Saturday, March 21, 2015

Knowing God by Knowing His Names (part 27)

And He said to them, "When you pray, say: 'Father, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. 'Give us each day our daily bread. 'And forgive us our sins, For we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.'" (Luke 11:2-4 NASB)

"Hallowed be Your name," Jesus prayed. For us to actively hallow God's name, we need to actually know those names. Over the last few weeks, we have considered all of the names of God used in Scripture and how to honor (or hallow) those name. Today, I have made a "summary sheet" of all the names of God and included a sentence or two about each one with the hope that we can use it as a reference when we pray. 

Remember that we serve One God (One Triune God - Father, Son, and Spirit) who has many names. Although people call me a variety of "names" (Mama, Leanna, Dr. Hollis, Alderman Hollis, etc), all those names refer to the same person. The name is an indication of how that person knows and interacts with me, just as with God's names. 

People who come to me for medical care do not approach me on the basis of my job as Alderwoman. They approach me as "doctor". It makes sense, then, to approach God on the basis of Who He is and What He does. Using His names is an indication that we know Him and acknowledge His ability in the area of our need.  

When I pray for my brothers and sisters who are persecuted in the name of Jesus, I often use the Arabic word for Father, Aba-na. When I have a need that only God can meet, I approach God and call Him El Shaddai. 

Recently, I was involved in a situation that appeared (on the surface) utterly hopeless, and I approached God as my Jehovah Nissi, asking Him to make a way for me, to go before me, and bring His perfect Will to pass. He did. 

As I pray for forgiveness and cleansing, I call on Jehovah Tsidkenu and Mekoddishkim (my Righteousness and the One who Sanctifies me) to do what only He can do. 

There is never a situation in which our God is not sufficient. There is never a time when we cannot call on our Lord and find Him able to handle anything that comes our way. As we pray, let us remember Who we serve and call Him by name.

~~~~~~~

El Shaddai: Lord God Almighty. The all-powerful God.
There will never come a time when El Shaddai lacks the power to provide for our needs.


El Elyon: The Most High God
Our Most High God, El Elyon, is not only the God above all Gods, the highly exalted one, but also our Redeemer who fights our battles for us and clears a path for us.

Adonai: Lord, Master

When we acknowledge God as Lord, we are recognizing that He is the owner of heaven and earth and that He is in charge with all authority and all power. It is no surprise then that Adonai was the word that came to mind when Isaiah saw God seated on His throne, in all His glory and power, surrounded by seraphim calling out "Holy, Holy, Holy".


Yahweh: Lord, Jehovah
God's proper name. When we make a profession of God's name but do not live up to that profession, we have taken His name in vain (hypocrisy). When we make a promise to God but do not carry out the actions we promised, when we break our covenant with God, we have taken His name in vain. 

Jehovah Nissi: The Lord my Banner
No matter how it looks, no matter the circumstances, any victory that is achieved is not because of our ability, because of how well we obeyed, nor because of the ones who helped up to accomplish the task. All the credit, all the glory, must go to God alone. When we know God as Jehovah Nissi, we look to Him for our hope and our courage. We look to Him in the midst of battle, and He is the banner to which we look when our faith falters. As long as the flag still flies, an army is not defeated, and we serve a God whose banner never falls. 

Jehovah-Raah: The Lord my Shepherd

If I want Jehovah to be my Raah, my Shepherd, then I must be the kind of lamb that follows, no matter the path. 

Jehovah Rapha: The Lord Who Heals

When God says He is our healer, our Rapha, He means that He can, and will, heal our hurts, our physical ailments, our sorrows, and the results of our sin. 

Jehovah Shammah: The Lord is There

No matter what trial, difficulty, sorrow, or circumstance we face, the presence of God in the midst of it is certain. We are not alone, for He is with us. 

Jehovah Tsidkenu: The Lord our Righteousness

If I am willing to turn back to the Lord with my whole heart, nothing held back, He can change me from the wasteland that sin causes to a life so filled with Christ that, when people look at me, they will know our Lord rules in us. There is nothing sin offers that can compare to the beauty of a life lived for our Lord, our Teacher, our Redeemer, and our Righteousness. 

Jehovah Mekoddishkem: The Lord Who Sanctifies You

Our Lord did not sacrifice His only, much loved Son as the payment for our sins in order to leave us as we were. He intended His sacrifice to cleanse us and change us, yet we kick against the change. I cannot achieve holiness on my own, yet choose it I must. Once chosen, God Himself will handle the sanctification process. He is our Jehovah Mekoddishkem, and He will sanctify me, if I am only willing, but obedience to His calling to holiness is required. 

One day, I will stand before our Lord and answer for my choices. I shudder to think of it. The Grace of Christ will be sufficient, and I rejoice in that, but I will be accountable for my choice of the world or the way of Holiness, the way of Sanctification. 


Did I love my Lord with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength? Did I love my neighbor as myself? The life I live now will give the answer to those two questions, and I must prepare for the accounting to come. 


El Olam: The Everlasting God

If we are a "Christian", a disciple of Christ, then we are bondservants of Christ in an everlasting commitment. Scripture is clear about this truth. If we are not bondservants of Christ, then we need to reconsider whether or not we are His disciple at all. 

There will be a day of reckoning and I will give an account of the life I have lived. I will give an account of my service to Christ. When that day comes, I want to stand before Him and say with truth, "I was the bondservant of Christ". 

Elohim: God
He loves us all, but He pays particular attention to those who cannot care for themselves. He gives the strong their strength and gives His strength to the weak. He bears our burdens Himself, and delivers us from our troubles.

How, then, do I honor the name of this One who cares so much for me? I must care about the ones He cares about. I, too, must love the fatherless, the widows, the lonely, those who are in prison, the poor. I, too, must be concerned and take action for those who cannot care for themselves. 

Qanna: Jealous
That which takes first place in my life becomes my god, so I must be very careful that first priority is given to my Lord. 

Jehovah Shalom: The Lord is Peace

How do we hallow the name of Jehovah Shalom? Paul makes it clear that you cannot choose to have anxiety and peace simultaneously. Which do we want? Peace or fear. If we want the Shalom of Jehovah, it can be ours. Honoring His name begins by focusing our hearts and minds on the Peace Giver, allowing Him to give us His peace until we are completely filled by it and kept in it.

Jehovah Sabaoth: The Lord of Hosts
The truly amazing truth about Jehovah Sabaoth is that, even though He is commanding everything in heaven and earth, He still cares about one woman with a need that is breaking her heart, and He cares enough to meet her need. He provides. Nothing is so small that it escapes His notice. No need is so trivial that it escapes His care. It is true for me, and it is true for you, as well. He knows your name. He knows your need. He cares, and He will provide.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Teach us to pray, part 26: Jehovah Sabaoth, the Lord of Hosts

And He said to them, "When you pray, say: 'Father, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. 'Give us each day our daily bread. 'And forgive us our sins, For we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.'" (Luke 11:2-4 NASB)


Jehovah Sabaoth

(This is the last of the names of God, but tomorrow I will post a summary of all the names for our review.)

Sabaoth is used more than 285 times, most frequently in the books of Jeremiah and Isaiah. Sabaoth means "armies" or "hosts", so the name can also be translated "The Lord of Armies". The book of 1 Samuel uses this name for God first, and it is a surprising place. It seemingly has nothing to do with armies. 

You probably remember the story of Hannah. She was married to Elkanah, a man who had two wives. Every year, Elkanah took his wives and went to Shiloh to worship and sacrifice to Jehovah Sabaoth. Hannah was much loved, but barren. She desperately wanted children and, on one particular trip, she was praying with such fervor that Eli the priest thought she might be drunk. He spoke to her, she told him her need, and he spoke a word of prophecy that God might fulfill her request.

It seems odd that the story of a barren woman unfolds around worship to the Lord of Armies, until I realize that the Lord of Armies is sovereign and rules over every power in heaven and in earth. He is the Supreme Commander who has ultimate power over everything, from powers and principalities to the youngest fetus in the womb. Everything. 

Sabaoth is one of the names used to describe God in the vision of Isaiah described in Isaiah 6. The seraphim cried to one another, saying "Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of Hosts (Jehovah Sabaoth.) (Is 6:3) As I was pondering this today, I realized that the seraphim are honoring God for being in charge of everything, Lord of All, and I was reminded of something I had written back in 2013 about "the Boss of the World". You can click on the link to read it. 

I mean this in the most worshipful, respectful way when I say that Jehovah Sabaoth is the Boss and we are not. He is, in fact, the boss of everything and is literally the Boss of the world, including everything and everyone in it. 

I don't really have a point of reference for hosts of armies, but bosses are something I do understand. When I can begin to see God as the Boss of all Bosses, it helps me to understand that he is the Lord of Armies. He is the One in Charge. Of everything. Of everyone.

The truly amazing truth about Jehovah Sabaoth is that, even though He is commanding everything in heaven and earth, He still cares about one woman with a need that is breaking her heart, and He cares enough to meet her need. Hannah found that to be true, and I have found that to be true, as well. He knows my name. He knows my needs, and He cares. He provides. Nothing is so small that it escapes His notice. No need is so trivial that it escapes His care. Whether I need a name for a character, a plot twist for a novel, or food for my table, He cares and provides.

It is true for me, and it is true for you, as well. He knows your name. He knows your need. He cares, and He will provide.

How do we hallow the name of One so powerful, so personal? We recognize our sinfulness in comparison to the righteousness of His presence, allow His cleansing, and answer His call. Here am I, Lord. Send me.


Teach us to Pray, part 21: El Olam

And He said to them, "When you pray, say: 'Father, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. 'Give us each day our daily bread. 'And forgive us our sins, For we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.'" (Luke 11:2-4 NASB)


El Olam
El Olam is one of the names of God and means The Everlasting God. It is used more than 400 times in the Old Testament, but is first used in Genesis 21:33. Abimelech's men had seized a well that Abraham's men had dug. It was vital for their flocks and Abraham complained to Abimelech (A Mesopotamian chieftain). Abraham and Abimelech made a covenant together about the well, then Abraham gave him seven ewe lambs as a witness that his men had, indeed, dug the well. The two men called the place where they had made their agreement Beersheba, which means "well of the seven-fold oath". Abraham planted a tamarisk tree there as a marker in the name of El Olam, the Everlasting God. 

The tamarisk tree has a long taproot and can survive in very arid conditions, and has a tendency toward being invasive. It provides shade, shelter, food, and fuel, and perhaps this is why Abraham chose it, as a reminder of the One who had provided so much for him.

The word translated as "everlasting" is`owlam, and can also be used to mean "perpetual" or "forever". It is this same word that is used in Exodus 21 to describe the service of a bondservant. In this case, a servant, purchased by his master for a specific period of time, was to be released at the end of six years of service. If the servant says that he loves his master and does not want to leave his service, the master shall "bring him to the door post and bore his ear through with an awl, and he shall serve him forever (or`owlam). 

The Greek word doulos is also used to indicate a bondservant and both Paul and James used it to describe themselves as the bondservant of Christ. They, along with John, described the followers of Christ as His bondservants. What, then, does this mean for us today?

I, once a servant of sin, have been bought with a price, the precious blood of Jesus Christ. Although, by the rights of that blood, I should have been nothing more than a slave to Christ, He willingly used that blood purchase to set me free. As a disciple of Christ, then, I proclaim my love for Him and my desire to serve no other Master. I deny the freedom to go my own way and serve myself. I give myself to Christ as His bondservant, desiring to be His servant, His slave, forever. I relinquish my own desires, my own freedom, my own rights to my life, and present them all to Him.


Disciples of Christ are bondservants of the Most High God, the Everlasting God.

As a bondservant of Christ, I cannot have it both ways. I cannot be both a servant of self and a servant of Christ, bound to my own desires, my own "rights", my own flesh, and, at the same time, bound to Christ. When I become a disciple of Christ, I willingly choose to become a bondservant to Him. If I am to be a Christian, in the sense that the first-century believers were Christians, I will be a bondservant to our Lord. 

This is astoundingly simple, yet all too often we choose to neglect this important truth. If we are a "Christian", a disciple of Christ, then we are bondservants of Christ. Scripture is clear about this truth. If we are not bondservants of Christ, then we need to reconsider whether or not we are His disciple at all. 

There will be a day of reckoning and I will give an account of the life I have lived. I will give an account of my service to Christ. When that day comes, I want to stand before Him and say with truth, "I was the bondservant of Christ". I want to hear those precious, blessed words, "Well done, good and faithful servant, enter the rest prepared for you." He will only call me His good and faithful servant in that day if I have been His bondservant, a truly good and faithful servant, in this day.

How do we hallow the name of El Olam, The Everlasting God? We serve Him as bondservants, making an everlasting covenant to Him. We become the example Christ set for us, relinquishing all but Christ, bondservant of the Most High God.


Thursday, March 19, 2015

Teach us to Pray, part 25: Hallowed be thy name: Jehovah Shalom, The Lord is Peace

And He said to them, "When you pray, say: 'Father, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. 'Give us each day our daily bread. 'And forgive us our sins, For we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.'" (Luke 11:2-4 NASB)


Jehovah Shalom

The Lord is Peace. What a beautiful promise, especially when we remember that Jesus told his disciples, "My peace I leave with you." John 14:27. In this tumultuous world, filled with war and evil and sin, peace is in short supply, even among God's people. It's easy to forget that we are the ones who should have an abundance of peace in the midst of trouble.

Perhaps part of the reason we lack peace is that we don't understand what it means to have peace. It is not the absence of conflict, trouble, or sorrow. Shalom, translated as peace or absence of strife, is derived from the word shâlêm. This Hebrew word means "to be complete" or "to be sound." 

Jehovah Shalom is used only once in Scripture and is found in Judges 6:24. This is the story of Gideon. Because of their sin, God had given Israel into the hands of the Midianites for seven years. It had been a horrible time, because the Midianites destroyed all the crops as well as all the livestock. Not only had they brought war, but they had imposed famine. Somehow, Gideon had wheat and, in an attempt to preserve it, was beating it out inside the wine press in an attempt to hide it from the Midianites. (This was likely a dug hole in the ground with a drain that allowed the juice to run out after the grapes were crushed. Depending on the vineyard, this could have been a deep hole.) 

An angel of the Lord came to Gideon and addressed him as "valiant warrior". This was an interesting choice of terms, because Gideon saw himself as a nobody who was worth nothing. He felt completely inadequate. "The Lord is with you," the angel told him. Gideon's answer was just a little surprising. (this is the Leanna paraphrase) "Yeah, right. If He's with us, why are the Midianites whipping us so bad? And what happened to all His great miracles? We don't have any miracles now. If God is so great, where is He and why isn't He helping us?" 

What happened next must have been so surprising to Gideon. The angel looked straight at Gideon and told him to get going and deliver Israel from the Midianites. "God hasn't abandoned Israel, Gideon. He has sent you." What a word that is! If I could only remember those words every day, what a difference I might make in the world around me. God hasn't abandoned America, He has sent you, Leanna. In fact, He has sent every one of us to live in obedience and make His difference in our world, so it is imperative that we recognize this and get started. Why not join with me in making that mighty difference? It is not too late to save our nation.

Back to Gideon. He could not believe what he had heard. He needed a sign, so he ran back in his house to get a "peace offering", then put it on a rock. The angel took his staff and touched the meat and the bread. Fire sprang up from the rock and consumed the offering. Finally, Gideon was convinced that he had been in the presence of the angel of the Lord and was frightened, thinking he might drop dead because he had seen the face of the angel of God. 

"Peace to you, do not fear," the angel said to Gideon. Judges 6:23. Gideon had no peace of his own. He was a frightened young man who had lived his life in insignificance. When that angel spoke peace (shalom) to him, however, he was given the peace of God and it changed his life. The strife outside Gideon (the war with the Midianites) did not change at that moment. Instead, God completely filled Gideon with wholeness of spirit and removed the fear and the turmoil that had raged within him. Gideon was given the kind of peace that does not depend on circumstances, but on the truth of the power of God.

The peace of God is something you and I can have for ourselves. We, too, can be completed with peace. I learned this verse from Isaiah as a child and it still speaks to me today.

Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: 
because he trusteth in Thee. 
Isaiah 26:3 KJV

When I focus my mind steadfastly on the Lord, trusting only in Him, He will not only give me peace, He will keep me in perfect peace! How amazing! All that is required to have peace and keep it is to look constantly, consistently to our Lord in every situation.

The Apostle Paul knew about having peace in every situation and he wrote about it in his letter to the Philippians.

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. 
Philippians 4:6-7 

If I want peace, I can have it, but I must choose it. In my choosing, I take my fear, my concern, my needs to our Lord with thanksgiving. I am to offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving, giving thanks when I don't feel like it, as I pray.

How do we hallow the name of Jehovah Shalom? Paul makes it clear that you cannot choose to have anxiety and peace simultaneously. Which do we want? Peace or fear. If we want the Shalom of Jehovah, it can be ours. Honoring His name begins by focusing our hearts and minds on the Peace Giver, allowing Him to give us His peace until we are completely filled by it and kept in it.

Peace. It can be ours if we will accept it. Shalom. 

If you are interested in reading more about peace, you might enjoy this blog post: http://leannahollis.blogspot.com/2014/09/waiting-on-jesus-part-14.html

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Teach us to Pray, part 24: Jehovah Jireh

And He said to them, "When you pray, say: 'Father, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. 'Give us each day our daily bread. 'And forgive us our sins, For we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.'" (Luke 11:2-4 NASB)

Jehovah Jireh

The name of Jireh is used only once is Scripture, but it is a powerful example of the provision of God. Genesis 22 tells the account of Abraham and Isaac on Mount Moriah. God had instructed Abraham to offer his only son as a burnt offering. He headed out, Isaac carrying the wood of his own sacrifice on his back, just as Jesus would later carry His cross. Isaac asked his father where the lamb for the sacrifice was and Abraham assured him that God would provide the lamb. It was not until God stopped Abraham's hand and gave him the ram in the thicket that Abraham, as well as his son Isaac, understood the absolute truth of God's provision. Abraham offered the ram to God as a burnt offering and named the place "Jehovah Jireh", God will provide.

The problem I most often encounter with learning to know God as Jehovah Jireh is that His timetable is not the same as mine and His priorities are radically different than my own.  I don't want to wait to get the ram in the thicket until my arm is raised with a knife in hand. I much prefer to have all the provision I need for the next six months in hand, plus extra. I don't like waiting until the last minute. I want it now! God is never late, but His timing has frightened me more than once.

When I am willing to walk by faith, trusting God to provide what is needed at the time it is needed, it radically changes my life. It opens up the possibility of adventure, of following God to unexpected places and unplanned (at least for me) situations. When I am willing to allow God to provide what is needed when it is needed, taking a "risk" of obedience is not so frightening because I know God has my future, as well as my past and present, held tight in His loving hand. 

Learning to know God as Jehovah Jireh also requires a restructuring of my priorities. God's provision is ample to supply what He considers important. There is enough for me to have all the things that are needed. That is not the same as having all the things that are wanted. Following God on a walk of obedience may include some exciting times, and some very comfortable ones, but if  I want luxury, I may be sadly disappointed. There will be time for "fancy" when we arrive in heaven and walk on streets of gold. 

Learning to know God as Jehovah Jireh requires obedience to that greatest command, to love God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength and to love my neighbor as I love myself. It has been a heartbreaking lesson to find that, although I do love my neighbor, I don't love my neighbor nearly as well as I do myself. This lesson was sharply defined recently by an effort to spend exactly as much on my neighbor (through giving above my tithe) as I spent on myself. It turned out that I much preferred to love my neighbor with my money considerably less than I love myself. If this preference is unattractive and disappointing to me, how much more so much it be to God? 

What does loving my neighbor have to do with trusting God's provision? What is given to my neighbor takes away from the storehouse... or so it seems. It is absurdly easy to forget that God owns the cattle on a thousand hills. He is the owner and sustainer of everything. He can handle my meager needs, and He will, but He requires obedience of me. 

Therein lies the problem. We can count on God to provide but He must be able to count on us for obedience. God's provision and our obedience go hand in hand. Remember, Abraham did not have the ram until he was at the top of the mountain and the fire was laid. It was a long, hard walk of obedience before the provision was given.

How, then, do we honor the name of Jehovah Jireh? We must allow Him to radically transform our wants, our perception of our needs, and our timetable. We must be willing to obey no matter the circumstances, and no matter where He leads. When we do, we will find that His provision is not only sufficient, but more than enough to allow us to love our neighbor as we love ourselves and still pay our bills, right on time .

But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all these things shall be added to you.                                                                                                                   Matthew 6:33 NASB










Teach us to pray, part 19: Jehovah Tsidkenu

And He said to them, "When you pray, say: 'Father, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. 'Give us each day our daily bread. 'And forgive us our sins, For we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.'" (Luke 11:2-4 NASB)


Jehovah Tsidkenu

Our focus name of God today is Jehovah Tsidkenu, which means The Lord our 
Righteousness. This name of God occurs only twice in Scripture. The first time is in Jeremiah 23:6. (This is a beautiful passage and I recommend reading it for yourself. Jeremiah 23:1-8.) Jeremiah was born during the reign of King Josiah in Judah at a time of revival in the nation. By the time Jeremiah's ministry as a prophet began, the Northern Kingdom had already been in exile and captivity for a century. There were many false prophets who said that captivity would not come to the Southern Kingdom and did not call the people to repentance. Their message was, unfortunately, well received, sin continued, and the discipline of God came. The Babylonian siege of Judah began during Jeremiah's lifetime, as well as the Babylonian exile. 

In this passage, God says, "Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of my pasture." God held the religious leaders responsible for preaching a false doctrine that led the people in the wrong direction, away from faith in Him. He held them responsible for scattering His flock. He speaks the words I never want Him to say to me, "Behold, I am about to attend to you for the evil of your deeds." 

The most beautiful promise of God comes next, "Then, I Myself shall gather the remnant of My flock... and shall bring them back to their pasture..." Jeremiah speaks prophetically here of the end time when the remnant is gathered and God Himself is the Shepherd. He speaks of a "righteous Branch", a descendant of David, who will reign as king with wisdom, justice, and righteousness. This is a reference to Jesus and the time when His people will be saved and dwell securely. "This is His name by which He will be called, Jehovah Tsidkenu." 

The second use of Jehovah Tsidkenu is in Jeremiah 33:16. In this passage, Jeremiah is in prison and the exile has already happened. He must have been discouraged and lonely. God speaks to Jeremiah in his confinement and says, "Call to Me and I will answer you." He goes on to say that, although Jeremiah looks around him and thinks that Judah has become a waste land and the cities desolate, God will restore. The Lord tells Jeremiah that good days will come again for Judah and, at that time, Jerusalem will be called Jehovah Tsidkenu

At a time when faith was all but gone, the one prophet who spoke truth was imprisoned for that truth, and the nation was in ruins, God promised that there will come a time when He will gather His people back to Himself, Christ will rule, and there will be such faith that Jerusalem will be known as the place where God's righteousness abounds. It will be called "The Lord My Righteousness" because that will be true of those who live there. 

This gives great hope for us, who are equally as faithless as Judah. If I am willing to turn back to the Lord with my whole heart, nothing held back, He can change me from the wasteland that sin causes to a life so filled with Christ that, when people look at me, they will know our Lord rules in us. How amazing is that? I can be utterly cleansed and transformed, and so can you. The most amazing part of this is that there is no one so far from God that they cannot be brought back to Him! 

The discipline of exile came because the people sinned, and they sinned intentionally. They liked what they were doing and did not want change, but God did not lose sight of them, even in their exile, and He does not lose sight of us or of those we love. No matter how far sin takes us, God sees and is there. No matter how desolate and hopeless our life appears, God can still restore.

With that beautiful promise, there is one way to honor the name of Jehovah Tsidkenu. We must allow Him to become our righteousness by cleansing us and transforming us. Incredibly, after cleansing and transforming, there is even more promised to us. When we call to Him, He will not only answer, but will tell us "great and mighty things which you do not know." Taught by God Himself! 

There is nothing sin offers that can compare to the beauty of a life lived for our Lord, our Teacher, our Redeemer, and our Righteousness. Let us invite Him to have His way in your life, and in mine, today. 




Teach us to Pray, part 23: Qanna, Jealous

And He said to them, "When you pray, say: 'Father, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. 'Give us each day our daily bread. 'And forgive us our sins, For we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.'" (Luke 11:2-4 NASB)

Qanna

Qanna is a Hebrew word that "relates to a marriage relationship". It is used to describe our relationship with God and indicates that He is a jealous God, not willing to share our praise or our loyalty. It is first used in the passage known as the Ten Commandments. 

You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God...
Genesis 20:5 NASB

For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.
Deuteronomy 4:24 NASB

For the Lord you God in the midst of you is a jealous God...
Deuteronomy 6:15 NASB

From the beginning of our relationship with God, He has made it absolutely clear that He is in charge and we are expected to obey Him. He has also made it clear that He does not tolerate infidelity in our relationship with Him and, in fact, will not let it go unnoticed. 

All these passages go on to say that worshipping other gods will also not go unpunished. The frightening thing to me is that idolatry has consequences for our children and our grandchildren, as well as for ourselves. Scripture makes it clear that, when we worship other gods, it has consequences, and is replete with examples of those who worshipped Molech and ultimately offered their own children as burnt offerings to their false god.

Worshipping other gods changes my priority, it changes the way I think and the way I live. Before I know it, I am no longer following God's way, but the way of the world and that is always costly.

It is easy for me to say that I would never worship a false god, but what should I call it when my desire for money, position, authority, power, or fame exceeds my desire to be wholly pleasing to God, to serve Him, to love Him with all my heart, mind, soul, and strength? That which takes first place in my life becomes my god, so I must be very careful that first priority is given to my Lord. 

How do I hallow the name of our God, Qanna? I must do what Jesus told us to do. Love Him with everything I have and, as an outpouring of that love, I obey Him. 

Hallowing the name of Qanna is easier than you might think. Love and obey. That sounds simple, and it is. It's a relationship, and we are to do for Him as we would have Him do for us. When our Lord is the most important love of our lives, doing whatever pleases Him becomes the most important action of our lives. We hallow Him when we treat Him as we love Him. 

He is in our midst, a consuming fire, and He longs to have our love, our worship, our praise. 

"Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?" And He said to him, " 'Y OU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR G OD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.' This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, 'Y OU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.' (Matthew 22:36-39 NASB)

Teach us to pray, part 14: Jehovah Raah (The Lord is My Shepherd)

And He said to them, "When you pray, say: 'Father, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. 'Give us each day our daily bread. 'And forgive us our sins, For we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.'" (Luke 11:2-4 NASB)

As we have seen before, Jehovah indicates "The Existing One" or "Lord". The term "Jehovah Raah" (or Rohi) is first used in Genesis 48:15 when Israel was blessing his son Joseph. "God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac did walk, the God which fed me all my life long unto this day." The first use of the word God is Elohim, but his second use is Elohim Raah. The word Raah indicates a shepherd who consistently provides feed and pasture for his flock. When Israel says that God has "fed me all my life long unto this day", he is saying that God has been faithful to provide for him. God's provision has not been sporadic or intermittent. His provision has been faithful, every day, all the days of his life.

In Psalm 23, David speaks of the Lord as his Rô'eh, his shepherd, and states plainly, "I shall not want." He describes the tender care of his Lord as both peaceful and bounteous. Ezekiel, too, describes the tender care of the Shepherd, who not only seeks His flock, but also delvers them from all the places where they have been scattered. He feeds His sheep in a "fat" pasture, one with an abundance of excellent grazing. (Ezekiel 34:11-15)

This word, Raah, can, by extension, be translated as friend. "The Lord is my friend" presents a beautiful picture of the intimacy that we can have with our Lord. He is our faithful, never failing, Friend, the friend that sticks closer than a brother.

Shepherds must have sheep, and for the Shepherd to adequately care for His sheep, those sheep must follow Him, obey Him, allow Him to care for them as He sees fit. There can be no wandering. The sheep must trust the Shepherd and accept the care He provides. Sometimes the best pasture is on the highest mountain, and the way can be difficult, but the pasture at the end of the climb will be worth the difficulty required to access it. 

If I want Jehovah to be my Raah, my Shepherd, then I must be the kind of lamb that follows, no matter the path. Our Shepherd is always faithful, but are we? 


The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes my lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside quiet waters.
He restores my soul;
He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows.
Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life,
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

                                      Psalm 23:1-6 NASB


Teach us to pray, part 11: Adonai

And He said to them, "When you pray, say: 'Father, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. 'Give us each day our daily bread. 'And forgive us our sins, For we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.'" (Luke 11:2-4 NASB)


Adonai

Adonai is a word that means "Lord". This is a pleural form of the word "adon" which is used to refer to men who are "lords". (Nowhere did I find that the pleural is used because we serve a triune God, but that is my opinion.) Adonai is sometimes used in Scripture as a substitute word for Yahweh, which we will study tomorrow, and occurs in the Old Testament 434 times. It is used frequently in Isaiah, Ezekiel (where it occurs 200 times), and Daniel. 

Adonai is the word used in that beautiful passage in Isaiah 6 in which Isaiah describes seeing God on his throne.

In the year that King Uzziah died I saw also the Lord (Adonai) sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple...
Also I heard the voice of the Lord (Adonai), saying, Whom shall I sent, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.
                                                                                                       Isaiah 6: 1,8 NASB  
In this country, the concept of "lord" is foreign to us, but in countries with kings and royalty, it is better understood. A "lord" is defined as "someone having power, authority, or influence; a master or ruler." When we acknowledge God as Lord, we are recognizing that He is the owner of heaven and earth and that He is in charge with all authority and all power. It is no surprise then that Adonai was the word that came to mind when Isaiah saw God seated on His throne, in all His glory and power, surrounded by seraphim calling out "Holy, Holy, Holy". 

If we could, even for a moment, see God as He is, enthroned in heaven, we might understand His lofty position and our meager place in comparison. If we could understand Him as Adonai in the way Isaiah did, we, too, might be compelled to serve without reservation, and we would almost certainly join him in responding, 

"Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, 
and I live among a people of unclean lips; 
      For my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of  Hosts." 
                                                               Isaiah 6:5 NASB

I found something heartbreaking in the dictionary when I looked up the meaning of the word "Lord", and I am compelled to mention it. The word "lord" is reportedly used as an exclamation to express surprise, worry, or to make an emphasis. When I read that, I knew it was terrible, but true. We, the people of God, have used His name so carelessly that it has made it into the vernacular as nothing more than a casual word of emphasis. We would do well to remember the commandment "Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain," (Exodus 20:7) and to be careful with the way we use His name, for it is to be hallowed.

It is one thing for me to say the words "hallowed be thy name" when I pray. It is another thing altogether for me to say "hallowed be thy name" with the way I live, with my speech, with the way I use that name I supposedly hallow. As the people of God, we need to take care to handle His name with respect and honor, just as He has asked us to do. 

Adonai 

What a beautiful name to describe the One who is owner and authority over everything! Let's be sure we treat Him and His name with the honor due Him. Hallowed be His name.

                                                       

Monday, March 16, 2015

Teach us to pray, part 22: Elohim

And He said to them, "When you pray, say: 'Father, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. 'Give us each day our daily bread. 'And forgive us our sins, For we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.'" (Luke 11:2-4 NASB)

Elohim

Elohim is the Hebrew word meaning God, and is used more than 2,600 times in the Old Testament. The derivation is not certain, but some scholars think it is derived from a root meaning "strong". It is first used in Genesis 1:1. 

"In the beginning God (Elohim) created the heaven and the earth."

David used this name for God repeatedly, and Psalm 68 is filled with references to Elohim that help us understand this God we serve a bit better. The psalmist tells us that God is a father to the fatherless and a judge for the widows, He makes a home for the lonely, and leads the prisoners into prosperity. The presence of God brings rain, and He provides His goodness for the poor. 

Blessed by the Lord, who daily bears our burden,
The God who is our salvation.
God is us a God of deliverances.
Psalm 68:19-20

David wrote that our strength is commanded by God and that we are to ascribe strength to Him. "The God of Israel Himself gives strength and power to the people." (Ps. 68:35)

Look again at the ones for whom our strong God cares: the fatherless, the widows, the lonely, those who are prisoners, the poor. He loves us all, but He pays particular attention to those who cannot care for themselves. He gives the strong their strength and gives His strength to the weak. He bears our burdens Himself, and delivers us from our trouble.

There is no burden so great that He cannot bear it, nor so complicated that He cannot deliver me from it. What a consolation to know that I serve a God who can handle anything that comes my way, and what a comfort to know that God cares about me in my weakness! When I am weak, He is not only strong, He gives me the strength I need.

How, then, do I honor the name of this One who cares so much for me? I must care about the ones He cares about. I, too, must love the fatherless, the widows, the lonely, those who are in prison, the poor. I, too, must be concerned for those who cannot care for themselves. 

Having a tender heart toward the weak is not enough. God's caring results in action, and mine should, too. When He sees the lonely, He doesn't just feel sorry for them, He makes a home for them. When He sees a widow, He doesn't just take note of her, He stands up for her and insures that she is treated fairly. 

Hallowing the name of Elohim means that I use my strength to help those who are weak, and that begins with looking around me to see the needs, then taking action to meet those needs. I must be the hands and feet of Christ, "Jesus with skin on" to those in need. 

There is good news, however. Serving God is not just doing good deeds. Hallowing Him also requires that I recognize Him and honor God for His great attributes. When I am the one that is weak, I have no need to fear. The One who cares for the lilies and the birds also cares for me, and I can take my burdens to Him and leave them at His feet.

The name of the Lord is a strong tower:
the righteous runneth into it, 
and is safe.  (Psalm 18:10)

There is no need so great that God cannot help me. There is no danger so severe that He cannot protect me. His name is a strong tower, a safe place, even in the midst of trouble. In time of need, run to the only One who can keep us safe. Elohim.