The Lord Is My Shepherd

This week, we are looking at the character of this One to whom we are called to submit. And one way we know the Lord is as our Shepherd.

Psalm 23 begins with the Hebrew words “Yahweh rohi,” the Lord my Shepherd. Yahweh, in our English Bibles LORD (in all caps), is the unique and sacred name of the Everlasting and Eternal God – the almighty, omniscient and omnipotent Creator.

The New Testament focuses on God incarnate, God in human flesh, Who we know as Jesus Christ. He is identified in John 10:11 as the Good Shepherd. “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” So both Father (Yahweh) and Son (Jesus Christ) are the Shepherd of those who have surrendered to their rule.

Psalm 23 was written by David, who during his youth had been a shepherd over his father’s flock. He took seriously his responsibility as the protector of the sheep.

In 1 Samuel 17, we read of some of young David’s experiences as a shepherd. In answer to King Saul’s concern that David was only a youth, not able to go against the Philistine giant Goliath who was taunting the army of Israel, David recalls some of the dangers he faced and overcame as he was tending sheep for his father, saying this Philistine would be like one of the lions or bears he battled as a shepherd.

“Your servant used to keep sheep for his father. And when there came a lion, or a bear, and took a lamb from the flock, I went after him and struck him and delivered it out of his mouth. And if he arose against me, I caught him by his beard and struck him and killed him.” (1 Samuel 17:33-34 ESV)  

Sheep are definitely not the smartest animals God created! They constantly need to be under the watchful eye of a shepherd as they graze. In the hilly terrain of Palestine, sheep faced many dangers. For example, if one sheep jumped off a cliff, and there was no shepherd there to protect them, the whole flock would likely follow. Therefore having an alert and vigilant shepherd to watch over them was essential.

Let’s look at Psalm 23 verse by verse. In these six short verses, we are promised:

* RELATIONSHIP AND PROVISION:The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” (Psalms‬ ‭23:1a‬) (The word translated “want” ‬refers to not lacking anything we need.)

* REST AND RESTORATION:He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul.” (Psalm 23:2-3a)

* GUIDANCE AND PURPOSE: “He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” (Psalms‬ ‭23:3b‬)‬

* GOD’S PRESENCE AND COMFORT:Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” (Psalms‬ ‭23:4)‬

* BLESSING AND ABUNDANCE: You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.” (Psalms‬ ‭23:5)

* GOD’S GOODNESS AND MERCY AND AN ETERNITY WITH HIM: Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” (Psalms‬ ‭23:6‬)‭

Like sheep, we are helpless, defenseless, and even purposeless without God in our lives. We need a Shepherd who will protect, provide, and give purpose to our lives. And God wants to be that good Shepherd in our lives.

There’s just one problem. As sheep we are not always wanting what our Good Shepherd provides. W. Phillip Keller, author of A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23, wrote, “It takes some of us a lifetime to learn that Christ, our Good Shepherd, knows exactly what He is doing with us. He understands us perfectly.

We want the care of the Good Shepherd while still reserving the right to do things our way. But that’s not the way it works. Surrender to the One who is our Good Shepherd is to key to being able to partake of all the benefits of being one of His sheep. On this Thankful Thursday, let’s make sure there are no areas of our lives we are refusing to surrender to the Lordship of Christ and then give thanks to God for all the blessings that are a part of the life of surrender.

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I AM WHO I AM

“And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the sons of Israel and say unto them, The God of your fathers has sent me unto you, and if they say to me, What is his name? What shall I say unto them? And God answered unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM. And he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the sons of Israel: I AM (YHWH) has sent me unto you.” Exodus‬ ‭3:13-14‬ ‭JUB‬‬

Today, we are looking at the name that God Himself said is His name, what has been referred to as His memorial or covenant name, I AM. This is the most frequently used name of God used in the Old Testament. First, let’s look at the context in which this name was given.

During a seven-year famine, many of the Israelites had gone to Egypt for food. We know that Joseph’s large family had stayed in Egypt, and it’s probable that many other Israelite families had done the same. Joseph and all his family had died. This is where the book of Exodus begins.

“But the people of Israel were fruitful and increased greatly; they multiplied and grew exceedingly strong, so that the land was filled with them.” Exodus‬ ‭1:7‬ (all verses in ‭ESV unless otherwise indicated)

By this time, a new king was ruling over Egypt, a king who did not know Joseph. He became fearful of the Israelites and enslaved them to build storehouse cities for Pharaoh.

“Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. And he said to his people, “Behold, the people of Israel are too many and too mighty for us. Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, lest they multiply, and, if war breaks out, they join our enemies and fight against us and escape from the land.” Therefore they set taskmasters over them to afflict them with heavy burdens. They built for Pharaoh store cities, Pithom and Raamses.” Exodus‬ ‭1:8-11‬ ‭

“During those many days the king of Egypt died, and the people of Israel groaned because of their slavery and cried out for help. Their cry for rescue from slavery came up to God. And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob.” Exodus‬ ‭2:23-24‬ ‭

God appeared to Moses in a burning bush, and called him to go to Egypt and deliver His people who groaned under the hand of Egypt.

“And now, behold, the cry of the people of Israel has come to me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.” Exodus‬ ‭3:9-10‬ ‭

Moses was reluctant to accept this call from God, and this was the motivation for the question he asked God. And the name God gave him to take to the people of Israel has been called the memorial name of God, His name to be remembered throughout all generations.

“Then Moses said to God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” God said to Moses, “I am who I am. ” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘I am has sent me to you.’” God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations.” Exodus‬ ‭3:13-15‬ ‭

In the original Hebrew of the Old Testament, I AM is written as four consonants, YHWH, known as the tetragrammaton (meaning “four letters”). YHWH was believed by the Jews to be too sacred to be uttered by sinful men, therefore it was written without vowels. In our English Bibles, it is usually translated LORD, in all capital letters to differentiate it from Adonai, Lord.

Some older Bible versions use Jehovah for this proper name of God. A group of Jewish scholars called the Masoretas used the vowels from Adonai, between the initials YHVH, opening the way to a wrong literal translation. The most likely choice for how the tetragrammaton was to be pronounced is “YAH-way,” “YAH-weh,” or something similar. The modern spelling as “Yahweh” includes vowels to assist in pronunciation.

In the Old Testament, YHWH was used most often in passages about God’s dealings with His Chosen people, the Jews. It was a reminder to them of God’s nearness and accessibility. It’s meaning is the self-existent One, YHWH has also been translated I will become whatsoever I will become. God was reminding Moses and the people he was to lead that He would be whatever they needed – the potential was as unlimited!

Kay Arthur wrote about this name of God in her book As Silver Refined.

“When you feel discouraged, when you lack courage, when you think you can’t do it … can’t handle it … can’t survive it … then remember that “with God nothing is impossible.” Remember that “I AM” is our Lord’s memorial name to all generations, including yours and mine! He is everything and anything you will ever need. You can do all things through Christ Jesus who strengthens you; therefore discouragement never comes from God.”

John Piper wrote, “Everything that is not God depends totally on God.Yahweh is a name that reminds us of our dependance upon God. Piper continues, “God does whatever he pleases and it is always right and always beautiful and always in accord with truth… God is the most important and most valuable reality and person in the universe.

YAHWEH

Over the next few weeks, we will be looking at some of the names that expand on Who YAHWEH is and what He can do. You may be more familiar with the pairing of these descriptive terms with Jehovah, but I’ll be using YAHWEH since it is the most likely translation of the Hebrew word. We will be looking at some names of God that combine YAHWEH with descriptive terms that tell us more about our amazing God. But let’s start today by joining Chris Tomlin and Elevation Worship in worshiping YAHWEH, the self-existent God who is above all other gods.

Immanuel: “God With Us”

“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” Isaiah‬ ‭7:14‬ (all verses in ‭ESV‬ unless otherwise noted)

“She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).” Matthew‬ ‭1:21-23‬

Both Immanuel and Emmanuel are found in the Bible. The Old Testament was originally recorded in Hebrew and Chaldean/Aramaic, using Immanuel. The New Testament was originally recorded in Greek, with Emmanuel used in the original text. Many newer versions, such as ESV quoted above, use the Hebrew word in both Scriptures. Both words have the same meaning, God with us.

Today’s name of God is one usually relocated to the Christmas story. True, it’s a name that specifically refers to Jesus’ conception and birth to a young virgin girl named Mary. But “God with us” is so much more. The following quote from Charles Spurgeon makes it clear that Immanuel is not just a name to reflect on when we celebrate Christmas.

This is his name, “God with us,”—God with us, by his incarnation, for the august Creator of the world did walk upon this globe; he who made ten thousand orbs, each of them more mighty and more vast than this earth, became the inhabitant of this tiny atom. He, who was from everlasting to everlasting, came to this world of time, and stood upon the narrow neck of land betwixt the two unbounded seas. “God with us”: he has not lost that name – Jesus had that name on earth, and he has it now in heaven. He is now “God with us.”

So how is God with us today? Here are a few of the ways.

  • God is with us as Christians through the indwelling Holy Spirit.

“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.” John‬ ‭14:16-17‬

“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” 1 Corinthians‬ ‭6:19-20‬

  • God is with us in our times of need.

“And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians‬ ‭4:19‬ ‭

“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews‬ ‭4:16‬ ‭

  • God is with us when we face temptation.

“For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.” Hebrews‬ ‭2:18‬ ‭

“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” 1 Corinthians‬ ‭10:13‬ ‭

  • God is with us giving us wisdom when we don’t know what to do.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” James‬ ‭1:5‬ ‭

“But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.” James‬ ‭3:17‬ ‭

  • God is with us in trials and suffering, working all things together for our good.

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

“And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” 1 Peter‬ ‭5:10-11‬

Jesus’ name Immanuel is so much more than a name to remember at Christmas. God is with us no matter what we may face. God goes before us, He walks beside us, and He lives within us through His Holy Spirit. No matter what we face as we walk through this troubled world, we are never alone.

Immanuel, God With Us

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

Immanuel is an expression of God’s nearness to us as His followers.

El Roi, The God Who Sees Me

Life with chronic illness can make you feel very alone.

You go to a new doctor and leave the office feeling like you were not listened to. After being diagnosed, your earlier dreams have been sidelined. Your life now feels as if you have been assigned to a place of insignificance, and you are powerless to change it. In other words, chronic illness often causes us to feel marginalized, overlooked.

There is a story in the book of Genesis about a young woman who was very familiar with these emotions. Her name was Hagar, and she was an Egyptian servant, purchased by Abram for his wife Sarai. Her story is told in Genesis 16.

“Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. She had a female Egyptian servant whose name was Hagar. And Sarai said to Abram, ‘Behold now, the Lord has prevented me from bearing children. Go in to my servant; it may be that I shall obtain children by her.’ And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai.” Genesis‬ ‭16:1-2‬ ‭(all verses are in ESV‬ unless noted)‬

A woman’s fertility—her childbearing ability—was of great importance in Bible times. A woman gained a sense of value by her ability to give her husband many sons. Those who could not conceive suffered greatly emotionally.

But Sarai had a plan to give Abram the son he wanted. Basically, instead of asking God to heal her barrenness, Sarai decided to take things in her own hands. And Abram went along with her plan. The story continues:

“So, after Abram had lived ten years in the land of Canaan, Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar the Egyptian, her servant, and gave her to Abram her husband as a wife. And he went in to Hagar, and she conceived. And when she saw that she had conceived, she looked with contempt on her mistress. And Sarai said to Abram, “May the wrong done to me be on you! I gave my servant to your embrace, and when she saw that she had conceived, she looked on me with contempt. May the Lord judge between you and me!” But Abram said to Sarai, “Behold, your servant is in your power; do to her as you please.” Then Sarai dealt harshly with her, and she fled from her.” Genesis‬ ‭16:3-6‬

Sarai now decided Abram was to blame for this whole situation. Abram’s response: “Hagar is your servant, so do whatever you want with her.”

Sarai mistreated Hagar so badly that she ran away from her mistress. As Hagar flees from Sarai, God reveals to this lowly servant the name of God that is the focus of today’s blog post.

“Now the angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, by the spring on the way to Shur. He said, “Hagar, Sarai’s maid, where have you come from and where are you going?” And she said, “I am fleeing from the presence of my mistress Sarai.” Then the angel of the Lord said to her, “Return to your mistress, and submit yourself to her authority.” Moreover, the angel of the Lord said to her, “I will greatly multiply your descendants so that they will be too many to count.” The angel of the Lord said to her further, “Behold, you are with child, And you will bear a son; And you shall call his name Ishmael, Because the Lord has given heed to your affliction. He will be a wild donkey of a man, His hand will be against everyone, And everyone’s hand will be against him; And he will live to the east of all his brothers.” Then she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, “You are a God who sees”; for she said, “Have I even remained alive here after seeing Him?””Genesis‬ ‭16:7-13‬ ‭NASB1995‬‬

This is the only time that this name of God is used in Scripture. But we see this name demonstrated if not used in many other portions of Scripture. One of my favorite is Psalm 139, which begins with these words.

“O Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.” Psalm‬ ‭139:1-4‬ ‭‬‬

Yahweh is the God who sees us. He knows our every thought and hears our every word, and He is acquainted with all our ways. He is ‘El rŏ’î, the God who sees you and me!

El Roi, the God Who Sees You and Me
The God Who Sees

Elohim, the All Powerful One, the Creator

This English Bible begins with four simple words: In the beginning, God. God was before Creation. He is the Creator. The verse continues:

“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:1 (All verses are in ESV unless otherwise noted)

The God of Genesis 1:1 is Elohim. Charles Spurgeon said of this verse,

God, the living God, the Creator of the heavens and the earth, sets forth his own name and title, that there may be no mistake as to who he is.”

Most Bible scholars agree that “Elohim” is derived from “El” meaning “mighty (one), strong (strength).” The Hebrew ending “im” added to “El” indicates plurality, reminding us that the Godhead is in three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Dr. Matt Carter, pastor of Sagemont Church in Houston, said Elohim reveals God’s transcendence. Being transcendent means God is holy, powerful, and beyond our comprehension. We may have limited understanding of a specific aspect of His character or nature, but the whole of Who He is beyond our understanding.

The Trinity is one of the aspects of God’s nature that is beyond our understanding. Scripture makes it clear that all three persons of the Godhead were involved with Creation. But the specific “jobs” of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit aren’t clear. What follows is how I see the parts of all members of the Godhead in Creation.

God the Father is the author, planner, and designer of Creation. Or in modern builder’s terms, He is the architect. Some believe He spoke the words of Creation, giving Christ the instructions on how to perform the work. This may or may not be exactly what happened, but various verses in Genesis 1 repeat the phrase “and God said.” One example is God’s ultimate creation, mankind, made is His image, after His likeness.

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”‭ Genesis 1:26

The Son, Jesus Christ, in pre-incarnate form, is the agent of Creation. All things were made by and through Him.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.” John 1:1-3

“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” Colossians‬ ‭1:15-17‬ ‭

The part the Holy Spirit played in Creation is a little more difficult to explain. Genesis 1:2 makes it clear that He was present at Creation. In Genesis 1:2, we see the earth without form, void and covered with darkness. And the Spirit of God, the rûaḥ ĕlōhîm, the breath of Elohim, moved or hovered over the formless, void and dark earth. Some scholars believe the Spirit made order out of chaos, but Scripture doesn’t specifically say this.

“The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.” Genesis 1:2

Elohim is one of the most frequently used names of God in the Old Testament. I want to close with a few verses that use this name. I encourage you to meditate on these verses, to see what God will reveal to you about His nature. The transcendent, unknowable God delights to reveal Himself to those who seek Him in His Word. Elohim is the Hebrew word for God in each of these verses.

“To you it was shown, that you might know that the Lord is God; there is no other besides him.” Deuteronomy 4:35

“Know therefore today, and take it to your heart, that the Lord, He is God in heaven above and on the earth below; there is no other.” Deuteronomy 4:39 NASB

“O Lord of hosts, God of Israel, enthroned above the cherubim, you are the God, you alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; you have made heaven and earth.” Isaiah 37:16

“For thus says the Lord, who created the heavens (he is God!), who formed the earth and made it (he established it; he did not create it empty, he formed it to be inhabited!): “I am the Lord, and there is no other.” Isaiah 45:18

“And Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God, and all the people answered, “Amen, Amen,” lifting up their hands. And they bowed their heads and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground.” Nehemiah 8:6

Elohim: the Powerful One and Creator

Jahweh râʻâh: The LORD Who Shepherds Me

As I was eating my breakfast this morning, I used the time in prayer. It was a sweet time of prayer, but one part stood out to me: Thank You, Lord, for leading me in paths of righteousness. I recognized this as a part of the well-known twenty-third Psalm, so I turned to this Psalm in my Bible.

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.”

Psalm 23:1-3 ESV

I read this Psalm in a variety of versions, and then opened the Blue Letter Bible, one of my favorite Bible study tools, and did a word study on shepherd. I was surprised at what I learned.

The Hebrew word râʻâh, translated shepherd in this verse, is not a noun as I had expected. It is a verb, an action word that says the LORD, Jahweh, shepherds His children. He tends to my needs, is my companion and special friend.

In 2020, I wrote a Bible study on the Holy Spirit, and as I read these translations of râʻâh I was reminded that these characteristics of the LORD Jehovah are also true of the Holy Spirit. He is our constant companion, the One who lives within us as Christians, teaches us and leads us in how to walk.

I was also reminded that Jesus says He is the Good Shepherd in John 10.

“I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.”

John 10:14-15

The LORD, Jahweh, shepherds us because we are His children through our relationship with Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd. And when His days of walking on earth were coming to an end, Jesus told His disciples that the Father would send another Helper who would be with them forever.

“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.”

John‬ ‭14:16-17‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Yahweh râʻâh, the Lord who shepherds us, is a name of God that clearly refers to all three members of the Trinity. As the One who shepherds us, the Lord faithfully meets all our needs. He provides green pastures where we can rest in His amazing love and be refreshed for the path ahead. He leads us beside still waters, a place of peace. And He leads us in paths of righteousness, so that our lives with bring Him glory and honor.

I want to close with Psalm 23 in The Passion Translation (TPT). This isn’t a word-by-word translation but one that digs deeply into the meanings of the Hebrew and Greek words. While I usually begin my Bible study time with either NASB or ESV, I have found the TPT an encouraging version to close my time studying a specific Bible passage.

“Yahweh is my best friend and my shepherd. I always have more than enough. He offers a resting place for me in his luxurious love. His tracks take me to an oasis of peace near the quiet brook of bliss. That’s where he restores and revives my life. He opens before me the right path and leads me along in his footsteps of righteousness so that I can bring honor to his name. Even when your path takes me through the valley of deepest darkness, fear will never conquer me, for you already have! Your authority is my strength and my peace. The comfort of your love takes away my fear. I’ll never be lonely, for you are near. You become my delicious feast even when my enemies dare to fight. You anoint me with the fragrance of your Holy Spirit; you give me all I can drink of you until my cup overflows. So why would I fear the future? Only goodness and tender love pursue me all the days of my life. Then afterward, when my life is through, I’ll return to your glorious presence to be forever with you!”

Psalm 23 TPT

El Shaddai: The All-Powerful, All-Sufficient One

Now when Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am God Almighty; Walk before Me, and be blameless.

Genesis 17:1 NASB

We have now been in our new home for three weeks … three very busy weeks. One of our first goals in our new town was to find a new church. Yesterday was our second Sunday at the first church we had picked to try out, and the pastor is doing a series entitled Did God Really Say That? In it, he is examining some of the common misconceptions we might be believing about the Bible.

Since Eve’s encounter with the serpent in Genesis 3:1-3, the enemy of our souls has worked to convince people to believe lies about God. The lie covered in yesterday’s sermon was the often heard phrase, God will never give you more than you can handle. Pastor Gary Marshall made it clear that God allows us to face more than we can handle in our own strength, but that’s because we were created to need Him. The only all-sufficient One is El Shaddai, God Almighty.

This was a lesson even the apostle Paul had to learn. God gave many revelations to Paul, but to keep him humble and dependent upon the Lord he also faced severe persecutions and other circumstances that caused him to be weak. In 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, he shares an insight that confirms the truth that God never said He wouldn’t give us anything we couldn’t handle. Indeed, He wants us to know His supernatural power is available to us when we’re weak.

“Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself! Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”

2 Corinthians 12:7-10 NASB

I don’t know what you may be facing today, but I do know from personal experience that God allows us to feel weak so we will learn to depend upon His wisdom and strength. God created us to need Him, not to lean on our own understanding or strength. He is the only One Who is self-sufficient and all-powerful. There is nothing God cannot do. If God calls us to do something for Him, we need to remember that He never intended for us to do it by our own abilities. He has sent the Holy Spirit to give us the wisdom and strength to complete the task. No matter what God may be asking of you today, remember He is the All-Sufficient One. He will be enough if you depend upon Him!

EL SHADDAI: GOD ALMIGHTY AND ALL-SUFFICIENT

The God of All Comfort

On November 5, 2018, our son David was taken by ambulance to St. Luke’s Hospital. I accompanied him, thinking this was simply one of many hospitalizations for our profoundly retarded, medically fragile son. But when we arrived at the hospital, I quickly learned this wasn’t just another ER visit or admission to the hospital. David was taken to a room, and his home care nurse, aide and I were taken to a different room to wait while he was examined. As I was waiting for a report from the ER doctor, I had one of the most distinct visitations from the Lord I’ve ever experienced. The Lord spoke clearly to my heart that it was time, He was taking our son to be with Him.

As we waited beside David’s ICU bed, our family and some of David’s private duty nurses stood at his bedside. We knew David would not be going back home with us this time, so there was a deep grieving in our hearts. Yet from the moment God spoke to my heart, a sustaining peace remained with me. As my husband and David’s other home care nurses joined us, that peace was obvious to all.

My husband Mitch left David’s bedside at one point and went out to talk with the ICU nurse. She told him she had seen family members at the bedside of a loved one who was dying many times. But, she said, the atmosphere in David’s hospital room was different than anything she had ever experienced. I don’t know if this nurse was a Christian or not, but I do know all in that room felt the presence of the God of all Comfort.

The God of all Comfort

The name God of all Comfort is not a direct quote from the Old Testament. But 2 Corinthians 1:3 clearly gives this as one of the names of the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the Father of mercies and God of all comfort.

Comfort is the Greek word paraklēsis. It means a calling to one’s side, and it combines encouragement with alleviation of grief.

Father of mercies means our heavenly Father has a heart of compassion toward those who are suffering. Webster’s 1828 Dictionary defines compassion as suffering with another.” In love and sorrow, God comes by our side to share in our suffering. His comfort strengthens us, as we walk through loss or other painful circumstances. Romans 15:4 tells us that one of the ways God comforts us is through His Word.

“For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.”

Romans 15:4 NKJV

One of the most familiar uses of the word comfort in the Old Testament is in Psalm 23. The Lord is our Shepherd, and His rod and staff are reminders that He is with us. The Greek word for comfort used in verse 4 is nāḥam. It comes from a root word meaning to sigh. It means to be sorry, be moved to pity, have compassion.

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”

Psalm 23:4 NKJV

2 Corinthians 1:4 tells us the response God asks from us when we have experienced God’s comfort. Experiencing the comfort of the Lord enables us to comfort others who are suffering. The God of all comfort enables us to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

I want to close this post by sharing a song that God used to comfort me as I grieved the loss of our son David. Losing a child causes a deep grief, one that doesn’t go away quickly, but I found that the comfort and peace of God sustained me through those difficult months.

EL Moshaah, the God Who Saves

“The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my savior; my God is my rock, in whom I find protection. He is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety. I called on the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and he saved me from my enemies. The ropes of death entangled me; floods of destruction swept over me. The grave wrapped its ropes around me; death laid a trap in my path. But in my distress I cried out to the Lord; yes, I prayed to my God for help. He heard me from his sanctuary; my cry to him reached his ears.” Psalms‬ ‭18:2-6‬ ‭NLT‬‬

After Samuel anointed David with oil and announced that he would be the next king of Israel, David spent many years running for his life. On the day when the Lord delivered him from the power of his enemies, David wrote Psalm 18 as a prayer to the Lord. In it, he describes how the Lord saved him from death.

Today in Afghanistan, there are many Christians who can identify with this prayer of David. They are hiding in their homes, fearing what the Taliban will do to them if they are discovered. The Taliban is going door to door, looking for any who have a Bible in their possession, even checking phones for any Bible apps. If these are found, they are taking unmarried women captive and killing the other residents of that home.

In the recently released 2022 World Watch List from Open Doors, Afghanistan is now the most dangerous and difficult nation to be a Christian. Last year, a thousand more Christians around the world were killed for their faith than in 2020. One thousand more Christians were detained. Six hundred more churches were attacked or closed. Severe persecution is a way of life for many of our brothers and sisters in Christ.

“Our God is a God who saves! The Sovereign Lord rescues us from death.” Psalms‬ ‭68:20‬ ‭NLT

When we as Christians hear the word salvation, we usually think of being saved from our sins by the blood of Christ. While this is the New Testament meaning of salvation, the Old Testament meaning of salvation (El môšāʿâ) primarily refers to saving acts and deliverances from death. This is the kind of salvation found in Psalm 68:20, today’s key verse. This Hebrew word is always plural, a good reminder that Old Testament salvation isn’t a single event. Our God’s saving acts are unlimited.

The prophet Isaiah reminds us that when we go through rivers of difficulty, God will be our deliverer. When we face the fire of oppression, the flames will not consume us. (Isaiah 43:1-4 NLT) Our God is the God who saves us from the circumstances that threaten our lives. He is El Moshaah, the God who saves.

I encourage all of those reading this article to check out the OpenDoorsUSA.org website for a list of ways we can pray for those in the body of Christ who are currently facing persecution. Below is a link to their prayer post giving five ways to pray for our brothers and sisters who are currently facing persecution.

https://www.opendoorsusa.org/christian-persecution/stories/5-powerful-prayers-persecuted-scripture/

The God Who Saves

A Jealous God

Since he is the only God, the Creator of heaven and earth, he cannot endure that any creature of his own hands, or fiction of a creature’s imagination should be thrust into his throne and be made to wear his crown.” – Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Human jealousy is rooted in selfishness, anger, envy and pride.

  • In Othello, Shakespeare called it “the green-eyed monster.”
  • Charles Spurgeon said “Self-love is, no doubt, the usual foundation of human jealousy…the fear lest another should by any means supplant us.”
  • Paul included jealousy in a list of works of the flesh in Galatians 5:20, a list that includes such sins as sexual immorality, idolatry, strife, and fits of anger.
  • Galatians 5:21 says, “those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

Yet Moses wrote in several verses in Exodus and Deuteronomy that God is a jealous God. (All verses in ESV)

  • In the Ten Commandments, “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.” (Exodus 20:4-6)
  • Speaking of the inhabitants of the land that Israel was to conquer, “You shall tear down their altars and break their pillars and cut down their Asherim (for you shall worship no other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God),”(Exodus 34:13-14)
  • Take care, lest you forget the covenant of the Lord your God, which he made with you, and make a carved image, the form of anything that the Lord your God has forbidden you. For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.”(Deuteronomy 4:23-24)
  • “You shall not bow down to them or serve them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.” (Deuteronomy 5:9-10)
  • You shall not go after other gods, the gods of the peoples who are around you— for the Lord your God in your midst is a jealous God—lest the anger of the Lord your God be kindled against you, and he destroy you from off the face of the earth.”(Deuteronomy 6:14-15)
  • They stirred him to jealousy with strange gods; with abominations they provoked him to anger.” (Deuteronomy 32:16)

Notice in each of these Scriptures, God is jealous when someone gives to another something that rightly belongs to Him. In these verses, God is speaking of people worshiping idols instead of giving God the allegiance and worship that belongs to Him alone.

Idolatry is not just defined as a worshipping a craven image. Anything we desire more than God is an idol. Possessions, money, celebrities, desires, even family members can become idols if we allow them to have first place in our lives. God calls us to love, seek, obey, thank and worship Him with our whole heart. Nothing of this world is to be lifted above God.

  • “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” (Matthew 22:37)
  • “Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart, who also do no wrong, but walk in his ways!” Psalm 119:2-3
  • “Oh that they had such a heart as this always, to fear me and to keep all my commandments, that it might go well with them and with their descendants forever!”(Deuteronomy 5:29)
  • I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.” (Psalm 9:1)
  • Then Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground, and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell down before the Lord, worshiping the Lord.(2 Chronicles 20:18)

Let’s spend some time today in prayer, asking God to show us anything we are putting above the Lord in our lives. We serve a God who wants first place in our lives, a God whose name is Jealous (Exodus 34:14).

Our God is a Jealous God

The Triune God of Truth

We live in a culture where TRUTH is considered relative, constantly changing according to circumstances and man’s understanding. What is thought true for one person at one time isn’t necessarily true for another person or at a different time. According to this philosophy of relativism, absolute truth is non-existent, man is considered the measure of truth, and the existence of God is often rejected. As Harvard Professor Ruth Hubbard put it, “Truth is in the eye of the beholder.”

As Christians, we believe that truth is not really truth unless it meets God’s definition of truth! John 17:17 makes it clear that God’s Word is the source of truth. “They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.” Psalm 119:160 says “The sum of your word is truth, and every one of your righteous rules endures forever.” Truth isn’t relative, it is unchanging and always lines up with God’s Word.

Today’s name of God is the God of Truth. There are actually three words in Hebrew that are translated truth.

• “Into Your hand I commit my spirit; You have ransomed me, O Lord, God of truth (El ĕmeṯ).” (Psalm 31:5 NASB)

He is the Rock, His work is perfect; For all His ways are justice, A God of truth (El ĕmûnâ) and without injustice; Righteous and upright is He.” Deuteronomy 32:4 NKJV

“So that he who blesses himself in the earth Shall bless himself in the God of truth (El āmēn); And he who swears in the earth Shall swear by the God of truth; Because the former troubles are forgotten, And because they are hidden from My eyes.” Isaiah 65:16 NKJV

The first two Hebrew words, ĕmeṯ and ĕmûnâ convey the idea of both truth and faithfulness. The third one, āmēn, means verily, truly, amen, so be it. This is where we get the English word amen from.

The name God of truth applies to all three persons of the Godhead. Psalm 31:5 refers to Jehovah, Father God. Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6 ESV) And Jesus spoke several times of the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of truth(John 14:17 is one example). Finally, Jesus said to those who follow Him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32 ESV)

Knowing the truth begins with knowing the God of truth personally, through a relationship with Christ Jesus. Then we increase in our knowledge of truth as we spend time daily in His written Word, which is our guide for truth.

Our Triune God of Truth