A Modern Woman's Perspective On The Kingdom of God on Earth

Showing posts with label Attributes of God. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Attributes of God. Show all posts

January 21, 2023

Twelve Truths About Who God Is

I am so grateful for the Godly people that my Father in Heaven has put in my path to lead me to more knowledge of Him. Each step along my journey, He has introduced me to men and women who have grown my understanding of exactly who God is, and therefore expanded my faith. This has allowed me to let God out of the box that religion has managed to keep Him in. 

And I would say that is the major issue we encounter in our Inner Healing Ministry ... people don't really know who God is, or know His Nature and Characteristics. I am always amazed at how people [who are struggling from Satan's oppression and torment] actually view God. He is often a remote disciplinarian; a cold, detached and indifferent deity; or an unloving and unknowable figurehead to be feared. When asked to describe any of God's attributes, there is a lack of intimacy and familiarity with His Person.

That's why I am so happy to have benefited from the teachings of Asher Intrater, a Messianic Jewish Apostolic Leader in Jerusalem, whose ministries have a vision for revival and restoration from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth and back again. His Biblical teachings are on target, and he is able to give the basic scriptural "Judeo-Christian" view of the nature of God, which so many Christians need. 

I'd like to share with you one of his teachings that is foundational to understanding the Most High God. It may sound simple, but it answers one of man's biggest questions throughout the ages .... Is God real? Does He exist? Asher Intrater provides 12 Scripturally Confirmed Truths about God; each building upon the previous Truth. Profoundly straightforward, they provide a clear picture for both the religious and secular world.

1. God exists.  Because every action has a cause, the world didn't just "come into existence" without a super-intelligent Designer or Creator. There is such a complexity in the beauty and harmony of natural creation, that it demands there be a Source ... "In the beginning God created ...".

2. God is good. We know that not all who create things are benevolent, well-meaning or kind. In fact, many pagan religions have gods that are evil and selfish. But Scripture tells us that God's will is "good, perfect, and acceptable". He has good intentions for all. "O give thanks to the Lord for He is good, and His mercy endures forever".

3. God is all-powerful. God has all authority and all power. All the powers in the world originated with Him. He is the One God, and therefore the single, only Sovereign. He is "Almighty God".

4. God is Spirit that created the material world. Spiritual things are not the product of a material world, but the opposite. The awesome spiritual energy of "Let there be light" initiated our universe. Scientific evidence has forced physicists to concede that there must have been a beginning to the physical universe -- an "initial singularity [uniqueness]", which they call "the big bang". The energy that created the universe is spiritual. "God is Spirit".

5. God is a person. God is not a human being. Human beings were created in God's image, both male and female. So, God is personal in nature. We are "persons" because He was first. [Note: In Hebrew, the language for God is in masculine gender, while the language for Spirit is in feminine gender]. As a person, He is "Our Father in Heaven"...

6. God is loving. The deepest quality in the human heart is love. That quality comes from God. He is love (1 John 4:8). All His commands to us are summarized in the command to love God and love one another. "Love comes from God".

7. God desires a personal relationship with you. Since God is love, His primary desire for us is to receive His love. and to love Him in return. He wants to love us. Having a personal intimate relationship with God as our Heavenly Father is the most precious and beautiful of all things. It is the purpose of our existence. "Love the Lord your God with all your heart".

8. God is neither secular nor religious. We can see that different philosophies and religions try to define God to the best of their abilities. But God is bigger than any  particular person understands. He is bigger than any group of peoples. He loves all people. He is above religion and racism. He is not an "ism"; He IS! "I am that which I am".

9. God has a plan for a perfect world. We can all agree that there are so many problems in the world today. Those problems are the result of human disobedience and rebellion against God. But God is patiently working on the hearts of people. In the end, those who submit to His plan will be part of eternal paradise. "The Garden of Eden"...

10. God has a perfect plan for your life. Not only does God have a plan for a perfect world, He has a perfect plan for every individual. Not only will paradise be restored, but each person who submits to Him will be restored and made whole. "And God will wipe away every tear".

11. God is moral. God has not only good intentions, He also has clearly defined moral values. He is not corrupt, lustful, or evil. Our moral values came from Him. The Ten Commandments give a basic framework for His morals, in contrast with pagan mythologies describing gods who sin and act selfishly, and the sinful, corrupt hearts of men who reject Him. Those gods and men are not The God. "His judgments are righteous".

12. God is holy. God is more than good; more than moral. He is Holy. Holy means perfectly good combined with absolutely powerful. This level of purity is above anything human and anything found in creation. It is the transcendent glory of a perfect God. "Holy is the Lord".

These 12 Truths about God's identity and nature are just the beginning of discovering who He is to each one of us. They begin with establishing that God is real, and He does exist, and teach us that He is powerful, He loves us, He wants a personal relationship with us, and He is moral and holy. I'm not sure how many Christians could elucidate those qualities in a manner that painted an accurate picture of His Nature. But once we grasp the enormity of these tenets, there is so much more!

Once we've established that He wants a relationship with us, and wants to make Himself known to us, we are left with even more questions ... How would He reveal Himself? Would it be internally [only]? Or would He reveal Himself in nature, also? What about through other people? Or a specific, special person? Has He revealed Himself through history? Through prophecies? Do we know Him through dreams and visions? Or through writings? And if we are able to begin to get a concept of the greater revelations of who He is, what are His expectations of us? Each new level of the knowledge of God begets more questions, and if we are truly seeking to know more of Him, then it is crucial and essential that we search out the answers. He is worthy of the effort, and our time here on earth will be more fruitful as we receive the promises of our existence. 

Thank you to Asher Intrater for his insightful manner in which he presents the uncomplicated truth of God, always encouraging us to reach for more. I believe that we will not fully understand God until we are face-to-face with Him in eternity. But this life is so much sweeter in the pursuit of that knowledge. 

Psalm 14:2    The Lord has looked down from heaven upon the children of men to see if there are any who understand (act wisely), Who [truly] seek after God, [longing for His wisdom and guidance].


May 13, 2022

The Psalms: Knowing The Fullness of God's Character


I have found myself spending a lot of time reading the Psalms lately. I don't know, maybe it's the wide range of personal experiences that are shared, where I know I will find something that will minister to my spirit. It doesn't matter what is on my heart, there is a Psalm that will speak to me and oftentimes open up a conversation between me and Jesus... jubilation, praise, sorrow, war, peace, worship, judgment, messianic prophecy, tribulation, God's love, God's wrath, deliverance, salvation, healing, discipline, and damnation -- there is not a topic that Jesus and I have discussed that it is not present in the Psalms. 

In fact, my husband and I [who often examine separate portions of the Bible during our study time in the mornings] both found ourselves reading Psalms this morning. On the days when I can't stand to hear another news cast, it somehow comforts me to read the same descriptions of human flaws, folly, and failings that I see in the world today. If God could rescue them from themselves, then surely there's hope for us! And the Psalms share the whole spectrum of this volatile and glorious relationship with our Father in Heaven!   

And it is exactly that hope amidst the accounts of man's rebellion and God's discipline and love that I am grateful for and celebrate in the Bible! I can hear God speaking to me [and all of us] in both Psalm 118 ("His Steadfast Love Endures Forever") and Psalm 78 ("Tell the Coming Generation"). So, why do I often find myself at odds with other Christians who question why I contemplate the less than cheerful and joyous verses in this confirming Book of man's experiences with God? Why do they misunderstand my ability to look at the "Big Picture" and full counsel of God's witness -- both the destruction of man and the redeeming love God displays?

For instance, in Psalm 78, there are some pretty scary verses that tell us what God is capable of doing ... In spite of all this, they still sinned; despite His wonders, they did not believe. So He made their days vanish like a breath, and their years in terror. That should be enough to make anyone stop and assess where we stand today. After all, He is still the same God and the Bible makes it clear that His attributes and character never change... I, the Lord, do not change (Malachi 3:6). Yet, within that same Psalm, we read this: Yet He, being compassionate, atoned for their iniquity and did not destroy them; He restrained His anger often and did not stir up all His wrath. And so, I recognize the immutability of God -- that He is unchanging in His character, will and covenant promises. But that immutability defines ALL of God's attributes ... among them, His wisdom, His goodness, His mercy, His grace ... and His righteous wrath and anger.

Have you ever found yourself in discussions with a fellow Christian where they only want to consider the "feel good" verses about God's love and mercy and our ultimate victory in Christ? And do you ever sense that they think all you ever do is look for the bad in the Bible? I have yet to find a way to make myself adequately understood that it is exactly because I am grounded and anchored in His goodness and love that I am able to look upon His wrath and anger with no fear; understand what led up to His reaction; and then caution the Body of Christ to guard against the same sins. For me, it is understood -- it is a given -- that if I call myself a Believer, I know the Lord's love endures forever. If it didn't, He would have every reason to destroy us and start over. And if I didn't believe in His love and our victory, I wouldn't be able to encourage others to battle in their power and authority in Christ.

But being the same God as He was throughout Psalm 78, I must also caution us not take Him for granted! If we are reading the Bible in Truth and Spirit, then we must not fool ourselves into thinking we will be exempt from "vanishing like a breath", should we continue to test and rebel against the Most High God and do not keep His testimonies; if we turn away and act treacherously and deceitfully; if we anger Him with our "high places" and our idols. We must not think He will no longer consider delivering "His power to captivity, His glory to the hand of our foe."

For He is a jealous God and a righteous one! But He will uphold those who walk humbly in His ways; He will uphold us with His mighty right hand! The Bible represents a composite picture of our Most High God and it is important we behold Him in His fullness. If we only look at the verses that make us feel comfortable, we will miss out on the "tough love" that assures us He loves us enough to train us up in ways that secure our eternity with Him. So, if you think I only depict the "doom and gloom" of the Bible, I promise you that my faith is solidly rooted in the goodness, love, mercy, kindness, and grace of God. And it is from that position that I am not afraid to share His attribute of righteous judgment against those who rebel against Him. Make no mistake, I know what it is to fear the Lord [in all that means] and I praise Him for all that He is! 

Psalm 118: 15-16    Songs of joy and victory are sung in the camp of the godly. The strong right arm of the Lord has done glorious things! The strong right arm of the Lord is raised in triumph.


July 31, 2020

Are We At An Isaiah 3 Moment In Time?

     Before we can have a conversation on the prophecy of Isaiah 3, we must take a look at it. In it's historical context this chapter of Isaiah describes how the corrupt leadership in Judah brought about the collapse of the social conditions of the nation and Jerusalem. It contains Isaiah's prophecies that "For the sin of the people, God will take away the wise men, and give them foolish princes". But it is also an excellent profile of a society under judgment. Since our God is Immutable [He never changes], we can expect that His standards of Righteousness and Justice are constant, steadfast, firm and unwavering, right? So, let's read Isaiah's prophecy and see what we can discern ...

For behold, the Lord God of hosts is taking away from Jerusalem and from Judah support and supply, all support of bread, and all support of water;
the mighty man and the soldier, the judge and the prophet, the diviner and the elder,
the captain of fifty and the man of rank, the counselor and the skillful magician and the expert in charms.
And I will make boys their princes, and infants shall rule over them.
And the people will oppress one another, every one his fellow and every one his neighbor; the youth will be insolent to the elder, and the despised to the honorable.

For a man will take hold of his brother in the house of his father, saying: “You have a cloak; you shall be our leader, and this heap of ruins shall be under your rule”;
in that day he will speak out, saying: “I will not be a healer; in my house there is neither bread nor cloak; you shall not make me leader of the people.”
For Jerusalem has stumbled, and Judah has fallen, because their speech and their deeds are against the Lord, defying his glorious presence.

For the look on their faces bears witness against them; they proclaim their sin like Sodom; they do not hide it. Woe to them! For they have brought evil on themselves.
10 Tell the righteous that it shall be well with them, for they shall eat the fruit of their deeds.
11 Woe to the wicked! It shall be ill with him, for what his hands have dealt out shall be done to him.
12 My people—infants are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, your guides mislead you and they have swallowed up the course of your paths.

13 The Lord has taken his place to contend; he stands to judge peoples.
14 The Lord will enter into judgment with the elders and princes of his people: “It is you who have devoured the vineyard, the spoil of the poor is in your houses.
15 What do you mean by crushing my people, by grinding the face of the poor?” declares the Lord God of hosts.

16 The Lord said: Because the daughters of Zion are haughty and walk with outstretched necks, glancing wantonly with their eyes, mincing along as they go, tinkling with their feet,
17 therefore the Lord will strike with a scab the heads of the daughters of Zion, and the Lord will lay bare their secret parts.

18 In that day the Lord will take away the finery of the anklets, the headbands, and the crescents; 19 the pendants, the bracelets, and the scarves; 20 the headdresses, the armlets, the sashes, the perfume boxes, and the amulets; 21 the signet rings and nose rings; 22 the festal robes, the mantles, the cloaks, and the handbags; 23 the mirrors, the linen garments, the turbans, and the veils.

24  Instead of perfume there will be rottenness; and instead of a belt, a rope; and instead of well-set hair, baldness; and instead of a rich robe, a skirt of sackcloth; and branding instead of beauty.
25 Your men shall fall by the sword and your mighty men in battle.
26 And her gates shall lament and mourn;  empty, she shall sit on the ground.

     Can you recognize the judgment that has come upon the nation of Judah and her capital city, Jerusalem, for the mistreatment of its citizens? Isaiah warns that there will be a shortage of food, water, and competent government leaders, as well as military commanders, judges, church leaders, advisors, and even those involved in the art of deception. They will be deprived of godly, capable leaders in all these areas. In their place will rise up immature, child-like leaders to rule over them.

     To make matters worse, oppression and conflict arise between the people; the youth disrespect their elders, and men of good reputation are treated with contempt and disdain. Does any of this sound familiar? Not only are we seeing shortages in our food supply, but we suffer from a vast poverty of righteous men to lead this nation. That includes those who practice the art of deception, as in the Media. Not to mention the incredible insolence and rebellion of the younger generation on the streets of our nation, and the deplorable treatment of the Attorney General of this nation by members of Congress.

     Isaiah's pronouncement of God's judgment is against a sinful and rebellious Judah. And remember, that God never changes. Because of our rebellion against YHWH's righteousness [through our practices of abortion, sex trafficking, pornography industry, and general immorality and debauchery], might we not expect God to bring judgment upon our nation by imposing ungodly, incompetent leaders, resulting in a breakdown of order in our society? We are certainly seeing it in cities like Portland, Seattle, and Minneapolis! Oppression among the people is evident everywhere!

     As verse 6 shows us, the people become so desperate for a return to normalcy, that they will accept even the smallest image of competency as qualifications of a leader. But things have deteriorated so badly, that no man wants the job. The words and deeds of people declare their rebellion against God, and sin is openly displayed; there is no shame or recognition of their offense against YHWH. But we cannot blame God for the mess we're in; we've brought it upon ourselves. God just left this nation to the desires of its heart.

     We are a nation that revels in its prosperity. But the leaders have become rich on the impoverishment of its citizens. The middle class is disappearing and the rich get richer. The Lord asks, "What do you mean by crushing my people and grinding the face of the poor?" A nation such as this will find themselves subject to the judgment of the Lord God. And I find it interesting that the prophet Isaiah spends a good portion of his prophecy warning against the gluttony and haughtiness of the women of Judah. I can certainly attest to the change in attitude and of women in my lifetime. I lived through the "Women's Liberation" era that fostered the intellectual concepts that women were equal to men; that they had a right to do with their bodies as they wished; to seek after power and influence; and that in the end, they didn't really need men to be whole or successful or fulfilled as women. Somewhere I have read that when the women of a culture become degenerate and ungodly, then the hope for the next generation is gone. But when the women of a culture turn to the Lord and His ways, then there is hope for the future.

     Please, do not misunderstand me -- I do not subscribe to women being mindless subjects of men. But our God has designed us all, both men and women alike, with a purpose for His Kingdom, and we are the most fruitful for the Kingdom when we honor and respect each other, seeking to raise Godly children together, and to glorify the Lord in humility and service. Outward appearances; lust for power and luxury; and rebellion instead of obedience, never result in a thriving culture.

     So, while I hope and pray that God will grant us mercy, I recognize that, by His Holy standards, this nation deserves any judgment He might decide to inflict upon us. I hope that a great revival might sweep this land, but I'm afraid I'm not as clear on that probability as many of today's modern prophets. I certainly do not see that prophecy in the Bible. There are plenty of prophecies of revival and reformation from the Old Testament prophets, but my discernment reveals them as pertaining to Israel and/or Jerusalem. That being said, I DO take great comfort and hope in Isaiah 3:10, Tell the righteous that it shall be well with them, for they shall eat the fruit of their deeds.

     We know, that as the truly righteous, we do not share the same fate as the wicked and rebellious. I believe God's promises to protect and bless those who obey His commandments. If we truly "Seek the Kingdom first [make it our priority] and righteousness, all our needs will be met". That includes safety in times of peril; nourishment in times of impoverishment; health in times of illness; and faith in times of doubt and unbelief. We will receive the rewards of our work on behalf of the Kingdom; if not in the present, then certainly in eternity.

     In summation, we must not ignore the righteous standards God has established since the beginning of time. And we must understand that He is a Righteous and Just God, and judgment is coming on those nations that do not turn away from rebellion against Him and His holy principles. I know that Isaiah 3 is aimed at Judah and Jerusalem, but we are foolish if we are unable to look in the mirror and see the unsettling likeness.  God will not cut us any slack! Lord God, deliver us from our rebellious nature and flagrantly and obstinately refusing to change our course of action. Have mercy on us!

Matthew 5:44-45    But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,



June 18, 2020

"Why Doesn't God Fix All This?"

     We are now several months into a "new normal" centered around the existence of Covid-19, and several weeks into civil unrest as our nation struggles with how to reinvent law and order in a civilized society. At this point in time, there are new threats of a second phase of the pandemic, and our cities and streets look anything but civilized. Voices are raised in dispute and conflicting ideologies and philosophies. It's clear that change needs to happen; we can no longer turn a blind eye to injustice -- there are too many instances of bad apples spoiling the entire crop, and reform is necessary. But at the same time, violence and lawlessness will not achieve reconciliation nor reformation. It never does. So, the pressure [and panic] is beginning to build in the souls and spirits of Christians across the land, and Mark and I are hearing a lament starting to rise from the ranks ... Why doesn't God just come down and fix this? We've been praying 2 Chronicles 7:14 and He's been silent!
     This is where we always have to have the conversation about the difference between God is in control and God is in control of everything. And this is where the Church needs to do a better job of defining what God's Sovereignty really looks like. So, it's time for me to brush off a post I wrote in September 2016, and update it for the year 2020.
     At first, you may think those two statements express the same idea, but the truth about this theological doctrine is, in reality, more complex. But, let's start with this idea ... I think we can agree that, as followers of Christ, we believe that God is Sovereign and Supreme in all aspects of the Universe that He created.  But what exactly does that mean? It is my understanding that God's Sovereignty means He has the ability to exercise His will in unlimited power and ways. But does that mean He always acts or carries out His will? 
     It is also my opinion that God’s Supremacy is unrestricted, but I also believe that the Sovereignty of God means He can set parameters as He desires. In other words, ultimately God can be in complete control of all things [if He so chooses], though He may choose to let certain events happen according to limits He has established -- again, a matter of His Sovereignty.  So, I believe that God is totally independent and does as He pleases, without having to answer to us.  In fact, Psalm 115:3 says, "Our God is in the heavens. He does whatever He pleases". (As one of my favorite theologians and deliverance ministers, Dr. Charles Kraft, says, "God doesn't [have to] answer Why questions from us").  Then, it is apparent that the next question is, "What might some of those limits be that He has established for Himself?"
     First of all, here is a very important aspect of God's Nature that we need to grasp -- God cannot do anything that goes against His own character.  He can't lie; He can't be tempted by evil; He keeps every promise He makes; He can't contradict Himself; and He won't revoke what He has given or promised us... and that includes our free will -- [In other words, He doesn't pick and choose when He will offer free will. It is an absolute for everyone!] That speaks to His character trait of Immutability -- He does not change.  So that inherently means that if He has given us free will, He will not take it back, nor infringe upon it... no matter how badly He wants to change our actions or the decisions we make. He will remain Sovereign, as He extends free will to us.
     The Bible is full of Scripture and examples of man using his free will to go against the will of God... Adam and Eve chose to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; the nation of Israel (God's favored people) chose to rebel and follow after false gods. King Ahab chose to abandon his worship of YHWH to follow after his wife, Queen Jezebel, and bow down to her pagan gods, Ba'al and Asherah, purging Israel of the prophets sent by God. Do you think any of these outcomes is what God desired, or what best served His purpose? Could God, in His Sovereignty, have made Eve reject the serpent's temptation? Or closed the hearts and minds of the Israelites to the snare of the foreign gods? Of course, He could have! But He, in His Sovereignty, chose NOT to! And don't ask WHY?!? Remember, He doesn't owe us an explanation. But if we study His character and His Word long enough we can get some clues.
     So, fast forward to this nation and its history ... Do you think God wanted to see this nation adopt the evil practice of slavery, or exhibit racism towards our fellow man? Do you think He likes seeing our prisons filling up, poor policing practices that result in ever more deaths, increasing disrespect for the "good guys" in law enforcement, or the chaos and anarchy that offer no real solutions? Could He step in and "fix it", as so many of my fellow Christians are imploring Him to do? Yes, but that would violate one of the most precious gifts He has given us... our free will to choose good over evil.
     And if He makes our choices for us, then we are nothing more than robots who have made no choice of our own to please God -- He has made every choice for us, and how does that either please or glorify Him, or represent His Magnificence? Ephesians 1:5-6 explains it better than I can: He destined us to be adopted as His children through the covenant Jesus the Anointed inaugurated in His sacrificial life. This was His pleasure and His will for us. Ultimately God is the one worthy of praise [glory] for showing us His grace; He is merciful and marvelous, freely giving us these gifts in His Beloved.
     By allowing us to make that choice for ourselves, we find worth in our own life, as well as magnifying His. You see, God always acts in the freedom of His own Sovereignty, and He wants us to act righteously in the freedom He has given us. God doesn't want to be in control of everything!  He wants a partner, not a puppet!  He made us in His image and He wants us to act like it!  He sent His Son into this evil world, and transferred His power to Jesus to establish God's Kingdom on earth. Then Jesus transferred His power to us, and here we are 2,000 years later, with scarcely an idea that we possess that power, let alone know how to use it.  It is not God's will that our nation be in the shape it is in, nor that we suffer in our lives from all the slings and arrows of the Enemy -- who, make no mistake, is roaming our land like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.
     And I want to make something clear ... God is not a victim of the circumstances we find ourselves in. No, we've done a pretty good job of making ourselves the victims of our own pride, prejudices, and power. He will not be mocked or blamed. He will never be coerced into doing something out of our anger or attempts to find fault with Him. And believe me, there are plenty of people angry at Him for what they see on their nightly news, and are crying out for Him to FIX THIS!
     But I would point you to two Scriptures that should have everyone looking in the mirror ... Proverbs 22:8 says, Those who sow injustice reap disaster, and their methods of oppression will fail. And Job 4:8 says, As I have seen, those who plow wickedness, and those who sow trouble and harm [will] harvest it. I think that just about sums up both sides of the battle lines that have been drawn.
     As Christians, we must realize that God created this world for His good pleasure in seeing His creation emulate Him. And it pleases Him when we choose justice and righteousness. But there was a wrong choice made in the Garden that introduced Evil into our world, and we now find ourselves battling an emboldened foe who is capitalizing on how mankind has chosen to use his free will. Do not blame God and lay at His feet what the Enemy has sown into hearts. Mankind has chosen its own destiny! We have been given the choice whether to obey God, or not. We have been allowed to decide if we will love our fellow man, or choose to continue to hate.
     Right now, on the streets of America, and across the globe, we are reaping the consequences of 2000 years of choices made by man's free will. Not everyone is guilty of the bad choices made, but we must come to terms with the truth that we have a spiritual Enemy who is instigating and stirring up violent sentiments and courses of action against the people of God, because He knows his time is short. The idea of fairness or Christian righteousness does not deter him; he is not afraid of us. He knows the Scriptures that say he will align with, and dominate and control, those who are in rebellion to God. So, his goal is to grow the number of the rebellious for his kingdom of darkness.
     But we speak to the devil from Genesis 50:20, saying, "As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present outcome, that many people would be kept alive [as they are this day]." Yes, the devil is deceiving those attempting to achieve chaos at all costs. Yes, God could come down here and fix it; snap His fingers and hearts would automatically be changed. But He has limited Himself in order to allow people to examine their own hearts and choose Him over the devil.
     Man was created to glorify God by intentionally choosing Him. Our goal in this time of wickedness and chaos is to take what the devil is sowing in hearts and counter it with the loving heart of Christ. It's a race to the finish line -- the Lord desires to keep names out of the Book of the Dead, and add names to the Book of Life before the Day of Reckoning. But it all centers around the choices that man makes -- whether to use that precious gift of free will to glorify the One who created us -- or to exalt ourselves and our own desires. Why doesn't God fix all this? Because the decision is ours whether to "let our light shine before men in such a way that they may see our good deeds and moral excellence, and [recognize and honor and] glorify our Father who is in heaven" -- or not.

Joshua 24:15    If it is unacceptable in your sight to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve ... but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

May 17, 2020

Do You Know The Fullness of God? -- Part One

     I want to begin a series of articles that will explore the fullness of God because I have been finding myself increasingly focused on pressing into my Father in Heaven in order to gain the most from our relationship. Mind you, it's not all about me and what He can give me, but more about my desire to honor all that He is. And by honoring Him with a fuller and broader understanding of His identity, I know my life will surely be blessed.
     I would venture that most of us have a pretty limited view of the dimensions of God and His Nature. Most likely, that view is biased, depending on what our relationship with our earthly father has been. Granted, our human fathers can have many dimensions, too: loving, generous, strict, athletic, self-centered, angry, critical, encouraging, good provider .... well, you get the picture. They are usually a mixed bag of strengths and weaknesses that can inhibit our impression of the fullness of God.
     I will tell you that as I have researched how God inspired the writers of the Bible to represent Him, I am blown away at the sheer number of ways He is described. And my spirit has rejoiced at the understanding of these names and their meanings. It has opened up a whole new way to pray! Now I can go right to YHWH's heart and address Him in the particular manner and with the particular name that represents the issue I'm praying about. When I'm conversing with God by using the proper name, I know exactly whom I'm talking with, and am able to receive counsel in the correct context. I believe that knowing His names and their meanings can not only enhance our prayer life and create a deeper intimacy with God, but help us to take direct aim at the Enemy in our spiritual battles.
     So, allow me to introduce you to the depth of the God that we love and serve. Over the next couple of posts or so, I want to share some of the Hebrew names of God that illustrate His innumerable and limitless attributes. And I will share a Scripture that shows the use of each name in the Bible. Doubtless, you will be familiar with some of the names and their meanings, but I hope to expand that knowledge and show you a broader scope of our Sovereign God. And as I reveal more unfamiliar appellations, I doubt that you will be able to read the Bible in the same way again.

Jehovah Rapha: The God Who Heals -- This is a name well-known among Believers who are determined to do the works that Jesus did; to see the power of God demonstrated in His ability to heal through them. Exodus 15:26 finds God making a promise to the Israelites; a promise that is as real to us today as it was then ... “If you will diligently listen to the voice of the Lord your God, and do that which is right in his eyes, and give ear to his commandments and keep all his statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you that I put on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, your healer.”  
      There is no greater "high" for my spirit than to boldly walk into a hospital room where a man lays dying of cancer, and the spirit of death fills the room, and to be able to call his spirit forward and speak life into it by the power of God that is in him as a Believer. And then to quietly leave and hear reports from the family that he rallied and the doctors are mystified!

Jehovah Jireh: The God Who Provides --  I am concerned that we don't see the depth of this name of the Lord. We may often use this name when asking for financial help, and use it to meet our temporal needs. But looked at within the context of Genesis 22, we find Abraham's use of this sacred name to be life-giving. After being obedient to God's call to sacrifice his precious son, Isaac -- the child of Promise and his old age -- God stops Abraham from sacrificing Isaac and supplies a substitute burnt offering in the form of a ram. In verse 14, the Bible reads, So Abraham called the name of that place, “The Lord will provide”; as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.”      
     But there is another dimension to God in this story; it is more than His Goodness to spare Isaac. It is that He saw Abraham's obedience and knew how much He loved his son, yet the patriarch was willing to be true to his covenant with God, no matter the personal cost.  And then God acted to have a ram ready to replace Abraham's precious son.... God saw the need and He showed up. He's not an indifferent God.

Jehovah Sabaoth: The Lord of Hosts -- "Hosts" is a word that means a company of angels, and oftentimes is defined in military terms, as an "army"; specifically the heavenly angelic army, of which The Lord is the commander. That is true. The Lord is a mighty warrior who will exhibit His Might upon the unrepentant, as in Psalm 59:5, You, Lord God of hosts, are God of Israel. Rouse Yourself to punish all the nations; spare none of those who treacherously plot evil.  Again, in Isaiah 28:22, we see that same picture of the Lord of Hosts: Now therefore do not scoff, lest your bonds be made strong; for I have heard a decree of destruction from the Lord God of hosts against the whole land.
     But did you know that Hannah, the mother of the prophet Samuel was the first to call God by this name? And it had nothing to do with His identification as a mighty warrior. In her struggle with barrenness, Hannah had turned to the Lord in prayer. 1 Samuel 1:11 records this: And she vowed a vow and said, “O Lord of hosts, if you will indeed look on the affliction of your servant and remember me and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a son, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and no razor shall touch his head.  
     I believe that Hannah understood that the Lord could create from nothing. She knew that every atom and molecule, every cell in her body could be commanded to produce a son just by the voice and command of the Lord of Heavenly Armies. If He spoke it, it would be executed and He would sustain it. This was not a battle to conquer lands, but a battle to create something from nothing, and she believed in the name of Jehovah Sabaoth to see it accomplished.

Jehovah Nissi: The Lord is My Banner -- This name is most closely associated with Moses overseeing the battle between the Israelites and the Amalekites as the ragtag army of Israel fought their way to the Promised Land. In Exodus 17:11, Scripture says, Whenever Moses held up his hand [which held the staff of God], Israel prevailed, and whenever he lowered his hand, Amalek prevailed. When the Israelite men saw this, they rallied behind Joshua, and verse 13 says, And Joshua overwhelmed Amalek and his people with the sword.
     It is important that we recognize that as Israel traveled through the lands of their enemies they knew their God was with them; His very presence was evident in the pillar of fire and the cloud of smoke. But on this day, they knew for the first time, that He was with them in battle. They understood that He fought for them, He led them into battle, He protected them, and He conquered their enemy. It was a day to remember! Exodus 17:15 says, And Moses built an altar and called the name of it, The Lord Is My Banner. 
     So, do you recognize that the Lord is your banner? Do you trust Him to fight for you, to lead you into your spiritual battles, to protect you, and to conquer your enemy, the devil and his demons? And do you raise a banner to Him -- letting the world know that He is your God; that you celebrate and praise Him; making a declaration that you belong to Him? He is our banner, and we are the Lord's!

Jehovah Qanna: The God Who Is Jealous -- God made sure we knew how much store He puts in the covenants He makes with those He calls His own. We first see this name mentioned in the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20... You shall not bow down to them [false gods] or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate Me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love Me and keep My commandments. 
     Throughout the Old Testament, God depicts His covenant with Israel in the nature of a marriage. He is a devoted husband, caring for and protecting and providing for his beloved wife. In the person of Jesus, He is even willing to die for her! But He warns her that He will not tolerate her adultery with other gods; there will be consequences as stated in the Ten Commandments. Joshua reiterates this in Joshua 24:19 as He admonishes them to choose whom they will serve: But Joshua said to the people, “You are not able to serve the Lord, for he is a holy God. He is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions or your sins.  
     Do we, in the 21st Century, fully understand that He is still a jealous God, demanding our complete allegiance and devotion? Or do we spread our love around among the false gods of this world -- wealth, power, status, addiction, self? We would do well to remember the warning He has given us -- love Him and Him alone and He will be faithful with a steadfast love. Decide to bow down or serve anyone else but Him, and our generations will suffer separation from Him. 

Jehovah Shalom: The Lord Is Our Peace -- I could find evidence of this name of God only once in the Bible. Yet, I find it interesting that "Shalom" and it's meaning of peace is used quite commonly among Believers. But when we read about the circumstances under which this name of God is revealed in the Old Testament, it carries more significance than we give it today.
     In Judges 6, Gideon is called by God to defeat the Midianites, who have been oppressing the Israelites. In fact, the angel of the Lord greets Gideon by saying, The Lord is with you, O mighty man of valor. This is the speech of war, not peace, as we know it. Gideon doubts that this calling is truly from the Lord and asks for proof. God provides the proof by sending fire to produce a burnt offering upon the meat and unleavened cakes Gideon had placed upon a rock. The Bible records in Judges 6:22-24 that Gideon perceived that he was the angel of the Lord. And Gideon said, “Alas, O Lord God! For now I have seen the angel of the Lord face to face.” But the Lord said to him, “Peace be to you. Do not fear; you shall not die.” Then Gideon built an altar there to the Lord and called it, The Lord Is Peace. To this day it still stands at Ophrah, which belongs to the Abiezrites.
     But that's not the end of the story! The word "Shalom" is a derivative of a Hebrew word that means "sound" or "complete", and in its own sense means "absence of strife". The result of Gideon recognizing Jehovah Shalom was that he no longer doubted that the Lord was leading him; he had no fear to complete assignments God gave him to tear down the altar to Baal and the Asherah poles that accompanied it, and to build an altar to the Lord where they had stood. We must understand the fullness of that name, Jehovah Shalom. It gives us confidence that comes from the harmonious state of body, soul and spirit to receive the power from the Lord to be "mighty men and women of valor". We are not to sit idle in our state of peace, but trust [in confidence and wholeness] that we can carry out assignments from the Lord. 
     Finally, Shalom comes from the root word Shalam, which means "to finish, complete, repay, reward". It denotes perfection in the sense that a condition or action is complete. And once we recognize that perfection and completeness are attributed to the power of God, we know we can enter into a relationship with Him that will provide the power and peace our souls and spirits seek.

    These are just a few of the names of God with which we are most familiar. The next post we will explore less common names, but that are nevertheless accurate portrayals of the magnitude of Almighty God. This may not "stir your soul" as some more exciting topics might, but I would ask you to consider that it pleases our Father when we seek to recognize [and then utilize] His unique and distinguished names. He wants us to know more about Him. And as we begin to incorporate these powerful names in our prayers and daily conversations with Him, I believe we will see a growing manifestation of His presence in every aspect of our lives. Be blessed with the magnificence and greatness of our God!

Proverbs 18:10      The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe.

February 25, 2020

God's Prospicience In His Provision

     Hmmm... never heard that word prospicience before? I hadn't either until my meditation on the healing properties of frankincense oil took me on a Scriptural and spiritual journey. It went something like this: suffering from sinus drainage caused by allergies, I turned to my essential oil of frankincense which possesses antiseptic and astringent properities [among other healing and therapeutic attributes], and I began to think about how long this aromatic resin of the Boswellia tree has been beneficial and valuable. Of course, my thoughts then turned to Christianity's most familiar idea of frankincense, as part of the trio of precious gifts brought to the Christ child by the three Wise Men. But, before I explain the prospicience of these gifts, let's learn a little more about the significance of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. It goes without saying that gold was -- and remains -- a valuable commodity. But what about the other two?

     According to a website called Herb & Root, Frankincense and Myrrh are both tree resins, or gummy sap that oozes from the bark of two different trees native to the Arabian Peninsula and Northeast Africa. Incisions are made in the bark of the tree during important times of year, and the sap pours out and is collected.
     The sacred trees that produce Frankincense and Myrrh are almost impossible to grow outside of the Arabian Peninsula, which meant they were constantly in short supply and high demand in the ancient world. According to a famous Roman historian, the sap made the Arabians the richest people on earth by Jesus’s time, and more valuable than gold. Frankincense alone is responsible for creating the trade routes linking southern Arabia to India, the Mediterranean, and the Silk Road in China.
     It's not hard to understand that these gifts were brought to honor the baby Jesus. In fact, the three "Wise Men" were actually three "Magi" or spiritual advisors [also known as dream interpreters]. They held the same position as the magicians/astrologers/dream interpreters who Daniel competed with in the court of King Nebuchadnezzar. And I don't think it is too far off base to speculate that during the 70 years Daniel remained in captivity in Babylon, he taught the prophecy of a coming King of the Jews to his fellow maji and the expectation was handed down through the generations.
     Anyway, in Matthew 2, these maji came looking for the "child who is born King of the Jewish people", and they came bearing valuable gifts representing one kingdom (the Roman empire, having been sent by King Herod) to another (the Kingdom of God). They believed in the prophecy of a coming King and they came to bow before Him in worship.
     But I've always struggled with reconciling this image of gold, frankincense and myrrh being brought to the manger in which the baby Jesus was born. There has to be more to the story than they believed in an ancient prophecy and that this child was the fulfillment of it. I understand that, culturally, this would have been the appropriate gift to bring before any new recognized king, It just seems strange that a young, poor couple from the backwaters of the Roman empire would receive such treasure, and what happened to those valuable gifts?  Ahhh, that's where prospicience comes in.
     The word means "seeing ahead; knowing in advance; foreseeing". And I believe it is another characteristic of God; similar to His omniscience, which means "knowing everything". You see, God does know everything; He knows the beginning from the end. He says, in Isaiah 46:10, I declare from the beginning how it will end and foretell from the start what has not yet happened. I decree that my purpose will stand, and I will fulfill my every plan.
     God sees time and history differently than we do. We see it as a linear span; progressing from one point to the next. Time is multi-dimensional to God, and He sees it from a different perspective, having created it, and He can move in and out of it according to His will. He can see into the future, while still in the present, and can act in advance and deal with a coming situation to provide our every need when we need it. That's exactly what prospicience is and what He did for Joseph and his new, little family.
     You see, God foresaw that the government of Rome would not yield to His heavenly government's appearance on earth in the person of the infant, Jesus. He foresaw that Herod would try to kill the child and that it would be necessary for Joseph to escape with his family into Egypt, where Herod's power did not extend. Furthermore, they would be there for awhile as essentially refugees; [NOTE: Historical opinions as to how long the family remained in Egypt vary substantially; everything from one year in the History of Joseph, to eight years, according to Baronius, an Italian cardinal and
ecclesiastical historian of the Roman Catholic Church]. But regardless of how long they were there, Joseph would need to provide for his family while they traveled to Egypt [and back] and to pay expenses for as long as the family remained away from their homeland. The valuable gifts from the three maji would certainly have provided those necessary means of survival in a strange land. 
      Now, I know that there is no Chapter or verse that substantiates this theory, and I do not claim that it represents the truth of Scripture. But I believe that it has as much credibility as the unprovable traditions mainstream Christianity purports today, namely: as referred to in the Christmas carol, "We Three Kings" the gifts symbolize three aspects of Christ's future life. The gold represents kingship; frankincense represents worship, and myrrh stands for death and mourning. Or try this one: Mary and Joseph used the gold to pay for the stable; the frankincense to perfume it; and the myrrh as an ointment for the newborn baby. 
     I know the Bible is full of symbolism and allegory, but in this case, I believe that once we see the bigger picture of why the maji from the East understood the prophecy of the King of the Jews being born, and why it was expedient for Joseph to flee to Egypt to escape the long arm of Roman rule, it is not out of the realm of possibility that God predetermined to have valuable gifts brought to the Christ child that would provide Joseph with the resources to support his family until he could return to Nazareth and resume his work as a carpenter. 
     Whether my theory has any significance is not the purpose of this blog. Rather, it is to come to a higher understanding that God sees and knows and works in the dimensions of time, and while we may not perceive what He is doing, we can trust, just like Joseph did, that He is moving several steps ahead of us. He can foresee our future and He can act in advance to give us favor and provision at just the right moment. I invite you to look back over your life and see all the instances when His prospicience overtook you and confirmed His presence in your life.... and then thank and praise Him!

Matthew 2:11     And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary, His mother, and they fell down and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered Him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.