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!

Jehovah-Rapha ~ Jesus’ Healing Power

Jesus began His earthly ministry right after He had been baptized and spent 40 days in the wilderness. Satan had tempted Him in the wilderness and He had passed all the tests of course. He returned to Galillee different than before. 

“And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and a report about him went out through all the surrounding country. And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all.” Luke 4:14-15

When Jesus had gone into the wilderness the Spirit of the Lord had descended on Him as a dove at His baptism. When He came out of that wilderness experience He was full of the Spirit. Now mind you, I know that Jesus did not have to spend time in the wilderness to be full of the Spirit. But in my little mind, I think Jesus did that to give us an example. Any kind of ministry that any of us embark on should be born out of time spent with just you and God. Just a thought from me. 

Jesus came to Nazareth, where he had grown up and he went to the synagogue to teach there. When He stood up to read, he read from the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. 

“‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.’” Luke 4:18-19

Now those present would have heard this scripture before. But this time hearing this scripture was different. This time it meant something more. And they could feel it. Have you ever heard a scripture that you know you have heard over and over but it felt like the very first time. It was just different somehow. It suddenly connected with your Spirit. After reading, Jesus told them. 

“‘Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.’” Luke 14:21

Jesus had just given them His job description. He had come to set people free and to heal them, to recover their sight, whether figuratively or in reality. He was going to shake things up. 

Now Jesus went about in His ministry healing many. Let’s talk about one.  

“While he was in one of the cities, there came a man full of leprosy. And when he saw Jesus, he fell on his face and begged him, ‘Lord if you will you can make me clean.’” Luke 5:12

Leprosy was a horrible disease and it was highly contagious. When someone was diagnosed with leprosy they would then have to socially isolate themself from everyone and even when they walked down the street they would have to shout “unclean” so that people would know not to come near them. One of the things that struck me when I read this verse is the man approached Jesus, knowing he could get into big trouble doing so, then he fell on his face and begged. He was in a place of desperation. He had nothing to lose so he took a chance. He was truly at the end of His rope, or rather his hope. Have you or someone you have known ever gotten to that place whether it was physical healing or healing of the soul they needed that they got to that place? This beggar knew that it would be totally socially acceptable for Jesus to walk away from Him. He knew that as far as the world was concerned it would be ok to reject him. But that’s not what Jesus came to do. That’s not who Jesus is. And what He did next is amazing. 

“And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying ‘I will; be clean.’ And immediately the leprosy left him.” Luke 5:13

Don’t miss this, Jesus didn’t just heal the man, Jesus touched the man. This man was untouchable by society. He would have been lonely, probably had not had physical touch for some time. He may have been smelly and dirty. Jesus could have spoken a word and the man would have been healed. But that is not what He did. He healed Him physically and He touched him to show He was accepted, He healed this man’s heartbreak by His touch. 

Jesus had the power to heal with a word and He still has the power to heal all of our diseases to this day with a word. I still don’t understand why sometimes He does and sometimes He doesn’t and I don’t think I ever will this side of eternity. But I know what He will heal each and every time if we humble ourselves and ask Him and that is the heart. It is His desire that all should come to Him. As I study some of these times of healing I am seeing over and over that when Jesus healed someone physically, He was also forgiving sins. And in so doing He was healing hearts. He will still accept us where we are. I know too many people who think they have to get clean and straighten up before they come to Jesus. We should all be more like the leper and throw ourselves at His feet to ask for healing of our hearts. And we should also all be more like Jesus and no matter how messed up, broken, dirty or smelly someone is, be the hands of Jesus and reach out and touch them. Let’s be the light that leads them to the healing power of Jesus. 

Jehovah-Rapha ~ Healer of my soul

The Hebrew word that is used in the old testament for healer is Rapha. The true meaning of this word is “to mend, to cure, to heal, to thoroughly make whole.” When I read that in my little book I am studying, alongside my Bible, the words “to thoroughly make whole” jumped off the page to me. I have shared before that life has dealt me and my family a few hard blows over the past few years. I have always been a believer that you can let things make you bitter or you can let them make you better. As these life experiences seemed to come at us one right after the other for awhile. I had a choice, I could wallow in grief, hurt and despair or I could sit at the feet of Jesus and tell Him about how bad it hurt and see what He could do with it. 

In my study these verses in Proverbs were shown to me in a new way. 

“My son be attentive to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Let them not escape from your sight; keep them within your heart. For they are life to those who find them, and healing to all their flesh.” Proverbs 4:20-24

Now I have read through the Bible and especially through Proverbs many times and these words have never hit me like they did this time. I am sure it is because they were pointed out to me, and this is the first time I have specifically studied God as healer. But I can say that even though I have never studied God as healer I have sure experienced Him as healer. 

I have always been much more of a Mary than I have a Martha. I love to sit at Jesus feet and read the Word, or any other book for that matter. (My house is a testament to that fact. I do clean, but I don’t see it like other people I know do. I clean because well someone has got to knock the crust off. Not because I particularly find great joy in it.) But as I went through things that broke my heart, I became even more driven to the Word and time to just sit with Jesus. For a while there I devoured whatever I could put in front of me. My heart was hurting so I turned to the only thing that I knew could heal it. I took in podcasts of teachings and sermons, I listened to worship music, I read devotional books and teaching books, as well as my Bible. I knew that some of the things that were hurting me were not going to change. I know that God raised people from the dead back in Biblical times but I didn’t much think He was going to do that this side of eternity now. But even though I couldn’t put the words to what I was doing at the time, I was turning to the only One who could heal my soul. 

And I prayed! I prayed to find joy in my heart again! I prayed for God to help me understand, if not fully on some level, some of the things that were happening. I prayed for God to help me get out of bed and function some days. I would go to work and I would put music or podcasts in the background so that what was feeding my ears could penetrate to my soul. I can’t say I was always listening to every word but I can say that it got in. There are still things I don’t understand, but I truly feel like my soul is more at rest over events and that what I received from that time in relationship with my Savior is on a deeper level than I could have ever imagined or achieved had it not been for these hurts that I experienced. I am not saying I want to do them again, but what I can say is that when life deals hard blows, and it will if you live long enough, the only place to turn to receive healing for your soul is to the healer, Jehovah-Rapha himself. 

Let’s look at the steps set out in these verses in Proverbs. The first line is telling you to open your ears to hear the Word. This can be through reading, through worship music, through sermons or teaching. When going through hard times, guard what you are taking in. Some days I felt so on the edge of a flood of tears I had to be very careful what I was watching or putting in. Don’t get me wrong tears can be cleansing too, but you may have to be careful as to the timing of those tears. So don’t let yourself watch a sad movie if you are struggling with feeling sad all the time. Sometimes too during this time, I would feel so heavy that I would retreat to find something to watch that would just make me laugh. Not think, just laugh. When you are walking around with sadness brought on by grief or circumstances beyond your control I think it’s ok to check out of the thought processes and just sit down with something funny to make you laugh. But I go back to be sure you are hearing the Word every day too. 

Then you receive the word. Opening your heart and mind to hear what God is saying to you. Even if answers aren’t coming, just getting in His presence and pouring your heart out to Him and reading and hearing what He has to say. Let His words penetrate your heart. And as you do, you will be surprised at the healing that will come to your soul. As you do these steps and you spend time with your Savior, and you fall into a posture of prayer, you will begin to find that sometimes, really all the time, it’s not about the answers we get from God. It’s just about God. And spending time with Him and asking Him that even if we don’t always get the physical healing we long for, for ourselves or for someone else, that we will receive the spiritual, deep in our souls healing that only He can give. 

My friends, I am not trying to sound super spiritual here but I pray if you are going through a tough time, where the tears come to easy and the hurt feels raw and deep, I pray that you will turn to Jehovah-Rapha, the only one who can be healer of your soul! 

Jehovah Rappha ~ When God Heals

I want to tell you about a time recorded when God healed.  First let me give you a little background. 

“Hezekiah son of Ahaz began to rule over Judah in the third year of Hoshea’s reign in Israel. He was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem twenty-nine years. His mother was Abijah, the daughter of Zechariah. He did what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight, just as his ancestor David had done. He removed the pagan shrines, smashed the sacred pillars, and cut down the Asherah poles.” 2 Kings 18:1-4

Hezekiah followed his father Ahaz as king of Judah. Ahaz was not a good guy, he did detestable things in the Lord’s eyes, even sacrificing one of his own sons on the altar. But Hezekiah followed in the footsteps of his grandfather Jotham and his great-grandfather Uzziah. They did was was “pleasing in the Lord’s sight.” 

“Hezekiah trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel. There was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before or after his time. He remained faithful to the Lord in everything, and he carefully obeyed all the commands the Lord had given Moses. So the Lord was with him, and Hezekiah was successful in everything he did. He revolted against the king of Assyria and refused to pay him tribute.” 2 Kings 18:5-7

Hezekiah walked closely with God. He tried really hard to follow all of the rules and the law. He carefully obeyed the Lord and this brought him great success. However, even Hezekiah made mistakes. He was right in not paying tribute to the king of Assyria, however that king did not like it at all. The king of Assyria came to attack Judah. When that happened King Hezekiah first tried to negotiate with him. It never works to try to negotiate with the enemy. King Sennacherib of Assyria just brought on more and more oppression to Judah and in it all he not only threatened Jerusalem, he mocked God. Hezekiah may have made mistakes but he did not forget where his success had come from and he turns back to the Lord to seek His help. King Sennacherib had sent a letter to King Hezekiah mocking God and telling all that he was going to do to Jerusalem. 

“After Hezekiah received the letter from the messengers and read it, he went up to the Lord’s temple and spread it out before the Lord.” 2 Kings 19:14

When Hezekiah turned back to the Lord, he was very intentional. He took the letter to the temple and he laid it out before the Lord. Then he prayed:

“O Lord, God of Israel, you are enthroned between the mighty cherubim! You alone are God of all the kingdoms of the earth. You alone created the heavens and the earth. Bend down, O Lord, and listen! Open your eyes, O Lord, and see! Listen to Sennacherib’s words of defiance against the living God……Now, O Lord our God, rescue us from his power; then all the kingdoms of the earth will know that you alone, O Lord, are God.” 2 Kings 19:15-19 

And God did just that. Because of Hezekiah’s repentance and returning to the Lord, God rescued Jerusalem from the King of Assyria and his Army. 

“That night the angel of the Lord went out to the Assyrian camp and killed 185,000 Assyrian soldiers. When the surviving Assyrians woke up the next morning, they found corpses everywhere. Then King Sennacherib of Assyria broke camp and returned to his own land. He went home to his capital of Nineveh and stayed there.” 2 Kings 19:35-36

Talk about deliverance. However this brings us to the next chapter of this story about Hezekiah. All of this was to give you background into Hezekiah and who he was. He was not a perfect man by any means but he loved God and he walked with him. As soon as the Lord delivers Jerusalem from Assyria and you turn to the next chapter in 2 Kings you read this. 

“About that time Hezekiah became deathly ill, and the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz went to visit him. He gave the king this message: ‘This is what the Lord says: Set your affairs in order, for you are going to die. You will not recover from this illness.’” 2 Kings 20:1

Hezekiah had received his death sentence. He was told that he would not recover from the illness that he had. I have known many people who have gotten that death sentence. A cancer diagnosis, an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, or some other illness or disease that is ravaging and wasting them away. Hezekiah did what I have known many people to do. 

“When Hezekiah heard this, he turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord, ‘Remember, O Lord, how I have always been faithful to you and have served you single-mindedly, always doing what pleases you.’ Then he broke down and wept bitterly.” 2 Kings 20:2-3

Hezekiah prayed and this time the Lord decided to heal. 

“But before Isaiah had left the middle courtyard, this message came to him from the Lord: ‘Go back to Hezekiah, the leader of my people. Tell him, This is what the Lord, the God of your ancestor David, says: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears. I will heal you, and three days from now you will get out of bed and go to the Temple of the Lord. I will add fifteen years to your life.” 2 Kings 20:4-6

And He did just that. Hezekiah did gain fifteen years. I wish I could tell you he did everything perfectly after that, but scripture does record some grave mistakes that Hezekiah made. I also wish I could tell you that this means that God will always heal when the prayers are fervent. I can’t I have known too many good, Godly people who prayed just as hard and God chose not to heal. But the fact is, God CAN heal. That is what gives me hope in this story.

Something I have learned as I have gotten older and dealt with the everyday aches and pains of getting older is this, getting older is a privilege not extended to all. I have seen miraculous prayers of healing and I have seen those who prayed hard and God still chose to heal in heaven. But life is a gift and I for one will choose to walk it out with Him by my side. My Jehovah-Rappha, my healer.

Jehovah Rapha ~ The Lord who Heals you.

Ok, I have to tell you before we get started that this is probably one of the names of God that confuses me the most. I am very nervous about writing on this subject because I know that we don’t always get the healing we desire. I know there are people who have lost children who prayed fervent prayers for God to heal them. I know that people have lost spouses and parents and loved ones that they prayed so hard for healing and for some reason God chose to take them home. I don’t know why God chooses to heal some on earth and some He chooses to heal in heaven. And I truly want to be sensitive to that. I am not proposing that we will get all the answers this week on this subject, but I hope we get some. But just know my prayer is to handle the word of God rightly and correct and I pray that He speaks to you if you are choosing to study Jehovah Rapha with me. We will start with this prayer that Wendy Blight gives at the beginning of her chapter: 

“Heavenly Father, God Our Healer, unveil in fresh new ways the truth of this facet of who You are. I have experienced unanswered healing prayers. Because of that, I have questions, I have doubts. Teach me. Challenge my simple faith to go deeper and ask hard questions. Reveal new truths to me and grant me the wisdom and knowledge to understand them. Thank You that You are forever with me…that even when I feel confused, alone, and forgotten, You promise to go before me, walk alongside me, and be my rear guard. There is nowhere I can go that You are not. Help me to experience Your amazing healing power. Teach me how to cast my burden on You and allow You to sustain me as I wait on You. Help me to quiet my heart and still my mind. Enable me to rest in You. Help me to be joyful in hope, patient in affliction and faithful in prayer. I ask all this in Jesus’ powerful and effective name. Amen” 

Let’s look at the first place this name of God appears in scripture. In Exodus the Israelites had just crossed the Red Sea on dry ground and had seen the waters return and swallow up the entire Egyptian army. Upon experiencing this they had celebrated with praise for what God had done for them.

“Then Moses made Israel set out from the Red Sea, and they went into the wilderness of Shur. They went three days in the wilderness and found no water. When they came to Marah, they could not drink the water of Marah because it was bitter; therefore it was named Marah.” Exodus 15:22-23

The Israelites had just seen this great miracle of God where He had held back the waters for them to cross on dry ground. But after traveling in the wilderness for three days they were thirsty. They came upon a place named Marah where the water was bitter and what do you think the Israelites did. Well they did what I do so many times. I will have just seen God do something for me, maybe not as big as parting a sea and I’ve walked across on dry ground, but big to me just the same, and life throws me a monkey wrench and next thing I know I am fretting and complaining, and worrying and grumbling. Yep, that is just what they did. 

“And the people grumbled against Moses, saying, ‘What shall we drink?’” Exodus 15:24

But look at Moses: 

“And he cried to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a log, and he threw it into the water, and the water became sweet.” Exodus 15:25

Oh how I wish I were more like Moses than those grumbling, complaining, worrisome Israelites. I wish that every time I came upon something that I would first pray before grumbling. I tend to worry and fret and then eventually I go to the Lord in prayer. After God gave them this sweet water to drink he gave them a statute and a rule. 

“saying ‘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.” Exodus 15:26

God was requiring from the Israelites complete obedience in order to fulfill this promise. God promised that obedience would bring blessings in this case in the way of protection from and healing of diseases. I know that still is a bitter pill to swallow because some of the best people I know have gone home to be with the Lord long before what we think is their time. But what we can grasp and hold on to here is that His blessing always follows obedience. God is our healer and we are going to keep digging this week to see the ways He does heal us. But today what we will grasp and hold onto is the blessing that God gives us when we follow Him. To conclude this lesson on the bitter waters of Marah, let’s look at the next stop for the Israelites. 

“Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve springs of water and seventy palm trees, and they encamped there by the water.” Exodus 15:27

Just like the abundant waters of Elim after the bitter waters of Marah, the blessings of God after a bitter season will be sweeter than if we encountered them first. Sometimes I think this is why we encounter hard times and things that hurt our hearts just so we will be more grateful when the blessings come. I don’t know for sure that that is the reason, but I do know that in my life that is my experience. The older I get and the more living I’ve done the more grateful I am when life is just easy and steady for me. 

Jehovah-Nissi ~ Our Commander in Chief

“Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” Romans 8:37

Yesterday we talked about the battlefield. We mentioned the enemy who is prowling the earth seeking someone to devour. I never want to give the devil too much print time. I want my life and my words to give much more to Jesus than to him. I don’t want to constantly be looking for the devil behind every rock but the bottom line is there is an adversary who is seeking to tear down us, our families, our children, our lives. If he can’t have you he at least wants to make us ineffective and to destroy our lives here on earth. 

What kind of battles are you facing? Are you praying for a wayward child? Or is your marriage broken and in a place that you aren’t sure if it will survive or not? Are there addictions in your life or in the life of someone you love that are taking hold and you don’t know how to stop it? What about your workplace? Sometimes the personalities in a workplace can seem like you are walking into a minefield every day. 

The first thing we must do when going into battle is to recognize the enemy. Just as Joshua had to know what he was up against when he went in to battle with the Amalekites we need to recognize what we are up against. 

“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12

If you have a battle going on in your life first thing to do is try to look beyond the people or thing you may feel like you are fighting against and recognize what is behind it. If your marriage is on rocky ground is it because one or the other is listening to the voices that are feeding lies. If you have a wayward child, is your battle with your child or has somehow Satan gained a foothold in their life and they are listening much more to the lies of the enemy about having “fun” and “what they deserve” than they are paying attention to what you say or better yet what God’s word says about who they are and whose they are. We must look beyond what we are battling and see if there are any spiritual forces of evil at work. And if that’s what you see, sister, brother you better start strapping on the armor. 

“Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.” Ephesians 6:13-18

If you are in a battle with spiritual forces, you must first recognize truth. See your battle for what it is. If you are battling for a wayward child, sometimes it may feel like you are fighting your child. But what you are really fighting are the evil forces that surround our children and want to take them down. Strap on the belt of truth and recognize who the enemy is. It’s not your child or your spouse, it’s who is pulling them down. 

Then put on the breastplate of righteousness. Now this doesn’t mean self-righteousness. This means try to handle the situations rightly. Try not to get sucked into an argument. This is hard, mind you. But you have to really try hard to handle the situations at hand rightly. 

Get those shoes of peace. Put them on every day. The peace will come from knowing you are fighting the battle the right way, with Jesus and knowing that even if it doesn’t feel like it at this moment that He is in control. When these kind of battles are going on you will only be able to have peace if you are inviting Him into it every day. 

After you have looked at the truth, done your best to handle things rightly and put on those shoes of peace that He is in control, then you have to take up your shield of faith. Faith that He is working things for your good and His glory in the end. Faith that He will care for you even if the answers are not what you would choose. Faith that He can work it for your good. And that shield will help you to extinguish those darts from the enemy. 

Place the helmet of your salvation on your head. Know that He has this if He has you! 

And most of all take up your sword, the word of God. Are you praying for a wayward one? A spouse, a child or maybe a friend. Know this, if you are praying for someone to come to faith or to return to their faith that is always always always in the will of God. And while we all have free will and freedom to choose Christ or not. It is His desire to have us all in His flock. 

“What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven the one of these little ones should perish.” Matthew 18:12-14

You keep praying for your people. You keep asking Him to track down your wayward sheep. You strap on that armor and you keep holding your staff up high above your head and you claim the victory IN the battle and hold your banner high! Jehovah-Nissi is our commander in chief and we are more than conquerors because of Him! 

Friend if you need someone to hold your arms up as you pray for your battle I would find it an honor. Send me a private message. I promise to pray! 

Jehovah-Nissi ~ Pray and Watch

“I will take my stand at my watch post and station myself on the tower, and look out to see what he will say to me, and what I will answer concerning my complaint.” Habakkuk 2:1

This verse in Habakkuk has spoken to me for years. Habakkuk had already laid out his complaints to the Lord in chapter 1. He felt that he had been clinging to God to help Israel and he felt that he was getting nowhere. That his prayers were hitting the ceiling. Have you ever felt that way? I know I have. There have been battles that I can look back on in my life that, with the looking back perspective, I can trace God’s hand, but in the middle of it, I had to discipline myself to try to see it. At the time you are in the battle sometimes it is so very hard to see. I have wondered “how long Lord?” This is why this verse has become so important to me, along with journaling and clinging to God. You see I think that when we are praying for something our next step is to stand watch and see what His answer will be. That may sound like I am trying to make it too simple and maybe I am. Make no mistake I have been in some battles in this life that didn’t seem simple at the time. But when you lay it at His feet, you must believe for an answer. I love that Habakkuk has taken the posture of standing watch to see what “he will say to me.” 

I often talk of laying things at Jesus feet and leave them there. And yes, that is what I believe. In the book of Daniel it says that as soon as you say the prayer a word is sent out to give an answer. 

“At the beginning of your pleas for mercy a word went out, and I have come to tell it to you, for you are greatly loved.” Daniel 9:23

I believe that answers are falling into place as soon as we pray. But you see God’s timing is not our timing. I think there is still a posture of praying and watching for the answer that we have to take in our hearts and minds once we have laid our requests, complaints, or pleas at His feet. That is not as much for Him as it is for us. Many times in God’s word we are told to be alert, to be sober-minded. One of my favorite verses is in 1 Peter. 

“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8

You may wonder why in the world that verse could be a favorite because it may not sound very encouraging. But it is a reminder to me not to let my guard down. Just like when Moses was on top of that hill and when he would begin to tire and to let his guard down the Amalekites would start winning, me letting my guard down gives the devil a foothold into my life. I want to stay in a posture of prayer and to be watchful for how God will work things out for me at all times. And I want my life to exhibit that. I am not sure it always does. I fail, I say dumb things and I do dumb things. But my prayer and the desire of my heart is to raise my banner high and be watchful of how He will work on my behalf and on the behalf of those that I love and am praying for. 

If you are in a battle my friend, you can be assured that as soon as you send out your requests He is working on your behalf. Stand watch, be alert, keep your guard up so that you don’t let the devil find a way in and watch for his answer. Raise that banner high! And if you are having trouble keeping your arms up, call for some reinforcements to help you! 

Jehovah-Nissi ~ The Battlefield!

I left you yesterday with the Israelites in the wilderness. There were twelve tribes of Israel and each of them had a family banner that they took with them when they travelled. They would break camp when the cloud of the Lord lifted off of the tabernacle, they would follow the cloud and they would set up camp. Setting up the tabernacle and the tribes would set up their camps outside the tabernacle, surrounding it on all sides. The people of Israel went through many moods and temperaments while they were in the wilderness. They experienced many blessings and saw many miracles of God, the parting of the Red Sea for one. They ate manna, bread from heaven every morning and ate quail that came to them in the evening.They saw Moses hit a rock and water gushed out for them. But at times even while witnessing all that God was doing for them, they grumbled and complained. I know that God must have become weary with them so many times. Just as I know that He must become weary with me so many times when I forget His faithfulness and become anxiety filled and worrisome over what lies ahead of me. 

This brings us to our story of the day and we will see where God got His name Jehovah-Nissi. 

“Then Amalek came and fought with Israel at Rephidim.” Exodus 17:8

To understand this battle we must understand the characters. First of all Amalek is a descendant of Esau. Remember him? Jacob’s brother. Even though Jacob and his brother had reconciled there were obviously people in the family who didn’t forgive quite so easily. The Amalekites, were a tribe that came from Esau’s family, therefore they were basically cousins of the Israelites. They came to fight with the Israelites and try to defeat them. One point to make here is the way the wrongs done to Esau by Jacob were never forgotten by the family. Even though Esau had long forgiven and they had reconciled there were still harsh feelings among these families. Another point here is that ever since the Israelites had left Egypt, God had led them and had blessed them and provided for them. This is the first time they are having to go into battle. I wonder if God had this happen partially because of all of the grumbling and complaining. Up to now, they had their food, their water, their clothing had not worn out, and they were following wherever a cloud led them to go. I wonder sometime if I don’t work myself into some of the battles that end up before me by not counting my blessings when they are in front of me. I wonder if God does not give us over sometime to our grumbling so that we will appreciate His blessings all the more. This is just what I am getting and I am wondering. 

So Amalek came to fight the Israelites and Moses lays out the battle plan. 

“So Moses said to Joshua, ‘Choose for us men, and go out and fight with Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.’” Exodus 17:9

Joshua was to go fight and Moses was to stand on top of a hill and pray. So that is exactly what they did. Joshua and his men went into battle with Amalek while Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill overlooking the battlefield. Moses stood there with his staff over his head. This was to remind them how God had fought for them in the past. As the Israelites would look on top of that hill, they would see their leader holding the staff up high above his head. Somehow this gave them courage and what they needed for the fight. But have you ever tried to hold something over your head for a long period of time? It’s hard to do so Moses would begin to grow weary and he would start to drop his hands. And when he dropped his hands Amalek would begin winning. And when he raised his hands Israel would win. As long as they kept God in the battle with them, they were winning. This next part of this story may be my very favorite part. 

“But Moses’ hands grew weary, so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it, while Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side. So his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. And Joshua overwhelmed Amalek and his people with the sword.” Exodus 17:12-13

I love how Moses was holding up the staff for the Israelites to prevail but I also love how the supporting characters in this story held up Moses hands so that he could hold up the staff so that Israel could prevail. I will never forget the first time I really heard this story. At that time my family was going through a trying time of some job situations and confusion of whether we should move or stay in our area. I was a young mama and I was just learning how to be a prayer warrior for my family. My husband was trying to figure out what his next step was in his career path and what the best way to provide for our family was. I felt helpless in some ways but I also knew that what I was being called to do was to pray for my husband as he made these decisions. Some days were hard and confusing and I would grow weary with all that we were facing. But I had some really close people to me at the time who would hold me up and were also supporting me with their prayers. Then I heard this story and all the pieces fit together that that is the way it is meant to be. 

You see, we will all find ourselves in a battle at times. And we all need someone standing on the hill holding us up in prayer and we also need the prayer support of close friends holding our arms up as we pray. I have been the one in the battle and I have been the one on the hill praying the prayers and I have been the one holding the arms of precious friends as they pray for their own battles. It’s what binds us together. 

“Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Write this as a memorial in a book and recite it in the ears of Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven.’ And Moses built an altar and called the name of it, The LORD is My Banner” Exodus 17:14-15

The KJV says it this way: 

“And Moses built an altar, and called the name of it Jehovah-nissi” Exodus 17:15

The next thing Moses did was record what the Lord had done for them. When we win the battles that we have prayed for, this is when He becomes our Jehovah-nissi! Do you journal? Do you record what the Lord has done for you? The Lord has been my banner over and over again. He has fought my battles and He has sent me into battle to fight all the while He was with me. But every victory has come because of Him, He is my Banner!