Daily Archives: November 22, 2018

NOVEMBER 22 A WORSHIPER FIRST

Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.

—Matthew 9:38

The work of Christ in redemption, for all its mystery, has a simple and understandable end: it is to restore men to the position from which they fell and bring them around again to be admirers and lovers of the Triune God. God saves men to make them worshipers.

This great central fact has been largely forgotten today, not by the liberals and the cults only, but by evangelical Christians as well. By direct teaching, by story, by example, by psychological pressure we force our new converts to “go to work for the Lord.” Ignoring the fact that God has redeemed them to make worshipers out of them, we thrust them out into “service,” quite as if the Lord were recruiting laborers for a project instead of seeking to restore moral beings to a condition where they can glorify God and enjoy Him forever….

Our Lord commands us to pray the Lord of the harvest that He will send forth laborers into His harvest field. What we are overlooking is that no one can be a worker who is not first a worshiper. Labor that does not spring out of worship is futile and can only be wood, hay and stubble in the day that shall try every man’s works. BAM125

Make me a fervent, passionate worshiper, Lord, that I may become a worthy and effective worker. Amen. [1]


[1] Tozer, A. W., & Eggert, R. (2015). Tozer on the almighty god: a 365-day devotional. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

November 22 Too Little Thought

For “who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

1 Corinthians 2:16

Some people assume worry is the result of too much thinking. But in reality it’s the result of too little thinking in the right direction. When we were saved, we received a new mind or way of thinking. Now our human thought patterns are injected with divine and supernatural ones.

The apostle Paul said, “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace” (Rom. 8:5–6). Because of the Spirit of God in our lives, we think on a spiritual level, not a fleshly one.

Paul also said, “Of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption” (1 Cor. 1:30). Since God imparts His wisdom to us, we can think the deep thoughts of the eternal God.[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 351). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

November 22, 2018 Afternoon Verse Of The Day

30. I will celebrate the name of God in a song. The Psalmist now elevated with joy, and sustained by the confident hope of deliverance, sings the triumphant strains of victory. This psalm, there is every reason to believe, was composed after he had been delivered from all apprehension of dangers; but there can be no doubt that the very topics with which it concludes were the matter of his meditation, when trembling with anxiety in the midst of his troubles; for he laid hold upon the grace of God by assured faith, although that grace was then hidden from him, and only the matter of his hope. God is here said to be magnified by our praises; not because any addition can be made to his dignity and glory, which are infinite, but because by our praises his name is exalted among men.[1]


69:30 I will praise. The transition from pain and the call for judgment to resolute praise is abrupt. Such compression of thought is not unusual in biblical poetry.[2]


[1] Calvin, J., & Anderson, J. (2010). Commentary on the Book of Psalms (Vol. 3, p. 76). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

[2] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2005). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (p. 796). Orlando, FL; Lake Mary, FL: Ligonier Ministries.

Governor Bradford’s First Thanksgiving Proclamation!

Governor Bradford of Massachusetts made this first Thanksgiving Proclamation three years after the Pilgrims settled at Plymouth:

“Inasmuch as the great Father has given us this year an abundant harvest of Indian corn, wheat, peas, beans, squashes, and garden vegetables, and has made the forests to abound with game and the sea with fish and clams, and inasmuch as He has protected us from the ravages of the savages, has spared us from pestilence and disease, has granted us freedom to worship God according to the dictates of our own conscience.

In everything give thanks; for this is the will of  God in Christ Jesus concerning you! 1 Thes. 5:18

Now I, your magistrate, do proclaim that all ye Pilgrims, with your wives and ye little ones, do gather at ye meeting house, on ye hill, between the hours of 9 and 12 in the daytime, on Thursday, November 29th, of the year of our Lord one thousand six hundred and twenty three and the third year since ye Pilgrims landed on ye Pilgrim Rock, there to listen to ye pastor and render thanksgiving to ye Almighty God for all His blessings.”

William Bradford
Ye Governor of Ye Colony

Source: Governor Bradford’s First Thanksgiving Proclamation!

A History of Thanksgiving Day Proclamations in America — SBC Voices

The History of Thanksgiving Day in America is not just about Pilgrims and Native Americans and a harvest festival of thanks. It is so much more. It has a rich history as an official day of atonement and thanks to God for His blessings and forgiveness of sins. Three official U.S. Government Thanksgiving Day proclamations stand out to me today and tell a powerful story of the leaders of our nation calling us to return to God and thank Him for His blessings. They are quite a read (Via Wikipedia):

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1777.
The First National Proclamation of Thanksgiving was given by the Continental Congress in 1777 from its temporary location in York, Pennsylvania, while the British occupied the national capital at Philadelphia. Delegate Samuel Adams created the first draft. Congress then adapted the final version:

For as much as it is the indispensable Duty of all Men to adore the superintending Providence of Almighty God; to acknowledge with Gratitude their Obligation to him for Benefits received, and to implore such farther Blessings as they stand in Need of: And it having pleased him in his abundant Mercy, not only to continue to us the innumerable Bounties of his common Providence; but also to smile upon us in the Prosecution of a just and necessary War, for the Defense and Establishment of our unalienable Rights and Liberties; particularly in that he hath been pleased, in so great a Measure, to prosper the Means used for the Support of our Troops, and to crown our Arms with most signal success:

It is therefore recommended to the legislative or executive Powers of these United States to set apart Thursday, the eighteenth Day of December next, for Solemn Thanksgiving and Praise: That at one Time and with one Voice, the good People may express the grateful Feelings of their Hearts, and consecrate themselves to the Service of their Divine Benefactor; and that, together with their sincere Acknowledgments and Offerings, they may join the penitent Confession of their manifold Sins, whereby they had forfeited every Favor; and their humble and earnest Supplication that it may please God through the Merits of Jesus Christ, mercifully to forgive and blot them out of Remembrance; That it may please him graciously to afford his Blessing on the Governments of these States respectively, and prosper the public Council of the whole: To inspire our Commanders, both by Land and Sea, and all under them, with that Wisdom and Fortitude which may render them fit Instruments, under the Providence of Almighty God, to secure for these United States, the greatest of all human Blessings, Independence and Peace: That it may please him, to prosper the Trade and Manufactures of the People, and the Labor of the Husbandman, that our Land may yield its Increase: To take Schools and Seminaries of Education, so necessary for cultivating the Principles of true Liberty, Virtue and Piety, under his nurturing Hand; and to prosper the Means of Religion, for the promotion and enlargement of that Kingdom, which consisteth “in Righteousness, Peace and Joy in the Holy Ghost.

And it is further recommended, That servile Labor, and such Recreation, as, though at other Times innocent, may be unbecoming the Purpose of this Appointment, be omitted on so solemn an Occasion.

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1789.
As President, on October 3, 1789, George Washington made the following proclamation and created the first Thanksgiving Day designated by the national government of the United States of America. This was right after the First Amendment was passed by Congress and sent to the States for ratification:

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor, and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me “to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.”

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be. That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks, for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation, for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his providence, which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war, for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed, for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted, for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions, to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually, to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed, to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shown kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord. To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and Us, and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

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1863.
President Abraham Lincoln issued this decree of thanksgiving at the height of the Civil War, making it a National Day of Thanksgiving. We really have President Lincoln to thank for Thanksgiving in America as we know it. It is a powerful perspective on God’s Providence and care:

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 unequalled 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 had 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 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, tranquility and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand, and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the city of Washington, this third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the independence of the United States the eighty-eighth.”
Proclamation of President Abraham Lincoln, October 3, 1863.

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Thanksgiving in American History, can rightly be seems as a day where we …

1. Reflect upon the blessings and the hardships of the previous year
2. Give thanks to God for His blessings and providential care
3. Confess and ask forgiveness of sins, recognizing that we have fallen short of God’s will and character
4. Come together as a people in gratitude to God for our nation and pray for it together
5. Look to God for continued blessing, care, and provision for the future.

It is impossible to miss the influence of Christianity and the Bible upon the United States in these statements. The Christian and Hebrew-Jewish origins of Thanksgiving in America should be reflected upon and remembered as we continue to thank God for His blessings. That doesn’t mean that people of other faiths and backgrounds – or people with no faith at all – are kept from the table. They too are invited to give thanks, and if they cannot give thanks to God, they can be invited to join us while we do and we can still share in the blessings of our nation together and show grace and mercy and love to all people.

“give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:18

“Praise the LORD. Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.” – Psalm 106:1

via A History of Thanksgiving Day Proclamations in America — SBC Voices

In All Circumstances? – Feeding on Christ

  1. We can be thankful in trying circumstances because we deserve eternal judgment and whatever we are experiencing short of that is a mercy.
  2. We can be thankful in trying circumstances precisely because we have already been redeemed by Christ, blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ and sealed with the Spirit until the possession of the eternal inheritance.
  3. We can be thankful in trying circumstances because we know that our God doesn’t make mistakes. There is nothing that falls outside of His sovereign eternal decree. As the hymn writer put it, “What e’re my God ordains is right.”
  4. We can be thankful in trying circumstances because all that God is doing in our lives is for His glory and our conformity to the image of His Son.
  5. We can be thankful in trying circumstances because we can be confident that God will not waste any of the lessons that He is seeking to teach us in the difficult as well as enjoyable circumstances in which He places us in life.
  6. We can be thankful in trying circumstances because know that we will be able to extend to others who experience similar difficult circumstances the same comfort that we receive from the God of all comfort.
  7. We can be thankful in trying circumstances because we know that God’s purpose is to make us whole and complete lacking nothing.
  8. We can be thankful in trying circumstances because it is better for us to be in a place of weakness that shows us our need for God than to be in a place of plenty and prosperity and forget about Him.
  9. We can be thankful in trying circumstances because we are being pruned to bear more fruit. The Lord is removing the dross and refining the gold.
  10. We can be thankful in trying circumstances because they serve as a stage on which the deliverance and provision of God’s grace in Christ may be displayed in our lives.The Lord brought Shadrach, Meshach and Adeb-nego into the fiery furnace in order to teach them that he would stand with them in the furnace and bring them out unharmed. Jesus brought the disciples into the storm to teach them about his power to still the wind and the waves with a word.

So, this Thanksgiving, if you find yourself in a place where you are having a hard time being thankful, meditate on these ten biblical truths that will strengthen you in faith to give God glory and to give thanks in all circumstances–no matter how difficult they may be.

Source: In All Circumstances?

 

George Washington’s Thanksgiving Proclamation

Detail from Rembrandt Peale’s Washington Before Yorktown; https://www.nga.gov/collection/art-object-page.178141.html

 

By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation.

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor – and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be – That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks – for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation – for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war – for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed – for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted – for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions – to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually – to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed – to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord – To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and us – and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

Source: George Washington’s Thanksgiving Proclamation

Thanksgiving: The First and Essential American Holiday

Many Americans — Christian, Jewish and secular — find Thanksgiving to be their favorite holiday of the year.  And for good reason beyond the joy of a feast.  Thanksgiving was the first holiday of the Pilgrim forefathers, who spoke of their voyage to the New World in terms of a flight from persecution to freedom, much like the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt to reach the Promised Land.

Thanksgiving is the holiday that made the other American holidays possible.  Without the Pilgrims having courage, a quest for adventure, and a willingness to sacrifice and risk everything, and absolute faith in their cause and calling, they never would have embarked on the unseaworthy 94-foot Mayflower. Were it not for their dream and determination to find freedom of conscience and religion in the New World there may have never been a July 4th Independence Day or many of the other American holidays we take for granted and celebrate every year.

After a harrowing passage across the Atlantic — one that included wild pitching and broadside batterings by gale force winds and ferocious seas that caused the splitting of one of the ship’s main beams — the Mayflower was blown off course from the intended destination of the established Virginia Colony to wilds of Cape Cod. The Pilgrims knew not where they were nor how to proceed, so they beseeched the Almighty for favor in a safe arrival and in establishing a new and independent settlement.

Now in sight of land after a frightening voyage and facing hunger from depleted provisions, some of the secular Mayflower passengers were clamoring for rebellion.  And so, under the direction of Pilgrim leaders William Brewster and William Bradford, the drafting of a governing agreement was undertaken to quell unrest and ensure the establishment of a unified settlement that would be acceptable to both their Christian brethren and the secular crewman and merchant adventurers who made up about half the 102 people aboard the Mayflower. That governing document, known as the Mayflower Compact was introduced “solemnly and mutually in the presence of God and one another,” and it was specifically referred to as a covenant. A covenant is an unbreakable agreement — with precedents being made between God and towering figures of Jewish history — such as Abraham, Noah, and Moses.

After Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, crossed the Red Sea and journeyed on to Mt. Sinai, God made a covenant with Moses providing the Israelites the Ten Commandments and other laws — a necessary requirement before they could proceed and cross into the Promised Land.  Similarly, every able man aboard the Mayflower, had to sign the Mayflower Compact before each could “cross over” and finally set foot in the New World after their ship arrived at Provincetown at the tip of Cape Cod at sunrise on Saturday, November 11, 1620.  As a covenant adapted to the civil need of forming a government with laws — established “for the general good of the colony” — the Mayflower Compact embodied fundamental principles of self-government and common consent. Thus, the Mayflower Compact was the beginning of democratic government in America, and it is often cited as the cornerstone of the U.S. Constitution.

The fact that all the Pilgrims survived the squalid and cramped ship quarters during the dangerous crossing of a vast ocean, is no doubt partially attributable to the good fortune that the Mayflower had previously been enlisted as a wine transport cargo ship. Unlike most ships, she had a “sweet smell,” from all her decks and bilges being “disinfected” with wine sloshing and soaking from broken barrels of Bordeaux in the many prior crossings of the sometimes stormy English Channel.

That all changed once the Mayflower’s passengers settled in Plymouth, Massachusetts in December of 1620.  The first winter was devastating, with over half the Pilgrims dying, including nearly half the women. Four whole families perished.  But it could have been worse.

Had those colonists not settled in Plymouth, adjacent to friendly Native Americans, and had they not befriended two who could speak broken English — Samoset and Squanto — perhaps none would have survived.  In fact, just four months after the Pilgrims disembarked in Plymouth, Samoset facilitated the signing of a Peace Treaty between the Pilgrim colonists and Massassoit, the chief of the Wampanoag tribe.  At the same time native tribesman were teaching the Pilgrims survival skills, showing them how to hunt, fish, and plant various crops, such as corn — which was unknown to Europeans.

The Pilgrims were extraordinarily grateful for the first season’s harvest — modest though it was — and decided to invite Massassoit and some of his people to a three-day-long feast, at which they would thank God not only for the harvest, but also for their survival and initial success of a diverse colony that included both Christians and non-believers.

No one knows for sure the exact date of this three-day event patterned after the “harvest fest” in England and also the Feast of Tabernacles in the Jewish calendar. Massassoit arrived with some 100 followers, more than two times the number of the Pilgrims, and for three days they entertained each other and feasted.

This feast later became known as the first Thanksgiving, which we now celebrate on the fourth Thursday of November. Some eighteen months after this feast, it came to be known that Massassoit was on the brink of death from an unknown sickness.  Governor William Bradford immediately sent elder Edward Winslow to administer natural herbs, medicines, and prayers to Massassoit. Astonishingly, he made full recovery within days, and remarked, “Now I see the English are my friends and love me; and whilst I live, I will never forget this kindness they have showed me.”

Times are very different than they were nearly 400 years ago at the time of the Mayflower’s voyage to the New World.  But the qualities of character that made the Pilgrims exemplary are as relevant today as they were back then.  A contemporary Thanksgiving makeover might include: rekindling a quest for adventure; growing the faith to hold on to a vision of a promised land no matter what; mustering the courage to go against the crowd and defend the truth; gaining determination to endure hardship; rejuvenating a joyful willingness to sacrifice for others; revitalizing respect and tolerance of people of different beliefs and renewing the predisposition to extend love and gratitude at every appropriate opportunity.

Scott Powell is a senior fellow at Discovery Institute and managing partner of RemingtonRand LLC. Three generations of his family lived in the Peabody Bradford House, built by a great grandson of Governor William Bradford in 1760 in Kingston, MA. Reach him at scottp@discovery.org

Source: Thanksgiving: The First and Essential American Holiday

America Has Much to Be Thankful For This Thanksgiving

“In every thing, give thanks.”

This is my first Thanksgiving without my preacher dad who went to be with the Lord in June at age 90. I smile when remembering when I was a little boy, Dad included me and my four younger siblings in his sermon. Every year, Dad’s east Baltimore storefront church sold tickets for their bus trip to Hersey Park, Pennsylvania. Preaching from the pulpit, Dad told the congregation, “When the bus arrives my kids always excitedly get on the bus. It never dawned on my kids to be concerned about a ticket because they knew their father had taken care of it.” I took that as Dad’s way of saying we should always trust our heavenly father.

Brother and sister American patriots, while Democratic Party evil is ever present at every turn, the Bible says, “in every thing give thanks”. (1 Thessalonians 5:18) Folks, we have much for which to be extremely thankful.

We should remain thankful that God’s presidential candidate defeated Satan’s in the 2016 election. We should be thankful that the American left’s and Deep State’s attempts to remove Trump from office have failed and pushed Trump further to conservatism.

While losing the House was disappointing, we also got rid of several never-Trump RINOs. I trust God that this will prove to be a good thing for Trump’s agenda and America. I call upon my fellow Christians across America to pray and claim this scripture for our president and his agenda. “No weapon formed against you shall prosper.” (Isaiah 54:17)

We should be thankful that the GOP picked up seats, strengthening the Republican’s majority in the Senate.

On a personal note, I am extremely thankful that Sen. Ted Cruz was reelected in Texas. Ted is my guy; brilliant, a fighter, character-driven and a man wise enough to know that there is a God and it is not him. I am thankful that Sen. Cruz and President Trump were big enough to join together for the good of our country, laying aside their personal feud. Sen. Cruz is the kind of warrior our president needs in his corner pushing Trump’s America first agenda.

It is disturbing that extreme radical leftist Beto O’Rourke could have defeated Sen. Cruz. This is a guy who supported NFL players kneeling in disrespect for our flag and National Anthem. O’Rourke called police the “new Jim Crow”. O’Rourke is a part of the Democrat’s evil mantra which says America’s cops are racist and routinely shoot blacks for no reason. This evil Democratic Party lie fuels the ambushing and assassination of our brave men and women in blue across America by Black Lives Matter thugs. How on earth could such an extreme candidate like O’Rourke give Cruz a run for his money in Texas? One reason is money. O’Rourke had $70 million to portray himself

as a kind reasonable man. Cruz only had $29 million to spread the truth.

Another reason why anti-American socialist candidates are getting votes is because public education has brainwashed our youth into believing socialism is a good thing; far superior to capitalism. This is a lie.

Every year, Rush Limbaugh tells the true story of the first Thanksgiving. According to governor of the colony William Bradford’s journal, upon landing the Pilgrims functioned as a commune (socialism); everyone receiving an equal share. All the land they cleared, houses they built and crops they grew belonged to the community. No one owned anything. This failed because there is no incentive to work harder if you cannot produce a better life for your family. Also, there will always be deadbeats looking for a free ride.

Bradford realized the system was toxic, was not working, and did not produce prosperity. Bradford gave each family a plot of land to work and manage. Whatever they produced was theirs. They could sell their overages (capitalism). It worked! Pilgrims set up trading posts and traded with the Indians. The first Thanksgiving was the Pilgrims expressing gratitude and thanks to God.

While I highly respect former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, I am thankful that he has been replaced with acting AG Matthew Whitaker. The Washington D.C. swamp is a nasty dank disgusting place. Sessions never quite had the stomach to fight for We the People in that climate.

For decades, myself along with fellow black conservatives like Alfonzo Rachel, Herman Cain, Walter Williams, Mychal Massie, Alveda King, Star Parker, Thomas Sowell, Larry Elders, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, Dr. Ben Carson, Niger Innis, Wayne Dupree, Rev. C.L. Bryant and others have felt like voices crying in the wilderness, encouraging blacks to break free from slavery on the Democratic Party’s liberal plantation. I am thankful that a new generation of young black have heeded our call. They have launched the Blexit Movement, blacks abandoning their brain-dead destructive loyalty to the Democratic party.

I praise God for the #WalkAway Movement encouraging people to stop drinking the Democratic Party’s Kool-Aid. Lifelong Democrats are leaving the party, which is infected with hatred for America and disdain for all things wholesome and good.

I am thankful for the new Sen. Lindsey Graham. Sen. Graham stood strong and spoke passionately in defense of Brett Kavanaugh during his confirmation hearings. Graham appears to have embraced and is willing to fight for president Trump’s Make America Great Again agenda.

I am thankful for Trump’s fearlessness is confronting the fake news media and challenging political correctness. We are seeing signs that Trump’s courage is inspiring others to freely speak the truth.

My wife Mary’s dad passed a few years ago. We moved from Florida to West Virginia to be closer to Mary’s mom, who lives about 30 minutes from us. On Thanksgiving day, we will literally drive over the river and through the woods to grandma’s house. In her 80s, she still bakes apple pies from scratch for family and friends.

I’m looking forward to a beautiful day of family fellowship, love and gratitude. Have a Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving.

Lloyd Marcus, The Unhyphenated American

Help Lloyd spread the Truth

http://LloydMarcus.com

Source: America Has Much to Be Thankful For This Thanksgiving

November 22 Watch Your Step

“Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men, but as wise.”

Ephesians 5:15

✧✧✧

Walking wisely is a step in the right direction.

Sometimes a soldier has the thankless task of clearing mine fields from enemy territory. If you’re aware of the procedure, you know the work is both dangerous and tedious. To proceed in an orderly fashion, a soldier marks areas that are considered dangerous and areas that have been cleared. Above all, he makes sure he is careful where he’s walking!

In the spiritual realm, Paul is telling believers in Ephesians 5:15 to walk carefully. The Greek term translated “careful” speaks of looking carefully from side to side and being alert to what is going on. We need to be extremely alert because the world we’re walking through is a mine field of sin and temptation. Therefore, we must walk carefully, exactly, and accurately. The wise Christian carefully charts his course according to life principles designed by God. He doesn’t trip over the obstacles that Satan puts in his path or fall into the entanglement of the world’s system. He is “careful.”

The Greek word translated “walk” means “daily conduct,” “daily pattern,” or “daily life.” The daily pattern of our lives must reflect wisdom. The Greeks saw wisdom primarily as head knowledge. They tended to spin off theories that had no practical implications. To them, the wise people were the intellectuals and the philosophers. The Hebrew mind, however, defined wisdom only in terms of behavior. When a person becomes a Christian, it’s more than a change in theory—it’s a change in how he lives.

Paul is saying in verse 15, “If you used to be a fool, but you’ve been made wise in Christ, then walk wisely.” In other words, we’re to practice our position, to live in accordance with who we are. When we became Christians, we came out of foolishness into wisdom. Therefore, we need to act like it!

Be careful not to act foolishly and step on Satan’s mines. Your spiritual transformation demands that you live your life with care.

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Suggestions for Prayer: Thank the Lord for helping you obey His Word and avoid Satan’s destructive mines.

For Further Study: Read Titus 3:1–8. What are you to be careful to do (v. 8)? Why?[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (1997). Strength for today. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

Mark Alexander: A Pause in Gratitude and Thanksgiving — The Patriot Post

It’s a time to reflect upon how blessed we really are — beyond what we deserve.

“Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him and praise His name. For the LORD is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations.” —Psalm 100:4-5

Fellow Patriots, sometimes the din of contentious media chatter and political rancor can drown out all that is good and right about our great nation.

Please pause with us this Thanksgiving to reflect upon how blessed we really are — blessed far beyond any measure of what we deserve.

To put our national Day of Thanksgiving into proper context is to express gratitude. In the words of George Washington from his First Thanksgiving Proclamation, “I do recommend and assign [this Thanksgiving Day] to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be.”

With this in mind, I invite you to read our brief “History and Legacy of Our National Thanksgiving.”

In his first Thanksgiving proclamation, President Ronald Reagan wrote: “As we celebrate Thanksgiving … we should ask what we can do as individuals to demonstrate our gratitude to God for all He has done. Such reflection can only add to the significance of this precious day of remembrance. Let us recommit ourselves to that devotion to God and family that has played such an important role in making this a great Nation, and which will be needed as a source of strength if we are to remain a great people.”

Indeed.

Contemplate what is good and right: “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy — meditate on these things.” (Philippians 4:8)

For some added inspiration from the mountains of East Tennessee, enjoy listening to “My Beautiful America” by fellow Tennessean Charlie Daniels.

Source: https://patriotpost.us/alexander/59619-with-gratitude-and-thanksgiving

Being Thankful Through It All — Lighthouse Trails Inc

By Warren B. Smith

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

Thankfulness is our attempt as believers to express the inexpressible—the amazing gratitude we feel for the amazing grace bestowed upon us by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He not only saved us from our sins (1 John 2:2), He promised to never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). We are also assured that He who began “a good work” in us will be faithful to “perform it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6).

A day for Thanksgiving was set aside as a holiday so that we, as a nation, could collectively give thanks to God for all of His blessings—to express our gratitude for His love and protection and provision. In years past, hymns like Come Ye Thankful People Come were commonly sung in churches and classrooms as Thanksgiving day approached—young and old alike openly giving thanks to God for His abundant supply and bounty:

Come, ye thankful people come; Raise the song of harvest home,
All is safely gathered in, Ere the winter storms begin.
God, our Maker, doth provide, For our wants to be supplied;
Come to God’s own temple come; Raise the song of harvest home.

God’s people are called to be a thankful people because we have so much to be thankful for. Another hymn of gratitude, Now Thank We All Our God, expresses our thanks for all the “wondrous things” God has done and for His “countless gifts of love”:

Now thank we all our God, With hearts and hands and voices,
Who, wondrous things hath done, In whom this world rejoices;
Who, from our mothers’ arms, Hath blessed us on our way,
With countless gifts of love, And still is ours today.

135 References in the KJV Bible

In the King James Bible, for example, there are 135 separate verses that refer to the act of giving thanks. Scripture makes it clear that thankfulness is pleasing to God and is part of the way we praise and worship Him (Psalm 116:12-19). We should never take things for granted because we know that “every good gift and every perfect gift is from above” (James 1:17).

Jesus stressed the importance of thankfulness when He singled out the only one of the ten healed lepers who glorified God and gave thanks for his healing:

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. (Luke 17:15-19)

Jonah was released from the fish’s belly after praying and giving thanks to the Lord:

When my soul fainted within me I remembered the LORD: and my prayer came in unto thee, into thine holy temple. They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy. But I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that I have vowed. Salvation is of the LORD. And the LORD spake unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land. (Jonah 2:7-10)

King David, though continually attacked by his enemies, was always thanking God for His goodness and mercy and deliverance:

He delivereth me from mine enemies: yea, thou liftest me up above those that rise up against me: thou hast delivered me from the violent man. Therefore will I give thanks unto thee, O LORD, among the heathen, and sing praises unto thy name. Great deliverance giveth he to his king; and showeth mercy to his anointed, to David, and to his seed for evermore. (Psalm 18:48-50)

Daniel’s response to the King Darius’ edict forbidding prayer to anyone other than the King was to continue his practice of openly praying and giving thanks to his God. Scripture records that Daniel was delivered from certain death in the lion’s den because he unashamedly “believed in his God” (Daniel 6:10;23). His refusal to compromise served as a witness not only to the King but to all those who have read this account in the Bible:

Wherefore king Darius signed the writing and the decree. Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime. (Daniel 6:9-10)

Then was the king exceeding glad for him, and commanded that they should take Daniel up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no manner of hurt was found upon him, because he believed in his God. (Daniel 6:23)

As already referenced, Scripture is replete with verses pertaining to giving thanks to God for His abiding presence in our lives. Much too frequently we neglect to give thanks to the One True God to Whom we have so much to be grateful for. The Bible is very specific about the many whys and wherefores of giving thanks to God.

Why We Give Thanks

Because God Gives Us Our Daily Bread

Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness; Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God. For the administration of this service not only supplieth the want of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God. (2 Corinthians 9:10-12)

And he took the seven loaves and the fishes, and gave thanks, and brake them, and gave to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude. And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the broken meat that was left seven baskets full. And they that did eat were four thousand men, beside women and children. (Matthew 15:36-38)

For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer. (1Timothy 4:4-5)

Because God is Good

O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever. (1Chronicles 16:34)

And they sang together by course in praising and giving thanks unto the LORD; because he is good, for his mercy endureth for ever toward Israel. (Ezra 3:11)

Because Thankfulness is Good

It is a good thing to give thanks unto the LORD, and to sing praises unto thy name, O most High. (Psalm 92:1)

Because Thankfulness is the Will of God

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. (1Thessalonians 5:18)

Because God is Holy

Sing unto the LORD, O ye saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness. (Psalm 30:4)

Rejoice in the LORD, ye righteous; and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness. (Psalm 97:12)

Because God’s Name is Holy

Save us, O LORD our God, and gather us from among the heathen, to give thanks unto thy holy name, and to triumph in thy praise. (Psalm 106:47)

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. (1Chronicles 16:35)

Because God’s Word is Holy

For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe. (1Thessalonians 2:13)

And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. (2 Timothy 3:15-17)

Because of God’s Grace

Knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you. For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God. (2 Corinthians 4:14-15)

Because God Gave Us the Gift of Jesus Christ

Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift. (2 Corinthians 9:15)

Because Jesus Christ Shed His Blood For Our Sins

And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. (Matthew 26:26-28)

Because God Lifts Us Above our Enemies

It is God that avengeth me, and that bringeth down the people under me, And that bringeth me forth from mine enemies: thou also hast lifted me up on high above them that rose up against me: thou hast delivered me from the violent man. Therefore I will give thanks unto thee, O LORD, among the heathen, and I will sing praises unto thy name. (2 Samuel 22:48-50)

He delivereth me from mine enemies: yea, thou liftest me up above those that rise up against me: thou hast delivered me from the violent man. Therefore will I give thanks unto thee, O LORD, among the heathen, and sing praises unto thy name. (Psalm 18:48-49)

Because God Delivered Us From the Powers of Darkness

That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness; Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1:10-14)

Because God Causes Us to Triumph in Christ

Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place. (2 Corinthians 2:14)

Because God Gives Us the Victory Through Jesus Christ

O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord. (1 Corinthians 15:55-58)

Because God’s Mercy Endures Forever

Praise ye the LORD. O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever. (Psalm 106:1)

O give thanks unto the God of gods: for his mercy endureth for ever. (Psalm 136:2)

O give thanks to the Lord of lords: for his mercy endureth for ever. (Psalm 136:3)

O give thanks unto the God of heaven: for his mercy endureth for ever. (Psalm 136:26)

How We Give Thanks

Through Jesus Christ

First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world. (Romans 1:8)

For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. (1Timothy 2:5-6)

With the Sacrifice of Thanksgiving

Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men! And let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and declare his works with rejoicing. (Psalm 107:21-22)

I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the LORD. (Psalm 116:17)

By Praising and Giving Thanks to His Name

Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach. For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come. By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name. But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased. (Hebrews 13:13-16)

Through Prayer

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)

Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving. (Colossians 4:2)

Through Song

Sing unto the LORD with thanksgiving; sing praise upon the harp unto our God. (Psalm 147:7)

I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving. (Psalm 69:30)

It came even to pass, as the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the LORD. (2 Chronicles 5:13)

O come, let us sing unto the LORD: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms. For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods. (Psalm 95:1-3)

By Walking In Love and Thankfulness

Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour. But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks. (Ephesians 5:1-4)

By Declaring His Works

That I may publish with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of all thy wondrous works. (Psalm 26:7)

Give thanks unto the LORD, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the people. Sing unto him, sing psalms unto him, talk ye of all his wondrous works. (1 Chronicles 16:8-9)

By Thanking God For Fellow Believers

Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timotheus our brother, To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you. (Colossians 1:1-3)

But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle. (2 Thessalonians 2:13-15)

By Thanking God For All Men

I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. (1Timothy 2:1-4)

By Giving Thanks in Everything

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. (1Thessalonians 5:18)

By Giving Thanks in Whatever We Do

And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him. (Colossians 3:15-17)

As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving. (Colossians 2:6-7)

Who Gives Thanks

The Angels

And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God, Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen. (Revelation 7:11-12)

The 24 Elders in Heaven

And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell upon their faces, and worshipped God, Saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned. (Revelation 11:16-17)

All His People

Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands. Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing. Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations. (Psalm 100:1-5)

When We Give Thanks

When We Eat or Don’t Eat

He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks. (Romans 14:6)

When We Take Communion

And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves: For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come. And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. (Luke 22:17-19)

When We Have Suffered Wrongfully

For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. (1 Peter 2:19-20)

Before Trouble

Offer unto God thanksgiving; and pay thy vows unto the most High: And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me. (Psalm 50:14-15)

After God Intervenes

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. (Luke 17:15-16)

Morning and Evening

And to stand every morning to thank and praise the LORD, and likewise at even. (1 Chronicles 23:30)

At Midnight

At midnight I will rise to give thanks unto thee because of thy righteous judgments. (Psalm 119:62)

While We Live

For in death there is no remembrance of thee: in the grave who shall give thee thanks? (Psalm 6:5)

Always

And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 5:18-20)

Forever

Hear, O LORD, and have mercy upon me: LORD, be thou my helper. Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing: thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness; To the end that my glory may sing praise to thee, and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks unto thee for ever. (Psalm 30:10-12)

So we thy people and sheep of thy pasture will give thee thanks for ever: we will show forth thy praise to all generations. (Psalm 79:13)

We Praise God With Our Thankfulness

The Bible says that by offering the sacrifice of praise to God we give thanks to Him (Hebrews 13:13-16). Thus by praising God, we thank Him for his love, protection, presence, and provision. Paul and Silas gave thanks to God by praising Him—even after they were beaten and thrown in the jail (Acts 16:23-25). Pursuant to their thankful praise, the prison walls confining them were shaken. Free to escape, they witnessed to the jailer and his whole household who were all saved and baptized that same day (Acts 16:30-34).

With God’s help we can learn to give thanks in everything. There is a saying that wherever you go, there you are. The Bible tells believers that wherever they go, God is there with them. Because God is always with us, He will help us and enable us to do things that we otherwise could not do on our own—like giving thanks in everything (1 Thessalonians 5:18) and thanking Him for all things (Ephesians 5:20).

Prayer

Lord, I want to be thankful “in everything” because Scripture tells me that is your will for my life. But I am often unable to be thankful due to forgetfulness, selfishness, and my own shortcomings. May Your Holy Spirit remind me to be thankful in everything, now, always, and for evermore. Please help me to remember that all things work together for good to them who are called according to your purpose. Thank You for all that you have done and will continue to do in my life. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Being Thankful Through It All is available in booklet format and is also a chapter in Warren B. Smith’s book, Pressing On Through It All.

(photo from the cover of Being Thankful Through It All booklet)

via Being Thankful Through It All — Lighthouse Trails Inc

Happy Thanksgiving 2018 — The Gateway Pundit

Happy Thanksgiving 2018–
Let us Thank the Lord for our rights and freedom which come from God.
rockwell prayer

1 Chronicles 29:11-13
“Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power
and the glory and the majesty and the splendor,
for everything in heaven and earth is yours.
Yours, O LORD, is the kingdom;
you are exalted as head over all.

Wealth and honor come from you;
you are the ruler of all things.
In your hands are strength and power
to exalt and give strength to all.

Now, our God, we give you thanks,
and praise your glorious name.”

We have much to be thankful for this year.
Thank you for your tender mercies, my sweet Lord.

via Happy Thanksgiving 2018 — The Gateway Pundit

November 22 Daily Help

GOD employs his people to encourage one another. We should be glad that God usually works for man by man. It forms a bond of brotherhood, and being mutually dependent on one another, we are fused more completely into one family. Brethren, take the text as God’s message to you. Aim to comfort the sorrowful, and to animate the desponding. Speak a word in season to him that is weary, and encourage those who are fearful to go on their way with gladness. God encourages you by his promises; Christ encourages you as he points to the heaven he has won for you, and the Spirit encourages you as he works in you to will and to do of His own will and pleasure.[1]


[1] Spurgeon, C. H. (1892). Daily Help (p. 330). Baltimore: R. H. Woodward & Company.

November 22 The Reluctant Patriarch

“By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau, even regarding things to come” (Heb. 11:20).

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When you disobey God, you forfeit joy and blessing.

Isaac is a fascinating Old Testament character. He was Abraham’s long-awaited son, the covenant child, the child of promise. Yet aside from that, he was rather ordinary, passive, and quiet. Just over two chapters of Genesis center on him, whereas the other patriarchs (Abraham, Jacob, and Joseph) command about twelve chapters each.

In the final analysis, Isaac believed God and submitted to His will. But overall, his spiritual character seems more reluctant than resolute.

After a famine prompted Isaac to move his family to Gerar (a Philistine city on the border between Palestine and Egypt), he received a vision from the Lord. In it God passed on to Isaac the covenant promises He had made to Abraham: “Sojourn in this land and I will be with you and bless you, for to you and to your descendants I will give all these lands, and I will establish the oath which I swore to your father Abraham. And I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven, and will give your descendants all these lands; and by your descendants all the nations of the earth shall be blessed” (Gen. 26:3–4).

You would think such promises would infuse Isaac with boldness and confidence; yet no sooner had he received them when he lied to the men of Gerar about his wife, Rebekah, because he feared they might kill him to have her (v. 7).

It was only with great difficulty and prodding that the Lord finally brought Isaac into the Promised Land, where He once again repeated the covenant promises (vv. 23–24).

Later in his life Isaac even sought to bless his son Esau after Esau had sold his birthright to Jacob (27:4; 25:33). Only after he realized that God’s choice of Jacob was irreversible did Isaac acquiesce.

Isaac is a vivid reminder of how believers can forfeit joy and blessing by disobeying God. But he’s also a reminder of God’s faithfulness—even toward reluctant saints.

Is your obedience reluctant or resolute?

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Suggestions for Prayer:  Thank God for His unwavering faithfulness to you. ✧ Seek His forgiveness when your obedience is reluctant or withheld altogether. ✧ Ask Him to teach you to love Him in the same unwavering, resolute way He loves you.

For Further Study: Read about Isaac in Genesis 25:19–26:33.[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 339). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

November 22, 2018 Morning Verse Of The Day

4:12 — For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword … and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

The Bible is not dead but living. It lives both because God brought it into existence and because the Spirit of God brings its message to life in our hearts. It has God’s power to provoke change in our lives.[1]


The Urgency of Rest

Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall through following the same example of disobedience. For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do. (4:11–13)

The need for God’s rest is urgent. A person should diligently, with intense purpose and concern, secure it. It is not that he can work his way to salvation, but that he should diligently seek to enter God’s rest by faith—lest he, like the Israelites in the wilderness, lose the opportunity.

God cannot be trifled with. For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, … and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. In the immediate context this verse means that the readers who are hesitating in trusting Christ, who are even considering falling back into Judaism, had better be urgent and diligent in seeking to enter God’s rest, because the Word of God is alive. It is not static, but active—constantly active. It can pierce right down into the innermost part of the heart to see if belief is real or not.

So the Word of God is not only saving and comforting and nourishing and healing, it is also a tool of judgment and execution. In the day of the great judgment His Word is going to penetrate and lay bare all hearts who have not trusted in Him. The sham and hypocrisy will be revealed and no profession of faith, no matter how orthodox, and no list of good works, no matter how sacrificial, will count for anything before Him. Only the thoughts and intentions of the heart will count. God’s Word is the perfect discerner, the perfect kritikos (from which we get “critic”). It not only analyzes all the facts perfectly, but all motives, and intentions, and beliefs as well, which even the wisest of human judges or critics cannot do. The sword of His Word will make no mistakes in judgment or execution. All disguises will be ripped off and only the real person will be seen.

The word translated open had two distinct uses in ancient times. It was used of a wrestler taking his opponent by the throat. In this position the two men were unavoidably face to face. The other use was in regard to a criminal trial. A sharp dagger would be bound to the neck of the accused, with the point just below his chin, so that he could not bow his head, but had to face the court. Both uses had to do with grave face-to-face situations. When an unbeliever comes under the scrutiny of God’s Word, he will be unavoidably face-to-face with the perfect truth about God and about himself.

In light of such certain and perfect judgment and of such beautiful and wonderful rest, why will any person harden his heart to God?[2]


God’s Living Word

Hebrews 4:12–13

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Heb. 4:12)

One of the great reformations in the Old Testament began quite by accident. Josiah, the young king of Judah, had ordered Hilkiah the high priest to make repairs on the dilapidated temple in Jerusalem. Josiah seems to have been motivated by sincere religious devotion, and he was surely bothered by the way the run-down state of the building symbolized the spiritual malaise of the nation. Sprucing up the building, however, could offer only surface improvements, but inside the temple workers found something that promised to do much more. Hilkiah informed Josiah’s secretary of momentous news from the construction site: “I have found the Book of the Law in the house of the Lord” (2 Kings 22:8).

Although this seemed to happen by accident, there was obviously a great providence at work. Josiah had sought to bless God by fixing the temple, and God blessed Josiah in return by placing in his hands the most powerful force in the world for reformation and revival, for hope and joy, for peace and salvation. The Lord had returned to Jerusalem that which had been lost, the very Word of God, which Hebrews tells us “is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow” (Heb. 4:12).

Josiah began reading the Bible the workers had found, and soon he tore his clothes to lament what had been absent from Israel’s life for so long. He gathered the most godly people around God’s Word to study it. Then they put into practice the things they read in the Scriptures, and the result was a renewal of the covenant with God and the restoration of the blessings that come through faith in him. What Josiah and Jerusalem learned so many years ago is something the godly have been learning ever since. It is what the apostle Peter wrote about in his first epistle: “You have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; for ‘All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever’ ” (1 Peter 1:23–25).

God’s Living Word

This view of the Scriptures features prominently in the Letter to the Hebrews. In the long exhortation that runs through chapters 3 and 4, the writer implores his readers to hold fast to their faith under hardship. He boldly insists that a failure to believe the message of Jesus Christ is to forfeit the great salvation rest that God has offered. Consistently, he backs up such statements with the authority of the Word of God. All through this exhortation he has grounded his arguments on citations from the Old Testament, specifically from Psalm 95.

This psalm was written by King David about one thousand years before the writing of Hebrews. David was also interested in exhorting his readers, and he did so by reflecting on the unbelief of the exodus generation, which had led to their destruction some four hundred years earlier. Drawing on that example, David wrote, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah, as on the day at Massah in the wilderness, when your fathers put me to the test” (Ps. 95:7–9). It is these words that the writer of Hebrews applies to his own generation. In doing so he assumes—indeed, he boldly asserts—that the words written by David not only have relevance, but also have authority over those who read them in his own time.

These readers were experiencing the beginnings of persecution; perhaps they were losing their jobs or even their property because of their faith in Christ. His argument to them is this: “Why should you sacrifice your labor, your worldly goods, and even your lives for the sake of Jesus? Because those words spoken by David are not just old news, irrelevant spiritual musings. They are the very Word of God, living and active even today, and in them your own destiny is bound up through either belief or unbelief.” That is the point being summed up by the opening words from Hebrews 4:12: “For the word of God is living and active.”

How can this be? How can David’s words, which after all are the words of a man, be living and active? The reason is seen all through this book: because they are also the words of God. We saw this emphasis in the very first verse of this letter, in which the writer described the whole revelatory process with these words: “God spoke … by the prophets.” This is what makes the Bible the Word of God. All through Hebrews the writer introduces Old Testament citations with “as God has said,” or “as the Holy Spirit says.” In verse 7 of chapter 4 he writes: “Again [God] appoints a certain day, ‘Today,’ saying through David so long afterward.” The words spoken through the man David and written down on paper with some sort of writing implement, are not first and foremost to be thought of as David’s own words, the words of man, but as the Word of God.

Here we need to be very careful not to deemphasize or even deny the human authorship of the Bible. The Bible was composed by some forty different human authors. They were real men; these were their real thoughts; these books deal with their actual circumstances and are colored by their own experiences and interests. To lose sight of this would be to lose much of their value.

How, then, is the Bible the Word of God? That question was important to the apostles, for they regarded the Old Testament writers as authoritative for their own readers. Perhaps the best-known statement is the one Paul made in his second letter to Timothy: “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16–17). The words of the Bible are not the inspired words of men, arising from their own spiritual insight, but they are expired, out-breathed words from God’s very mouth given through them.

This is what makes the Bible so profitable to us, as Paul emphasizes. Through his Word God himself teaches us, rebukes and corrects us, trains us in righteousness and equips us for every good work. When you come to God’s Word in faith—when you open up your heart and mind to the teachings of the Bible, either as it is preached or in your own reading of it—that Word comes alive within you because it is sent by God himself for that purpose. He lives and acts in you through his living and active Word. Therefore, as Martin Luther said, “Let the man who would hear God speak read Holy Scripture.” The Puritan Thomas Watson adds, “By reading other books the heart may be warmed, but by reading this book it is transformed.”2

Paul gives us a very clear description; he tells us that Scripture is God’s out-breathed Word, but he doesn’t tell us how this is so. Fortunately, Peter gives us more insight: “No prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:20–21).

By prophecy, Peter does not merely mean future prediction, but the whole prophetic revelation of God’s teaching. The first thing he says is that prophecy does not reflect the prophet’s own ideas. It is not his own interpretation that is written, nor did the thoughts originate with him, but with God. The key statement is in verse 21: “Men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” Yes, it was men who spoke and wrote, but what they said came from God as the Holy Spirit carried them along in their work.

This is why we can say that the Word of God is “living and active.” While there are differences in our cultural, social, and historical settings, compared to the original readers, and our understanding of a particular passage may and should reflect those differences, nonetheless we should read the Bible as God’s Word to us. It is not merely relevant, but authoritative and binding on us as it was on them. It is timeless and living precisely because it is the Word of the eternal and living God. Therefore, Peter writes of the Bible: “You will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place” (2 Peter 1:19).

God’s Life-Imparting Word

Another great evidence that the Bible is living and active has to do with its content and purpose. The Bible does not merely relate interesting facts and beliefs from our religious tradition. No, the Bible has one overarching theme: God’s work in history for the salvation of sinful people. This is what the Bible records—what God has done to forgive our sins, so that we who are dead in trespasses might be brought to life in Christ. As Paul wrote to young Timothy, the purpose of the Bible is “to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 3:15). The Bible’s message is God’s work of salvation through Jesus Christ, and its purpose is actually to bring that salvation to individuals who receive that message and believe.

God’s Word is living and active in the same way that Jesus’ words were living and actives when he stood before the tomb of his dead friend and cried, “Lazarus, come out!” (John 11:43). At Jesus’ word the dead man came to life and took off his graveclothes. So also for the Word of God as we have it in the Bible; not only is it alive but it is active in imparting life to us. It makes alive those who are spiritually dead.

The Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias tells the story of a drive he took with an evangelist in the nation of Lebanon. Lebanon was then occupied by the Syrian army, and their control was quite repressive. He and the pastor were driving in a van that was loaded with boxes of Bibles that they were transporting to another city where an effort was being made to reach lost sinners. Zacharias tells of his great anxiety as they stopped at a military checkpoint and a Syrian soldier stuck his rifle in their faces. “What is in this van?” the soldier demanded. Zacharias was horrified when the evangelist replied, “Oh, nothing but boxes of dynamite!” Then, handing the shocked soldier one of the Bibles, the bold pastor explained. “Here is what I am talking about. Read this and it will break into your life with God’s own power.” And so it does! The Word of God is living and active—spiritual dynamite sent by God into a world of darkness with power to overcome every stronghold of sin and human opposition.

God’s Penetrating Word

The writer of Hebrews has more to tell us about God’s Word, continuing with an explanation of how it does its work. The Word of God is “sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Heb. 4:12).

The image of the Word as a sword is often found in Scripture. In his description of the armor of God, Paul speaks of “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Eph. 6:17). In his vision of the exalted Lord Jesus Christ, John tells us, “from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword” (Rev. 1:16). As the ensuing letters to the seven churches illustrate, that sword is obviously his Word. Furthermore, it is a double-edged sword, equally fit to save or to judge.

What this image describes is the penetrating or piercing power of God’s Word: “piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow” (Heb. 4:12). The point is not that a separation takes place between a man’s physical and his spiritual natures. As Philip Hughes explains, “Our author is not concerned to provide here a psychological or anatomical analysis of the human constitution, but rather to describe in graphic terms the penetration of God’s word to the innermost depth of man’s personality.” The Word penetrates against all opposition so as to grip the whole man and not just any one aspect of his person.

Furthermore, we are told what the Word does once it gets inside: “discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Heb. 4:12). How often people think they are judging the Bible when just the opposite is true! The Word of God penetrates within, and its presence makes clear our true thoughts and attitudes. Many people affect to be good and even religious, but when the Word of God comes to them, they respond with hostility and repulsion. Their attitude to the Bible shows their true attitude toward God.

God’s Word comes into us and it discerns, assessing our attitude toward the one who sent it. But when accompanied by the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit, it does more: it convicts us of our rebellion against God and subdues us; it leads us as sheep to the Good Shepherd. This is how we are born again. We hear God speaking, we read in Scripture of the perfect demands of the law as well as God’s sure judgment, we realize our peril, we surrender ourselves and fall before the Lord in conviction of sin. Then in the Bible we learn of a Savior who has taken our sins away by dying on a cross for us, and we rejoice, we race forward to embrace him, we worship him and follow him.

John Newton was a man who was penetrated and captured by the Word of God. Raised in a Christian home in the mid-eighteenth century, he left home and joined the British navy. There he entered deeply into the ways of sin, and eventually he deserted to live in Africa. He chose that place because there his lusts could have the most opportunity for satisfaction. In the years that followed he became a slave trader, but was also abused by those who gained power over him and was even kept in chains. Physically wrecked, he escaped toward the sea and found his way aboard a British merchant vessel. Due to his knowledge of navigation he became a ship’s mate. However, when the captain showed trust in him, he broke into the ship’s supply of rum and became drunk—so drunk that when the captain returned and struck him on the head he fell overboard. If one of the crew had not rescued him, he would have drowned.

As the ship was nearing Scotland on the way home, it ran into a storm and was blown off course. For days the storm blew and water came into the floundering vessel. Newton spent countless hours down in the hold working the pumps, in desperate fear for his life. There his mind turned to Bible verses his mother had taught him before she died when he was six years old. The Word of God came alive within him, convicted his thoughts and attitudes, and brought him to repentance, and he cast himself on Jesus Christ for forgiveness and salvation.

The ship ultimately did make it safely to port, and Newton entered into the study of theology and became a notable Puritan minister. We know him best for his hymns, especially “Amazing Grace!”

Amazing grace!—how sweet the sound—

that saved a wretch like me!

I once was lost, but now am found,

was blind, but now I see.

That is what God does through his Word—he saves wretches, he finds the lost, he takes those who are blind and makes them to see. God’s Word is living and active, it pierces and discerns and judges, all for the great work of salvation that is its message and its purpose.

Newton’s is a great example, but our own time is filled with other great ones. In the most unlikely ways, hardened sinners come to hear the Word of God, and it brings them to spiritual life through faith in Christ. Recent years have brought all sorts of amazing stories of new life for those who were lost: KGB officers once steeped in the ways of terror; Muslims locked deep within the lands of Islam; wealthy movie stars or media personalities ensnared by godless humanism. High and low, educated and dull, east and west, they are reached by the living and active Word of God.

Someone might object, saying, “I have encountered God’s Word, but it has not affected me. I have not trusted Jesus Christ, I have not given my allegiance to God.” Those things are, of course, precisely what the rebel wants to avoid; he sets up every conceivable roadblock, he turns away from the Word and pushes it away from himself. He avoids Christian teaching if at all he can; if his radio dial lands on a station with gospel preaching he cannot reach out fast enough to turn the dial.

But what these verses say is still true. God’s living Word has found you, it has penetrated, it has discerned your thoughts and attitudes, and you stand judged by it. It is a double-edged sword, standing above you not with the blade that gives life, but with the blade that renders condemnation unto death. It tells you now to repent, to confess and surrender yourself to the God who freely forgives. Jesus came not to condemn the world but to save it. And yet he said, “The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day” (John 12:48).

God’s All-Sufficient Word

We have seen how God’s Word is living and active, as well as its penetrating power to bring our thoughts and attitudes into judgment so that we surrender to him. The final point we learn here is the sufficiency of God’s Word for our every need in the things of faith and godliness.

We see this in verse 12, where a comparison is made between God’s Word and worldly weapons. It is “sharper than any two-edged sword.” Not only is God’s Word a sword, but when compared with other weapons, it is sharper. Philip Hughes observes, “As the instrument of God’s mighty acts it is more powerful and penetrating than the keenest instrument devised by man.” Since God’s Word is “living and active,” it is effective in a way no other weapon can be.

Another evidence God’s Word is sufficient for our needs is found in verse 13: “No creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” God’s Word is living and active, it penetrates and probes, and furthermore nothing can escape it. Interestingly, the writer of Hebrews here compares God’s Word to God’s eyes. It uncovers every heart, every act, every intention, every thought and desire and brings them before the penetrating gaze of the living God.

Yet we are living in a time when many Christians, even evangelicals who once were singularly known and even derided for their devotion to the Word, are losing confidence in the Bible’s effectiveness. Yes, it is inspired; yes, it is useful; but it must be augmented by human means or wisdom or methods. Our evangelism now relies on manipulative psychological ploys, our spiritual growth depends on techniques and programs and store-bought gimmicks, our worship reflects the glitter of Hollywood entertainment. Far different is the message of the writer of Hebrews, who says that nothing is able to escape the revealing, energetic Word of God. Therefore, it alone is sufficient for our every need.

This was also the teaching of the apostle Paul. Do we need worldly methods and devices to do the work of the church? Paul wrote, “For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Cor. 10:3–5).

Consider what power is made available to us by the Word of God, and what an incentive this is to use it in our witness and in our own lives. It is sufficient for our every need. What better thing could we possibly do for the salvation of souls than to proclaim and explain God’s Word? It alone conveys God’s own power to convict and to save, to cut away the heart of stone and bring to life a new heart of flesh.

Consider the matter of our sanctification, that is, our own growth in holiness. What could be more effective than to shine the light of God’s Word upon our lives, into our minds and hearts? This is what Paul emphasized, saying in Romans 12:2, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind.” This is how Jesus prayed for our holiness, in John 17:17: “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.” Our passage says God’s Word “discerns the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” What a blessing it is to have that happen now: to be taught by him, rebuked and inspired by him, to be molded in obedience to God during this life, knowing that in the life to come he is the one, as verse 13 concludes, “to whom we must give account.”

Consider the matter of Christian comfort. Do you sorrow or suffer? Are you tempted and tried? Do you want assurance of salvation and the peace that comes with it? Then turn to the Bible, which speaks of a God who is totally sufficient for your salvation, who is able and willing to save you and to keep you. “He who did not spare his own Son,” it tells us, “but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Rom. 8:32).

Finally, let me ask you this: do you want to make a difference in this life? Then commit yourself to the Word of God, bring yourself into its life-changing light, and share it with the world by every means you can. This is what godly men and women have done all through history, people like King Josiah who recovered God’s Word and restored a whole nation through it. For to his Word God has assigned great promises:

For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it. (Isa. 55:10–11)

Therefore any work that relies on God’s Word may be sure to have his blessing, to achieve his purpose, and to bring him glory even as it brings his power for salvation.[3]


12 The exposition of Psalm 95:7–11 is complete, but before moving on with his argument the author pauses to reflect in vv. 12–13 on the power of “the word of God,” and the “for” shows this reflection is not a self-contained comment but a colorful and rhetorically powerful underlining of what has just been taught from the psalm. The psalm has focused on God’s speaking, both in the “voice” that the people are exhorted to heed (95:7) and in the declaration on oath that sealed the fate of those who refused to listen (vv. 10–11). This could be all that our author refers to when he speaks of “the word of God,” but he has also made it clear that he regards the whole message of the psalm as coming from the Holy Spirit (3:7) and from God (4:7), not just from David, so that vv. 12–13 are more likely to be understood in that wider sense. The whole text he has just been expounding is “the word of God” and as such cannot lightly be dismissed. To go further and find in these two verses a description of the whole of the OT goes beyond what the context requires but would be consonant with the authority our author clearly attributes to a wide variety of OT passages. Quite likely he also has in mind the “word of God” as it now comes through Christian preachers, of whom surely he himself was one (cf. 13:7, where the same phrase is used).

God’s word, like its author (3:12), is “living” (TNIV, “alive”). It is also “at work” (energēs, “active, effective, powerful,” GK 1921); the thought is close to that of Isaiah 55:11, where God’s word goes out from his mouth and accomplishes the purpose for which he sent it (cf. Ps 147:15, 18). Jeremiah conveyed this dynamic idea of God’s word by describing it as like a fire and like a hammer smashing the rock (Jer 23:29). Our author goes for a different metaphor, that of a double-edged sword (one designed for stabbing rather than slashing like a cutlass), which conveys not so much its sheer power as its ability to cut through our human resistance. This dynamic understanding of the word of God is vividly symbolized in the picture of a “sharp, two-edged sword” coming out of the mouth of the risen Lord in Revelation 1:16 (cf. 19:15). In the context of his discussion of Psalm 95, our author may be thinking of Numbers 14:43, where even after God’s oath some Israelites nonetheless tried to enter Canaan directly, only to be cut down by the sword of the Amalekites and Canaanites; God’s word is sharper even than that.

The metaphor continues in the following description of the sword (literally) “going right through to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow.” The latter pair, “joints and marrow,” refers to the literal body of flesh and bones, though it is not easy to see how joints can be “divided” from marrow; we may feel the effect of the metaphor without needing to inquire too closely how it might be envisaged physically. But with the former pair, “soul and spirit,” we seem already to be moving beyond the literal picture of what a sword can do. Words such as “soul” (psychē [GK 6034], sometimes better translated “life”) and “spirit” (pneuma [GK 4460], used for angels [1:7] and for the Holy Spirit as well as for people alive after death [12:23]) are notoriously slippery, and our author’s use of the two words elsewhere does not suggest he thought of them as two separate “parts” of a person. As with joints and marrow, we probably do better to feel the force of the metaphor than to press pedantically for a literal explanation. Both terms denote our “real, innermost selves,” and at that level, too, we are still open to the penetrative power of God’s word.

The final description of the word of God as “judging the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” has left the metaphor of the sword behind. The unusual adjective kritikos, “judging” or “discerning” (GK 3217), denotes its ability to break through pretense and confusion to expose the reality of our inmost being.[4]


4:12 / The close connection between this paragraph (vv. 12–13) and the preceding verses is indicated by the strong conjunction for. These two verses thus supply the ground or logical basis for the preceding exhortation, and this fact is essential for correct interpretation. The word of God is neither a reference to Jesus nor even primarily to Scripture. It is instead what God speaks, and the idea was probably suggested to the author from the repeated reference to “hearing God’s voice” in the preceding verses (3:7, 15, 16; 4:2, 7). God’s voice, the word of God, by its very character demands authentic response. Before his penetrating word there can be no feigning of loyalty. Therefore the author’s exhortation is to be taken with the utmost seriousness. What God speaks is living and active. By his word he brought creation into existence, and his word can never be rendered ineffective (cf. Isa. 55:11). The effectiveness of God’s word is now expressed by the metaphor sharper than any double-edged sword (cf. Rev. 2:12). The sentences that follow are merely a development of this metaphor and are not meant to convey information extraneous to the point being made. The writer does not here reveal his view of the nature of humanity (dividing soul and spirit; the thoughts and attitudes of the heart). All of these details are concerned only to stress the utter effectiveness of God’s word.[5]


The word of God (4:12)

If God has spoken so clearly to his people, then it is a mistake to suppose that man can trifle with such a word. It is alive. It does not simply record the great events of the past. The ‘yesterday’ element is certainly not missing, especially in this letter, but God’s word is something more than a mere historical record. ‘Today’ is a key term here. God is speaking to us through his living word in this very day (3:7, 15). God ‘sets a certain day, “Today” ’ (4:7) as he renews his appeal, and extends his promises, and repeats his warnings. The word not only lives; it works. It is an effective as well as a perpetually relevant word. Its activity is such that it cannot return void; it must accomplish his sovereign purposes. The word is energetic. It is like a sharp sword cutting its way through this substance or that without any kind of difficulty. This sword of the word13 can penetrate deeply into the human heart and mind. It can scrutinize the unspoken thoughts and hidden conceptions of the heart of man. It can reach deep down where, because of earth’s bewildering and preoccupying noises, no other voice can easily be heard. This word probes more deeply than the mere voice of man however interesting or eloquent. It goes to ‘the inmost recesses of our spiritual being and brings the subconscious motives to light’ (Bruce).[6]


4:12. This vivid expression of the power of God’s message provides the explanation for the strong warning of verse 11. Because God’s message is alive, active, sharp, and discerning, those who listen to God’s message can enter his rest. Two questions are important in this verse. First, what is the word of God? Second, what does this passage say about it?

Although the Bible sometimes refers to Christ as God’s Word (John 1:14), the reference here is not speaking of Jesus Christ. Here we have a general reference to God’s message to human beings. In the past God had spoken to human beings through dreams, angelic appearances, and miracles. He still can use those methods today, but our primary contact with God is through his written Word, the Bible. God’s Word will include any method God uses to communicate with human beings.

This verse contains four statements about God’s Word. First, it is living. God is a living God (Heb. 3:12). His message is dynamic and productive. It causes things to happen. It drives home warnings to the disobedient and promises to the believer. Second, God’s Word is active, an emphasis virtually identical in meaning with the term living. God’s Word is not something you passively hear and then ignore. It actively works in our lives, changes us, and sends us into action for God.

Third, God’s Word penetrates the soul and spirit. To the Hebrew people, the body was a unity. We should not think of dividing the soul from the spirit. God’s message is capable of penetrating the impenetrable. It can divide what is indivisible. Fourth, God’s message is discerning. It judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. It passes judgment on our feelings and our thoughts. What we regard as secret and hidden, God brought out for inspection by the discerning power of his Word.

In 1995, Johnny Oates was managing the Texas Rangers baseball team when God spoke to him through the illness of his wife Gloria. Oates had become a Christian in 1983; but until the crisis in 1995, he had always lived as if baseball were his god. His wife was traveling to the spring training camp for the Rangers when she became ill in Savannah, Georgia. His daughter summoned him to Georgia with a phone call. Oates arrived to find his wife in a motel, despairing and defeated.

Oates said, “God got my attention and said, ‘Johnny, it’s not going to work this way.’ ” In the grief of the moment, Oates told God that he was ready to listen to anything he wanted to say. The next day Oates checked his wife out of the motel and headed for their home in Virginia. There he and his wife both participated in a Christian counseling program and learned how to communicate with one another. He learned that what he had worshiped was not God or his family, but the game of baseball. Both Oates and his wife moved closer, and Oates said, “As we get closer to God, … we get closer to each other.”

God got his attention. Fortunately Oates listened. God’s message to this baseball manager was life changing. It was also marriage saving.[7]


12a. The word of God is living and active.

The writer reminds the reader that God’s Word cannot be taken lightly; for if the reader does not wish to listen, he faces no one less than God himself (see Heb. 10:31; 12:29). The Bible is not a collection of religious writings from the ancient past, but a book that speaks to all people everywhere in nearly all the languages of the world. The Bible demands a response, because God does not tolerate indifference and disobedience.

In their interpretation of verse 12a, some scholars assert that the phrase Word of God is a reference to Jesus. This view is difficult to maintain, even though such a reference exists in Revelation 19:13 (where the rider on the white horse is called the Word of God). The phrase Word of God occurs at least thirty-nine times in the New Testament and almost exclusively is the designation for the spoken or written Word of God rather than the Son of God. In the introductory verses of the Epistle to the Hebrews, the writer clearly states that God spoke to the forefathers in the past, and in the present he spoke to us in his Son (Heb. 1:1–2). In Hebrews Jesus is called the Son of God, but never the Word of God.

In the original Greek, the participle living stands first in the sentence and therefore receives all the emphasis. This participle describes the first characteristic of God’s spoken and written Word: that Word is alive! For example, Stephen, reciting Israel’s history in the desert, says that Moses at Mount Sinai “received living words” (Acts 7:38), and Peter tells the recipients of his first epistle that they “have been born again … through the living and enduring word of God” (1 Peter 1:23).

A second characteristic is that the Word of God is active. That is, it is effective and powerful. (The original Greek uses a word from which we have derived the term energy.) God’s Word, then, is energizing in its effect. No one can escape that living and active Word. Just as God’s spoken Word brought forth his beautiful creation, so his Word recreates man dead in transgressions and sins (Eph. 2:1–5). As in the wilderness some Israelites refused to listen to God’s Word while others showed obedience, so today we see that “the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Cor. 1:18).

The Bible is not a dead letter, comparable to a law that is no longer enforced. Those people who choose to ignore the message of Scripture will experience not merely the power of God’s Word but its keen edge as well.

12b. Sharper than any double-edged sword.

In the ancient world, the double-edged sword was the sharpest weapon available in any arsenal. And in verse 12b, the author of Hebrews likens the Word of God to this weapon. (In a similar passage [Rev. 1:16] we read about the “sharp double-edged sword” coming out of the mouth of Jesus as John saw him on the island of Patmos. Whether this means that the tongue resembles a dagger is an open question.) The symbolism conveys the message that God’s judgment is stern, righteous, and awful. God has the ultimate power over his creatures; those who refuse to listen to his Word face judgment and death, while those who obey enter God’s rest and have life eternal. Let no one take the spoken and written Word for granted; let no one ignore it; let no one willfully oppose it. That Word cuts and divides, much as the scalpel of a surgeon uncovers the most delicate nerves of the human body.

However, the Word of God also provides protection. Paul in his Epistle to the Ephesians equates the Word with the sword of the Spirit—that is, part of the Christian’s spiritual armor (6:17).

12c. It penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

I do not think that the writer of Hebrews is teaching the doctrine that man consists of body, soul, and spirit (1 Thess. 5:23). Of course, we can make a distinction between soul and spirit by saying that the soul relates to man’s physical existence; and the spirit, to God. But the author does not make distinctions in this verse. He speaks in terms of that which is not done and in a sense cannot be done.

Who is able to divide soul and spirit or joints and marrow? And what judge can know the thoughts and attitudes of the heart? The author uses symbolism to say that what man ordinarily does not divide, God’s Word separates thoroughly. Nothing remains untouched by Scripture, for it addresses every aspect of man’s life. The Word continues to divide the spiritual existence of man and even his physical being. All the recesses of body and soul—including the thoughts and attitudes—face the sharp edge of God’s dividing sword. Whereas man’s thoughts remain hidden from his neighbor’s probing eye, God’s Word uncovers them.

God’s Word is called a discerner of man’s thoughts and intentions. In the Psalter David says:

O Lord, you have searched me

and you know me.

You know when I sit and when I rise;

you perceive my thoughts from afar.

You discern my going out and my lying down;

you are familiar with all my ways. [Ps. 139:1–3]

And Jesus utters these words:

As for the person who hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge him. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save it. There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; that very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day. [John 12:47–48]

The Lord with his Word exposes the motives hidden in a man’s heart. In his epistle the author stresses the act of God’s speaking to man. For instance, the introductory verses (Heb. 1:1–2) illustrate this fact clearly. And repeatedly, when quoting the Old Testament Scriptures, the writer uses this formula: God, Jesus, or the Holy Spirit says (consult the many quotations, for example, in the first four chapters). The Word is not a written document of past centuries. It is alive and current; it is powerful and effective; and it is undivided and unchanged. Written in times and cultures from which we are far removed, the Word of God nevertheless touches man today. God addresses man in the totality of his existence, and man is unable to escape the impact of God’s Word.[8]


THE TERROR OF THE WORD

Hebrews 4:11–13

Let us then be eager to enter into that rest, lest we follow the example of the Israelites and fall into the same kind of disobedience. For the word of God is instinct with life; it is effective; it is sharper than a two-edged sword; it pierces right through to the very division of soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it scrutinizes the desires and intentions of the heart. No created thing can ever remain hidden from his sight; everything is naked to him and is compelled to meet the eyes of him with whom we have to reckon.

The point of this passage is that the word of God has come, and is such that it cannot be disregarded. The Jews always had a very special idea about words. Once a word was spoken, it had an independent existence. It was not only a sound with a certain meaning; it was a power which went out and did things. Isaiah heard God say that the word which went out of his mouth would never be ineffective; it would always do whatever he designed it to do (Isaiah 45:23).

We can understand something of this if we think of the tremendous effect of words in history. A leader coins a phrase and it becomes a trumpet-call which inspires people to crusades or to crimes. Some great individual sends out a manifesto and it produces action which can make or destroy nations. Over and over again in history, the spoken word of some leader or thinker has gone out and done things. If that is so of human words, how much more is it so of the word of God?

The writer to the Hebrews describes the word of God in a series of great phrases. The word of God is instinct with life. Certain issues are no longer of vital importance; certain books and words have no living interest whatever. Plato was one of the world’s supreme thinkers, but it is unlikely that there would be a huge public interest in Daily Studies in Plato. The great fact about the word of God is that it is a living issue for all people of all times. Other things may pass quietly into oblivion; other things may acquire an academic or historical interest; but the word of God is something that everyone must face, and its offer is something we must accept or reject.

The word of God is effective. It is one of the facts of history that, wherever people have taken God’s word seriously, things have begun to happen. When the English Bible was produced and the word of God was made available to ordinary people, the tremendous event of the Reformation inevitably followed. When people take God seriously, they immediately realize that his word is not only something to be studied, not only something to be read, not only something to be written about; it is something to be done.

The word of God is penetrating. The writer piles up phrases to show how penetrating it is. It penetrates to the division of soul and spirit. In Greek, the psuchē, the soul, is the essence of life. All living things possess psuchē; it is physical life. In Greek, the pneuma, the spirit, is that which is characteristic of human beings. It is by spirit that we think and reason and look beyond the earth to God. It is as if the writer to the Hebrews were saying that the word of God tests our earthly life and our spiritual existence. He says that the word of God scrutinizes our desires and intentions. Desire (enthumēsis) is the emotional part, and intention (ennoia) is the intellectual part of every individual. It is as if he said: ‘Your emotional and intellectual life must both be submitted to the scrutiny of God.’

Finally, the writer to the Hebrews sums things up. He says that everything is naked to God and compelled to meet his eyes. He uses two interesting words. The word for naked is the literal word (gumnos). What he is saying is that we may be able to wear our outward coverings and disguises; but in the presence of God these things are stripped away and we have to meet him as we are. The other word is even more vivid (tetrachēlismenos). This is not a common word, and its meaning is not quite certain. It seems to have been used in three different ways.

(1) It was a wrestler’s word, and was used for seizing an opponent by the throat in such a way that he could not move. We may escape God for a while, but in the end he grips us in such a way that we cannot help meeting him face to face. God is one issue that no one can finally evade.

(2) It was the word that was used for flaying animals. Animals were hung up and the hide was taken off them. Other people may judge us by our outer conduct and appearance, but God sees into the innermost secrets of our hearts.

(3) Sometimes when a criminal was being led to judgment or to execution, a dagger, with point upwards, was fixed below his chin so that he could not bow his head to avoid being recognized, but had to keep it up so that all could see his face and know his dishonour. When that was done, the person was said to be tetrachēlismenos.

In the end, we have to meet the eyes of God. We may avert our gaze from people we are ashamed to meet; but we are compelled to look God in the face. The American sociologist Kermit Eby writes in The God in You: ‘At some time or other, a man must stop running from himself and his God—possibly because there is just no other place to run to.’ To each one of us, there comes a time when we have to meet that God from whose eyes nothing can ever be concealed.[9]


12–13 The parenetic unit begun in 3:7 is brought to a brief and vigorous conclusion in vv 12–13, where the writer provides the supporting reason for the diligence enjoined in v 11 (see Comment above). God’s word, whose sanctions were imposed so effectively upon the Exodus generation, is performative today and confronts the Christian community with the same alternatives of rest and wrath (cf. Trompf, ST 25 [1971] 123). Those who remain insensitive to the voice of God in Scripture may discover that God’s word is also a lethal weapon. When the past generation sought to contravene the oath of God and to enter Canaan, they were driven back and fell by the sword (μάχαιρα) of the Amalekites and the Canaanites (Num 14:43–45). The word of God poses a judgment that is more threatening and sharper than any double-edged sword (μάχαιρα, v 12) because it exposes the intentions of the heart and renders one defenseless before God’s scrutinizing gaze (cf. Hofius, Katapausis, 139; Lincoln, “Sabbath, Rest, and Eschatology,” 187).

The clear allusion to the folly of Israel at Kadesh in disregard of God’s oath and the warning of Moses (Num 14:43) indicates that the expression ὁ λόγος τοῦ θεοῦ, “the word of God,” must have specific reference to the text of Scripture cited so extensively in 3:7–4:11, and especially to Ps 95:7b–11. This needs to be affirmed in the presence of a persistent desire to find in v 12 a personal reference to Jesus as the Logos (Clavier, “Ο ΛΟΓΟΣ ΤΟΥ ΘΕΟΥ,” 81–93; Williamson, Philo, 390, 398; Swetnam, Bib 62 [1981] 214–24). There is no hypostatization of the Logos in v 12 (rightly insisted on by Trompf, ST 25 [1971] 123–27). The reference is to Ps 95:7b–11 in which the living, piercing word of God addresses this generation in a critical fashion and poses as the only alternative to faithfulness the option of death (3:17; 4:11).

This dynamic conception of the word of God is a proper corollary to the introduction of the quotation of Ps 95:7b–11 as the words of the Holy Spirit (3:7a). The description of God’s word as ζῶν … καὶ ἐνεργής, “living and effective,” signifies that it is performative; it possesses the power to effect its own utterance. Performatives, by definition, commit the speaker to stand by his words. That is demonstrated with reference to Ps 95:7b–11 in 3:7–11 (cf. Caird, Language and Imagery of the Bible, 20–25) and had immediate relevance for a community that had become careless in its attitude toward the word of promise expressed in Scripture.

The predicates ascribed to the word of God in v 12b (διϊκνούμενος … κριτικός, “penetrating … capable of judging”) introduce figurative and popular language that effectively conveys the notion of an extreme power of penetration. The word of God is able to reach into the deepest recesses of the human personality (Ps 95:10b; cf. Wis 1:6). The discrimination of the heart’s thoughts and intentions entails a sifting process that exhibits the penetrative and unmasking potency of the word (cf. Simpson, EvQ 18 [1946] 37–38).

An impression of total exposure and utter defenselessness in the presence of God is sharpened in v 13. That nothing in creation is hidden from God’s sight was a Jewish commonplace (e.g., Tg. Neof. Gen 3:9, “And the Lord God called the man and said to him: Look, the whole world which I created is manifest before me; darkness and light are manifest before me; and do you think that the place where you are standing is not manifest before me?” cf. Tg. Neof. Gen 4:14; Tg. Ps.-J. Gen 3:9; 24:62; Deut 1:17; 29:8; 32:34; and often). The surveillance predicated of God is exhaustive; nothing escapes his scrutiny. The images of nakedness (γυμνά) and helpless exposure (τετραχηλισμένα, see above, Note ff) express vividly the plight of anyone who believes he can deceive his creator and judge. In context, the force of v 13 is to assert that exposure to the word of Scripture entails exposure to God himself.[10]


12. For the word of God is quick, or living, &c. What he says here of the efficacy or power of the word, he says it, that they might know, that it could not be despised with impunity, as though he had said, “Whenever the Lord addresses us by his word, he deals seriously with us, in order that he may touch all our inmost thoughts and feelings; and so there is no part of our soul which ought not to be roused.”

But before we proceed further, we must inquire whether the Apostle speaks of the effect of the word generally, or refers only to the faithful.

It indeed appears evident, that the word of God is not equally efficacious in all. For in the elect it exerts its own power, when humbled by a true knowledge of themselves, they flee to the grace of Christ; and this is never the case, except when it penetrates into the innermost heart. For hypocrisy must be sifted, which has marvellous and extremely winding recesses in the hearts of men; and then we must not be slightly pricked or torn, but be thoroughly wounded, that being prostrate under a sense of eternal death, we may be taught to die to ourselves. In short, we shall never be renewed in the whole mind, which Paul requires, (Eph. 4:23,) until our old man be slain by the edge of the spiritual sword. Hence Paul says in another place, (Phil. 2:17,) that the faithful are offered as a sacrifice to God by the Gospel; for they cannot otherwise be brought to obey God than by having, as it were, their own will slain; nor can they otherwise receive the light of God’s wisdom, than by having the wisdom of the flesh destroyed. Nothing of this kind is found in the reprobate; for they either carelessly disregard God speaking to them, and thus mock him, or clamour against his truth, and obstinately resist it. In short, as the word of God is a hammer, so they have a heart like the anvil, so that its hardness repels its strokes, however powerful they may be. The word of God, then, is far from being so efficacious towards them as to penetrate into them to the dividing of the soul and spirit. Hence it appears, that this its character is to be confined to the faithful only, as they alone are thus searched to the quick.

The context, however, shews that there is here a general truth, and which extends also to the reprobate themselves; for though they are not softened, but set up a brazen and an iron heart against God’s word, yet they must necessarily be restrained by their own guilt. They indeed laugh, but it is a sardonic laugh; for they inwardly feel that they are, as it were, slain; they make evasions in various ways, so as not to come before God’s tribunal; but though unwilling, they are yet dragged there by this very word which they arrogantly deride; so that they may be fitly compared to furious dogs, which bite and claw the chain by which they are bound, and yet can do nothing, as they still remain fast bound.

And further, though this effect of the word may not appear immediately as it were on the first day, yet it will be found at length by the event, that it has not been preached to any one in vain. General no doubt is what Christ declares, when he says, When the Spirit shall come, he will convince the world, (John 16:8;) for the Spirit exercises this office by the preaching of the Gospel.

And lastly, though the word of God does not always exert its power on man, yet it has it in a manner included in itself. And the Apostle speaks here of its character and proper office for this end only,—that we may know that our consciences are summoned as guilty before God’s tribunal as soon as it sounds in our ears, as though he had said, “If any one thinks that the air is beaten by an empty sound when the word of God is preached, he is greatly mistaken; for it is a living thing and full of hidden power, which leaves nothing in man untouched.” The sum of the whole then is this,—that as soon as God opens his sacred mouth, all our faculties ought to be open to receive his word; for he would not have his word scattered in vain, so as to disappear or to fall neglected on the ground, but he would have it effectually to constrain the consciences of men, so as to bring them under his authority; and that he has put power in his word for this purpose, that it may scrutinize all the parts of the soul, search the thoughts, discern the affections, and, in a word, shew itself to be the judge.

But here a new question arises, “Is this word to be understood of the Law or of the Gospel?” Those who think that the Apostle speaks of the Law bring these testimonies of Paul,—that it is the ministration of death, (2 Cor. 3:6, 7,) that it is the letter which killeth, that it worketh nothing but wrath, (Rom. 4:15,) and similar passages. But here the Apostle points out also its different effects; for, as we have said, there is a certain vivifying killing of the soul, which is effected by the Gospel. Let us then know that the Apostle speaks generally of the truth of God, when he says, that it is living and efficacious. So Paul testifies, when he declares, that by his preaching there went forth an odour of death unto death to the unbelieving, but of life unto life to believers, (2 Cor. 2:16,) so that God never speaks in vain; he draws some to salvation, others he drives into ruin. This is the power of binding and of loosing which the Lord conferred on his Apostles. (Matt. 18:18.) And, indeed, he never promises to us salvation in Christ, without denouncing, on the other hand, vengeance on unbelievers, who by rejecting Christ bring death on themselves.

It must be further noticed, that the Apostle speaks of God’s word, which is brought to us by the ministry of men. For delirious and even dangerous are those notions, that though the internal word is efficacious, yet that which proceeds from the mouth of man is lifeless and destitute of all power. I indeed admit that the power does not proceed from the tongue of man, nor exists in mere sound, but that the whole power is to be ascribed altogether to the Holy Spirit; there is, however, nothing in this to hinder the Spirit from putting forth his power in the word preached. For God, as he speaks not by himself, but by men, dwells carefully on this point, so that his truth may not be objected to in contempt, because men are its ministers. So Paul, by saying, that the Gospel is the power of God, (Rom. 1:16,) designedly adorned with this distinction his own preaching, though he saw that it was slandered by some and despised by others. And when in another place, (Rom. 10:8,) he teaches us that salvation is conferred by the doctrine of faith, he expressly says that it was the doctrine which was preached. We indeed find that God ever commends the truth administered to us by men, in order to induce us to receive it with reverence.

Now, by calling the word quick or living, he must be understood as referring to men; which appears still clearer by the second word, powerful, for he shews what sort of life it possesses, when he expressly says that it is efficacious; for the Apostle’s object was to teach us what the word is to us. The sword is a metaphorical word often used in Scripture; but the Apostle not content with a simple comparison, says, that God’s word is sharper than any sword, even than a sword that cuts on both sides, or two-edged; for at that time swords were in common use, which were blunt on one side, and sharp on the other. Piercing even to the dividing asunder of the soul and spirit, or to the dividing of the soul and spirit, &c. The word soul means often the same with spirit; but when they occur together, the first includes all the affections, and the second means what they call the intellectual faculty. So Paul, writing to the Thessalonians, uses the words, when he prays God to keep their spirit, and soul, and body blameless until the coming of Christ, (1 Thess. 5:23,) he meant no other thing, but that they might continue pure and chaste in mind, and will, and outward actions. Also Isaiah means the same when he says, “My soul desired thee in the night; I sought thee with my spirit.” (Is. 26:9.) What he doubtless intends to shew is, that he was so intent on seeking God, that he applied his whole mind and his whole heart. I know that some give a different explanation; but all the sound-minded, as I expect, will assent to this view.

Now, to come to the passage before us, it is said that God’s word pierces, or reaches to the dividing of soul and spirit, that is, it examines the whole soul of man; for it searches his thoughts and scrutinizes his will with all its desires. And then he adds the joints and marrow, intimating that there is nothing so hard or strong in man, nothing so hidden, that the powerful word cannot pervade it. Paul declares the same when he says, that prophecy avails to reprove and to judge men, so that the secrets of the heart may come to light. (1 Cor. 14:24.) And as it is Christ’s office to uncover and bring to light the thoughts from the recesses of the heart, this he does for the most part by the Gospel.

Hence God’s word is a discerner, (κριτικὸς, one that has power to discern,) for it brings the light of knowledge to the mind of man as it were from a labyrinth, where it was held before entangled. There is indeed no thicker darkness than that of unbelief, and hypocrisy is a horrible blindness; but God’s word scatters this darkness and chases away this hypocrisy. Hence the separating or discerning which the Apostle mentions; for the vices, hid under the false appearance of virtues, begin then to be known, the varnish being wiped away. And if the reprobate remain for a time in their hidden recesses, yet they find at length that God’s word has penetrated there also, so that they cannot escape God’s judgment. Hence their clamour and also their fury; for were they not smitten by the word, they would not thus betray their madness, but they would seek to elude the word, or by evasion to escape from its power, or to pass it by unnoticed; but these things God does not allow them to do. Whenever then they slander God’s word, or become enraged against it, they shew that they feel within its power, however unwillingly and reluctantly.[11]


Ver. 12. For the word of God is living—two-edged sword.—Many distinguished Christian fathers, and, among recent expositors, Biesenthal even yet, regard the λόγος τοῦ θεοῦ here as the hypostatical or personal word of God; but as our Epistle nowhere else speaks of the personal Logos,—although it must certainly be supposed to have aided in preparing the way for that designation,—it is generally understood of the word of God as spoken and as recorded in the Scriptures. Under this view some (Schlicht., Mich., Abresch, Böhm., etc.) restrict it to the threatening and heart-piercing word of the O. Test., while others (Camero, Grot., Ebr., etc.) apply it te the Gospel of the N. T. Ebrard so regards it, even with reference to the fact that the Old Testament word remained exterior, and, as it were, a thing foreign to man. There is no ground, however, for such limitations; nor is there, on the other hand, any more ground for that wide and vague generalizing of the term which, with Bez., Schultz, Bisp., etc., would include in it the whole range of the Divine threatenings and promises, and strip the passage entirely of its local coloring. It is clear from the context that the passage is designed to justify and enforce the preceding warning (ver. 1), terminating emphatically and designedly with its suggestive ἀπειθείας. To do this, the writer brings out the characteristic nature of the word of God. That which God says (Lün.) is, as a product of the Divine activity, infinitely different from every human word. But it appears here in reference to no specific subject-matter whatever, but in reference merely to this single and peculiar feature, that it has proceeded from God, and has the form of the Logos. This is indicated by the properties which are immediately ascribed to it. As a word of God, it is living (ζῶν), Acts 7:38; 1 Pet. 1:23; having life in itself, while again the like appellation is given to God, from whom it comes, ch. 3:12; 10:31. Ebrard interpolates into the thought a contrast with the dead law; while Schlichting and Abresch unwarrantably restrict its import to imperishable duration, and Carpz., equally unwarrantably, to its capacity to nourish the life of the soul. But the inner life of the word reveals itself in actual operation. Hence, it is called ἐνεργής, proving itself operative and efficient; and since it lay within the scope of the author to unfold this feature of the word’s peculiar character, it is called, “sharper than any two-edged sword.” Such a sword, which, as δίστομος, or double-mouthed, ‘devours’ on both sides, issues, according to Rev. 19:15, from the mouth of the Logos. Ὑπέρ stands after a comparative, Luke 16:8; Judges 11:25, as παρά, ch. 1:4. In similar terms, Philo repeatedly speaks of the Logos.

Ver. 12. And piercing through—feelings and thoughts of the heart.—These expressions subserve the same purpose as the preceding, viz., to characterize the word of God as such. A union of the word of the Gospel, or even of the Hypostatical Logos, with the inner life of believers, is not indicated by a single feature of the picture. It simply presents to us the word of God in its proper and peculiar character, as penetrating through every outward and enveloping fold, into the inmost being of man, and thus competent to exercise judicial supervision (κριτικός not κρίτης) over those ἐνθυμήσεις and ἔννοιαι, which, as sources of human action, have their sphere of operation in the heart. The word exercises its judicial functions as well in the realm of thought, purpose and resolution, as in that of affection, inclination and passion; for it penetrates so deeply as to effect the work of separation (μερισμός) in the province of soul and spirit, and that in their natural (though not necessarily, as maintained by Del., sensuous and corporeal) life of emotion and sensibility. For ἁρμοί τε καὶ μυελοί form doubtless a figurative expression for the collective and deeper elements of man’s inner nature (as, in the same way, μυελός is found at Eurip. Hippol., 255, and Themist. Orat., 32, p. 357), and were here naturally suggested by the comparison of the “word” with a sword. And we can scarcely apply the language to the separating of the soul from the spirit, or of both from the joints and marrow of the body (Böhme, Del.); or to the penetrating of the word clear to the most secret place where soul and spirit are separated (Schlicht., who, although ἄχρι is not repeated, does not make ἁρμῶν τε καὶ μύελῶν, dependent on μερισμοῦ, but coördinates them with it). The separation is rather described as taking place in these designated spheres themselves, the word, like a sword, cleaving soul, cleaving spirit. Hofm. (Schriftb., I., 259) assumes a very harsh and indefensible inversion, making ψυχῆς καὶ πνεύματος depend on ἁρμῶν τε καὶ μυελῶν=alike the joints and marrow of the inner life. It is a more natural construction (with Lün., Alf., etc.), to take ἁρμῶν τε καὶ μυελῶν, connected as they are by τε καὶ into closely united parts of one whole, as subordinate to ψυχῆς καὶ πνεύματος, thus=soul and spirit, alike Joints and marrow [i.e., joints and marrow of soul and of spirit]. To assume (with Calv., Bez., etc.) a coördination of the two sets of words, as corresponding and similarly divided pairs, is forbidden by the absence of the τε in the first, pair; and the order of the words themselves (ψυχῆς, preceding πνεύματος) forbids our assuming, with Delitzsch, an advance from the πνεῦμα, as the primary and proper seat of gracious influences, through the more outward ψυχή to the strictly material and bodily portion of our nature.[12]


12–13 This segment ends with a reflection on the word of God (Gk. ho logos tou Theou) and what it can achieve. There is no ground in the context for identifying this with the personal Word of God mentioned in Jn. 1:1–14. Most obviously, the expression refers to the gospel, which is described in v 2 as ‘the message they heard’ (Gk. ho logos tēs akouēs). The gospel brings the promise of salvation as well as the warning of judgment (cf. 2:1–4). However, it is also clear that Ps. 95 can function as the voice of God, calling us to faith and warning us about hardening our hearts. This scripture is the particular word of God that the writer of Hebrews wants his readers to hear in chs. 3–4. So what is said in vs 12–13 can apply as much to the preached word as to the word of God written in Scripture. In language recalling Is. 55:11, the word of God is said to be living and active, implying that it achieves the purpose for which it is uttered by God. However, Hebrews does not suggest that everyone who hears the message will automatically believe and enter God’s rest. The metaphor of the double-edged sword is used to paint what initially appears to be a rather frightening picture. God’s word penetrates to the deepest recesses of our being, opening us up and judging the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. It is the ‘critic’ (Gk. kritikos) by which all are judged. Indeed, confronted by the word of God, we are confronted by God himself, and nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. When the writer says Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of God, the image is that of an animal with its head thrown back and neck bare, ready to be sacrificed! Put simply, we cannot hide our faces from the one to whom we must give account. If the word of God has its dissecting and exposing effect in our lives now, we will not be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin and come utterly unprepared to face him on the day of reckoning. In the final analysis, then, this passage suggests that the negative or judging function of the word of God can be a help to us in pursuing the journey of faith.[13]


4:12. The lesson he had just taught from the Old Testament Scriptures was not a mere historical tale. Instead, as had already been made clear by much he had said, it was powerfully relevant to his audience. For the Word of God is living (zōn) and active (energēs). Not only that, its penetrating power is greater than any double-edged sword and reaches the innermost being of a person so that it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. In doing this, it is able to discriminate successfully between what is spiritual in man and what is merely “soulish” or natural (it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit), and does so even when these often-contradictory inner elements are interwoven as closely as joints and marrow. The inner life of a Christian is often a strange mixture of motivations both genuinely spiritual and completely human. It takes a supernaturally discerning agent such as the Word of God to sort these out and to expose what is of the flesh. The readers might think that they were contemplating certain steps out of purely spiritual motivations when, as God’s Word could show them, they were acting unfaithfully as did Israel of old.[14]


4:12 The next two verses contain a solemn warning that unbelief never goes undetected. It is detected first by the word of God. (The term used here for word is logos, the familiar word used by John in the prologue to his Gospel. However, this verse refers, not to the Living Word, Jesus, but to the written word, the Bible.) This word of God is:

living—constantly and actively alive.

powerful—energizing.

cutting—sharper than any two-edged sword.

dividing—piercing the soul and spirit, the two invisible, nonmaterial parts of man. Piercing the joints and marrow, the joints permitting the outward movements and the marrow being the hidden but vital life of the bones.

discerning—discriminating and judging with regard to the thoughts and intents of the heart. It is the word that judges us, not we who judge the word.[15]


[1] Stanley, C. F. (2005). The Charles F. Stanley life principles Bible: New King James Version (Heb 4:12). Nashville, TN: Nelson Bibles.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1983). Hebrews (pp. 104–105). Chicago: Moody Press.

[3] Phillips, R. D. (2006). Hebrews. (R. D. Phillips, P. G. Ryken, & D. M. Doriani, Eds.) (pp. 133–143). Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing.

[4] France, R. T. (2006). Hebrews. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Hebrews–Revelation (Revised Edition) (Vol. 13, pp. 67–68). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[5] Hagner, D. A. (2011). Hebrews (p. 73). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[6] Brown, R. (1988). The message of Hebrews: Christ above all (pp. 91–92). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[7] Lea, T. D. (1999). Hebrews, James (Vol. 10, pp. 71–72). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[8] Kistemaker, S. J., & Hendriksen, W. (1953–2001). Exposition of Hebrews (Vol. 15, pp. 115–118). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[9] Barclay, W. (2002). The Letter to the Hebrews (pp. 46–48). Louisville, KY; London: Westminster John Knox Press.

[10] Lane, W. L. (1998). Hebrews 1–8 (Vol. 47A, pp. 102–103). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.

[11] Calvin, J., & Owen, J. (2010). Commentary on the Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Hebrews (pp. 100–105). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

[12] Lange, J. P., Schaff, P., Moll, C. B., & Kendrick, A. C. (2008). A commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Hebrews (pp. 93–94). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

[13] Peterson, D. G. (1994). Hebrews. In D. A. Carson, R. T. France, J. A. Motyer, & G. J. Wenham (Eds.), New Bible commentary: 21st century edition (4th ed., p. 1331). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press.

[14] Hodges, Z. C. (1985). Hebrews. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, pp. 789–790). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[15] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 2169). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

November 22 Submission to Jesus Christ

Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.—Matt. 11:29–30

Jesus’ great invitation includes a call to submission, which inherently includes obedience and is symbolized by a yoke. The “yoke” was made of wood and designed to fit comfortably on the neck and shoulders of a work animal to prevent chafing. An ancient aphorism says, “Put your neck under the yoke and let your soul receive instruction.”

By analogy, Christ wants His disciples to be submissive and learn from Him. They must submit for many reasons, but foremost is to be taught by Him through the Word.

But in the process of submission, Jesus is “gentle and humble in heart” and graciously gives rest, not weariness, to His obedient disciples. Our Lord will never give us burdens too heavy to carry, because His burdens have nothing to do with works of the law or the human tradition of good deeds.

If we are faithful and submissive, our work of obedience to Christ will be joyful and happy. The apostle John explains, “This is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3). Submission to Jesus Christ is the only true liberation anyone can experience, because only then can one become what God intended.

Thy precious will, O conquering Saviour,

Doth now embrace and compass me;

All discords hushed, my peace a river,

My soul a prisoned bird set free.

Sweet will of God still fold me closer,

Till I am wholly lost in Thee.

ASK YOURSELF

Jesus’ purpose in calling you to submission is not to embitter you but to better you. Is anything keeping you from trusting that?[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 335). Chicago: Moody Publishers.