Why Halloween Reformation Day was a Transforming Day in History

By Dennis Petersen

Do you know what October 31st is besides Halloween?  Hint: it’s one of the most important days in the history of the Christian church and it affects everything about your life today.  Everything!

It was on the 31st of October 1517 that a Catholic monk named Martin Luther nailed his famous 95 Theses to the door of the castle church in Wittenberg, Germany. By God’s grace, Luther’s courageous act of challenging corruption and unbiblical heresies launched the Great Reformation.  But why is this legacy worth recalling and how does it affect us today?

On Reformation Days – October 31st   – most American Christians seem more conscious of Halloween than of the Reformation. It appears that more of the children in our churches are celebrating pagan and dark, grotesque symbols for Halloween than the great spiritual Revival that led to the birth of the Protestant Reformation.

Halloween

Halloween is celebrated by millions on October 31st each year with costumes and candy. Despite its Christianized name, Halloween stems from an ancient pagan Celtic religion that started nearly two centuries before the birth of Christ.  The tribal Druids of Ireland and Europe offered end-of-harvest sacrifices at this beginning of winter to appease a Celtic demon they called Samhain (SOW-in), the lord of death, and of evil spirits. The early Gaelic Celts apparently believed that Samhain sent evil spirits into the world to attack humans, who could escape only by assuming disguises and looking like evil spirits themselves.  Catholic Christians tried to form an alternative tradition by moving the celebration of “All Hallows’ Day” that celebrated the lives of Christian martyred saints from May to November 1st.  So November 1st is referred to as “All Saints’ Day.” In medieval England that Catholic festival was known as All Hallows.  The evening before (October 31st) was thus named “All Hallows’ eve” which became Hallow-een.

Reformation Day

Reformation Day (October 31) commemorates Luther’s posting of his 95 Theses on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany on October 31, 1517. This one act triggered the Protestant Reformation because Luther’s challenges to the church’s practices were immediately translated and distributed all across Germany in a matter of weeks. The Protestant Reformation was the rediscovery of the doctrine of justification—that is, salvation by grace alone, through faith alone in Christ alone, like we read in Ephesians 2:8 and 9: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, that no one should boast.”  It was also the protest against the corruption within the Roman Catholic Church. The century before the Reformation was marked by widespread dissatisfaction with the corruption of the leaders in the Roman Catholic Church and with its false doctrines, biblical illiteracy, and superstition. Monks, priests, bishops, and popes in Rome taught unbiblical doctrines like the selling of indulgences, the treasury of merit, purgatory, and salvation through good works.

All Souls’ Day

All Souls’ Day or the Day of the Dead is normally celebrated, primarily by Roman Catholics, on November 2. This is a day dedicated to prayer and almsgiving in memory of ancestors who have died. People pray for the souls of the dead, in their hopeful belief to hasten their release from purgatory to heaven by being purged and cleansed from their sins.

Treasury of Merit

Spiritually sincere people were taught to redeem themselves by charitable works, pilgrimages, and all kinds of religious rituals. They were persuaded to acquire this “merit,” which was at the disposal of the church, by purchasing “certificates of indulgence.”  This left them wondering if they ever did enough or paid enough to appease God’s righteous anger and escape his judgment. That was the popular mindset that prompted Luther’s desire to refocus the church on salvation by grace through faith on account of Christ by imputation of Christ’s righteousness to us.

Think of it.  Almost 98% of medieval people couldn’t read.  They were spiritually oppressed by indulgences.  They had no assurance of God’s grace.  Doctor Luther proclaimed the grace of God’s acceptance for true saints.

Instead of the treasury of merit that was for sale, Luther protested, “The true treasure of the Church is the Most Holy Gospel of the glory and the grace of God”

Life in Europe and England (not to mention the rest of the world) has changed drastically since 500 years ago.  For both Christians and unbelievers, the time of the early 16th Century when Martin Luther lived was radically different and desperate.  It’s obvious that modern technology’s conveniences were absent, but even common things we take for granted like clean water and comfortable housing were unknown.

Think of Productive Prosperity

Western civilization has been blessed with the greatest freedoms, productivity and prosperity ever known in history.  The liberty, standards of justice and creativity enjoyed in Western civilization are direct results of the Protestant Reformation of the 16th Century.  Don’t miss why these amazing results occurred.

Our Lord Jesus Christ taught:  “But seek first the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” Matthew 6:33

Think of Peace with God.

 Martin Luther was passionate about finding peace with God.  He studied the Bible so intently that it led him to challenge the unethical fund-raising tactics of the papacy.  That’s what ignited the Protestant Reformation.  Luther’s love for the Word of God and his dedication to truth led him to challenge the entire ecclesiastical and political authority of the Roman Catholic Church and the Holy Roman Empire.

Can we imagine a society without Freedom of Conscience?

Sometimes I think we miss the huge gravity of some things.  Luther’s courage to stand against the political and religious might of Europe was one of the most incredible acts of conscientious defiance in the history of the world.  He argued for freedom of conscience based upon the authority of Scripture.  Until then the fear of man was preeminent.  Luther feared God.   All religions and cultures on earth bowed to a monarchy, aristocracy and authoritarianism.  The formal Roman Catholic institution was corrupt.  Luther and the Reformers were convinced that man without God is hopelessly depraved and no human authority could be trusted as absolute.  He rejected ecclesiastical totalitarianism and championed the principle of Sola Scriptura – the Bible alone is our ultimate authority.

Education for All

Luther translated the Bible from the original Greek and Hebrew into the common tongue.   Everybody could now have access to it; both nobles and peasants.  Luther championed education and literacy for everyone.  He defended the Priesthood of all Believers.  And what Revolutionary concept did that one biblical principle lead to?

Constitutional Authority

Jesus Christ is the King of kings and the Lord of lords.  Everyone is under God’s Law.  The reformer’s principle of Sola Scriptura broke down ecclesiastical and political totalitarianism.  The Protestant emphasis on the Priesthood of all Believers led to the concept of representative government and constitutional authority as the supreme law of the land.

What results from convincing society of the truth of Religious Liberty?

By emphasizing the Biblical doctrine of Faith as a gift of God, Luther undermined the Catholic Inquisition and provided the theological foundations for religious liberty and freedom of conscience.  Religious liberty and freedom of conscience led to freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of association and all the other out-workings of political and social freedom.

The Reformation gave us the Bible – available in our own languages.

Few people today realize that the first Bibles printed in English had to be printed in Germany and smuggled into England in bales of cotton from Holland.  The first Bible translator, William Tyndale, was executed by strangulation and his body burned at the stake for the crime of translating the Bible into English.  Seven mothers and fathers were burned alive at Coventry for teaching their own children The Ten Commandments, the Lord’s Prayer, and the Apostles Creed – in English.

Courage and Sacrifice for Believers today?

The sacrifices made by the Reformers and the far-reaching impact of their courageous application of the Word of God to every area of life, needs to be rediscovered.  The Christian Church has made more positive changes on earth than any other force or cause in History.

Blessing the Nations

Most of the languages of the world were developed into a written system by Christian missionaries.  More schools and universities have been started by Christians than any other religion, nation or group.  Christian Reformers and missionaries have succeeded in bringing about the abolition of slavery, cannibalism, child sacrifice and widow burning.  Those countries that enjoy the most civil liberties, are those lands where the Gospel of Christ has penetrated the most.

Transforming Nations

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is life-changing, history making and nation transforming.  If it doesn’t change your life and the lives of those around you, then it’s not the Biblical Gospel.

Checks and Balances

The Reformers understood God’s Sovereignty. They courageously proclaimed that Scripture alone is our final authority.  Christ alone is the Head of the Church.  Justification is by God’s Grace alone, on the basis of the finished work of Christ, received by Faith alone.  The Reformers’ teaching on the depravity of man, the New Covenant in Christ, and church government, have influenced positive political and social developments in liberty throughout the Western world and beyond, establishing checks and balances, the separation of powers and constitutional authority.

Faith and Freedom

All of us are beneficiaries of this tremendous movement for Faith and Freedom.  If you love liberty, you need to re-examine the history and principles of the Reformation.

The Reformation took the Church out of gross ignorance and spiritual darkness.

Before the Reformation the church had no Bible. And a church without a Bible is as useless as a lighthouse without light, or a car without an engine. The priests and people knew scarcely anything about God’s Word or the way of salvation in Christ.

Now think of this:  Our current generation of believers… not to mention the world learning corrupted revisionist history … is in danger of losing the profound legacy of courage that preserved Bible truths that are much forgotten.

The 16th Century was the pivotal generation of martyrs who willingly laid down their lives to preserve the scripture for us.  That was providential!  Why?  Because the truths in the Bible are eternal and essential for communicating the heart of God and regenerating lost souls to gain eternal life.

Deuteronomy 7:9 says: “Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; He is the faithful God, keeping His covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love Him and keep His commandments.”

The second commandment contains both a severe threat and a most incredibly gracious promise.

“You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in Heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate Me, but showing love to thousands who love Me and keep My commandments.”

Deuteronomy 5:8-10

A Solemn Responsibility

Parents have an awesome responsibility. We are to bring up our children “in the training and instruction of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4)  We are to “train a child in the way he should go …” (Proverbs 22:6)  According to 1 Timothy 3:4, we are to manage our own family well and see that our children learn to obey with proper respect.

Psalm 78:4-8 tells us to…

 “tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, His power and the wonders He has done … so that the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children. Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget His deeds, but would keep His commands. They would not be … stubborn and rebellious … (like previous generations) whose hearts were not loyal to God, whose spirits were not faithful to Him.”

The Bible tells us to not just raise God-fearing sons, but sons who will become God-fearing fathers, who in turn will raise God-fearing sons to become fathers who will love, honor, trust and obey God. We are to raise disciples who raise disciples so that God’s generational blessing is passed down and the chain unbroken.

Invitation

I invite you to visit our website www.ReclaimYourLegacy.com and share our resources with your family and friends.  And if your church or group would like to have us minister in person, just contact me.  I truly trust we can help you and your friends strengthen your life’s purpose and reclaim your legacy.

Martin Luther said:

“If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition, every portion of the truth of God’s Word, except precisely that point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, then I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing him. Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved; and to be steady on all the battlefront besides is mere flight and disgrace – if he flinches at that point.

Compromise and cowardice hurts everyone It’s short-sighted.  The Word of God commands us not to be afraid of any man (Deuteronomy 1:17). We are warned that the fear of man will prove to be a snare (Proverbs 29:25).  It is cowardice for us to remain silent when we should speak up. To be passive and inactive when we should fight for what is right. Isaiah 51:12-13 says:

“Who are you that you should be afraid of a man who will die, and of a son of man, who will be made like grass? You forget the Lord your maker, who stretched out the Heavens and laid the foundations of the earth…” 

The Bible tells us that God seeks “Godly offspring…” Malachi 2:15. It is the first priority of parents and teachers to ensure that children are taught to love God and His Word. Secular humanist education is attempting to kill God by eradicating Him from the classroom and from the minds of the next generation. By eliminating the Bible as the basis for all knowledge, humanists are removing the very foundation of truth. They are prohibiting the only objective standard by which reality can be evaluated.

“See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world, rather than on Christ.”   Colossians 2:8

Martin Luther wrote:

“I am much afraid that schools will prove to be wide gates to hell, unless they diligently labor in explaining the Holy Scriptures, engraving them on the hearts of the youth. I advise no one to place his child where the Scriptures do not reign paramount. Every institution in which men are not constantly occupied with the Word of God must become corrupt.”

In this culture war, it is vital that we understand the war between Creation and the theory of Evolution. Science textbooks and Museums are strategic battlegrounds in the world war of worldviews.

We need to know the Word of God and we need to know the God of the Word. We need to know God and to make Him known.  It is vital that we know what we believe, why we believe it, and to practically know how to defend it in argument. It is also vital that we become effective soul winners.

Christians must recognize that we are involved in a world war of worldviews. There is a war against God and against His Word – The Bible. In this battle for the mind, classrooms and cinemas are battlefields. Education is a battleground. The textbooks and the teachers are frequently promoting evolutionism, situation ethics, sex education and values clarification. Reality is being rearranged by selective focus and in what Karl Marx declared “the first battlefield – the rewriting of history.” By twisting perceptions, secular humanists hope to steal our children and hijack our culture and country. Much of the entertainment industry has been so subverted as to glamorize evil, popularize profanity, and celebrate ugliness. It is the duty of Christians to support excellent Christian media.

The philosophy of Evolution that is called a theory is a vile attempt to get rid of God from society’s thinking.  Evolution destroys all meaning, purpose, direction, justice and hope in life. The Scriptures declare: “The fool says in his heart, ‘there is no God’. They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good.” Psalm 14:1

We are called to be the light of the world. All the darkness cannot put out the smallest light. “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.” Habakkuk 2:14

Young people have a far greater capacity for spiritual and social maturity than we give them credit for. Young people should be encouraged to go deeper, further and higher for the Lord.  The recent phenomenon of age-segregated Sunday morning worship should be re-evaluated in the light of Scripture. The youth are not the Church of tomorrow, they are part of the Church today. The Church is one body. “For as the body is one, and has many members, and all the members of that body being many are one body; as also is Christ.” 1 Corinthians 12:12

Parents should be raising up their children in the fear of God, in fellowship with all believers. Church social events should involve families. Youth ministry should be returned to where it belongs – to families and fathers. It is a sad fact that many youth groups are doing more harm than good. “Those who walk with the wise become wiser still, but the companion of fools suffers harm.” Proverbs 13:20

Many mainline denominations have been infiltrated by secular humanists, who have gutted the churches of the Biblical Gospel and produced generations of spineless quasi-believers. (Dr. Hammond calls them evangellyfish). Many churches are filled with pseudo-saved, semi-saved, half-saved, un-saved, pew-warmers who have never been truly converted, nor have they come into any real relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ.

What are we going to do about all this?

Restoring Confidence in God’s Help Requires Destroying Speculations

The magnificent proclamations of Isaiah the prophet of the identity of God

“But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31

Notice how the prophet Isaiah repeatedly affirms Who this LORD is … among the many statements in these chapters 40-45 of Isaiah.

Isaiah 40:21 asks “Have ye not known? have ye not heard? hath it not been told you from the beginning? have ye not understood from the foundations of the earth?”

 

Listen to the whole program by clicking the start button below

Who is this God Isaiah claims to speak for?

Isaiah 40:22-23 tells us “It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in: That bringeth the princes to nothing; he maketh the judges of the earth as vanity.”

Then he asks the question…

Isaiah 40:25 … “To whom then will ye liken me, or shall I be equal? saith the Holy One.”

His answer gives us a clue of how to discover Him by examining His works.

Isaiah 40:26: “Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by number: he calleth them all by names by the greatness of his might, for that he is strong in power; not one faileth.”

And then another question for us humans who may need improved perception spiritually…

Isaiah 40:28 asks, “Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding.”

This is the background framework we’re given to validate the wonderful promise that so many have staked their faith on.  …

Isaiah 40:29-31 famously promises, (more…)

12 Life Changing Dynamics you can start today

12 Personal Development Dynamics that will Enhance Your Life so you can Enhance the lives of others

by Dennis Petersen

Imagine you just got a direct message from God that your efforts in a critical area will soon be rewarded!  You’re excited… Are you ready for your marching orders now?  Imagine that his next download to your brain is this: “Take action today on that excellent thought you just had.”  That’s a pretty straight forward simple command.  Are you ready to take his command to heart?

Listen to the complete program here.

Let’s be honest with ourselves.  Within the providence of our Creator, the only way you can truly prosper in life is to bring benefits, advantages, profits or blessings into the lives of others.  Once we grow up enough to realize that in order to harvest a crop you have to plant and cultivate a seed, we can be free to focus on others and not be so worried about ourselves and our self interests all the time.  But that takes some extraordinary self control and openness to adjust our natural tendencies to fear everything around us that appears to threaten our personal prosperity and peace of mind.

Think about it.  Do you want to get off the vicious cycle of self-centered anxiety that tends to make us think we have to dominate others or trick them into giving us what we want?  There are reasons why more than 90% of the people around our society are anxious about temporal things continually and lacking the abundant life that we were designed by our Creator to experience.

Have you heard the basic principle of the law of the harvest?  The Golden Rule?  If you want to make a change in your destination you have to make a change in your direction.  As you take the high road of developing yourself and becoming more of what you were created to be, you are then able to help others do the same and experience more of the abundant life that is available to them.

And because we were put into a tangible world filled with stuff to be developed and expanded with the touch of our own creativity and resourcefulness, we inevitably have to get mature about the use and management of the stuff that is on loan to us for this fleeting ‘vapor’ we call our life.

I believe that these suggestions will help you accomplish more, discover more, profit more and add more to whatever your business is about… even inviting more people to your cause, your project, your business and your community. (more…)

The Battle for America’s Soul: Ways to Combat Mind Control

Practical tips for overcoming deception in today's dark world

The Bible has a lot to say about avoiding deception and renewing our minds with the purity of truth and righteousness, which is a right standing with our Creator and Savior.  In today’s world the person who truly wants to follow Jesus and be led by the Holy Spirit has a great challenge to sort out the influences in his life that can potentially be very dangerous.  It takes prayerful work and spiritual discernment to make the best choices.

Listen to the complete program here

It’s no surprise to most adults in our society that a highly sophisticated culture of so-called “elitists” are manipulating many aspects of public perception.  You can find some helpful notes about modern day mind-control in articles posted at ReclaimYourLegacy.com where we have brought our attention to the key verse in the Bible, warning believers to be highly alerted to the life-threatening dangers of mind-controlling deceptions that can easily draw us astray from the pathway of pure and undefiled faithfulness to our Lord Jesus Christ.

Colossians 2:8 says:

“Beware, lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after

the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world and not after Christ.”

John Thomas, of Health Impact News, has done a superb job of researching this battle for our minds and our bodies. His insights for all of us in today’s world give some reasons to take the warning of Colossians 2:8 much more seriously than many of us might have considered before.  In today’s program I’ll be quoting much from his article titled – “The Battle for America’s Soul: Ways to Combat Mind Control.”  http://healthimpactnews.com/2016/the-battle-for-americas-soul-ways-to-combat-mind-control/

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Modern day mind-control is why Believers must BEWARE

The sad reality of how non-discerning people are led astray

Have you ever wondered why there is such a vicious and never-ending war being waged against God-made non-toxic food, wholesome natural supplements, and alternative forms of healthcare and disease prevention? Have you ever wondered why an equally intense war is directed against those who profess faith in Jesus Christ?

The Bible clearly warns us to beware of mind-controlling influences in society.

Listen to the complete program here

Colossians 2:8 says:

“Beware, lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world and not after Christ.”

In the last hundred years the craft of deception has gotten more subtle and sophisticated because of the manipulative science of psychology.  John Thomas, of Health Impact News, has done a superb job of researching this battle for our minds and our bodies. Wait till you see what he has found as I unpack some of his insights for you today.  http://healthimpactnews.com/2016/mk-ultra-and-modern-day-mind-control-the-battle-for-americas-soul/

The Battle for Our Minds and Our Bodies Part 1, by John P. Thomas, Health Impact News

Have you ever wondered why believers who attempt to live their lives according to the words of Jesus and His apostles as recorded in the Bible are constantly ridiculed and called intolerant bigots, hate mongers, stupid, gullible, paranoid, arrogant, and extremists – the scourge of society?  Have you ever wondered why those same kinds of derogatory words are applied to people who object to mandatory vaccination and those who insist on knowing what is in the food we eat? (more…)

Let Truth Guide Your Legacy Action Plan

How does truth fit into our deliberate action plan to reclaim our legacy?  I believe that we live in a generation that is struggling to rediscover the timeless reality that we all pass on a legacy.  The only real legacy we have to pass on to our children is a legacy of truth: Truth about life; truth about God; truth that we invest into their future to give them hope.

Rather than just living day to day for life’s fleeting pleasures, a legacy-minded man or woman deliberately considers life as a gift not to be wasted.  Don’t you think that the really important things of life are deliberately developed and ‘invested’ in the light of a multi-generational perspective?  This is what seems to be missing so often today.  If you are investing for a future dividend, it has to be invested beyond your own limited vision of what you can do now and in the near future.  It’s going to be invested in light of the next generation.

Looking at the culture of our generation, everywhere I turn I see dysfunction and distortion in all the areas of our legacy.  When we think of the foundational things that constitute our legacy, what is more foundational than truth?  This is basic to our character.  But truth is thought by many to be ambiguous, variable or even irrelevant. So I’ll ask the timeless question: What is truth? (more…)

Passion for Your Life in Christ

How to have delight in the Lord and experience His providential guidance

What really counts for achieving the success, the goals, aspirations and dreams that God has put in your heart for your life?

“Without passion, purpose and persistence, no amount of confidence talent and ability will lead to outstanding success.”  (Hilton Johnson, business Trainer)

The only thing I might add to that statement is the phrase, “in anything.”

King Solomon wisely advised,

“Whatever you do, do it with thy might.”  That means, put your strength into it.  Put your passion and heart into it.  My father taught me one of my most memorable impressions, saying: “If you’re going to do anything, do it well.”

Listen to the complete program here.

Remember that the Apostle Paul also said:

“Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men.”

Colossians 3:23

Does that mean, “with all your heart?”  Do you think that suggests we should do what we choose to do with ‘gusto’ and vitality as well as with vibrancy and energy?  Where are you going to get that?  It’s vital for us to identify what the deep-down desire in our heart from God really is.  When you know there is something bubbling up from your inner most being, that God is giving you a passion to do, and if you pursue that, it will make all the difference in the world.  And that’s the key to provide the energy that will make a difference in your daily work.  Whatever it is that you do, find something in it that will give you delight in doing it.  Even if you’re in a difficult situation, just think of others in the world you may have heard about who face difficulty.  Is it possible for them to have Godly passion and delight in the midst of their trying circumstances?  If it weren’t we would understandably tend to be hopeless.  But I’m reminded of the story of Viktor Frankl.  He reported after he was released from a Nazi concentration camp for Jewish people during World War II that he discovered there was one thing his captors could not take away from him – the freedom to exercise his own attitude.  Here are some of his quotes. (more…)

Thanksgiving to our Maker

The Fear of God = Trust in God’s Complete Word

There’s probably no better way to realign our hearts and attitudes in our perverse generation than to enter God’s presence with thanksgiving on our lips.

Why should we all give thanks to God?

Psalm 95:2 tells us: “Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving…”  But why?

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Why We Celebrate Thanksgiving in America

by Stephen McDowell - article on the Providence Foundation website

Did you know that Thanksgiving is a uniquely American holiday?  Other countries, like Canada, may have another holiday they have given the same name, but the concept originates with the heritage of America before there was ever a nation called the United States and continued on as a profound tradition through its formative years.

Did you ever discuss with your family exactly why we have such a day devoted entirely to the idea of such a noble activity as the “giving of thanks?”

We’ve been giving thanks to God in private and public from the foundation of the nation. In fact, national and state governments in America regularly issued official days of Prayer and Thanksgiving from the planting of the first colonies up until the present. Over 1400 Days of Prayer, Thanksgiving, and Fasting were proclaimed by colonial, state, and national governments from 1620-1815, and hundreds more have been issued since then.

(see the reference at the end of this article and visit the website of Providence Foundation. The excellent worldview resources found there will bless your studies and change your life forever, as they have mine. DP)

“Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations.”

(Psalm 100:4-5)

Concerning the blessings on America, President Lincoln wrote: “No human counsel hath devised, nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God.” President Lincoln went on to set apart the last Thursday of November as “a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens.”1

While President Lincoln established America’s official Thanksgiving holiday in 1863, it was the Pilgrims who first celebrated a day of Thanksgiving in this land in 1621 and who set an example that many followed in the succeeding years.2

As the Pilgrims gathered their harvest in the autumn of 1621 and looked back over the preceding year, they had so much for which to be thankful that they decided to set aside a day of Thanksgiving unto God, Whom they acknowledged as the Giver of all blessings and the only reason for their survival. It was indeed a miracle that they did survive their first year in the wilderness of New England and had a good harvest. Desire for a home where they could freely worship God, and the desire to “propagate… the Gospel of the kingdom of Christ” and be stepping stones for others to do the same, motivated a band of Christians later called Pilgrims) to set out on a hazardous voyage to plant a colony in the new world of America.

“We ought to give thanks for all fortune: if it is ‘good,’ because it is good, if ‘bad’ because it works in us patience, humility and the contempt of this world and the hope of our eternal country.”

C.S. Lewis

After 66 terrifying days at sea, where the storms were so great that they were blown unknowingly hundreds of miles north of their intended destination, they reached Cape Cod. The captain attempted to sail south to Virginia, but the weather forced them (providentially) to settle in New England. They later learned that the site they chose for a settlement – Plymouth – had been the home of the Patuxet Indians. Had they arrived a few years earlier, there would have been no place for them to settle, but a plague had mysteriously wiped out the Patuxet tribe in 1617, and no other tribe would settle in the area for fear of the same thing occurring to them.

Winter had already set in as they started to build houses to protect themselves from the unrelenting cold. Scurvy and other diseases began to infect the settlers due to the long voyage, lack of provisions, and unaccommodating conditions.  People began to die so rapidly that in two or three months’ time only half of the original 102 persons remained. While this was quite a tragedy, they still fared much better than the early settlers at Jamestown, who saw nine out of ten persons die in the first years of colonization.

During this dark winter in America, the Christian character of the Pilgrims shone brightly. At the time of greatest distress, there were only six or seven persons strong enough to move about. With the sick they “spared no pains night nor day, but with abundance of toil and hazard of their health, fetched them wood, made them fires, dressed them meat, made their beds, washed their loathsome clothes, clothed and unclothed them; in a word, did all the homely and necessary offices for them which dainty and queasy stomachs cannot endure to hear named; and all this willingly and cheerfully, without any grudging in the least, showing herein their true love unto their friends and brethren. A rare example and worthy to be remembered.”3

A God-prepared Messenger named Squanto confirms the providential guidance of America’s Pilgrims

Though half of their number survived, the prospects of the coming year looked very bleak – they were surrounded by Indians, some hostile, they were short of food and supplies, and they knew little of how to survive in the American wilderness. But to their astonishment, and gratitude to God, an English-speaking Indian named Squanto came among them, took them under his care, and taught them how to survive in the new land.

He showed them how to plant corn, assuring its growth by setting it with fish; he taught them how to catch fish and the times when they could find the creeks stocked with fish (for the Pilgrims had only caught one cod in the preceding four months); he taught them to stalk deer, plant pumpkins, find berries, and catch beaver, whose pelts proved to be their economic deliverance.

Squanto was also helpful in securing a peace treaty between the Pilgrims and surrounding Indian tribes, which lasted over fifty years. In the words of William Bradford, “Squanto… was a special instrument sent of God for their good beyond their expectation.”4 His life story is amazing in itself.

In 1605, Squanto, a member of the Patuxet Indian tribe, was captured by an English explorer and taken to England. He remained there nine years, during which time he learned to speak English. In 1614, Captain John Smith took him back to New England, but shortly after this he was again taken captive and sold into slavery at a port in Spain. Providentially, some local friars bought and rescued him.

From Spain, he eventually went to England where he remained until 1619, when he obtained passage back to his home in New England. As Squanto went ashore at what was to become Plymouth, he found his entire tribe had been killed by a plague. He was the only survivor of the Patuxet tribe. Joining himself to a nearby tribe, he remained there until the spring of 1621 when he joined himself with the Pilgrims, determining to see them survive at the place where his tribe had not.5

Thanks to God, his instrument Squanto, and the character and determination of the Pilgrims, half of them had survived an unimaginably difficult first year. Moreover, they harvested a sufficient food supply for their second winter at Plymouth. Even though there was no surplus food, things looked much better than the preceding winter.

Governor Bradford appointed a day of Thanksgiving and invited the nearby Wampanoag Indians (Squanto’s adopted tribe) to celebrate and give thanks unto God with them. Chief Massasoit and ninety of his men came and feasted with the Pilgrims. They ate deer, turkey, fish, lobster, eels, vegetables, corn bread, herbs, berries, pies, and the Indians even taught the Pilgrims how to make popcorn. The Pilgrims and Indians also competed in running, wrestling, and shooting games. Massasoit enjoyed himself so much that he and his men stayed for three days.6 It is easy to see where the American tradition of feasting at Thanksgiving began.

While many people today follow the Pilgrim’s example of feasting at Thanksgiving, they too often ignore the entire reason that the Pilgrims set aside a special day – that was to give thanks to Almighty God and acknowledge their utter dependence upon Him for their existence. While many today take ease in having plenty, never seeing a need to cry out to God, the Pilgrims relied upon God in their lack and thanked Him in their abundance. Their trust was in God and not in their abundant provisions. This was seen even more fully in the two years following their first Thanksgiving.

Shortly after their Thanksgiving celebration, thirty-five new persons unexpectedly arrived who planned to remain and live at Plymouth. These being family and friends brought much rejoicing, but when they found out they had no provisions it also brought a soberness. Yet their reliance was upon God, so they gladly shared their food, clothing, and homes. With the new additions, their food, even at half allowance for each person, would last six months at most.

Their provisions had almost completely run out when they spied a boat in May of 1622. They hoped the English Company who had sponsored their colonizing Plymouth had sent provisions; however, this boat not only did not bring any food (nor the hope of any), but seven more hungry people to stay in Plymouth. In their extreme hunger, as in times of plenty, they put their complete trust in God to provide.

No one starved to death yet, it would be over a year before famine was completely removed from their midst. During that time there were many days where they “had need to pray that God would give them their daily bread above all people in the world.”7

That spring and summer of 1622 God miraculously fed them, even as the ravens fed Elijah in the wilderness. He provided because the Pilgrims had determined to walk in the way of their Lord Jesus. This was most evident in early summer when sixty “lusty” men (as Bradford called them) came to them for help. Even though these men showed no gratitude, the Pilgrims still gladly took care of them, for many were sick. They gave them housing and shared their meager provisions. This they did for almost the entire summer until the men left.

Like the year before, the harvest of 1622 proved insufficient to meet the Pilgrims’ needs. Outside help appeared doubtful, so the Pilgrims considered how they could produce a larger harvest. Through God’s wisdom they chose to replace the collective farming they had practiced the two preceding years (being imposed upon them by their sponsoring company) with individual farming, assigning to every family a parcel of land.

Bradford wrote: “This had very good success, for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been by any means the Governor or any other could use… and gave far better content. The women now went willingly into the field, and took their little ones with them to set corn, which before would allege weakness and inability; whom to have compelled would have been thought great tyranny and.”8 As they were freed from economic communism and entered into individual enterprise, abundance began to come upon these people.

The Pilgrims learned the hard way that communism doesn’t work, even among a covenant community. Bradford wrote that “the experience that was had in this common course and condition, tried sundry years, and that amongst godly and sober men, may well evince the vanity of that conceit of Platos & other ancients, applauded by some of later times; – that the taking away of property, and bringing in community into a common wealth, would make them happy and flourishing; as if they were wiser than God.”9

The Pilgrims’ hard work, resulting from them being able to directly benefit from the fruit of their labors, caused them to plant about six times more crops than the previous year. While labor certainly increases our prosperity, there are other factors. God wanted the Pilgrims to never forget that it is the Lord that gives men the power to get substance or wealth (Deut. 8:18).

The Pilgrims had great hopes for a large crop, yet as Bradford wrote, “the Lord seemed to blast, & take away the same, and to threaten further & more sore famine unto them, by a great drought which continued from the 3rd week in May, till about the middle of July, without any rain and with great heat (for the most part) insomuch as the corn began to wither away.”10

In response to this, “they set a part a solemn day of humiliation to seek the Lord by humble & fervent prayer, in this great distress. And he was pleased to give them a gracious & speedy answer, both to their own & the Indians admiration, that lived amongst them. For all the morning, and greatest part of the day, it was dear weather & very hot, and not a cloud or any sign of rain to be seen, yet toward evening it began to overcast, and shortly after to rain, with such sweet and gentle showers, as gave them cause of rejoicing, & blessing God. It came, without either wind, or thunder, or any violence, and by degrees in that abundance, as that the earth was thoroughly wet and soaked therewith. Which did so apparently revive & quicken the decayed corn & other fruits, as was wonderful to see, and made the Indians astonished to behold.”11

An Indian named Hobamak who witnessed this event said to a Pilgrim: “Now I see that the Englishman’s God is a good God, for he hath heard you, and sent you rain, and that without storms and tempests and thunder, which usually we have with our rain, which breaks down our corn, but yours stands whole and good still; surely your God is a good God.”12

The harvest of 1623 brought plenty to each person, with the more industrious having excess to sell to others. From the time they started a biblical economic system, no famine or general want ever again existed among them.

That autumn of 1623, the Pilgrims again set apart a day of Thanksgiving unto God. They had much to give thanks for and knew Who to acknowledge.

Each year when we celebrate Thanksgiving, let us remember the heritage of that day and why the Pilgrims, as well as President Lincoln set aside a day of Thanksgiving. In the words of Lincoln, proclaiming the second National Thanksgiving Day: this is “a day of thanksgiving and praise to Almighty God, the beneficent Creator and Ruler of the Universe.”13

By Stephen McDowell, www.ProvidenceFoundation.com

Find and print the complete article at: http://providencefoundation.com/?page_id=1914

End Notes

  1. A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents, Vol. 8 (New York: Bureau of National Literature, Inc., 1897), p. 3374.
  2. Some colonists in Virginia actually observed the first Thanksgiving celebration in America. This occurred at the Berkeley plantation in 1619. It is the Pilgrims, however, who provide us with the tradition of a Thanksgiving celebration. Lincoln’s proclamation for a day of thanksgiving was certainly not a new event in our history, for various colonies, congresses, and presidents have made many such proclamations throughout our history.
  3. William Bradford, Of Plimoth Plantation (Boston: Wright & Porter Printing, 1901), p. 111. Spelling has been changed to modern usage in this and the other quotes from Bradford.
  4. Ibid., p. 116.
  5. Peter Marshall and David Manuel, The Light and the Glory (Old Tappon, NJ: Fleming H. Revell Co., 1977), pp. 130-132. See also, Bradford, pp. 116-117; and Mourt’s Relation: A Journal of the Pilgrims of Plymouth (Plymouth, MA: Plymouth Rock Foundation, 1985), p. 48.
  6. Mourt’s Relation, pp. 72-73; Marshall and Manuel, pp. 135-136; see also, The Pilgrims and Plymouth Colony, by the editors of American Heritage (New York: American Heritage Publishing Co., 1961), pp. 102-103.
  7. Bradford, p. 164.
  8. Ibid., p. 162.
  9. Ibid., p. 163.
  10. Ibid, p. 170.
  11. Ibid., p. 170-171.
  12. Nathaniel Morton, New England Memorial, pp. 64-65.
  13. Messages and Papers of the Presidents, Vol. 8, pp. 3429-3430.

 

 

95 Reforms for Reformation, Then and Now

Does the number 95 mean anything special to you… Especially in the light of the month of October?

When you think about what happened just 500 years ago in Germany – 95 points of discussion were posted on the community bulletin board, a church door – a lowly monk unintentionally set in motion a sequence of events that changed the world more than any other single action by a human being since the resurrection of Christ. 

 My missionary friend in South Africa, Dr. Peter Hammond, has provided for us profound insights that can impact our priorities for generations to come if we’ll take them to heart. 

Unprecedented

Western civilization has been blessed with the greatest freedom, productivity and prosperity ever known in history. The liberty, standards of justice and creativity enjoyed in Western civilization is a direct result of the Protestant Reformation of the 16th Century.

First Things First

Our Lord Jesus Christ taught:

“But seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added to you.”

Matthew 6:33

The Question of Authority (more…)