God for His blessings. This little group led by Gov. William Bradford marched triumphantly through the cornfields singing, “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and they that dwell therein.” Then they sat down to a meal in gladness and joy. They were giving thanks to God no matter what.

From a sermon by Gerald Steffy, Thankful No Matter What, 10/14/2009

Tomorrow we will take a break to stop our regular routine, gather with our loved ones, and give thanks.  Even unsaved folks realize they should have gratitude… but to whom and for what?  Tomorrow our thoughts should transcend our immediate family and personal bounty.  It should focus on our Great God who bestows unmerited favor on us moment by moment, and day by day.  As we reflect upon our passage this evening, let us meditate upon the fundamentals of Thanksgiving.

To Whom Should We Give Thanks?

Psalm 95:1 KJV

O come, let us sing unto the Lord:

Let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation.

•    To the Lord- Jehovah

Exodus 3:14 KJV

And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.

•    The Rock of our Salvation

1 Corinthians 10:4 KJV

And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.

•    The Great God

•    The king above all

Psalm 95:3 KJV

For the Lord is a great God,

And a great King above all gods.

•    Our Maker

Psalm 95:6 KJV

O come, let us worship and bow down:

Let us kneel before the Lord our maker.

•    Our God

Psalm 95:7 KJV

For he is our God;

And we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.

To day if ye will hear his voice,

How Should We Give Thanks?

King James Version Psalm 95

      O come, let us sing unto the LORD:

King James Version Psalm 95

Let us make a joyful noise

King James Version Psalm 95

And make a joyful noise unto him with psalms.

King James Version Psalm 95

Let us

•    Corporate Worship

King James Version Psalm 95

worship and bow down:

King James Version Psalm 95

kneel before the LORD

Why Should We Give Thanks?

Because God is Great -focus on Him not on how we are made happy by Him.

Psalm 95:3 KJV

For the Lord is a great God,

And a great King above all gods.

Because His Power is Great

King James Version Psalm 95

In his hand are the deep places of the earth:

King James Version Psalm 95

The strength of the hills is his also.

King James Version Psalm 95

The sea is his, and he made it:

King James Version Psalm 95

And his hands formed the dry land.

Romans 1:20 KJV

For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:

Psalm 19:1 KJV

The heavens declare the glory of God;

And the firmament sheweth his handywork.

Because His Love Is Great

King James Version Psalm 95

      For he is our God

2 Corinthians 6:17 KJV

Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,

2 Corinthians 6:18 KJV

And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.

King James Version Psalm 95

And we are the people of his pasture

Psalm 23:1 KJV

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

King James Version Psalm 95

and the sheep of his hand.

John 10:27 KJV

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:

John 10:28 KJV

And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.

John 10:29 KJV

My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.

John 10:30 KJV

I and my Father are one.

Dramatic and significant is the story of the Pilgrims. On December 21, 1620, the voyaging Mayflower dropped anchor in Plymouth Bay, with Captain Christopher Jones at her helm. It had been a grueling voyage, taking the one-hundred-twenty-ton-capacity ship sixty-six days to make the perilous crossing. There had been disease, anxiety, and childbirth among the 102 courageous passengers. Furthermore, they arrived on the bleak New England shore during a hard winter which ultimately claimed half of their number. However, when spring came and the captain of the Mayflower offered free passage to anyone desiring to return, not a single person accepted.

The fidelity of the forty-one men, who while still aboard the Mayflower had signed the famous Compact beginning with the words, “In ye name of God Amen,” was taking on visible meaning. These chivalrous souls had dedicated themselves to the total causes of freedom. They had come to a wilderness to carve out a better way of life. Faith prompted the voyage; faith sustained the Pilgrims and their religious convictions constrained them to raise their voices in praise. Their hardships, sacrifice, devotion, concept of government, and vigorous religion all remind us of those who sought a country.

So tomorrow, as we reflect, let us thank God for who He is, for who we are in Him, and for His grace to our forefathers seeking a place to worship, and for the privilege of living in a country founded in Thanksgiving.


G. Curtis Jones, 1000 Illustrations for Preaching and Teaching (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1986), 43–44.

Comments are closed.