Pray With Paul – Colossians 1:9-14

Can you imagine what it must have been like to sit on the mountain while Jesus preached? Or to have been one of the early Christians listening to Paul share the gospel?

It’s been a long time since Paul was here on earth spreading the gospel on his missionary journeys. It’s been even longer since Jesus walked among us teaching on the mountainside – a really long time!

In our homeschool history lessons, we read first person documents. These are documents, like a journal, written at the time of the event. Details often change as stories spread from person to person. Even Paul, though he was alive when Jesus was ministering, did not have first hand knowledge of Jesus. The Colossians heard the gospel third-hand, at best. So, it’s no surprise that things got a bit jumbled.

Paul and Colossae

The city of Colossae was once a thriving city in Asia Minor (present day Turkey), but at the time that Paul is writing to them the city has declined and been overshadowed by other locations on the same major trade route. Epaphras, who became a Christian because of Paul’s work in Ephesus, had traveled to Colossae and founded a small church in the city.

But, there was a problem in the church. The church had interwoven parts of other religions into the gospel and diluted it. There must have been a mix of both Jewish and Gentile members and there was a lot of disputes over who was right. Concerned, Epaphras went to visit Paul. And Paul sent back this letter to set the record straight.

As he usually did, Paul included a prayer for the church…

Paul’s Prayer

We give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of your love for all the saints; because of the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, of which you heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel, which has come to you, as it has also in all the world, and is bringing forth fruit, as it is also among you since the day you heard and knew the grace of God in truth; as you also learned from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf, who also declared to us your love in the Spirit.

For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.

Colossians 1:3-14 (NKJV)

Thanksgiving

Paul, as was his custom, began by thanking God for the people. Paul truly had a heart for people. He specifically thanked God for their faith in Jesus, love for the Saints, the hope that was laid up for them in heaven and that they were bringing forth fruit. In this offering of thanksgiving, we see Paul giving praise and honor to God who allowed for all of it, while still affirming the work of the Colossians.

Later in this book, Paul has some pretty harsh corrections for the believers in Colossae. I imagine that he knew that they would need some encouragement. Paul was able to simultaneously give God the credit and encourage the believers that they were getting some things right.

Acknowedge Who God Is

Paul always addresses his prayers to God by Name. Throughout the Bible, especially the Old Testament, God reveals His character by revealing another name. And, Paul, being a devout Jew, was familiar with God’s names. He addresses his prayers as if he was talking to a friend. In this case, it is God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Requests for the Colossian Believers

Paul’s prayers for the Colossian believers was three-fold.

First, Paul asked for the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding to fill their lives. They were isolated. Paul could not come to them in person. But, he knew that the Holy Spirit could come and teach them.

Secondly, he asked that they would walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. He knew that they would have to make a choice to continue following in the ways that God would teach them. Changes needed to be made.

Third, he prayed for supernatural strength and patience with joy. Paul knew change is hard. And he knew the persecution that came with that change. But, he also knew that they would have access to all the power that is at the command of Jesus and God the Father.

More Thanksgiving

Paul continues to thank God. Times were not easy for these Christians – and certainly not for Paul who was in prison at the time he wrote this letter. But, he shares his secret for persevering in hard times – giving thanks to the Father. He concludes his prayer by:

  • giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light.
  • He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love
  • in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.

See, Paul knew that we have moved out of a kingdom of darkness and earthly rule into an eternal kingdom. This kingdom is governed by love, not harshness and hatred. And we have citizenship because Jesus loved us enough to shed His blood and die in our place.

It’s not always easy to be thankful. Sometimes the stress of our hard times distracts us. But, we need to thank God anyway. There is always something to be thankful for, we just have to look! Sometimes its the little things like coffee or the sun shining on a new day.

What are you thankful for today?

Pray With Paul – 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13

Ever feel like you are alone? Or maybe you are just wondering where your mentor is? Ever feel like you are just trying to figure out this Christianity thing on your own – flying by the seat of your pants, as they say?

The young church at Thessalonica must have felt very much this way when they finally received this letter from Paul.

Paul and Thessalonica

When Paul arrived in Thessalonica on his second missionary journey, it was a bustling seaport city. Situated at the junction of the great Egnatian Way, which gave the Romans to access into modern day Turkey, and the road leading north to the Danube River.

Paul began by teaching in the local Jewish synagogue (as was his custom) for 3 Sabbaths. We read in Acts 17:1-9 that violent unbelievers came to the house of Jason looking for Paul and Silas. Since they weren’t there at the time, they dragged Jason and his friends were out of the house. Though they were eventually released, the persecution did not end. It was so pervasive that Paul and Silas were sent on to Berea shortly after arriving.

While this allowed Paul and Silas to reach more people, it left behind a largely Gentile congregation of recent converts with little support in their persecution. What a blessing and joy it must have been to know that Paul had not forgotten them, but was reaching out to continue to teach them from a distance!

Paul’s Prayer

What would be an adequate thanksgiving to offer God for all the joy we experience before him because of you? We do what we can, praying away, night and day, asking for the bonus of seeing your faces again and doing what we can to help when your faith falters.  

May God our Father himself and our Master Jesus clear the road to you! And may the Master pour on the love so it fills your lives and splashes over on everyone around you, just as it does from us to you. May you be infused with strength and purity, filled with confidence in the presence of God our Father when our Master Jesus arrives with all his followers.

1 Thessalonians 3:9-13 (MSG)

Thanksgiving

Paul begins his prayer with thanksgiving. He was so thankful for the believers in Thessalonica that it gave him joy before the Father. It seems to be a pattern in Paul’s prayers. Everytime I see one of Paul’s prayers (so far, at least) I am reminded of the words of David…

Enter into His gates with thanksgiving,

And into His courts with praise.

Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.

Psalm 100:4

Acknowedge Who God Is

Next Paul recognizes and addressed God by His character – “God our Father and our Master Jesus Christ.” Paul is recognizing that God and Jesus have the ability to remove all obstacles so that they could be together again. But, he also understands that experienceing His love is so much better than them being together. And, so, Paul moves into his requests for the Thessalonian believers…

Requests for the Thessalonian Believers

  • Pour on the love so it overflows – Paul is so adamant that they understand God’s love that he asks for it to be poured out so generously that it splashes everywhere and passes beyond their small circle of believers to the community around them. He asks that they would ooze with His love!
  • Be infused with strength and purity – Paul knew that they were facing persecution. He knew that they would need the strength and purity of a transformed life to remain true to their new beliefs.
  • Be filled with confidence in the presence of God our Father – We learn in other letters that we, as Christians are allowed to enter into the throne room of God with confidence and boldness because of the work of Jesus Christ that allows us to be adopted as God’s children. Paul asked that they would know that they can call out to God the Father in their time of need and be confident that He hears them and will answer.

Have you tried beginning your prayers with thanksgiving and praise? I know that when I take the time to focus on what I am thankful for and praising God, I am definitely more aware of His Presence with me.

I am beginning to start my prayer time with thanksgiving and praise. It is so important to remember all that He has already done and all that He is! I am asking that He fill me up to overflowing. It’s easy to get overwhelmed when I start to think of all the things I am working on in a day, but if I can only do one thing – I want to ooze the love of Jesus everywhere I go. Father, grant me the strength to remain pure so that I may enter your courts with confidence.

Pray With Paul – Ephesians 1:15-22

Been feeling a little “stale” when it comes time to pray? Do you “go through the motions” in your quiet time? Are you longing to find a true connection with God?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you are not alone! We all focus more on our to do lists that we exhaust ourselves with all the things we need to do that we forget to truly connect with Him. I have been there. I do that. That’s why I am exploring how Paul prayed.

Paul’s time in Ephesus

We will start with Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians. So, a little background is in order…

At the time Paul was living there, Ephesus was a Major commercial center at the intersection of major trade routes in Asia Minor (modern day Turkey). We learn in Acts 19 that Paul made Ephesus his base of operations for over 2 years while he preached throughout Asia Minor.

Paul wrote the book of Ephesians while in a Roman prison. He knew that they would not have him with them forever, so he penned this letter to the church at Ephesus. It is a basic manual for Christians. He starts with a greeting and review of the gospel he had preached among them. Then he prays for the believers in Ephesus and throughout the world.

Paul’s prayer for Ephesus (and all Christians)

Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers: that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church,

Ephesians 1:15-22 (NKJV)

We can see in this prayer a very definite outline of items that we should include in our prayers.

Thanksgiving

Paul gave thanks for the Ephesians and for their faith. He heard about their struggles and how they were remaining strong and following the gospel. But, he knew that it wasn’t because of him or anything he had done.

Acknowledge Who God Is

This can be a tricky one! Paul moved right from thanking God for the lives of the Ephesians to acknowledging God for who He is. He understood who he was addressing. There is power in trying to grasp just a little bit of who God is. If you don’t know Him, ask! He’ll show you! Also, studying the names of God included throughout the Bible will also help to reveal His character and nature. See, when you understand who God is, it doesn’t matter if you are the greatest person on the earth or the equivalent of a dog begging for a crumb of bread. God is the one who provides, who heals, who teaches, etc.

Ask God for His Spirit of Wisdom

Paul knew that they would never be able to measure up on their own. They would never understand who God is or what He was doing without help. He knew that He could not be there in person to explain it all to them. He had no guarantee that he would be alive tomorrow. And, so, He ask God to send His Spirit of Wisdom to reveal Himself.

In 1 Corinthians 2:7-10, Paul said

God’s wisdom cannot be understood with natural human understanding – it must be revealed to us by God. He reveals it to us by and through His Spirit.

1 Corinthians 2:7-10

Ask God to Help You Understand

And so, Paul asked that the Ephesians would be able to understand 3 things:

  • The Hope of His Calling
  • The Riches of the Glory of the Inheritance
  • The exceeding greatness of His power.

Wow! If we even just scratched the surface of understanding these things, I think we would all live our lives a little bit differently. I know I would. Prayer is not about giving him my list of wishes. It’s not about avoiding hell. It’s not about being perfect or checking off the next item on my list of things to do today. Prayer is about a relationship with our heavenly Father. He loves us more than we know. It is about His people coming alongside Him and connecting with Him. I like how Lisa Bevere put it:

…prayer is not issuing directives to God so that he might do our bidding. Prayer acknowledges who God is and invites his involvement in our lost and broken world.

Lisa Bevere, Godmothers p. 66

So, how about you? What do you need to change in your prayer time to follow Paul’s example?

What Does It Look Like?

Has your quiet time gone stale? Are you constantly running from one thing to the next and having trouble finding the time to get to know your heavenly Father? Or has the pandemic, with everyone in the same space all the time, kept you distracted?

Guilty? Me too!

I have been having such a hard time getting to a space where I can sit down ALONE and really focus on Him and what He wants to teach me each day. I used to get up before the rest of the family. I love when I can have the quiet house all to myself…but, with the pandemic, my husband and I have been doing early morning cardio and I physically cannot get up any earlier than the 5:30-5:45 am that we are doing now. So, I tried moving it to after breakfast – well, then my teenage girls are starting their day and NEED to tell me all their (insert eye roll) silliness before I head out to walk puppies. Next, I tried right after my midday puppies – yup, then people want their snack!

So, I have been struggling to find the right time and place to get with God. I have come up with some solutions that are working for me – at least for now! The really neat thing I am learning is that, it doesn’t have to look a certain way. I don’t have to sit down, light candles, drink coffee, check off a reading list or whatever else I have tried to include over the years. I don’t even have to read! And, it doesn’t have to look the same every day either! In fact, I think my quiet time lately has looked a little bit different every day. I’m loving it! It’s helping to keep it exciting.

The Essentials

So, I am experimenting because my dog walking schedule combined with my family’s schedules has my calendar looking different every day. Some things I have really liked, but they just don’t work when I have 8 hours of dog walks scheduled and my kids have to get to dance class on time. Others, I still need to tweak or try a few more times because I’m learning something new. But, I am finding that if I keep these few things in mind, that He will meet me every single time and I come away with a little bit more of Him.

Make Time For God

The next morning he was up long before daybreak and went out alone into the wilderness to pray. Later, Simon and the others went out to find him, and told him, “Everyone is asking for you.”

Mark 1:35-37

Jesus had just spent the entire day preaching, teaching, healing and casting out spirits. He must have been exhausted when He got to bed that night. But, instead of sleeping in, He got up early and found a place to be alone with God…But, He wouldn’t be alone for long before the interruptions and demands of a new day would begin…

I need to make time to get alone with God! It’s the only way to know for certain which direction I am to go.

Invite Holy Spirit to Teach You

You sent your good Spirit to instruct them, and you did not stop giving them bread from heaven or water for their thirst.

Nehemiah 9:20

But you have received the Holy Spirit, and he lives within you, in your hearts, so that you don’t need anyone to teach you what is right. For he teaches you all things, and he is the Truth, and no liar; and so, just as he has said, you must live in Christ, never to depart from him.

1 John 2:27

There are so many passages where we are promised the Holy Spirit to teach and train us. He even fills in the answers for us when we pray! But, we must open our hearts to let Him lead by asking Him to come and teach us.

Expect Holy Spirit to Come

“When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I’ll listen. “When you come looking for me, you’ll find me. “Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed.”

Jeremiah 29:12-13

God has promised to come when we call on Him. He has promised to send His Spirit to teach and train us. He will let us find Him and know Him!

Remember the Purpose

Keep your eyes fixed on Him. This “quiet time” is all about getting to know Him. It’s not about checking off a list of to dos or following a formula. Getting to know a friend often involves conversations, events – even parties! Getting to know God can include conversations and quiet, but also, singing, dancing and celebrating. It doesn’t have to be quiet! God can, and will meet you in all circumstances.

Here are some of the ideas I have been experimenting with lately:

  • Structured Study time
  • Prayer Walking
  • Audio Bible “Reading”
  • Praise music in the car while driving
  • Podcasts from credible teachers of the Word
  • Quiet meditation in nature – or in a closet

What does your time with God look like? I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments!

An Invitation…

Life has been a little crazy here lately. The quietness of the COVID shutdown was nice in some ways. But now things are reopening and people are returning to school and work. I’m grateful to be rebuilding my dog walking business. (I mean, who wouldn’t be happy to get paid to play with puppies!) But, I definitely struggle more with the schedule when it comes to getting in my quiet time.

On the busy days, I have started listening to podcasts as I walk dogs. I was never one to really like talk radio, so podcasts seemed like they would not be something I like. But, I am finding them the perfect solution to mix in through the week. I still have my Bible study time at home with a good book on the days where I can. These podcasts help me keep my mind focused on the right things as I go about my work day.

A few days ago, I got my first clients of the day leashed up and headed out for our walk. I popped my headphones in and hit play.  I wound up listening to two episodes from two different hosts. Since podcasts are still new to me, I have gone back to listen to earlier episodes. On this day, it was one from 5 years ago and one from 2 years ago.  Both of these episodes were based on the same passage of scripture.  I did not plan this! I simply set up a playlist with the oldest episode from each of the 2 podcasts. When things like this happen, I believe it is God trying to get my attention. What are the odds that I would listen to these two podcasts, recorded 3 years apart, on the same day?!

So, what was the passage?

I have never stopped thanking God for you. I pray for you constantly, asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you wisdom to see clearly and really understand who Christ is and all that he has done for you. I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can see something of the future he has called you to share. I want you to realize that God has been made rich because we who are Christ’s have been given to him! I pray that you will begin to understand how incredibly great his power is to help those who believe him. It is that same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in heaven, far, far above any other king or ruler or dictator or leader. Yes, his honor is far more glorious than that of anyone else either in this world or in the world to come. And God has put all things under his feet and made him the supreme Head of the Church—

Ephesians 1:16-22 (TLB)

Each podcast focused on different parts of Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians. Today, I want to focus on one message, that each included. God is longing for us to ask him to reveal himself.

God is longing for us to ask him to reveal himself.

What does it look like?

In their podcast, Conversations with John & Lisa, The Beveres shared how their “prayer time” looks different for each of them. But, remember, both hear from God! Perhaps the difference in their structure has to do with their different genders, or maybe it’s just their individual differences. I know that my prayer time has looked different at different stages of life. When I was in college, I had more time to have a really structured time. When I got married and had littles, it was definitely more hit and miss with LOTS of interruptions. Now, I have teens, but have to fit it around working and getting that much needed sleep in too! The key is having a heart that is ready and willing to listen and hear God’s voice wherever I am.

God is calling us to come and sit in his presence and just soak him up. He wants us to understand and learn to use all the power that is ours because we are his. And, he promises that if we look for him, we will find him. It’s as if God is calling us: Daughter, sit with me. Take a deep breath. Rest in me.

“Daughter, sit with me. Take a deep breath. Rest in me.” – God

God wants us to come and sit with him – to be still and relax. He wants us to trust Him. He has a plan that is good. He is there, waiting for us, and we will find him. He calls us to enter into communion – a relationship – with Him! That is exactly what prayer is.

But it’s hard and I don’t know how….

I don’t find it odd to hear that a Christian struggles with prayer. After all, we are all still learning, still growing. And no matter how long you have been a Christian, there will always be new lessons to learn.  The ultimate need of every person is to know God. So, how do we do that?

We enter His Presence through prayer. I like how D. A. Carson put it in his book Praying with Paul:

One of the foundational steps in knowing God, and one of the basic demonstrations that we do know God, is prayer – spiritual, persistent, biblically minded prayer.

D. A. Carson, Praying with Paul

A Challenge

So, I am challenging myself to transform my prayer life over the next weeks and months. My own prayers are often inauthentic, self-centered, or formulaic. I am learning more about how God has made us – and me in particular. I am ready to move beyond the formulas and rituals into true relationship.

I want to know God. Like Jacob, I want to enter His throne room with boldness and know what it is to wrestle with God. I want to hear His voice, ask Him my questions…

Join me here as I explore the prayers of Paul recorded in the New Testament.

WHO HE IS: The God Who Heals

I woke up on Monday morning, June 1, 2020 with a heavy heart. Our nation is having a rough year, of that there is no doubt. Our once thriving economy has been shuttered by a pandemic of questionable potency. We have been under stay home orders for 12 weeks now. Just when restrictions were beginning to loosen, the riots began. What started out as a peaceful protest in honor of George Floyd, a black man who was killed by the actions of a white police officer in Minnesota, have erupted into nationwide rioting.

In my opinion, our country is under attack by outsiders who want to change our way of life. Please do not misunderstand me. George Floyd should not be dead. The officer should, and I believe will, face consequences for his actions. Is there a system of inequality and racism in our law enforcement community? I don’t know. That has not been my experience, but I am not black. I am trying to step back and seek God in all of this. Only He can see with clear eyes the full truth in this situation.

I posted this on Facebook on Monday. Since that time, multiple police officers have been shot, some have died, trying to protect property and lives amid the riots. Innocent people and those participating in the violence have been injured or killed as well. I believe the message is still relevant. Only God can heal our land. Only God can heal our communities. Only God can heal our hearts…

I awoke with a heavy heart this morning. Rioting, looting and violence have spread across this country leaving us…

Posted by Mandy Kutz Boogaard on Monday, June 1, 2020

JEHOVAH-ROPHE:  “The Lord Who Heals”

When I first planned out the topic of this post, I thought it was to be about COVID 19. But, I believe our country is in need of much more than physical healing.

Jehovah is the personal name for God in Hebrew. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Moses all knew Him by this name. It is often combined with other words or phrases to reveal a particular part of His character. Rophe in it’s simplest form means “to heal”. When I looked it up, I was surprised to learn that it implies spiritual, emotional as well as physical healing. Our God, Jehovah-Rophe, is able to heal it all!

Bitter Waters Made Sweet

We first see this name used in Exodus. Let me set the stage…Israel has just gone through the plagues in Egypt. They are driven out in a hurry after the Lord’s angel killed all the Egyptian first born sons. They fled in fear of their lives and came to the side of the Red Sea. They were blocked in, trapped between Pharoah’s advancing army and the water. But, they faithfully followed instructions and God parted the sea so they could cross over. Pharoah’s army tried to follow, but they were wiped out when God released the waters. They had just finished celebrating God’s deliverance when they faced their next challenge. There was no water…

So Moses brought Israel from the Red Sea; then they went out into the Wilderness of Shur. And they went three days in the wilderness and found no water. Now when they came to Marah, they could not drink the waters of Marah, for they were bitter. Therefore the name of it was called Marah. And the people complained against Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?” So he cried out to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a tree. When he cast it into the waters, the waters were made sweet.

There He made a statute and an ordinance for them, and there He tested them, and said, “If you diligently heed the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am the Lord who heals you.”

Exodus 15:22-26 (NKJV)

God was so patient with Israel. Thankfully, He is also patient with us. Sometimes, it takes a while to get through to us…I mean, God had just clearly demonstrated His complete control over every part of creation, and the people were panicking and complaining because the water didn’t taste good. But, God showed them once again that He had things under control by making the water sweet.

After meeting their immediate need, God revealed a new name and a new promise for the people. He would protect them from the diseases that affected the Egyptians. All they had to do was listen to His voice and do what He said. Sounds simple enough, but we see throughout the Scriptures that it’s not always that easy keep up our part of the agreement!

A Complete 3-fold Healing

The name of Jehovah Rophe in the Old Testament reveals a 3-fold healing of the body, soul and spirit. I have been taught that the number three in Scripture represents completion. God is able to bring about a complete healing for those who are willing to seek His face and listen to His voice.

He heals our bodies…

For I will restore health to you

And heal you of your wounds,’ says the Lord,

‘Because they called you an outcast saying:

“This is Zion;

No one seeks her.”

Jeremiah 30:17

He Heals our minds and our will…

“Return, you backsliding children,
And I will heal your backslidings.”

“Indeed we do come to You,
For You are the Lord our God.

Jeremiah 3:22

He heals our spirits…

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me,

Because the Lord has anointed Me

To preach good tidings to the poor;

He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,

To proclaim liberty to the captives,

And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;

Isaiah 61:1

We All Need Healing

We all need to be healed. Every person on this earth is imperfect and therefore, needs the healing that only God can give. Thankfully, God has shown us the way to get His forgiveness and healing.

If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

2 Chronicles 7:14

I am continuing to pray for God’s healing – for myself, for my family, my friends, and all I come in contact with, for our nation and our world. Will you join me?

WHO HE IS – The Lord Will Provide

Jehovah Jireh

This is actually two names in one. Jehovah is the name God used to enter into covenant with Abraham. It also is seen in the Bible as Yahweh. It reveals the personal nature of God – His desire to be in relationship with His people. Jireh means to see or to provide or to foresee.

“The Lord will Provide.” is how I have seen Jehovah-Jireh translated and explained. But, I think it would be more complete to say that it means that God sees our needs – even before we know them – and then He gives us just enough when the time comes. And He does it because He promised that He would when He made a covenant with us.

Abraham

In Genesis 22 we read the story where God reveals Himself to Abraham and Isaac as Jehovah-Jireh. Abraham brought Isaac along to offer a sacrifice and worship God. Along the way, Isaac notices that they have forgotten something very important – the lamb for the sacrifice! So, he asks his father. Abraham’s response is full of faith, “My son, God will provide the lamb…”

And so, we see Abraham and Isaac work together to build an altar and to prepare for the sacrifice. But, still, there was no lamb. Isaac must have been confused and a bit shocked when Abraham bound him and raised the knife…

At just the right time, God intervenes. He calls out to Abraham to stop and provides a lamb for the sacrifice…

And Abraham called the name of the place, The-Lord-Will-Provide; as it is said to this day, “In the Mount of the Lord it shall be provided.”

Genesis 22:14

My Ways Are Not His…

If was up to me, I would not have waited as long to stop Abraham. But God knew ahead of time that Abraham was going to need a lamb. He knew that He would be able to stop Abraham. Our minds are often clouded by the temporary conditions we are living in. We are distracted by the demands of the internet and television. We are distracted by the demands of those around us who we love. Sometimes, we miss the very thing that we need the most because we go chasing after the things we think we need, but really don’t.

God knows our needs. He is not distracted by all the things that surround us. And He has promised to provide for us in the moment we are in need.

WHO HE IS: The God Who Sees

The God Who Sees Me.

He knows my needs before I even speak the words in prayer. He solves problems before I even realize they are a problem. He clears my path so that I can walk without obstacles. Even when I don’t understand what He is doing, or where He is leading me, He sees my needs and meets them. He sees my pain and heals me. He sees my weakness and gives me strength.

Hagar – Sarai’s Slave

In Genesis 16:1-4 we are introduced to Hagar. We learn that she is Sarai’s Egyptian slave. So, here we see that Hagar was not related to Sarai, but had been acquired as a slave from Egypt. We don’t know whether Hagar had served Sarai before her marriage or if she had been acquired later. But, she was most likely well known by Sarai, because her role, as maidservant would have been to assist with dressing, bathing, etc.

Sarai has heard Abram tell of the promise from God that they would become the parents of a great nation. But, Sarai is still barren. So, she comes up with a plan to give Abram an heir. Sarai decides that Abram should marry Hagar and have a baby with her. And that is exactly what they did.

And Hagar became pregnant.

Sarai mistreats Hagar

Hagar’s pregnancy caused Sarai and Hagar to see each other differently. Hagar began to despise Sarai. Sarai became jealous. Being her maidservant, Hagar was constantly in the presence of Sarai. Intentionally or not, Hagar seemed to be rubbing it in that she was carrying Abram’s child – the child that Sarai was not able to conceive.

In a bit of a huff, Sarai confronts Abram in verse 5. She tries to shift all the blame to him. Abram, who clearly didn’t love Hagar, told Sarai to do what she wanted with her. So, Sarai treated her so harshly that Hagar ran away.

Hagar Sulks By the Spring

Hagar fled from Sarah, and sat down by a spring and sulked. Here she was, an unloved slave bride, pregnant, fleeing from her master. The pain, rejection and uncertainty must have raced through her mind. How would she survive in the wilderness of Canaan?

There, in the midst of her despair, the Lord showed up. The New King James Version refers to him as “the Angel of the Lord”, but the context of the passage tells us that this was God. He showed her a small glimpse of what was going on. She was pregnant and would bear a son, named Ishmael (which means “God sees”) who would become a great nation. And then, He gave her instructions to return to Abram and Sarai and to submit herself to them.

And Hagar listened. She returned to Sarai and stayed until she was sent away after the birth of Isaac.

Hagar’s Response – The God Who Sees Me

She was probably just as upset, and certainly confused. Why would God show up just to tell her to return? But, instead of continuing to sulk in disappointment, Hagar responded, giving us a new name for God – El Roi, The God Who Sees.

Then she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, You-Are-the-God-Who-Sees; for she said, “Have I also here seen Him who sees me?”

Genesis 16:13

How About You?

Are you facing a challenge that seems like too much? Are you carrying a burden that is too big to bear? Trying to climb a hill that has morphed into a giant mountain? Take some time to pull aside and sit in God’s presence. He’s there waiting for you. He sees you. He knows what you need – and what you need to hear. Go to Him, trusting that He is the God Who Sees, and follow Him in obedience.

WHO HE IS: Elohim – Powerful God, The Creator

He is The Powerful One

Elohim. It is the name by which God first reveals himself to us. In fact, it is mentioned in the very first verse in the Bible, Genesis 1:1. We see in the very beginning, that God already existed and that he created everything that exists on the earth. It describes a vast nothingness – a void – that transforms into the incredible planet that we live on today. He is God. He is powerful. He created our home and everything that we would require for life, then he created us – out of nothing!

But, why? The answer is simple, so that we would believe and trust him. The Apostle Paul puts it this way:

For ever since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through His workmanship [all His creation, the wonderful things that He has made], so that they [who fail to believe and trust in Him] are without excuse and without defense.

Romans 1:20 (Amp)

He Created the Earth

In the beginning God (Elohim) created [by forming from nothing] the heavens and the earth.

Genesis 1:1 (Amp)

Imagine the creativity that God has! Out of nothing he formed the mountain peaks, even the snow that rests upon them. He dug the valleys in between and grew trees and wildflowers and other plants that would become our food. He created all of the animals and fish – even reptiles and snakes! And he did it out of nothing!

I’m often amazed and even inspired by the art projects that my daughters come up with from just a pile of craft supplies and some time. But, everyone of them starts with a reference point. They might make a car or a flower, for example, but, these are all things that they see around them. But God created our entire world in all its beauty and splendor – complete with gorgeous sunsets, waves on the beaches – OUT OF NOTHING!

He Created Us And Declared His Work Good

Then God said, “Let Us (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) make man in Our image, according to Our likeness [not physical, but a spiritual personality and moral likeness]; and let them have complete authority over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, the cattle, and over the entire earth, and over everything that creeps and crawls on the earth.”  So God created man in His own image, in the image and likeness of God He created him; male and female He created them. And God blessed them [granting them certain authority] and said to them, “Be fruitful, multiply, and fill the earth, and subjugate it [putting it under your power]; and rule over (dominate) the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and every living thing that moves upon the earth.” So God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of the entire earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you; and to all the animals on the earth and to every bird of the air and to everything that moves on the ground—to everything in which there is the breath of life—I have given every green plant for food”; and it was so [because He commanded it]. God saw everything that He had made, and behold, it was very good and He validated it completely. And there was evening and there was morning, a sixth day.

Genesis 1:26-31 (Amp)

Here we see that God spent 5 whole days creating the world we live in. He carefully crafted every detail so that everything mankind needed was supplied for us. Everything he made, he called good. And then, he brought in the whole trinity – Father, Son & Holy Spirit – to create his final masterpiece! From this passage we learn 3 things about ourselves revealed when we ponder God as Elohim – The Powerful One, Our Creator.

  1. We are created in God’s image. We are supposed to be like him, the same way that children tend to be like their earthly parents.
  2. We have been given authority over God’s creation.
  3. God declared us very good. He validated us completely.

You are not an afterthought. You are created in the image and likeness of God. You have been given royal authority as His highest creation. He looked at you and said, “Yes! This is good, very good!” And now, He presents you to the world and says, “Look what I made! Isn’t she beautiful!?”

WHO HE IS

In my last post, I talked about going to God in worship when we are feeling overwhelmed and facing a crisis. I have been pondering this as I am developing a habit of worship for myself. How can I worship God if I don’t know WHO HE IS? I am wrestling with this concept that, yes, I can KNOW God…not just know about him. But, this feels so out of reach when I cannot even comprehend all the great vastness of who he truly is! And, yet, He invites us to learn of him. In fact, these words of J. I. Packer illuminate the need to study him, to pursue him and learn more and more of who he is – his character and ways.

Disregard the study of God, and you sentence yourself to stumble and blunder through life blindfolded, as it were, with no sense of direction and no understanding of what surrounds you. This way you can waste your life and lose your soul.

– J. I. Packer, Knowing God

Names Have Meaning

When my children were still in the womb, my husband and I spent many hours pouring over baby name websites. We knew that names had meanings and we wanted to choose carefully what we would be calling our children. We hoped that their names would be reflected in their personalities and character. In the Scriptures we see that God even changed some names to better reflect what he was doing in their lives. While still childless, Abram became Abraham – Father of Multitudes; Sarai became Sarah – Mother of Nations.

Names of God Reveal His Character

In the same way, all throughout the Old Testament, God reveals more of his character in the names that he gives for himself. In fact, a quick search of the internet will generate multiple lists of all the names of God. One site I found has compiled a list of 955 different names for God or descriptions of God found in the Bible. There is so much to study and try to understand. But there is a danger here, as well. If we are not careful, we can get caught up in the tedium of knowing about God instead of learning to know him. As J. I. Packer said,

Our aim in studying the Godhead must be to know God himself better. Our concern must be to enlarge our acquaintance, not simply with the doctrine of God’s attributes, but with the living God whose attributes they are…We must seek, in studying God, to be led to God. It was for this purpose that revelation was given, and it is to this use that we must put it.

J. I. Packer, Knowing God

God revealed his name to people who had a relationship with him. He wants us to get to know him, not just know about him.

God Invites Us To Know Him By Telling Us His Name

When you meet someone new, what is the first thing you do? You tell each other your names! I find that God made his intention of having relationships with people clear the moment he started to tell them his name. When we adopted our dog, he had a name, but the name didn’t really fit him so we naturally started calling him by various other names until one seemed to be the right fit. Now, his name is Stinker. But, we actually call him by several names – Stinker, Stinkamarinkadink (yes, we actually sink the song!), Puppy, Muttly Mutt, etc. In the same way, God has more than one name and He has told them to us. Actually, He told us many names! And each of those names reveals a little bit more of who He really is. He desires for us to know and experience His presence.

“Just as it is one thing to know about fire and quite another to experience its light, warmth and burn, God invites us to know him, not just about him.”

– Lisa Bevere, Without Rival

Here are just a few of the names that God has revealed to us.

  • Jehovah-Jireh (My Provider)
  • El-Elohe-Israel (Mighty God of Israel)
  • Jehovah-Shalom (God of Peace)
  • Jehovah-Rafa (God Who Heals)
  • Yahshuah – (God Who Rescues)

Calling God By Name (Prayer)

God has revealed his names because he wants to be with us. He wants to stand by our side as we walk through this crazy world, as we grow and learn. He gave us access to him as his children and we are allowed to call out to him BY NAME!

  • When we are lacking resources, we can pray to Jehovah-Jireh for provision.
  • When we are anxious…Jehovah Shalom will bring us peace.
  • When we are sick…..Jehovah-Rafa brings healing.

So, when you are facing a crisis, big or small, turn to Him with all your concerns. It just so happens, He is also the God who Hears, the God who Rescues. He is El-Elohe-Israel – mightier than any problem we might face!