Jim Burns Homeword Daily Devotional for Parenting and Christian Family

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HomeWord - Nov. 26, 2008


Learning From the Pilgrims 
This devotional was written by Kelly McFadden

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.— 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Imagine the excitement of stepping off a boat onto the shores of America after a long ocean voyage. Just weeks before reaching Plymouth Rock, you had seen land for the first time in months.” Land: wonderful, beautiful, adventurous, new land. What was beginning to feel like a helpless journey was once again awakening into the desire to start fresh by creating a new colony. Imagine feeling the land under your feet for the first time and running your fingers through the sand.

But the winter was harsh; more difficult than the new colonists expected. Of the 102 who boarded the Mayflower, only 56 survived. That first winter proved powerful, taking with it nearly half of the original members of the Mayflower expedition. It is said that none of the pilgrims would have survived beyond that first winter without the help of neighboring Indian tribes. After a bountiful harvest that next fall in 1621, the pilgrims invited their Indian friends to celebrate what is considered the first Thanksgiving.

It seems to me that the pilgrims had a lot to be unthankful for. All of them lost family members and friends during that harsh winter. What set out as a voyage of excitement turned into devastation and hardship. Why didn’t they give up? It seems contrary to celebrate a day of thanksgiving, when so much has gone wrong. Maybe the pilgrims really understood what is meant by the verse found in 1 Thessalonians. Perhaps they understood that the Bible does not call them to be thankful for all things, but in all things. We can always be thankful that God is with us and has a greater plan in mind than we can see or imagine.

Thankfulness is an attitude. It is a condition of the heart. What kind of condition is your heart in, not just this Thanksgiving, but year round?


  1. Take some time to rethink through this last year. What have been some of your hard times?  In what ways can you look back and be thankful?
  2. Is your heart in need of some reconditioning? How can you work to change the attitude of your heart?

Psalm 136; 1 Corinthians 15:57-58; Hebrews 12:28

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