Meditate on these words of Rabbi Shaul:

Direct those who are rich in this present age not to be proud or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but rather on God—who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. Direct them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, to be generous, sharing, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the future, so they might take hold of the true life. (1Tim.6:17-19)

Thanksgiving is far more than a “Turkey Trot” or a Bills game, and certainly far more than a day of gluttony.

The American tradition of Thanksgiving dates back to a time well before the founding of this great nation. While still aboard the English vessel Mayflower, the first settlers of Plymouth colony dedicated themselves to God’s purposes in an event that many historians believe to be a celebration of Sukkot. The Mayflower Compact begins with these stated intentions: In the name of God, having undertaken, for the glory of God, and advancement of the Christian faith…

Amidst their many losses and hardships, they were able to thank God for they saw His providential hand guiding them all throughout.  And, contrary to history revisionists, they did not come to plunder but made peace and were in harmony with the Native Americans they encountered. In recognition of God’s provision, they, along with their new found friends, prepared a sumptuous feast. Everybody contributed to the feast; it was the very first “pot luck” in the new world!

Edward Winslow, along with William Bradford, a governor of Plymouth colony, described the first Thanksgiving with great detail.  Winslow concluded a letter to Indian leader Squanto with the following:  “And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers of our plenty.”

At this point all were on equal footing, none were “rich in this present age, or proud” but they were all “rich in good deeds, generous and sharing.” Their trust in God was strong and they understood that two great Indians – Squanto and Indian chief Massasoit  – were God’s provisions to the colonists as they spoke English and taught them the basics to planting corn. 

Unlike the present, faith in God was foundational to our founding fathers. While in the throes of a bloody Civil War, Abraham Lincoln, in November of 1863 issued a proclamation calling for a day of thanksgiving and prayer, seeking God’s intervention on behalf of a young nation struggling to endure.

Eighty years ago, in 1942, as Americans celebrated Thanksgiving, a world war was being fought. The United States joined with England in yet another bloody battle for the preservation of freedom, ultimately defeating the evils of Naziism. 

With the outcome of Second World War still uncertain, President Franklin D. Roosevelt turned to Scripture, public prayer, and the holiday’s original purpose — giving thanks to God. The President’s message was rich in the citing of Scripture, in particular the 23rd Psalm.

From his Thanksgiving proclamation, FDR prayed:

It is fitting that we recall now the reverent words of George Washington, “Almighty God, we make our earnest prayer that Thou wilt keep the United States in Thy holy Protection,” and that every American in his own way lift his voice to heaven.

How appropriate and timely it is for us to also pray for a nation in deep decline. What’s behind our decline? Simply put, we have lost our moral compass. We no longer depend on Adonai; in fact, we’ve declared war on Him! Our leaders may give lip service to God but ultimately, they have chosen the course of paganism.

Worldly wisdom, or in the pagan way of thinking, God is not personal. He is depersonalized and is a god after the image of man.  Just because one goes to synagogue or church with regularity doesn’t mean you are free from pagan practices…in fact a strong case can be made that pagan practices abound in houses of worship that fail to recognize the authority of the Scriptures for sound moral clarity! What can be more pagan than the sacrifice of babies on the altar of convenience? What can be more pagan and anti-God than the infusion of Marxist ideologies?

This past week our Senate voted into law a most notorious bill, a bill to totally redefine traditional marriage. No longer is marriage defined as the union of a man and a woman. This is now officially the law of the land. Yes, the President can veto this…if he is true to the Catholic faith of which he identifies with; but this will not happen.

About 22% of Senate Republicans voted for this bill but 100% of the Democrats, all of them, expressed their paganistic morality. For them, God is not the object of worship but is more a tool to be used. Pagan, worldly worship has the goal of trying to “pull the wool over God’s eyes”, “to get Him on our side”.  They may couch their pagan ideals in pious sounding spiritual terms but essentially when you move contrary to God’s holy commands, they’re all in vain. This is nothing more than a direct assault against the Holy One of Israel. It is as King David prophesied:

Psa 2:1  Why are the nations in an uproar, and the peoples mutter vanity? 

Psa 2:2 The kings of earth set themselves up and rulers conspire together against Adonai and against His Anointed One.

This evening we will engage ourselves in a very real war, a very real spiritual warfare. We need to engage in this very real war with very real spiritual warfare. There is an enemy that has deluded and deceived the hearts of men and we can’t afford to stand still without a response. In this season of Thanksgiving may we be rich in good deeds, to be generous, sharing, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the future, so they might take hold of the true life.

TRUE LIFE!  Let’s talk about true life. Faith is all about true life. 

It is our fervent prayer that all of us, in our own way will look towards heaven with an eye of faith, believing for the Holy One to bring reform and change to us personally, nationally and globally. May we soon see the day when His hand of favor will be poured out upon the people of Israel.

May we enjoy this season of Thanksgiving, fully remembering and recognizing that in times of trouble we need to turn to God in prayer. It worked for our founding fathers, it worked for Lincoln and Roosevelt and it can work today.  WE ARE THE LEADERS THAT CAN MAKE IT HAPPEN!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Rabbi Frank

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