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 lukewarmness...in 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 Is...so we are mindful of today.

God is the One Who Was...so we are grateful for yesterday.

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

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

September 19, 2019

365 Days of the Great Names of God, Day 293: The One Who Was


The One Who Was

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

" 'I am the Alpha and the Omega—the beginning and the end,' says the Lord God. 'I am the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come—the Almighty One.' " (Revelation 1:8 NLT)


I love the New Living Translation's version of Revelation 1:8 because of one word it includes that most other versions do not: "always." As in, "who always was."

God is beyond time. He is uncreated. He simply always has been. He is the Beginning and the End, but He Himself has no beginning and no end. I find this to be one of the many pieces of truth about God that I can't wrap my human mind around...which is fine with me, because I so very much need God to be beyond what my mind can comprehend.

God as "the One who is" reveals Himself to be God of the present. Yet the One Who Was is also God of the past. 


We're cautioned not to live in the past, and it is true we don't want to dwell there. Yesterday isn't our home.

We're told not to look back, that we're not going that direction—and it is true that if we're always glancing over our shoulder, we're going to stumble over what's in front of us.

Yet our past is part of our present and our future. 

Where we've been affects where we are and where we're going.

Who we were has something to say about who we are and who we're becoming.

We can't just brush our history aside as if it has no weight, yet with God, our history becomes part of His story. He takes our lessons and transforms them into wisdom. He takes our pain and transforms it into purpose. He takes struggles and turns them into victories. 

I'm so thankful that, because the Almighty has worked on me, I'm not who I was. And I'm so hopeful that, because the Almighty is still working on me, I'm not who I'm going to be. 

September 18, 2019

365 Days of the Great Names of God, Day 292: The One Who Is


The One Who Is


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

God is a present-tense God. A 
here-and-now God. 

The One Who Is made that perfectly, profoundly clear in one of the all-great conversations in the Bible (summarized here very loosely from Exodus 3):

God: "Moses, go get my people out of slavery in Egypt."

Moses: "I'm not the right guy for the job."

God: "Don't worry about it. I'll be with you."

Moses: "What if people ask who sent me? What if they want a name? What do I tell them then?"

God: "I'll tell you what you tell them: you tell them 'I AM is His name.' "

Basically, God's answer to Moses' question, "Who am I that I should do this?" is, "Never mind who you are. This is about who I am. And who I am is I AM."

I AM. Present, ongoing, unending. God of today, of right now.

"I am your shield" (Genesis 15:1).
"I am with you" (Isaiah 41:10).
"I am keeping watch" (Zechariah 9:8).
"I am your salvation" (Psalm 35:3).

And on and on the I AM is.

Because the One Who Is is beyond time and in charge of time, He also was and will be. God balances this flawlessly...but I have a hard time with it. My natural bent is to dwell (literally, camp out or pitch my tent) in the past or worry (fret, be anxious over) the future.

The One Who Is shows me the waste of this. If I throw away today because of what happened—or didn't happen!—yesterday or because of what might happen—or not happen!—tomorrow, I forfeit the gift of right now.

"This is the day the Lord has made," the psalmist declares (Psalm 118:24). THIS. Not, "yesterday was the day the Lord made" (even though He did). Not, "tomorrow is the day the Lord will make" (even though He will, if He chooses to tarry). "This is the day."

And what are we supposed to do with "this" day? God's great instruction manual provides a response that is both intentional and uncircumstantial.

"We will," rather than "we might" or "we should." 

And, "rejoice and be glad in it"—not necessarily about everything the day holds but in everything the day holds.

In this day...that the One Who Is has made...we will rejoice and be glad.

September 17, 2019

365 Days of the Great Names of God, Day 291: The Name


The Name

"Now the son of an Israelite mother and an Egyptian father was among the Israelites. A fight broke out in the camp between the Israelite woman's son and an Israelite man. Her son cursed and blasphemed the Name, and they brought him to Moses." (Levititus 2: 10, 11a CSB)

"God also said to Moses, 'Say this to the Israelites: Yahweh, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you. This is My name forever; this is how I am to be remembered in every generation.' " (Exodus 3:15 CSB)


Don't you just love the story of Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah in the fiery furnace?

If you're thinking "huh?" right about now, you're not alone. This trio is more familiarly known to us as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. They, along with Daniel-renamed-Belteshazzar, are four of the leading players we meet in the drama that unfolds in Daniel's namesake book.

Hananiah, Mishael, Azariah, and Daniel are the quartet's given Hebrew names. Each contains a reference to the Lord God: to "El" or "Yah." Hananiah means, "Yah has been gracious." Mishael means, "Who is what God is?" Azariah means, "Yah has helped." And Daniel means, "God is my judge." In freedom and at home with God, these faithful men carried pieces of the one true God with them. And they clung to these pieces of freedom and home even when they were taken captive and exiled to Babylon. There, they were assigned new names intended not only to change what they were called but their very identities; each of their Babylonian names contained a reference to a false god. King Nebuchadnezzar's intent was to cause them to forget who—and Whose—they were.

And yet they did not forget. They did not bow. They did not shift their allegiance. They did not trade in their God-given identities. 
They remained faithful to the Name.

In our own seasons of captivity and exile, we might give ourselves or be given new names as well.

Condemned.

Hopeless.

Broken.

Lost.

Incomplete.

Yet when we remember who and Whose we really are—when we remember that we bear the name of the Name—we can boldly reclaim our identifies as people who are free and at home with God.

Redeemed.

Hopeful.

Healed.

Found.

Whole.

To the Name whose name we bear, in the fire or in freedom, may we be forever faithful.

September 16, 2019

365 Days of the Great Names of God, Day 290: Sure Foundation


Sure Foundation

"He will be the sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the LORD is the key to this treasure." (Isaiah 33:6)

Imagine "your times" are a house. In it are all the things and people you love, your work, your rest, your valuables, your activities, your comings and goings...your life.

This house sits on a sure foundation. Yahweh. The Lord. The Rock. As the stability for the house of your times, He is steady, unshakable, firm, reliable, solid.

Built into this Sure Foundation is a locked box...a treasure chest, if you will. It is protective and safe. It is fireproof...when the flames of life burn hot. It is windproof...when the storms of life blow fiercely. It is waterproof...when the rains of life pour down.

This locked box contains a "rich store" of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge. It is so rich and valuable a store that the box must be locked to safeguard its contents. A key is needed to unlock this box, and there is only one that fits.

We cannot force our way into this locked box with the sledgehammer of our own pride and will. Neither can we jimmy it open with some flimsy paperclip of our good works and righteousness. Only the strong, perfectly shaped key of reverential, respectful fear of the I AM will gain us access to the valuable contents of this box.

And so we open the box with the key of our fear of the Lord. We gain access to the treasure. All around our house, fire, wind, and rains of uncertainty and trials burn, blow, and pour. But the house of our times—enriched with the rich store of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge and built on the sure foundation of God Almighty—feels like home.

September 15, 2019

365 Days of the Great Names of God, Day 289: God Who Is To Be Feared


God Who Is To Be Feared

"Be sure to fear the LORD and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you." (1 Samuel 12:24 NIV)


"So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." (Isaiah 41:10 NIV)

Awhile back, my teenager asked me, "What does it mean in the Bible when it says I am 'fearfully and wonderfully made'?" (Psalm 139:14).

I understood her confusion. After all, fear in the Bible is both prescribed and proscribed. It is encouraged and discouraged. It is required and restricted.

After some hemming and hawing, I told my daughter that fear as it is used in Scripture often refers to awe, respect, and reverence. It can mean to hold something in proper esteem. The fact that I am "fearfully made" tells me God formed me with respect for His own creation...that He had reverence for the important work He was doing...that He gave value to my life...that He was deliberate and careful.

When God says, "Do not fear," He is telling us not to give something our respect, our awe, our reverence. When He tells us to fear Himself, He is telling us to give that respect, awe, and reverence to Him.

Do not fear shaky ground: fear the Stability of Your Times. Do not fear the enemy; fear the Lord of Heaven's Armies. Do not fear death; fear the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Do not fear the unknown; fear the God Who Knows.

There is misplaced fear, and there is well-placed fear.

Misplaced fear is fear that binds. It enslaves us. It ties us up. It limits us. It clenches our fists.

Oh, but well-placed fear is fear that frees. It releases us. It loosens our knots. It opens our hands so we can lift them in worship to the God we reverence...the God who made us "fearfully and wonderfully," on purpose, for a purpose.


September 14, 2019

365 Days of the Great Names of God, Day 288: Supplier


Supplier

"And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus. Now all glory to God our Father forever and ever! Amen." (Philippians 4:19,20 NLT)

What do you need?

If someone asked you that question out of the blue right now, how would you answer?

What do you need?

A nap? A vacation? Chocolate? A break? Help? Prayer?

Most of our physical, spiritual, mental, and emotional needs can be filed under one of three broad headings:

1) We need guidance.

2) We need reference.

3) We need sustenance.

In other words, we need a way, we need truth, and we need life. And in Jesus—the Way, the Truth, and the Life—our Supplier has met each of these needs. And His is not just some barely-there, drop-in-the-bucket, token meeting of needs, either; it's open-up-heaven, give-us-His-Best, full and faithful supply.

When we need guidance, Jesus the Way shows us the road to take: the way of love, the way of worship, the way of prayer, the way of forgiveness, the way of servanthood.

When we need a reference point, Jesus the Truth paints bold strokes of black and white in a world that is increasingly gray. Yet He does it with wide compassion and tenderness.

When we need sustenance, Jesus the Life nudges us to check whether we've eaten the Bread of Life lately or taken a long drink from the fountain of Living Water.

"What do you need?" the Supplier asks.

"I need You," we tell Him. "And in You and with You, I lack nothing."

September 13, 2019

365 Days of the Great Names of God, Day 287: Revealer of Mysteries

Revealer of Mysteries

"The king asked Daniel (also called Belteshazzar), 'Are you able to tell me what I saw in my dream and interpret it?' Daniel replied, 'No wise man, enchanter, magician or diviner can explain to the king the mystery he has asked about, but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries. He has shown King Nebuchadnezzar what will happen in days to come.' " (Daniel 2:26-28a NIV)

"It's a mystery to me."

Sometimes we say this in our family...but it's usually about mysteries a lot less profound than a prophetic dream.

I love Daniel's response to the king's confusion about his nocturnal disruption: Daniel told the king exactly who couldn't explain it AND pointed him to the One who could.

I see two responses to this lesson that I need to get going on straight away.

First, when I am pondering some "mysteries" in my own life, I need to intentionally shift my thoughts toward the One who can solve them.

I don't know why this is happening...but there is a God in heaven who does.

I don't know how this is all going to turn out...but there is a God in heaven who does.

I don't know when things are going to change...but there is a God in heaven who does.

I don't know how I'm going to get through this...but there is a God in heaven who does.

One of the many facets of God's perfection is that not only does He know the when, why, and how of everything, He IS the when, why, and how. He is the timing. 
He is the reason. He is the provision. He doesn't just have an answer to my questions, He IS the answer. He doesn't just know the meaning behind my mysteries, He IS the meaning.

Which leads me to my second response: to the point where everything else is stripped away, and I simply declare, "I don't know ___________. But I do know this: there is a God in heaven."


September 12, 2019

365 Days of the Great Names of God, Day 286: Willing Spirit


Willing Spirit

"Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and sustain me with a willing spirit." (Psalm 51:12 NAS)

My second and last baby just got her driver's license, and suddenly she has lots of errands she needs to run. 


Last weekend, she "needed" to go into town (as we country folk call it) to get lip balm. She came home from her errand very satisfied with her lip balm but very dissatisfied about something that had happened while she was out.

She told me that when she was at a light, getting ready to pull out onto a main road that would lead her toward home, she saw a woman standing on the corner of the intersection. We often see men and women positioned there, holding up signs seeking food or money, and my daughter always notices them. She told me, "I just felt convicted that I should do something." She pulled (safely) into the fast-food restaurant that was easily accessible from the lane she was waiting in and went in to buy a gift card. But they were out. "I was so disappointed," she told me. "I really wanted to be able to give her one."

"Honey," I told her, "I can understand your disappointment, and I'm sorry things worked out that way. But don't you see? You responded to the Spirit's prompting. You obeyed. You had a willing spirit when God convicted you. That was already a win."

This is how it goes, sometimes, when the Willing Spirit convicts our spirits toward action. We want to see the story play out. We want to see a victory...not for ourselves, but for someone else. But when the Spirit prompts us to act, our job is obedience, not the outcome. Our job is response, not the result. This Spirit sustains us, keeps us moving forward, keeps us running the race.

On our page of our own stories as written by the Willing Spirit, faith is the victory. Obedience is the victory. Response is the victory.

And the favor of the Father—"well done, good and faithful servant"—is our prize and crown. 

September 11, 2019

365 Days of the Great Names of God, Day 285: Lord of Hosts


Lord of Hosts

"For thus says the LORD of hosts, 'Once more in a little while, I am going to shake the heavens and the earth, the sea also and the dry land. I will shake all the nations; and they will come with the wealth of all nations, and I will fill this house with glory,' says the LORD of hosts. 'The silver is Mine and the gold is Mine,' declares the LORD of hosts. 'The latter glory of this house will be greater than the former,' says the LORD of hosts, 'and in this place I will give peace,' declares the LORD of hosts." (Haggai 2:6-9 NASB)

"Lord of hosts" is not referring to God as the world's best party planner...although Scripture does seem to indicate He's got a pretty spectacular wedding banquet in the works.

"Lord of hosts"—the English translation of the Hebrew "Yahweh Sabaoth"—names God in His role as Commander of all the angelic forces.

The Hebrew root for Sabaoth, "tsaba," refers to people gathering together. Set into a divine context, a gathering—a "company"—of these hosts led some shepherds in song one night: "Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 'Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests' " (Luke 2:14).

Often, "tsaba" specifically references people gathering for war, and the Lord of hosts' armies do gather for war at His command and on our behalf. It's just that we have a hard time seeing them with earthly eyes. We are in good fellowship here, though, because one of the most fascinating stories from the Bible recounts a time when the servant of one of God's own prophets needed a little supernatural eye-opening.

"When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. 'Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?' the servant asked. 'Don’t be afraid,' the prophet answered. 'Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.' And Elisha prayed, 'Open his eyes, LORD, so that he may see.' Then the LORD opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha" (2 Kings 6:15-17).

With earthly eyes, the prophet Elisha's servant saw human forces surrounding the city. But when God cleared his vision, he saw other forces. Angelic forces. The hosts of heaven, led by their Leader and Lord. And the servant knew the truth of Elisha's confident declaration: “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them" (2 Kings 6:16).

Let's ask God to open our eyes. Let's see the hills around us full of warriors under the command of the Lord of hosts, all fighting for us, His beloved. And then let's take a jab at the enemy with our sword of the Spirit: "Those who are with us are more than those who are with you!" 

September 10, 2019

365 Days of the Great Names of God, Day 284: Yahweh-Sabaoth



Yahweh-Sabaoth

" 'From the nations where the sun rises to the nations where the sun sets, my name will be great. Incense and pure offerings will be offered everywhere in my name, because my name will be great among the nations,' says Yahweh Tsebaoth." (Malachi 1:11 Names of God Bible)

For a long time, I thought "Lord of the Sabbath" and "Lord Sabaoth" were the same. Every time we sang "Lord Sabaoth, His name" in the great hymn "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God" in church, I thought we were singing about the Lord of the Sabbath. I assumed "Sabbath" was just an English translation of the Hebrew "Sabaoth."

Now, thanks to the guidance of our great Teacher, I understand they are entirely different names of God.


And yet, I still see in them a profound connection.

The Lord of the Sabbath is the God of "rest": of restoration and renewal; of a ceasing of labor; of comfort; of the relaxing of a burden.

Yahweh-Sabaoth is a name of God translated several ways, including:

  • Jehovah of hosts (ESV)
  • Lord of heavenly forces (CEB)
  • ADONAI-Tzva'ot (CJB)
  • Lord of Hosts (CSB)
  • Lord Almighty (GNT)
  • God-of-the-Angel-Armies (MSG)
  • Lord All-Powerful (NCV)
When we put our trust in Yahweh-Sabaoth to fight for us and bring us out on the winning side of a battle, we enter into the comfort and renewal of the Lord of the Sabbath. 

Faith in Yahweh-Sabaoth—the all-powerful Lord of all the angelic armies of heaven—is what allowed David to rest in confidence when he was facing a giant. Faith in Yahweh-Sabaoth is what allows us to rest in confidence when we're facing our own giants.

This is not the rest of the tired. It is the rest of the triumphant.



September 9, 2019

365 Days of the Great Names of God, Day 283: Lord of Heaven's Armies


Lord of Heaven's Armies

" 'Who is this pagan Philistine anyway, that he is allowed to defy the armies of the living God?' Then David’s question was reported to King Saul, and the king sent for him. 'Don’t worry about this Philistine,' David told Saul. 'I’ll go fight him!' Saul finally consented. 'All right, go ahead,' he said. 'And may the LORD be with you!' Then Saul gave David his own armor—a bronze helmet and a coat of mail. David put it on, strapped the sword over it, and took a step or two to see what it was like, for he had never worn such things before. 'I can’t go in these,' he protested to Saul. 'I’m not used to them.' So David took them off again. He picked up five smooth stones from a stream and put them into his shepherd’s bag. Then, armed only with his shepherd’s staff and sling, he started across the valley to fight the Philistine. Goliath walked out toward David with his shield bearer ahead of him, sneering in contempt at this ruddy-faced boy. 'Am I a dog,' he roared at David, 'that you come at me with a stick?' David replied to the Philistine, 'You come to me with sword, spear, and javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of Heaven’s Armies—the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. Today the LORD will conquer you...and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel! And everyone assembled here will know that the LORD rescues his people, but not with sword and spear. This is the LORD ’s battle, and he will give you to us!' " (1 Samuel 17:26, 32, 37, 38-43, 45-47 NLT)

Picture the scene in your mind: the giant Goliath is a fierce and feared warrior, experienced in battle and armed for it. He is ruthless and terrifying. No one dares defy him, save one bold but ill-prepared volunteer: not a man, even, but a mere boy who is neither experienced nor armed.

When Goliath looks at David, what he sees with his human eyes is a shepherd boy, all alone, equipped only with a sling, a staff, and some stones. But what David sees with spiritual eyes of faith is a willing servant of the Lord Most High, advancing against a foe not by himself but in the company of an army of heavenly warriors led by Yahweh-Sabaoth, the Lord of Hosts.

David knows it is not he himself Goliath has defied; it is God he has defied. David knows it is not he himself who will conquer the giant; it is God who will conquer. David knows it is not he himself who will rescue God's people; it is God who will rescue. David knows it is not his battle he is fighting; it is God's battle—and the Lord of Heaven's Armies will fight...and win.

You might be facing a giant today. It might look big and impressive...fearsome, armed, and experienced in battle. When this giant looks at you, it might see only a lone opponent, unprepared and unarmed. When you look at yourself facing this giant, that might be all you see, too. 


But look again. Look with spiritual eyes that are focused by faith. See yourself being carried along by a company of divine warriors, sent by their Leader who calls you His child, and tell this giant, "I come to you in the name of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. Today the Lord will conquer you."


*   *   *   *   *   *
Song suggestion: "Whom Shall I Fear [God of Angel Armies];" Chris Tomlin; 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qOkImV2cJDg.

September 8, 2019

365 Days of the Great Names of God, Day 282: Lord of the Sabbath


Lord of the Sabbath

"Then Jesus said to them, 'The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.' " (Luke 6:5 NIV)

Dear friends, I have to tell you: I did not really want to write about this name of God.

It wasn't because I don't "like" it. It's because I didn't know what to do with it.

When I think of Sabbath, I think not doing. And in our do-more, be-more, have-more culture, not doing feels unfamiliar and uncertain.

But of course this is all the more reason to consider this name and what it means for you and me in the middle of our everyday lives.

Sabbath means "rest," and the various Hebrew and Greek words that our English translations render as "Sabbath" convey such meanings as "ceasing or coming to an end of activity," "being settled down," "finding tranquility," "to calm," "to comfort," "to refresh," and "a rest that comes from freedom or from the relaxation of a burden" ("New International Encyclopedia of Bible Words," Lawrence O. Richards).

Against this backdrop, here are four observations about the Sabbath from Scripture...threads you might want to weave into your own day of rest.

1. God rested on the seventh day of creation because He had completed His work; we rest so we can continue ours. "By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work" (Genesis 2:2). 


As long as God allows our lives on this earth to continue, He will always have something else for us to do. But we cannot keep doing if we're running on empty tanks; our reservoirs of energy and passion and commitment need to be regularly refilled, and a Sabbath—"ceasing" our ongoing activity for a time—is one way to do that.

2. A Sabbath day is a set-apart day. “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy" (Exodus 20:8). 


"Holy" means set apart for some sacred use. Other than God (who is holy not because He is set apart for but because He is set apart from), "holy" objects, people, days, etc. are ordinary on their own but become "holy" because they are reserved for God's use. God, of course, is a 24/7/365 kind of God, and every day of the week belongs to Him. But to keep a certain day holy implies that we reserve it for sacred use. We do things, maybe, that we don't do other days. Or perhaps we don't do things that day that we do do other days.

3. Sabbath rest is meant to renew. "But in the seventh year the land is to have a year of sabbath rest, a sabbath to the LORD. Do not sow your fields or prune your vineyards
" (Leviticus 25:4).

God prescribed a dormant season for His people's fields and vineyards for the same reason He commanded a Sabbath for His people: to give them—the fields, the vineyards, and the people—time to be renewed. Time to allow life deep within soil and souls to be replenished.

4. The Sabbath is not about restrictions; it's about restoration. It is not about rules; it's about relationship. "Going on from that place, he went into their synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Looking for a reason to bring charges against Jesus, they asked him, 'Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?' He said to them, 'If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? How much more valuable is a person than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.' Then he said to the man, 'Stretch out your hand.' So he stretched it out and it was completely restored, just as sound as the other" (Matthew 12:9-13).

The Pharisees, who liked to make rules where there didn't need to be any, put restrictions on the Sabbath and, as usual, missed the entire point of relationship with God. But, also as usual, Jesus went a different, radical way. He cared for people. He showed them their value. He brought new life. He made whole. We can ask God to do this for us, too—not only the Sabbath but maybe in a special way on the Sabbath. And then out of our restored, renewed, refreshed selves, we can follow Jesus' lead...and do good.

God, in all my striving, let there also be ceasing. In all my running, let there also be resetting. In all my doing, let there also be devotion. And in Your rest, may I be reminded that the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath, and the Lord of the Sabbath is Lord of all.

September 7, 2019

365 Days of the Great Names of God, Day 281: Garment


Garment

“You have all put on Christ as a garment.” (Galatians 3:27 NEB)

"Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all. Therefore, God's chosen ones, holy and loved, put on heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, accepting one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a complaint against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so also you must [forgive]. Above all, [put on] love-the perfect bond of unity."(Colossians 3:11-14 CSB)


I love the "put ons" of Scripture.

"Put on" light (Romans 13:12).

"Put on" Jesus (Romans 13:14).

"Put on" a new self (Ephesians 4:24).

"Put on" the armor of God (Ephesians 6:13).

"Put on" compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience (Colossians 3:12).

"Put on" love (Colossians 3:14).

God's directive to "put on" these things calls for action and intentionality. We don't get dressed by accident. We choose what we're going to wear and then take action to "put on" the clothing we've picked out. (If you're a teenage girl, this can be a long process.)

Putting on our spiritual clothing—as if we are outfitting ourselves in Christ our Garment—must also be intentional. Getting dressed in Jesus can take some effort. It's easier to stay in the comfy pajamas of our old nature. O
ur arms get tangled in the sleeves of kindness. We have to strain to reach the back button of forgiveness. The zipper of compassion gets stuck.

And here's another thing about "putting on" our Garment: we can't expect to get dressed in His clothing one time and have our outfit stay fresh and crisp. Forgiveness, unity, humility, and all the rest get limp after we wear them for a while.

We also can't expect people to keep noticing what we're wearing—our external spiritual "clothing" that gives visibility to our internal spiritual salvation—if we keep wearing the same outfit day after day. If I put on light, it will probably catch someone's attention at first, but after a while, it will grow dim. They'll get used to seeing it. "Oh, she's wearing the same old thing. I've seen that before," they'll say. I'll need to put on fresh light that someone in the dark will notice.

Let's "put on" Christ as a garment, beloved. Let's make the decision to outfit ourselves in His nature. Sometimes, kindness will be scratchy. Sometimes, patience will feel too tight. Sometimes, unity won't fit quite right. Sometimes, we won't feel like wearing love.

But when we have put on the new clothing of Jesus over our old wardrobe of self, we have the hope—to God be the glory—of hearing someone say, "I love your new outfit. He looks great on you."

September 6, 2019

365 Days of the Great Names of God, Day 280: All in All


All in All

"So if you have been raised with the Messiah, seek what is above, where the Messiah is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on what is above, not on what is on the earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with the Messiah in God. When the Messiah, who is your life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory. Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all." (Colossians 3 :1-4,11 CSB)

I know about "all."

I've got "all" this and "all" that worrying my mind, troubling my spirit. This is almost entirely because I am the queen of overreacting and under-praying, but still: I've got my "alls."

Jesus, though, is the All in my "all." Whatever my all is, He's got an all that not only matches mine, but masters it.

He is all peace in all my agitation.
He is all rest in all my weariness.
He is all calm in all my storms.
He is all humility in all my pride.
He is all light in all my darkness.
He is all truth in all my lies.

Jesus is all in all, not part in part. He is not a portion or a fraction or a down-payment. He is the whole, the fullness, the entire purchase price.

In all my agitation, weariness, storms, pride, darkness, and lies, I can look for other saviors. They may help a little. But they will never be more than part in part, because this Savior—this All in All—is the One and Only.

"You are my strength when I am weak,
You are the treasure that I seek,
You are my all in all.
Seeking You as a precious jewel,
Lord, to give up I'd be a fool,
You are my all in all.

Taking my sin, my cross, my shame,
Rising again I bless Your name,
You are my all in all.
When I fall down You pick me up,
When I am dry You fill my cup,
You are my all in all.

Jesus, Lamb of God,
Worthy is Your name.
Jesus, Lamb of God,
Worthy is Your name."

(From "You Are My All in All;" songwriter Dennis L. Jernigan; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zC617kE1maU.)

September 5, 2019

365 Days of the Great Names of God, Day 279: Faithful Witness


Faithful Witness

"Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne, and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen." (Revelation 1:4-6 NIV)

The defense attorney is looking for his star witness.

He is trying to prove the truth of who God is. He has brought in a consultant to help him find this witness.

"I need someone who knows the entire story from beginning to end," the attorney tells the consultant.

"You need the Alpha and Omega," the consultant says.

"Yes," the attorney answers. "And I need someone who has special favor with God."

"You need the Beloved," the consultant says.


"Yes," the attorney answers. "And I need someone who has full, unrestricted access to the Ancient of Days."

"You need the Great High Priest," the consultant says.

"Yes," the attorney answers. "And I need someone who can relate to the people...someone who has walked among them and knows how they think and feel and what they need and want."

"You need Emmanuel," the consultant says.


"Yes," the attorney says. "And I need an expert witness, not just a layperson."

"You need the Master," the consultant says.

"Yes," the attorney answers. "And I need someone well-acquainted with the law...someone who knows the whole of it."

"You need the Lawgiver," the consultant says.

"Yes," the attorney says. "And I need someone who will testify to the truth without compromise."

"You need the Faithful Witness," the consultant says.

"Yes," the attorney answers. "And I need someone who will stay steady under cross-examination."

"You need the Rock," the consultant says.

"Yes," the attorney answers. "And I need someone unimpeachable...someone without a single black mark on his record to discredit him."

"You need the Holy One," the consultant says.

"Yes!" the attorney answers. "This is exactly the kind of witness I need. Do you know someone like this?" he asks.

"Yes," the consultant says. "I AM."

September 4, 2019

365 Days of the Great Names of God, Day 278: The Lord Is Good (Adonai Tov)


The Lord Is Good (Adonai Tov)

"The LORD is good and does what is right; he shows the proper path to those who go astray." (Psalm 25:8 NLT)

"You are good, and what you do is good; teach me your decrees." (Psalm 119:68 NIV)


"God is good,

All the time.
All the time,
God is good."

This refrain is meant to remind us of two foundational facts: God is good—He is kind, loving, compassionate, generous, faultless, and on the list goes—and His goodness is true even when what He does does not look or feel good to us.

The apparent (to our human eyes) delay and disguise of God's goodness can perplex and distress us.

Consider the Biblical Elizabeth. Here is a woman described in God's own inspired words as "righteous in the sight of God" (Luke 1:6)...a devout woman who has begged God for years for one good thing that God Himself has said is good: a child. She has probably been asking God for this good thing since she was a young married woman, if not before. She must wonder why God does not give her this good thing.

Fast forward many years which must not have seemed fast at all to Elizabeth, and she finally gets the good news she's been waiting for. Unbelievably good news. News so unbelievably good, in fact, that her husband Zechariah does not believe it…and is given something of a divine hand over his mouth in reproof.

Elizabeth, in her old age, is going to have a child...a son who will "bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord" (Luke 1:16,17). (That's quite the opening entry in a baby book.)

As if all this is not good enough, when an expectant Elizabeth is visited by her also-expecting cousin, Mary, Elizabeth's good-news baby literally starts jumping for joy within her: "At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: 'Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!' " (Luke 1:39-45).

We ask for God for one good thing. But our lavishly good-all-the-time Adonai Tov piles good upon good. At just the right time—not the time when Elizabeth asked but the time when the divine stage was set for good upon good—God gave Elizabeth the good thing she longed for but did it in a multiplying way so that it was also good for someone else: for a frightened teenager who, with a few words from Elizabeth at just the right time, was reassured she was not crazy but blessed.

I ask God for a good thing. He says, "I have a grander kind of good in mind." I say, "But God, this is good enough." And He says, "But I am so much more than a good-enough God."

September 3, 2019

365 Days of the Great Names of God, Day 277: Our Choice


Our Choice

“Now fear the LORD and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.” (Joshua 24:14,15 NIV)

"Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes." (Ephesians 1:4 NLT)

I am at a choosing place.

I am standing at a fork in the road. It is a one-way road, so I cannot go back. Straight ahead, the road ends. I must choose to go either right or left. Not choosing is not a choice available to me.

When I am at a choosing place, I must decide: who will I serve? Which way will I go?

Will I choose the father of lies or the Father of Lights?

Will I choose self or others?
Will I choose despair or hope?
Will I choose grace or condemnation?
Will I choose impatience or self-control?
Will I choose comfort or sacrifice?
Will I choose the temporary or the eternal?

When I am at a choosing place, Abba's voice always echoes with the greatest choice of all, the one that's already been made: "Even before I made the world, I made a choice. I chose you."

September 2, 2019

365 Days of the Great Names of God, Day 276: God of the Weary


God of the Weary

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30 NIV)

I'm willing to bet that if I started an online group called "Come, Weary People," I'd have 100 members in a day...if it took that long.

We are weary people. We are sleep-deprived and tired, but weariness goes beyond that. Weariness goes deeper. Weariness is the slumped shoulders of our souls.

When Jesus called the weary, He wasn't just calling people who needed a nap or a good night's sleep.

He was calling the burdened. The laboring. The heavy-laden. The struggling.

He used agricultural imagery, as He often did, because that's what made sense to His audience. When He talked of burdens and yokes, He brought to His hearers' minds images of farm animals struggling under the weight of loads too heavy for them to bear on their own.

One of the many beauties of Jesus' teaching tools, though, is that they work for us today, whether or not we have any connection to an agricultural lifestyle. We can easily picture ourselves bent over by a too-heavy load we're trying, wearily, to carry.

Loads of responsibility and worry and guilt and fear and uncertainty and grief.

But Jesus was not just rounding up a group of weary people who could commiserate with each other. His call was not, "Come, all you who are weary...." His call was, "Come to me"—and that makes all the difference.

"Come to me," Jesus said. If I come to my friends or my husband or my children or my parents or my Bible study sisters or my church family with my wearying load, they will not entirely be able to lift it. They love me. They will want to help. They will try to help. They will do what they can. But they will not be able to fully lift it because they are carrying their own loads. Their own yokes are hard and their burdens are heavy.

"Come to me...and you will find rest for your souls." Maybe I realize I cannot come with my load to my friends and family, so maybe I "come" with it to other things I hope can lift it. A change of schedule or a vacation or some product I buy that I hope will make life easier. But Jesus was and is not just offering rest for physical bodies; He was and is offering rest for eternal souls.

"Come." I have to do my part by responding to Jesus' invitation. I have to come to Him in prayer, in study, in worship, in fellowship, in letting-go.

"To me." I have to come to Jesus, not to some other supposed burden-bearer.

"Find rest for your souls." I have to come to Jesus looking not for a quick catnap that will temporarily lift the heaviness from my head but for a deep rest that will eternally lift the heaviness from my soul. And it will not be lifted because I have rested up and gotten better at carrying it myself; it will be lifted because Jesus, God of the Weary, is carrying it for me.

September 1, 2019

365 Days of the Great Names of God, Day 275: Coming One


Coming One

"Don't throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you need endurance, so that after you have done God's will, you may receive what was promised. For in yet a very little while, the Coming One will come and not delay." (Hebrews 10:35-37 CSB)


Ours is a God of invitation. But His invitations are open-ended and unforced. He leaves the choice of whether or not to respond to them—to respond to Him—up to us.

"I am the Door," Jesus says, but He does not force us to open it.

"I am the Way," Jesus says, but He does not force us to walk it.

"I am the Truth," Jesus says, but He does not force us to believe it.

"I am the Life," Jesus says, but He does not force us to live it.

So, too, with Jesus as the Coming One: out of who He is, He calls to us...then leaves the option of response up to us.

"Come," the Coming One says, and what He offers is both our right and our responsibility. He presents us with a gilt-edged invitation embossed with the seal of the Master of the house. By His grace and favor, we have the right to be on the guest list. But if we do not fulfill our responsibility and respond to His invitation—if we do not show up at the banquet and take our seat at the table next to all the other weary and burdened, the laboring and the laden—we will miss the feast.

"Come," the Coming One says. And then He waits.


August 31, 2019

365 Days of the Great Names of God, Day 274: The God Who Gave You Birth


The God Who Gave You Birth

"You deserted the Rock, who fathered you; you forgot the God who gave you birth." (Deuteronomy 32:18 NIV)

The other day, I had to round up my younger daughter's birth certificate...the official one with the raised seal, not the commemorative one that would be in her scrapbook if I was the kind of mom who made scrapbooks for her children.

When I looked at her birth certificate, the heading grabbed me: "Certificate of Live Birth." It caught me off guard a little...and then made me grateful again for her birth and for her life.

We all have this "certificate of live birth," but God is not done birthing us. In the Creator's hands, standing on the Rock our Father, we are always being reborn, remade, renewed.

"Jesus replied, 'Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again' " (John 3:3).

"He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created" (James 1:18).

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead" (1 Peter 1:3).

"For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God" (1 Peter 1:23).

John 16:21 says, "A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world."

I'd probably bristle at this were it not for the fact that remembering and forgetting as they are referenced here have to do with acting or not acting on what we recall. "Forget" in this framework doesn't mean the mental record of pain is wiped away but rather that I don't act on it in terms of how I relate to my children. I recall the pain of my girls' births just fine but consider it nothing compared to the joy of having them. The gift of life with them was worth getting to. 

When God births us in a new way or causes something new to be born in us, there's almost always some pain involved. This is where we have to trust the goodness of the Creator. This is where we have to claim the loving intentions of the God who gave us birth. This is where we have to hold onto the Rock. This is where we have to wait for the Joy-Giver and believe that the gift of life with Him is worth getting to.

August 30, 2019

365 Days of the Great Names of God, Day 273: Gardener


Gardener

"I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful." (John 15:1,2 NIV)

The Gardener is tending His flower beds. 

He moves carefully among the flowers, looking the plants over, examining them. They are beautiful and healthy: they speak of the Gardener's skill, knowledge, creativity, and faithfulness. He is a Master Gardener. 

The Gardener is happy with everything in His garden, except for one flower.

This flower sits alone, away from the rest of the garden, in a pot by herself. She is limp and drooping; her leaves are wilted and brown at the edges. She is not blooming at all.

A visitor comes to the garden. He sees this flower and asks the Gardener why He doesn't get rid of her. "She'll never amount to anything," the visitor says. "She'll never be beautiful. You should throw her away."

But the Gardener refuses. "No," He says, "I am not going to throw her away. I see what she is, but I also see what she can be."

He tenderly carries the flower in her pot to His potting bench. He talks to her and gently but firmly pinches off the dying leaves. The flower protests. "I'm used to those leaves! I know them!"

"I know," the Gardener tells her, "but they aren't good for you. They are draining life from you. I had to cut them off."

Then the Gardener moves the flower into the sun. She protests, "It's hot here! I don't like it!"

"I know," the Gardener tells her, "but you need the light. It will activate life in you. It will make you grow."

After a while, the Gardener moves the flower back into the shade. She protests again. "I don't want to move! I liked the sun! It's chilly here!"

"I know," the Gardener tells her, "but you can't stay in the light all the time. You need to rest where it's cool. This is part of growing, too.

Finally, the flower's roots are strong enough that the Gardener transplants her out of her pot and into the garden with all the other flowers. Some look like her, some look different from her.

The flower protests one more time. "I'm not used to being around other flowers! I liked being in my pot by myself!"

"I know," the Gardener tells her. "And you were beautiful by yourself. All of my flowers are beautiful by themselves. But you are more beautiful together."

Many new visitors come to see the garden. The flowers are glorious. They are a display of splendor. 

But when the visitors leave, they do not praise the flowers. 

They praise the Gardener. 

For they know it is His splendor they have seen.

"They will be called...a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor" (Isaiah 61:3).

August 29, 2019

365 Days of the Great Names of God, Day 272: Provider


Provider

"So Abraham called that place The LORD Will Provide. And to this day it is said, 'On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided.' " (Genesis 22:14 NIV)

Jesus s
aid it's not the healthy who need a doctor but the sick (Luke 5:31). His point, of course, wasn't that He didn't care about healthy people; His point was that everyone needs the spiritual healing of the Great Physician, whether they realize it or not. 

Sometimes we don't know we're sick. We don't want to be sick. But God has a way of showing us our sickness so we'll recognize our need for a Healer. He has a way of showing us our lack so we recognize our need for a Provider. 

Sometimes, God takes us to a low place so we can see that He is the Rock That Is Higher Than I.

Sometimes, God takes us to a busy place so we can see that He is our Rest.

Sometimes, God takes us to a hot place so we can see that He is our Shade.

Sometimes, God takes us to an unfamiliar place so we can see that He is our Home.

Sometimes, God takes us to a stormy place so we can see that He is our Shelter.

And sometimes, God takes us to a place where we see what we are not so we can see that He is I AM.

Lean into your lack. The Provider likes us to come to Him hungry and thirsty and poor and weak, because that's the best environment for Him to show us that He is the Bread of Life, the Living Water, our Treasure, and our Strength. 

And when we see Him as He is, we find that any place can be a place called The Lord Will Provide.

August 28, 2019

365 Days of the Great Names of God, Day 271: God Who Knows


God Who Knows

“Do not keep talking so proudly or let your mouth speak such arrogance, for the LORD is a God who knows, and by him deeds are weighed." (1 Samuel 2:3 NIV)

"I know her."
"I know that family."
"I know how to do that."
"I know where that is."

I "know" these people and things...by which I mean I am aware of their existence or have some general knowledge or familiarity with them.

But the God Who Knows does so in a way that is all and only His. He knows us intimately, inside-out. He knows fully. He knows without error or absence of information. He knows the beginning and the end and every mark along the way.

In the face of so much we don't know in this life, what God does know should comfort us like nothing else.

He knows the plans He has for us...and they are good: " 'For I know the plans I have for you,' says the LORD. 'They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope ' " (Jeremiah 29:11).

He knows how we are formed...and loves us: "For he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust. But from everlasting to everlasting the LORD’s love is" (Psalm 103:14, 17a).

He knows the way we take...and refines us through it: "But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold" (Job 23:10).

He knows our hearts...and leads us in the way everlasting: "
Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting" (Psalm 139:23,24).

He knows us, His sheep...and lays down His life for us: “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep" (John 10:14,15).

Look at the reciprocal knowing of John 10:14. It is not just the Shepherd who knows His sheep but His sheep who know Him! The sheep have deep familiarity, knowledge, and trust born out of that knowledge for the Shepherd, just as He has for them. This, dear friends, is our goal: to know the Shepherd who knows us. And then to be able to make our own declaration of knowing, just as Job did (19:25): "I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth."

August 27, 2019

365 Days of the Great Names of God, Day 270: The Stability Of Your Times


The Stability Of Your Times

"The LORD is exalted, for he dwells on high; he will fill Zion with justice and righteousness; and he will be the stability of your times, abundance of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge; the fear of the LORD is his treasure." (Isaiah 33:5,6 RSV)

There's a lot of uncertainty spinning around me in some circles of my life—not for me personally, but for people I love and care about who are feeling uneasy, unsettled, unsure.

Students are uneasy about how the new school year will go.

Parents are unsettled about their students.

Members of our church family are uncertain about how health issues are going to turn out.

Friends are unsure about their marriages.

When our minds are swirling with unease, we have two main choices: we can feed the whirlwind with what we don't know, or we can look to the Stability of our times who "has his way in the whirlwind and in the storm" (Nahum 1:3) and claim Who we do know.

We know the Healer is still in the business of working physical, spiritual, mental, and emotional wholeness.

We know the Consuming Fire is still in the business of burning away dross that contaminates and weakens the faith He intends to strengthen.

We know the Way-Maker is still in the business of parting seas and moving mountains.

We know our Portion is still in the business of providing daily bread.

We know the Potter is still in the business of molding and shaping us into beautiful, useful vessels.

"Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God," wrote Corrie ten Boom. And though the whirlwind of life rages on, never be afraid to trust unsure, uncertain times to a sure and certain God.


August 26, 2019

365 Days of the Great Names of God, Day 269: Replenisher


Replenisher

"I will satisfy the weary, and all who are faint I will replenish." (Jeremiah 31:25 NRS)

Ever since I had the privilege of doing a study on the fruit of the Spirit—and more specifically, on the nine characteristics of that fruit—I've included a specific request in my morning prayers for my family: "Holy Spirit, please fill us with Your love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control." 


Sometimes, I vary the wording on this: "please create within us new love, joy, peace..." or, "please well up within us fresh love, joy, peace...."

I pray this every day because I need the Holy Spirit to replenish His fruit in my husband, my children, and me every day. This neediness isn't because the Spirit's fruit is incomplete or imperfect; it's because it's meant to be "consumed." 


Life in relationship with God, set on the stage of this flawed world, is an ongoing, fluid, perpetual project. The Holy Spirit doesn't fill us with a lifetime supply of His fruit and then leave us to preserve it and spoon it out in tiny portions that are just enough to keep us going. Instead, I'm convinced He wants us to give that fruit away without reservation or hesitation in lavish amounts to everyone we come into contact with so that when we get up in the morning and start a new day, we're "faint" with hunger for more of Him and more of what He produces in us. 

This is God's radical economy: when we save, we are poor; when we spend, we are rich.

Come thirsty...and be quenched. Come hungry...and be fed. Come weary...and be satisfied. Come faint...and be replenished.