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Robert R. McLaughlin Bible Ministries
The Tree of Life is a weekly teaching summary.
A Thanksgiving Day Remembrance
Isaiah 49:1-6

The first official Thanksgiving Proclamation was written by Samuel Adams on November 1, 1777: "It is therefore recommended to set apart Thursday the eighteenth day of December next, for solemn Thanksgiving and praise, that with one heart and one voice the good people may express the grateful feelings of their hearts and consecrate themselves to the service of their divine benefactor."

As a six-week-old child, Francis Jane Crosby was blinded for life. She lost her father when she was one year old, and later in life she would lose her only child in its infancy. In spite of these tragedies, "Fanny" Crosby was always cheerful and happy, free from the bitterness that so easily besets most humans. She had a natural talent for writing poems and was often asked to recite her poetry. Eventually, her writing brought her national recognition, and she was invited to visit presidents, generals, and other notable dignitaries. When she died in 1915, just six weeks shy of her 95th birthday, Francis had written 8,500 poems and songs.

Most importantly, Fanny loved Jesus Christ. Her love for the Lord became the inspiration for her thousands of songs and poems, many of which are still sung in churches every weekend today. Many beloved hymns bear the name Fanny Crosby, including "To God be the glory, great things He hath done," "I am thine, O Lord, I have heard thy voice," and "Blessed Assurance."

When a preacher once remarked sympathetically that it was a pity God had not given her sight, Fanny replied, "Do you know that if at birth I had been able to make one petition, it would have been that I should be born blind?" The preacher asked her why. "Because" she said, "When I get to heaven, the first face that shall ever gladden my sight will be that of my Savior!" Focusing on Jesus and seeing the good in God's plans for her, Fanny reached millions of people around the world. What an attitude to be reminded of at the Thanksgiving celebration. Rather than become so occupied with family events, a dinner, a day of football games may we, like Fanny Crosby, rejoice in the goodness of our God in every situation, that like her we can sing, "This is my story, this is my song, praising my Savior, all the day long."

1TH 5:18, "In everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."

COL 3:15 "Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father."

Each year our country sets aside a special holiday known as Thanksgiving. This holiday, more than any other, provides an opportunity for all of us to re-examine what America is really all about spiritually, and where we stand in relationship to that principle. Perhaps the best place to begin is the discovery of America. Most Americans have no idea who Christopher Columbus really was and the reasons for his journey and what it accomplished. There are many fascinating principles related to this great holiday, but unfortunately, many people are too busy celebrating to give thanks to the One who truly deserves it.

It may come as a surprise to many people that Christopher Columbus apparently was a Christian, as indicated by his ship's logbooks: "It was the Lord who put into my mind, I could feel His hand upon me, that fact that it would be possible to sail from here to the Indies. All who heard of my project rejected it with laughter, ridiculing me. There is no question that the inspiration was from the Holy Spirit because He comforted me with rays of marvelous inspiration from the Holy Scriptures. I am a most unworthy sinner, I've cried out to the Lord for grace and mercy, and they have covered me completely. I have found the sweetest consolation since I made it my whole purpose to enjoy His marvelous presence. For the execution of the journey to the Indies, I did not make use of intelligence, mathematics, or maps, it is simply the fulfillment of what Isaiah had prophesied. No one should fear to undertake any task in the name of our Savior, if it is just and if the intention is purely for His own service. The working out of all things has been assigned to each person by our Lord, but it all happens according to His sovereign will. And then day by day, moment by moment, everyone should express their most devoted gratitude to Him."

This was a testimony that he believed God had given him a special calling. His journal quote from Isaiah 49:1-6">ISA 49:1-6 meant something special for him personally: "Listen to Me, O islands, and pay attention, you peoples from afar. The Lord called Me from the womb; from the body of My mother He named Me. And He has made My mouth like a sharp sword; in the shadow of His hand He has concealed Me, and He has also made Me a select arrow; He has hidden Me in His quiver. And He said to Me, 'You are My Servant, Israel, in whom I will show My glory.' But I said, 'I have toiled in vain, I have spent My strength for nothing and vanity; yet surely the justice due to Me is with the Lord, and my reward with my God.' And now says the Lord, who formed Me from the womb to be His Servant, to bring Jacob back to Him, in order that Israel might be gathered to Him (for I am honored in the sight of the Lord, and My God is My strength), He says, 'It is too small a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also make you a light of the nations so that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.'"

It is intriguing to realize that God was using the discovery of America to become a haven for His people, the Jews. This, of course, is another reason why those involved in anti-Semitism hate our nation. Christopher Columbus had for his motivation not the technology of his day, but the Biblical view of the scriptures and his spiritual faith in the Bible. Columbus was more driven by prophecy than he was by astronomy. He compiled a collection of Biblical passages in his Book of Prophecies.

Columbus was funded by Spaniards, and at that time, Jews in Spain had become the target of religious persecution. Many were forced to renounce Judaism and embrace Catholicism under force. These were known as converses, or"converts." There were others called muraros, who faked conversion, practicing Catholicism outwardly, while remaining Jews inwardly. Muraros has two meanings in Spanish-the damned and the swine. The Spanish Inquisition, with all its evil and doctrines of demons (1TI 4:1), viciously punished anyone who did conform to their religious expectancies and their own doctrinal beliefs. The introduction of the Inquisition was motivated by the greed of King Ferdinand, who attempted to seize all the power and wealth in Spain, particularly from the Jewish people. Once again, God had a plan of escape for His people; as PSA 76:10 says, "For the wrath of man shall praise Thee." In GEN 50:20, Joseph said to his brothers (after they had sold him into slavery), "And as for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive." God even uses the wickedness of man to further His plan.

DEU 23:5 The Lord your God turned the curse into a blessing for you because the Lord your God loves you.

PRO 16:4 The Lord has made everything for its own purpose, even the wicked for the day of evil.

In 1487 the pope passed a law used as an instrument for greed and political conformity, and four years later, tens of thousands of Jews were suffering under the Spanish Inquisition. In less than 12 years, the Inquisition had condemned no less than 13,000 men and women who had continued to practice Judaism in secret. They were tortured in La Casa Santa, the so-called "holy houses," and burned alive at the stake, while their property was divided between the pope and the king. The rest of them were expelled from Spain on March 31, 1492, when the Edict of Expulsion was signed.

In God's timing, on August 3, 1492, before midnight (the deadline for the Jews to leave the country) Columbus and his crew (which was largely Jewish) boarded their vessels and set sail a half hour before sunrise on their now famous voyage. When Columbus finally set foot on the new land, he christened it "San Salvador," which means "the Holy Savior." His log book entry reads as follows: "Oh Lord Almighty and everlasting God, by thy Holy Word thou hast created the heavens and the earth and the sea, blessed and glorified be thy name, and praise be thy majesty which has deigned to use us, thy humble servants, that thy Holy name might be proclaimed in this second part of the earth."

Many scholars even believe that Columbus was Jewish because he enclosed peculiar dates and phrases unique to the Hebrew people in his writings. For example, instead of referring to the destruction and fall of Jerusalem, he used the phrase "the destruction of the second House." He also employed the Hebrew reckoning of A.D. 68 rather than A.D. 70. He boasted that he was related to King David, and some of his letters were described as written in an unknown script, presumably Hebrew. He is said to have used a unique triangular signature, similar to the inscriptions found on gravestones in ancient Jewish cemeteries in Spain. In the final analysis, his ethnic background is not an important issue, but rather, as is ultimately true for every one of us, his spiritual condition was what mattered. The word of God instructs us to seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all things will be added to us (MAT 6:33). In this regard, Columbus wrote, "No one should fear to undertake any task in the name of our Savior, if it is just and if the intention is purely for His service."

Just as a man's life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses, so Columbus' greatness does not come from his discovery of America, but from his relationship with God through Jesus Christ. This brings us to a question we all must ask: "Where do we stand with regards to our values?" It is about the respect for Jesus Christ.

Looking at the birth of this nation, it is very hard for us to imagine the needs and the poverty of those travelers establishing settlements here on this strange land. But in the Plymouth colony, the turning point took place one Friday in the middle of March, 1621. Imagine Captain Standish and the men at the Common House, when an Indian, wearing nothing but a loincloth, strolled up the main street of the village, and to their startled faces, said in flawless English, "Welcome!" The story he told them caused them to thank God for protecting them in ways they had known nothing about. As it turned out, the region in which they had settled had always been the territory of the Pawtuxets, a large hostile tribe, that barbarously murdered every white man that had ever landed on their shores. However, four years prior to the Pilgrims' arrival, a mysterious plague had killed every man, woman, and child among them. So complete was the devastation that neighboring tribes had shunned the area every since, convinced that some supernatural spirit had destroyed the Pawtuxets. The land had been completely cleared of enemies before the Pilgrims came.

This was no mere coincidence but rather the providence of God. Providence is the divine outworking of all the divine decrees, the object being the final manifestation of God's glory. The decrees are what God has allowed to happen throughout history. The doctrine of providence expresses the fact that the world and our lives are not ruled by chance, fate, or luck, but by God. Providence includes God's forethought, that is, His omniscience and His care over all creatures both good and bad, but especially those who are yielded to His will.

The Holy Spirit under the providence of God has several ministries. One of the most overlooked ministries of the Spirit is His restraining of sin and evil in the world. In fact, were it not for this ministry of restraint, the human race would self-destruct. Anything that might destroy the human race is restrained by the providence of God. The providence of God protects the human race from self-destruction through divine judgment of individuals, groups, nations, and organizations that are evil, as in the Flood of the days of Noah.

The Apostle Paul had providential perception, the spiritual discernment concerning the providence of God. He knew that God is going to accomplish three main goals:

1. Maximum glorification for Himself, REV 4:11, ISA 43:21.

2. The resolution of an immense invisible struggle that began before the human race in the angelic conflict, 1CO 15:24-25.

3. The highest and the best for His elected ones in the human race, 2PE 1:10-11.

This is the spiritual discernment that we all need as we observe events taking place in our lives. Providence is the activity of God's divine essence in history, by which all the details of the divine will and purpose of God are executed.

Under this principle, God never violates any of His creatures' volition in bringing His purpose to its full manifestation and its final end. Providence reveals God's care and protection for all of humanity with special regard to believers. Providence also includes the divine control of history, and that is a comforting truth in itself. It is more amazing to realize, not just what God permits to happen in history, but what He prevents from happening in history. If people only knew what could be happening, they would stop asking, "Why, God?" and start thanking Him for restraining all the evil that would be infinitely worse. We must never forget to be thankful for the providence of God.

For a more detailed study, order tape IA11-347.

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