Adonai – My LORD

This name for God is, well, it’s more than a name. It actually speaks more of relationship with God. The other names of God, Elohim, El Rappha, El Elyon, that we have studied thus far are names of God whether we choose to recognize them or not. But if God is your Adonai that is personal. That means He is Lord over your life, over all aspects of your life.

Adonai is the plural form of the word Adon. Adon means master, lord and in most cases it would be referring to a slave and his master. Whereas Adonai is the plural form it could be pointing to the Trinity, God, the Father, God, the Son and the Holy Spirit. But it is also pointing to submitting all of yourself, everything you have, your future, your past, your present to the Lord. It speaks of being God’s total possession and the only way to that is through our total submission.

Abram was the first who referred to God as Adonai. It comes in the book of Genesis, specifically in Chapter 15 verses 1 – 6. It was when the Lord promised Abram that his offspring would outnumber the stars. Abram recognized that God had lordship over him. Not just that He was God, Elohim, El Elyon but that He was his Lord, his Adonai.

“Abram said, O Lord God, what will you give me, since I am childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” Genesis 15:2

I can be guilty of not giving Him total submission. He may be Adonai to me in one area of my life, but am I allowing Him to be Adonai over all of my life? So many times when I realize things aren’t working out the way I want them to, and definitely not the way that feels best for me, if I look deep I realize it is because I am wanting to fix it rather than give it over to Him. We already saw that one of God’s names is Jealous. He is Jealous for us in that He wants all of us. Not just our Sunday mornings and occasional bible studies here and there. He wants to be Lord of our lives. He wants my submission of all the good, the bad and the ugly, hurt places. You know sometimes I find it easy to hand Him my hurt places and maybe hold close to me the good times and tend to want to do my own will rather than submit to Him.

Today I am praying that I hand it all to Him, I am going to lay it at the feet of Jesus and crawl up into my Abba~Daddy’s lap and I am going to say My Lord and give it all over to Him. You know what’s so great about God. There is room for you to do the same.

Abba ~ Daddy!

We saw yesterday that Jesus introduced the idea of addressing His Father as Father to the disciples. One of the first places that He did that inclusively of the disciples is in Matthew when He was teaching the disciples to pray.

“Pray then like this: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.’” Matthew 6:9

Jesus let them know right then that while Jesus was truly God’s Son, that we were inclusive of that right, or at least we would be. Paul goes on further to explain it to us in Romans 8.

In the first eleven verses of chapter 8 of Romans Paul taught that there were only two types of people, those who live by the flesh and those who live by the Spirit. When we are born, we are born with a selfish, sinful nature. I have a brand new baby granddaughter, and believe me she seems perfect in every way. It is hard to imagine when you cuddle her and look into her sweet face that she will ever have a sinful nature. But the fact is, that as she grows that will reveal itself eventually. It does for us all. But one day we pray that she will accept Jesus into her heart and she will no longer live by that sinful nature. When we accept what Jesus did for us on the cross and we become children of God, we then can live by the Spirit. It’s like this, before we accept Jesus we are living like a slave in God’s kingdom. A slave gets food from the master, and may live in the master’s house or at least on his land, but does not get to enjoy the benefits of the children of the master. But once you accept Jesus you are then adopted by God and get to enjoy all the benefits of being God’s child just as Jesus is God’s child. You get to sit at the table!

“For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs-heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.” Romans 8:15-17

Let that wash over you today. If you have accepted Jesus then you are a child of God, adopted into His family. We are fellow heirs with Christ! And that means we get to call God Abba! Father! Calling Him Abba is like calling Him Daddy! It’s not formal, it’s not stuffy! It’s like crawling up into your Daddy’s lap when things aren’t going right and you just need your Daddy. I talk a lot about laying things at the feet of Jesus, but sometimes I need more, I don’t need to just lay it down, I need my Daddy’s lap.

One of the sweetest things I love about staying with my son’s family or when they come to my house is the morning and seeing my grandchildren crawl up and snuggle with my son. My granddaughter left my lap one morning and looked over her shoulder at me and said “I want my daddy.” It is so precious to me to see them feel safe and snuggle with him in the mornings and to know that he is making them feel safe and loved.

Don’t miss the privilege that not only do we receive our salvation from Jesus, but because of what He did for us on the cross that we get to call God our Father! Our Abba! Our Daddy! We are no longer slaves to fear, we are no longer slaves to our sinful nature, the flesh. But we are adopted into the kingdom of God!

“And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’ So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.” Galatians 4:6

Hold your head up today my friend! If things are tough, close your eyes and go sit in your Daddy’s lap and tell Him! Then walk into the day as a child of the King because you have just spent time with your Daddy!

Abba – Father

Before Jesus, the Jewish people would never have even considered calling God Father. God was considered the father of the Israelites, the Jewish nation yet, they would have thought that was too intimate a term to call God. The first recording of Jesus referring to God as Father was in Luke when the boy Jesus was left behind as his family started home to Nazareth. The family would have been traveling in a caravan of family members and friends and they probably assumed Jesus was among other family members, yet when they couldn’t find Him they returned to Jerusalem to look for Him. Three days later they finally found Him in the temple sitting among the religious leaders of the day. Jesus was only twelve years old yet there He was sitting among religious leaders and asking questions. When his parents questioned Him, Jesus responded 

“And he said to them, ‘Why were you looking for me? Did you not know I that I must be in my Father’s house?’” Luke 2:49

This was Jesus first recorded reference to God as Father. He would go on in His earthly ministry to model and to teach the disciples to call God Father and to think of God as Father too. In turn, when Jesus was baptized by John, as He was coming out of the water we hear God affirming Jesus right to call Him Father. 

“And behold, a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.’” Matthew 3:17

Now Jesus would have had the rights even without affirmation. But maybe, just maybe this was what the people of that day, and maybe even us needed to see and to believe in Jesus’ rights to call God Father. 

Jesus goes on to teach the disciples many times to call God Father. In John when Jesus was trying to explain to the disciples that He would be departing but that they knew the way, he put it this way. 

“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him!’” John 14:6-7

He goes on 

“Jesus said to him, ‘Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?” John 14:9-10

Jesus calling God Father to them, was one of those things that had to be taught over time. The idea that they couldn’t have called God Father would have been deeply Ingrained. But our study today is really about the word Abba. 

Abba Father is an even more intimate term for God. It’s not just calling God Father, it is calling God “Daddy”. Young children usually always call their fathers Daddy. As we grow up I have heard some people eventually shorten the term to Dad but when children are younger they almost always say Daddy. It’s an intimate term, that conjures up images of a strong father comforting his children. We see Jesus use this term in the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus had gone there to pray to His Father the night before His crucifixion. He knew what was about to happen and in His despair, he fell on the ground and prayed. 

“And he said, ‘Abba, Father all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.’” Mark 14:36

Jesus knew what was coming. He was fully God and fully man. He knew that He was about to be led like sheep to a slaughter and in His manhood, he cried out to His Daddy! Tomorrow we will look at our rights to call Him Daddy too! 

El Elyon – the Father and the Son

“Just as you cannot separate the sun from its brilliance, you cannot separate the Son’s radiance from the glory of His Father.” ~ Wendy Blight

“He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.” Hebrews 1:1-3

One of the hardest things to understand in christianity is also one of the most wonderful things about christianity, the trinity. How are God, the Father, Jesus, the Son and the Holy Spirit one in 3 persons? I don’t really know the answer to that, I just know it to be true because scripture says it. 

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” John 10:27-30 

In this passage Jesus had been asked who He was. He had told them before and they didn’t believe them so He answered them by telling them first of all that they had already been told and didn’t believe, but that everything about Him would bear witness to the Father. I love how He goes further and is telling them, my sheep will know me, they will know my voice. But also isn’t it great to know that if you know Him, that you, your circumstances, your life, are in the Father’s hands and no one can snatch them out of His hands. 

To me knowing that all things filter through His hands, even the things in my life that don’t feel good, the circumstances in my life that hurt and are hard, somehow makes it more bearable. One of my favorite ever verses in the Bible can be found in Romans. 

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

In my feeble mind sometimes there are hurts that are hard to reconcile to that. How do you tell a mother who has had to bury a child that all things work for good? How do you tell someone who is young, who has had to bury both parents that all things work together for good? First of all, I think we just keep turning it over to Him. When things get hard and it hurts, I pray for God to show me His goodness and His glory. And when I know people who have hurts that are bigger than my mind can conceive I keep  asking God to hold them and to show them His goodness and glory. And you know what? If I, if we, if they will keep going back to Him I believe He will do it. I can’t explain how He does it. I just know He does if we give it to Him. 

Before Jesus died on the cross, He prayed a prayer that is recorded in the Gospel of John in chapter 17. He was talking to His Father about the people who had been given to Him then, as well as the people who would be given to Him in the future (us). 

“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” John 17:20-21

Jesus prayed for us, that we would know the Father, just as He knows the Father and just as they are one, that we may be one with them! Isn’t that incredible! Just as Ms. Wendy says that the Son’s radiance can’t be separated from the Father, we should be radiating the Father as well! We should be letting the light of Jesus and the Father shine through us. We get to be a part of His glory! 

Who is El Elyon? ~ The Most High God! Let that sit with you today and remember that You get to radiate the glory of the Most High God today and that nothing that you encounter can snatch you out of His hand. He’s got you! 

El Elyon – My Refuge

In the book of Daniel in chapter 4 there is a story that is being recounted by King Nebuchadnezzar. King Nebuchadnezzar was the king of Babylon at the time that the Israelites were taken captive there. He had four young Hebrew men in his court that you may have heard of Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. Babylon and King Nebuchadnezzar had enjoyed great wealth which the king had mistakenly attributed to himself. If you go back and you read chapters 1 – 3 of the book of Daniel, it seems to me that God had tried to get the king’s attention a few times already. In fact chapter 3 gives the story of the 3 young men in that fiery furnace you may have heard about. However, our story today is in chapter 4. 

Now this is a recount, a testimony by the king himself. 

“King Nebuchadnezzar to all peoples, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth: Peace be multiplied to you! It has seemed good to me to show the signs and wonders that the Most High God has done for me.” Daniel 4:1-2

The king had a dream, actually this was his second one that only Daniel would be able to interpret. At first the king had all the wise men in Babylon come to him to try to interpret the dream but they couldn’t. So the king finally sends for Daniel. Now since Daniel had already interpreted dreams for the king, I am not sure why he was the last person that the king sent for, but then, I could say that about my own life too sometimes. Why do I put myself in positions to have to relearn things the Lord has already taught me? I ask the Lord all the time to remind me in my mind of the lessons He has already taught me. Especially the ones that came from some of the hard things in my life. I pray that I will remember those lessons in my mind so I don’t have to relearn by circumstance. 

But anyway, Daniel realizes as the king tells him the dream that the dream is about the king himself, and his kingdom. Basically God was trying once more to warn the king in a dream that He was going to get his attention one way or another. In the dream God is trying to tell the king that he, the king is about to lose his mind and be driven from his kingdom to live among the wild animals for seven years. Daniel warns him. 

“this is the interpretation, O king: It is a decree of the Most High, which has come upon my lord the king, the you shall be driven from among men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. You shall be made to eat grass like an ox, and you shall be wet with the dew of heaven, and seven periods of time shall pass over you, till you know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will.” Daniel 4:24-25

“Therefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable to you: break off your sins by practicing righteousness, and your iniquities by showing mercy to the oppressed, that there may perhaps be a lengthening of your prosperity.” Daniel 4:27

Well the king heard the interpretation but apparently he didn’t really “hear” the interpretation because a year later he was walking along the roof of his palace and praising himself for the kingdom that he had built and for his own might and power when ~ 

“While the words were still in the king’s mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, ‘O King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken” the kingdom has departed from you” Daniel 4:31

And immediately the king was driven from his kingdom into the wild and for seven years he lived as a wild animal. In the king’s testimony, he doesn’t really tell how those events took place, how he was driven from the palace, he just tells us that they did. It appears it was insanity of some sort. But he leaves the details of his insanity out. But one thing he has pointed out to us, is that God had given him a way of escape. God had warned the king in a dream that this was going to happen. He had sent messengers, in the way of Daniel to tell him that this would happen. It appears to me that the king could have turned this story around had he heeded Daniels words of warning but he didn’t. I can’t help but think of times in my own life that I can look back on now and see where God was trying to get my attention on a matter and I didn’t heed the warning. I pray that my ear will be more attuned to God’s voice now and that I will heed His warnings when they come to me. 

This story does have a happy ending and King Nebuchadnezzar realizes that God is the Most High God and that He is the reason for the blessings that had been bestowed on him. That it was not because of His own will, might and power but that it was because of the Most High. 

“At the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored him who lives forever, for his dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom endures from generation to generation.” Daniel 4:34

God had restored the king’s mind and when He did, the king realized who had rescued him from the depths of his despair. Have you ever known someone who had been rescued from the depths of despair, possibly an addiction, or just a series of some of their own bad choices and when God rescued them from it, when they got their mind back, and they realized that they had been living in a pit but that the Lord was restoring them, they couldn’t help but praise. This was King Nebuchadnezzar and then God blessed him even more than he had before. 

“At the same time my reason returned to me, and for the glory of my kingdom, my majesty and splendor returned to me. My counselors and my lords sought me, and I was established in my kingdom, and still more greatness was added to me. Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, for all his works are right and his ways are just; and those who walk in pride he is able to humble” Daniel 4:36-37

When the king learned that the Most High God was the King of Heaven, was when his kingdom was restored to him. King Nebuchadnezzar finally knew where his blessings came from and he gave great testimony of that. 

Don’t you just love a good redemption story? I know I do. I love the fact that God not only restored the king’s sanity, but also his kingdom. And I truly love that King Nebuchadnezzar gave his testimony of his return to sanity and worshipped the Most High!  

Friends I will leave you with the first 2 verses of Psalm 91 

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, ‘My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.’” Psalm 91:1-2

Turn to this Psalm and continue reading it today and dwell in His shelter and hold fast to Him the one who will rescue, restore and redeem. 

El Elyon – Most High God

We know from our previous studies that El means God. This repeat of El here is like saying as high as you think God is, only higher. At least that’s how my little simple mind describes it. God that is higher than anything and/or anyone else. The Most High God is who we are talking about. In everything we do and study it should point to the Most High God.

We first see this name of God used in Genesis chapter 14. Remember Abram, Abraham only before God changed his name to Abraham. Abram had just gone to war with Chedorlaomer and rescued his nephew Lot and defeated Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him. As he returned he met up with the king of Sodom and the king of Salem, Melchizedek.

“After his return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him, the king of Sodom went out to meet him at the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley). And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. (He was the priest of God Most High.) Genesis 14:17-18

Melchizedek is unusual for many reasons, one being here it points out he was a king and a priest. The name Melchizedek means “King of Righteousness”. Many times in the Bible, names of people point them out to be who they really are. You can identify what kind of person, what their values were just by their name. Melchizedek was one of the good guys. Also in Hebrews it gives us a further explanation of who Melchizedek was.

“For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, met Abraham, returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, and to him Abraham apportioned a tenth part of everything. He is first, by translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then he is also king of Salem, that is, king of peace. He is without father or mother or genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but resembling the Son of God he continues a priest forever.” Hebrews 7:1-3

This guy Melchizedek, had no beginning of days nor end of life, in other words he wasn’t born and he didn’t die. His priesthood stands forever and ever. His priesthood is forever. I know this is stuff I can’t understand, so I am not really sure how to explain it, except this way. No matter how high you think of God, He is even greater and Melchizedek’s priesthood is of the God Most High, El Elyon points to that. Melchizedek’s purpose was to rule and to reign and point to God. As I read commentary on him it said that some scholars try to make him a pre-incarnate Jesus, others try to make him Shem, Noah’s son, or Job, or an angel. One thing we know for sure is we don’t really know where he came from or exactly who he was but we do know that his name and his very presence pointed to God. And when he encountered Abram he blessed him.

“And he blessed him and said, ‘Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand!’ And Abram gave him a tenth of everything.” Genesis 14:19-20

It was almost like Melchizedek and Abram were going to try to outdo each other giving gifts in the name of God Most High! This passage goes on to point out that the king of Sodom who was also present at this encounter was almost standing by jealous of what was taking place between Abram and Melchizedek. He was an outsider looking in.

The way Abram and Melchizedek wanted to bless each other could be a lesson for all believers. Melchizedek gave Abram a blessing of the Most High God. Abram in turn blessed Melchizedek with a tithe from the plunder he had received in the battle that he had won because of the God Most High. Think of how much better our churches and communities could be if we were trying to outdo each other’s blessings in God’s name. Unfortunately, our human nature gets the best of us sometime and we let jealousy creep in and get upset because one person “seems” exalted above the other. But if our goal was always to bless each other and to build each other up and to give in the name of the Most High God. Well, I think then the blessing our churches could be to our communities would be the light that we were meant to shine in our world, don’t you?

So today, let’s see if we can bless one another in the name of the Most High God, our El Elyon!

Jealous – Consuming Fire

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

God used fire to demonstrate His character, His power, His presence and His jealousy over and over again in scripture. He led the Israelites by a cloud by day, but by a pillar of fire by night. When Elijah challenged the prophets of Baal, he built the altar, prepared the sacrifice and even poured water on it, scripture says that the “fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt offering and wood and the stones and the dust and licked up the water that was in the trench.” (1 Kings 18:38) When the Holy Spirit came on the day of Pentecost, fire fell from heaven and rested on men. (Acts 2:2-4) God is our consuming fire, a jealous God. 

Truthfully there is a part of me that can be so overwhelmed by the thought of God as a consuming fire that I could close my laptop right now and say lesson over and just worship Him. But I want to show God’s consuming fire to you in scripture. 

I ran across this passage in my study about Moses in Exodus chapter 24. The chapter starts with a command from the Lord. 

“Then he said to Moses, ‘Come up to the Lord, you and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, and worship from afar, Moses alone shall come near to the Lord, but the others shall not come near, and the people shall not come up with him.’” Exodus 24:1-2

So the Lord summoned Moses, Aaron, Nadab and Abihu and seventy elders to come to the mountain to worship Him. Moses told the Israelites all that the Lord had said and he gave them the rules that the Lord had set down for them and he built an altar and they sacrificed and the people pledged their allegiance to God. Then ~ 

“Then Moses and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel went up, and they saw the God of Israel. There under his feet as it were a pavement of Sapphire stone, like the very heaven for clearness. And he did not lay his hand on the chief men of the people of Israel; they beheld God, and ate and drank.” Exodus 24:9-11

These men, these leaders and elders of Israel saw God! Now we know from other places in scripture that this could not have been a face to face as it says over and over that no one could see God face to face. Then ~

“The Lord said to Moses, ‘Come up to me on the mountain and wait there, that I may give you the tablets of stone, with the law and the commandment, which I have written for their instruction.’” Exodus 24:12

This is just getting better and better, first all of these men have looked up and seen some vision of God. They may not have seen His face, but they had seen enough that they knew His presence was there, they had seen the beauty and seen the presence of God and now Moses was being invited further up the mountain. And he goes with his assistant Joshua and he instructs the elders to wait until they return. And then this next passage is what I want you to see. Then ~ 

“Then Moses went up on the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain. The glory of the Lord dwelt on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days. And on the seventh day he called to Moses out of the midst of the cloud. Now the appearance of the Lord was like a devouring fire on the top of the mountain in the sight of the people of Israel. Moses entered the cloud and went up on the mountain. And Moses was on the mountain forty days and forty nights.” Exodus 24:15-18

Can you just see it? Moses climbing this mountain where the glory of the Lord is visible as a cloud but also a devouring fire and Moses goes right up to it and he enters the cloud, the glory of the Lord and he stays there with Him for forty days and forty nights. Can you just imagine the glory of the all consuming fire of God and being in His presence like that? I know my human experiences can’t come close to it. The closest I have ever come is being at a conference with thousands of people who are all praising and worshiping God. If you have never gone to one of those, I implore you to do so if you ever get the opportunity. For several years I would travel with our church to the Passion conferences with our high school seniors and college students. My favorite times of those were when the conference would meet in the Georgia Dome. There would be 30,000 plus college students, high school seniors and their leaders. When the praise and worship times of the conference would happen and everyone in that place would be there to worship God, it was an overwhelming sight and experience. Many times I opened my eyes expecting to see a cloud covering the dome. Because I knew His glory was right there with us. It was incredible and I would think to myself this was the closest experience to heaven I would ever have on earth. 

Friends, He is still that to us today. This is not just an experience for the Old Testament. Oh I am not sure you can just manufacture an experience like this with God, but you can ask Him to show you His all consuming fire. Because it is who He is. You ask Him to show you His glory. It may not be in an arena right now. It may be in the birth of a new born baby. It may be in the belly laugh of a baby or looking in the eyes of your chiIdren or grandchildren. It may be in a sunrise or in a sunset. But His glory is all around us. His consuming fire is Him and His unshakable kingdom. Even when our world around us seems to be shaking apart, we belong to the unshakable kingdom. 

“Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.” Hebrews 12:28-29

The Lord, whose name is Jealous

“for you shall worship no other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.” Exodus 34:14

I must admit to you that when I turned the page in my little book I have been studying and saw that this was the next name of God we would study I was a bit surprised. In fact as many times as I am sure I have read this passage I had never noticed this verse that says “the Lord, whose name is Jealous.” It never crossed my mind that the Lord actually referred to Himself as Jealous, as in it being His name! 

I think to us as humans here on this earth the term jealous or jealousy has negative connotations may be part of the reason. And yes, jealousy can tear apart relationships and it can consume. I have never been a particularly jealous person, at least I don’t think I am. I am sure that I have exhibited jealousy before but I don’t think it is something I struggle with to the point of it consuming me. I know I have had jealous thoughts of other people. Not so much in my relationship with my husband and I am sure that says more about him than about me. I am so secure in who he is and I think he is in who I am to worry about other people coming between us. (Don’t get me wrong, we are human and can sure let other issues bring us down if we aren’t careful, but jealousy is not one of them.) I am much more likely to be jealous of friendships and other outward relationships. I have to say that when I do feel jealousy rising up inside of me, I truly try to talk myself off the ledge quickly because I have lived long enough now to know that I don’t like who I become on those occasions that I do let that ugly green eyed monster in. Human jealousy can be so consuming that it destroys and tears down any relationships in your path. 

But God’s jealousy is different. God’s name Jealous because He wants all consuming devotion from us. Unlike human consuming devotion, when we have an all consuming devotion to Him it makes us better. When you make this time and this devotion for God a priority in your life it is amazing how your other relationships and commitments and obligations in your life will fall into place in a good and perfect order. God wants our devotion to Him for our good. 

My reading this morning came out of the book of Exodus. I read passages from Exodus 20 to about 34 (not inclusive but selective passages). 

In Exodus 20 when God gave Moses the 10 Commandments, the second one is listed in verse 4 and it goes into detail in verses 5-6. 

“You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God” Exodus 20:4-5

God is very explicit about us worshiping other gods. Now you and I may say well I don’t worship carved images so I’m good with that one. But our carved images could be many things. What might you be putting in front of or before your relationship with the Lord? I can think because I get up early and have a quiet time with Him every day that I am putting Him first but I can promise you that as soon as I walk out my front door and begin to see other people that I am sure there are other things going in front of me that will get my perspective out of whack in a heartbeat. God wants us and our devotion and He wants us to not put anything above our relationship with Him. There are also things I have to guard against when I first get up. Do I start with study or do I start by scrolling Facebook first and/or looking at my email first? I can be guilty of that way more times than I wish I were. Am I putting my relationships with humans first? What is getting in the way? God wants all of me, not just the parts I think I want to submit to Him and then hold other parts back. He is Jealous for me and He is Jealous for you! 

Jehovah-Shalom ~ Peace that is Complete

I have known for a long time that the Jewish word Shalom meant peace. But my studying on Jehovah-Shalom took me just a little deeper into the meaning of this word. Shalom doesn’t just mean absence of conflict, strife or cessation of war which is what I always thought of it as. The noun Shalom means “peace, completeness” and the verb shalom means to be “whole, complete, perfect and full.” I don’t know about you but that says so so much more to me than just absence of conflict. I have never thought of this as being complete, perfect, WHOLE. I have felt it before I just didn’t realize that was what I was feeling at the time. 

Have you ever been in the middle of some circumstances that should be rocking your world and all you could feel was peace? I had an incident like that just last year. I really can’t go into details of the incident but I can tell you that when I received the phone call of things that were happening, I should have been angry, hurt and worried. I usually have a tendency to overthink and over worry about things anyway so circumstances that are beyond my control like that will usually send me into a tailspin of anxiety. But truly all I could feel at the moment was peace. It was so surreal to me. I knew that my personality was to take these outward circumstances and fret, worry, cry and overreact. But this particular day all I could feel was peace. I knew that God was directing my every step. Now I had spent a lot of time with the Lord over the last few months before this happened so that is all I can contribute to the peace that I was feeling. 

“Friend, whenever God calls us to a task that we think is beyond us, the key is to keep our eyes on God, not our circumstances.” ~ Wendy Blight

I read this statement in the book and it is so true it bears repeating word for word. When you are going through those type of circumstances that rock your world, whether it be a diagnosis, or a job loss, or a rocky marriage or a wayward child, the only thing that will keep you sane and keep you in His perfect peace is to keep your eyes on the one who is our peace. 

One of the best friends that God ever gifted me with was rocked with a diagnosis several years ago. She was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimers just as her youngest child was in the last couple of years of high school. Her oldest child was on the brink of getting married and starting her life with the man of her dreams and her middle child was thriving in college and getting ready to start her career. Just at the time that many of us, (me included) are getting all worked up over the empty nest, she received a diagnosis that she knew would not only take her life eventually, it would rob her of memories and her mind as this disease took over her brain. 

She would amaze me, however when we would spend time together and she would start telling me how blessed she was. She had such complete peace and joy on her all the time that we spent together that I know could only come because she was a Godly woman who spent her time with Jesus. I’m not sure that the knowledge of her disease didn’t rock my world more than it did hers. She still would smile and laugh and she squeezed every bit of joy that she could out of every day. And she still is, even though this disease is robbing her of deep conversations with her people, she still has a smile on her face and the people who care for her says she is still dancing and singing. I know that this deep rooted joy only comes from the years that she has spent knowing her Savior. I am sure that she had many a time that she spent in tears with Jesus over the knowledge of what was going to happen to her. But the outside world didn’t know it. Maybe her family did, I am sure her precious husband held her many times when she cried but their goal, her husband and her children’s goal became helping her find joy in every day. And Jesus held their hands as they did. 

“do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

My friend has the peace that passes all understanding because she has held on to the only one who could give her that peace in the midst of such a diagnosis. Her peace was complete and it was whole. She still had the war going on. This horrible disease was still robbing her of her mind and her memories, her future and her past. But she had Shalom because she knows her Jehovah-Shalom. 

Jehovah-Shalom ~ The Lord is My Peace

In the sixth chapter of Judges we meet a fellow named Gideon. When I read the story of Gideon I picture a man, small in stature. The reason is because of the description that Gideon gives himself. He says I am from the least clan of Israel, and I am the weakest in my family. But Gideon ends up doing mighty things for God. We are going to look at when Gideon was introduced to us up until he builds an altar to the Lord. 

The sixth chapter starts with explaining how Israel was doing as a nation. 

“The people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, and the Lord gave them into the hand of Midian for seven years.” Judges 6:1

This was not one of the best times of Israel’s history. Israel as a whole had been delivered over to the Midianites and were being oppressed by them. The Israelites would harvest the land and the Midianites would come in and take the harvest from them. It appears they were not occupying the land but they would come in and steal their produce and their livestock. They would come in and steal, and ravage and leave Israel as a wasteland. 

“And Israel was brought very low because of Midian. And the people of Israel cried out for help to the Lord.” Judges 6:6

Israel was at a low point, they seemed to have forgotten God in the way they were living but when they got to the lowest point they knew the only way out and up was to look to God and to cry out to Him for help. 

“When the people of Israel cried out to the Lord on account of the Midianites, the Lord sent a prophet to the people of Israel. And he said to them, ‘Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: I led you up from Egypt and brought you out of the house of slavery. And I delivered you from the hand of the Egyptians and from the hand of all who oppressed you, and drove them out before you and gave you their land. And I said to you, ‘I am the Lord your God; you shall not fear the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell.’ But you have not obeyed my voice.’” Judges 6:7-10

God points out to the Israelites what the problem was. The reason for the oppression from the Midianites was their own disobedience to God. Don’t miss this, God may have handed Israel over to be oppressed but He really never left them. He was still watching over Israel. I have said before to people and have had to say it to myself, “sometimes things have to get worse before they can get better.” Sometimes when we tend to continually want to go our own way God will allow us the freedom to do so just to show us how life without Him would be. God allowed Israel to be oppressed by Midian because of their disobedience. But the oppression was the very thing it was going to take to cause Israel to cry out to the Lord. 

And this is where we find Gideon.

“Now the angel of the Lord came and sat under the terebinth at Ophrah, which belong to Joash the Abiezrite, while his son Gideon was beating out wheat in the winepress to hide it from the Midianites.” Judges 7:11

Gideon was hiding out in a winepress, beating out the wheat to get grain because he was trying to hide this part of the harvest from the Midianites. This angel fo the Lord comes and sits down near him while he is hiding out doing his work. 

“And the angel of the Lord appeared to him and said to him, ‘The Lord is with you, O mighty man of valor.” Judges 6:12

This angel of the Lord is referred to in commentary as a theophany. A pre-incarnate of Jesus showing himself to Gideon. So the angel comes in and talks to Gideon and calls him a “mighty man of valor”. Some translations say “mighty warrior”. Now here is this man, who may have been slight in stature beating out wheat in a winepress, hiding out and the angel of the Lord, Jesus calls him a mighty warrior and says “The Lord is with you”. Gideon is a little taken aback. He asks Him, if the Lord is with us, why is all this happening, why am I having to hide out, just to get something to eat, why am I having to work so hard? If God is with us, where are the miracles of deliverance that the Lord has done in the past. Oh haven’t we all felt that way before? Where we are having trouble seeing the hand of the Lord on our lives and our circumstances. That’s where Gideon is. But don’t miss this part. Even though Gideon was discouraged, he was still going about the day to day tasks of living. 

“And the Lord turned to him and said, ‘Go in this might of yours and save Israel from the hand of Midian; do not I send you?” Judges 6:14

What does “this might of yours” mean to this small man, the least of his family, from the weakest clan? I think it’s because Gideon was found doing something, yes, he may have been hiding out while doing it, and he seems to have even been grumbling. But he was grumbling to the one who could save him. He knew where his help would come from if there was any help to be had at all. Sometimes coming to the end of our rope, to the end of ourselves is just what we need to realize that we need to reach out to the one who can help. I think Gideon caught God’s eyes because he was doing something. 

Now of course, Gideon has a few minutes there of arguing with the Lord, about being the one to save Israel. He isn’t sure he is the one to do it. I love this next verse. 

“And the Lord said to him, ‘But I will be with you, and you shall strike the Midianites as one man.’” Judges 6:16

The Lord was calling Gideon to fight a battle and to save Israel and bring them back to him. But He wasn’t sending him out alone. Just like when the Lord gives us a battle to fight, He doesn’t send us out alone. He is always with us when we are fighting the battles that are His. It’s when we try to go it alone, that he allows us to be oppressed. What happens next is where our lesson lies today. Gideon goes on to ask for a sign. So he asks the Angel of the Lord to stay while he goes in and prepares food for him. When he comes out and lays the food out before the Angel of the Lord, He takes His staff and touches the food and fire comes up from the rock and consumes the food. And then the Angel of the Lord vanishes. Gideon is afraid because he realizes He has just seen the Lord face to face. But then peace. 

“Then Gideon built an altar there to the Lord and called it, The Lord is Peace (Jehovah-Shalom). To this day it still stands at Ophrah, which belongs to the Abiezrites.” Judges 6:24

Even in the midst of hardship and uncertainty, Gideon knew He had just seen God and that God was with Him and it brought Him peace. The Lord was his peace not his circumstances. Gideon was still going to have a battle in front of him. But he recognized that he would be fighting it with the Lord and that it what brought him peace. Because he knew Jehovah-Shalom!