Friday, May 31, 2013

Proverbs 19:21 I like "easy!"

I don’t know about you, but I like things that come easily to me! I’m not a fan of the challenging! Don just left at 6:30 in the morning to go for a hike up Mt. Baldy with a good friend. He was so excited to do this. I’m thinking, “Why on earth????” What could possibly be fun about a steep climb up a mountain on a hot day? Let me sit in the recliner and read a novel for a couple of hours! That’s my idea of fun!

This morning I read a devotional that reminded me, however, that if what I am doing for the LORD is easy, then it’s probably not what He has planned for me! Our God is so big and His plans are so great, why would we think He wants us to think small? And then I read this verse in Proverbs:

Many are the plans in a man’s heart,

    but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails. (Proverbs 19:21 ESV)

My plans seem so puny! Finish out my teaching career in a few years, and then retire! Sounds fine, right? But what I want more than anything is what the LORD wants for my life. What might He have for me to do if I’ll only seek His will above mine? If I don’t need to rely completely on Him to accomplish something I’m doing, then I must not be reaching high enough! Now, this particular year of teaching actually DID need a complete and total reliance on Him to get me through! It was the most difficult year I’ve ever experienced for a myriad of reasons. But, as always, He has faithfully brought me through, and has taught me so many things in the process!

I think most of us, even if we honestly do want to be in His will, nevertheless make our own plans. We dream up our own area of ministry, hoping He’ll bless it. And don’t we love doing the things which come easily to us? Well, Jesus was very clear that being His follower was NOT the easy way! Picking up your cross requires a lot of sweat! He warns us over and over of the difficulty involved in choosing to be His disciple. So why are we surprised, and why do we whine when faced with a challenge?

One of my favorite life verses is Ephesians 3:20.

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us... 

I’ve always read that with the thought that God does so much more than we can even imagine - and certainly that is what it says. But if you read what comes before and after this verse, you get a bigger picture of what that “more abundantly” might encompass. It is part of Paul’s glorious prayer for the Ephesians. Note the scope of the prayer:

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father,  from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named,  that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being,  so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love,  may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth,  and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. 

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us,  to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (verses 14-21)

What big plans God has for us! He wants us to glorify Him - and that does not involve easy and puny! Yet, whatever He calls us to do, He also equips us to do. He will strengthen us with that same power that raised Christ from the dead! Now, I’m truthfully hoping that won’t involve climbing a mountain, but I’m at least praying to be willing to think beyond retirement! How about you?

Can’t sign off without saying, “Happy Birthday” to my darling Molly! Thirty-eight years ago today my life completely changed when that sweet angel child was placed in my arms. Love you, dear Molly!  

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Proverbs 19:18-19 To the rescue!

This morning we will be looking at two verses that today’s parents need to heed: 

Discipline your son, for there is hope;

    do not set your heart on putting him to death.   
A man of great wrath will pay the penalty,

    for if you deliver him, you will only have to do it again. (Proverbs 19:18-19 ESV)

We live in an age in which children are the focus of the family - their sports, their lessons, their play dates, their clothing, everything about them is the center of the parents. The family revolves around the child. And that puts a family out of kilter. It creates problems in the marriage, and it certainly is not good for the child. In these families we have enabling parents who rush to rescue their children from any pain or consequences. To spare every child from “low self esteem” we provide trophies for all and we lower standards, so every child can meet them.

But the Bible makes it clear that consequences can actually save the child from future harm - even the death penalty, according to today’s verse! Feeling the consequences of poor choices from a young age can actually spare that child from continuing down the wrong path. If a child leaves his homework at home, mom should not rush into the classroom with it. If he instead misses a recess to redo it, he is much less likely to forget again. No one ever died from having to redo a homework assignment!

It shocked me when I asked my students the other day how many actually have regular chores that they do at home. Maybe four out of 36 do any regular chores (which may be something like occasionally doing the dishes or feeding the dog) - only one makes her own lunch, folds and puts away all the laundry and cleans the bathroom in addition to making her bed each day! Naturally, she’s one of my highest achievers! When do the parents figure these kids will learn how to do these things? When they go to college (if they even make that) or in a marriage???

We are in danger of raising a generation of self-indulgent wimps who are incapable of competing in the world! The child who is continually rescued from his mistakes, will continue to make bigger ones. If he receives a reward for everything he does - even those things which he should be expected to do (brush his teeth, make his bed, feed the pets, do his homework), he will never learn the value of persevering for the prize.

Parents are exhorted throughout the Bible to do the job of disciplining. A disciple is someone who follows a teacher closely. In our homes, we are to be training our children to be disciples of Christ. This requires intentional parenting. It requires disciplining. They need to see us occasionally fail and grow from the trial, and they need to experience failure and consequences themselves. It’s part of the training.

So, if you are tempted to continually rescue your child, resist the temptation! Look at the bigger picture: God wants your child to grow into the adult he was created to become. You need to partner with God - not get in the way.

For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews 12:11)  


Friday, May 24, 2013

Proverbs 19:13-14 A curse of a blessing?

A foolish son is ruin to his father,

    and a wife's quarreling is a continual dripping of rain.  
House and wealth are inherited from fathers,

    but a prudent wife is from the Lord. (Proverbs 19:13-14 ESV)

Here’s the same passage from The Message, just for fun:

A parent is worn to a frazzle by a stupid child;

    a nagging spouse is a leaky faucet. 
 House and land are handed down from parents,

    but a congenial spouse comes straight from God.

I have to crack up at the parents “worn to a frazzle” by the dumb things their children do. Teachers, too, are worn to a frazzle, especially this time of year, by students who seem to be sleepwalking through life! And the idea of a house and wealth being inherited from parents? Not in this family! We received nothing from my side of the family. Mom and Dad barely had enough to cover themselves - nothing left for the children! We’re just praying that Don’s dad will have enough to carry him through. And our girls aren’t counting on getting any “wealth” from Don and me! :)

However, the main thought that jumped out at me in these two verses was the contrast between the “nagging spouse” and the “prudent wife.” Hmmm. . . I think sometimes I’m a bit of both! I’m certain there are times when Don considers me a curse - like when I’m in my “backseat driver” mode!

A couple of weeks ago we were heading to church, and we were approaching a newly reconfigured onramp to the freeway. As usual, Don was not making a timely lane change to get into the lane which merges onto the onramp. As he got closer, still making no attempt to get over, I just freaked out! Seriously! “Why aren’t you getting over??” I screeched. He just very calmly replied, “This lane also goes right.” I looked up at the new sign, and, sure enough, we were in the correct lane! Oh my goodness! I just cracked up and immediately apologized and confessed, “I don’t know how you have put up with me for 42 years!”

Now, I know Don would quickly confess that MOST of the time he considers me a blessing - the helpmate and “prudent wife” given by God! I am certain that, since I gave my life to Christ 37 years ago, I have been in a continual process of transformation by the Holy Spirit to be the wife God designed for Don. And I have always been convinced that we were absolutely purposed for each other. Even before I knew the LORD I understood that.

But it’s so easy to fall into the bad patterns if we aren’t alert to ungrateful attitudes. A few weeks ago, when I was at the women’s retreat for my church, we were given quiet time for individual Bible study and prayer - always my favorite part of retreat! As I was reading through Psalm 18, I stopped at verse 19:

He brought me out into a spacious place; 
   he rescued me because he delighted in me. (NIV 1984)

I had written sometime ago in the margin of the Bible, “Oh, LORD - I long for a spacious place!” I had not dated that comment, and I now have no idea what I was going through at the time - possibly great stress at school. . . earlier this year??? Anyway, as I read that verse this time, it struck me that I AM in a spacious place - it’s my marriage! My marriage has been a place where I can truly be myself and relax. Don has given me such a gift in the way he has always allowed me the space I need. He gets that, even though I’m very social, I truly need lots of alone time or down time. He also knows I need girlfriend time or time with my daughters. What a gift He has been to me! He’s my best cheerleader and has always been so helpful and supportive to me with any project I’ve undertaken. I see that in my girls’ marriages, as well, and just am so thankful that God has blessed them, too.

Unfortunately, my girls have just enough of their mother that they, too, need to be always on the alert against the tendency to be a “leaking faucet.” :) Help us, LORD!  

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Proverbs 19:9 "I cannot tell a lie!"

We all remember the story about George Washington and the cherry tree. Unfortunately, it’s just a myth. However, the truth is that Washington was definitely known for his integrity. Did he ever lie? I’m sure he did! But he was held in such high esteem for his character that he remains the only President elected unanimously twice!

I’m always amazed by parents who claim, “My child NEVER lies!” Really? Of course children lie at some point - especially when they think the truth will get them into trouble! Maybe they just fail to tell the whole truth, leaving out bits of truth to cover up their culpability. Kind of like they see Mom do when she tells Dad that the new $199.99 purse only cost “about $100!” :) Hmmm... me thinks lying is a universal problem!

Now - there are some lies that are whoppers that do REAL long-term damage: cheating on a spouse; embezzling funds from a company; committing perjury in a trial; fraudulently representing an investment opportunity; giving false testimony to a Congressional committee. We can all pretty much check off that list with some self-satisfaction that we’ve never done any of THOSE things, right?

But there are also those little “white lies,” that strip away at our integrity. Sometimes we come up with our own little falsehoods that usually come to light to our great embarrassment. We make up reasons why we can’t attend an event or why we need to skip out on a meeting. We take a “sick” day to take the kids to Disneyland. We pretend we’re not home when “call waiting” shows the name of someone we’re avoiding. If these behaviors become a pattern, they eventually become part of our reputation. There is a cost.

Our verse in Proverbs promises this:

A false witness will not go unpunished,
    and he who breathes out lies will perish. (Proverbs 19:9 ESV)

Now I believe this verse is specifically referring to someone who is a BIG FAT LIAR! This phrase “breathes out lies” suggests a person for whom lying is the perpetual behavior - someone whose nose grows every time he opens his mouth! This behavior has become as easy as breathing to this person. This verse tells us that such people will be found out and will face justice at some point. Frankly, I find that comforting. Nevertheless, we need to be aware of how our own “tiny” lies will affect others and our own character. They hurt our witness for Christ. They model sin for our children and grandchildren.

Dear LORD, give us such a passion for the truth that we abhor lies of any kind. Keep our lying lips shut! And, thank you, LORD, that you faithfully expose lies, and that, in the end, their is justice.  

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Job 1:18-22 When disaster strikes. . .

This morning, as we wake and prepare for a routine day, thousands in Moore, Oklahoma, are waking up to the nightmare that is the destruction from the tornado yesterday. Since yesterday afternoon we have been seeing images of what looks like a war zone - an area of about sixty square miles that has been forever changed, almost completely wiped off the map. The direct hit to the elementary school, in particular, fills the nation with sorrow. We cannot begin to imagine the agony of those parents who sat and waited through the night for word of their children who were buried beneath the rubble...

So my thoughts turned to Job, and the enormity of his personal loss in one day. The beginning verses of the Book of Job assure us that Job was called by God “blameless and upright.” We know that, for His own sovereign reasons, God allowed Satan to wreak havoc in Job’s life - to test him. So, in one day Job hears horrible news from one messenger after another.

The first messenger tells Job that all of his 500 oxen and 500 donkeys were slain by the Sabeans, along with the servants charged with caring for them. Before the first messenger even finishes his sentence, another runs in to tell him that a fire “fell from heaven” and consumed all 7,000 of his sheep and the servants. Then a third messenger runs in to tell Job that the Chaledeans raided the 3,000 camels and the servants and slaughtered them all.

In one instant, all of his livestock, his livelihood, was gone! And while he was reeling from this news, a final messenger comes in to tell him the truly tragic news:

“Your sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother's house,  and behold, a great wind came across the wilderness and struck the four corners of the house, and it fell upon the young people, and they are dead, and I alone have escaped to tell you.” (Job 1:18-19 ESV)

Seeing the photos of Moore, Oklahoma, this story of Job’s devastation become more real to me. A great wind struck the house of one of his sons, and all ten of his children were buried in the rubble! It was one thing to lose all of his wealth, but Job lost ALL of his children! And we marvel at Job’s response:

Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped.  And he said, “Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” 

In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong. (vs.20-22)

We know that Job was to go through much more suffering and even the misfortune of having “friends” who tried to “comfort” him but ended up just pouring more salt on his wounds. Yet, at the end of his trial, which he endured with amazing patience, we see Job transformed by his new understanding of God, and he proclaims, “I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you. . .” (Job 42:5)

My prayer is that the people of Oklahoma will see God as they never have before - that He will become so real to them as He comforts them and sends His people in to minister to them. May we be a part of that! Whether through the Salvation Army or the American Red Cross, which are already on the ground there, or through other organizations like Samaritan’s Purse or through local churches, let’s be part of the recovery with our donations - and with our prayers!

You may not be a victim of a tornado, but you may feel like your life is in ruins around you. Maybe you just heard “I want a divorce” from your spouse, or “You have cancer” from your doctor. Maybe your teenager has given you devastating news of pregnancy or drug usage or an eating disorder. Maybe your boss has said, “You’re fired.” Or maybe, like my sister, Jodi, you’ve been told that the chemotherapy has not been working, and she will now be starting another type of chemo.

Whatever the news that has completely changed your life overnight, our God is there to comfort and guide you. Pray that, like Job, you will be able to bless His name! I’m including a link here to a video that has Matt Redman’s wonderful song, “Blessed Be the Name of the Lord,” which is based on Job’s story. Watch it and enjoy the lyrics! [Note to daughters: this one is a must to be played at my funeral!!]


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Proverbs 19:4,6-7 A Friend in Need?

Wealth brings many new friends,

    but a poor man is deserted by his friend. . . 
Many seek the favor of a generous man,

    and everyone is a friend to a man who gives gifts.
All a poor man's brothers hate him;

    how much more do his friends go far from him!

He pursues them with words, but does not have them. (Proverbs 19:4, 6-7 ESV)

How we love our celebrities! The latest “American Idol” was chosen last week. The life of Candace Glover has been forever changed, as she joins the group of those who walk red carpets! People will now be seeking her out, asking for her autograph, and wanting to be near her. We fawn over those who have “made it!” But we also are very fickle, and we will run from a person when he hits the skids.

Our verses remind us today of our tendency to give preference to the wealthy, those from whom we stand to gain something. Being a “friend” to a wealthy person can have all kinds of perks. Maybe we can get an invitation to his vacation getaway mansion, or join him at a premiere event, or dine with him at the fancy restaurant, knowing he’ll pick up the tab. Would we be as enamored of this person if the money went away? Do we seek out the company of those who have lost everything?

Jon Courson reminds us of a saying: you can judge a man’s character by how he treats those who can do nothing for him. Do you remember how the Pharisees scorned Jesus for the company He kept? Jesus did not seek an audience with King Herod, and when He actually was forced to stand before Herod, Jesus said nothing to him. Jesus preferred the company of sinners, paupers, the lepers, the blind, the harlot. He was the friend of the needy. But He wasn’t a “reverse snob,” either. He engaged in dialogue with Nicodemus, Jairus, and the Roman centurion. It wasn’t social standing that moved Jesus. It was need.

Today’s verses remind us that we need to be mindful of the company we keep. Are we seeking out those from whom we can gain something (a better job, an advance up the social ladder, a link to “important people”)? Or do we seek out those in need, regardless of what they can offer? Do we turn away from those who are seeking something from us?

LORD, examine our hearts. Soften them to those in need. Teach us to look at those around us with your eyes. Protect us from the mindset of the world that loves “idols.”  

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Proverbs 19:3 It’s all His fault!

Do you know someone who is mad at God for his life circumstances? Maybe you have been blaming God for your troubles. It can be a natural response to finding ourselves in the midst of a disaster. The Bible makes it clear that sometimes God refines us by putting us through a fiery trial. However, some of our disasters are of our own making! Today’s verse speaks to these times:

When a man's folly brings his way to ruin,

    his heart rages against the Lord. (Proverbs 19:3 ESV)

Here’s Jon Courson’s comment on this verse: “A foolish man doesn’t listen to the Lord, seek the Lord, or walk with the Lord. Yet, when he ends up in trouble, who does he blame? The Lord.” (Jon Courson’s Application Commentary: Old Testament, Vol. 2, P. 238)

This reminds me of yesterday’s point that, because we easily grow impatient to see our own plans come to pass, we will often manipulate situations to get our own way. Then we blame God for the mess that is created! That is folly!

Sometimes God allows illness in our lives to draw us nearer to Himself (always a good thing). But sometimes people get lung cancer because they smoked for 30 years! When distress comes, we need to take a long look at what may be behind it. Is it a “gift” from God to transform us, or is it our own folly that has landed us in this situation? Either way, God can and will use it for His glory and for our ultimate good. That’s the promise to believers:

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)

The reverse of what Courson writes would be that wise person listens to God, seeks God, and walks with God. Then when he ends up in trouble, he turns to God for comfort, guidance, grace, and mercy, and he glorifies God in the midst of it! How are we responding to our trials?  Are we whining, complaining, and , in essence blaming God?  Or are we glorifying Him because we know He is sovereign and in control?  

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Proverbs 19:2 Slow down!

Desire without knowledge is not good,

    and whoever makes haste with his feet misses his way. (Proverbs 19:2 ESV)

We live in a world pumped up on caffeine! Everyone is in a hurry! We have forgotten how to be patient and wait for ANYTHING! We see this in school even among children. They are being raised in a culture in which no one wants to stand in line. They push their way to the front, they shout out for immediate attention, they want everything to be instant and easy. They frustrate easily, and groan when asked to do the simplest task. I wonder where they learn this behavior????

A teacher friend and I were talking about this the other day, and she pointed out that people are in such a hurry to get their coffee that we have Starbuck’s on practically every corner to satisfy their need! It’s a Starbuck’s world! I don’t know about you, but whenever I walk into a store that has a line longer than three people ahead of me, I inwardly groan, and I outwardly huff and puff! We have lost the art of patience! The only time we are still is when we are in bed with the flu!

Our verse today tells us that being in a hurry only gets us into trouble! When we make hasty or impulsive decisions, we are sure to regret them! I have a whole closet full of clothes purchased on impulse that have yet to see the light of day! But if we were only talking about clothes and waiting in line at a store, it wouldn’t be so bad. The problem is we make major decisions in much the same way, based on how we feel at any given moment. And the results can be disastrous!

A woman, not wanting to be without a man, will grab onto the first one who pays her the slightest attention. Someone, listening to her “biological clock” may settle for her “Ishmael” rather than waiting for her “Isaac.” Many, not willing to do the hard work of relationships, will rush into divorce, leaving a disaster in their wake. We don’t know how to wait on the LORD! We are too busy rushing into plans of our own making to be still.

I was talking with my class yesterday about changes in communication over the last 150 years (we are studying the telegraph, Pony Express, stagecoaches, transcontinental railroad as part of our study of California history). It took three weeks for a stagecoach to come from St. Louis to California, but only 10 days for a letter to come by Pony Express. Can you imagine having to wait 10 days for a text message??? I was telling them how it would take up to a week for a letter to cross country when I was a girl, unless you paid an extra 21cents to send it via airmail! Stores closed in those days at 5:00 p.m. PERIOD! There were no “Midnight Sales” or even any sales at all on a Sunday! You had to wait for Monday! Imagine!

“Be still, and know that I am God.

    I will be exalted among the nations,

    I will be exalted in the earth!” (Psalm 46:10)

People, we need to slow it down! We need to learn the art of waiting, but, more importantly we need to model and teach it to our children! They need to see a life that is quiet and tranquil. When was the last time you experienced tranquility???? The next time we find ourselves in a line, how about praying for each person ahead of us instead of cursing the “slow” cashier? :)  

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Proverbs 19:1 Keepin' it honest...

First, I want to shout out birthday blessings to my sister, Jodi! Praying this will be a day of great joy! She heads to Chicago tomorrow for her quarterly checkup. Please pray she will get a good report! She is extremely anemic right now (a side effect of the chemotherapy), and will be getting a blood transfusion while she is there.

Today’s verse is timely and reaches into my own classroom:

Better is a poor person who walks in his integrity

    than one who is crooked in speech and is a fool. (Proverbs 19:1) 

You can’t buy a good reputation! And once your reputation has been sullied, it’s a long way back to integrity and trust! I always tell my students at the beginning of each year that they need to guard their reputations and integrity, and that, if they had a bad year previously, they can change that this year. This year has been especially challenging in the integrity department - and I’m not sure if it’s a new trend or just happens to be an issue with this group.

I have several boys in my class who cannot tell the truth first time out no matter what. Even if I personally witnessed the transgression, one boy in my class will NOT own up to his behavior - and he follows each denial with, “I swear!” It’s almost pathological! It might take me fifteen minutes to get him to finally ‘fess up. I pursue the truth, not because I want to be “right,” but because he needs to understand that what he is doing is lying, and that it destroys his integrity. I can no longer trust a thing he says!

The interesting thing, in light of today’s verse, is that he has lots of money, and loves to flash it! He regularly carries large amounts of cash, and he offers “bribes” of treats to his friends if they will do his classroom “chores.” This week he is an officer in our class, which means he has certain duties, including staying behind with the two other officers to clean tables after lunch. Yesterday, one of his classmates told me that this boy was offering bags of chips to him to get him to take over that job! I think he has a career as a politician!

Which brings me to this week of “revelations” and inquiries in Congress! Between Benghazi, the IRS targeting conservative groups, and now the news that AP reporters had their phone records collected by the Attorney General’s office in what could be a major violation of first amendment rights, this is a week that reminds me that the truth eventually comes out. And to continue to deny the truth becomes more and more problematic!

Better to be poor with your integrity in tact, than to be found a liar and a fool! LORD, help us to walk in truth - to be transparent and honest in all our dealings. Purify our hearts and keep our mouths from lies! It’s more than our personal reputations at stake, because we represent You to the world!  

Monday, May 13, 2013

Proverbs 18:24 He's closer than a brother!

A man of many companions may come to ruin,

    but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. (Proverbs 18:24)

I am a very social woman! I love people - the more the merrier! I have been very blessed in my life to have been surrounded by wonderful friends. There’s nothing more fun for me than being with them! But, in the end, each of us has our own obligations, and even family and friends cannot always be there for us when we need them. How I love my “friend who sticks closer than a brother!”

Jesus will NEVER abandon me! He is never too busy or too tired to come alongside me, to comfort, guide, and encourage me.

He will not let your foot be moved;

    he who keeps you will not slumber. 

Behold, he who keeps Israel

    will neither slumber nor sleep. (Psalm 121:3-4 ESV) content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”  So we can confidently say, 

“The Lord is my helper;

    I will not fear;
what can man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:5b-6)

Yesterday was Mothers’ Day, and I had a blue moment of really missing my mother! She died almost 18 years ago, and although I know I will see her again, sometimes I am overwhelmed by the loss, and wish we could just have an hour to talk once more! There are so many things I’d love to tell her, and many more things that I’d love to ask her! So I’m very grateful for the constant presence of the LORD in my life! In those moments when I’m feeling alone (even in the midst of family and friends), I remember that He is with me. Thank you, LORD!  

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Proverbs 18:10 What's in a name? Part 3

Yesterday we looked at the names of God that describe His might and power - the names that assured us that our God is able. Today we will look at some of His names that reveal His heart toward us. 

Jehovan-Jireh means “The LORD Will Provide.” This is the name Abraham used when the LORD stopped him from sacrificing Isaac. God Himself provided that day the sacrifice He required. This is what He did through Christ on our behalf. He has provided the way of salvation - and He has provided every spiritual blessing to all who believe in the finished work of Christ. Will He not provide everything you need?

Jehovah-Rapha is “The LORD who Heals.” He not only heals us spiritually, but He also heals our bodies. Is this your need? Does your spirit need healing of past hurts? Are you struggling with a long-term illness? We have a God who heals!

Jehovah-Shalom signifies “The LORD Our Peace.” We were reminded this past weekend, at our Women’s Retreat, that Jesus offers us peace and rest like no other:

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28)

Don’t we all long for this peace and rest? It is ours in Christ! Paul reminds us of this precious gift of God:

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.  Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand;  do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:4-7)

El Roi is “The God Who Sees.” This is the name Hagar gave Him when she and Ishmael had been cast out by Sarah and were alone and despairing. God came to her in her distress and showed her that He saw her pain and cared. Are you feeling alone - as if no one has a clue about what you are going through? Have you been mistreated or cast out or abandoned? Be assured that God sees you! He knows where you are and what you are feeling. He is there for you!

There are many other names for God. The last one I’ll share is Jehovah-Rohi, “The LORD our Shepherd.” Is there a better image? Jesus claimed to be the Good Shepherd - the One who would lead us, protect us, discipline us, and give us abundant life. He is the one who laid down His life for the sheep! (John 10)

Don’t doubt that our Almighty God is both able and willing to work on your behalf. This is the God we can trust!

The name of the Lord is a strong tower;

    the righteous man runs into it and is safe. (Proverbs 18:10)

For a special treat click here to see an amazing video on the names of God. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Proverbs 18:10 What is in a name? Part 2

Last week we looked at the name of God that He called Himself: I AM or Jehovah. There are many other names given to God which describe who He is and What He does on our behalf. Today we’ll look at several names that speak to whom God is. Two names have to do with His mighty power and strength:

Elohim is the name which tells of the Creator God (Genesis 1:1), who is “mighty” and “strong.” This is the plural form of El, so it also speaks to the Trinity, the three in One.

El Shaddai is “God Almighty” or “the Mighty One of Jacob” (Genesis 132:2,5)

El-Gibhor means “Mighty God.” This is the name given to Jesus in the prophecy of Isaiah 9:6. 

Our God is the all-powerful God.  God is “mighty to save” (Isaiah 63:1), the One who works on our behalf. All things are possible with our God. We need to remember when we pray to Him that He is omnipotent, so He is able to handle everything we bring to Him. He is greater than anything we face and He is the one who fights on our behalf.

El Elyon is the “Most High.” He is exalted above all others. There is no god like our God! He tells us, “I am God, and there is no other; I am God and there is none like me.” (Isaiah 46:9)

El-Olam is the “Everlasting God.” He has no beginning and no end, because He is self-existent. He is outside of time, even as He works within it.

Lord, you have been our dwelling place

    in all generations.   

Before the mountains were brought forth,

    or ever you had formed the earth and the world,

    from everlasting to everlasting you are God. (Psalm 90:1-2) 

He is unchanging, always the same: Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8)

All of these names speak the to bigness of our God. He is above all and all-powerful. This is the Creator of the universe, who spoke all creation into being by just the Word of His mouth! “Is anything too hard for the LORD?” This is what He said to Abraham when Sarah laughed at the idea of giving birth to a son in her old age. (Genesis 18:14)

God is the One who gives sons to the infertile; He is the One who brings life from death; He is the One who restores the years the locust has eaten. (Joel 2:25) He can handle anything we face: broken relationships, failing health, financial ruin, destroyed reputations, shattered dreams. These are nothing in the hands of our Mighty God. This is the God we can trust! As you bring your needs before Him, remember these names.

Tomorrow we will look at some precious names that tell of His work on our behalf. He is surely worthy of our praise!  

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Proverbs 18:10 What's in a name?

The name of the Lord is a strong tower;

    the righteous man runs into it and is safe. (Proverbs 18:10)

Are you singing that? This verse is a praise song we sing often! I love the verses in scripture that speak of the protection and strength God provides to those who run to Him. The Bible speaks of Him as our shelter, our Rock, our refuge. He is our strong tower!

I wanted to share with you what Jon Courson writes about this verse, because his focus is the name of the LORD. He points out that the first time God gives His name is from the burning bush, in Exodus 3, in answer to Moses’ question:

Then Moses said to God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?”  God said to Moses, “I AM who I AM.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” (Exodus 3:13-14)

This name expresses the self-existence and the ever-presence of God. It was a name considered so holy that it was unpronounceable to the Jews. To them is was YHWH, which we translate as Jehovah.

Courson conjectures that Moses may have thought, “You are ... what?” God answered in fullness is Exodus 34, when as He passed in front of Moses on Mt. Sinai, He finished this sentence with a list of His attributes:

The Lord descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord.  The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness,  keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children's children, to the third and the fourth generation.”  And Moses quickly bowed his head toward the earth and worshiped. (Exodus 34:5-8)

This is the God of the Old Testament and the New! He is merciful (doesn’t give us what we deserve: death and Hell); gracious (gives us what we don’t deserve, eternal life and Heaven); patient (He never gives up on His people); thoroughly good; constant in His love toward us; completely faithful to His Word; but also fully just.

“I AM.” This is the name of the LORD. It is a strong tower! We can freely run into it and find security and peace! We will spend more time next week looking at the names of God and what they reveal about His character. Can’t wait!