Just as surely as the Lord told the pastor of the church at Ephesus that he had left his first love (Rev. 2:4), America has left its first love; i.e., God. The United States was founded by people who loved God. In 1620, the Pilgrims landed near what is today Plymouth, Massachusetts, erected a cross, and prayed for the Lord's guidance and protection. From the very beginning, this nation was dedicated to God. Regardless of what revisionists to our history try to say, that's the truth.
How did the Lord tell the pastor in Ephesus to remedy his situationâ€Œ Revelation 2:5a says,
Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works.
To remember, repent, and return is what it means to do the first works. This is how the Lord told the pastor at Ephesus to get back what he had lost. This will also work for us as individuals, and it will work on the national level too. We need to remember how this nation started, repent for the way that it is, and return to the standards and principles that made it great.
That's why I'm doing two weeks of interviews on my television program this month with David Barton (November 18-29). Barton is a noted historian whom I've interviewed before. I just spent a couple of days with him in Washington, D.C., last April when he led a tour of the capitol buildings, showing all the godly heritage upon which this nation was founded. It was powerful, and I was deeply moved.
So, I asked him to come on the Gospel Truth television program with me and tape two weeks of broadcasts on the Christian heritage of the United States. Since it is November, we started with the Thanksgiving holiday. Modernists have tried to rewrite our history to make this simply a secular harvest festival. But since the Pilgrims' first Thanksgiving in 1621 to the day Abraham Lincoln made it an official holiday in 1864, Thanksgiving has totally been a day to thank and praise Almighty God for His blessings.
The colonists, throughout America's early history, observed Thanksgiving at different times, remembering the godly example of the Pilgrims. In 1789, Congressman Elias Boudinot proposed a resolution requesting that President George Washington recommend a day of public thanksgiving and prayer for the entire country. Washington approved the request, declaring November 26, 1789, as the day of national thanksgiving.
Seventy-four years later, in 1863, President Abraham Lincoln declared the last Thursday of every November as a national day of thanksgiving. Read his proclamation of the first official Thanksgiving, and see if this was intended to be just a harvest celebration. As you read, remember that this took place during the height of the Civil War.
The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God.
In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.
Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.
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, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.
It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him, for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.
This is not the writing of someone who is prescribing a secular holiday. This is an all-out proclamation that everything good came as the result of God's favor. America was founded as a Christian nation, and we need to remember from whence we have fallen (Rev. 2:5). Forgetting where we have come from will keep us from getting to where we need to go.
I'm thankful for what God has done in this nation. We all should be. We need to remember what exalted us in the first place.
Proverbs 14:34 says,
Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.
Righteousness is the reason for the good things in our nation. And only righteousness will keep those good things coming to us. It never goes well for a country that forsakes the Lord. We can't assume that somehow or another, America is exempt from that. And we can't just stick our heads in the sand and pretend everything will work itself out either. There are real problems we need to address in our nation, and they won't go away until we do.
God sent Jonah to confront Nineveh, probably the wickedest city of his day. One of the things he said before he went was "they that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy" (Jon. 2:8). That's a powerful piece of information! It says we forsake our own mercy by giving heed to lying vanities. So, what do we need to do, thenâ€Œ We need to give heed to the truth!
The Bible says,
Thy word is truth.
Truth and absolutes are not popular today, but it's the truth of God's Word that will keep us from forsaking the mercy of God.
So, what happened when Jonah preached the truth to Ninevehâ€Œ
The Scripture says,
The people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them.
The people repented and turned back to God! Jonah started a revival that saved the entire city! It was awesome! God would do no less for America if America would do no less for God.
I'm not one of those people who thinks it's too late for our country. With God, all things are possible!
The very fact that He's still sending ministers like me (and you!), just as He once sent Jonah, means that it's not too late. Jonah helped the Ninevites find grace, and he didn't even want to. God's grace is still sufficient for America today. We just need to remember from where we have fallen and return to our first love.
We just had former Senator Rick Santorum at Charis Bible College. He showed a new film that his company, EchoLight, is distributing. He has nine godly films in the pipeline that will be coming out over the next year. He shared how Christians have to quit trying to hide from all the ungodly cultural things taking place in our nation, and get out in the marketplace and change the culture. That's why he got into producing and distributing moral movies.
At supper, the former senator shared a lot of his views on what's happening in our nation, and I was really encouraged. He said that after the 2012 presidential race, he was more optimistic than ever about the future of our nation. I was kind of surprised about that because Rick and his views were mercilessly attacked during the campaign. Despite those personal attacks, he became convinced that the majority of Americans are not for all that is going on.
But his assessment was that the ungodly are more committed to changing this nation than the godly are in preserving it. He used a lot of illustrations to make his point, and I tend to agree with him. We are the salt of the earth. To do any good, we have got to get out of the salt shaker and start being salt and light (Matt. 5:13-14).
According to the scripture I started this letter with (Rev. 2:5), we begin to restore our nation by remembering, repenting, and returning. Let's make this Thanksgiving a day to remember.
I encourage you to listen to the television programs with David Barton. He has one of the largest collections of documents from the Founding Fathers to back up all the things he says.
If we don't remember the true meaning of Thanksgiving, those who don't know the Lord certainly won't. Let's make this Thanksgiving a true day of thanksgiving to the Lord for the wonderful things He has done for this nation in the past, and pray for His continued blessing on us.