February 18, 2019

365 Days of the Great Names of God, Day 80: Divine Leader

Divine Leader

"Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands." (Deuteronomy 8:2 NIV)

I had to go somewhere the other day I'd never been before. I'd never even heard of the street my destination was on. And I was under a time constraint, so I was nervous about finding the place and getting my tightly-scheduled teenager where she needed to go after I picked her up from where she was.

I had the Google British-accent direction lady on standby, telling me where to turn in how many feet, but I didn't trust her. I wasn't sure she really knew what she was talking about. I wasn't confident she actually knew where I was and where I needed to get to.

At the end of Moses' tenure as the earthly leader of the nation of Israel, we find the people of God also needing to go someplace they've never been before...and with someone new guiding them on. Moses knows they're nervous about the change of command. He knows they don't know where they're going. He knows they're worried about the enemies they'll face on the way.

And so he comforts them with this perfect pep talk: "The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged" (Deuteronomy 31:8 NIV).

The Lord goes before you. He'll be with you. Don't be afraid.

Moses doesn't review his own resume, and he doesn't tout the credentials of Joshua, his (godly, able, trustworthy) successor. He knows a human leader can only be in one place at a time...either up ahead or with his charges or bringing up the rear. 

Instead, Moses reassures the people he loves with the package deal of God's presence: before, beside, and behind.

Our omnipresent, everywhere-at-once Divine Leader can be—and is—miles down the road, waiting for us at our destination AND at our side on the journey AND covering our backs from harm we cannot see. 

Wherever you're going today—a job you have to do, a decision you have to make, a relationship you need to feed, a hurt you need to heal, a dream you need to pursue—know that your Divine Leader is already before you waiting for you at your destination. Press into His presence beside you while you're getting there. Take comfort in His protection behind you. And then walk on in courage and confidence.

"You are my strength and comfort,
You are my steady hand.
You are my firm foundation,
The rock on which I stand.
Your ways are always higher,
Your plans are always good.
There's not a place where I'll go
You've not already stood.
I will trust in You."

("Trust in You," Lauren Daigle, 

February 17, 2019

365 Days of the Great Names of God, Day 79: Jealous


"Do not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God." (Exodus 34:14)

I mentioned a couple days ago how it thrills me to come across something in the Bible I feel like I've never seen before, and it happened again with today's name.

The representation of God as a jealous God strikes me as something I've known for awhile. But that His actual name is "Jealous"? This feels like brand-new information. Clearly, "Jealous" was going to be a stop on our journey, but first I needed to deal with some potentially hesitant reactions to this name.

God cannot be anything that is not good. So even if we normally have a negative connection to jealousy, if God is it, it must—at least in relation to Him—be good.

I also had to deal with the realization that I could not, if pressed, articulate the difference between jealousy and envy. According to the website Diffen,* envy is wanting what someone else has, whereas jealousy is being afraid that what you already have will be taken away by someone else.

Of course, fear plays no part in who God is. Patheos** clarifies that the Hebrew word used to describe God's jealousy is "qana," which means "jealous only for God." 

God is righteously jealous for us because He does not want to lose what is rightfully His. This jealousy is not born out of some errant possessive nature, but out of God's love for us and His desire for our best. He longs for us, and so He is jealous of anything or anyone that might take us away from Him

This is such incredible truth: God so fiercely guards our relationship with Him that His very name is Jealous. 

And what name does He give us—His treasured possession? Hear it in the inspired words of the prophet Isaiah (43:1):

"Now this is what the Lord says—the One who created you, and the One who formed you—'Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine.'"

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February 16, 2019

365 Days of the Great Names of God, Day 78: Judge


"Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?" (Genesis 18:25b NIV)

Once upon a time, there was a young woman fresh out of college, living 500 miles from home, working at her first real job. While she was driving to work one morning, she made an innocent but foolish mistake. No one was hurt, and it was a crime of ignorance, not of intent, but it landed her in a courtroom in front of a judge who waited for her plea of guilt or innocence.

Dear NOG friends, I told my parents the other day that by the end of this series, I will have told every story of mine there is to tell. Now you've read the beginning of this one. Clearly, there is much more to it, but we have many days ahead of us; for today, suffice it to say that I know what it's like to stand before a judge who has my life (or what felt like it) in his hands.

Mercifully, the judge in my case looked at me with understanding and gently offered a just and fair way out of the mess I'd inadvertently gotten myself into.

God, the Judge of all the earth, is the Chief Justice of the supreme court of the universe. In fact, He's the only one on the bench. His decision-making power is unchecked, unmitigated, and unending. But so are His patience, grace, and wisdom.

This Judge looks at the innocent and the guilty and the confused and the hapless and the repeat offenders and sees them all through eyes of love and compassion. Then He renders a verdict that somehow manages to be right, complete, merciful, and effective all at the same time. 

Aristotle wrote, "The Law is Reason free from Passion." But our omnipotent Judge upholds His own law with purposeful passion. And all His reasons are love.