Friday, April 20, 2012

Jehovah - The Covenant Name of God - Part 2


JEHOVAH
The Covenant Name of God

Part 2


“This Name Jehovah is God’s memorial, God’s “forget-Me-not.  Let our faith treasure it and hold it fast against all the world’s attempts to filch it from us.  He is the God of the blank check.  We shall never be confronted by a claim that He cannot meet.  Through all life’s years, with all our needs, His wealth is open to our demands if only these are made within the terms of His will.  Eternity itself will furnish us with ever-new discoveries of His sufficiency.” (Herbert Lockyer, All the Divine Names and Titles in the Bible)

God Himself revealed to Moses, not only in Exodus 3 in His initial encounter with him, but again in Exodus 6 and yet again in Exodus 33 and 34, the beauty of His Name, “Jehovah”!   He tells Moses that this is the Name that He wants to be known by--that although Abraham, Isaac and Jacob knew Him as “El Shaddai”, they did not know Him by Jehovah, and this was to become the Name by which all of His people knew Him!  

We know that the Name Jehovah was known about during the days of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, but only intellectually--not personally and intimately.  That was going to change!  And then, in Exodus 33 and 34, those incredible chapters that describe an up-close and personal encounter that Moses had with this Jehovah, God shows Moses face to face Who He is!  He causes His goodness to pass in front of him!  

It is believed that it was this Name that was mentioned only by the High Priest within the Holy of Holies once a year!  The Name speaks of absoluteness of Being, Independence, Self-existence.  

Revelation 1:8 says, “I AM the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the ending”, saith the Lord-Jehovah, “which is and which was and which is to come, the Almighty.” 

Which is--the ever-existing One--His relation to the Present
Which was--the One Who always was--His relation to the Past
Which is to come--Who always will be--His relation to the Future

The Name Jehovah is God’s Covenant Name.  It was as “LORD GOD” that He spoke those words to the serpent in Genesis 3:  the covenant He is bound to keep against the enemy of our souls:

“I will put enmity between your seed and the seed of the woman.  
He will bruise your head, and you will bruise His heel.”

You can believe it that the enemy knew all the power that was behind that promise - that covenant!  The power of the Covenant name of God:  JEHOVAH! And to combine it with ELOHIM!  JEHOVAH-ELOHIM - awesome!  

The enemy knows beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is a defeated enemy:  he is just counting on us not knowing it, and worse, not really believing it!  But he believes it!  

Then we read what is called the Noahic Covenant in Genesis 9.  But something stood out to me as I read those words:  “GOD SAID IN HIS HEART:  Never again will I curse the ground because of man, even though every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood.”  God’s covenant with Noah had absolutely nothing to do with Noah or mankind after Noah!  God made the Covenant with Himself, and swore by Himself!  It was the same when He called Abram.  Abram was a nobody out of a world of nobodies!  God made His covenant with Abram not because of Abram but because of Himself!  

Therefore, if the covenant was made with Himself, then the 
fulfillment of the covenant was dependent only on Himself!

Yes, there would come a time when God would require from His people an agreement.  When they left Egypt and arrived at Mt. Sinai, God required that they sign their name, Israel, alongside His on the Covenant.  They had to agree to do whatever God commanded them to do.  But in the Noahic and the Abrahamic Covenants, there were no second or third parties:  God made the Covenant with Himself and signed it Himself!  That is so significant!  God said after the flood that He would never again destroy mankind from the face of the earth with a flood, even though He knew that the imaginations of man’s heart was evil from his youth.  And that has not changed:  but God has kept that promise, utterly independent on the behaviour of mankind!  And His Covenant with Abraham was totally independent of anything Abraham could do.  

If you remember, Abraham was 75 when God first appeared to him and made the promise.  Abraham’s wife Sarai was 65, and barren.  They waited 10 years for God to come through with His promise of a son, and when Abram was 85 and Sarai 75, they came up with the plan to help God out with His promise, and Ishmael was born.  Then a period of 13 years passed during which time there was no word at all from God.  Finally, when Abram was 99 and Sarai was 89, God came again and repeated His Covenant, as well as changed their names, and Sarai conceived and bore Abram a son when he was 100 years old!  God’s words to Abraham were, “Is anything too hard for Jehovah?”  God could have given up on Abraham and Sarah, but His Covenant with them was totally independent of them!  This is the Covenant that made them His possession, His responsibility!  

“You have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you”

“I have loved you with an everlasting love”

Just as He did with Israel--God signed and sealed His Covenant with them before they even knew that He existed--called them out from among all the nations of the earth to be His--so He has done with each of us!  Before I even knew Him, He called me to Himself.  While I was still in my sin, Jesus Christ died for me on Calvary, and even before I was in my mother’s womb, He was drawing me to Himself.  

There came a point in Abraham’s relationship with His God that God did hand him a pen and had him sign the contract:  in Genesis 17 when God told Abraham that circumcision of all males would be a sign of the covenant between God and him.  But the Covenant had already been signed by God in Genesis 15 when Abraham had the vision of the flaming torch passing between the sacrifice:  an ancient ritual showing the signing of a covenant, and Abraham was not the one who passed between the sacrifice:  it was Jehovah Himself!  As a matter of fact, Abram was sound asleep when all of this happened!  I love that detail!

Do you see the significance?  As a child of God, there is absolutely nothing that I can ever do to change, alter or break the Covenant that God Himself has made with me!  I can grieve Him, I can quench His Spirit, I can force Him to have to discipline me, but I cannot break His Covenant with me!  

Romans 8:26-39 (JB Phillips)

The Spirit of God not only maintains this hope within us, but helps us in our present limitations. For example, we do not know how to pray worthily as sons of God, but his Spirit within us is actually praying for us in those agonising longings which never find words. And God who knows the heart’s secrets understands, of course, the Spirit’s intention as he prays for those who love God.  Moreover we know that to those who love God, who are called according to his plan, everything that happens fits into a pattern for good. God, in his foreknowledge, chose them to bear the family likeness of his Son, that he might be the eldest of a family of many brothers. He chose them long ago; when the time came he called them, he made them righteous in his sight, and then lifted them to the splendour of life as his own sons.   In face of all this, what is there left to say? If God is for us, who can be against us?   He that did not hesitate to spare his own Son but gave him up for us all — can we not trust such a God to give us, with him, everything else that we can need?  Who would dare to accuse us, whom God has chosen? The judge himself has declared us free from sin. Who is in a position to condemn?   Only Christ, and Christ died for us, Christ rose for us, Christ reigns  in power for us, Christ prays for us!  Can anything separate us from the love of Christ? Can trouble, pain or persecution? Can lack of clothes and food, danger to life and limb, the threat of force of arms? Indeed some of us know the truth of the ancient text: ‘For your sake we are killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter’.  No, in all these things we win an overwhelming victory through him who has proved his love for us.  I have become absolutely convinced that neither death nor life, neither messenger of Heaven nor monarch of earth, neither what happens today nor what may happen tomorrow, neither a power from on high nor a power from below, nor anything else in God’s whole world has any power to separate us from the love of God in Jesus Christ our Lord!”

No matter how disobedient Abraham was, Jehovah kept His Covenant with him, because it had nothing to do with Abraham or what Abraham did!  And when Abraham exercised faith, and chose to believe God, it was credited to his account for righteousness!  But Jehovah did not stop what He was doing until Abraham chose to believe!  And no matter how disobedient Israel was and is, Jehovah will keep His Covenant with her!  He is not finished with Israel!  And no matter how obstinate I am as His Child, no matter how perverse or wayward, He does not give up on me.

“Being confident of this very thing, that He Who began 
a good work in you will complete it!” 

“Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever!”

“He is able to keep to the end what I have committed to Him!”

Can you declare a promise that you are standing on in your life today?  I have stood on this promise for 43 years now:  

“For I know the thoughts I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts 
of peace and not of evil, to bring you to that expected end.”

I believe this is the Name that is above every Name!  For you see, JESUS is the equivalent of the Hebrew JEHOSHUA, which is translated 

JEHOVAH IS MY SALVATION

I do not have a special revelation from God on this:  this is just my personal opinion.  I have often wondered what that “Name above every Name” is:  “that at the Name of Jesus every knee shall bow”...Jesus is a very common name, has always been a very common name.  So I believe it goes beyond the common name Jesus, although that is a very beautiful Name.  I believe, somehow, that it has something to do with this Name:  a Name that God told Moses was to be His Memorial!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

JEHOVAH - The Covenant Name of God

JEHOVAH
The Covenant Name of God



"I will put enmity between your seed and her Seed;  He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel...And behold, I Myself am bringing flood waters on the earth, to destroy from under heaven all flesh in which is the breath of life;  everything that is on the earth shall die.  But I will establish My covenant with you."  So He destroyed all living things which were on the face of the ground, both man and cattle, creeping thing and bird of the air.  Then God remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all the animals that were with him in the ark...Then Noah built an altar to the Lord, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird, and offered burnt offerings on the altar.  And the Lord smelled a soothing aroma.  Then the Lord said in His heart, "I will never again curse the ground for man’s sake, although the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; nor will I again destroy every living thing as I have done.  While the earth remains, seed time and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, and day and night shall not cease."  Then God spoke to Noah and to his sons with him, saying, “And as for Me, behold, I establish My covenant with you and with your descendants after you, and with every living creature that is with you:  the birds, the cattle and every beast of the earth with you, of all that go out of the ark, every beast of the earth.  Thus I establish My Covenant with you:  never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood; never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.”  And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant which I make between Me and you, and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations.  I set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for a sign of the covenant between Me and the earth.  And I will remember My covenant which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh.  The rainbow shall be in the cloud, and I will look on it to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth."  Now the LORD said to Abram, “Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you.  I will make you a great nation;  I will bless you and make your name great;  and you shall be a blessing.  I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”  Then the Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your descendants I will give this land.”  And the Lord said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him:  “Lift your eyes now and look from the place where you are--northward, southward, eastward and westward--for all the land which you see I give to you and your descendants forever.  And I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth; so that if a man could number the dust of the earth, then your descendants could be numbered.  Arise, walk in the land through its length and its width, for I give it to you.”  After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying, “Do not be afraid, Abram.  I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.”  But Abram said, “Lord God, what will You give me, seeing I go childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer.  You have given me no offspring; indeed, one born in my house is my heir!”  And behold, the Word of the Lord came to him, saying, “This one shall not be your heir, but one who will come from your own body shall be your heir.”  Then He brought him outside and said, “Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to count them.  So shall your descendants be."  And Abram believed in the Lord, and He accounted it to him for righteousness.    Then He said to him, I AM the Lord, Who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give you this land to inherit it.”  And Abram said, “Lord God, how shall I know that I shall inherit it?”  So He said to him, “Bring me a three-year-old heifer, and three-year-old female goat, a three-year-old ram, a turtledove and a pigeon.”  Then he brought all these to Him and cut them in two, down the middle, and placed each piece opposite the other; but he did not cut the birds in two.  Now when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and behold, horror and great darkness fell upon him.  The He said to Abram:  “Know certainly that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them, and they will afflict them four hundred years.  And also the nation whom they serve I will judge; afterward they shall come out with great possessions.  Now as for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried at a good old age.  But in the fourth generation they shall return here, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.”  And it came to pass, when the sun went down and it was dark, that behold, there appeared a smoking oven and a burning torch that passed between those pieces.  On the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying: “To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates.” When Abram was 99 years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am Almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless.  I will make My covenant between Me and you, and will multiply you exceedingly.”  Then Abram fell on his face, and God talked with him, saying, “As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, and you shall be a father of many nations.  No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations.  And I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come form you.     I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you, and your descendants after you.    Also, I give you and your descendants after you the land in which you are a stranger, all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting possessions.  And I will be their God.  As for you, you shall keep My covenant, you and your descendants after you throughout all their generations.  This is My covenant which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you:  every male child among you shall be circumcised; and you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between Me and you.  As for Sarai, your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name.  I will bless her and also give you a son by her; then I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of peoples shall be from her."  And Abraham fell on his face and laughed, and said in his heart, “Shall a child be born to a man who is one hundred years old?  And shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?"  And Abraham said to God, “Oh, that Ishmael might live before You!”  And God said, “No, Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac.  I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his descendants after him."  Now Abraham was 100 years old when his son Isaac was born to him.  "By Myself I have sworn, says the Lord, because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son, blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore, and your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies.  In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.”  The Lord appeared to Isaac the same night and said, “I am the God of your father Abraham; do not fear, for I am with you.  I will bless you and multiply your descendants for My servant Abraham’s sake.”  And behold, the Lord stood above it and said, “I am the Lord God of Abraham, your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and to your descendants; also your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth.  You shall spread abroad to the west and the east, to the North and the south; and in you and in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed.  Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you.” And God said to him, “Your name is Jacob; your name shall not be called Jacob anymore, but Israel shall be your name.  I am God Almighty.  Be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall proceed from you, and kings shall come from your body.  The land which I gave Abraham and Isaac I give to you.” And Joseph said to his brethren, “I am dying; but God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land to the land of which He swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.”  (Excerpts from the book of Genesis)

And for the next 430 years, that tiny band of 70+ souls that joined Joseph in Egypt steadily grew, until at the time the book of Exodus opens, we are told they “filled the land”! Just as God promised Abraham in Genesis 15, they became slaves in this foreign land of Egypt, and were oppressed for 400 years, (the 430 years was the total amount of time spent in Egypt--the first 30 years being the time before Joseph died);  a period of time in which they forgot God, forgot His Covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  Misery and suffering and hardship have a way of doing that to us if we are not careful!

I quoted these Scriptures to you at the very beginning to show the importance of this Name, Jehovah, known as the Covenant Name of God.  We usually turn to Exodus 3 to begin any teaching on this name, but God reveals His Name hundreds of years prior to this incident in the life of Moses:  “Jehovah” appears in Genesis 1-2 in the creation account:  the distinction is usually made that “Elohim” is used in the general creation account, and “Jehovah” or “Jehovah-Elohim”,  is used in the specific creation account of Adam and Eve.  Then, in Genesis 3, when the serpent comes to tempt Eve, and in their conversation together, only the name “Elohim” is used, but when God appears to them after the sin occurs, we find the combination of “Jehovah-Elohim”, the LORD GOD. 

The Name “Jehovah” occurs approximately 7000 times throughout the Old Testament.  This number is questionable for this reason:  the name “JEHOVAH” was considered the most holy, most sacred, of all of His Names, so much so that when the scribes came to that Name, they would not even write out the full Name:  instead, they would use only 4 letters: YHWH, (known as a tetragrammaton, or 4 lettered Name); or they would use an altogether different Name that also means Lord:  Adonai. (Tradition has it that when the scribes came to this Name, they would get up and take a bath, put on clean clothes, and then get a pen that had never been used before just to copy “Jehovah”.  Many orthodox Jews still believe today that there is no one who has ever been able to pronounce the Name “Jehovah” correctly, and that this will be one sure sign of the true Messiah because He will know the true pronunciation of this Name!) Therefore, it is very difficult to know exactly how many times “Jehovah” is actually used, or how many times it was substituted with “Adonai”. 

Of the approximately 7000 times this Name occurs in Scripture, 700 of those occurrences are in the Psalms.  In most translations today, it is translated as “LORD”, all caps.  The American Standard Version actually uses “Jehovah”.  Usually, when you see “Lord”, it is the Hebrew word “Adonai”.

It is also agreed that “Jehovah” is probably not the most accurate translation of this Name:  Yahweh is probably closer to the real pronunciation.  In many ancient rabbinical writings you won’t even find the Name-you will find expressions like “The Name”, “The Great and terrible Name”, “The Separate Name”, “The Unutterable Name”, “The Ineffable Name”, “The Holy Name”, “The Incommunicate Name”, etc.

The Name “Jehovah” is derived from a Hebrew verb, “Havah”, meaning “to be” or “being”.  It is very close to the Hebrew word “Chavah”, meaning LIFE.  “Havah” is almost the same Hebrew word as the personal pronoun,  “HE”...how many times throughout Scripture do we find the expression:

“I AM HE”!

Not only is the actual pronunciation of this Name unknown, the actual meaning of this Name eludes us.  I don’t believe it is because God doesn’t want to tell us the meaning:  I believe it is because we will spend the rest of our lives finding out the beauty of this Name!  But let’s turn to Exodus 3 and see what God has to say to Moses about Who He is.

Exodus 3:1-15

Now Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian, and he led his flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God.  And the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. He looked, and behold, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed. And Moses said, “I will turn aside to see this great sight, why the bush is not burned.” When the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” Then He said, “Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” And He said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.”  And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.  Then the LORD said,  “I have surely seen the affliction of My people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land,a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. And now, behold, the cry of the people of Israel has come to Me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.” But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” He said, “But I will be with you, and this shall be the sign for you, that I have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.”  Then Moses said to God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And He said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘The LORD,the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations."

 “I AM WHO I AM”!  When Moses asked the question, “Whom shall I say sent me?”, this was the answer he was given!  Now what kind of answer is that?  Was God deliberately being secretive or mysterious?  No.  He knew that Moses was not asking Him a silly question.  There were hundreds of gods, “elohim”, throughout Egypt, and Moses was anticipating being asked to describe this God that he claimed to represent.  Not to describe what he looked like, but WHO HE IS, HIS ESSENCE, HIS BEING, HIS CHARACTER. The Name God gives Moses speaks of self-existence, of unchangeableness of character.

“He always was what He is, He is what He was, He will always be what He was and is,
and with Him there is no variableness.”



(continued next week!)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

EL ROI
The Strong and Mighty God Who Sees Me




I want us to see the Names of God as two sides of a beautiful coin that, when taken together, present a glimpse into the Character of God.  I say “glimpse” because Genesis gives us the most incredible truths about God, but these truths are in “seed form”, and it takes the rest of Scripture to see these truths develop in all of the majesty and glory God intended.  It is fascinating to realize that God reveals more of Himself in Genesis than anywhere else in Scripture, and if I can grasp Who He is in Genesis, then I will grasp Him more readily elsewhere in Scripture. 

Another of the Names we want to consider is EL ROI (pronounced el ro-ee).  This may be the first time you have ever heard this Name.  The only place in Scripture where EL ROI is found is in Genesis 16, though the concept is throughout Scripture.  We are familiar with the story when Hagar runs away from the mistreatment of Sarai after Hagar becomes pregnant with Abraham’s child. 

This young woman was a true victim, but she was not innocent!  She had not asked for her life to be the way it was, had not asked to be a part of this family, to be caught up in what was happening between Abram and Sarai.  She did not know anything about God other than what she heard from Abram and Sarai.  She probably wasn't all that impressed!  She was a slave, no "rights", did not deserve "respect". She was Sarai’s maidservant, probably purchased or perhaps even a gift from the Pharaoh on one of Abraham’s excursions into Egypt.  

Remember:  in Genesis 12, God came to Abram when Abram was 75 years old and initiated the covenant relationship with him, promising to make him the father of a mighty nation and to give him a country.  Abram set out in faith, and shortly after he arrived in Canaan, God appeared again and renewed the covenant. (Interesting how we all, like Abram, have to be continually reminded by God of His promises to us!)  Shortly after this, there was a famine in Canaan and Abram took his family into Egypt to escape the famine.  The Pharaoh noticed Sarai and to save himself, Abram claimed Sarai was his sister instead of his wife, and Pharaoh brought Sarai into his palace.  Only the supernatural intervention of God prevented His plan from being thwarted! If God had not “watched over His Word to perform it”, Sarai would have become one of the Pharaoh's harem!  And Abraham probably would have been killed!  It's amazing the trouble caused every time God's people made a side trip to Egypt!  (In Scripture, I see Egypt as a sign of losing focus, losing sight of who God is and what He has promised, and taking matters into our own hands.)

Abram returns to Canaan, parts ways with his nephew, Lot, and God comes again and reminds Abram of the covenant and the promise to give him the land and make of him a great nation.  

10 years later, in Genesis 15, God came to Abram (now 85 years old) the 3rd time and  renews the Covenant. God came to refocus Abraham's attention, to get him to understand that He was Abram's shield and reward - and showed Abram that the keeping of the covenant was not up to Abram - God "cut" the covenant Himself, and God would see to it that the covenant was fulfilled!  Abram awoke from this awesome encounter and went home. He was confronted by his wife, Sarai, with the proposition to use her maidservant, Hagar, to produce an heir. Perhaps Abram was still in a daze after the encounter with God, or perhaps he truly believed that Sarai’s proposition was part of God’s plan.

I searched to see if God had ever actually included Sarai in any of His conversations with Abram regarding producing an heir.  Remember:  Sarai was barren!  There was no direct mention of Sarai, but I believe that God alluded to Sarai's involvement when He told Abram the child would come from his body, and it was understood that husband and wife were one flesh, so although God did not specifically mention Sarai, her involvement was certainly implied.  I believe that this incident is one of those clear examples of how we fall into the trap of accepting the way a certain thing is done because everybody else does it or because society accepts it. What Sarai had proposed was not unheard of in that culture.  Perhaps Abram went along with the arrangement just to keep Sarai happy.  Perhaps he was tired of hearing her complain about not having a child.  At 86, perhaps he just wanted a little excitement in his life, and his wife was offering this young Egyptian girl on a silver platter, as it were! 

Whatever the reason, he went along with Sarai's suggestion to use Hagar.   The operative word here is use.  There was no love, no involvement.  Hagar was just a tool, a "means to an end".   Hagar did conceive, and the moment she realized she was pregnant with Abram’s child, we are told "she despised Sarai".   She did not necessarily hate Sarai, but from that moment on she held her in contempt, took her commands lightly, had no respect for Sarai, etc. 

Perhaps in Hagar's mind, she thought that this child that she carried would elevate her status above Sarai's.  Perhaps she thought that there was more personal involvement from Abram than there actually was.  Whatever her reasoning, she took on some kind of attitude that did not go over well with Sarai!  After all, this girl was a slave!  Sarai conveniently forgot that she herself had instigated this entire situation.  She went to Abram complaining about Hagar, and Abram simply told her to handle the matter herself.  

Abram "saw" what was happening and did absolutely nothing to alleviate Hagar's suffering!  Sarai made life miserable for Hagar, and Hagar ran away and headed for her home. As she sat by this spring of water in the desert, we are told, 

 The Angel of the Lord found Hagar

God Himself pursued her, found her and spoke to her.  The Helper of the Helpless, the One Who watches out for orphans and widows - He saw and He came!   (The mention here of “The Angel of the Lord” is what is referred to as a "christophany":  an appearance of Jesus Christ in the Old Testament.  There are many instances of Jesus appearing throughout the Old Testament:  this is the first such appearance.)

The first thing that happened was He spoke her name -"Hagar" - He knew her name!  She was no stranger to Him, though He certainly was to her.  He knew her circumstances, knew how she had gotten into this predicament.  He knew that she had no idea how she was going to get out of it or where she was going.  He came to her 

at the point of the greatest need in her young life!

"Where have you come from, and where are you going?"  Why did He ask?  Did He not know where she had come from and where she was going?  Why is it so difficult for us to admit our need, to agree with God that we are in trouble?  But when we finally come up against the brick wall of our lives and there is absolutely no way around it or over it or under it, we are forced to admit our need.  

Hagar could have decided that this appearance was of no consequence to her, that the questions this "being" was asking were none of his business.  She could have told him everything was fine, she was just out for a stroll, etc.  But she knew that this encounter was no mere coincidence or accident.   So she answered very honestly, "I am running away from my mistress, Sarai."  She admitted to this stranger that she was in trouble!

Hagar did what so few of us do when confronted - she told the Angel of the Lord what she was doing, not what had been done to her!  Usually when confronted with our past, we tell the story with the emphasis on what was done to us, and state all the reasons why we are the way we are, why we do the things we do - because of what was done to us!    

I believe this was key to Hagar's healing - HONESTY!  "I can't take this any more, I'm in a nightmare situation, and I am running away!"  If Hagar had chosen to ignore this stranger, she would have kept on going and no telling what direction her life would have taken.  As long as I insist on running away from the pain in my past and not facing it head on and dealing with it, my life will always be "on the run".  The chances of this young woman even surviving alone out in this desert were slim to none, and she was carrying a child!  

There was no question that her situation was desperate, probably more desperate than even she realized.  She probably thought she could just keep moving and eventually she would end up back home.  She would never have made it!  She had no idea to Whom she was speaking, and she was stunned at what He told her.
  • Go back to your mistress and submit to her
  • I will so increase your descendants that you won’t be able to count them
  • You will have a son
  • You are to call him, "Ishma-el" (The Mighty God has heard your cries of misery)
  • He will live in hostility toward all his brothers and everyone in hostility toward him


Most of this was not good news!  Go back to Sarai, who hates you and will probably not change in her attitude toward you.  Submit yourself to her, regardless of how she treats you.  WHY? Because I have heard your cries of misery, and

I am the Mighty One Who is with you and sees you right where you are!

So, why not change the circumstances, God?  Because I want to show Myself to be strong on your behalf.  

The Title EL, which is usually translated GOD, actually means the strong and mighty One.  There is absolutely no way that Hagar could have come up with this incredible revelation concerning God.  Her background was Egypt.  She was probably not much more than a teenager herself, and she knew nothing about this God of Abraham other than what she had heard in the short time that she had been with the family.  She probably was familiar with Abram’s vision from God regarding his own descendants being more in number than could be counted, so when the Angel of the Lord told her this, perhaps she thought that this child she carried would actually be the one of whom Abram spoke.  She really did not understand what was ahead - she only knew that this One Who stood before her was someone to be obeyed.  She was probably not even showing any signs yet of being pregnant, yet here He was telling her that she was pregnant, saying the same words she had heard Abram and Sarai speak regarding their promised son, and the only conclusion she could come up with was that she was in the Presence of God!  

She used the shortened version of Elohim:  EL, the Strong and Mighty One.  She combined it with a word that means “sight” or “seeing”:  ROI. This is seeing with perfect knowledge, perfect understanding, perception, discernment. Steady, knowing gaze. Hagar was a "gazingstock" to God.  He had His eye on her!  God stares at us, but it is not a staring from a distance--He is very near!

This was not her own concoction or discovery - God Himself revealed Himself to this woman!  Remember:  the only way that I can know God is if He chooses to reveal Himself to me, and He has chosen to do just that.  Just as He pursued this godless, distraught woman and mother at the crisis point of her need, He does the same for us today.

We are not told what happened when Hagar returned but we know that she returned.  We know that Ishmael was born and Hagar and Ishmael remained in Abram's care for 13 years. We have no idea that Sarai's attitude  toward Hagar changed  or  that Abram  was any more attentive;  probably paid Hagar no mind whatsoever because he had what he wanted from her - a son!  But Hagar had seen God and her life was never the same!

Some of us are still asking the question, 

“If God really is there, if He really “sees” everything that happens to us,
then why does He let these things happen?”

There is absolutely no one who can answer that question to their own or anyone else’s satisfaction!  And as long as I insist on being a "victim" to what others do to me or what happens to me, I will continue asking that question, and remain out there in the desert, running away!  But the moment I honestly confess to the Lord my own personal responsibility in the condition of my life, the choices I’ve made, it is as if scales fall away from my eyes and I see Him standing there, and I realize that He is the Strong and Mighty One Who Sees Me, Who has always been there, watching over me, protecting me, until in His timing He rescued me.  Only when we come to understand that HE SEES can we begin to see clearly!  Until then, we grope, we stumble, we walk around in a fog.

I will never forget in my own life when I stopped asking Him "why"!  It wasn’t until I admitted to Him that I was in desperate trouble, that I was running away, and that I definitely had some personal responsibility in the condition of my life, in the choices I had made - it wasn’t until I acknowledged His Presence in my life before I even knew He was there - realized that it was because He was there, watching over me, protecting me, that I wasn’t destroyed. This realization in now way minimized the horrendous things that happened to me, but it did help me to put things into perspective which eventually brought about the beginning of healing in my life.

The beauty of the combined Names, El ROI, is that not only does He see me, not only is He watching over me, but He is the Strong and Mighty One Who protects and rescues me when I am in danger.  It is one thing to have someone always watching you.  I grew up with a father who watched and saw everything that happened to me, but he was powerless to do anything about it because of the choices that he made for his own personal comfort.  

But  I  have a heavenly Father Who not only watched over me, but loved me and had the power and strength to make sure that I made it to the age of 16 so that I could give my heart to Him, and then  watched over me to make sure I made it to the age of 44 so that I could begin to come into that relationship with Him that He prepared just for me from before the foundation of the world!  I ran and ran for the first 27 years of my Christian life until I saw Him as my 

EL ROI, the Strong and Mighty God Who Sees Me!

And He has continued to watch over me all the way to the age of 64, through all the ups and downs, in the good times and bad times and I continue to grow in knowledge of Him, the One Who is the Strong and Mighty God Who sees me!  For Hagar, God watched over her and cared for her from that moment in the desert when He told her she would bear a son until 13 years later, when Sarai actually threw her and Ishmael out of the house.  At that time, He came to her again (Genesis 21) and reminded her of His promise to her and reminded her of what she had seen about God all those years before.  

II Chronicles 16:9 speaks of the eyes of God roaming throughout the entire earth in order to show Himself strong on the behalf of anyone who would simply trust Him!  He longs to reveal this side of Himself to His children, if only we will stop long enough for Him to speak to us!

Read and consider these beautiful words:

"How can you say, ‘My way is hidden from the Lord, (JEHOVAH), my cause is disregarded by my God’? (EL, the Strong and Mighty One).  Do you not know, have you not heard,  the Lord (JEHOVAH) is the everlasting God, (EL, the Strong and Mighty One) the Creator of the ends of the earth.  He will not grow tired or weary, and His understanding no one can fathom.  He gives strength to the weary, and increases the power of the weak.  Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall, but those who hope in the Lord (JEHOVAH) shall renew their strength; they will soar on wings like eagles, they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not faint.”  Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the child of her womb?  Yes, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee.  Behold, I have graven thee on the palms of My hands, and thy walls are continually before Me.  O Lord, (JEHOVAH) Thou hast searched me and known me.  Thou knowest my downsitting and my uprising, Thou understandest my thoughts afar off, Thou compassest my path and my lying down and art acquainted with all my ways.  Thou hast beset me behind and before and laid Thine hand upon me.  Whither shall I go from Thy Spirit, and whither shall I flee from Thy Presence?  Thou has possessed my reins, Thou has covered me in my mother’s womb.  I will praise Thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  My substance was not hid from Thee when I was made in secret:  Thine eyes did see my substance, being as yet unperfect, and in Thy book all my members were written.  How precious are Thy thoughts toward me, O God! (EL)  How great is the sum of them!  Search me, O God (EL), and know my heart.  Try me, and know my thoughts.  And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting."

Sunday, February 12, 2012

 What Is His Name?
A Devotional Study of the Names of God

by Jacque Brown
  


ELOHIM

 

Elohim comes from a root word that means “to swear”.  What do you think that means?  God is a God of Covenant:  throughout the Word of God He is always making covenants with His chosen.  We usually consider the very first covenant that God made was with Noah in Genesis 6, but I believe that there was a Covenant even before that one:  God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit covenanted with each other that they would create the heavens and the earth, that they would create man in their own image, and do whatever was necessary to restore that image that they knew would be lost!  We know there was a covenant within the Godhead because it was decided that the Son would be the sacrifice, the substitute!  Revelation calls Him “the Lamb slain from before the foundation of the earth”.  What an awesome promise God made Himself: a promise that has not been diminished by time or chance or man’s continued disobedience.  He is the God who has sworn with and by Himself:  Hebrews 6 tells us that He swore with Himself because He could find no one greater!  He has promised that He will not forsake the work of His hands, and that what He started, He will finish. 

FIRST MENTION:  Genesis 1:1: “In the beginning Elohim created the heavens and the earth.” Elohim is used approximately 2500 times throughout the Old Testament, 35 times just in Genesis 1-2. The three Old Testament books where Elohim most frequently appears are Genesis, Deuteronomy and Psalms.

Elohim is a “uni-plural” noun, stating from the very beginning the fact of the Holy Trinity--the Presence of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit: 
  • Genesis 1:28:  “Let US make man in OUR image, after OUR likeness.”
  • Colossians 1:13-16:  “Who has delivered us from the power of darkness, and has translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son, in Whom we have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins:  Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature, for by Him were all things created, that are in heaven and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones or dominions, or principalities or powers:  all things were created by Him and for Him.”
  • Job 26:13:  “For by His Spirit He has garnished the heavens.”
  • Genesis 1:2:  “And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.”
Just as Genesis is the foundational book of the entire Bible, so Elohim is the foundational Name of God.  It is His “Signature” Name. 

This Name “Elohim” contains the essence of the Character of God

I was trying to think of a way to illustrate what I mean when I say that Elohim is God’s signature name.  It is not a term of endearment, like “El Shaddai”, or “Jehovah-Jireh”, names that we will be looking at during the course of this study.  Elohim is His full name:  His official insignia, if you will.   Just like when you are asked to give your full name on any kind of official document - you print out your full name, then usually underneath, you give your unique signature:  but that is not the name that those closest to you use when speaking to you.  In this one Name, Elohim, is hidden everything we need to know about God.  Not hidden as in “secret”, but hidden in such a way that only those who really want to know Him can find out the treasures in this Name.

Some of those beautiful treasures are these insights:

HE IS THE ETERNAL, SELF-EXISTENT ONE:  Genesis 1:1 does not try to prove the existence of God, nor His origin.  Genesis 1:1 makes a precise, authoritative statement of fact:

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

HE IS THE CREATOR:  In Genesis 1:1, God chose precisely the words that He wanted to convey exactly Who He is and what He has done:  He made the heavens and earth out of nothing; we read verses throughout Scripture that indicate to us that He spoke the worlds into existence.

HE IS THE TRIUNE GOD:  Elohim is a very special proper noun in that it is a plural yet singular noun.  A “uni-plural” title for God.  There is no one who has ever been able to explain satisfactorily to me the concept of the Trinity.  Every object lesson that has ever been used to “explain” the Trinity breaks down at some point because we really have no true illustration:  it will forever remain one of the incredible mysteries of God.

And yet, there needs to be a basic understanding of the concept in order to integrate it into my knowledge about God.  In one sense, it is enough to say, “God said it and I believe it”!  But there is a part of all of us that desires to know more, and I believe God reveals to us what we need to know about His Triune Nature.  In Genesis, He reveals to us the entire Godhead:  The Spirit and the Son, as well as the Father, in unison creating the universe and mankind.  They were all there!

HE IS PERSONAL:   throughout Scripture, particularly in Genesis and Deuteronomy and the Psalms where this Name occurs most frequently, He is constantly interacting with His Creation, calling them by name, communing with them.  David speaks of Elohim over and over as “my Elohim”-- "my God".

HE IS THE COVENANT-MAKING, COVENANT-KEEPING GOD:  He is the One Who has sworn with Himself that He will not forsake the work of His hands.  Paul says that we are His Workmanship.  Just as Creation as a whole is His handiwork, each of us is His workmanship, and He will never walk away from us!  And no matter how damaged we may have become, He will never throw any of us away! 

Friday, February 3, 2012

What Is His Name?
A Devotional Study on the Names of God

by Jacque Brown

Introduction

What’s in a Name?


Webster defines “name” as a word or phrase that constitutes the distinctive designation of a person or a thing; reputation, fame, etc. The first time the word is mentioned in Scripture is in Genesis 2 when Adam was “naming” the animals as they passed in front of him, and it is implied that he named each one according to special, distinctive characteristics.  And, that the names he gave them are the names that have continued to this day! The Hebrew words used for “name” speak of reputation, memory, renown, etc. A name was given at time of birth, not necessarily because of some characteristic observed, but oftentimes because of special events that occurred at the time of birth.  God Himself named “Adam”...a name, according to Genesis 5, that He gave to both Adam and Eve because it spoke of their origin: “from the earth”, always a reminder that mankind was created from the dust of the earth-mortal- certainly not eternal! And Adam named his wife “woman” because she was taken from his flesh, “flesh of his flesh, bone of his bone”. Later, in Genesis 3, Adam named her “Eve”: life giver...always a reminder to them and to all generations after them that God is a forgiving and merciful God, and that Eve would become the mother of all who lived!  Names were oftentimes “memory markers”. For instance, the name “Ichabod” was given to a certain child because he was born at the moment that the Ark of the Covenant of God was taken captive by the Philistines and the glory of God had departed from Israel (I Samuel 4). What a name to be stuck with for a lifetime, a constant reminder to Israel of what happened on the day of his birth!

As seen throughout Scripture, some names were definitely given because of characteristics or features observed at the birth of a child: for instance, think about “Esau”: hairy...so named because he was covered with hair at birth.  (He had the nickname “Edom” because that hair was very red!) Or “Jacob”:  smooth...so named because he did not have a lot of body hair at birth, but a name with double meaning: Jacob was definitely “smooth”-but not in a good sense-he was a trickster, a deceiver, a manipulator of people.  Oftentimes, names were given to express personal dreams and desires of the parents, such as “Joseph”, which means “added”, because Rachel hoped that God would give her more children.

In Hebrew, names were given that symbolically embodied all of the characteristics of the object; the Hebrew mind loved symbolism! This is particularly true when we come to a study of the names of God. There are names of God that denote His character; there are names of God that speak of the many different aspects of His Being; there are names that bring to mind His Love, His Faithfulness, His Power, His Majesty, His Holiness, His Righteousness, His Integrity, and on and on. When we find the phrase, “Name of God”, anywhere in Scripture, it is meant to convey to us the essence of His Being-Who He is, His Authority, His Sovereignty, etc. For instance, when we read, “The name of God is a strong tower” (Prov. 18:10), what a picture that phrase immediately brings to mind! This is not referring to just one specific name, but THE NAME OF GOD! It brings a vivid picture to my mind of speaking His Name in the midst of turmoil and experiencing His peace and security while the turmoil continues! I speak His Name, and I am safe! He is My Hiding Place; therefore, His Name is my Hiding Place.

These names, particularly the Hebrew Names that we will be studying, are the Names that God gave us for Himself so that we could get to know Him better. We are going to approach this study from the standpoint of what God has to say about Himself, and the significance of each of the names in the immediate context in which they are found.

We will also look at each name from a standpoint of the Law of First Mention, meaning that the first time God reveals a certain truth about Himself to us, we need to study the context to better understand what God is saying. In some instances, He will give a “seed” thought that will be developed further throughout Scripture. Some of the names of God are only mentioned once in Scripture, so in those instances, it would be particularly true to study the name in the context in which it was given. For example, one of my favorite names for God is in Genesis 16, the story of Hagar. She became pregnant by Abraham, and ran away from Abraham and Sara because she was being treated so badly by Sara. The Angel of the Lord appeared to her in the desert and instructed her to return to Abraham, and proceeded to give her specific promises concerning her life and the life of her unborn son. She gave the Lord the name “EL ROI”, You are the God Who sees me, based on her realization that this God actually saw her in her desperate need, and she had seen Him!  This is the only time this name appears in Scripture, and what a beautiful picture of God when we study the name in the context in which it was given!  He sees me, and because I know and believe He sees me, I begin to “see” Him, to recognize Him when He is near, to recognize His voice, to know Him better!  But more of that name later!

There have been many books and commentaries written on the names of God, and I have read a lot of them. I do not claim to have anything new to add in the sense of a “new revelation” from God or anything like that. What I do have is a personal journey that began over 46 years ago when I first met Jesus Christ and was introduced to my Heavenly Father! That day in 1965, the journey began to know Him better, and continues to this day.

The title of this book, “What Is His Name?” is taken from Exodus 3:13-14, when God sends Moses to rescue His people from the hand of Pharaoh.

Then Moses said to God, “If I come to the people of Israel and 
say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ 
and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ 
what shall I say to them?” 
God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” 
And He said, “Say this to the people of Israel, 
‘I AM has sent me to you.’”

Although thousands of years have passed since God made that claim to Moses, we are no different today than the people during that period of history.  We are still in need of rescue, we are still surrounded by hundreds of false gods, and we still do not know the true and living God the way He wants us to know Him!

It is the desire and longing of my heart that each of us will catch the excitement and thrill of getting to know God more intimately than we ever have before!


Bibliography


The following resources have been excellent tools to help me “mine” the treasures found in the Names of God, but they are just that - tools!  By far, the greatest source of inspiration and illumination has been on my knees with the Word of God open before the Holy Spirit, asking Him to show me the Glory of God as I have never seen Him before.  He has done just that for me through this study.  The factual information has been gleaned from many different sources, some of which are listed below.  Having studied and taught the various names of God before, I was familiar with a lot of the facts.  But as I bowed before Him, He revealed Himself to me, and that is what I want to share with you!

God is not a “fact” or bit of information - He is a Person, He is Reality - and He longs to bring each of us into intimacy with Himself!  It is my prayer for anyone reading these words that God will use this study to continue opening the eyes of those who long to know Him better.


    
Key Study Bible: Zodhiates
The Amplified Bible
J.B. Phillips’ New Testament
NIV
New King James
King James
Kay Arthur:  To Know Him By Name
Lockyer:  All the Divine Names and Titles in the Bible
Stone:  Names of God
Loeks: The Glorious Names of God
Keller: A Shepherd Looks at the 23rd Psalm
MacDonald: Discovering the Character of God
Spurgeon: Treasury of David
Stevenson: Titles of the Triune God
Gaebelein: Expositor’s Bible Commentary  (Gen-Deut)
Unger: Unger’s Bible Dictionary
Vine: Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words
Morris: The Genesis Record
Pink: Gleanings from Genesis
Henry: Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Bible

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Words from a Watchman

I have been a student of Clay McLean's for many years and consider him a spiritual mentor.  He and his wife, Mary, have a pastoral care ministry out of Hickory, NC.  Clay sends out a monthly newsletter and a podcast (which you are invited to subscribe to), and I wanted to share the November and December 2011 podcasts with my circle of family and friends because I believe we are in a critical time in our lives as individuals and as a nation.

Please set aside some time to listen to each of the messages, starting with the November 2011.  Each message is approximately 1 hour in length, so try to set aside an hour each time so you can get the full impact of each message without interruption.

I do not want to be in a "stupor"!  I have heard various people say lately that God is preparing for the third Great Awakening in our nation, and I want to be ready for Him!  We are long overdue, as a church, as the Body of Christ, as individuals and as a nation!

I want my family and friends to join me however we can, either via email, or facebook, or phone, or local gatherings, to communicate with each other on a regular basis and prepare for whatever is coming our way.

Each one of us, as Clay says in his December message, can form little "circles of compassion" around our families and friends, and extend those circles of compassion to those who are on the outside but desperately need to be secured and protected and made aware of what is coming!

So, here goes:  I hope you are up to the challenge!  The first challenge, of course, is to set aside an hour of uninterrupted time to listen to the November message, and if you're like me, you will want to listen to the December message as soon as you get through with November!  You will not be disappointed!  This is not a Chicken Little, "the sky is falling" word - this is one of those "truly, truly" words!  (Although I personally believe that the sky is falling, in more ways than one!)



Love you all - let's talk!

Jacque

Friday, August 12, 2011

"Bloom Wherever You Are Planted!"

I was out walking today, and saw these beautiful "weeds" growing in all sorts of places...the little brown-eyed susies were growing in a pile of horse manure, the wild orchid growing out of a crack in the sidewalk, or beside a dried up canal.  And I was thinking, "Why is it so hard for us to do what these little "weeds" are doing?  We are always so concerned about where we are, what's going on around us, what's going to happen to us, who's going to be impressed by what we are doing, what's in it for us, and on and on!

I love these beautiful "weeds"!  And I was thinking when Jesus sat on the hillside overlooking the Sea of Galilee on the Mount of Beatitudes, He probably was looking at the "weeds" and flowers growing all around Him and the birds flying above Him when He spoke these beautiful words that are just as alive today as they were when He spoke them over 2,000 years ago:  

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Isn’t there more to life than food and more to the body than clothing? Look at the birds in the sky: They do not sow, or reap, or gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you more valuable than they are? And which of you by worrying can add even one hour to his life? Why do you worry about clothing? Think about how the flowers of the field grow; they do not work or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his glory was clothed like one of these! And if this is how God clothes the wild grass, which is here today and tomorrow is tossed into the fire to heat the oven, won’t he clothe you even more, you people of little faith? So then, don’t worry saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For the unconverted pursue these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But above all pursue his kingdom and righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. So then, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Today has enough trouble of its own."

And then I was thinking about all the times we are told throughout the living Word that we are to do whatever our hands find to do with all our might, and to do everything we do to the glory of God:

"So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." (I Cor. 10:31)

"And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him."  Colossians 3:17

Yes, I absolutely believe that God has a perfect plan for each of our lives, and that plan often involves a particular place, but I think more often than not, we are to do everything we do in the name of Jesus, to the glory of God, giving thanks to the Father!  And that means no matter where we are, who happens to be looking, whether we ever receive kudos from those around us - in other words, blooming right where we happen to be planted right now!

I was reading John Piper's blog today entitled, "Don't call it simplistic - call it grace!"

We should be slow to treat Jesus as if he doesn’t know what he is doing. He is not na├»ve in the way he deals with our anxiety. In Matthew 6:25-34 he tells us three times not to be anxious (vv. 25, 31, 34) and gives us eight reasons not to be anxious.

Evidently he thinks this will help. So don’t call it simplistic. Call it grace. Believe him. Take every reason and preach it to your soul as true. Say,

Soul, this is true. Jesus Christ says so. Trust him. He died for you. He loves you. He created you. He knows you. No one — no counselor, no pastor, no friend — knows as much about you as he does. Listen to him. Let these reasons sink in. Bank on them. Now, let’s get up and do what we need to do. Be gone anxiety.

Here’s a summary of what he said:

  1. Life is more than food and the body more than clothing (Matthew 6:25).
  2. God feeds the birds and you are more valuable than they are (Matthew 6:26).
  3. It's pointless. It adds not one hour to your life (Matthew 6:27).
  4. If God clothes ephemeral grass, he will clothe eternal you (Matthew 6:28-30).
  5. Unbelievers are anxious about stuff. And you are not an unbeliever (Matthew 6:32a).
  6. Your father (!) knows that you need all these things you're anxious about (Matthew 6:32b).
  7. When you seek first God's kingdom and righteousness, what you need is added to you.
  8. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. Tomorrow's trouble stays there (Matthew 6:34).
(John Piper - Don't Call It Simplistic - Call It Grace!"


So, do not worry, do not be anxious, do whatever your hands find to do to the glory of God, giving thanks to God the Father that He knows what He's doing, He has planted you right where He wants you, so BLOOM, BLOOM, BLOOM, even if He's the only One looking!