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YHWH, The Great I AM

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The Needle. My sister and I used to love to pore through the magazine, ‘Country.’ It was full of beautiful colored photos of landscapes, old barns and wheelbarrows filled with flowers. Amongst the photos and handed down recipes, they hid a small ‘needle’ somewhere in the issue. I became obsessed with finding that needle. Once found, it was SO apparent where it was, I was amazed I had missed it.

Unlike the needle, God’s word is not hidden to us. In the Old Testament God’s country-magazinename is almost always translated LORD in the English Bible, appearing some 6500+ times. THAT is a lot of name dropping! LORD as in all caps. And no, it was not the authors attempt to yell Gods name or a typo on the publisher’s part. This is referred to as the ‘Tetragrammaton’ (Greek for ‘consisting of 4 letters’) In the original text, it is YHWH, (Yahweh, or some translations use Jehovah) and occurs in every OT book except Ecclesiastes and Esther. The all caps distinguish it from other Hebrew names for God. (i.e. ‘Lord’ which is Adonai, meaning ‘Master’) LORD is built on what God revealed to Moses in Exodus 3, after God tells him to go to Egypt and demand His people are set free, Moses asks what His name is. He isn’t necessarily asking ‘What shall I call You?” Rather he is asking “WHO are You?” According to Jewish thought and tradition, a name is not a random word, but the name of the person conveys their nature, character and essence. God answers him as such: “I AM WHO I AM, This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.”

I AM.

Although He had been known as El Shaddai (God Almighty) the covenant keeping God to the patriarchs, (Abe, Isaac & Jacob) now He wanted His people to know Him, experience Him also as Deliverer, in their now and continue to be known. “Therefore, say to the Israelites: ‘I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment. I will take you as My own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the LORD your God, who brought you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians.” (Exodus 6:6-7)

monkimageLooking to the scholars, most are in agreement, ‘I AM’ conveys ‘to be.’ The root word signifies existence. One might say, “I am present is what I am” God’s all-pervading, ever-present nature, character and essence in our here and now. He is the “I AM THAT I AM” -the One Who was, Who is and is to come. (Revelation 1:8).

Jesus bolding stated in John 8:58 “I tell you the truth, before Abraham was born, I am!” The Jews were so irate; they picked up stones to kill Him, such an awesome-fearful thing for Him to say. (Go God!) In the olive grove (John 18) when Judas approached with the soldiers, they said they were looking for Jesus of Nazareth, Jesus answers, “I am He.” (Literally, “I am.”) The narrative says the soldiers drew back and fell to the ground, struck no doubt by the MAJESTY of His words.

Just like the needle, the LORD wants us to see Him, (um …6500+ repetitive use of His name assures that) He wants us to know Him, may He be so ever apparent. Each time we read ‘LORD’ let us take pause, look at the context, insert “The Great I AM, the One Who is…” Like David wrote, “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14) “O, LORD…the Great I AM! The One Who is and ever will be… my strength and my redeemer!”

May the written word flow and bleed into our everyday lives, that not only on the parchment may we see and seek after Him, the LORD, but LOOK for Him in our everyday, the Great I AM.

The author of Hebrews wrote: “But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6, emphasis mine)

God says, “I AM.” We say, “He is.”

And for you Scrabble players, ‘Tetragrammaton’ … BOOM!  67 points!

In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love & good deeds.” – Hebrews 10:24)

Side Note: The most devout of Judaism, will to this day not pronounce His 9b22fdf917a2440404afbe7df15767caname aloud. It is known as the Unutterable Name, the “Ineffable Name” (too great or extreme to be expressed or described in words.) Even when reading the scriptures when they see LORD, they will replace with Adonai, or Ha-Shem (The Name) So honoring.

 

Sticky Notes From God

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“Backup.” For the past week or two every time I open my laptop I see the now bent and ruffled orange sticky note that simply reads, “Backup.” I put it there to remind me. It was brought to my attention that I haven’t backed up my computer in a very long time. All my teaching notes from a recent series on the Fruit of the Spirit, devotionals and family pictures sat dangerously unsecured. Each time I sat down to study, read emails or peruse through Facebook, that sticky note was glanced at, unheeded and then quickly forgotten. Although I had set the reminder there for me to take action, it soon became familiar. So familiar that I really didn’t give it much notice.

As I took the sticky note off yesterday (AFTER I finally backed up the computer) I felt the Holy Spirit nudge me that at times I treat Him the same (OUCH!) Head hung, shoulders slumped, a prayer whispered, “Forgive me.” We do that don’t we? Sometimes God, and God’s word is such a large part of our life, that we just assume He/it will always be there. Oh He will, but by golly I NEVER want to take Him or His word for granted, that I simply take a glance, unheeded and quickly forget. I have scripture all over; the kitchen, the bathroom, the dinner set-the-lord-before-me-sticky-notetable, entry way and even in my car. BUT, seeing those, so familiar… do I read it, take pause and consider, heed it, live it, share it? William Gurnall a quiet unknown to many theologian of the 1600’s wrote: “Love sets the soul on musing.” Do we reflect, mediate deeply on God?

King David wrote: “I have set the LORD always before me. Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.” (Psalm 16:8) Interesting word picture, the word for ‘set’ can be translated as …equally. In context: “I have equally set the Lord before me.” Meaning, in every situation, every day-to-day activities, in every conversation, enjoyment and sorrow, I place God THERE. But it doesn’t stop there, it conveys the idea of ‘to match.’ If we place God alongside our current circumstance and they don’t match up, what is the proposed action? Adjustment! But just like my orange sticky note, I HAVE to take notice, heed, and take action.

The Psalmist wrote, “You’re blessed when you stay on course, walking steadily on the road revealed by GOD. You’re blessed when you follow His directions, doing your best to find Him. That’s right—you don’t go off on your own; you walk straight along the road He set. You, GOD, prescribed the right way to live; now You expect us to live it. Oh, that my steps might be steady, keeping to the course You set; Then I’d never have any regrets in comparing my life with do-not-enterYour counsel. I thank You for speaking straight from Your heart; I learn the pattern of Your righteous ways. I’m going to do what You tell me to do; don’t ever walk off and leave me. How can a young person live a clean life? By carefully reading the map of Your Word. I’m single-minded in pursuit of You; don’t let me miss the road signs You’ve posted.” Psalm 119:1-10 (MSG) He continues in verse 30, “I have chosen the way of truth, I have set my heart on Your laws.”

O Lord, grace us with the desire, the longing to set You before us and not quickly turn away, but take a good long-hard look, heed and make adjustments where needed. May we too respond like David, “Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices.” (the next verse, Psalm 16:9)

Road signs and sticky notes from God.

In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love & good deeds.” – Hebrews 10:24)

“But Sir!”

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Ever been asked to do something that is way beyond you, you find yourself paralyzed with joy stealing, self -esteem destroying and assignment killing thoughts? You attempt to dart behind something in hopes of not being seen.   I have.

We are not alone. The Lord calls to Gideon “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.” Telling him, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand…” You know, those folks that have been terrorizing you for some time, taking all your livestock, messing up your crops and forced you to run to caves and hide. Yup, them. I LOVE Gideon’s response, just a guy going about his business, then this! So honest, so explaining, so TERRIFIED. “But Sir… How boycan I, my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.” (Judges 6:13,15) Head hung, shoulders slumped.

We all have “But Sir” moments, don’t we? Moments when God asks something of us, moments when we need to do or be something that is beyond us. In our calling, our assignment we feel weak, insignificant and definitely not qualified. We look at our weapons and they seem dinky and dull. Oh, God’s response is SO valuable, to Gideon He says, “I will be with you and you will…”

Moses, standing strong with a staff  lifted high over his head as he shouts with authority, “Let my people go!” He too had a “But Sir!” moment. You would think as he stood near the bush that seems to self combust into flames he would immediately be convinced. God tells him after 400+ years of his brothers bound in slavery, “So now, go. I am sending you.” God was sending him to rod-of-the-supernaturalPharaoh to demand the Israelites come out of Egypt. Moses does the panic response, “Suppose they ask who sent me, what if they don’t believe me and by-golly I don’t even speak very good, I tend to studd-der and stt-tammer. God’s response is the same, “I will be with you.” (Exodus 3 & 4)

King David writes, “The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives.” (Psalm 37:23) David is known to have written this in his old age, as he looks back over the triumphs rippled with failures, he acknowledges his God was there in it and through it, every detail of his life, in the moments of “I am to do this!”

Paul exhorts young Timothy, “I remind you to fan into flames the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, love and self-discipline.” (2 Timothy 1:6,7) Perhaps you too feel a bit under qualified, rather scared and defeated, you can’t even figure out HOW to get your ducks in a row. You even doubt what you feel God called you to, please join me, as we turn our ‘But Sir’ into ‘I will be with you and you will…”   Go in His Spirit of power, walking in love and self-discipline.

Fanning the flames!

In Him DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love & good deeds.” – Heb. 10:24)

 

The Trained Man

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Saul replied, “You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a young man, and he has been a warrior from his youth.” – 1 Sam. 17:33 (emphasis mine)

I LOVE the story of David and Goliath. Big ugly dude yelling stupid things about God and God’s people, then … an errand boy was sent into the Israelites camp. Goliath yells, “This day I defy the armies of Israel! Give me a man and let us fight each other.” Goliath is not only asking for a ‘man’ to challenge, but in the Hebrew, in this context, the word he chooses can also be translated as ‘champion, soldier, warrior,’ a mans man.  In other words, send out your trained! Your BEST! Scholars believe David was about 17 when he basically told King Saul ‘send me.’ Saul’s response is natural, “You are not able to go” and proceeds to state what seems to be the obvious.

The rest of the story is amazing. Saul tries to get David to wear his suit of armor. Nope. There was no hesitation on David’s part. No, “Give me a minute while I figure this out.” David knew his God was with him against the lions and bears, he would INDEED be with him against the nine foot increasingly bad tongued Philistine. He takes his sling and stick, while picking up a few smooth stones on the way and RUSHES towards Goliath. (Dead giant) Goliath called for a man, King Saul said you are a mere lad. A boy slingdid what a man was called to do. However!  You see Goliath got exactly what he was asking for. David had trained in the fields alone protecting and defending his father’s sheep, killing all predators, Goliath may have been a warrior since his youth as Saul stated, but so had David. A trained man.

Intertesting side note: The narrative says that as David and Goliath approached each other, Goliath had his ‘shield bearer out in front of him’ he couldn’t do it alone. (Not so tough now big guy!) And beyond the glamorous flannel graph stories, David not only killed the giant with one swing of his sling, but ran to him, took his sword and cut off his head. He cut off the very thing that yelled those horrendous statements about his God. Who said the bible is boring!

What is God calling us to? What giant stands before us? Be assured they aren’t as tough as they proclaim! What have we been in training for all these years, in the isolation of ‘just me and God.’ May we too not hesitate when we are called beyond what we seem to be, when someone tells us, “You are not able to… You are only…” Let us not try to fit into someone elses ‘armor’ – but take up what we know and RUN towards what God calls us to. I’m sure if you wish to yell, “For Narnia“, God will understand.  And remember, what may seem to be a simple ‘errand’ we may walk out victoriously slaying a giant.

Now go…

* The whole exciting story can be found in 1 Samuel 17.

In Him, DeDe (“Let us spur one another towards love and good deeds.” – Heb. 10:24)

 

YOU Define the Depth

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Have you ever felt compelled to get all spiffy’d up, throw on your most beloved black dress, your best pair of pumps, and you are now so beautifully accessorized Macy’s would want you in their front window. Then realize you have no destination in mind, ‘all dressed up and nowhere to go?’

Our relationship with God is like that at times, we read our Bibles, write in our journals, have our devotions, say our prayers, be in attendance at church, shake the hand of the person next to us (check, check, check and CHECK!) yet … that is as far as we get and as deep as it goes.  I’ve been guilty of this at times. It’s as if I am waiting for God to make the first move. Not that I am waiting for a burning bush experience, that would be too freaky or the blinding lights of the road to Damascus. But come on, be honest, in this day and age we expect things to always come OUR way effortlessly.  Or push a button and we get INSTANT results. There may be a ‘Staples’ button, but there is not an ‘Instant Depth’ outside-comfort-zonebutton for God.

James says clearly “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” (4:8) We gotta step out, make the move. One of God’s attributes that I strongly appreciate is that of His patience. He longs for us to come to Him, He is waiting. The principle is the same in all relationships, if you want it to be strong and deep, you have to cultivate it, put time and energy into it … PARTICIPATE in it.

Jesus is a wonderful example of this; Matthew chapter 26, Jesus leaves the crowds, leaves the disciples. Now with just Peter, James and John, it says He went ‘further still.’  He gets away … alone.   Falling on His face and prays “FATHER …”

May we too take it a little farther to be alone with the Father. Let’s do some ‘drawing near’.  Do we simply wear the snorkel mask for an expected shallow depth or do we prepare – position for a depth of divine proportion?

diverSo today, let’s enjoy our relationship with God.  But let’s not merely dip a toe or two, but SUIT UP!   YOU define the depth! Call out to Him, seek Him, enter in and draw close to Him. “Come boldly to the throne of grace” (Heb. 4:16)  Woman of God, now go…

In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love and good deeds.” – Heb. 10:24)

 

What’s Your 2017 Word?

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Words. Amazing things.  One word alone can alter your day, your moment. RUN!”  (see) At the rollover of the calendar each year I begin asking the Lord for a word.  One word that may describe His emphasis for me, perhaps His finger that points in a new direction or most assuredly a word to study. In the past I was given words like, ‘regardless,’ THAT was a dandy of a year! As I was writing in my journal a few days ago, I was taken to something I had written awhile back:  “Aman – Hebrew <H539> (awe-mon) Genesis 15:6 ‘Abe believed…’ to confirm, support, firm, faithful, sure. To go to the right hand.”  Ok, granted my journal entries differ from the average Jane, there is no ‘Dear Diary’ or written out prayers. It is full of words I find intriguing, words like (Hebrew or Greek) rhema, hokmah, tamin, paroxysmos, gibbor and aman.

What I immensely enjoy about our God … He is so very, VERY personal. He knows and talks our language.  As I re-read the word ‘aman’  I felt He whispered it back to me, “Aman… Me.”  The moment was tender, yet I knew this wasn’t a suggestion. Remembering when I briefly studied the word, my eyes began to well up. Aman (believe) has such a strong emphasis, it doesn’t just mean, “Yah, I believe IN God,” it conveys “I BELIEVE God!”  If we were to add weight to the easy-camp-tent-peg-guide_620x300word, it would paint the picture of taking a tent stake and pounding it into the ground, fixing the tent on/in a firm solid place. THAT is believe (aman.) It’s taking what is in our left hand, those things that seem somewhat doubtful, ideas or concepts not fully accepted and moving them firmly to our right hand, the right hand of belief.

Remember the story of Jonah (man runs from God and encounters fish, wait… FISH) His mission: Go tell the icky bad guys to give it up and get right with God (I paraphrase) As Jonah did, “The Ninevites believed God…” (3:5) then, “they turned from their evil ways… God had compassion…” (v 10)  They ‘amaned’ God, they came to the end of themselves, took action and turned from the ick and turned to God.

Believing God means devotional active obedience.  I believe God, truly believe His word, His promises (and warnings) I live my life accordingly.  My hand that once held doubt is now empty, my right hand is gloriously filled with confidence, as Paul wrote about Abe… “being fully persuaded that God had power to do what He had promised.” (Romans 4:21)

I know I have a lot to ‘go to the right hand’  but I am excited to see what opportunities God places in my path ‘to move.’  (When in the thick of it – I may deny any and all endorsements later, HA!)

One of my dear friends shared her word is ‘forward’ and a family member, ‘fearless. ’  Perhaps you too would ask God for a word. In doing so, Holy Spirit whisper that word to us continually over the course of 2017.  May we look for it, for YOU with anticipation and expectation.  Grant us Lord, the grace and power to respond in devotional active obedience!

Go God!

In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love & good deeds.” – Heb. 10:24)

 

(Side Note: In the above journal entry, I wrote ‘Aman’ – Hebrew <H539> The numeric reference indicates the word is Hebrew ‘H’ (Old Testament) and the number assigned within the Strong’s Hebrew Dictionary.  Writing this number helps me go back and find it with ease in my bible software.  It is my geeky way.  Also, ‘Aman’ is the root word in which ‘amen’ is derived – It is likened to a Judge slamming the gavel down with firm persuasion, “So be it.”)

 

 

Revelation vs Resolution

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As the calendar takes on a new year, we flip through the photos, whether it be of puppies, golf images or as mine hangs proudly, tropical scenes of white sandy beaches. The empty squares indicating days yet to be lived. Those 12 pages can either propel us or paralyze us.

The change of the New Year has traditionally become a re-setting if you will of our life compass. We evaluate the past and plan for the future. For some of us, this means sitting down writing out our Resolutions. Money to be made, exercise routines, diet plans, buy that new house, get that promotion, clean out those closets, get organized and the list goes on. Don’t get me wrong, these are all a good plan of attack for the New Year. A New Year’s Resolution can be defined as ‘a firm decision to do or not do something, a course of action designed with intent to keep a vow.’  Statistics claim, one in three Americans make a New Year’s resolution of some sort, yet only about 75% of these folks stick to their goal … for at least … a week.  Head hung, shoulders slumped.  Sigh.

Have we considered that instead of a resolution to do better, get more, and perhaps be something other than we are, that we seek … revelation? As we read through our bibles this year, may we see new qualities of God that cause us to take pause and be in awe of Him. May we see areas He wants growth in our lives 1471456328750…yield and surrender.

As we stand at the door of 2017, may we truly position ourselves to seek a fresh revelation of our God. Making a firm decision to take action to learn more of His love, trust His hand and bow more in gratitude of His mercy and grace.  We ask, INVITE You Lord, show us.

I pray over us as Paul did, “For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love,  may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,  and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” – Eph. 3:14-21

From our home to yours, a hardy blessed Happy New Year.

In Him, DeDe & Mark ( “Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” – Heb. 10:24)