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Thursday, February 28, 2013

Something to Think About


Here's something for you to think about this week. Read the following passage carefully:

And he went out from thence, and came into his own country; and his disciples follow him. And when the sabbath day was come, he began to teach in the synagogue: and many hearing him were astonished, saying, From whence hath this man these things? and what wisdom is this which is given unto him, that even such mighty works are wrought by his hands? Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house. And he could there do no mighty work, save that he laid his hands upon a few sick folk, and healed them. And he marvelled because of their unbelief. And he went round about the villages, teaching. - Mark 6:1-6

Did you notice anything strange in that passage? The people doubted, but that's nothing new. Jesus healed the sick. Nothing strange about that, but look at the next phrase. And he marvelled because of their unbelief.

The definition of "marvel" is "to become filled with wonder or astonishment; to feel amazement or bewilderment." How could Jesus marvel? He knows all things. How could He be surprised at this turn of events. He knew the people wouldn't believe Him. He knew He would become a sacrifice to appease their blood lust. How could He have been amazed or bewildered? Jesus is God, and NOTHING surprises Him.

I came across that verse in my Bible reading last week, and to be honest, it stumped me. I would love to hear if anyone has any thoughts concerning this passage of Scripture. The Bible is right and true. I know this is not a contradiction. I'm just curious if anyone has any idea what they think the Bible might be telling us here. Feel free to comment on this post if you have any ideas of suggestions.

It's not enough to just read the Bible. We need to meditate on it. We need to understand it. We need to memorize it. We need to cherish it. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on this topic.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

I'm Not Suffering From Insanity. . .I'm Enjoying Every Minute of It! by Karen Scalf Linamen

If you're intrigued by the title, then I encourage you to delve into this hilarious book by Karen Scalf Linamen.  You won't be disappointed.  In her own unique way, Linamen offers hope for the hopeless, encouragement for the discouraged and even a good dose of laughter for the Scrooges.  If you're looking for a pick-me-up, this book is for you.

Linamen delves into some of life's most serious problems but approaches them in such a lighthearted way that the burdens seem lighter and easier to bear.  What I appreciate most is her honesty and the forthright manner in which she discusses her troubles in life.  While reading this book, I saw myself in many of the situations and was able to relate to the topic at hand.  Not only that, but I found great comfort in knowing that I wasn't the only one to struggle with such things as depression, discouragement and disorganization.  Her personal revelations made me feel as if we were kindred spirits and even close friends, even though we've never even met.

The only negative thing I have to say about this book is that I just couldn't put it down.  The chapters were an ideal length for stopping and starting, but once I began, I just didn't want to stop.  I can't tell you how many times I said, "Just one more chapter" and then proceeded to read three or four more chapters without even realizing it.  It was like a conversation that I didn't want to end, and now that it has, I feel like I've lost a friend.  Still, I'm thankful for the lessons that I can take with me and reflect upon in my spiritual journey.

Is your life spinning out of control?  Do you struggle to remember if you're coming or going?  Does everyday feel like a balancing act of rules and responsibilities?  If so, you'll find good company and solid counsel in the pages of I'm Not Suffering From Insanity. . .I'm Enjoying Every Minute of It!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Getting to Know God: Jehovah Rohi

Today we're going to wrap up our study on the names of the Lord with what is perhaps the most personal name attributed to Him:  Jehovah Rohi, the Lord my shepherd.  As I understand it, shepherds have a very personal relationship with their sheep.  Not only does a shepherd know each sheep by name, but he is also acutely aware of the personality, weakness, and quirk of each individual sheep.  He knows them better than they know themselves.  And as the shepherd, he has a huge responsibility to care for those sheep because, let's face it, sheep can't exactly take care of themselves.  They're not the brightest animal among God's creation, now are they?  (And of all the creatures God could relate us to, which one does He choose?  That doesn't say much for our intelligence, now does it?)

The fact is that sheep are helpless.  Unlike many other animals, sheep have no natural means of protection.  No claws or sharp teeth or stink spray.  Not only that, but they are navigationally challenged (a bit like myself), making it difficult to find good pasture or clean water.  They don't have any enhanced senses, so they are easily preyed upon by wolves and other wild animals.  Helpless, completely helpless!  And yet, anytime I see a field of sheep, they look so content and peaceful.  Why?  Because they are.  As long as the shepherd is nearby, they feel safe, and a good shepherd never leaves his sheep. 

Psalm 23 is probably one of the most familiar Bible passages of all time, and it paints a beautiful picture of the Lord's role as the Shepherd in our lives.  Penned by David, a man who knew a thing or two about shepherding, this psalm begins with today's name:  "The Lord is my Shepherd".  And on the heels of that statement, David proclaims, "I shall not want."

As a young child, I was confused by that verse, for in my immature understanding, I took the verse to mean that David didn't want the Lord as his shepherd.  I was too young and uneducated at that time to realize that the word "want" here is not defined as "desire" but rather as "need, require, or lack".  So, in fact, what David is saying is this:  "Because the Lord is my shepherd, I don't need anything else.  There is nothing I lack."  And then he proceeds to explain that statement in great detail:

vs. 2 - He maketh me to lie down in green pastures. - The Shepherd provides rest.
vs. 2 - He leadeth me beside the still waters. - The Shepherd provides refreshment.
vs. 3 - He restoreth my soul. - The Shepherd provides salvation.
vs. 3 - He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. - The Shepherd provides guidance.
vs. 4 - Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil. - The Shepherd provides peace and safety.
vs. 4 - For thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. - The Shepherd provides companionship and correction.
vs. 5 - Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies. - The Shepherd provides nourishment.
vs. 6 - Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. - The Shepherd provides blessings above and beyond what we can ask or think.
vs. 7 - Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life. - The Shepherd provides the fruit of the Spirit by which we can live our lives.
vs. 7 - I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever. - The Shepherd provides a hope for the future.

Let's face it, the psalmist could have simply said, "The Lord is my Shepherd.  'Nough said!"  But he didn't.  Instead, he made sure that there could be no misunderstanding.  He spelled it out so that even the most ignorant or naive among us could understand.  If the Lord is our Shepherd (and if you're saved, He is), then He's truly all we need.  No matter what comes our way, He will provide.  Just like the shepherd, God loves His sheep and is willing to do everything in His power to care for us.  We've already established that there is no limit to His power, so what does that mean for us?  It means there is no need too great, no situation too dire, no foe too frightening and no wanderer forsaken.  It means we're taken care of.  It means the Shepherd is all we need!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Getting to Know God: Jehovah Ori

I don't know about you, but I don't like the dark.  It's not that I'm afraid of the dark, but rather that I'm afraid of things that may be lurking about in the dark.  Just last night, I heard a scratching sound in the bathroom.  I know that it's not uncommon for critters to find their way inside our walls, especially the bathroom walls, but I knew I wouldn't be at ease until I verified that there wasn't something actually in the bathroom.  I crept toward the door, listening carefully for the sound of scratching.  As I pushed the door open slowly, I reached in and flipped on the light.  With the room lit, I then felt comfortable to go in and explore. . . but not in the dark, never in the dark.

Speaking of dark, I recall a vacation that Jason and I took to Pigeon Forge several years ago.  We were staying in a cozy little cabin, but the first night we were there, the power went out.  Now, I don't know if you've ever been tucked back in the woods of Tennessee, but let me tell you, it's an entirely new level of dark.  There was no light anywhere.  No street lamps.  No moonlight, for it was overcast.  No light from electronics because the power was out.  The darkness was stifling. 

I first discovered the power outage as I stumbled, feeling my way along the walls to the bathroom early in the morning.  I found the bathroom door and then the light switch.  I flipped the switch, but nothing happened.  So I did the most logical thing I could think of--I flipped it again and again.  Strangely, each time I flipped the switch, a new sense of panic welled up within me.  It was dark.  I was in an unfamiliar place.  And I was getting scared.  Of what?  I have no idea, but darkness does that, you know.  It creates fear for no reason at all.  That's why I'm glad I know Jehovah Ori, the Lord my light.

No matter how dark our path may get, we will never truly be in darkness as long as our eyes are fixed on the Lord.  He is our Light.  The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? (Psalm 27:1)  With that Light, He offers shelter from the impending darkness as well as peace from the fear it evokes in us.  It is that Light that guides us by illuminating the paths we should take along our journey.  Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. (Psalm 119:105)  And it is that Light that serves as a beacon of hope when situations look grim, and we feel like giving in.

Do you know what I like best about Jehovah Ori?  It's the fact that nothing, and I mean nothing, can extinguish His light.  No power outage can diminish His glow.  No cloud coverage can block out His rays.  He is an ever present Light, and because of that, we need never walk in darkness.

As for our cabin experience, I've since made it a habit to carry my cell phone to bed with me when abiding in unfamiliar territory.  That way I know that light is within my reach.  Something about the knowledge that instant light is waiting on the nightstand allows me to rest peacefully and even to enjoy the darkness.  It's strange, I know, but darkness brings out peculiar behavior.

Funny, they say that darkness is the absence of light, but if God is our Light, and He is never absent, can there truly be darkness?  How's that for a thought to ponder today?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Getting to Know God: Jehovah Tsur

If your life had a theme song, what do you think it would be?  I've heard many songs through the years that reminded me of myself.  Karen Peck and New River's song, "Hold Me While I Cry" is one.  It begins with the words, "It's been one of those days; if anything could go wrong, it went wrong."  The Anchormen's song "Resting Place" holds a high position in my choices of theme songs for my life.  And I'm fairly certain that at certain times in my life I've distinctly heard the Mission Impossible theme song playing in the background.  But if I had to pick a theme song for my life at this very moment, it would have to be Matthew West's emotional ballad, Strong Enough.  If you're not familiar with this song, here's a snippet that seems to sum up my life and emotional state of being:

I know I’m not strong enough to be
Everything that I’m supposed to be
I give up, I’m not strong enough
Hands of mercy, won’t You cover me?
Lord, right now I’m asking You to be
Strong enough, strong enough
For the both of us

Well maybe, maybe that’s the point
To reach the point of giving up
‘Cause when I’m finally, finally at rock bottom
Well that’s when I start looking up
And reaching out

How many days do I sit and cry, "Lord, I'm just not strong enough"?  How many times do I mourn my lack of strength?  Yes, when I first heard this song, I sat there nodding my head.  "That's me," I cried, "that's me!"  I could relate so well to the song that it literally moved me to tears (which is not very difficult since I am such an emotional basket case). Nevertheless, at this point in my life, that song would take first place as Dana's Life Theme Song.

I'm sure you're scratching your head and wondering what in the world a life theme song has to do with the names of the Lord.  Well, I'm glad you asked because I was just about to tell you.  My current theme song deals with today's name which is Jehovah Tsur, the Lord my Strength.  Interestingly enough, the word "tsur" has multiple meanings, but all are related.  It carries with it the underlying thought of a rock, strength, stability, immovability and habitation.  This particular word is used over seventy times throughout the Bible (many in the Psalms) to discuss the shelter and safety that can only be found in the Lord.  Here are just a few instances:

I will love thee, O Lord, my strength. - Psalm 18:1

 Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer. - Psalm 19:14

My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever. = Psalm 73:26

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? - Psalm 27:1

O God the Lord, the strength of my salvation, thou hast covered my head in the day of battle. - Psalm 140:7

O Lord, my strength, and my fortress, and my refuge in the day of affliction, the Gentiles shall come unto thee from the ends of the earth, and shall say, Surely our fathers have inherited lies, vanity, and things wherein there is no profit. - Jeremiah 16:19

The Lord God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds' feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places. To the chief singer on my stringed instruments. - Habakkuk 3:19

The fact is that we're not strong enough to fight the battles that rage around us on a daily basis.  We are under attack from Satan and his minions, as well as from the world.  We don't have the strength to fight the same fights day after day and fulfill the Lord's work at the same time.  But as the song says, maybe that's the point.  Maybe we're not supposed to be strong enough.  Didn't the Lord tell Paul, "My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness"?  It is when we are weak that the Lord can show His great strength.  It is when we get to the place where we plead, as the song states, "Lord, please be strong enough for the both of us" that the Lord can use us in mighty ways.  And as much as we don't like, that's exactly the place the Lord wants us to be.  He is strong enough.  He wants us to rely on His strength and not our own.  He knows how frail we are.  He knows how easily we're led astray.  He knows how much we need His strength.  Now, if we could just realize how much we need His strength and stop relying on our own!

You know what?  Now that I think about it, I want to change my theme song.  Yes, Matthew West's song still applies, but all this talk about the Lord my strength has brought a different tune to my mind.  I'm now humming the joyful melody written by Roger Bennett that says, "I'm strong in the strength of Someone else, trusting the hand that never has failed; Living a life of spiritual wealth, strong in the strength of Someone else, strong in the strength of Someone else."  Yup, that's the theme song I think I'll stick with for a while.  I like it.  It's catchy, but more than that, it reminds me that I'm not fighting my battles alone.  The Lord is my strength!  And that's worth singing about.


 

Friday, February 15, 2013

Getting to Know God: Jehovah Azar

Wednesday was just one of those days--you know, the kind where you just want to go to bed and stay there until the day is done.  As usual, I had more tasks to do than I had time to do them.  Having been down with a dislocated shoulder at the beginning of the week, I felt compelled to "catch up" from my downtime.  Never a good idea!  Not only does it put me in a foul mood, but inevitably, it causes me to get in such a hurry that I don't pay attention to things like I should.  Again, never a good idea!

After completing my blogs and some other writing, I went to the laundry room to transfer the clothes from the dryer to the basket for folding and the clothes from the washer to the dryer.  Unfortunately, the clothes in the dryer were still soaking wet because I had failed to start the dryer the last time I had transferred clothes.  (You would think the dryer could figure out for itself that I want it to dry the wet clothes, but I haven't yet figured out how to convince it that it doesn't need my permission.  Just go for it!  Anyway. . .)  Frustrated, I slammed the dryer door and set the dry cycle.

Determined to make the best use of my time, I decided to unload and reload the dishwasher while I was waiting for the clothes to dry.  As soon as I opened the dishwasher, I realized there was a problem.  Not only were the dishes still dirty, but they were a different kind of dirty than when I had loaded them.  I knew the dishwasher had run, but these dishes were far from clean.  Having used a new brand of dishwashing detergent packs, I pulled the package out of the cabinet to see if I could spot something that might have caused such a mess.  As soon as I saw the picture of the washing machine on the back of the package, I realized my mistake.  It wasn't dishwashing liquid; it was laundry detergent.  News flash:  Laundry detergent will NOT clean the dishes in your dishwasher.  Trust me, I know!

At that point, I was just about ready to call it a day.  I had had enough "fun" for one afternoon.  Little did I know that my mistakes were going to spill into the next day too.  When Jason informed me that he had to go into work extra early on Thursday morning, I decided to get his lunch and coffee ready Wednesday night before going to bed.  That way, if I wasn't ready to get out of bed (which I wasn't), his stuff would be ready to go.  Imagine my dismay when I stumbled into the kitchen at 8:30 on Thursday morning and noticed the green standby light on the coffee pot was lit.  I was confused.  I had set the timer for 6:00 so that it would be hot and ready when Jason left around 7:00.  Assured that I had set the timer, I checked.  Sure enough, I had set it for 6:00. . . in the evening.  So, there it was Valentine's Day, and I didn't even have a cup of coffee to give my sweet hubby.  Not a good way to begin the day!  Tears filled my eyes as I stared at the little green light mocking me and my stupidity.  And in my frustration, I uttered the first words that came to my mind, "Lord, I need help!"

Have you ever had one of "those" days?  (Please say "yes" so I don't feel like such a moron.)  Some days, it just seems like everything and everyone is against us, doesn't it?  But the truth is, there is One who is always for us.  He is always on our side.  He's got our backs.  And He offers help in the forms of love, strength and encouragement.  He is Jehovah Azar, the Lord our helper.

Behold, God is mine helper: the Lord is with them that uphold my soul. - Psalm 54:4

No matter what the day holds, Jehovah Azar can help us through.  There is no limit to His strength, no end to His resources.  There is no problem He cannot handle and no foe who can stand against Him.  He is our help.  He promised as much in Isaiah 41:10, a verse which, interestingly enough, I was reading the day before all my trouble began.  Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.

Don't miss the importance of this verse.  Notice God says, "I will", not "I might".  There is no condition to this promise.  The only thing we have to do for this help is receive it.  Now I know that's difficult for some of us who think we're Wonder Woman.  It's hard to ask for help and even harder to admit that we need help.  But when someone is offering to help, don't you think it's a bit rude to turn it down?  Think about it, the God of all Heaven and Earth is offering to help us with our piddly little problems (at least, they're piddly to Him).  Nevertheless, He knows that they're big problems to us, so in His great love and compassion, He offers His aid.  What is our response?

I wish I could say that I always accept His offer, but the truth is, sometimes my pride gets in the way, and I find myself saying, "No thanks, Lord, I can handle it."  But you know what?  I can't handle it.  All I manage to do is make a mess of things and ruin my attitude in the process.  Brilliant, huh?  What if I were to live my life more like the psalmist whose response to trouble was, "I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth. (Psalm 121:1-2)?  Wouldn't life run much smoother?

Jehovah Azar -- God is our helper!  No matter the problem, He's the solution.  He can turn our sorrow into joy, our mourning into dancing, our night into day.  He can make a way when it seems there is no way.  And He is ready and willing to give us all the help we need.  We only need to accept it.

Well, I'd love to stay and chat, but I'm still behind on both laundry and dishes, but I did discover something today--the laundry detergent packs work much better in the washer than they did in the dishwasher.  Hmm, who would've thunk it?

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Getting to Know God - Jehovah Gaal

I recently watched a movie entitled "Amazing Love". It was the story of a youth group who takes a trip to the wilderness and, through the story of Hosea, learns the meaning of true, selfless love. The movie was truly enjoyable and helped me to see the story of Hosea in an entirely new light. When Hosea walked onto the auction block, handed over the money for his wife, Gomer, and picked her up to carry her back home, I couldn't stop the tears from flowing. What a beautiful picture of unconditional love and a genuine picture of the love God has for us!

On Valentine's Day, I could think of no better topic to discuss than the unconditional love of God, made evident through Jehovah Gaal, the Lord thy Redeemer. Because of Adam and Eve's sin in the garden, we were all born into a life of sin. We are sinners by nature and, unfortunately, we are sinners by choice. Because of our great sin, none of us are worthy to enter into the holy Kingdom of God. Heaven is a perfect place without sin, and only the righteous can go there. And it is here that we see God's unconditional love enter into the scene.

God, in his great love and compassion, could not bear the thought of existing for all eternity without us. In fact, He loved us so much and desired so much to be with us that He was willing to sacrifice His only begotten Son on the cross of Calvary to pay for our sins. On that dark day on the hillside of Golgotha, Jesus became our Redeemer. The word "redeem" simply means to buy back. Just as Hosea redeemed Gomer from the auction block, so have we been redeemed--bought back by the King. Now, when God looks at us, He no longer sees our sin but the blood of His Son that covers those sins.

In my mind, the most amazing thing about God's love is that it is always present even when no love is returned. He loves me when I fail Him and even when I ignore Him. He loves me when I am good as well as when I am bad. In fact, He loved me before I ever realized I needed His love and long before I ever understood His love for me. There is nothing I could ever do to make Him love me anymore or any less. His love is pure. It is perfect. And it is truly unconditional.

Could it be that you are reading this post and have no idea of the love of which I am speaking? Perhaps you have heard of Jehovah Gaal, the Lord thy Redeemer, but have yet to meet Him. If this is the case, I implore you to go to Him today before it is too late. Realize the great sacrifice of love He made for you on Mount Calvary and accept His gift of salvation. I guarantee you that no matter what you've done or where you've been, His love is great enough to cover all your sins, if you will only accept His Son.

If you're looking for love this Valentine's Day, I can think of no better place to start than at the feet of Jesus.

 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. - John 3:16

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Getting to Know God: Jehovah Rapha

I am always amazed at my husband's ability to fix things.  Where do men learn the variety of lessons about how to repair cars, electronics, plumbing, carpentry and so much more?  Whether it's a computer problem or an electrical problem, more often than not, Jason can fix it.  It astounds me, and at the same time, I'm extremely grateful when I think of the money we would have had to spend to have someone else repair it.  But as great a handyman as Jason is, his skills are minimal compared to Jehovah Rapha, the God who heals, for He can truly fix any problem we have.

Typically, when people think of healing, they immediately think of physical healing, but healing goes so far beyond the physical.  In fact, when God introduced Himself as the God of healing, the situation was not one of a physical nature, at least, not entirely. 

Moses had just led the children of Israel away from the land of Egypt.  They had crossed the Red Sea and were on their way to the Promised Land.  Unfortunately, they were tired and weary, which means they were grouchy.  Can't you hear the complaints?  We're tired.  We're hungry.  Our feet hurt.  And the biggest complaint of all. . .We're thirsty!  (Sounds like a long car trip with young children, doesn't it?) When they finally found some water, you can imagine their horror at discovering that it was bitter.  And so, the complaints increased.

Thirst is a physical need, no doubt about it.  But that was not the only ailment the Israelites were suffering from.  They were also dealing with bitter hearts and sour spirits.  They were resentful.  They were discontent.  They were fussy.  They needed more than just physical healing.  They needed a healing that touched their very cores, and what better way to illustrate such healing than God's healing (restoring) of the bitter waters?

And the people murmured against Moses, saying, What shall we drink? And he cried unto the Lord; and the Lord shewed him a tree, which when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet: there he made for them a statute and an ordinance, and there he proved them, And said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the Lord thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the Lord that healeth thee. - Exodus 15:24-26

Jehovah Rapha tells us, "If you have a problem, I am the answer!"  If we need physical healing, God can heal us.  Notice, I said that He can, not that He will.  Whether or not He answers our requests for physical healing is up to Him and His perfect will.  I do not believe in "health and wealth" Christianity that proclaims if we are saved and have enough faith, we will always be healthy and wealthy.  This teaching is not supported in the Bible.  Paul himself asked God to remove a thorn in his life, and while we don't know exactly what that thorn was, it's very likely that it was a physical handicap of some sort.  God did not grant Paul the healing that he requested but instead reminded the apostle that His strength was sufficient.  God can heal, but it's up to Him whether or not He will heal in any given situation.

But as we've seen, not only can God heal us physically, but He can also heal us spiritually.  Jesus is the remedy for the disease of sinsickness.  By accepting Him, we can receive the ultimate healing of our souls, and unlike physical healing, this healing is guaranteed.  The Bible makes it clear that if we'll ask for spiritual healing, God will grant our request.  He wants us to come to Him.  He wants us to be saved.

Jehovah Rapha also possesses the ability to heal our hearts, our minds and our emotions.  He can heal the situations in our lives that are broken.  The term "heal" literally means "to restore; to set back in proper condition".  No matter what's out of joint in our lives, God can set things right.  Just remember, He'll set things right according to His plan, not necessarily ours.  The "proper condition" is what's best for us, not what we think is best for us.  Sometimes it's easy to blur the two.

How are you feeling today?  Are you dealing with a physical condition that has you discouraged and defeated?  Do you feel the need for a spiritual healing?  Are you harboring disease-like attitudes such as bitterness or resentment?  Does life have you feeling out of sorts?  Whatever you're facing, whatever you need, go to the Great Physician, Jehovah Rapha.  He is the ultimate handyman.  I guarantee you He can fix anything that's broken.  Just ask Him!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Getting to Know God: Jehovah Nissi

http://christians.deviantart.com/art/Jehovah-Nissi-135663876

And Moses built an altar, and called the name of it Jehovahnissi. - Exodus 17:15

In Exodus 17, we see Israel at war with the Amalekites. Moses, standing high on a mountaintop, would raise his rod to heaven, and as long as the rod was in the air, the children of Israel would be victorious. It wasn't long, however, before Moses' arms grew tired and he became weak. At that time, Aaron and Hur set Moses upon a rock, and standing on either side of him, held his hands in the air. In the end, Israel won the battle.

It was after this great victory that Moses built an altar in honor of the Lord and called the name of it Jehovah Nissi, which means "the Lord our Banner". A banner, or a flag as we commonly call it, plays several important roles in the lives of those who wield it.

1.  A banner goes before an army or procession. When the armies of Camelot marched through the kingdom, the Pendragon banner was at the forefront of the procession. When the Olympic contestants file into a stadium, they are preceded by their country's flag. As our banner, the Lord goes before us. The Bible tells us as much in Deuteronomy 31:8 – And the LORD, he it is that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed. By being before us, we can rest assured that any enemy must first go through Him before it can reach us.

2. A banner also acts as a means of identification.
The American flag serves to represent the United States as a nation of 50 states with 13 original colonies. In medieval times, soldiers in the watchtowers could identify oncoming forces by the banner being displayed. When we allow the Lord to live through us, He acts as our means of identification. People can know we are Christians without our having to tell them so. Our banner is evidence enough of our identity.

3. A banner serves as a rallying point for the troops. The second verse of The Star-Spangled Banner says, "On the shore, dimly seen through the mists of the deep, Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes, What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep, As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses? Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam, In full glory reflected now shines in the stream: 'Tis the star-spangled banner! Oh long may it wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!" In the midst of battle, why was Francis Scott Key so fascinated with the flag? Could it be that he realized that the flag embodied everything the troops were fighting for and thus served as a beacon of hope and a remembrance of the freedom for which they fought?

4. Finally, the banner represents victory. It is customary for the conquering victor to place his banner on the conquered territory. Such a banner denotes not only strength, but also possession. As our banner, the Lord reminds us that we have victory in Jesus and that we belong to Him. When Satan comes to conquer our souls, he is met with the Lord our Banner who informs Satan, "This child is mine."

It is mind-boggling to discover that this one little phrase, "the Lord our Banner", has so much meaning and significance in our everyday lives. Yet, nothing about the Lord should surprise us because, as we've already seen, He is so much more than we will ever know. He will go before us.  He will give us a strong identity.  He will serve as our strength and reminder of the freedom we're fighting for.  And He will give us the victory.  In fact, He already has, for victory was won at Calvary.  The Lord is our Banner.  And if I'm not mistaken, it is customary for a banner to be lifted high, right?  So, what are we waiting for?  Let's lift up our Banner!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Getting to Know God: Jehovah Jireh

And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovahjireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the Lord it shall be seen. - Genesis 22:14

Jehovah Jireh is loosely translated "the Lord will provide", but the most literal translation is "the Lord who will see to and who sees before". In essence, the name tells us that not only does the Lord provide, but oftentimes He provides for us before we even realize we have a need.

In the story in Genesis where Abraham is commanded to sacrifice his son, Isaac, we see that God already had a provision awaiting Abraham on the mount. When the prophet Elijah was fleeing for his life, God commanded him, on two separate occasions, to go to a place where provision had already been made for Elijah's safekeeping. Time and time again throughout the pages of the Bible, we see where God provides for His people.

I have to admit that Jehovah Jireh is one of my favorite names for the Lord because it is the one that I think I cling to the most. Living on a limited income can provide ample opportunity for worry and stress, yet the Lord always comes through for us, most of the time in ways that I would have never even imagine. For example, I recently sold a few items on eBay. These were items that I no longer needed and decided that any money I could get for them would be worth the time and effort to put them up for sale. One of the items I was selling was a pair of dog boots that we had bought for Mitchell after his injury a couple of summers back. Because his paw never healed properly, he was not able to wear the boots, so they've been in storage all this time. I started the bidding for the boots at $.99 and offered them at a "Buy It Now" price of $14.99. Within a day, the bidding had gone up past the
"Buy It Now" price, and by the end of the auction, the boots sold for $51. Jehovah Jireh had come through again!

I can't tell you the comfort I find in knowing that not only does God see and know my every need, but He also provides in ways I will never understand. Somehow, someway, He always meets the need. For years, I've tried to budget our finances, but I'm always dismayed to discover that things never work out on paper. According to our budget, we shouldn't have enough money to eat, but we've never missed a meal yet. God has always seen to it that our needs are met. His provision may not have been in the time frame that we hoped for or may not have presented itself in the way we expected, but the provision was there nonetheless.

From the very beginning of time, God saw our needs and provided the solutions. He saw that we would sin and be in need of a Savior, so He sent His only begotten Son to pay the awful price for our wrongdoing. He knew that we would need a daily source of comfort, so He sent the Holy Spirit to live within our hearts. He knew that we would need guidance and direction, so He sent us His holy Word. Day after day, He provides for our every need and often our wants as well. Despite our unworthiness, He takes care of us, allowing His provision to illustrate His great love for us.

What do you need today? Is the bank account empty…again? Do you lack the strength to face another day? Are you sick and tired of being sick and tired? Whatever you're facing, whatever you need, take it to Jehovah Jireh. He will provide. Trust me, He's good at that!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Getting to Know God: Jehovah

I was afraid I wasn't going to have much to say in this post as I introduced the name Jehovah.  From my point of view, the name simply meant "Lord" and, while there is great power in that name, I wasn't sure I would be able to find much to say beyond the usual.  Boy, was I wrong!  This morning I have truly bitten off more than I can chew.  I have spent the last hour researching, and let me tell you, my brain hurts!  I believe I nearly drowned in a sea of Hebrew pronunciations and present-day translations.  At this point, there's so much to say that I don't even know where to begin, so forgive me in advance for the information overload.  I'll try to keep this as concise as possible.

For starters, the name Jehovah is a translation of the Hebrew name YHWH (or Yahweh, as we know it).  As the true name of the one and only God, the name YHWH was considered so sacred that it was forbidden to be uttered or written.  Therefore, vowel signs were added for the sake of pronunciation, and in the end, the name Jehovah was formed.  Trust me, there's much more to it than that, but as I said earlier, I don't want to get too bogged down in the details I was swimming through this morning.  Don't get me wrong, it's fascinating information, but I'm fresh out of life preservers!  So, for the sake of brevity, let's just say that Jehovah is the equivalent translation of YHWH.

The name means "Lord", "self-existing one", I AM THAT I AM.  We first see this great name in Genesis 2 where we see the term "LORD" spelled out in all capital letters.  Shortly after, in Exodus 3, God reveals Himself as such:  And God said unto Moses, I Am That I Am: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I Am hath sent me unto you. (Exodus 3:14)  Talk about an introduction!  "Who are you?"  "I AM THAT I AM, and that's all you need to know."  Why?  Because that's all that needs to be said.  He is.  He always has been.  He always will be.  He has no beginning or end.  His ways are past finding out.  He just is!

Being a Hebrew word, the name Jehovah (or YHWH) is not found in the New Testament.  Some (including the Jehovah's Witness) take this as evidence that Jesus is not God but rather a created being much like the angels.  What they fail to take into consideration is that the New Testament was written in Greek, therefore, the Hebrew words were often substituted with the Greek equivalent, which in this case is kurios, translated "Lord" and used to refer to all three persons of the trinity throughout the New Testament.  If you're interested in a fascinating article that refutes the view that the absence of the name Jehovah proves that Christ is not God, you can visit MiddleTownBibleChurch.org.  It's very informative and will help you to arm yourself so that you can adequately defend the truth.

The name Jehovah (YHWH) is used nearly 7,000 times in the Old Testament and is best known as the covenant name of God.  As with the name El, the name Jehovah is often accompanied by a qualifier, not so much for recognition (as was the case with El), but rather for description.  Over the next few posts, we'll delve into some of those qualifiers and find out even more about our Lord who is truly beyond all description!

Are you having fun yet?

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Getting to Know God: El Elohim

For the Lord your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible, which regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward. . .Thou shalt fear the Lord thy God; him shalt thou serve, and to him shalt thou cleave, and swear by his name.  He is thy praise, and he is thy God, that hath done for thee these great and terrible things, which thine eyes have seen. - Deuteronomy 10:17, 20-21

I can think of no better way to end the study of the name "El" than with the name "El Elohim", God of gods.  Throughout the ages, man has created, served and worshiped a multitude of gods.  From idols made of stone to famous sports figures, man has always held someone in high esteem and given that individual priority above all else.  But no matter how hard man may protest, there is none above God.  He is the God of all gods, King of all kings, and Lord of all lords.  No matter how important or impressive another might be, there is none more important or impressive than God, and He has the resume to back it up.

I think of Elijah as he challenged the prophets of Baal to a little contest.  The rules were simple:   (1) Call down fire from Heaven.  (2) Witness the response of God (or false god, in the case of Baal).  Elijah was even kind enough to allow the Baal worshipers to go first.  They built their altar and cried to their god, but nothing happened.  They begged, pleaded, jumped up and down on the altar and even cut themselves in an attempt to get Baal's attention.  The result?  Absolutely nothing.  On his turn, Elijah ordered the altar wet down again and again.  He turned his eyes to Heaven and humbly asked the God of all gods to prove His power.  He did!  Not only did the fire consume the offering, but it also consumed the wood, the water, the rocks and everything else.  And the winner is. . . (drum roll please). . .El Elohim!  No doubt about it.

Time and time again, God has proven Himself more powerful, more wise, more loving, more compassionate, more holy and more loyal than any other so-called god.  Even death itself could not defeat Him.  Everything and everyone is under His command whether they like it or not.  And one day, everyone will answer to Him.  At that time, there will be no doubt in anyone's mind who's the boss.

I know we shouldn't compare ourselves with others, and there's no place for bragging when it comes to worldly possessions or status.  Let's face it, we live in a day and age that thrives on "My car is better than your car" and "My house is more expensive than your house".  It's sickening and has led many to max out their credit cards in an effort to "keep up with the Joneses".  And still, they're discontent with their lot in life.  It seems everyone is trying to one-up someone else, when the fact of the matter is we're all just sinners, some of us saved by the grace of God, but sinners nonetheless.  None of us are any better than anyone else.

When it comes to God, however, I'll gladly debate with non-believers.  "My God is bigger than your god."  Why?  Because it's not just my opinion.  It's a fact.  Name another God who can create entire worlds with just the sound of His voice.  Tell me of another God who can make the sun stand still or the seas to part.  Show me another God who can rise from the dead.  Anyone?  I didn't think so.  There is none other like Him.  He is One of a kind.  He's the God of all gods.  He's El Elohim.

For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised: he also is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the people are idols: but the Lord made the heavens. - I Chronicles 16:25-26

Friday, February 1, 2013

Getting to Know God: El-hay

We've already discussed how the qualifiers after the name "El" serve the purpose of setting apart the one, true God.  This particular qualifier does so in a mighty way.  Today we will look at El-hay, the living God.  Of all other religions, not one can claim to serve a living God.  Their gods are dead and buried.  Their idols are lifeless.  And as such, their "gods" can't do anything for them.

Our God, on the other hand, has conquered both death and hell.  He has always been alive and will always be alive.  He is the living God, and because He lives, we have hope.  Hope that He sees our needs.  Hope that He can intercede on our behalf.  Hope that He can meet our needs and solve our problems.  Hope that He can protect us.  A dead god can't help his people.

I'm reminded of a story told by a missionary to Africa.  He was struggling to get the village leader to understand the difference between his idol god and the one, true God.  Finally, he broke down and asked this question, "So, if your hut were to catch on fire, would your god save you, or would you have to save your god?"  His point was made and eventually, the village leader surrendered his life to Christ.

We first see the name El-hay when the children of Israel are standing at the banks of the Jordan River, waiting to see if they could take the land before them.  They'd been down this road before.  They had walked across on dry land as the Red Sea was parted for them after they had escaped from Egypt.  They had seen God's provision, yet the thought of fighting the "giants" of the land scared them to the point that they forgot all God had done and all that He could do.  And so they were left to wander.  Now, here they are, facing a very familiar scene.  An uncrossable river.  A land filled with enemies.  A decision to be made.

So before giving the orders, Joshua decides to give the people a little pep talk, and in the midst of it, he reminds the people that they serve a living God.  And Joshua said, Hereby ye shall know that the living God is among you, and that he will without fail drive out from before you the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Hivites, and the Perizzites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Jebusites. (Joshua 3:10)  Within moments, the entire nation once again defies nature by walking across the Jordan River on dry ground.  Only a living God can make the waters stand still.

We see the name El-hay again when King Darius sneaks out to check on Daniel after the man of God had been thrown into the lion's den the night before.  After seeing that Daniel was unharmed and that God had indeed delivered him from the lions' mouths, the king said, I make a decree, That in every dominion of my kingdom men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel: for he is the living God, and stedfast for ever, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed, and his dominion shall be even unto the end. (Daniel 6:26)  Only a living God could have delivered Daniel from those hungry lions.

Those are not the only times El-hay is mentioned.  In fact, the Bible has quite a lot to say about the living God, but what does it really mean for us?  For starters, it means that we serve a God who is both worthy and able to receive our praise.  It also means that we can take great comfort in the fact that our cries will be heard, our joys will be seen, our requests will be considered and our hearts will be loved.  Our God is alive, and because of that, He can do for us what no other could do.  He's watching.  He's paying attention.  He's always awake, always alive and always available. He lives for us.  Is it too much to ask that we live for Him?