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At least part of the month of November here on the Website will be dedicated to Bible Thoughts about giving thanks. The Thanksgiving holiday this year occurs of course on Thursday, the last one of the month, which will be the twenty-fourth.

Yesterday I was wondering, "When is the first mention of thanksgiving, not the holiday but the attitude, in Scripture?"

The answer is Leviticus 7:12, in a chapter of Mosaic Law! "If he offer it for a thanksgiving, then he shall offer with the sacrifice of thanksgiving unleavened cakes mingled with oil, and unleavened wafers anointed with oil, and cakes mingled with oil, of fine flour, fried."

The Jew here is doing something voluntary in his worship. If he is grateful to God for some blessing, he can offer a gift to his Creator! The particular gift here presented to the Lord is called a "Peace Offering."

It is a layered act of worship with many nuances of meaning, but the basic point I'd like to emphasize today is this: If a faithful Believer was thankful to God for some blessing ... he would naturally want to "give" back to God some token of his appreciation!

"Freely receive ... freely give!"

That's the idea.

If a friend shares with you some thing, even a little thing, you give back to him or her a simple word of "thanks." That alone, that sincere and heart-felt emotional response is a "gift" of sorts.

A gift of appreciation.

Not to express thanks for some kind boon is to be rude really! To ignore the attempt to be gracious.

In ancient Roman culture the "Grace" associated with "Thanksgiving" was represented by three young virgins, encircling each other and clasping hands. The first one was giving a gift, the middle one receiving it, followed immediately by the third one receiving another gift from the middle girl! Thus, the central virgin had become both a recipient and a donor!


Little Miss "Charis," Little Miss Grace, taught first century peoples to gladly enjoy the blessings of life ... whether from friends or God Himself ... and then immediately share something in return.

Not as a payback or bribe.

But as an expression of thanks and joy and delight!

Was someone good to you over the past few days?

Thank them!

With a card or words or a baked apple pie!

Just thank them!

And if God has been good to us ... for sure He has ... let's return to Him an offering. A peace offering, a sincere word of praise and worship and adoration ... all synonyms for THANKS today.

It was Jesus Who in the Gospel of Matthew said, "Freely ye have received, freely give." Matthew 10:8 to be precise.

So now our question is answered. The first time the Bible uses "thanksgiving" it's in a act of worship. Spiritually speaking, it still is yet today.

"We thank Thee Lord, yes we do."

Let's all pledge this month to be more genuinely grateful.

Such will please the Lord greatly.

"In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." Paul in First Thessalonians 5:18


                  --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




Interspersed among this month's Bible Study Verses on the theme of Thanksgiving, I plan to include a few meditations from the Gospels, Matthew and Mark and Luke and John.

While reading one day last week I saw a connection between Passover and one of Jesus' Sermons. A dramatic link, I think.

Jesus starkly said one day, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day." John 6:53-54

Then our Lord immediately adds: "He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him."

This saying of our Lord's was so shocking, "cannibalism" some no doubt thought, that He lost some followers over it! "From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him." John 6:66

Eating Jesus' Flesh and drinking His Blood!

Then the Passover came to mind, that first observance in the land of Egypt. There also was flesh and blood involved. Flesh and blood of a little innocent lamb, a slain lamb!

But that Blood was not to be consumed at all. Jews never did that, an act expressly forbidden by their Scriptures.

What was to be done to the Passover Blood, according to Moses per instructions from God Himself? "And they shall take of the blood of the Lamb, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it." Exodus 12:7

The lamb's Old Testament Blood ... on the door posts!

Jesus' New Testament Blood ... drink it! "He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him."

What I'm trying to say this morning is that Jesus' Sermon in John chapter six compares Him to the Passover Lamb, just much more personally so!

Jesus fulfills the Lamb typology!

The Blood of Jesus needs today to be more than "sprinkled" around someone's house!

It needs to be, must be, trusted!


Be washed in It!

By faith ... drink it!

Consume it.

Not literally of course, that would be the heretically erroneous doctrine of transubstantiation.

In symbol we drink it, internalize it, personalize it.

Believe in it and the Lord from Whom it flowed ... to save our lost souls from Hell!

"Without shedding of Blood, there is no remission of sin." Hebrews 9:22

Yes, the Death Angel is coming once again!

To each of our lives.

Just like that Passover night in Egypt long ago.

And when Death comes, if the Blood of Jesus has been consumed or trusted or applied to our hearts ... we will not die!

But enjoy eternal Life!

In fact, if saved we're already enjoying it.

From our very John six context, Jesus continues: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life." John 6:47

Our Lamb, Our Saviour, our Jesus ... His Blood in our hearts!

                     --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

It absolutely is true. The New Testament explains and amplifies the Old Testament time and time again! That's because the same God authored both. Truth is Truth ... and Jesus is Truth personified.




The best known of all the Bible's many chapters concerning thanksgiving is likely Psalm 100. It really is a passage that taught the Israelites how to worship God, what kind of attitude to bring to the House of the Lord.

"Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands. Serve the Lord with gladness: come before His presence with singing." That coming before His Presence, in Old Testament parlance, means that the Jew is going to the Tabernacle or Temple to worship, to offer sacrifice. "Singing" and "gladness" are signs of joyfulness.

Next comes the Verse of pertinence for our lesson today, "Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto Him, and bless His Name." Psalm 100:4

As we go to Church, we should be thankful!

The Hebrew word used here for "thanksgiving" is spelled "tow-day" and means "to throw or shoot or hurl" something. In this case "loft" your thanks Heavenward, toward the Lord Jesus Who saved us!

One of the prevalent attitudes at God's House, from Sunday Morning Sunday School through Sunday Night's final benediction ... should be gratefulness, thanksgiving, appreciation to God for all His Goodness!


But one more thought today, taken from that last Biblical clause I quoted: "Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise."

The wording the psalmist used makes one wonder if there might be a slight difference between "thanksgiving" and "praise." Since they are differentiated here as they appear to be.

I think the answer is yes.

Probably "thanksgiving" is honor and worship rendered to God for the "things He has done" to us or for us. Or for our loved ones.

While "praise" is, many say, honor and worship rendered to God for "what He is, who he is," for His character and essence.

We thank God for supper last night.

We praise God that He is faithful.

Either way, let's live our lives with deep thanks bubbling over way down within our hearts.

Thankful to the Lord!

Has He done anything for you lately?

Then thank Him for His blessings, one by one.

                        --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




Remember that this month's lessons will center mostly around Thanksgiving. However I did say that some of the mornings we would discuss truth gleaned from the Gospels. So here's the second such meditation.

The Gospel of Matthew is unique. Of course that could be said of Mark or Luke or John as well. But one fact is obvious concerning the first Book of the New Testament, again concerning Matthew.

The Book is written with a Jewish audience in mind. It certainly presents Jesus as the "King of the Jews." The second chapter of it opens this way: "Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him." Matthew 2:1-2

See that royal emphasis already?

Matthew uses Jewish terms that divulge his "target" readers too. He talks about phylacteries and tassels on garments and ritual washings of hands, without explaining these procedures at all. Gentiles just might not understand, but the Jews sure did.

And Matthew frames his Gospel along the lines of the Jewish Bible, the entire Old Testament.

This former tax-collector turned follower of our Lord shares with us more of Jesus' direct words than anyone else in the Bible! Sermons of Jesus, recorded in great detail, flow from Matthew's pen. Yes, he could skillfully write and keep books and narrate the greatest Life Story ever told!

Matthew collects or organizes these great sermons of Jesus into different five groups. And these groups really seem to cover the whole Old Testament, just in miniature!

If this is so, without our "stretching" things too much, we've discovered another wonderful "fingerprint" of God on this great Gospel.

But first of all though let me remind you that Matthew opens his Book, first verse of first chapter, with nearly identical words to Genesis! Read it with me: "The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham." That Greek word "generation" is literally spelled "genesis!" Matthew begins at Genesis! Moses began this way, as you remember, the first verse in the Bible. You can't help but see the similarity. "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." In the genesis!


Then comes the first great oration of our Lord, His epochal Sermon on the Mount, chapters 5-7. Therein He constantly quotes Moses and the Law! Jesus' persistent formula is: "Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill," or some such command of Moses! Then the Lord amplifies and adapts that command to our everyday lives! The Sermon on the Mount has overtones of the Law, the whole Pentateuch. Note too that Jesus is on a mountain as He preaches chapters five through seven ... just as Moses was on a mountain when he wrote inspired Scripture!

Then Jesus' second Message in Matthew, chapter 10, describes the "sending forth" of the Twelve, the disciples. This sounds like God Almighty "sending forth" the Jews from Egypt to the Promised Land, initiating a new and godly society to bless the whole world. And that's the story of Joshua, that Old Testament Book.

Next Jesus preaches a third sermon, recorded in Matthew chapter 13. Here He clearly presents a series of parables. Beautiful little stories designed to teach moral truth. Essentially the noun "parable" is akin to the Hebrew word for "proverb!" Yes, Matthew thirteen corresponds to the Old Testament Books of Poetry. To Job and Psalms and Proverbs, for examples.


Then comes our Lord's discourse in Matthew chapter 18, the fourth major speaking unit of the Gospel. Its centerpiece is  how to handle confrontation at Church ... brother against brother. When someone has done wrong, how to properly confront them! This uniquely parallels the years of the Monarchy and later the Divided Kingdom in Israel and Judah, the Books of Samuel and Kings and Chronicles!

Next comes that enigmatic last part of Matthew, of Jesus' words there anyway. The Olivet Discourse it's often called, chapters 23-25. There we learn about coming tribulation, about abominations too, and the actual fact that Jesus is coming back to earth some day! These truths resemble the words of the Old Testament Prophets, both major and minor! Isaiah and Jeremiah and Hosea and Joel and Zachariah, plus all the rest.

This is exciting!

Matthew, the Jewish Gospel ... apparently laid out much like the Old Testament, often called the Jewish Bible!

I'll never look at this little Book the same again!

What an Author the Holy Spirit is!

I sure hope you all have enjoyed this today. I sure have enjoyed thinking about it and trying to express it to you.

Praise the Lord!

                    --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

Matthew, what a Gospel!




The Verse is one that has escaped my attention anyway. And like any Preacher, I've read the book of Psalms again and again.

Maybe it's this month's emphasis, Thanksgiving, that makes today's passage of Scripture so dramatic.

"O LORD my God, I will give thanks unto thee for ever." The last half of Psalm 30:12, the last clause.

The whole Psalm is set historically "at the dedication of the House of David." God had been good to David, David will be good to God!

But of course God's goodness to us far precedes ours to Him! "We love Him because He first loved us."

David, as in Psalm 101, has determined to do something. In Psalm 101 he had resolved to do a bunch of things! Or not to do those things.

Here in Psalm 30 he is going to "give thanks" unto God forever!

He used both major Old Testament Names for God here as well. "LORD" represents the Hebrew Name "Jehovah." And "God" is the special Proper Noun "Elohiym," when applied to our Creator and Redeemer anyway.

The God Who always "is," eternally being! That's the major force of Jehovah. He will never die! He was never born! He is everlasting!

And the God Who is all Powerful, that's the thrust of Elohiym. God the Father and Son and Holy Spirit acting in perfect Unity and with unlimited Ability!

"O LORD my God, I will give thanks unto thee for ever."

The verb "will give thanks" is "yadah" as the psalmist would have written it. We saw it several days ago already, "to throw, shoot, hurl, or cast" something. Here no doubt lofting praise and gratitude and appreciation heavenward to the Lord. The Giver of every good and perfect gift!

But here's today's point. "For ever" pledges the writer, the godly worshipper in Israel. Not just in November! Not just in times of harvest! All the time! For the rest of one's life! And apparently he understands it as "never ending" even in Heaven with God, after physical death!

"For ever" translates "olam," to the "vanishing point." Thankfulness as far as one can see, 'til sight has been exhausted!

Hence, forever more!

What a way to live!

"O LORD my God, I will give thanks unto thee for ever."

How about us?

Why can't we ascribe to the same creed? Thankful for everything, for ever! To a God Who never makes a mistake!

                  --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




The only accurate account we have of the Life of Jesus is found in the New Testament's four Gospels. But just when were these Books written? Soon after Jesus lived, died and was raised from  the grave? Or long afterward, decades maybe or even a generation or two?

Liberal scholarship today, so-called progressive theology (not a good thing if you're a friend of the Bible) tells us that the records we have of Jesus' Life are not accurate, written far too long after the events to be completely factual!

They, I think, are wrong, the scholars.

The Jews have always been people of the Book. Moses recorded early history and the people of Israel read his notes. Joshua along with other inspired historians carefully detailed the past of the infant nation, with chroniclers later adding truths from the monarchy period.

Even the Jewish preachers, their prophets, wrote their powerful sermons for posterity to read and learn and profit.

A Literary people, the Israelites.

So when Jesus was born, the greatest Jew who ever lived, the very Son of God, why not write about Him?

Even as He lived!

And certainly soon after He was raised from the dead and ascended to Heaven!

Matthew could have been written as early as a year or two after the Lord had lived here on earth. Mark likely followed soon. Then came Luke and John, all except Luke being eyewitnesses of Jesus' deeds while walking those Palestinian hills and valleys.

The Gospels are early documents, not late ones!

They are not the results of dozens of years of folklore and tradition and man-made theology.

They are the Word of God.

Here's the proof of such that I offer you today. Peter, a contemporary of Jesus, His spokesman Disciple, writing not long after Jesus died and arose and ascended, left us these words. They concern Paul: "Even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you. As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood ..." Second Peter 3:15-16

Here I'm only using a part of the clause Peter penned. Just enough to show that already, in Peter's short lifetime, Paul's writings were considered "epistles." The very Word of God!

Scripture apparently every bit as valid as the Old Testament itself, at least to the early New Testament Church!

Not years and years after Jesus ministered on earth, but not too many months after the facts in evidence.

Yes, we have a reliable Bible!

Written freshly after the Jesus Story was enacted!

Let's get back to those four precious Books, Matthew and Mark and Luke and John! Therein lives the Lord of Life.

"Come and see."

                --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




The whole idea of Thanksgiving can be complex, even when viewed Biblically. The thrust I'd like to present to you today is this: Thanksgiving, voluntary or required?

Both sides of this issue need to be presented.

Yes, Thanksgiving is a command. We are to express our sincere heart-felt appreciation to God for all the blessings of life. Tim and time again the Bible uses imperative mood verbs in regard to our showing thanks to the Lord. Here's an example from Paul: "In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." First Thessalonians 5:18, a mandate, a stark command from God Himself via the inspired Scriptures!

On the other hand, do any motions or words or gifts of thanks really mean anything ... if they are coerced? Parent to child: "Go thank Grandmother for that gift. Right now! I mean it! I'll discipline you if you don't."

I contend today that the act of Thanksgiving largely must be voluntary. The expression of one's heart! Something he couldn't hold back if he tried! A necessity for her! One just loves to freely say it, "Thank you!"

But can this type of initiative be found in the Bible?

Sincere thanks to God, to others, to one's family especially your husband or wife?


Here's an example of such instantaneous thanks: "Rooted and built up in Him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving." Note that last clause of the verse, Colossians 2:7. I've underlined it.

The word picture here is, among other things, "to exceed any fixed measure!" Like a "river out of its banks" at flood time!

Bubbling over ... with thanks!

Voluntarily of course.

"Perisseuo" here is a present tense active participle, no command involved. "Abounding" continually in thanks, because it's in your heart to do so!

That's what Thanksgiving is all about surely!

Read Paul, all fourteen of his epistles, and you will hear one of the most thankful men who ever lived. One of the most godly too.

We thank Thee, O Lord!

                    --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




The Gospel of Mark is usually, and properly I might add, characterized as presenting our Lord Jesus Christ as "the lowly Servant of God." As the "calf" among the four creatures around God's Throne in Revelation 4:7. Also the "ox" in Ezekiel 1:10.

In keeping with this motif, Mark 10:45 perfectly describes our Lord: "For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many." Again, this is Jesus the "minister, the servant, the slave."

But a couple of weeks ago it was mentioned to me that Mark also, in the very midst of his emphasizing Jesus' humility and service, begins and ends his Gospel with great declarations of Jesus' Deity.

These statements form an inclusio.

These two verses "bracket" the Gospel of Jesus as the humble Servant with the fundamental, critical  truth that He is also very God of very God!

Watch Mark's words, inspired by the Holy Spirit.

"The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God." Mark 1:1, the very first fact our young writer shares with us his readers! Jesus is God the Son!

Now this, near the end of Mark's entire Volume, at the very last of Jesus' Crucifixion. "And when the centurion, which stood over against him, saw that he so cried out, and gave up the ghost, he said, Truly this man was the Son of God." Mark 15:39, where a gentile soldier, of all people, calls Jesus God's Son!

Twice, at critical locations!

Yes, there's a lot of Jesus' hands-on serving others in Mark's middle chapters. But at least at start and finish Jesus is exalted, defined, realized to be absolutely Divine!

Isn't this strange?

Many college and seminary professors don't know who Jesus is. Lots of modern preachers, too. But Mark probably the youngest Biblical writer and an unnamed Roman executioner do!

Jesus, the Son of God.

Worship Him as Such today.

                 --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

Somehow I can't quit yet!

So let me just go ahead and show you the other places Jesus is not just the lowly servant in Mark's sixteen chapters. The list might prove helpful sometime later. It's helping me view Mark in an entirely new way, an exciting fresh way.

God the Father calls Jesus the Son, His Son! "And there came a voice from heaven, saying, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." Mark 1:11, spoken from Heaven just after Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist.

In Mark even the Disciples are slow to recognize Jesus' real identity. But apparently not the devils! "And unclean spirits, when they saw him, fell down before him, and cried, saying, Thou art the Son of God." Mark 3:11

Here's even the demon-possessed man we call "legion" labeling Jesus, correctly too! "And cried with a loud voice, and said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the most high God? I adjure thee by God, that thou torment me not." Mark 5:7, a wild man who soon was saved by the Grace of God.

Now the Father again, at the Transfiguration of our Lord this time. "And there was a cloud that overshadowed them: and a voice came out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him." Mark 9:7

Then Jesus Himself, Mark says, acknowledges His status, His being, His "Son of God" essence. In front of the Jewish High Priest of all people! "But Jesus held his peace, and answered nothing. Again the high priest asked him, and said unto him, Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed? And Jesus said, I am." Mark 14:61-62, even the shortest Gospel includes an "I am" statement of Jesus! The Gospel of John contains seven of them!

There's more of this "Son of God" emphasis in Mark that I ever realized. Here Jesus is not 100% man, though perfect man. And He is not just 100% God, though He is God! Our Lord is the most unique Person of all universal history! His is the God-Man! He is the Man of God! He is the Second Person of the Trinity! He is the Son of God! Hence, He is God!



LESSON 9, NOVEMBER 10, 2011:

The thanksgiving verse I'd like to use today is Pauline, meaning it flows from the pen of that great Apostle.

Read it with me. "For the administration of this service not only supplieth the want of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God." Second Corinthians 9:12

The "service" Paul has in mind was a love offering he was gathering for the famine stricken Jews, Believers in the Lord Jesus who lived down in Judea.

The noun "want" essentially means "that which is lacking," things in which they are left behind, no food to eat!

And what will be the result of such sharing of love, of such generosity? Of Paul gathering this cash from every Church he visited for maybe a year or more, turning the money into groceries when arriving in Jerusalem?

"For the administration of this service not only supplieth the want of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God."

The stomachs of the Judeans would be filled, of course.

And love between gentile Christians and Jewish Christians would be strengthened presumably. After all, the food was from Gentiles to Jews! Often critically pressing needs being met  can soften those old prejudicial feelings ... especially when the donors are among the despised!

Also Paul the originator of the offerings would no doubt be more appreciated by the saints in Jerusalem, no minor achievement!

"For the administration of this service not only supplieth the want of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God." 

But this too ... the point of today's verse ... the idea of its being included in our thanksgiving lesson today ... that this "service," this "gift" to the Jews would be "abundant also by many thanksgivings to God!"

This means, as I have studied it anyway, that Paul believes one of the greatest benefits in the lives of these Judean recipients is that God will be thanked for these gifts! Our Lord will be thanked again and again and again! Jewish folks flooding Heaven with thanks for gifts from former enemies, from once despised, but now saved, gentiles!

Yes, this is our great Heavenly Father being thanked and praised and adored ... always a good thing!

Tell us again, Paul: "But is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God."

The verb translated "is abundant," describing these many "givings of thanks," is  spelled "perisseuo" in Greek . It means "to exceed any fixed number" one has in mind! Out of sight! Beyond our highest expectations!

This is the only time in the whole King James Bible that the plural noun for "thanksgivings" is used.

Many, "pollos" as Paul would have written it, just means "great and large" as well as "numerous" thanks expressed to the good Lord!

What a noble by-product or side-effect for a gift!

Overflowing in thanks, not merely to the giver, but also to the Lord Who inspired the generous thought initially!

Let everything good that happens to us do the same. Be abundant for many, many thanksgivings to God.


             --- Dr. Mike Bagwell



LESSON 10, NOVEMBER 11, 2011:

The Gospel of Luke is amazing. Of course each Gospel Story of Jesus is, one way or another. That's because God is their Author.

But Luke is different in this sense. He is likely the only writer of Jesus' Life who was not an eye-witness, or at least a direct student of an eye-witness to the events being depicted.

Matthew saw it all.

So did John.

This much we know.

And Mark was so close to Peter, that the older Preacher called him "my son" in First Peter 5:13. Most conservative Bible teachers think that Mark's Book, his Gospel, is Peter's Gospel in the sense that the elder gave the younger his recollections of Jesus' Ministry.

So now what about Luke?

Being a "physician" as he was, based on Colossians 4:14, the man no doubt could and did write in far above average Greek. His vocabulary is excellent and laden with a number of medical terms for that matter.

But, though not an eye-witness or even a direct and close "son" of any eye-witness, Luke was meticulous in gathering his data about our Lord. Not only is his work, as is all Scripture, Holy Spirit Inspired, Luke gives us his method of research.

Here they are, his very words: "Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us. Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word. It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus, that thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed." Luke 1:1-4

He will write "in order."

He received his information from "eyewitnesses" of Jesus Life and Work. At least as much as possible.

And he will write only about those things concerning which he has "perfect understanding."

Sounds competent to me!

But there's more.

Now quickly we listen to Luke as he introduces the Book of Acts, his second great work. He uses a phrase that is pertinent to today's lesson. "The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen. To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God." Acts 1:1-3, where let's notice the words "by many infallible proofs."

That's correct.

Luke didn't write it unless it was "proveable!"

Thank God, there we have it.

Four dependable Gospels!

Four Life Stories of Jesus!

Two from direct eye-witnesses.

One from a man who is a spiritual son to an eyewitness.

And one, Luke, who promises us he carefully researched his material ... and can prove it all infallibly.


                     --- Dr. Mike Bagwell



LESSON 11, NOVEMBER 12, 2001:

The thanks we offer to God must be sincere and pure! Just "going through the motions" is not only meaningless, but sinful!

I suspect that sometimes when we merely "appoint" a time for thanksgiving, such as America's annual national holiday ... we can easily fall into a mere ritual. That's habit without reality behind it. Or just ignore the true meaning of the holiday altogether!

I want to give you such an example today from the Scriptures. How thanksgiving to God must be accompanied by other spiritual qualities. Like faithfulness to Him, holy living, and sincerity.

The people of Amos' day, the Old Testament Minor Prophet, were backslidden from God. Yet they persisted in their "acts" of worship, including the giving of thanks.

Such emptiness upset the Lord! And He punished their hypocrisy!

Here's the Prophet's account, quoting Almighty God word for word:

"Come to Bethel, and transgress; at Gilgal multiply transgression; and bring your sacrifices every morning, and your tithes after three years. And offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving with leaven, and proclaim and publish the free offerings: for this liketh you, O ye children of Israel, saith the Lord GOD. And I also have given you cleanness of teeth in all your cities, and want of bread in all your places: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD." This is Amos 4:4-6.

Bethel is an Israelite city where King Jeroboam had constructed golden calves, idols, just as well say. And Gilgal had become a place of heathen worship too, God's people acting like the Gentiles!

But they "said" they were worshipping Jehovah God, not those "silly" idols! And they brought their animal sacrifices, including the blood mind you. They brought free-will gifts to God as well, no coercion here. And they made sure to express lots of thanks!

But did God accept their blood offerings? Or their tithes? Or their deeds and expressions of thanksgiving?


God wants our hearts first!

"No other gods before Me," He thunders through Scripture! And rightly so. He alone is Creator and Redeemer and Provider and the great All-In-All!

Then what did God do?

In the face of Israel's insincere thanks?

He sent them famine!

No crops! "And I also have given you cleanness of teeth in all your cities, and want of bread in all your places."

He let them go hungry, no need to brush their teeth. They lacked for bread.

Divine punishment ... even in the light of their thanksgivings!


Don't misunderstand me today.

Let's be grateful to God!

Keep going to Church, reading the Bible, witnessing, and all the rest. But do it with wholeheartedness!



And with sanctity!

That God will honor.

He promised.

"For them that honour me I will honour, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed." Our great God speaking in First Samuel 2:30, word for word!

Thank You, Lord.

                      --- Dr. Mike Bagwell



LESSON 12, NOVEMBER 13, 2011:

The Cross in the New Testament is truly presented in many different ways. Always though, it is the means of Salvation, through the shed Blood of Jesus.

Today, one of our fifteen or so days this month to discuss something from the Gospels, I want to share with you an important dichotomy when considering Calvary, the Death of Jesus.

Essentially, was Jesus' Death the low point of His Life? Or the high point, higher than any scholar has ever been able to adequately express.

Two views prevail, both are Biblical. They are not contradictory, either. Not if you love Jesus!

Paul generally and doctrinally, in one of the greatest poems in all the Word of God, pictures Jesus' Death as the lowest death a person ever suffered. And Paul is right. Jesus "went down" to the Cross.

Let me share with you the great Apostle's words: "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus. Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God. But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men. And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." Philippians 2:5-8

Down, down, down!

I've underlined each step.

Of course it's also true that as soon as Jesus reaches His lowest point, God the Father exalts Him! Go ahead, Paul. Tell us more. "Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name. That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth. And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Philippians 2:9-11

Calvary then, in the Epistles, is most often depicted as the nadir of our Lord's life. He went down into the jaws of Death.

But now here's the prevalent view in the Gospel of John. Jesus' Death is His greatest Moment! His highest achievement! Jesus goes up to the Cross! It was His Goal all the time! He lived for "This Hour!"

Here's the evidence.

In John 3, that great Nicodemus interview, Jesus is going to be "lifted up" on the Cross! Using Old Testament typology Jesus iterates: "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up. That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life." John 3:13-15, referencing the Cross of Calvary.

To any doubters, watch this one. Our Lord even interprets it for us. Again from John's Gospel. "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. This he said, signifying what death he should die." John 12:32-33, up to Golgotha!

Jesus was not stoned to death thus being murdered underneath a pile of rocks. He was exposed on a pole, elevated for many to see.

Jesus' passion through His Life was to reach the time when His "Hour" had come. And to obey His Father perfectly when that Hour arrived.

And what was or when was that Hour?

The Cross, that last Passover week!

As early as John 2:4, His first miracle at Cana of Galilee, Jesus began talking about that Hour, publically.

Both in John 7:30 and John 8:20 our Lord's enemies could not harm Him because His Hour had not yet come!

He lived for that High and Holy day, the day of his Crucifixion! The Highest Point of His Life, of any even in universal history!

And when it came time for Jesus to die, His Goal being reached, He said this. See if it sounds like a defeat or a victory. "And Jesus answered them, saying, The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified." John 12:23, glorified! Now factor in John 12:27 here. "Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour." This is why He came, this Hour of Death! Again John submits to us, Jesus' Peak of Duty, Jesus' Perfect ministry, His "Hour" on the Cross!

You tell me, from John's perspective again, is the Cross valley or mountain to Jesus. Listen to him pray: "These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee." John 17:1, Christ glorified, on a Cross!

Surely I've given enough examples.

John is unique in that He shows our Lord being put UP on the Cross. Not pulled down to just an ignominious death.

Now finally, both views are correct.

He did humble Himself to die.

But that Death was the greatest achievement ever realized!

Jesus went up to die for you and me.

Thank you John, for this creative and encouraging view.

                   --- Dr. Mike Bagwell



LESSON 13, NOVEMBER 14, 2011:

The point of today's lesson is this, God programmed even into Old Testament Law, pure Mosaic legislation, the whole theme of thanksgiving!

Let's visit one of the most ritualistic (in a good sense) and reverent Books in all the Bible, Leviticus. It's pure law, with a lot of lovely typology about our Lord Jesus interspersed!

Here Israel is being instructed about one of her five offerings, one of her ways of approaching the only True and Living God. "If he offer it for a thanksgiving, then he shall offer with the sacrifice of thanksgiving unleavened cakes mingled with oil, and unleavened wafers anointed with oil, and cakes mingled with oil, of fine flour, fried. Besides the cakes, he shall offer for his offering leavened bread with the sacrifice of thanksgiving of his peace offerings." Leviticus 7:12-13

A gift to God.

But why?

For one reason, a major reason ... to give thanks to our great Heavenly Father!

That Hebrew word for "thanksgiving" is "towdah," which we've already discussed in this month's series of lessons. It basically means "to throw, to shoot, or to hurl" something. That means "lifting up" our words, respectfully tossing them heavenward to our Lord for all His Goodness.

Notice this too. This Old Testament thanksgiving is to be accompanied by an offering to God. If it's a Peace Offering an animal must be slain, blood shed. If it's the meal (flour cakes mingled with oil) offering, the food must be baked or fried in strict accordance to God's prewritten criteria.

Gifts returned ... because we are thankful to the Donor!

Now in our day of Grace, as New Testament Christians, we no longer bring lambs or doves or oxen to a temple to be killed at an altar. No  more blood needs ever be shed in remission of sin. Jesus' Blood paid the price in full. Redemption is a possibility for every human who ever lived, is now alive, or ever will be born. No more cakes or bread need be given either. Jesus, the Bread of Life, has been broken on our behalf, then raised whole from the grave!

Then what do we give God when we thank Him?

That's it!

Hebrews 13:15 tells us. "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."

We give thanks using this kind of sacrifice, "our words!"

Read the verse again, "the fruit of our lips," what we say to praise and glorify God, expressing thanks to His Name!

How they thanked God in the olden days, before the Cross ... by bringing an offering.

But how to thank Him nowadays, after the precious Death and Burial and Resurrection of the Saviour ... "Thank You, Lord." And of course mean sincerely what we say.

Furthermore, such information about proper thanksgiving should forever remove from our mouths any words of grumbling and complaining. Having lips now dedicated to praising God, to thanking Him every single day.

And that leads to a lifestyle. Paul again: "In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." First Thessalonians 5:18

Now let's live it!

                      --- Dr. Mike Bagwell



LESSON 14, NOVEMBER 15, 2010:

The Gospel of John introduces Jesus to its readers in a unique way. "In the beginning was the Word." Obviously as one studies John's Biography of our Lord, this "Word" is None Other than Jesus.

Here's his whole first verse, John chapter one: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."

Jesus, from eternity was "with" God, the preposition used here being "pros," meaning "by or near or towards," maybe even "face-to-face!" Jesus' Identity and Equality with God the Father are clearly being established.

And if any doubt remains, by the end of the very first sentence in John, "The Word was God!"


Matthew and Mark and Luke begin with facts about Jesus' humanity, about his earthly existence. Matthew and Luke describe His Virgin Birth. Mark tells of His early Ministry.

John just immediately plunges into Jesus' Deity, Jesus as God. As God-Man the teachers sometimes say.


But today let's discuss John's specific Term for Christ, that noun "Word."

It is spelled "logos" in Greek.

It is a term used often in ancient philosophy, but I do not believe that's the way John is employing it here.

He has cleaned the word and sanctified it. Dedicated it to the Glory of God, set it apart for a holy and noble end.

Jesus is God's Logos!

He is God's Word!

But what does John mean?

No doubt he has in mind this. God created the whole world with His Word, the universe! God "spoke" the worlds into existence Hebrews 11:3. "Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear."

And John, speaking of Jesus, proves this point one verse later where He describes Jesus as the Creator! "All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made." John 1:2

The Word, the Creator, Jesus!

Then this too. God reveals himself through His Word! The Bible is God's Word, God's written Word! And now Jesus is God's Word too, God's Living Word! Both are revelatory!

John uses a word, a great verb, about Jesus in this sense. It's in John 1:18 and the key term to watch is "hath declared." Here it is: "No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him."

Mercy, "hath declared" is the very word we use for "exegesis!" For "exposition!" Jesus is God's Word, the very explanation of Who and What the Father is! The Greeks spelled it "exegeomai," the similarity being obvious.

The Word!

The very elucidation of God!

Lastly this too. A person's words reveal his or her character. This is true of God Almighty also. And Jesus, God's Word, is the very Essence of God's Character. Jesus is the Possessor of God's Attributes. Jesus says what God is!

Listen to an individual long enough and you will know all about him!

Listen to Jesus and you will learn of God!

No doubt.

Now that's three ways Jesus is God's Word!

God's Logos!

Thank you John the Apostle for revealing to us a Jesus Who is both Divine and human! Explain it to us once more please, using that Term "Word." From your first chapter if possible. "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth." John 1:14


                   --- Dr. Mike Bagwell



LESSON 15, NOVEMBER 16, 2011:

The word is only used once in the Bible, the English Bible, the King James Version. It sounds "old English" too, beautiful and poetic.

Let me show you its verse, its home. "For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully." First Peter 2:19, with our focus word underlined.

Today we're not going to invest a lot of time exegeting or explaining the words Peter just preached to us. Basically he's saying this: If a person is having to suffer for the Lord's sake ... not for anything he himself has done wrong but simply because He loves Jesus ... then such an humble attitude is "thankworthy" before God. Truth be told, he really might be testifying for his Lord!


I want to use this little noun (in Greek) that looks like an adjective (in English) and say a few things about this time of year, about Thanksgiving.

When we give thanks over things, big or little things, no matter what they are ... are the items on our list "worthy" of thanks?

Are they sufficiently significant, important, proper topics over which to show appreciation?

Again, are they "thankworthy?"

Thanking someone for smiling at you might not qualify! That might fit into the realm of silliness. But thanking that person for the recent prayers she's been praying on your behalf, that is certainly suitable!

I looked up "thankworthy" in an older dictionary. Here's what it said: "Deserving of thanks." This too: "Worthy of gratitude, meritorious."

If the Lord sends something or someone into your life, and if that thing or person is to be treasured sufficiently, then that gift is truly "thankworthy!"


Now just for a second to the Greek word Peter used in our text up above. The word for "thankworthy" there is a noun spelled "charis."

And that's also the actual word the New Testament most often uses for "grace!" In fact, 156 times "charis" appears in those twenty-seven Books.

If something is "thankworthy."

If it is "grace-full."

The ideas are parallel, synonymous.

Clear marks of God's Grace appear on it, the blessing in question.

Now we're getting somewhere.

Then I'm just about to suggest that nearly every thing we receive is "thankworthy."

This idea is expressed well in James 1:17. "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning."

Then Paul's great axiom on the matter. "In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." First Thessalonians 5:18


Today hopefully we've learned a new Bible word and added it to our vocabularies. God has loaded us with a ton of thankworthy benefits! Let's express our love and adoration to Him for such manifold blessings.

"Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation." Psalm 68:19

Yes, His benefits (a word meaning hand-fulls or arm-fulls, in today's language truck-loads) are thankworthy indeed!

                     --- Dr. Mike Bagwell



LESSON 16, NOVEMBER 17, 2011:

The New Testament Gospel of John, one of the most beautiful compositions ever written, says a lot about darkness and light.

Here's a primary example. "In Jesus was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not." John 1:4-5

The meaning of this terse little statement is less than obvious.

Jesus is Light. He shines in darkness. He in fact dispels darkness. Jesus is Righteous, that kind of Light. Pure Light, untainted and holy. Darkness is evil, devilish, demonic, that kind of metaphorical light.

Now then. "In our Lord was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not."

I'm interested in John's meaning as he discusses this light/darkness dichotomy.

The part about Jesus being Light I understand.

And the devil being darkness. Or even darkness being a symbol of wickedness.

Throughout John's whole Gospel evil mean (forces of darkness) try to overcome and harm the Son of God, Jesus Christ (Light Personified).

Jesus radiated and illuminated this old dark world. That again I see. "And the Light shineth in darkness."

It's this next clause where I need help. "And the darkness comprehended not the Light." Exactly, "And the darkness comprehended it not."

The verb is no doubt essential to a good understanding here. "Katalambano" in Greek means "to lay hold of!" Also "to apprehend, to take as one's own, to arrest," those kinds of ideas.


Jesus is Light.

And the Darkness (the Pharisees and scribes and Sadducees and Romans and false witnesses) could never "comprehend" Jesus!

They could never "lay hold of" our Lord.

In a harmful sense.

They could not capture Him to do Him hurt ... not one single second before His appointed Destiny, before His vicarious Death on Calvary's Cross!

Did they try to comprehend Jesus, to detain Him?


More than once!

All from John's pen now. "Then they sought to take him: but no man laid hands on him, because his hour was not yet come. And many of the people believed on him, and said, When Christ cometh, will he do more miracles than these which this man hath done? The Pharisees heard that the people murmured such things concerning him; and the Pharisees and the chief priests sent officers to take him." John 7:30-32

They could not "comprehend" Him!

Again in John 7:44 they try to "take" Him. "And some of them would have taken him; but no man laid hands on him."

Darkness could not catch Him!


"Therefore they sought again to take him: but he escaped out of their hand, and went away again beyond Jordan into the place where John at first baptized; and there he abode." John 10:39-40

Lights slips darkness one more time!

Leading up to that fatal hour when the enemies of Jesus really thought they had won the battle. But in reality they secured their own damnation. "Then from that day forth they took counsel together for to put him to death." John 11:53

They never "got" Him ... until He voluntarily laid down His Life for lost sinners, the sin Payment for erring humanity.

And folks, I have not included Luke's accounts of Jesus' escapes. Matthew's or Mark's either.

"In Jesus was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not."

Now I better understand.

And I suppose Satan is still trying.

To "comprehend" and render void the Person and Work of Jesus.

But Satan still failing too!

He never will "comprehend" our ever-victorious Lord.


                        --- Dr. Mike Bagwell



LESSON 17, NOVEMBER 18, 2011:

The Apostle Paul's vocabulary is amazing. He "thinks" theology. Truly, as he said in Colossians 3:3, "Christ was his life," Paul's life was that intertwined around His dear Lord.

Here is a Paul-ism, if I may coin that term. He's writing the Romans and uses this catchy clause in chapter 6, verse seventeen. "But God be thanked."


The man is fervently preaching ... and in the midst of his utterance he exclaims, "God be thanked!"

Really Paul does so as he writes too.

And as he prays.

He thanks God in all he does!

In Greek the words "But God be thanked" are spelled as follows: "Charis de to theo."

Paul is so passionate here that even the verb, so necessary to syntactical structure, is missing! He's thinking and speaking elliptically!

Translated literally, "charis de to theo" says: "But Grace (thanks) to The God!"

Extemporaneous thanks!

Emotional thanks!

But also, obviously, sincere thanks!

Let us emulate the Apostle here, copy his ways.

Let us often, out of the "blue" as they say, frequently voice these words: "But God be thanked."

That's what holy living will do, surely.

Produce gratefulness and adoration and appreciation in our lives to Almighty God above.

"God be thanked."

                --- Dr. Mike Bagwell



LESSON 18, NOVEMBER 19, 2011:

The Lord Jesus is greater than Moses!

I suspect I've said that a hundred times preaching through the years.

And I believe it.

Here's why, the Bible says so! "Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus, Who was faithful to him that appointed him, as also Moses was faithful in all his house. For Jesus was counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as he who hath builded the house hath more honour than the house." Hebrews 3:1-3

John 1:17 further strengthens this truth. "For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ."

Jesus is greater!

But recently in John's Gospel I noticed another illustration of the Moses compared to Jesus scenario.

John 1:18 reminds us, "No man hath seen God at any time." A truth proved again and again in the Old Testament.

But it was especially Moses who wanted to see God! In Exodus 33:18 he begs of the Lord, "I beseech Thee, shew me Thy Glory."

Here's God's answer to the great Lawgiver of Israel: "And He said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live." Exodus 33:20

So, John is right.

"No man hath seen God at any time."

Even Moses!

But once Jesus is born, virgin-born, God has come to earth!

And now, for the first time ever, man can see God!

Listen to our Saviour! "And he that seeth Me seeth Him that sent Me." Amazing! Look what Jesus just claimed! The verse expanded: "And he (any human) that seeth me (Jesus) seeth him that sent me (God)."

Furthermore, in John 14:9 our Lord Jesus boldly adds: "He that hath see me hath seen the Father."

Now God is seen!

In the Face of Jesus His Son!

So I say it without reservation, Jesus is greater than Moses.


                  --- Dr. Mike Bagwell



LESSON 19, NOVEMBER 20, 2011:

The word is used only twice in the New Testament. That fact alone makes it important, by means of its scarcity in Scripture. It's verbal counterpart however is used often, loosely about 120 times.

I'm talking about the word "mone," simply pronounced mon-nay' in Greek. It means "a place to stay, a place to abide, a place to live, a home."

Now here are the two times the Holy Spirit utilizes the term in the Bible. The linkage here will reveal an important truth.

Here Jesus is talking. "In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you." John 14:2

Are these real mansions?

Anything God does, by nature of his very Being, is grand and excellent and overwhelming! Of course they are mansions, and even more probably, but the word still retains its meaning ... "a place to dwell, rest, call home."

Now let's compare the other time "mone" surfaces in the Word.

"Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him." John 14:23

Now the word "abode" is to be considered. Jesus just promised, amazingly and miraculously, that He and His Father will come and make a "dwelling place or resting place or a home" in the person who loves and obeys Almighty God!

I think what these two verses are saying, the only two occurrences of "mone" in the whole Bible, what they're saying is precious! Priceless, wonderful, beyond comprehension!

In Heaven we will "be at home" in God!

Down here on earth, right now, to those who are saved ... God and Jesus are "at home" in us!


And let's not omit God the Third Person, The Holy Spirit!

He undoubtedly abides in us too!

Right now!

Never to leave!

"What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?" First Corinthians 6:19

God ... living in us!

               --- Dr. Mike Bagwell



LESSON 20, NOVEMBER 21, 2011:

Psalm 111 is truly a Psalm of Thanksgiving unto the Lord. Here are its opening words: “"Praise ye the LORD. I will praise the LORD with my whole heart, in the assembly of the upright, and in the congregation.”

Yes, "Praise ye the Lord." In Hebrew that is spelled with two words: "hallel" and God's Name, "Yah," a shortened form of Jehovah. It is sometimes just amazing how much the English tongue has gleaned from the languages of Scripture, Hebrew and Greek. Here's an example. When Hallel and Yah are combined, as when reading rapidly, here's the sound you hear: ‘Hallel Yah!’ When anglicized, here's the result: "Hallelujah!" It's also spelled "Halleluiah" in some dictionaries.

"Hallel" is a root verb meaning something like this: "to be clear, to shine, hence, to boast" in Someone! Gradually the linguistic experts tell us that the word also came to mean: "to celebrate!"

And "Yah," Jehovah when full, incorporates the Hebrew verb "to be." Our great God, "Yah," is the One Who IS!  Yesterday, today and tomorrow, He is! Eternally He is!

Isn't it delightful that the Holy Spirit chose to use the shortened Form of Jehovah here? Thus He, providentially so, gives us an English lesson as well as a Hebrew lesson!


Also, quickly, the verb "hallel" here is an imperative! Israel specifically and now we Believers generally are being required to praise the Lord! It is a Bible mandate! We have no choice! The verb also is in the Piel stem, teaching us to praise the Lord energetically, diligently!

Now Psalm 111 continues, "Praise ye the Lord. I will praise the Lord with my whole heart, in the assembly of the upright, and in the congregation." That's all of verse one.

No sooner has God commanded ... and Israel obeyed! At least the Psalmist did! He is anonymous here, no name being given.

"Praise ye the Lord," issues God!

"I will ... with my whole heart," enjoins the worshipper!

That's quick response, heart-felt too!

But a different verb is used here for "praise!" No longer using "hallel," the Spirit of God involves "yadah!" This word, drawn from the little noun "yad," one's "hand," also means "to thank" or "to praise" in Hebrew. Literally it means "to use one's hand!" Here we have the foundation for the age old Christian practice of lifting one's hand toward Heaven as he or she worships!

But now, and again this is a change, not "Yah" but "Yehovah" is the Word for Lord! The full Name! Still It is based upon "hayah," meaning "to be, to exist, or maybe even to breathe!" Always living! Never dying! Eternal! "Self existent" the old timers used to say!

The word "whole" is "kol" in the Text and means "every bit" or "all" of something. It is built upon the word "kalal," that is, "to complete."

Heart is "lebab," meaning, as is suggested by its parent "labab," to be "enclosed!" So "lebab" is the heart as man's most interior organ! Deep down inside. But Biblically it is also the seat of one's thoughts and emotions! "For as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he!" Proverbs 23:7

One's "whole heart" worshipping God implies "integrity!" This little word, now English, is built upon a Latin foundation. It means "untouched" or "undivided!"

The "assembly," in Hebrew "sod," means a company of people, often those who are quite close to each other! In deliberation one with another! The word in the King James Bible is also translated as "secret" 9 times and even as "counsel" 6 times! It's even "inward" once! And it's only used a total of 21 times in the Bible.

"Upright" is "yashar" and means straight! Correct or right in other words! It also can imply being pleasant! In that case one would be right in his position ... and his disposition as well!

Then the noun "congregation" is used. "Edah" means a company of people, perhaps even a large one! I say that because the word is made to be both "multitude" and "swarm" in Scripture. It has developed from "ed," an Old Testament word meaning "witness!"

This Psalmist is going to Church!

To worship the Lord!

He's determined!


                                                            --- Dr. Mike Bagwell



LESSON 21, NOVEMBER 22, 2011:

Thanksgiving week we are noticing some verses from Psalm 111, perhaps one of the best gratefulness chapters in all the Bible.

Here's the kind of statement a thankful man or woman would make during worship. Of course the Lord God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is the Subject. "His work is honourable and glorious: and His Righteousness endureth for ever." Psalm 111:3

God's actions, His "work," and His very essence, His unique "righteousness," are being magnified!

There's not a "hint" in the whole verse about the worshipper! He remains in the background! It's all about the Lord ... not only in this single verse, but in the whole Psalm!

This particular noun for "work" is rare in Scripture. "Poal" is only used 38 times in the whole Bible! Since the Holy Spirit used a different word for God's "works" in verse 2, that being "maaseh," surely "poal" has a different shade of meaning! After all, every word in Scripture is carefully chosen and crafted of God. That's called "inspiration!"

I would say that "maaseh" is the more general word, "one's deeds or acts" being its usual definition, while "poal" is more specific. Numerically "maaseh" is used 235 times in Scripture.

"Poal" is defined as follows: "things done or made systematically and habitually!" In other words, things "practiced" by a subject!

Whatever this "work" represents, it is "perfect" according to Deuteronomy 32:4. "He is the Rock, His work is perfect: for all His ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is He."

In Job 7:2 "poal" is an activity that produces reward! Jeremiah 33:13 carries this same idea too.

Also in Job 36:24 Elihu reminds us of our duty to "exalt God's work," using "poel" again.

Once, in Isaiah 1:31 "poel" is translated as "maker!"

Just one more example, too good to omit, "Balaam exclaims in Numbers 23:23 "What hath God wrought!" Here "poel" is outstanding and praiseworthy for sure!

Lest I leave the idea that our noun is used only in reference to God, both Psalm 104:23 and Proverbs 20:11 use "poel" for human activity as well, man's "work" and a child's "doings."

I am however amazed at how many times the word appears in the singular number! Quite often something specific is being indicated! It is so here in our verse today.

But, what is this "work" of God?

First, let's describe it.

"His work is honourable and glorious: and His Righteousness endureth for ever." Psalm 111:3

"Honourable" translates "hod" and means "filled with grandeur, imposing in form and appearance!" In the King James Text both "beautiful" and "majestic" are synonyms. This word is only used 24 times in the Bible, placing it in the "rare" category also!

"Glorious" is "hadar." It is built upon a verbal root meaning "to swell," indicating God's loftiness and greatness. Every time I think about God, viewing Him through the eyes of faith, He gets bigger and bigger and bigger!

The "Righteousness" of God, "tzsedaqah," has a special kind of courtroom sense, a forensic flavor, "correct" or "right" in the eyes of the Law! Morally straight! Involving nothing wrong!

To "endure" is "to stand or remain or abide" somewhere! "Amad" here is a Qal participle. This great Righteousness stays forever! It is so established!

"For ever" is "ad," just that in Hebrew! It's from "adah," to continue, to advance, to pass on perpetually! It's "everlasting" twice in the Bible.

But again I ask, what "Work" is here being depicted?

My answer anyway: SALVATION!

God's greatest work!

Yet a work crafted in His Righteousness, not merely His Love!

God's physical creation is certainly marvelous!

His spiritual "new creation" is even more so!


                                                            --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

Thank You, dear Lord!




This Thanksgiving week in 2011 we have been noticing a few verses from one of the premier "Gratefulness" Psalms in the Bible. That is Psalm 111.

It's full of praise and worship too.

Verse 7 is an example. Let's study it together for a while and then thank God for Who He is and for what he does.

The Bible often blends two beautiful aspects of God's Essence, His works and His Word!

For example, Psalm 19 consists of two parts. The works of God, His lovely creation, occupy verses 1-6. While the Word of God, His perfect revelation, absorb verses 7-14. A perfect Psalm!

Now our verse for today does this as well. "The works of His hands are verity and judgment; all His commandments are sure." Psalm 111:7

God's works and God's words! The ideal blend of what God does and what God is!

For the third time in this Psalm the Hebrew noun "maaseh" is used. Verses 2 and 6 and now 7 employ it. One's deeds are in view here. And God's deeds are "great" in verse 2 and "powerful" in verse 6 and "faithful" in verse 7.

I just said "faithful" because that's what the Hebrew word for "verity" means. "Emeth" is their standard word for "truth," but is accurately translated "faithful" or "faithfully" or "assuredly" in Scripture also. The first time "emeth" occurs in the Bible, Genesis 24:27, it is associated with mercy! Here it is linked with judgment! Our great God is perfectly balanced! Emeth's root word is "aman" and means "to build up" or "to support!" See the idea of stability in that?

Let's address the faithfulness of God's works! The Sun and Moon traverse their appointed paths in amazingly chronological patterns! You can set your watch by the sun's daily rising!

And the Seasons?

And even the comets?

Come to think of it, man's heartbeat is quite faithful too! Man and woman, the very crown of God's creation!

The word "judgment" as here applied to God's works is interesting. "Mishphat" hails from a verb that means "to pronounce sentence" on someone in a forensic sense. This is courtroom talk!

We are being told that there is enough truth about God revealed in His creation alone ... to hold man accountable for at least some knowledge of the Lord's existence!

Now I did not say that creation could get a man saved! That takes the Blood of Jesus shed on the Cross of Calvary! But creation can leave a man "without excuse" when it comes to God's very being! See Romans 1:20.

Here's the "shift" now! From God's "works" to God's "commandments," His words! I will distinguish the verse's two halves typographically.

"The works of His hands are verity and judgment; all His commandments are sure." Psalm 111:7

For "commandments" the Holy Spirit has used the noun "piqqudiym," which means statutes or precepts. Growing out of "paqad," our word suggests a "visitation" from God! God's Word is as effective as the Lord Himself being here right now! This is implicit in the vocabulary alone!

To be conveying such a fundamental theme, God's Word, "piqqudiym" or one of its cognates appears only two dozen times in Scripture, every one of them being in the Psalms!

The apparent adjective "sure" translates a familiar participle, "aman" as a verbal unit. It means things like "confirmed!" See Mark 16:19-20 where God longs to confirm His Word as it is preached! Using only the King James Bible's renderings of "aman," we notice that God's Word is "believed, assured, established, trusted and steadfast!"

God is truly lovely.

Both in what He does ... and what He says.

Worship Him today.

And thank Him too.

                          --- Dr. Mike Bagwell


Of all people, we Christians surely will be thankful! 



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