Sunday, October 31, 2010

Knowing God by the Names of His Character by Emily Carter

Recently, a group of ladies have embarked on the incredible journey of Knowing God by Name. We are working through Mary Kassian’s Bible Study by the same title. So far, God has used it to draw us closer to Him. Week Two is focused in on His names of Character.

El Hakkadosh: Holy God

Rav-Chesed: Abounding in Love

Rachum Ve-Chanun: Merciful and Gracious

Emet Elohim Emet: Faithful and True

Higdil Tushiyyah: Excellent in Wisdom

God's characteristics are immeasurable. Just when we think we know something about Him, we learn something new. The other night, my family had just reading all about baby bears. When grizzlies are first born, they are blind, hairless, and about the size of a banana. They are completely dependent on their moms not only care for them, but also to teach them everything they need to know.

My daughter, in her five year old wisdom, proclaimed, “I know everything I need to know!”

I responded, “Really? Right now I can think of three things that you are still learning how to do.” Of course she was intrigued. I explained, “You are still learning to read large words, you are learning how to play basketball, and you are learning to spell things correctly.”

My husband then followed up with, “And we are always learning more about God.”

To which my son replied, “You already know everything you need to know about God.”

What a beautiful opportunity to explain God’s vastness. I then told Coleman and Grace, “You could read your Bible every day for the rest of your life, and on the day you died, you would still not know everything that it had to say about God. He is that big.” They looked at me in utter disbelief, but they understood the importance of studying God’s word. The next day, they did not complain once about learning their verses for Wednesday night’s Awana classes.

As I did the lesson for week two/day one from Knowing God by Name, once again I learned something new. Did you know that the only characteristic of God that is mentioned three times is His holiness? Isaiah 6:3 and Rev. 4:8 state that, "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD God Almighty." God's holiness permeates every other characteristic. The three fold repeat means that this is very, very, very important information. The thing that I had not known before was that one of the definitions of the word holy means illustrious, to radiate, or shine brightly. I knew that holy meant to be perfect and separate, but I had always thought of it being God's glory that shines brightly. Doesn't it make sense that both His holiness and His glory would radiate?

On day two, we talked about God's love for us. God's love for us is both committed and passionate. You cannot separate His love from who He is and it is only by His love that we can truly experience and give love.

God is also merciful and gracious and faithful and true. These four characteristics are described in Exodus 34:6-7 in a very powerful way. "And He (Yahweh) passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, 'The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion, and sin. Yet, He does not leave the guilty unpunished He punishes the children and their children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation." Make no mistake, dear one, the Lord is merciful and gracious. He spares us from what we deserve and He gifts us with good we could never earn. His faithfulness is wrapped up in His truth. You can depend on Him. No matter what dark time you are walking through, God can light your path and He will be your friend as you go on your way.

He can do all of this because He is Excellent in Wisdom. He has perfect knowledge over everything. He has knowledge over time: past, present, and future. He has knowledge over creation. He knows every detail about your life. You matter to Him. If you need some encouragement today, read Psalm 139:1-18 to know how special you are to Him.

God is so very in love with you! He is Holy, Holy, Holy! He is merciful, gracious, faithful, and true! He is Excellent in Wisdom and Knowledge. You can trust God because He is trustworthy!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

An Angel With Strong Hands by Ann Wayne

Do you sometimes wonder if things happen by chance, or if God really sends people to help us in times of need? Do you believe in angels? In Psalm 91, the scriptures speak of finding refuge with the Lord. In verse 11, we read, “For He will order his angels to protect you wherever you go.” The story below is true. I hope that you will never again question whether or not God sends angels to help us.

One spring afternoon, my daughter-in-law, Denise, was driving home from a meeting and her car began to make a noise. She pulled over on the side of the road and called my son, Isaiah, to come and help her. After an assessment of the problem, he decided it was the alternator. So they jumped in his truck and drove to a parts store to purchase the needed parts and returned to the car on the side of the road.

Thirty or forty minutes went by. Denise tried to help Isaiah get the alternator belt on, but even together they did not have the strength to accomplish this task. So Denise began to pray for a man to stop who had strong hands to help. She said that within a minute or two, she heard a truck behind them. She couldn’t believe how quickly her prayer was answered. A man jumped out and offered tools, and water and asked, “Do you need a hand?” Wow! Exactly what she prayed for. Shortly, the two men were able to get the alternator belt on.

Denise said that at first she did not notice what the man had on, but then realized his shirt had the words, “Jesus - Luke 9:20.” She said that all of this happened so fast that she did not even say anything to Isaiah until that evening. When she came to my house that afternoon to pick up Emma Grace; she told me the story and we looked up the scripture.

Luke 9:20 reads, “But what about you”? (Peter) he (Jesus) asked. “Who do you say I am?” Peter answered, “The Christ of God.”

I feel that this was definitely a God thing. That God sent this angel man to help them out. And not only that, but the scripture on his shirt will be a testimony to both Isaiah and Denise from this day forward. Young adults sometimes question their faith and how authentic God is. This angel man didn’t just show up. Denise prayed specifically for a man with strong hands. I believe that this man was sent straight from God. And the scripture was a testimony to both of them.

Have you had angels in your path? Did you recognize them and acknowledge God’s mighty hand on your life? Have you shared your experiences and testimony so that others will benefit from the power of prayer and the protection that God promises us if we will call on his name?

I love both of these examples. Why? Because I know the people involved and know that their stories are true. And I know God’s word is true. Jesus boldly confronted Peter and asked him, “Who do you say I am?”

Fellow writers…this is why we need to work diligently in writing our life experiences and sharing the gospel with others. We should ask ourselves, “Who do we say Christ is?” Well, if we believe He is the Christ of God, then we need to write about it and share our life experiences with others so they will see who Christ is in us and how God helps us through difficult issues.