Daniel Whittle shares this account of our Pilgrim Forefathers:
It is well known that many of the good men who were driven from England to America by persecution in the seventeenth century, had to endure great privations. In the Spring of 1623 they planted more corn than ever before; but by the time they had done planting, their food was spent. They daily prayed, “Give us this day our daily bread;” and in some way or other the prayer was always answered. With a single boat and a net they caught some fish, and when these failed, they dug in the sand for shell-fish. In the month of June their hopes of a harvest were nearly blasted by a drought which withered up their corn and made the grass look like hay. All expected to perish with hunger.
In their distress the pilgrims set apart a day of humiliation and prayer, and continued their worship for eight or nine hours. God heard their prayers, and answered them in a way which excited universal admiration. Although the morning of that day was clear, and the weather very hot and dry during the whole forenoon, yet before night it began to rain, and gentle showers continued to fall for many days, so that the ground became thoroughly soaked, and the drooping corn revived.
We’re on our last day of looking at Thanksgiving in the “Hour of Prayer.”
As we wrap up – I want you to catch 3 key words that are somewhat contradictory when it comes to our attitude on prayer:
 And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off:  And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.  And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed.  And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God,  And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan.  And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?  There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.  And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.
Notice Jesus in Luke 17:17 – “Where are the nine?” Jesus was expecting them to “return to give glory to God” – yet they were missing. Jesus expects us to give glory to God thru our thanksgiving!
How can something ‘expected’ be ‘free?’
 And when ye will offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving unto the LORD, offer it at your own will.
God does not force us to give thanks. He wants us to offer thanks. This is a bit of an oxymoron but this fits nicely with the picture of loyalty we saw yesterday – God is loyal to disloyal people because of His love. God also wants us to love Him not because of a command but as a free response of our heart. Yet if the heart response is missing, Jesus comments on it publicly!
 Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.
Paul tells us that we should be thankful, and in this verse, that we should be abounding in thanksgiving. Yet it is again a voluntary action that makes our Father smile!
So take some time today and give thanks abundantly and freely!
We’re looking at the eighth way we can pray for an hour each day, Thanksgiving!
And say ye, Save us, O God of our salvation, and gather us together, and deliver us from the heathen, that we may give thanks to thy holy name, and glory in thy praise.
1 Chronicles 16:35
Salvation is cause for Thanksgiving! Thank God for saving you from the power of sin and death and hell!
Salvation from heathen attacks is also a great occasion for Thanksgiving. Often times we cry with the Psalmist:
Plead my cause, O Lord, with them that strive with me: fight against them that fight against me.
We ask God for deliverance and yet forget to praise him for His aid. Has God delivered you from a slanderous attack by a coworker, an unfair accusation from a neighbor, a jealous supposed friend? A motorist blaming you for the car wreck? A former employee filing a frivolous claim? A bureaucrat relentlessly harassing your company? A neighbor complaining to the city about your actions? An ex-parishioner gossiping about your pastor.
Right now I’m thinking back to multiple situations where God has miraculously delivered me – and I’m giving thanks to Him for His salvation.
I had a friend ask me what to do about a situation where he was short changed by several hundred dollars. I suggested letting God handle it. God blessed him when he gave it to the Lord.
I will give thee thanks in the great congregation: I will praise thee among much people.
We’re on our third day of focus on Thanksgiving. We’ve looked at giving thanks for people and for events, but today let’s focus on how we can give thanks for the Lord’s loyalty to us!
O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: because his mercy endureth for ever.
We can give thanks to the LORD because He is good. How is He good? Let’s look at Psalm 118 and see!
5 different times we see the phrase, “his mercy endureth forever.” Mercy is the Hebrew word “hesed” – a theologically loaded term. R.C. Sproul says it means “God loves His people genuinely, immutably, loyally.”
If you’ve read the Bible for any period of time – that is a seemingly crazy idea – why should God be loyal to people who 1) are disloyal to Him, 2) have done nothing deserving of loyalty, and 3) actively invite the deserved wrath of God upon their lives (Romans 1:18, John 3:36)!
That’s answered by the concept of love. Unmerited. Undeserved. Often unrequited. That’s why we read it in the KJV as “mercy” – God’s merciful favor to us. How is this shown in the chapter?
I called upon the LORD in distress: the LORD answered me, and set me in a large place.
His loyalty means that when we call He answers us!
The LORD is on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me?
His loyalty means that He will defend us!
It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man.
His loyalty is better than any others!
I will praise thee: for thou hast heard me, and art become my salvation.
The loyalty of the Lord brings salvation!
And if you remember the classic Sunday School song, you can rejoice with the Psalmist for all the blessings of the Lord’s loyalty!
This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.
It’s not just a day on the calendar, it’s a way of life! The Bible calls us to Thanksgiving:
Therefore I will give thanks unto thee, O LORD, among the heathen, and I will sing praises unto thy name
2 Samuel 22:50
Give thanks unto the LORD, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the people.
1 Chronicles 16:8
O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever.
1 Chronicles 16:34
And say ye, Save us, O God of our salvation, and gather us together, and deliver us from the heathen, that we may give thanks to thy holy name, and glory in thy praise.
1 Chronicles 16:35
Therefore will I give thanks unto thee, O LORD, among the heathen, and sing praises unto thy name.
Sing unto the LORD, O ye saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness.
We’ll quote more versese tomorrow – but how can we give thanks?
In 1675, Isaac Newton said “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants.” No man is an island – we are the result of the people we come into contact with. As has been said, the only two things that are eternal is God’s Word and peoples’ souls – and we come into contact with both every day.
Let’s start by giving thanks for the people blessings He sends us:
Our spouse’s parents
Our pastor and his wife
Our Sunday School teacher
Our children’s teachers
Our Bible study brethren
Friends who have steered us the right direction
Friends who have prayed for us
Friends who have encourage us
Our church office staff
Our teachers in the past
Mentors and coaches
Our boss at work
(P.S. I have a tendency to quick get fast food for lunch – one year I set a goal to not eat lunch alone, but to have lunch with someone – using my time to bless others!)
Daniel Whittle recounts how in “Memorials of Methodism in Virginia,” Dr. W.W. Bennet relates the following incidents in the life of John Easter, one of the pioneer ministers who labored there nearly one hundred years ago: He is represented as being the most powerful exhortatory preacher of his day. His faith was transcendent, his appeals irresistible, his prayers like talking with God face to face. Perhaps no man has ever been more signally honored of God as an instrument in the conversion of souls. On one of his circuits eighteen hundred members were added to the church in a single year.
Many thrilling scenes under his preaching yet linger among the people in those counties where he principally labored. A most extraordinary display of his faith was witnessed in Brunswick. At Merritt’s meeting- house a quarterly meeting was in progress, and so vast was the concourse of people from many miles around, that the services were conducted in a beautiful grove near the church. In the midst of the exercises, a heavy cloud arose, and swept rapidly towards the place of worship. From the skirts of the grove the rain could be seen coming on across the fields. The people were in consternation; no house could hold one-third of the multitude, and they were about to scatter in all directions. Easter rose in the midst of the confusion–“Brethren,” cried he at the top of his voice, “be still while I call upon God to stay the clouds, till His word can be preached to perishing sinners.” Arrested by his voice and manner, they stood between hope and fear. He kneeled down and offered a fervent prayer that God would then stay the rain, that the preaching of His word might go on, and afterwards send refreshing showers. While he was praying, the angry cloud, as it swiftly rolled up to them, was seen to part asunder in the midst, pass on either side of them, and close again beyond, leaving a space several hundred yards in circumference perfectly dry. The next morning a copious rain fell again, and the fields that had been left dry were well watered.”
Daniel Whittle shares about a prominent business man who failed in the Spring of 1877. He had been for years a prominent and consistent member of a Christian church. He had even supported a church once almost entirely. Nothing was known against his character, but he failed; he failed in business. No one knew the reason why, but there it was, failure.
At last, in moments of bitter repentance before God, he unbosomed himself to his pastor, and said, “Long ago I promised to give the Lord one-tenth of all the profits I gained from my business, and while I did so, I was immensely prosperous and successful; never did any one have any such splendid success,–but I forgot my promise, stopped giving, thought that I did not need to spend so much, and I began to invest my means in real estate. When I stopped giving I stopped getting. Now all is gone. I lost my all because I did not keep my promise to the Lord.”
This incident is a practical one, telling how utter is the impossibility of true success, without the aid of the Lord, and how absolutely necessary it is to our own peace and comfort of mind to religiously observe one’s promises made to God. The Bible only too truly tells of the end of those who forget Him.
But Jeshurun waxed fat… then he forsook God which made him… And when the LORD saw it, he abhorred them….And he said, I will hide my face from them
Deuteronomy 32:15, 19, 20
…ye cannot prosper? because ye have forsaken the LORD, he hath also forsaken you.
2 Chronicles 24:20
…There shall be desolation 10 Because thou hast forgotten the God of thy salvation, and hast not been mindful of the rock of thy strength…
Daniel Whittle shares the following incident, marvelous, as at the time of its occurrence neither party had ever been known to each other:
In New Haven, Conn., lives a little invalid widow, almost helpless, with no one upon whom to rely for support, and only indebted to friendly acquaintances for a temporary home. With no money, no acquaintances, she had nowhere else to turn to but to the Father of all good. She had prayed often, and often had answers, but this time, though needing money, still she received none. The answer was long delayed; she was almost discouraged. “Was God at last to fail and forget her? No, it could not be. Let God be true even if I perish, I shall still cling to Him. I can not give Him up.”
Just at that time a business man in New York, who had been absent on a long journey for the Summer and had just returned, happened to pick up a note among many hundred lying on his desk, and noticed that the writer asked for some trifling favor, saying she was poor, had no means.
Her circumstances were unknown: he knew nothing but her name. He was eager to minister to the little ones of the Lord, and felt deeply impressed in prayer that morning, in asking a blessing on his day’s labors, that he might be able to help the need of some of “his children” who might then be in want. In his business hours the thought came over him with the depth of emotion, “WHAT CAN I DO? LORD, THY SERVANT IS READY.” Just at that moment he picked up this note of the little invalid, who asked the trivial favor, saying it would be such a comfort. (No money whatever was asked for in this note.)
Suddenly the thought came to him, “Perhaps this is my very opportunity. This may be the Lord’s little one in need.” But there was nothing in the letter to indicate she was a Christian. She solicited no money or pecuniary help.
Immediately there came to his mind, amid floods of tears, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these, my children, ye have done it unto me.” Instantly he understood it as a message from the Lord, and the intimation of the Holy Spirit. He immediately sat down and wrote a check for $25, and enclosed it to her, saying, “I know not your need; you have not asked me for help, but I send you something which may be useful. I trust you are a Christian. I shall be happy to learn if it has done good, and made you happy. Give me no thanks. The Lord’s blessing is enough for me.”
The letter was sent and forgotten, but a strange presentiment came over the mind of the writer. “I am afraid I did not direct that letter right.” He sent a second postal card, asking if a letter had been received at her home; if not, to go to her post office and inquire.
Now notice the wonderful singularity of incident. Here is a man sending money, never asked for, to an unknown person, about whom he knew nothing; then misdirecting his letter, and then remembering and sending another message to go and find where the first had gone to. But notice the marvelous result. The little invalid received the postal card, but not the letter. She sent to the post office, and sure enough there was the first letter with its misdirection. She was just in time to save it from being sent to another woman of the same name living in another part of the same city.
She opened her letter, and with tears of thankfulness perused this wonderful reply, a marvelous witness to the power of an overruling Spirit, who had directed everything.
“My heart is full, that God should so answer my simple prayer. I first asked him for $10, then $15, and then for $25. I asked him for $25 several times, and was astonished at my boldness, but the amount was so fixed in my mind, I could not ask for anything else, and then I humbly trusted it to Him, and from that time I thought, I will not name any sum; let it be as He knows my need. And how He has honored my simple faith and trust in these dark days. Your letter contained exactly the $25 I prayed for. I have not had $1.50 to spend this Summer. I have suffered for everything. But through it all I have felt such perfect faith in the Lord, that his hand was leading me, even when I could not see a step before me; and that He should move your heart to help me seems so wonderful, so good. I am so glad I can thank you now, but ah, so much “over there” where words will express so much more in the beautiful atmosphere of heaven. Your letter and kind gift was mailed the very same day that I was praying in great distress and trial. I knew not but that I should be without even a home. My verse was Psalms 50: 15. O, how I had to pray that day. So day by day I was comforted, and now to-day the answer has come.”
Here, then, is a portion of the story of a sweet life who trusted God, not as a God of the past, nor far off, but ever living, ever present, ever faithful, and believed Him able, willing, and that He would help her in her daily life. She tried her Lord, to prove if his promises were indeed true, and she clung to them to the very last. No one knew her need. No one knew what she was praying for. The stranger did not know anything of her. She had asked money of no one but the Lord. Hesitant ever, she dared not name any amount of the Lord, but that ever present Spirit of God guided her heart, made her fix the amount, and then touched the heart of the stranger and fixed the amount also in his mind, and then, by his own guidance saved the letter from being lost, and behold! when opened the prayer of the one and the gift of the other was the same.
What a comfort, what a privilege, then, it is for the true-hearted Christian thus to feel, “There is one who careth for us.”
Daniel Whittle tells us of God’s help even in the courtroom!
And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.
“In one of our northern cities, a trial at law took place between a Christian and an infidel. The latter had sued the former for a heavy sum, falsely alleging his promise to pay it for some stocks which he claimed to have sold him. The Christian admitted AN OFFER of the stock, but protested that so far from promising the sum demanded, he had steadily refused to make any trade whatever with the plaintiff. Each of the parties to the suit had a friend who fully corroborated their assertions. Thus the case went before the jury for decision.
“The charge of the judge was stern and significant. ‘It was a grave and most painful task which devolved upon him to instruct the jurors that one of the parties before them must be guilty of deliberate and willful perjury. Their statements were wholly irreconcilable with each other; nay more, were diametrically opposite; and that either were innocently mistaken in their assertions was impossible.
“‘Your verdict, gentlemen,’ he said in conclusion, ‘must decide upon which side this awful and heaven-daring iniquity belongs. The God of truth help you to find the truth, that the innocent suffer not.’
“It was late in the day when the judge’s charge was given, and the finding of the jury was to be rendered in the morning. The plaintiff went carelessly from the court arm in arm with the wicked associate whom he had bribed to swear falsely on his behalf. The defendant and his friend walked away together in painful silence. When the Christian reached his home, he told his family of the judge’s solemn charge and of the grave responsibility which rested upon the jurors. ‘They are to decide which of us has perjured ourselves on this trial,’ he said; ‘and how terrible a thing for me if they should be mistaken in their judgment. There is so little of any thing tangible for their decision to rest upon, that it seems to me as if a breath might blow it either way. They cannot see our hearts, and I feel as if, only God could enable them to discern the truth. Let us spend the evening in prayer that he may give them a clear vision.'”
The twelve jurymen ate their supper in perplexed silence, and were shut in their room for deliberation and consultation. “I never sat in such a case before,” said the foreman. “The plaintiff and defendant have sworn point-blank against each other; and how we are to tell which speaks the truth, I can not see. I should not like to make a mistake in the matter; it would be a sad affair to convict an innocent man of perjury.” Again there was silence among them, as if each were weighing the case in his own mind. “For myself I feel as if the truth must be with the defendant; I am constrained to think that he is an honest man. What say you, gentlemen?” Every hand was raised in affirmation of this opinion. They were fully persuaded of its truth, and gave a unanimous verdict accordingly.
Thus the Christian man was rightfully acquitted, and gave thanks to God, with a new and stronger confidence in the power of prayer. “Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me,” saith the Lord.