December 9, 2018

365 Days of the Great Names of God, Day 9: Prince of Peace

Prince of Peace

"For a child will be born for us, a son will be given to us, and the government will be on His shoulders. He will be named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace." (Isaiah 9:6 CSB)

So much about the arrival of Jesus—Emmanuel, the with-us God—to our world was surprising and unexpected. 

Where He did it: in a barn. 

Who heard the news first: a bunch of working-class guys who spent their days hanging out with sheep. 

How He did it: in the form of a helpless baby. 

Lots of people had been awaiting Emmanuel's arrival for a long time, but they were looking for a political prince of power. What they got was the Prince of Peace.

Jesus has always done the surprising thing. His way has always been the unexpected way. In His improbable peace, we find we are ruled by something far deeper and more lasting than any earthly power or treasure. This peace is not something we have to manufacture on our own or dredge up from our natural will or strength, for "He Himself is our peace" (Ephesians 2:14 NIV). It's something we give way to and allow ourselves to be protected by, for "then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7 NLT).

Sweet friends, may the unexpected, surprising peace of the Prince of Peace be yours today, throughout this Christmas season, and always.

December 8, 2018

365 Days of the Great Names of God, Day 8: Alpha and Omega

Alpha and Omega

"'I am the Alpha and the Omega,' says the Lord God, 'who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.'" (Revelation 1:8 NIV)

In their lowercase form, alpha and omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. But when these refer to our unquestionably uppercase God, they demonstrate one of my favorite characteristics of Yahweh (in fact, it's so much one of my favorites that you'll probably be sick of me talking about it by the time we get to day 365): His completion. 

Again and again throughout Scripture, we see the completeness of God on display. The Alpha and Omega finishes what He starts. He ends what He begins. He fulfills what He promises. He Himself is complete, and in relationship with Him, we discover our own completion.

Today we find ourselves at one "alpha and omega" point in our journey (okay, technically, it's more like an "omega and alpha" point, but let's not get legalistic here), having ended the first week and begun the next. I knew from the get-go that we never were going to get very far along in this series without visiting some wisdom from Elisabeth Elliot. We'll start with these words that feel perfect for today:
“It is God to whom and with whom we travel, and while he is the end of our journey, he is also at every stopping place.” (Elisabeth Elliot)

December 7, 2018

365 Days of the Great Names of God, Day 7: El Roi

El Roi: God who sees

"She gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: 'You are the God who sees me,' for she said, 'I have now seen the One who sees me.'" (Genesis 16:13 NIV)

In Genesis 16, the servant Hagar utters one of the two most stunning statements made by a woman in the entire Bible. (Full disclosure: that is entirely my personal opinion. And I'll gladly share what I think the other one is, but not until Easter.)

"I have now seen the One who sees me."

I love the "nows" of Scripture. They show us a turning point from past to present. They alert us that something has shifted or changed. They tell us that what is differs from what was. And here, the placement of the "now" in this English translation of the original Hebrew text is so significant. Hagar does not say, "I have seen the One who now sees me." She says, "I have now seen the One who sees me." 

God had always seen Hagar, but "now," she sees Him back. And when we get the place where we truly see El Roi (el roh-ee/el roy)—the God Who sees us—we are never the same. 

I want to leave you today with some song lyrics and a link to the song itself, both of which I believe beautifully convey the heart of El Roi...

Come out of hiding
You're safe here with Me
There's no need to cover
What I already see

You've got your reasons
But I hold your peace
You've been on lock-down
And I hold the key

No need to be frightened by intimacy
No, just throw off your fear
And come running to Me