Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Are You a Pilgrim?

The First Thanksgiving 1621   Courtesy
The first Thanksgiving was celebrated by the Pilgrims in 1621. The Pilgrims had set sail from England on the Mayflower in the fall of 1620 to find a place where they could practice their religious convictions free from the persecution they endured in England.

The trip was no pleasant cruise. A North Atlantic winter storm nearly sank the ship. Short on food, water, and firewood, cold, damp, and hungry, they sickened and many of the original number died en route. Others succumbed to the harsh winter as they struggled to establish a colony.

Governor William Bradford
Governor William Bradford described the perils of their struggle: "So they committed themselves to the will of God and resolved to proceed. Being thus arrived in a good harbor and brought safe to land, they fell upon their knees and blessed the God of Heaven who had brought them over the vast and furious ocean and delivered them from all the perils and miseries thereof, again to set their feet on the firm and stable earth, their proper element.

"Thus, out of small beginnings greater things have been produced by His hand that made all things of nothing and gives being to all things that are; and as one small candle may light a thousand, so the light here kindled hath shone unto many, yea in some sort to our whole nation."

Less than half of the original Pilgrims survived the journey and that first winter. Yet, they certainly fit the biblical definition of pilgrims in Hebrews 11:13, 16 (NKJV):

"These all died in faith, not having the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. They desire a ...heavenly country. Therefore, God...has prepared a city for them."

The Pilgrims desired a country where they could build a community based on biblical principles for their children. Those who died did not received their desires in this life, yet they prepared the way for those of us who have come after them. And they entered the eternal City God had prepared for them.

How about you? Are you a pilgrim? Are you by faith embracing God's promises as strangers and pilgrims on this earth, desiring a heavenly country? Then, you are a pilgrim.

The proof of our faith is not that we receive the promises of God in this life, but that we run the race of life so as to obtain a good reputation with God and man because of our faithfulness (Hebrews 11:39-40).

This Thanksgiving Day, no matter what our situation in this life at this time, let us give thanks to God with grateful hearts for His promises fulfilled and yet to be fulfilled--in this life or in the next.

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