September 22, 2019

365 Days of the Great Names of God, Day 296: God Who Loves (Elohim Ahavah)

God Who Loves (Elohim Ahavah)

"The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: 'I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.' " (
Jeremiah 31:3 NIV) 

"Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things." (
1 Corinthians 13:7 ESV)

I’ve never forgotten one definition of “bears” I learned years ago around the women’s Bible study table: to “put up with.”

Oh, friends, is there ever some putting up with to be done on this earth: with ourselves, with our coworkers, with our spouses, with our children, with our friends, with our churches.

This is the stuff of real life, and yet as believers, we are called to something more than mere survival, more than just getting through each day. We are aiming at the goal of a love so radical, it has to come from the world’s only perfect example: the God who loves.

This God puts up with me all the time. I do not mean He merely tolerates me. Nor do I mean He overlooks or excuses sin. I do not mean He does not hold me to a standard. I do not mean He delivers me from all the consequences of my actions. But He loves me in spite my failings and my disobedience and my spite of myself. And, He loves me enough to show me something better.

On our own, we just get by (if that), but when we ask for the strength God gladly and lavishly gives, we can put up with what would otherwise undo us. We can believe when we would otherwise give up. We can hope when we would otherwise despair. We can endure when we would otherwise quit.

And so each morning as we get out of bed (whether by leap or by straggle), we can ask Elohim Ahavah to renew us in a bearing, believing, hoping, enduring way. And when we do, we can trust that His love-driven “yes” is at the ready.

September 21, 2019

365 Days of the Great Names of God, Day 295: Caring God

Caring God

"Throw the whole of your anxiety upon Him, because He Himself cares for you." (1 Peter 5:7 WNT)

I'm sorry.

I tell my girls this when they're going through something difficult, painful, or troubling.

"It's not your fault," they usually respond.

And I say to them, "I'm not sorry because this is my fault. I'm sorry because what hurts you hurts me. I know I didn't cause it, but I'm sorry because of it."

What I'm trying to do—however imperfectly—is to model the compassion of Abba. The caring nature of God is on display time and time again in His story. I love how these verses, in particular, reveal so clearly that what hurts us hurts God.

On your behalf and my behalf, the tender heart of God is:

Distressed. "In all their distress, He too was distressed, and the angel of His presence saved them. In His love and mercy He redeemed them; He lifted them up and carried them" (Isaiah 63:9).

Dismayed. "When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 'Where have you laid him?' He asked. 'Come and see, Lord,' they replied. Jesus wept. Then the Jews said, 'See how He loved him!' " (John 11:32-36).

Dissatisfied. "As evening approached, the disciples came to Him and said, 'This is a remote place, and it's already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.' Jesus replied, 'They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat' " (Matthew 14:16).

Displeased. " 'I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering' " (Exodus 3:7).

Disturbed. "Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress...The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death, a light has dawned. You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy; they rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest, as men rejoice when dividing the plunder. For as in the day of Midian's defeat, You have shattered the yoke that burdens them, the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor..." (Isaiah 9:1-4).

El Shaddai—God Almighty and all-sufficient—is sorry for our sorrow, not because it is His fault but because it hurts those He loves.

In the person of Emmanuel, He has walked among us and has been one of us, and so He feels what we feel.

God's heart is moved on our behalf because He is caring and compassionate. His hand is moved on our behalf because He is passionate and powerful.

Abba feels deeply about what troubles His children, but unlike us so often as human parents, He is not helpless to do anything about it. He is I AM. He can do anything He chooses.

He could—and did—redeem Israel.

He could—and did—resurrect Lazarus.

He could—and did—feed the hungry crowds.

He could—and did—free His children from slavery.

And He could—and did—save the whole world.

O my soul, bless the Lord.

"Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy. As a father shows compassion to His children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear Him. For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust...But the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting" (from Psalm 103).

September 20, 2019

365 Days of the Great Names of God, Day 294: The One Who Is Coming

The One Who Is Coming

"The Lord God says, 'I am the Alpha and the Omega. I am the One who is and was and is coming. I am the Almighty.' " (Revelation 1:8 NCV)

One of our family mottos is, "Looking forward to something is at least half the fun of it."

We milk this hopeful anticipation for all it's worth. We pull up pictures of places we've reserved for lodging and read all the reviews. We research what we'll do when we're there. We count down. We talk it up.

Of course we know the future is promised to no one. Of course we know each of us only has the current breath we're taking "guaranteed." Of course we know plans change. Of course we know anything can happen. But we are hoping, not assuming. It is a cautious looking-forward.

By contrast, every person whose name is written in the Lamb's book of life can look forward to certain future realities with bold confidence and unrestrained expectation. This is anticipation undiluted by uncertainty. I'd go so far as to say the only thing we don't know about these future events, other than the "when of them," is how incredible they'll be. With our finite minds, we can't truly know...but we can look ahead to them nonetheless.

We look forward to the day when "sorrow and sighing will flee away" (Isaiah 35:10).

We look forward to the day when "there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain" (Revelation 21:4).

We look forward to the day when "joy comes in the morning" (Psalm 30:5).

We look forward to the day when we see clearly and know fully (1 Corinthians 13:12).

We look forward to the day when our living Redeemer stands on the earth (Job 19:25).

God is the One Who we are mindful of today.

God is the One Who we are grateful for yesterday.

God is the One Who Is we are hopeful about tomorrow.

As a matter of fact, we are looking forward to it.