September 19, 2022
Ask most people and they can tell you the name of the higher being that most people believe may or may not exist. They might call Him the “Man Upstairs,” the “Higher Power,” and even “God.” They know the name; but do they really know the NAME? That statement isn’t just playing games with words. It is a critically important truth! To know God’s name is to trust in Him. The Psalmist said, “Those who know your name trust in you, for you, O Lord, do not abandon those who search for you (Psalm 9:10, NLT).” Knowing God’s name is trusting in who God is in His essential nature.
For the Hebrew people, a person’s name wasn’t just some word that you used to call or identify someone. A person’s name, according to the Jewish concept, carried with it a person’s destiny, their character, or something of a description of who they were or would become. To know their name was to know something of the kind of person they were.
In Exodus 3, God revealed His name to Moses with the statement, “I am.” The full meaning of the Hebrew word means, “I am that I am.” This was a declaration of His eternal existence and His singular nature. The word is in the present tense. But the Hebrew grammar also correctly allows us to translate this word in the future tense – “I will be what I will be.” Moses asked God, “What is your name?” God replied, “I will be what I will be,” in essence saying, “Watch what I do; that is who I am.” And so, to Moses and the children of Israel, God was their Deliverer as He acted to deliver them out of Egyptian slavery. He provided food and water for them in the wilderness, so He proved Himself to be their Provider. He protected them from their enemies, thus becoming their Shield and Defender. Through the cloud by day and column of fire by night, He led them as their Guide.
So, who is God to you? How has He acted in your life? Is He your Healer, your Protector, your Comforter, or your Savior? There really is something to knowing the name of God. Solomon wrote this in the book of Proverbs: “The name of the Lord is a strong fortress; the godly run to him and are safe (Proverbs 18:10, NLT).”
Meditate this week on the name of God – who is God to you. Take time to read in the book of Psalms and jot down the various names that the psalmist uses for God. Use those names this week to remind you that God is a strong fortress of safety for you!
When Earthquakes Come
September 13, 2022
Most of us grew up in a world of rewards and punishments. Do something right, something good, and you were rewarded for it. Do something wrong, behave inappropriately, and punishment of some form was imminent – being grounded, made to sit in the corner, forfeiting something we want, or maybe even a spanking. We have grown up with this natural flinching when we do something wrong that we are about to receive retribution for our actions.
Unfortunately, this tendency carries over into our relationship with God – even as followers of Jesus Christ. We still carry seeds of the thought that when bad things happen to us it is because we have been “bad,” and God is punishing us. We have this propensity to view the difficulties of life as evidence of God’s displeasure – maybe that God even hates us!
As Moses was delivering his farewell address to the people of Israel in the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy, he reminded them of the incident where twelve spies were sent into the Promised Land to check it out. When ten of the spies brought back reports of giants and highly fortified cities, the immediate conclusion was that God hated the children of Israel and was punishing them. Listen to the words of Moses:
Deuteronomy 1:26-27 (NLT) – “But you rebelled against the command of the Lord your God and refused to go in. 27 You complained in your tents and said, ‘The Lord must hate us. That’s why he has brought us here from Egypt—to hand us over to the Amorites to be slaughtered.’”
Note the sequence of events – yes, the children of Israel did rebel against the command of the Lord, initially refusing to march into the Promised Land. But the difficulties came first – the encounter with the giants and well-defended cities – came before the decision to disobey God’s commands. Their disobedience did not bring on the difficulties; the difficulties were a test of their trust. The ten spies and the people failed the test and their wrong interpretation of the difficulties led to the rebellion.
When you and I face difficulties, our interpretation of those troubles is critical. Ten of the spies said, “We can’t,” and they began to think that God hated them, resulting in a huge pity-party. The remaining two spies had a different perspective. They said, “We.” The perspective of Joshua and Caleb was that whatever the test before us, we will trust in God to bring us through this.
Each day check your perspective as you encounter the blows that life brings. Avoid the attitude that trouble is a sign that “God hates me,” or that “God is mad at me.” As a friend of mine loves to say, “God is not mad AT you, He is mad ABOUT you.” He is madly in love with you. If you doubt that, look at the cross. Why else would Jesus die for you? God showed His love toward us while we were sinners, Christ died for us!
Instead of seeing trouble as God’s anger and hatred, trade that hate for hope – hope in God’s perfect plan for your life. Remember, tough times are a chief way that God is shaping our character to become more and more like our Savior, Jesus Christ. It’s all a matter of perspective; it’s all a matter of trust.
“God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. So we will not fear when earthquakes come, and the mountains crumble into the sea. Let the oceans oar and foam. Let the mountains tremble as the waters surge…. Be still, and know that I am God!” Psalm 46:1-3, 10a (NLT)