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

El Elyon, God Most High

Do you ever look around you and think this world is completely out of control? These last two years especially have been filled with a global pandemic, earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, and an economy on the edge of collapse due to out of control inflation.

In this seemingly out of control world, I have some good news. Our God isn’t shocked by what’s going on. Even though things may look chaotic, He is still in control. He is our mighty God, God Most High!

Today’s post is the first of several covering names of God that begin with the word El, which is usually translated God, and is often used in conjunction with other words to designate various aspects of God’s character. Today we are looking at one of the most frequently used names, El Elyon.

El comes from a root word meaning might, strength, and power. In Scripture it is usually used in conjunction with other words to designate various aspects of God’s character. Elyon expresses the sovereignty and majesty of God, and His preeminence (having first place in everything), superiority and excellence, above all others in quality or rank.

El Elyon puts these two names together and identifies God as the sovereign ruler of the universe. This important name of God is used fifty-three times in the Old Testament, including twenty-two times in the book of Psalms.

The first use in Scripture of El Elyon is in Genesis 14:18-20, in the passage that speaks of Melchizedek, king of Salem, as priest of God Most High.

And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. (He was priest of God Most High.) And he blessed him and said, “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand!” And Abram gave him a tenth of everything.” Genesis‬ ‭14:18-20‬ ‭ESV‬‬

One of my favorite uses of this name of God is found in Psalm 57.

Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in you my soul takes refuge; in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, till the storms of destruction pass by. I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for me.” Psalm‬ ‭57:1-2‬ ‭ESV‬‬

When our circumstances feel overwhelming, it’s time to take refuge in God Most High. This prayer of David was written when he was in a cave, hiding from Saul who was trying to kill him. We may be walking through difficult and chaotic times, but they’re probably not as hard to deal with as what David was facing. David knew God Most High was his refuge and place of safety. Let’s remember, no matter what our circumstances, that our God is still in control and find a place of safety and rest in His presence.

Adonai, our Lord and Master

Now the Lord said to Abram, ‘Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.’” Genesis 12:1 (ESV)

The above verse has had special meaning to my husband and me recently. We sensed the Lord’s call for us to sell our Houston home and move to a new town. We knew a little about our new home: that it was to be a rural property in Texas, and we were not to go into debt to purchase it.

Texas is a big state with a lot of rural property! We began our search for a house that met these qualities and had a sale price within our budget. We saw several homes that we liked, but since we didn’t have clear understanding of where we were to live, we looked at property in many parts of Texas. Just recently, the Lord has shown us where our new home is to be and directed us to a specific piece of property.

Genesis 12:1 is more than a verse we’ve remembered many times over the last several months. It is the first time the Hebrew word Adonai was used in the Bible as a name of God. Adonai is plural of Adon, which is mostly used to refer to men who are Master over their servants. The plural form of Adonai refers to God’s greatness as Master. The plural form could also refer to the Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit all are God our Master and Lord.

So what does it mean when we call God Lord or Master? Adonai speaks of relationship, but not just any relationship. It is used to describe our relationship with God as our Lord and Master. As Master, God is the one with the right of possession. As Master, He provides for us and protects us. He gives directions that we are to follow. He is our Supreme Lord, Owner of all, and we areHis servants. We are stewards who have been declared worthy to serve Him.

In the New Testament, Jesus is referred to as Lord over 700 times. The Greek equivalent to Adonai is Kurios. It signifies sovereign power, supreme authority, and absolute ownership. He is Lord and Master, we are servants and stewards of Christ.

1 Corinthians 4:1-2 says, “This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful.”

I want to close with one of my favorite passages that uses Adonai, Psalm 8. The Complete Jewish Bible uses the Hebrew word for Lord, so it’s easy to see when it is used. Also note that the heading of the Psalm is included as a part of the text, verse 1, of the Psalm in this and other Jewish versions of the Bible.

For the leader. On the gittit. A psalm of David: Adonai! Our Lord! How glorious is your name throughout the earth! The fame of your majesty spreads even above the heavens! From the mouths of babies and infants at the breast you established strength because of your foes, in order that you might silence the enemy and the avenger. When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and stars that you set in place — what are mere mortals, that you concern yourself with them; humans, that you watch over them with such care? You made him but little lower than the angels, you crowned him with glory and honor, you had him rule what your hands made, you put everything under his feet — sheep and oxen, all of them, also the animals in the wilds, the birds in the air, the fish in the sea, whatever passes through the paths of the seas. Adonai! Our Lord! How glorious is your name throughout the earth!” Tehillim (Psa) 8:1-10

Adonai! Our Lord!

Almighty God, our Father and our Redeemer

“Look down from heaven and see, from your holy and beautiful habitation. Where are your zeal and your might? The stirring of your inner parts and your compassion are held back from me. For you are our Father, though Abraham does not know us, and Israel does not acknowledge us; you, O Lord, are our Father, our Redeemer from of old is your name.” Isaiah 63:15-16 ESV

Today, I’m starting a series on the names of God. Isaiah 63:15 is the beginning of a prayer of the prophet Isaiah, a prayer for mercy and restoration for the Jewish people. My focus today is on verse 16, where God is seen as FATHER and REDEEMER.

This prayer begins with a plea for God to look down on His erring people with mercy and compassion. God was displeased with His people, and they were in exile in Babylon because of their sin. But He was still their Father and their Redeemer, and Isaiah was praying for God to show them mercy and restore them.

I usually think of Father and Redeemer as New Testament terms, but Isaiah 63:16 shows that they are not limited to this. The people of Israel were loved by their Maker, and their sin that had brought judgment did not change that relationship. They were experiencing His discipline, but He was still their Father and their Redeemer.

The Hebrew word for Father is‘āḇ. It was used of the first ancestor of a family, and it was used figuratively of benevolence & protection. Here it is used of God as the Father of His people, the one Who controls, guides and lovingly watches over His people.

Redeemer, gā’al in Hebrew, means “To purchase back; to ransom; to liberate or rescue from captivity or bondage, or from any obligation or liability.” Yahweh is here seen as the one Who redeemed Israel, His people, from slavery in Egypt, and later from exile in Babylon. With God as the subject, it implies a personal relationship that is being restored.

I’m so grateful that the terms Father and Redeemer aren’t limited to Israel. As Christians, those who have accepted Christ Jesus as our Savior and Lord, we also have the privilege of calling Yahweh, Almighty God, our Father. Galatians 4:6-7 says, “And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.”

In addition to God being our Father, He is also our Redeemer. In fact, God took on human flesh for the purpose of redeeming us or setting us free from the bondage of sin. Titus 2:14 speaks of God redeeming us to make us “a people for his own possession.”

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.” (Titus 2:11-14 ESV)

If you have accepted the free gift of salvation, You have the privilege of calling God both Father and Redeemer. If you haven’t accepted Christ’s death on the Cross as the payment for your sin and beginning of a new life, now is the time to do so. I want to close with the word of the apostle Peter, the invitation given to those gathered on the day of Pentecost.

“And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”” Acts 2:38-39 ESV

Prepare the Way for His Coming

People get greedy, grabby, and grumpy at Christmastime. We’re greedy when we obsess over excess while others go without basic needs. We’re grabby when we insist on drawing attention to ourselves when the glory belongs to God alone. And we’re grumpy when we forget that our worst day is often a thousand times better than most people’s good days. If we’re not careful, we’ll find ourselves over-indulging, over-spending, and over-committing, none of which are healthy, helpful, or healing in any way for us or others.

This quote from a YouVersion Bible devotional based on Susie Larson’s new book Prepare Him Room: A Daily Advent Devotional, stood out to me this morning. Christmas is a time when we need to guard our attitudes, especially when our circumstances are less than ideal. The weeks of Advent are a time to prepare our hearts for Christmas, the celebration of His first coming.

This Christmas is an unusual one for our family. It’s a season I’ve looked forward to, fully expecting we would be settled in our new home and decorating for the holidays as part of the process of setting things up.

But that’s not how things turned out. Hours before we were to close on the sale of our new home, the buyers backed out. Because of this, the family we had planned to buy from had to put the property back on sale. This Christmas, another family is living in the house we had fully expected to be ours.

God pushed the “pause button” on our plans, and as a result our Christmas plans were changed. Even decorating our house for Christmas underwent change, since every open space is filled with boxes we had packed before our plans changed. Decoration had to be minimal, with a tabletop tree to bring some color and our manger scene to help us remember the reason for the season.

Christmas is a time to celebrate the first coming of the Son of God, Jesus Christ. This season is a reminder that we are never alone, that Jesus came to be Emmanuel, God with us. Jesus came to bring light to our darkness. He came to die as the Lamb of God, paying the price for our sins. And now He lives in us through the Holy Spirit. His love is constant. And we are never alone, no matter what circumstances we may be facing.

Advent is a time for heart preparation. Many of my readers deal with the daily challenges of chronic illness, and when you add other undesired circumstances having a right attitude doesn’t come naturally. I think that’s why this devotional really touched my heart. I needed to make a choice to face this holiday season with an attitude of gratitude instead of grumbling, a time of giving thanks for the good things we are partaking of in the midst of less than desired circumstances.

Even as John the Baptist came to prepare the way for Jesus’ first coming, let’s prepare our hearts for the celebration of Christmas. Christmas is a time of remembering the first coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We prepare our hearts by choosing an attitude that reflects the One whose birth we are celebrating. Let’s make room for Him to work in our lives, humbling ourselves and allowing Him to continue the good work He has begun in us.

A song to remind us to prepare the way for His coming:

https://youtu.be/HQpLH9BGC8I