God, By Any Other Name…
Knowing and Trusting the Name Above All Names
Those who know Your name will put their trust in You, for You, O LORD, have not abandoned those who seek You.
Those ancient words still ring true. This truth was expressed by David and preserved for us in Psalm 9:10. If no other Scripture addressed the value of knowing God’s name, this one verse is reason enough to explore how our Father has revealed Himself to us. But rest assured, there are other verses that point us in this direction!
From my perspective as a writer, pastor, and mission leader there is another idea that comes into view. My time and energy is poured into quite a few things. But there is a common thread that runs though all of it. That thread is Equipping For Life. It’s the essence of this ministry.
By studying and teaching the Word, I am able to equip believers for their roles and work in God’s Kingdom. And just to be clear, that isn’t something I came up with on my own. It’s a divine instruction for those God calls to be pastors and teachers (see Ephesians 4:12-13).
That is my general intention in this book. More specifically, my goal is for you to be enlightened and encouraged by what you find here. And if that goal is met, then we both benefit. I will have done my job and you will be better equipped to trust and follow the One Who will never abandon you. So let’s take a look at our Father’s names!
Deity’s Name – It Isn’t Generic
Names have significance. That is especially true in the Bible. Names distinguish one person from another. But what do we most often call our Heavenly Father? We call Him God. You’ve probably never considered it in the terms I am about to unfold. But that practice isn’t doing us, or Him, any favors! We need to learn proper names. And I know the Why? is already on your mind.
My wife and I grew up together. We were in the same class at school. When we began to date I learned some things about her family. Like many others, they had a family dog. What was the dog’s name? They called him Dog. For whatever reasons, they took the generic designation for a canine and turned it into a proper name: Dog. There is a certain irony in my example. You know what you get if you spell dog backwards?
Are there gods? Yes. The Romans had their gods. And the Greeks had their gods. These gods were honored with statues, shrines and handmade emblems of every sort and size. But a little g god is still an idol. And according to Psalm 115, idols have:
- Mouths but cannot speak
- Eyes but cannot see
- Noses but cannot smell
- Ears but cannot hear
- Hands but cannot feel
- Feet but cannot walk
And adding insult to injury, the Psalmist states that those who worship such idols will become like them – lifeless and powerless.
Most people today believe they are far too smart to bow down to an idol. But bow they do. Today’s gods are just as false as those idols. But the modern idols aren’t as easy to see. They are the gods of:
- Sex, etc., etc.
It is very evident that Man has a concept of deity. But how do we address Him? Most often we refer to Him generically, just like my wife’s family pet. We just capitalize the G and make that His name. Is He God? Yes! But the more we know of His proper names the more we know Him as a Person and/or Personality. And the more we know of Him, the easier it is to trust Him. And the more we trust Him the greater our joys in life!
Names Have Meaning
Just a quick review of Scripture will show us names matter. Ephesians 3 tells us we have all been named by God! Notice:
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name…
In Biblical times, it was always the responsibility of the father to name the child. It symbolized the relationship between the father and the child. The father was to be the guide, provider, teacher, and protector. The child lived in submission to the father. In our Father’s view, that hasn’t changed. Might be a good place to take a note!
Keeping with that thought, Who named Jesus? It was God, Jesus’ Father. The Father sent His angel to tell Mary (Luke 1:31) what the Baby’s name would be. But He didn’t stop there. Culturally, Mary could not name the Child. So, in a dream, God the Father instructed Joseph concerning Jesus and His name (Matthew 1:20-21). Why do all that? The answers are many. But one reason was the connection between the Name and destiny:
…to save His people from their sins.
Did Jehovah name others? He did! Saul encountered God on the road to Damascus. His life was changed forever. And shortly thereafter, his name was also changed. We know him today as the Apostle Paul. That’s not all. Our Creator named Adam. Then Adam named Eve because it was his God-given responsibility to do so. Eve means mother of all the living (Genesis 3:20).
God called a man named Abram. His name was changed to Abraham (Genesis 17:5). Abraham was to be the father of many nations. His wife’s name was Sarai. Her name meant princess. But we see in Genesis 17:15 that Sarai‘ was changed to Sarah, which means noblewoman. I’d say she got a promotion!
It just wouldn’t be right to omit Jacob. His name change is one of the most dramatic. Jacob means supplanter or trickster. And this man lived up to his name! In Genesis 32:28 Jacob’s name was changed to Israel. He went from supplanter/trickster to God prevails. That’s a big change!
His Names – Path To Life!
Just those few examples show us Jehovah intends meaning in a name. And since He has named Himself, it would surely benefit us to unpack the meaning of His names! Each of our Father’s names reveals to us some aspect of Who He is. His names can tell us the things He desires to do on our behalf. Our Creator is not into random, and you can rest assured that applies to His names.
Our Father’s Self-revelation is very intentional. And that should bring the ever-present Why? question to our minds. He reveals names to us that will help us love Him (Greatest Commandment), encourage our worship of Him, and cause our faith and trust in Him to grow stronger. And the reason for that is that we might have life and have it more abundantly.
You may already know Him as Jehovah Jireh – the God Who Provides. If you don’t know Him that way, you may need to meet Him personally. For that, we know Him as Savior, the God Who Forgives, and the One Who is the Lover of our souls.
Chapter TWO – God’s Forever Name
What’s In A Name?
William Shakespeare used that question. And names can communicate powerfully. We use names like Dad, Mom, or Pastor. They impart a great deal of information. For most of us, the info is good. What about names like:
- Alexander the Great
- Vlad the Impaler
- Ivan the Terrible
- Jack the Ripper
These names also communicate! So when the Creator of the Universe chose to reveal His proper name, what was it? What was it meant to communicate to us? That You Are Here line above is just an inkling. How does His name impact the way I live?
Most Common & Most Important Name
In the Old Testament, we see this name for God written as LORD (all caps). Our understanding of the English word Lord doesn’t really communicate what our LORD intended. Why and how did this happen?
The Hebrew rendering of God’s name was done with four letters: YHWH. The Hebrews didn’t write the vowels. This is where we get the name Yahweh. But this points us to a lesson and a loss!
The lesson is this: the Jews were so afraid of using God’s proper name and possibly using it in vain (see 10 Commandments!) that they never pronounced it. If a scribe had to write the name, he took a bath before doing so and used a new quill to write it. That quill was then destroyed because it had written the name of God.
That kind of reverence for the name of God is a lesson many of us need to learn. We should all work to stay as far away from disobedience as possible. Today, it’s quite the opposite. Too many Christians try to see how close they can get to disobedience without actually sinning.
But we should also note the term YHWH occurs over 6,800 times in the Old Testament. As I said earlier, our Father doesn’t intend to be known as a generic God. And by comparison, the simple Hebrew word for God is Elohim. That term is used over 2,500 times in the Old Testament. That fact alone shows us our Father’s intent in revealing His name to us. And if those who know His name trust in Him (Psalm 9:10), then it behooves us to study all the names by which He has revealed Himself.
Here is the loss: we don’t know for sure how God’s revealed name was pronounced. The Jews substituted Adonai for God’s proper name. Adonai means Lord. So in order to distinguish the generic use of the word lord from the proper name of God, when God’s proper name is in view it is rendered LORD. From these historic practices we get the name Jehovah or Yehovah. We may have lost the proper pronunciation, but the meaning is still clear. So what lies behind this name?
Jehovah Speaks With Clarity
Answers lie in Exodus 3. God commanded Moses to bring His people out of their Egyptian captivity. Moses wanted to be able to tell the Hebrews Who sent him to lead them out. God’s reply was:
I AM WHO I AM
That’s the name revealed to Moses and to us. But God continued to speak. Next, God told Moses to say: I AM has sent me to you. And He didn’t stop there! He added:
The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, has appeared to me, saying, I am indeed concerned about you and what has been done to you in Egypt…
In the last statement, LORD is Yahweh. Now, we may no longer know how to pronounce it, but we have a clear understanding of what it means. God, not Moses, equates I AM with Yahweh. In verse 14, I AM has sent you… In verse 15, The LORD (Yahweh) has sent you… Further, this is God’s forever name, His proper name!
God’s Progressive Revelation
Yahweh was the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. But Exodus 6.:2 tells us He had never revealed Himself to them as He did to Moses. The earlier believers knew God at a certain level. I AM WHO I AM revealed His name to Moses and Moses trusted Him for the awesome events that would follow in Egypt. I pray this ebook will help you get better acquainted with I AM WHO I AM so you can trust Him more!
I apologize if this sounds too much like a theology class. It is a necessary foundation for further understanding. The next chapter will deal with the implications and applications of God’s revealed name. So, let’s move on!
Chapter Three – His Name: What MUST I Know?
Look out for that first step! It’s a long one! As humorous, or dangerous as that may be, it applies to this study of God’s forever-name. Maybe I can help you connect another way. Have you ever wanted to know a secret to something? It may have been one of those life keys we hear about from time to time. You’ve heard them or seen them as book titles like:
- The Key to Happiness
- Three Keys to Success
- The Key to a Happy Marriage
- Five Keys to Raising Children
Got the picture? Now, when you learned the secret key to your desired success, did the simplicity of it disappoint you? That’s a question as well as a warning. Don’t equate simplicity with a lack of value. Simple is often profound!
I AM Has Made It Perfectly Clear
Our first step of understanding is dangerous because it is simple and easy to overlook. If we miss it, we do so at our own peril. Our Father has made a simple, profound truth perfectly clear:
He told us Who He is with three letters, I AM. I used four, but they were His words. What He said in Exodus 3 is essentially repeated in the New Testament. See it in Hebrews 11:6 –
And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.
See it? We must believe that HE IS. That seems so simple, yet it contains a subtle difficulty. The difficulty is easier to see in the following example.
A Practical Example
Like most high school students, I had to learn the periodic table. One element in that table is Potassium. It is represented by the letter K. See, I remember! 🙂 I learned K exists. Does that change how I live? Most of the time, it wouldn’t matter. But every once in a while, someone needs a food rich in potassium.
A great example is mission volunteers working in the jungles of Belize. Their bodies need potassium. How do they get it? We buy fresh bananas every day, lots of them! How does this all connect?
If I work in hot areas and experience fatigue and muscle cramps, I might remember that K exists. Since I know K exists, I should also know it can help my physical needs. The question is, does my knowledge of K’s existence change anything I do? Do I:
- Eat the banana containing potassium?
- Consume a mineral supplement?
- Drink something like Gatorade containing potassium?
What I do, or don’t do, with my knowledge shows whether or not I believe K exists.
If I AM exists, and He does, why are so many church pews full of people who live as if He doesn’t? They say they believe I AM exists, but what do their actions and choices show? May I say they treat I AM like they treat K?
Once, in school, they learned K is an element. After that, believing K exists made little difference in everyday life. And every time someone asks, Does God exist?, they respond with an enthusiastic, Yes! Then they get back to the things that really matter to them. How do you think that kind of ‘belief’ will stand up in the Judgment?
The Most Important Truth
Within God’s forever-name (Yahweh = I AM) is the first and most important truth about our Father: He exists. For those willing to stop pursuing their own glory and gratification long enough to see this simple truth, it will make all the difference in this world and the next! Don’t think so? Let’s explore that statement and see what we learn. See you in the next chapter!
Chapter Four: His Name: An Eternal Truth
This e-resource is addressing a essential truth. Our mission is to grasp what we must know. What is it that Yahweh is communicating to us in such simple yet profound terms? Knowledge of His name forces us to connect with two E words: Essential & Eternal, We’ve examined some of the essential things. This chapter connects us to the eternal. Think you already have that down or that it’s too obvious? Think again!
The Eternal Perspective
I want to take you to an unlikely place you to help us gain an eternal perspective. And just so you know, there are some very practical, day-to-day applications of the knowledge we are gaining! And we will get to those. For now, notice what the prophet Zechariah wrote:
On that day Yahweh will become King over all the earth — Yahweh alone, and His name alone.
This last chapter of Zechariah contains many things to discuss and points to ponder. Our focus is this one statement. What do you see? The name God revealed to Moses, Yahweh, will become King over the entire earth. From later Scriptures we can connect this to the 1,000 year reign of Christ. But also notice the next phrase:
…Yahweh alone, and His name alone.
Time and human history is moving from a point in which the name Yahweh was revealed to Man. But simple revelation is not sufficient. A time is coming when His name is the eternal focus. Why? A brief list of some things contained in His name will guide us:
- Power – Zechariah 14:4 – He will split the mountain
- Light – Zechariah 14:6 & 7 – God Himself is the Light of Heaven
- Life – Zechariah 14:8 – Living Water flows from the His throne (also John 8:12)
- Knowledge – Zechariah 14:7 – A day known only to Yahweh
- Safety – Zechariah 14:11 – The people will live safely. Proverbs already tells us the name of the Lord is a strong tower – the righteous run into it and they are saved.
These, and many others, are reasons enough to pursue knowledge of His name. His name contains all we will ever need – including eternity! Where is eternity in the Scriptures above?
Let’s start at the top with power. Genesis 1:1 tells us God existed when the beginning began. Further, John 1:1 says the Word (Jesus) was in the beginning with God and then we see that nothing that was created was created without Him. So, the power to create all that has come into existence rested in Jesus Christ (God the Son). His power is limitless and eternal.
Psalm 104 tells us God wraps Himself with light, like a garment. The light of His glory is eternal. And Scripture will also tell us that no light is necessary in heaven for HE IS the light of that eternal city.
We could do that kind of exercise with each item listed. But let me add one more just for good measure. Jehovah loved the world so much that He gave His only Son so that whoever believes in Him could have eternal life. That truth is preserved for us in John 3:16. HE IS life and He gives His eternal life to all who will believe and repent of their sins. And that fact is the huge implication of I AM.
I AM had no beginning, but I had a starting point in my life. I AM is uncreated and the Creator of all things. But l am a created being. In essence, I am less than He is. Further, He is holy and I am not. And that short, simple list of truths demands one confront a question:
Since I AM exists, what is my relationship and/or responsibility to Him?
Exploring His name is very revealing! And that is His intention. Does He intend that in order to make us uneasy and fearful? Not at all. It’s quite the opposite. His intention is our joy and peace! But one could be left with fear and uneasiness if they fail to keep exploring the Self-revelations of I AM. So our mission here is to explore, learn, and arrive at the joy and peace He intends.
Chapter Five: The Cost Of Intimacy
Intimacy does have a cost, right? Even human wisdom discerns this. You may remember these famous lyrics: Can’t buy me love, can’t buy me love…I don’t care too much for money, for money can’t buy me love. – The Beatles.
The Intimate Nature of Worship
Worship is a revelation-and-response relationship. Our Savior reveals and we respond. In this intimate time, He receives our worship and gives of Himself into our lives. Nothing substitutes for time at Jesus’ feet. Corporate worship is important. But the greatest indicator of meaningful corporate worship is the depth of private, individual worship experienced by those present.
The greatest worship leaders, musicians, praise teams and/or choirs cannot bring worship. Worship is an act of the heart. It’s characterized by love, affection, adoration, devotion and obedience. What the Beatles said about love is true for worship. The intimacy of worship can’t be bought, but it can be nurtured. And that will be costly.
The Alabaster Box
You know the story in Luke 7:37-50. Sermon and song has kept it in our thoughts. Look through it again, but don’t let your familiarity cause you to hurry through it. God used this woman’s actions to communicate several things. We benefit by noticing!
The woman came to Simon’s house to anoint God’s only Son. The cost to her was great. She spent a great sum on the perfume she poured out on Jesus. And she used it all! She didn’t hold anything back for herself. But there was more. Some of the cost of her worship was paid by enduring scorn and ridicule. Unfortunately, ridicule is often passed on to those whose worship is more passionate than our own. But that’s another discussion. So let me ask: Is sacrifice applied solely to worshipers?
Jehovah, the only worthy object of worship, sacrificed greatly in order to make our worship relationship possible. His cost was beyond our comprehension. Jesus (God the Son) came in obedience to the plan of God the Father. He left unimaginable splendor and grandeur to step out of heave in a robe of human flesh.
What words can we use to begin a description of His great sacrifice? Our minds cannot fathom the sacrifice, and if we could, our language would still fail us. But the attempt should make us ask two questions:
- What does worship cost you?
- Should it cost you?
Intimacy Has A Cost
Any intimate relationship requires both parties giving of themselves in order to make it work. We readily understand this in our own interpersonal relationships. So does this idea apply to worship? And if it does, are we making a sufficient investment in our worship? Fortunately, Scripture addresses the subject!
The connection between worship and sacrifice was addressed by King David. His thoughts are preserved for us in I Chronicles 21, and repeated in II Samuel 24:
I will not offer to the Lord a sacrifice which costs me nothing.
Clearly, worship should have a personal investment. We call it a sacrifice. And David had no intention of giving an offering to God with someone else’s goods. He knew his sacrifice had to be his own. This is just one example preserved for us in Scripture.
Where does worship lead us? What is its outcome? The answer can be seen in Philippians 2. This is where the Apostle Paul revealed the point to which all human activity is moving:
Every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.
That is worship because Christ is rightly honored, but it is also subjection. Subjection is costly. Everyone who rejects the offer of a loving relationship with the living God is pictured in that statement. They will be forced to do what they would not willingly do. The possibility of a relationship with God will be forever lost. Those who willingly bow to Jesus, like our nameless woman, will gain the advantage of a relationship with the King of the universe. And that relationship is His idea!
Think about that for just a minute. Was it done because God needed more worship? No. That thought won’t withstand simple logic. God is complete in Himself and has no needs. Worship comes to Him by all creation. Observe Psalm 19:1-5 —
The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night shows knowledge. There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard. Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them He has set a tabernacle for the sun.
Everything declares His glory by its existence, detail, immensity, intricacy, beauty, and so on. And by telling us His greatest commandment is to love Him, He points us to something marvelous. He has held nothing back in order to make our love relationship possible. We couldn’t do it, so He did it for us. What is the amazing summary statement? We sacrifice in worship and God has sacrificed to make our worship-relationship possible!
Love Demands A Response
At Simon’s table, being anointed by a woman of questionable character is proof of God’s love for us. He loves YOU more than human words can express and more than our minds can comprehend. How do we respond to that?
Some answers are provided in our passage. What costs are represented by the woman? First, she came to worship in the same way Jesus came to be worshipped. She held nothing back. She took no thought of the cost of the ointment she brought. He was worth her investment.
The cost of her actions was snide comments and derisive looks. She was undeterred. Why? She was not focused on those people. Had she sought their approval, her actions would have been impacted by them. But she had a singular purpose and focus of devotion.
This woman held nothing back in pretense, dignity, or reputation. Jesus was most important to her. Before Him, and all the observers, she was undone; she was abandoned to Him. True worship looks like this!
Worship is not a church program, a plan, a time on Sunday, or a performance. And worship is vastly more than a style of music. Worship is a heart-felt response to a Savior Who has revealed Himself to us. He abandoned all for the glory of His Father. And we can benefit from His actions. How? By abandoning ourselves to Him. That’s worship!
Jesus met the deepest needs in the life of our nameless woman. In the eyes of others her life had been ill-spent if not wasted. She worshipped and found purpose. Purpose? Yes!
Two thousand years have passed and God still uses her to teach us about worship. Step into the narrative; put yourself where she is. What could God do with you if you came to Him as she did? What could God do with a church comprised of people like her? If today’s Church was abandoned to our Savior:
- Would our society look like it does?
- Would Church budgets remain unmet?
- Would any place of service go unfilled?
- Would any mission team be short-handed?
We find the answers in I Corinthians 2:9 —
But as it is written: Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.
That verse refers to an Old Testament passage: as it is written… And just to make sure we understand, the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to give us this thought all over again in Ephesians 3:19-20 –
Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, unto Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.
I AM has done incredibly amazing things. He has accomplished some of them through individual disciples who were abandoned to Him. We admire these remarkable servants. You can make your own list of Godly heroes. But my question is this:
Where does our admiration lead us?
Do we see them or read about them and come away inspired or tired? The ‘right’ answer is to be inspired. We would all say that if asked. And to a certain degree it’s true. But there’s a darker reality. Too many believers are listening to a lie. It goes something like this:
That could never be you!
And they are tired of the guilt, doubt, and despair heaped on them by believing that lie. Lies are fought with truth. Renewing our minds (Romans 12:1-2) leads to renewed lives. And the truth to fight this never you lie is found in the preceding verse from Ephesians. Notice that little phrase: …according to the power that works in us… See it? Let me emphasize: …the power that works in US. It doesn’t say: …power that works in them, him, her, or someone else I can never be! Those who are used mightily are those who are fully abandoned.
Any of us can follow the example of the woman at Jesus’ feet. And when we do, eye has not seen, ears have not heard, and minds have not imagined what I AM can and will do through abandoned servants. The choice is yours. It really can be you because His power is made perfect in our weaknesses. (see 2 Corinthians 12:9)
Chapter 6 – Is Your Problem Your Solution?
What problem are you facing right now? There wouldn’t be much need to equip people who never face problems or challenges! But have you ever entertained the idea that your problem might be the solution you are looking for? And you are wondering if that is even possible! The answer is in another revelation of God. He can and does make a way where we see no way. He is our Waymaker.
Our problem with our problems is we have very limited sight and understanding. I can prove that with three very easy examples. The first is taken from the account of Jesus’ crucifixion.
As Jesus was hanging on the cross, the people saw the problem. At least they thought they did. We know this by one of the comments that was made:
If You are the Son of God, save Yourself. Come down off the cross!
That view sees the cross as the problem. But we do not see as God sees. In God’s view, the cross wasn’t the problem. Jesus’ cross was God’s necessary solution for the sin of short-sighted people.
Another example is in Exodus. The people followed God’s fiery cloud out into the desert. Three days in, they had no water. To them, that was a problem. They complained about it. They demanded a solution. Now, water was no problem for the One Who would make Himself known as the Living Water.
The desert wasn’t the real problem. It only exposed the problem. The problem was a lack of understanding and faith. God brought them to the desert to show them He is Jehovah:
- Jireh – the God Who Provides
- Rapha – I Am Your Healer
- Nissi – the LORD our Banner
The desert was God’s solution to a problem much greater than water!
The ‘O’ Word
Obedience is not a word we like. However, it’s one God requires. A dear friend of mine has shared his own experience with problems and solutions. What was his problem? He found himself in a hospital bed and ‘out of commission’ for about a month. It’s easy to see that as a problem. Most of us would do the same thing. But being laid-up was actually his solution! Why?
There was a writing/teaching project he needed to do. He put it off. He thought he was too busy. That’s also an easy thing for pastors to believe. When was my friend obedient enough to get the project get done? While he was down and couldn’t do anything else. God’s solution for the project was what most people saw as the problem.
Now, let me ask you again: What problem are you facing? Pray for insight. The problem could well be the solution you desperately need! And Who but our divine Waymaker could make our problems the path to His solutions?
Upcoming mission opportunities need staffing and funding. It’s just part of this ministry. And it often seems like a problem to me. So what I am sharing isn’t meant simply to apply to others. It’s something of an exercise of encouraging myself in the Lord.
I need to be reminded that He sees what I do not. Ministry needs are shared often and I am always grateful for the prayers and what Helping Hands supply. Learn more in the EquipUs blog segment: From the Mission Field.
Chapter 7 – Hangout For Hurting Hearts
Hurting hearts are real. And we have all had our hurts. So hurting is not unique to any individual. The question is: When your heart is hurting, where do you go to hangout?
There are plenty of answers that will do nothing but increase the pain. And you might pick one o fthem if you don’t know that God has made it His business to mend hurting hearts. We know Him as our Comforter. Jesus read the words of Isaiah 61:1-2 as a description of His own earthly ministry:
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners; to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord…
He binds up the brokenhearted. What can we learn from those who have shared their hurts with the Lord? and us. Let’s hangout a minute in one of those places.
Hurting Hearts: Cry Out
A person who illustrates the entirety of the opening paragraph is King David. It seems he had more than his share of hurts. He brought some of it on himself. But no matter if his pain was deserved or undeserved, we can learn from what he did. Examining Psalm 61 provides rich insight into handling heartache. David opened his prayer with these words:
Hear my cry, O God; give heed to my prayer.
It seems so simple. But the healing we need for the things that bring us pain will not be found in a substance, a binge, or a destructive relationship. Our Father is not only able to hear our cries, He wants us to bring them to Him. So we can and should follow David’s example and cry out to our Father.
Jehovah loves perfectly and He knows all things from beginning to end. He can respond to our cries and hurts in many ways. But one response we will never hear from Him is this: Really? You/they did that?!?!?
Hurting Hearts: Give Up Weakness
The second thing David said is equally instructive:
From the end of the earth I will call to You when my heart is faint; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
David’s prayer provides hope for hurting hearts in two at least two ways. First, David admitted he was faint. There is relief in admitting our condition to God. He isn’t surprised and we cannot offend Him by telling Him what He already knows. David knew what to do when he found himself weary or overwhelmed.
Have you felt that way? What do you do when your strength is exhausted? David set the right example. He said, I will call to You… And second, David followed it up with a specific request:
- Lead me...
You see, when we are exhausted we don’t make good decisions. But even at our best our thoughts are not God’s thoughts. So our prayer must be for our Father to lead us. His leadership will take us where we cannot arrive when we seek our own path by our own wisdom.
Hurting Hearts: Return Home
This prayer of David stems from in incident in his life that was his own fault. It came in the aftermath of Absalom’s rebellion and death. What started all that trouble was David’s illicit relationship with Bathsheba. And David’s next statement gives the direction we need:
For You have been a refuge for me, a tower of strength against the enemy.
Had David been tempted? Yes. The tempter is behind many hurting hearts. It was no sin for David to be tempted, but he gave in. And that can cause all kinds of issues. But God grants us grace to return to Him!
On the other hand, there is a man like Job. He did nothing wrong but suffered enormous calamity. In both cases, the enemy was the source of pain. And David remembered the Lord is the place of refuge. Jehovah is the strong, safe tower. He is the One Who defends against the schemes of the enemy.
Hurting Hearts: Gain Perspective
If we focus on the current state of affairs, we probably won’t see anything bigger than our difficult circumstances. David lifted up his eyes (his thoughts) and gained a necessary perspective:
Let me dwell in Your tent forever, let me take refuge in the shelter of Your wings.
The presence of the Lord cannot be fully experienced in this life. But it is promised to all who repent and believe. David remembered this. It puts our pain in perspective. We will gain the eternal solace and comfort of our Father’s presence.
For all our hurts, past or future, I pray you will find hope and help in the prayer David shared with us.
Chapter 8 – If/Then
If/Then statements are exercises in logic. Our culture seems to have lost touch with logic. So let me invite you back to those wonderful, logical exercises we used to do in math classes. Why? It’s not about math. But it is about the Author of logic and reason.
God calls us to love Him with our entire being and that includes our minds. God can stand logical scrutiny and we need the exercise. And a point of clarification is in order…
The If/Then statement is a tool to prove a theory. Each of the following points could follow the word If. However, it’s more correct if they follow the word Since. The reason should be evident. So here is a challenge in my Since/Then scenario…
- Jesus doesn’t just show the way, He is the Way
- The Way doesn’t just know the Word of God, He is the Living Word of God
- The Living Word doesn’t just know truth, He is the Truth
- The Truth doesn’t just know sheep, He is the Good Shepherd
- The Good Shepherd doesn’t just give living water, He is Living Water
- Living Water doesn’t “do” resurrection, He is the Resurrection
- The Resurrection doesn’t just know the end from the beginning, He is the Alpha & Omega, the Beginning and the End
- The Alpha & Omega doesn’t just know the right gate, He is the Gate
- The Gate doesn’t just give light, He is the Light of life and the Light of Heaven
- The Light doesn’t just give bread, He is Living Bread, the Bread of Life
- The Living Bread doesn’t just know about life, He is Life Author of Life
- And the Life doesn’t just know about priestly matters, He is our Great High Priest
- Our High Priest doesn’t just know about sacrifices, He is our Sacrifice
- Our Sacrifice doesn’t just know about altars, He is the Altar
- The Altar doesn’t just know about plants, He is the Vine and we are His branches
- The Vine doesn’t just know about cattle, He is the Owner of the cattle on a thousand hills
- The Owner doesn’t just know about building, He is the Preparer of my place in Heaven and has paved its streets with gold!
- Why do I ask Him for what He has when He is all I need?
- Why do I think an offering is primarily about bringing Him more livestock, land and gold?
- I don’t have an offering, I am the offering! (Romans 12:1-2 – we are living sacrifices)
You see, when He truly gets me He gets all I have. Funny, that works in reverse. When we get Him, we get all He is!
A Rose By Any Other Name
We may call Him Savior, Father, Jehovah Rapha, Good Shepherd, Deliverer, Yahweh, or I AM. These and many other names are how our Creator reveals Himself to us. He is Eternal God by whatever name brings His reality to our minds!
And that brings me to a closing thought. When we know Jehovah Jireh as He desires to be known, we are blessed to enter into relationship with Him. We get to call Him: Father. And He begins His work in us to transform us into the image of His Son, Jesus.
A name I haven’t mentioned is Rose of Sharon. This is one name for God the Son. And who can think about a rose without remembering its fragrance? You may be surprised to know our Father didn’t forget that connection in His Word:
But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life.
Jesus was sent from the Father. And in turn, Jesus sent all who trust in Him and call Him Lord. His words: As the Father sent Me, so send I you (John 20:21).
If these thoughts are put together, here’s what you get:
The sent have a scent!
Own your scent. Faithfully represent the One Who sent you. And allow others to know Him by the many names He has given us.