ELOHIM – Adam and Eve

“For this is what the Lord says – he who created the heavens, he is God; he who fashioned and made the earth, he founded it; he did not create it to be empty, but formed it to be inhabited – he says: I am the Lord, and there is no other.” Isaiah 45:18 (NIV) 

We already touched on God’s creation of man, Adam, the first man. God formed Adam from dust and breathed life into him and he became a living creature. Then God planted the Garden of Eden as a home for Adam. Just reading the description of Eden brings images to mind that it was a beautiful, lush place. But really, I think even our images in our mind cannot come close to truly imagining the beauty of it. And then God felt Adam needed a helper so He performed the first surgery. 

“So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And from the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” Genesis 2:21-23

God created Adam and Eve and He put them in this beautiful garden where they could have lived forever if they had not eaten of that fruit. But they did eat the fruit and that caused the fall and sin entered the world. Yet even though that happened, God still blesses us and still created ways for humanity to continue. Women have pain in childbirth, yes. I went through it a couple of times myself. But the miracle that comes from God creating a baby in the womb of a mother, well it may be one of God’s greatest miracles. 

“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.” Psalm 139:13 

If you have ever gazed upon a newborn baby with their sweet soft skin and tiny fingers and toes you are viewing a miracle of God. The first man came from dirt, the first woman came from man. But God created the miracle of birth and He gave man and woman the great gift of being a part of it. Also look at the diversity that God as creator does through people. I have three sisters and while we have similarities, we also have our own unique looks, and thoughts and feelings. I have two sons and they are alike in some ways but different in so many ways. I have 3 grandchildren, they each look like their mom and dad in ways, but they are each unique in their own way.   

That is just the diversities within a family. What about the diversities of people all around us? Today, I want to be intentional of looking at people as the miracle God intended us to be. Look at the differences as miracles, the different colors and shades of our skin, the different colors of eyes and hair. We are all different in size, shape and body type. Our Elohim, the God of creation is an amazing creator to be able to make each and every one of us as individual and unique as we are. Look into faces today and praise the creator of those faces, if you get the opportunity look at a newborn baby and praise Him ~ Elohim!

ELOHIM – Creator of Heaven and Earth

I have read this first chapter of Genesis more times than I could ever count. But today I am asking God to show it to me with fresh eyes! As I was reading there were a few things I noticed this time, that I’m not sure I’ve ever taken note of before. 

First of all, have you ever thought of the fact that it says in verse 2 the earth was without form and void. It is so hard to imagine it and maybe we aren’t really supposed to be able to. But the bottom line is God, our creator, created the earth out of nothing. Now I am a creative. I love to paint, I’ve always been a little crafty and sometime I can hit it on the mark and sometimes whatever I am doing looks like a hot mess. I am a seamstress and sometimes I do well and sometimes I mess things up. But the thing is, I have to start with something. I can’t just make something of nothing. But God can. That’s what He did, He made the earth of nothing. 

The next thing I noticed was there were some things God just spoke into being and there were some things He made. 

“And God said, ‘Let there be light’ and there was light.” Genesis 1:3

That was the first day. 

“And God said, ‘Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters and let it separate the waters from the waters.’ And God made the expanse and separated the waters that were under the expanse from the waters that were above the expanse. And it was so. Genesis 1:6-7

That was the second day. 

On the third day: 

“And God said, ‘Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.’ And it was so.” Genesis 1:9

“And God said, ‘Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth.’ And it was so.” Genesis 1:11

On the fourth day, God spoke into being the lights in the sky, the sun, the moon and the stars. That are the signs for our seasons and they give us light day in and day out. He actually numbered those stars when he set them in the sky and calls them out by name. 

Then the fifth day, God created sea creatures and birds and He set them into the sea and the sky and He told them to multiply on the earth and fill the waters. 

And on the sixth day, God made the animals and the livestock and the insects. Have you ever really looked at all the animals and thought of how creative God is to have created the giraffe and the elephant and a dog and a cat. But still on the sixth day ~ 

“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…” Genesis 1:26

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them…” Genesis 1:27-28

God spoke many things into being, he made many things but God created man in his own image. Wow! And when you flip over to Genesis 2 in verse 7 he actually gives a little detail into how He did it. 

“then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.” Genesis 2:7 

When God made Adam, the very first man, He actually breathed His very breath into Him to bring Him to life.

God created this earth and the sun, moon and stars, the sea creatures, the birds of the air, the livestock, the animals, the ants, the bees and insects and man in a six days. But the one that we get the most detail and that actually got the breath of God breathed into him was man. God spoke some things into being, He made things, but He formed man from the dust of the earth and breathed life into him. And He did it in His own image. 

I hope that hits you like it has hit me. It inspires me. It makes me sit in awe of Him and in awe of the desires that He has put inside of me. It makes me understand why when I am creating I actually feel a little closer to God. My Elohim, the God who created me. 

The Names of God

I am going to be doing a study on some of the names of God. I have often heard someone pray or teach and they could call on the names of God at just a thought of whatever was the circumstance at the time and I have wished I knew what each name meant and where it was in scripture and could have recall like that. I will be using a little book by Wendy Blight called “I Know His Name” for my study along with God’s word of course, and I will start with studying the names that she has outlined.

This week we will study Elohim, the God who creates us. This is pronounced el-o-heem. It turns out that this is the first name of God mentioned in the Bible. When we read Genesis 1:1 we see God, but in the original Hebrew language the word for God was Elohim. 

“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:1

The word el is a generic word for god. Notice the little g. Therefore it is plural as in God as well as other gods but when you add im to the end of the generic name it makes the word plural. But when Elohim is used in the Bible it is always used with a singular verb. This signifies one God, not many gods. But this one God is a triune God. You know God in three persons, God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Our God is unique in that He is a God of unity as well as a God of diversity in His nature. He is the only God who has the name Elohim, He has many attributes and characteristics not just one. 

To quote Wendy in her book: 

“Though the exact meaning of Elohim is not known, the name itself incorporates the idea of strength and power and speaks to the supremacy of God as He reveals Himself though His creation.” 

This morning as I start this study I am sitting on my porch watching a silvery, foggy, yet beautiful sunrise over the lake. While my favorite sunrises have a few clouds in them. On this morning I am seeing creation wake up and I can’t help but praise Him who created this place, this earth, this world, that we get to live in temporarily. I have often on vacations to the mountains looked out and said “how can people not worship God who could create all of this?” I have sat on a beach and watched the waves come and go and marveled at the power of God. Have you looked at creation like that lately? I can’t say I do every day, but I want to. I am better about it now because I have the advantage of living in a place that has beautiful sunrises and sunsets by just walking out on my porch. But I can’t say that I have always looked at things that way. When I lived in town and my neighbors were so close I could hear their cars crank up and hear their voices if they were outside I didn’t always go out and look at creation quite the same way that I do here. I would have to remind myself to go look. Sometimes when I felt so hungry for God I would ask Him to show me something beautiful. And He always did. I would always notice something that I may not have noticed had I not been intentional about asking God to show me. Today when you look at creation, praise the creator of this creation. In the beginning He created these, the heavens and the earth, and He is still painting us beautiful sunrises and sunsets. Tonight when the stars come out go out and look up and know that our God put those stars in place. 

“Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls forth each of them by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.” Isaiah 40:26

Have you ever thought about that? He puts them out one by one and He actually calls them out by name. Look up and think how pretty those stars but be sure you praise the one who put them in place. Elohim! 

Here I Raise my Ebenezer

“Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying ‘Thus far the Lord has helped us.’” 1 Samuel 7:12

Samuel took this stone and set it up as a memorial because of the way the Lord had helped the Israelites win a battle with the Philistines. If you have ever heard the hymn Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing then you’ve surely heard the line that says “Here I raise my Ebenezer”. For years I didn’t really know what that line meant, but it comes from this verse in 1 Samuel. The word Ebenezer means “stone of help” so Samuel set this stone up and named it Ebenezer so that the Israelites would have something to look upon to remember how God had helped them in battle to defeat the Philistines. 

Well for the past couple of years we have been in a battle with this unseen virus that is attacking us from all sides. And just when we think maybe it is subsiding, I will know someone else who has it and is battling it. We are also battling things these days like inflation, our gas and grocery prices are getting higher and higher. There are times that it is hard to get goods and services that we normally could just go down to our local Wal-Mart and pick up. Never in my life did I think we would ever see a shortage of baby formula. Things are just plain crazy. 

But when we raise our Ebenezer, we want to look at the ways the Lord has helped us thus far. I think sometimes reflection can be good. Especially when you don’t feel like you are making much progress. It is good to look back and see how far you have come. You see when you are in the middle of the baby steps it is so hard to see the progress. But when you look back and see how far you have come it somehow will help spur you to go a little farther on. I think looking back over the last couple of years helps me to not take for granted the things that I did before, like going to church. When our churches were shut down and we were worshipping from our living rooms I missed fellowship. Now, I am so grateful to walk through the doors of my fellowship every Sunday. I don’t HAVE to go to church on Sunday, I GET to go to church on Sunday. 

As I think back over the last couple of years, they have been hard years but I want to say that as I raise my Ebenezer, I am closer to the Lord than I have ever been. He has helped me thus far by meeting with me daily. He has become my constant companion. Oh I know He was there all along and I have had a daily quiet time for many years but I can tell you that some of the isolation that I felt during Covid fostered a more intimate, more personal, more steadfast relationship with my Savior. I know Him better, I trust Him even more than I did before. I love Him more and I am grateful for His ever present constant companionship. 

So how about it? What’s your Ebenezer? How has the Lord helped you in this Corona-battle thus far? Or whatever battle you have been facing? Maybe you have been going through a personal battle that is just between you and God? Maybe it’s a marriage that has fallen apart? Maybe it’s rebuilding your life after a financial breakdown or a rehabilitation? Maybe it’s loss of a loved one or a diagnosis? Go ahead, look back, reflect a little, raise an Ebenezer, to look at and remember how the Lord has helped you thus far! I think it will encourage you to take the next steps! 

When Evil Wins a Battle

A couple of days ago, in Texas, parents dropped their kids off at school or watched their kids get on a school bus and didn’t realize it would be the last time they would see them breathing. I’d like to say there is no way you can hear about it or you can watch it on the news and not be heartbroken. But the hard truth is there are evil people in the world. And someone somewhere is not heartbroken. I can’t imagine it, you probably can’t imagine it but the cold, sobering truth is that is true. Why do I point that out you may ask? Because it’s that very evil that caused those children and those teachers to not get to go home that day. It’s that very evil that is alive and well in the world. And it’s that very evil we must be aware of. As our friend Peter says: 

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

I keep hearing and seeing, we must do something and yes, I do totally agree. Our schools need to be more secure, where a madman can’t just walk in with a gun. We need to be able to go to school, or the grocery store, or the movie or get on a plane and feel safe. But we also have to realize that evil people have been around since Cain killed Abel. People with their own agendas, people with their own warped minds, people with no thought but their own selfish gain. And as long as there are people who are criminals, there will be criminal acts against innocent people. I know that those are not very comforting words but I also know in my own simple minded way, that those are true words. 

But what we can do is lean in a little closer to Jesus today. We can know that as long as there are people walking around on this earth and until the day of Jesus’ return that there will be evil amongst us because that adversary is amongst us too. But we can also know and keep deep in our heart who wins the war in the end. That lying lizard may have won a battle in Texas the other day, but we know that Jesus wins the war and because of that we can place our hope in him. We grieve those children, and those teachers in Texas, but we do not grieve as those who have no hope. (1 Thessalonians 4:13) We continue to pray that God will help us and our loved ones to be safe against the adversary and the evil people in the world. And we pray for the parents and families who didn’t have someone come home from school. I can’t even imagine. And we also pray for the loners in schools and that we would be more aware of them and befriend them before their mind gives way to evil. We pray for safety and we pray for peace. And we keep our eyes fixed on the one who can give us peace. 

There is an old hymn that will sometimes play over and over in my mind when my heart is broken over something or when I don’t have a direction. It’s the answer to everything that my heart needs, especially when I don’t know what my heart needs. 

Turn your eyes upon Jesus, 

Look full in his wonderful face. 

And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, 

In the light of His glory and grace!

THE STATE OF MY HEART! 

Wow! I originally wrote this at the end of Spring Break week last year in March. I ran across it this morning and not only did I spend last week with my favorite little people, I also saw my friend. And I find, that it all still holds true to me today! 

“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalm 139:23-24 (NIV)

My heart has been on a rollercoaster this week. We did some traveling and we got to go see our favorite little people, as well as our favorite grown people and it was a fun, sweet special time. I also went to visit my best friend who is slowly succumbing to the ugly disease of Alzheimers. We raised our babies together, she had girls and I had boys but they grew up thinking they may as well have been brothers and sisters. She is 8 years into her battle and it is heartbreaking and sweet all at the same time. She is in a happy place right now and that is a blessing to her family and all who love her. But my heart does still hurt because I miss her and the talks that we had. She had such a way of always pointing me back to Jesus. I am so glad that He brought her into my life as a young mama and that He allowed me to have the advantage of her friendship and her wisdom for most of my adult life! 

I am back on my porch this morning with the Lord and my heart has just been all over the place. It is a cloudy day but there is still a hint of color. I am at the end of my spring break week which means I will be headed back to work Monday morning and my mornings will have to have a little more structure to them. As I was praying this morning and asking God what message He wanted to give to me, He led me to this verse and I thought it was very sweet of Him. Isn’t it just amazing how He does meet us where we are? I love that on a morning where I can’t seem to find the words to put on a page because my heart is leaping in so many different directions He gave me affirmation that He knows that. As I read this over and over and then if you know me, you know I went to other translations it was like a balm to my heart. I want to quote you a couple of other translations. 

The ESV says it this way: 

“Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting! Psalm 139:23-24 (ESV) 

There are those exclamation points I have come to love so much. I love the emphasis of an exclamation point in scripture. 

But one of my favorite translations of this scripture is in The Passion Translation

“God, I invite your searching gaze into my heart. Examine me through and through; find out everything that may be hidden within me. Put me to the test and sift through all my anxious cares. See if there is any path of pain I’m walking on, and lead me back to your glorious, everlasting way- the path that brings me back to you.” Psalm 139:23-24 

I love the way this one reads like a prayer. You see if we belong to Him, and even if we don’t, God knows our hearts, whether we invite Him in or not. But I find that when my emotions and my thoughts and my heart are all over the place that inviting Him in will help me to get back on the path! I ask Him to examine me through and through so that I can make sense of all the things going on in my heart and in my mind. If I am harboring grievous thoughts or hurts or if I have offensive ways, I want Him to show me. He knows my anxious cares and He knows if I am headed down a path of pain and I need to be redirected back to Him.  

INTO the Wilderness!

“When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near. For God said, ‘Lest the people change their minds when they see war and return to Egypt.’ But God led the people around by the way of the wilderness toward the Red Sea. And the people of Israel went up out of the land of Egypt equipped for battle.” Exodus 13:17-18

The first time I really noticed this verse was a couple of years ago. I felt like I was in the middle of a spiritual battle and I could not understand it one bit. I have walked with Him for years, why would He allow me to have to go through some of the pain that I was going through at the time. The words “God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near… But God led the people around by the way of the wilderness” jumped off the page to me. What? God actually led those Israelites INTO the wilderness when there would have been a shorter route to where they were heading? I wonder if any of the Israelites knew their geography enough that they were wanting to say “Hey Moses, we are going the wrong way!” I wonder if when they got to the Red Sea if they were thinking to themselves, “Uh-huh if you had gone the right way we wouldn’t be hemmed in with this sea in front of us and an Egyptian army behind us!” But God didn’t want them to have the easy way. He knew that the way that they saw as easy would have obstacles too and it would set them up to make an easy retreat too. See God knew that taking them through the wilderness would build some character in some of them AND that it would give Him opportunities to show His glory in ways that the easy way nor an easy retreat would. If the Israelites had never gone by way of the wilderness they wouldn’t have seen the Red Sea parted nor would we have that wonderful story to still be talking about today. God knew that the time in the wilderness was going to give a greater story and give Himself a greater glory! 

Sometimes it’s like that for us too. In fact if we let God do the work in us in our wilderness experiences it will always do that. It will build a character in us that we couldn’t get if we always had the easy life and the easy way out. If we lean into Him in those wilderness experiences we will grow in character and in our spiritual lives in ways that won’t happen otherwise. I know that things I have gone through that I hand over to Him, always turn out better in the end. I can’t say that I would want to relive them but I have learned to be grateful for them. When you lean into Him when things are going rough, He can weave something beautiful out of your circumstances. You can know Him on a deeper level and with a deeper understanding than you would ever have known Him if He didn’t have to carry you. And you will have opportunities to give Him the glory. 

What wilderness are you going through right now? What pain do you wish He would just take away? What hurt is so deep that you can’t even see what or how He will ever be able to redeem for you? As you sit back and you think of things that came to mind when you read those questions, invite Him in. Ask Him to redeem the pain and the hurt for His glory. Ask Him to lead you and to guide you and to grow you as you walk out the wilderness He may have you in right now. And if you need to, ask Him to carry you. And then know dear friend that one day you will be able to look back and see where He parted some seas for you so you could walk on dry ground. Have faith and keep on walking.

NEW THINGS?

Good morning friends! 

Whenever I end a series that I have studied and written about I always ponder just what I will write about next. I have been committed to a daily quiet time for many years now, and I have pretty much journaled for the entire time that I have had a quiet time, at some times more consistent than others, but I have only been writing this devotional consistently about what I learned since the beginning of the pandemic, for the last two years. The truth is though that sometimes the surgery that He is doing on my heart is too personal to put out publicly. So sometimes it feels like, while I am learning from Him, that I struggle a bit with what to say because some times are just for me and Him, at least for the time being. Who knows what He will do with what He is teaching me in the future.  

That being said, I may be entering a season of some hit and miss times. For one thing I am about to enter summer mode in my job which will put me having to be at work an hour earlier 4 days a week than I do during the school year. I already get up very early to have my quiet time that I find it difficult to back that up any further so it cuts my time for writing down significantly. And for another I have some things processing in me that are not ready for me to put out yet publicly. I have two options. I have enough writing that I can do some repeats here or I can just hit and miss. I would like to hear from some of you as to what you would like for me to do. And between what you feed back and what the Lord leads I will do. 

Please please continue to mention me in your prayers. Above all, I want my life as well as what I write here on this page to be about loving Jesus and honoring God. I am so very human, aren’t we all? And I know that sometimes what I live out, especially to those closest to me does not always align with this. Bless my family’s hearts. I have said many times before that I will write these devotions as long as the Lord leads me to. So I ask you to pray that I will hear Him clearly on what my next steps are. And if you want me to post repeats even if I am not in writing mode, please let me know that, either in the comments or in a private message. I would appreciate the feedback. Thank you all that read and comment and share, it humbles me so much. 

For now … 

“Behold I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” Isaiah 43:19

GOD HAS BIGGER PLANS

“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen” Ephesians 3:20-21 (NKJV)

I know I have claimed many many verses in scripture as “my favorite” but this one, this truly may be my very very favorite verse of all time!!  It blows me away every time I read it. I quoted it here in the NKJV because I so love this wording “exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think”. That is truly amazing isn’t it? That means better than you can even imagine yourself. 

I can honestly say to you I have had it happen. I have had situations I prayed for and I gave God a play by play in my book and it turned out way better. There are so many times that I have been so grateful to God that He didn’t answer my prayers the way I asked because what I ended up with turned out way better than I could have ever thought.  

So why is it, that I still in my hard headedness want to take things into my own hands and I want to give Him the play by play of how I think things are to work out? I am not sure why I still do that. I have seen Him work, I know His power. I know He has better thoughts than me and I know that He has better plans than me and I know that He has a better way than me. I think I am a little like the father of the child in Mark that cries out “Lord I believe, help my unbelief!” But still, I say to Him “Lord, I know you can handle this, but this is how I want you to handle it.” “Lord I know you can heal, but this is how I want you to do it.” Why do I have to relearn my lessons over and over again? 

I am so glad that God is patient with me and loves me anyway. So again this morning I am going to drag my big bag of burdens that I picked up yesterday all day long as the day went on and I am going to lay them at the foot of the cross and I am going to say. 

Lord, I have this thing, that is hurting my heart, but I know that you have a better way, you have a better plan, you have better thoughts than me and I want to lay them down to You and I want You to do exceedingly, abundantly, above and beyond anything my mind can imagine! And I will give You all that glory right now! 

Amen!