May 25, 2019

365 Days of the Great Names of God, Day 176: His Name Reminds and Renews

His Name Reminds and Renews

"Look to the LORD and to his strength. Always look to him. Remember the wonderful things he has done." (1 Chronicles 16:11-12a NIRV)

"Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect." (Romans 12:2 NLT)

The human mind has been called a battlefield, and oh my YES, do I feel like I wage war on it. Every. Single. Day.

It seems like I’m always fighting my mind: fighting to think about things above, not earthly things; fighting to not think about “that thing” I’ve already thought about ENOUGH ALREADY, for crying out loud; fighting to think about others instead of myself.

I know I need to renew my mind. I know I need to reprogram and redirect it.

At the risk of stating the obvious, "new" is a big part of renewing our minds: our minds need to go somewhere new, think of something new, take a new path.

I understand all this, but so often my mind gets stuck on the old: old thoughts, old patterns, old worries, old regrets. Still, there is at least one aspect of the "old" that can help me renew my mind: remembering what God has done. The prayers He has said "yes" to; the prayers He said "no" to that turned out to be a greater "yes" in disguise; the things He has provided; His faithfulness.

We act on what we remember, so when I direct my mind to recount the works of God in my life in the past, it encourages me to act in confident expectation of what He will do in the present and future.

The Alpha and Omega is God of the old and of the new. He is God of then and of now. He is God of what has been and what will be. When I intentionally turn my mind back to what He has already done, my hope for what He will do is fed.

Even knowing this, though, my mind sometimes draws a blank when I'm trying to recall God's past wonders. (My mind is, in fact, quite prone to drawing blanks.) But look: here comes God's name to the rescue again, filling in those mental spaces and renewing my mind in the process.

I remember the seas the God Who Makes a Way has parted.
I remember the victories the God of Battle has won for me.
I remember when my mind and spirit have heard from the God Who Speaks.
I remember the times the God of Letting Go has unclenched my fists.
I remember nights of grief visited by the God of Mourning.
I remember being broken by the God Who Breaks.
I remember being put back together by the God Who Mends.

We can choose to remember what God has already done. We can choose to be hopeful about what He's going to do. And in the choosing, our minds are renewed.

Oh God, Your name reminds and renews. Help me to make it known.

May 24, 2019

365 Days of the Great Names of God, Day 175: His Name Is Our Saving Grace

His Name Is Our Saving Grace

"For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God." (Ephesians 2:8 ESV)

Of all the things God's grace has saved me from, the greatest has been from myself.

From my nature.
From my habits.
From my presets.
From my faults.
From my defaults.

It's not that all this is junk to God; He made us as we are, with emotions and nuances and personalities and "quirks"—and what He makes is perfect. But we wade into sin and muddy God's clear waters, and so we need the saving grace of God's name to lift us out of the muck and mire and take us from where we are to where God wants us to be.

The grace of the One and Only saves me from my divided heart.
The grace of the Yahweh-Tsidkenu saves me from my unrighteousness.
The grace of the Spirit of Wisdom saves me from my foolishness.
The grace of the Faithful God saves me from my unfaithfulness.
The grace of the God of Passion saves me from my indifference.

I'm so thankful that, by God's grace, I'm not who I used to be. And I'm so hopeful that, by God's grace, I'm not who I'm going to be.

Oh God, Your name is our saving grace. Help me to make it known.

"You're my helper, my healer,
My blessed redeemer,
My answer, my saving grace."

(From "Worthy Of Your Name;" Passion; songwriters Brenton Brown, Sean Curran, Brett Younker;

May 23, 2019

365 Days of the Great Names of God, Day 174: His Names Tell His Story

His Names Tell His Story

"Let the redeemed of the LORD tell their story— those he redeemed from the hand of the foe, those he gathered from the lands, from east and west, from north and south." (Psalm 107:2,3 NIV)

A few months ago, my younger daughter and I went to see a play. It was a well-known classic, but we'd never seen it before and didn't really know what it was about. Afterwards, my daughter asked what I was also wondering: "what, exactly, WAS that about?"

My high-schooler is a conscientious English student and knows any good story is supposed to include certain elements, among them a problem that needs to be solved and a climactic turning point in the plot. We couldn't find either in the play we'd just seen. (But we did have a good time together and have laughed about the play's lack of storyline ever since, which any parent of a teenager will tell you are both worth the cost of a ticket and then some.)

God's story, though, suffers from no such deficits. His story is like its Author: complete. And it is woven together with threads of His names.

God's story has a cast of leading characters: God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit.

It has secondary characters: the Creator's creations.

It has a problem that needs to be solved: our sin and the way it breaks our relationship with the Holy One.

It has a hero: Jesus.

It has many climactic turning points: when Emmanuel arrives on earth; when the Lamb of God declares, "It is finished;" when the tomb is empty because the Victor has defeated death; when the Risen Christ, mistakenly believed by Mary to be a gardener, speaks her name and in one word undoes all that sorrow has done.

And God's story—oh the joy of it—has a happy ending that's really just the happiest of all beginnings: when the Faithful and True—His eyes blazing, His head crowned, and all of heaven's armies behind Him—rides in on His white horse and defeats the enemy once and for all (Revelation 19). For all who wait in faith. For all who hope in faith. For all who believe in faith.

Dear ones, God, who knows the beginning from the end, has written the whole of His story. But we still have reading to do. In His story, we find our stories. And as we turn each new page, we have a call to carry out: "let the redeemed of the LORD tell their story."

Oh God, Your names tell Your story. Help me to make it known.

"You're my author, my maker,
My ransom, my Saviour,
My refuge, my hiding place.
You're my helper, my healer,
My blessed redeemer,
My answer, my saving grace."

(From "Worthy Of Your Name;" Passion; songwriters Brenton Brown, Sean Curran, Brett Younker;