Dear Mishpocha (Family) in Yeshua,
Five Smooth Stones
In 1 Samuel 17:40-49 we read about a young David, the shepherd boy, who defeated Goliath, the giant enemy of Israel, with one of five smooth stones. The stones were David’s weapon of choice—an unlikely weapon—as contrasted with Goliath’s sword, spear, and javelin. Nevertheless, the stone proved to be a very effective weapon of warfare, and succeeded in dealing a mortal blow to the Philistine champion.
As believers in the Messiah Yeshua, we are engaged in mortal combat with the enemy of our souls, hasatan, the devil. Like David, we get to choose our weapons, which ultimately are given to us by the Spirit of God. “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God…” (2 Cor. 10:4-5)
God has a weapon of choice for us this month: THANKSGIVING or THANKFULNESS. When we choose to thank the Lord in every situation (not necessarily FOR every situation), we set ourselves up for victory. Why? Because this is His perfect will! “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Messiah Yeshua for you.” (1 Thes. 5:18) Thanking God in everything, the good and the bad, shows that we trust Him and His sovereign control over our lives. When we thank the Lord, we strip the accuser of His power over us. We are choosing not to believe the lies of the evil one, who whispers that God has forsaken us, or doesn’t love us, or isn’t real, or hasn’t spoken to us, or won’t come to our rescue.
Five Stones of Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving can be as powerful as prayer, fasting, our testimony, and even quoting the Word. While traveling in September, we found ourselves on a black beach covered with smooth stones. We had both sensed a tremendous spirit of unbelief, and a general disregard and disinterest in God wherever we went. We picked up five smooth stones from the beach and carried them with us for the rest of our vacation, aware of our need to fight the good fight of faith.
Each of the stones became an effective weapon in our hands—a different aspect of giving thanks. There is so much to be thankful for, but we feel led to focus on five aspects of God that deserve our highest praise. We call them the five stones of Thanksgiving. They include thanking God for His Presence, His Passion, His Peace, His Providence, and His Promises.
Thank God for His Presence (Stone #1)
We are very thankful for the Presence of God. So was King David. He said, “… In Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Ps. 16:11). David also wrote, “Surely the righteous shall give thanks to Your name; the upright shall dwell in Your presence” (Ps. 140:13). In both verses “Your presence” is pa-NEY-kha (in Hebrew פניך).
The Presence of God is related to the “face” of God in Hebrew. When Adam and Eve hid themselves from the presence of the LORD in the Garden, they hid themselves from His פני pa-NEY (face). When the children of Israel were about to enter the Land of Promise, Moses beseeched the LORD concerning His presence, “If Your Presence (pa-NEY-kha) does not go with us, do not bring us up from here” (Ex. 33:15).
The face-to-face relationship that Adam and Eve lost, and that Moses knew (Ex. 33:11), is ours through the Messiah Yeshua. We have come to know God intimately. He is our Father. He is never far from us, and by His Spirit, He is present in us! The very presence of God, through the Ruach HaKodesh, dwells in each child of the Most High God. We have become His habitation, His dwelling place. How thankful we should be for the truth of 2 Cor. 4:7, “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.”
God is also omnipresent. He is everywhere. There is no place where He is not. As the Psalmist said, “If I ascend into heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there…” (Ps. 139:8). We are often unaware of God’s presence. Like the patriarch Jacob we cry out in wonder, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I knew it not” (Gen. 28:16).
Sometimes we experience what has been called the “manifest presence of God,” when we feel God’s nearness in a special way, either during a glorious worship service or while praying at home alone. Try praying, “Come Holy Spirit.” Welcome His Presence, and wait for His arrival! The word Shekinah (pronounced sheh-khee-NAH) in both Jewish and Christian theology refers to the glory of the divine presence. While this word does not appear in the Bible, the concept clearly does. The Jewish rabbis came up with “shekinah” as a form of a Hebrew word that literally means “He caused to dwell,” signifying that it is a divine visitation of the presence or dwelling of the LORD on earth.
Yeshua, our Messiah, is the embodiment of the Shekinah, “For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him…” (Col. 2:9-10). Thank God for His Presence in and around you!
Thank God for His Passion (Stone #2)
Passion has a double meaning as it relates to our God. Yeshua’s “passion” was His suffering, from the agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, to the unjust trial, flogging, humiliation, and horrible death by crucifixion. His passion included great mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical suffering. How thankful we should be that He endured the “passion” that each one of us deserved to experience because of our sin.
The “word of our testimony” (See Rev. 12:11.) is a word of thanksgiving, and always should include the underlying thought, “I should have been crucified for my sin, but Yeshua took my place.” Thank you, LORD! We overcome the enemy with this smooth stone.
There is another definition of passion: an intense emotion, a strong feeling, for example, a powerful love. That passion is what God feels for us. He loves us passionately. God reveals Himself from the very beginning of the Bible as a jealous God. “For you shall worship no other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.” (Ex. 34:14) The word “jealous” in Hebrew in this verse is ka-NAH, קנא. Again, in Deuteronomy 4:24, we read, “For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God”—El Ka-NAH— קנא אל. Some have seen this as a negative. It is not. God is a jealous God because He wants us all to Himself. He desires us with holy passion. No one will ever love you like the LORD loves you!
Yeshua’s passion for His bride is made especially clear in the Song of Songs. His love is unlike any other love because God loves with an eternal perspective. When Yeshua says to us, “You are all fair, my love, and there is no spot in you” (Song 4:7), He is seeing us through His blood, as we will be, not as we are. When the Shulamite (the bride, representing us) says in Song 7:10, “I am my beloved’s and his desire is toward me,” she voices the truth of our Lord’s passion for us, the bride that He has purchased with His own blood.
What should our response be? Thankfulness for such a great, amazing love! We don’t need to understand it; we just need to receive it.
Thank God for His Peace (Stone #3)
Yeshua, our Heavenly Bridegroom, is the Sar Shalom, the Prince of Peace. It was prophesied that Messiah would be this kind of King over 700 years before He was born (Is. 9:6). He came and brought us what the ancient rabbis considered the highest blessing: peace—shalom. The word in Hebrew means much more than the cessation of strife. It means completeness, prosperity, wholeness, and totality of well-being. Yeshua brings all this and more into our lives when He reigns there as King.
The peace for which we must be thankful is a peace that surpasses understanding (Phil. 4:7). That is because it is not a natural peace, but a supernatural one. We can have peace in the midst of the storms in our lives because our Messiah is Lord of the storm. Even the wind and the sea obey Him (Mark 4:39-41)!
Even more than having peace in our life situations, the peace that we have with God is great cause for thanksgiving. All of us were enemies of God, alienated from Him by our sins. Yeshua reconnected us with our Father, through His sacrifice, as expressed in Romans 5:1-2″, “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Yeshua HaMashiach, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”
How is thanking God for peace a weapon? When we thank God for peace, we are really thanking Him for His Son—who is our Peace, according to Ephesians 2:14. Yeshua is Peace, and He is the Lamb who defeats the serpent. He has defeated death, and His perfect love casts out fear. Peace is Messiah’s gift to us—a priceless gift—given from His heart to ours. “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (Jn. 14:27) “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (Jn. 16:33)
Amen! Thank You, Lord!
Thank God for His Providence (Stone #4)
While meditating on the five stones of thanksgiving, the Lord spoke to Jamie, “Why don’t you thank me for My Providence?” Jamie was not sure what Providence was, so we began to study. Wow. Really significant. The challenge here is to condense our research! Bottom line: Providence is connected with “provision.” The prefix “pro” in both words means “for.” The biblical doctrine of Providence can be summed up in the phrase: God for us. Consider Romans 8:31: “… If God is for us, who can be against us?” This truth is a powerful weapon if we believe, confess, and proclaim it. Say with us: “Thank You, Lord, that You are for me!” He is pleased when we acknowledge His goodness.
The first time the concept of God’s “providence” is found in the Bible is in Genesis chapter 22, Abraham’s offering of Isaac upon the altar. We know this as the akedah, and usually point out that it is the first time in Scripture that the word “love” appears as well. Love and Providence. Love and Provision. They go together. We read in Genesis 22:8, “And Abraham said, ‘My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering.'”
God’s Providence has to do with God’s making provision for our needs. We needed a Savior, someone to make atonement for our sin. In the fullness of time, God provided The Lamb, Yeshua, for all mankind. Our Father provided for us because of His great love for us! We can hear Him saying, “Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32).
Providence is sometimes defined as the protective care of God. It involves His foreknowledge, His omniscience, His will and the destiny that He has planned in love for each of us. Bible teacher R. C. Sproul explained Providence as follows: “This is our Father’s world, and the affairs of men and nations, in the final analysis, are in His hands.” He calls Romans 8:28, “A sure knowledge of divine providence.” “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” The verses that follow tell us that God predestined us to be conformed to the image of His Son Yeshua. He has called us, and we have a glorious destiny, but God has also given us free will and freedom of choice. Choose to thank Him for His Providence. Be comforted by the truth that God’s plans for you are good, and His thoughts toward you are filled with hope and love.
The doctrine of divine Providence asserts that God has control over all things. This includes the universe as a whole (Ps. 103:19), the physical world (Matt. 5:45), the affairs of nations (Ps. 66:7), human birth and destiny (Gal. 1:15), human successes and failures (Luke 1:52), and the protection of His people (Ps. 4:8). Most of us can look back on our lives and see the Providence of God at work. We are very thankful for one of these times! When we decided that it was time to move from our large home to a small condominium, the desire of Jamie’s heart was to live by or on the beach, so that she could throw out seashell messages and win souls until Messiah returns. We looked and looked, but beachfront property in Fort Lauderdale was prohibitively expensive. Nevertheless, we actually found a very small apartment and made an offer on it. It fell through—by the Providence of God. We began to search for condos in other areas and found a perfect spot on a man-made lake near the Everglades! Shortly after that, we went on a beach vacation with our son Jonathan and his wife Nancy, and discovered that Jamie had developed an allergy to the sun. Unless she wears a big hat, and applies sunscreen frequently when at the beach, she breaks out in a red rash. God knew! He closed the door to a beach home. (Jamie would be miserable, living on the beach, and having to avoid the sun!) God is Good. He knows what we don’t know. He works in our lives to protect us!! Thank God for His Providence!
Thank God for His Promises (Stone #5)
There are hundreds of promises in the Holy Scriptures in which God declares what He will do. Jamie’s personal NKJV Bible has a section entitled, “Hope Chest of the Bride,” in which promises are organized according to topics. The Hebrew word for promise is דברו, d’bah-ROW, a form of דבר, dah-BEAR to speak.
God keeps His promises. God keeps His Word. Mark 13:31 can be seen as a foundation of His promises: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.” While the Tanach is filled with promises, the New Covenant is founded on “better” promises. Referring to the Messiah Yeshua, the author of Hebrews writes, “But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, in so much as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises” (Heb. 8:6).
Many of these “better promises” are cause for great thanksgiving. The following promises are great weapons of warfare: John 10:27-28: “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.” John 14:14—”If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.” 1 John 4:4—”You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.”
Thank You, Lord, for Your promises, and for the promise about the promises! “For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us.” (2 Cor. 1:20)
With a heart of thanksgiving for God and you!