Thursday, August 30, 2012

Hey, it's me - God - and I've got this

When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am El-Shaddai—‘God Almighty.’ Serve me faithfully and live a blameless life.  I will make a covenant with you, by which I will guarantee to give you countless descendants.” Genesis 17:1-2

El - Shaddai = All Sufficient God; Almighty God; the God who sustains and nurtures His own; the God who can handle any circumstance that challenges His people

In the Old Testament, this was a primary name God used to reveal Himself to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Genesis 17:1-2 is the first recorded example we have of this name description, and it is used again in several other OT Books of the Bible. As God reveals each new name, He also reveals a new facet of His holy character and personality. With this revelation, God displays His ability to handle any situation that His people may find themselves in and His desire to help and bless His people. In Abram's case, the situation was that both he and his wife were very old and had never been able to have children - and yet God was promising "countless descendants". Completely unthinkable by our standards, yet totally within the scope of God's power and plan.

God reveals a part of Himself in the scripture above. He basically says "Hey it's ME, your God who can meet all of your needs in all things. Don't get tripped up by the problems, obstacles and delays. You just stay faithful to what I am calling you to and let ME handle the rest. Be faithful to ME, obey ME, do life with Me and be holy and I will make an unbreakable promise with you to help you, meet your needs and bless your family beyond your wildest dreams."

I don't know about you, but there have been times when God has whispered some pretty big, scary, and seemingly impossible dreams in my ear. And sometimes I let myself get tripped up by problems, obstacles, doubts and delays and I get discouraged. I do not claim the power of God; instead I focus on my weaknesses and faults and I give a strong hold to Satan - the great deceiver. I listen to Satan's sweet lies, I buy into his fears, and I let him sway and taint my thoughts. When I let Satan have that level of mental power, my faith ALWAYS suffers. I need to make the mental choice to stop focusing on my weakness and start standing in God's power. I need to replace my doubt filled thoughts with the powerful truths of God. If it is His plan - then He will provide His power. Period.  He is after all the all sufficient God - and He wants to draw me close to Him.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Most Loved

Jehovah-Elyon = The Lord God Most High; supreme and sovereign God; most loved God; being above all others in in character, importance, excellence and authority.

This name demands my praise.
In the Old Testament, when this name was used it showed Gods power and complete authority over all pagan gods. This name of God was used when His people obeyed and accomplished tasks and victories that could only be attributed to His power and authority.

Sometimes I face struggles that are bigger than me; financial stress, marriage stress, health issues, kids that are growing up way to fast. Some days it feels as if everyone wants a piece of my time, my attention - even my soul; there are days when even in the midst of my best effort I am acutely aware of how what I have to offer is so much less than what is needed. It makes feel like I am being wrapped up in a blanket of impossibilities drowning in the sea of the unachievable. There are days when I feel like God is too busy or too far or too quiet to really understand what's happening in my little world.  This is when I am tempted to trust in myself, my understanding, my plan. These are days when I want to walk forward and hope that God will catch up with me later. And I have. And it was bad.

These are the days when rather than do what my old nature dictates, I must instead call on and cling to my Jehovah Elyon. For He is "supreme and sovereign" - His word is the last word and it is always right. He is "most loved God" - He must be the one thing I love most, I love best, and I love with every part of me. He is "above all others in character, importance, excellence and authority" - He speaks it into being and it is. When I struggle with my will, when I am tempted to chase after all those things that are less than God's perfect will for me, these are the times when I will call on Jehovah Elyon and He will hear me.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Ruler Over All

Adoni - Exalted Lord, ruler over all; signifies ownership and mastership on an individual and corporate level

Exalted - raised or elevated; in highest standing

Lord - The proper name of God; ruler; leader with complete power or authority; a leader of great influence

 Jesus my Savior is easy. It's all about what Jesus did for me. I don't deserve it; I can't earn it; I can choose to accept or reject it. The end. It is freeing and it feels good. My pride is on the line, but admitting my shortcoming isn't hard, and accepting that Jesus paid the price for my sin once and for all provided freedom I had never before understood.

 Lordship is what trips me up. Not just my Savior, but my Lord. This new name for God indicates a position change in my heart, mind and soul. Lordship - when I admit and embrace that God does both desire and require to be the boss of all of me. He wants to steer the boat, drive the car, or prune the vine - pick the word picture that works best. The bottom line is that God is in charge of all of it. My family, my marriage, my money, my career, my kids, my friends, my hobbies and my junk. There is no place that is off limits; there is not part of me that I willful keep separate from God. Lordship comes when I say "God, make me like you in every way, in every place and in every part of my life. I submit to your authority, I submit to your will, I submit to your way."

That's usually the point when my sin inclined nature rears it's ugly head and screams "I am the boss of me! I have my rights! Who better than me knows whats best for me?" And so God I cling to your truths. "For the word of the Lord is right and true, He is faithfully in all He does" (Psalms 33:4) "As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the Lord is flawless. He is a shield for all who take refuge in Him: (2 Sam 22:31) "And we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God and God in him. In this way love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgement, because in this world we are like Him. There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love" (1 John 4:16-18) "Submit to God and be at peace with Him; in this way prosperity will come to you. Accept instruction from His mouth and lay up His words in your heart. If you return to the Almighty you will be restored" (Job 22:21-23)

So today God, I claim you and call you my Adoni. You are my Lord and I will fully submit to your authority in all things. Shine your light on the dark shadows that separate me from you. Continue to transform me into the girl you created me to be. Amen.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Worthy of My Worship

Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on high because he has known my name. 
 Psalms 91:14

So I was working on something totally different this morning and smack dab in the middle of that, God put this verse from Psalms 91. I am pretty sure it was just for me. I am pretty sure it was His little way of saying "Hey! Remember me? Remember what I asked you to do?" God's cool like that :-)

So here is the "new" or rather very "old" name of God for the day. Jehovah Elohim. From what I have gleaned it's a plural title for God. It references the Trinity, and this name for God is used over 2500 times in the Old Testament - so clearly it was and is pretty important. It's a title that carries with it the meaning of God's divine majesty and worthiness of worship and praise. It sets God the Creator apart from and superior to all other false gods. It emphasises God's un-ending power, His limitless strength and His unwavering faithfulness through out time and for all of time.

That's a lot to chew on.

Divine majesty and worthy of worship and praise. Above all false gods. How does that play out in my everyday life?

To worship is to attribute worth/value and praise. God is worthy of worship. He expects it and He isn't happy with me when I don't honor that. And worship is all about God and not at all about me. It's not about the music, or the seating arrangement; and it's not about checking church off my list.  Do I study His word - not just read it? Do I obey? Is my prayer time filled with praise or is it just my limited vision wish list? Do I know my place as His follower and His place as my leader? 'Cause the leader sets the tone, makes the plan and is the one who is actually in charge. Is my prayer intentional and specific? Is worship what I do from time to time, or how I live from day to day?

And what about false gods?  Is there room in my calender for what God wants to do? Is the yard work, or the fishing trip or the weekend softball/football/baseball/basketball/wrestling/soccer tournament really more important than the time that God expects for me to set aside to honor Him? Is the overtime really more important than the Bible Study Group? Is finishing the scrapbook page, the words with friends game or the next chapter in that great book I am reading really more important than investing in the lives of my husband, my children and the people God has planted in my life? Why is Sunday morning the only "me day" I have to sleep in? Do I protect the special time that God has called me to set aside for HIM as fiercely as I protect my me time, my hobby time, my NFL/MLB/NBA time, my workout time or my just relax and do nothing time?

OUCH - now I know why it wanted to not study this name, and I think I know why God prompted me to.

You alone are worthy of my worship and my praise. Whisper in my ear when false idols try to lure me away from you.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

What's My Name

It's the first thing I filled out on every form I have ever been given for school, work, the doctor, even Church. It identifies me. I have a formal name - Trisha Ann Wilson. I have my genealogical name - Trisha Ann Barnes Wilson. Some of my friends and family call me Trish. Matt and my moms (all of them) almost always call me Trisha. I also have names like wife, sister, aunt, cousin, daughter, friend, and the one I hear most often, mom. Each of these names reflects a part of who I am in relation to the person using that particular name for me. In hearing the name that they use for me, I also hear what my relationship, interaction and connection to them truly is. There are also private names that I have; nicknames if you will, that have been given to me by the people I hold most dear - my husband, my family, and my closest friends. And I have given these names to people too - it's not casual - it's intimate. It's not commonly known - to know these names is to know me on a much more personal level.

Prayer is something that is close to my heart. As I seek to spend more and more time in the presence of my Creator, I have found that prayer is becoming not I thing that I do, but a way that I live. Jesus thought it was so important that He took time to walk us thru how it's done in Matthew 6, and the first few lines of that teaching outline have taken my heart into a new and exciting search. Matthew 6:9 says "Our Father in heaven, hollowed (praised) be your name." That got me thinking - what are the names of God, and what do they mean? How can I praise God's name if I don't know it?

I am not a theologian. I do not speak or read Hebrew, Arabic or Greek. I have never read any of the original translations of the Bible - and I don't believe that I ever will. Instead I have sought out - thru books mostly - the wisdom of men and women who can read the original texts. I am trying to learn thru their understanding the deeper meaning of the names of God that are sometimes lost in our modern day translations and interpretations. At this time I most frequently use the NIV 1984, the KJV and NKJV, the NASV, the NLT and the Message. If you find I have made an error, please let me know. No one knows better than I just how flawed I am - and I am always looking to learn more about my amazing God.

Jehovah & Yahweh - in every book I have read these are the first to names discussed. The most intimate and sacred names of God. When Moses wrote the name LORD in all capital letters, this was the name he meant. It is the personal name of God for His people - ancient Jews didn't speak it or even write it. Even now in Jewish text it is often written ~od. When Moses asked God who he should tell the people had sent him, God said tell the people "I Am".  These names remind me that my God is the God that has always been and will always be. When all else falls, fails and crumbles, God will still be God. He will still reign. He is consistent, unchanging and everlasting. Not created by man, and not dependant or defined by man. I can count on Him. He's not gonna change His mind, His personality, or His character. He is bigger and more complex than I will ever be able to fully or perhaps even partially understand, yet He chooses and desires to be intimately available to me if I choose to be with Him.

Just that thought takes my breath away.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

My Mess

Life gets messy. Life gets hard. Sometimes it's not fair and it hurts - a lot. Sometimes we make bad choices and have to deal with the natural consequences. At other times, we are innocents that are impacted by the poor choices of others; and then there are things that just happen for no understandable reason at all. When life begins to crumble, we search. People are not looking for cookie cutter answers. Fortune cookie feel good sayings don't comfort a heart that is aching or a family that is close to breaking. Big, complex, and painful problems rarely have quick, easy and painless solutions.

I love the Bible. But sometimes what I need to hear isn't another retelling of a great event like - the parting of the Red Sea. There are days when what I need to hear is how God parted a "Red Sea" in the life of someone I know. A REAL GOD, WHO IS REALLY INVESTED AND INVOLVED and MAKING CHANGES IN THE LIVES OF REAL PEOPLE I KNOW RIGHT NOW.

1 John 1:1-4   New International Version (NIV)

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched —this we proclaim concerning the Word of life.  The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.  We write this to make our joy complete.

I love this passage!

"That which was from the beinning" I let my mind just sit there for a minute. God always is, always has been and always will be. "Which we have heard...seen with our eyes...looked at...and touched." It's personal, first hand knowledge. "we proclaim to you the eternal life...what we have seen and heard, so that you may fave fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and His son Jesus Christ. We write this to make our joy complete" Good news is news that is shared.  When I find a good sale I text all my best girl friends; papers with an A+ get hung on the fridge; I send out announcements for births, engagements & marriages.  All of that is good. What God has done for me is great! He delieved me from sin. He removed my guilt and shame. He healed what was broken. He restored what was lost. He filled in my soul the emptyness than only HE could fully and competely fill.

It isn't magic. The problems are still there, and the heart ache too. Sometimes I still don't know what to do next, or say next. There are days when I feel like things can't get harder, like I just can't do, or be, or handle one more thing. Sometimes I am tired, and numb, completed worn out, rung out and spent. There is conflict every way I turn and I cannot make it better - peacekeep is my name and walking a tightrope is my game. On days like these I need to spend time with 1John 1 people, and I need to remember the times when God has held my hand and carried me like only a daddy can. God is so much bigger than all my junk, and with Him there is always hope.

Now I need to listen to what my friend John says, and I need to tell people what my God has done for me. Not a story from a long time ago, but a page from my life. Yep, sometimes it is still messy, but God is faithful and he can handle my mess.

Monday, August 6, 2012

The Pharisee in me I see

Great Big Thank You's to Pastor Larry - You have given me and God much to talk about together today.  If you don't already have some place to be on Sunday mornings at 9:30am I would highly recommend spending some time with the NO WALLS group at RIFCN. And if you do have someplace else to be, I would recommend you rethink that personal choice so that you can join us!

Mark 2:23 - 3:6
23 One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grain fields, and as his disciples walked along, they began to pick some heads of grain. 24 The Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?” 25 He answered, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need? 26 In the days of Abiathar the high priest, he entered the house of God and ate the consecrated bread, which is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions." Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. 28 So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”  Another time Jesus went into the synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath. Jesus said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Stand up in front of everyone.”  Then Jesus asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they remained silent.  He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored. Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus.

This passage of scripture is where our little group hung out and spent some time this morning. We are working our way thru the book of Mark, it's not a's a journey of discovery. The focus of the later part of our discussion was the intention of the Sabbath - and I will ponder that more in the coming days, but today where my mind and heart lingered was on the behavior of the Pharisees in the above verses.

Jesus and his posy were walking thru some fields, they were hungry, and so they participated in what may be the first documented case of "drive thru" or in this case "walk thru" dining. They didn't go out of their way to find food, the food was there and they needed to eat. It's like when you are hiking in the forest and come across some wild blueberries or grapes...or when you are riding your bike on the Mississippi Trail and happen across Whiteys Ice Cream... or when you are driving to wherever and see that the Starbucks drive thru is open with no waiting - same thing right? Only this time it was on the Sabbath and there were rules about such things. Another time Jesus came across a man in need of something He could offer ~ healing. But again, it was the Sabbath, a day of rest and worship and not work.

In both cases the Pharisees watched, waited and pounced on the idea that rules were being broken. Jesus was doing things they didn't like or approve of. Jesus wasn't playing the religion game by their rules. Jesus was challenging their standard behavior. He was friends with people who they would avoid. He would touch people He knew were sick and unclean. He didn't turn away from the people who needed Him most and He didn't mind stepping on and over a few rituals in the process. Jesus was rocking the boat. The Pharisees were not very happy with Jesus, and after re-reading verse 5 a few times I am pretty sure that Jesus wasn't very happy with them.  These smart men were so focused on their precious rules that they missed entirely how God had provided food in a moment of hunger and dynamic physical healing to a person in true need. These Pharisees where blinded by their own limited understanding, by frustration and by anger; they could not see the real and active work of the One True and Living God because they were focused on the wrong things.

Oh Snap!

There it is. How many times have I also chose to focus on the wrong things and in the process missed seeing and being a part of dynamic stuff that God was doing? (Maybe it wasn't being done the way I wanted, or maybe the "wrong" person was leading.)  How many times has my anger or personal conflicts kept me from being willing or able to see any good in a situation or person? (It's never good enough, or right enough for me to be happy or content.) How many times have I sought to find the fault or shortcoming of another and willfully and completely overlooked any positive attributes?( I do after all know who they are, how they behave and I am quite certain it will not change.) How many times have I sought to protect what was comfortable to me and the cost of someone around me in need? (This is the way we do it here, this is the way we like it here, and we don't want to change it here.) If I looked closely at my actions or listened closely to my words, how often would I see in me a Pharisee? Can I get so stuck in the ritual, that I loose sight of my relationship with my Creator, Savour and Lord?

God, help me to start today with clear eyes and a fresh heart for you. I want to look for your hand at work in my life and the lives of those around me. Cast out the fear that creeps into my thoughts when you move in ways I don't expect or understand. Turn my frustration to compassion. Melt my anger with your mercy and love. Soften my heart and strengthen my determination to submit my will to Yours. Amen.