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August 2, 2016, 12:00 PM

THE MAGNIFICENCE OF THE NAMES OF GOD


 

By Brenda Farmer

July 12, 2016

In our Sunday School Class, we studied last week about some of the scriptural Names of God.  We are continuing the study from The Battle Plan for Prayer*.  We were encouraged to learn as many of His Names as we can as we seek to know and worship the Lord more deeply.

We can see in the scripture below, that GOD’S NAMES reflect the following:

  • HIS INVISIBLE ATTRIBUTES/QUALTIES
  • HIS ETERNAL POWER
  • DIVINE NATURE

 

Romans 1:20 (NLT) 20 For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky.  Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.

 

Some of God’s Names are Hebrew Names and describe who He is:

Yahwah  (Lord, God, Jehovah) - Ex 3:14-15 (NLT)  14 God replied to Moses, “I Am Who I Am.  Say this to the people of Israel: I Am has sent me to you.”  15 God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel: Yahweh, the God of your ancestors—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.  This is my eternal name, my name to remember for all generations.

El Shaddai  (God Almighty) - Gen 17:1 (NLT)  1 When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am El-Shaddai—‘God Almighty.’ Serve me faithfully and live a blameless life.

Adonay  (Lord, Master) - Psalms 16:2 (NLT) 2 I said to the Lord, “You are my Master! Every good thing I have comes from you.”

 

My hope is that you will learn, as I am learning, more about the magnificence of God’s Hebrew Names.  I encourage you to call out to Him by Name when you seek answers to your prayers.

To be continued.  Be blessed and may the Favor of God rest upon you and yours!

 

* Reference: The Battle Plan For Prayer by Stephen and Alex Kendrick

 

- Brenda




July 8, 2016, 12:00 PM

How Do You Know What God's Will Is For Your Life? Part 2


Submitted by Brenda Farmer

June 28, 2016

 

Last week, I wrote about “COMPONENTS OF GOD’S WILL FOR HIS CHILDREN” that was taken from The Battle Plan for Prayer*.  Identifying these components can help us make daily decisions that are pleasing to God and can bring blessings into our life and others around us.  To review, the components of God’s Will include:

  • Bringing Glory to God through Jesus Christ in everything
  • To advance the Kingdom of God
  • Honor the Lordship of Jesus Christ
  • Live a pure life and abstain from sin
  • Be joyful, never stop praying, and be thankful to God in all circumstances
  • Mature in the Christian faith in the knowledge of God’s Word
  • Continue to produce good, lasting fruit in your everyday life
  • Be in close fellowship with other Christian believers; love your brothers and your sisters

 

Today, I want to share with you some of the points the authors make regarding decision-making that does not have a specific scripture relating to it. 

  • Your quest for God’s Will on a specific issue, is not separate from the other components of His Will. For example: buying a new house or car, changing jobs, how to be a good parent, etc. Your decision-making knowledge will come clear in His timing as you stay focused in prayer and be submissive to all of His Will (as above).
  • When you pray about a decision, God has a way of opening and closing doors of opportunity.  You can recognize open and closed doors of opportunity if you are prayerfully following Him and watching for them.   (Rev. 3:8 - 8 “I know all the things you do, and I have opened a door for you that no one can close. You have little strength, yet you obeyed my word and did not deny me.)
  • Your quest to follow God’s Will may lead you down a path that brings opposition and difficulties.  Think of Jesus the time He was praying in the Garden of Gethsemane before He was arrested, crucified and rose again.  He prayed to His Heavenly Father, “not My Will but Your Will be done”.  I believe we would all be doomed if Jesus had not willingly made His sacrifice of pain and suffering.  Jesus gave His all so that we may have life and have it more abundantly!
  • You know you are in God’s will when you have peaceI believe that peace of heart and peace of mind is a heavenly gift to us.(Phil. 4:7)   Peace is a gift that Jesus gave to us when He walked on this earth.  Peace is the fruit of God’s Holy Spirit living within us.  You can walk the path of God’s Will for your life, no matter how turbulent.  Keep your faith high in God, and you can know deep inside that you are where you are supposed to be.  I like the saying: ‘If God brings you to it, He will take you through it.’

My all-time favorite scripture and prayer that leads me into God’s Will and helps me make decisions is Proverbs 3:5,6 - 5 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. 6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

The authors have written a sample prayer that I believe is excellent.  It goes like this:

Lord, I know I’m in skillful hands as I pray for You to show me Your Will and lead me faithfully into it.  I accept from You specific guidance through Your Word to give me “a lamp to my feet and a light to my path”  (Ps. 119:105)—for this moment.  Thank You for being heaven-and-earth beyond me in size and scope  (Isa. 55:8-9), yet somehow stooping down to involve Yourself in my details.  Tune my heart to the desires of Your heart.  Align my mind with Your thoughts.  Guide my path to the center of Your plans.  And help me pray and live in accordance with Your will.  I love You, and I will follow You.  In Jesus’ Name, amen.

 

May God Richly Bless You and Yours!

 

* Reference: The Battle Plan for Prayer by Stephen and Alex Kendrick

 

 

- Brenda




July 6, 2016, 12:00 PM

The Heart


By Haley MaKenna Hardman
 
 
 
       In my last post, I talked about the difference between religion and relationship with Jesus
Christ. In my last post I also explained that the book I’m reading right now is literally a book that
calls you back to your heart, to wild love, to adventure and excitement, and most important,
God’s heart. I feel as I’m starting to write this post that it could possibly have the same theme.
God just has not released me from this yet. In this time that we live in, I feel it is extremely
important that we know where our relationship with God lies. Not only so that we can be face to
face with God one day, but so that we can be face to face with God now! Okay…I’m getting
ahead of myself.
 
“Every great story involves a quest… Alice stepped through the looking glass into Wonderland;
Lucy, Edmund, Susan, and Peter stumbled through the wardrobe into Narnia. Abraham left his
country, his people and his father’s household to follow the most outlandish sort of promise from
a God he’d only just met, and he never came back. Jacob and his sons went to Egypt for some
groceries and four hundred years later the Israelite nation pulled up stakes and headed for home.
Peter, James, and John all turned on a dime one day to follow the Master, their fishing nets
heaped in wet piles behind them. The Sacred Romance involves for every soul a journey of
heroic proportions. And while it may require for some a change of geography, for every soul it
means a journey of the heart.” –Brent Curtis
 
       What is a journey of the heart? Well I’m glad you asked. I believe that it begins with
connecting to your heart. Have you ever watched a sappy love story movie? In every single one
of them, I promise that someone either says, “The heart wants what the heart wants,” or, “Follow
your heart!” What does that mean? In my opinion, your heart’s desire is the very thing that you
long for most-basically what you live for. So, if you were to follow your heart, every action
made would be to take a step towards what you live for. For example, in those sappy love stories,
the main character takes steps towards their “true love” when they start to follow their heart. It
may sound sappy and unrealistic, but God wants us to “follow our hearts” to Him. One of my
good friends once told me that in every human being, there is a longing for Eden. I believe that
that longing is found in the very heart that beats inside each of our chests if we could only listen.
 
       Listening. That’s another very important task. How in the world do we listen to our
hearts? For me, if I even sit down and try to listen to anything but actual noises, my mind starts
going a hundred miles an hour. I’m reminded of my past, things I’ve been labeled as by others,
hurts (what Brent Curtis calls Arrows of the heart), basically all of the muck on the battlefield
that is my mind comes through my actual thought process in these times. Most people, including
myself, stop listening there. They come to the conclusion that they’re forever hurt, forever
branded, with past things. Why is it that we try so hard to cling to our hurts? Let me explain
something that I’ve learned recently: we DO NOT need a current problem to survive or get
attention from God. We DO NOT need a case to present to talk to Him. He is not a detective that
needs to solve all of our problems, He is our Father, our Friend, who wants to know us, and us is
not the latest drama that’s going on in our lives. Anyways, listening to your heart requires
patience in order to get through the muck. Once you get through the muck, there is a small, faint
voice daring you to hear it. Now, I am not saying that there is literally a voice inside your
physical heart. Just like we don’t hear God with an audible voice at times, we don’t hear our
heart with an audible voice. This “voice” sounds different for everyone depending on where you
are in life. For some, it’s broken, for some it’s joyful to finally be heard, for some it’s in pain, for
some it’s on the mend. Whatever it says may sometimes go along with the muck, but something
will be different. As your heart speaks, even about hurts, there will be a peace wash over you just
as quickly as your heart can speak. You see, God has not put us here on this earth to hurt, and if
we truly get to the bottom of our pain, find the source if you will, He can minister to us and in
essence, take away the pain.
 
       As we (we being ourselves and God) go through our hearts and start sorting, storing, and
throwing away, we realize there’s an infinite hole. It seems as though there may be a road down
in the hole, but it’s almost too dark to see. It seems scary and untraveled. Only the adventurous
and truly daring even take steps onto that road. We know a few of their stories. For example,
Esther, David, Paul, Jacob, Peter, Ruth, Elijah, Jeremiah, Job, and Zacchaeus. All of these people
traveled down the dark and mysterious road to see what may lie beyond the surface relationship
that so many believers stop at. This adventure leads you through deserts, valleys, the highest of
mountains, and beside still waters. You may encounter giants, pompous priests, crosses, graves,
sickly persons, prideful kings, prisons, back stabbing, and fiery furnaces, but the end goal is what
will fill the void: Eden. Perfect relationship with God. Being one with Him just as Jesus and the
Father are one. This kind of adventure will leave us saying something like this at the end of our
 
2 Timothy 4:6-8 (NLT)
As for me, my life has already been poured out as an offering to God. The time of my death is
near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. And
now the prize awaits me- the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will
give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look
forward to his appearing.
 
        So, I have explained to you how to go on this journey. The quest is now in your hands.
You may choose to ignore it or you may choose to grab life by the horns, trust in the God who
created you and loves you with an everlasting love, and hold on for dear life. If this means you
must separate yourself from the busyness that we all seem to get caught up in, for a while, then
so be it. Again, the choice to listen to your heart, and follow the unquenchable desire that churns
within you, is up to you. Adventure is out there just waiting to be embarked upon.
 
 
- Haley



July 5, 2016, 12:00 AM

The Rock


 
By Greg Higgins
 
 
 
It’s Friday morning and I just finished reading reports about the United Kingdom’s vote to leave the European Union. The story has everyone buzzing right now, including the financial market. Stock markets around the world are reacting negatively towards the vote. I’m not sure if this will change or get worse but advisers are speculating on the issue.
 
As I read all of this it made me think about the song we used to sing in children’s church. It simply said, “He’s got the whole world in His hands.” It keeps repeating that line several times. I was also reminded of something I heard someone say before:
 
“Has it ever occurred to you that nothing ever occurs to God?”
 
Seems like a funny little statement/question there but let’s examine it for a second. Nothing takes God by surprise. He didn’t fall off His throne in disbelief when the vote happened. He isn’t sitting up there worried about what’s going on with the financial markets. Not for a second. See, He has the whole world in His hands. He knows what will happen before it happens. That’s why Jesus said not to worry about tomorrow. God is already there.
 
It’s important to remember what the Psalmist said in Psalms 37:25. He reminds us that the righteous have never been forsaken nor God’s children begging for bread. This is important to remember when we hear about the stock market crumbling or financial institutions warning of disaster.
 
This doesn’t just go for the economy, though. This goes for every part of life. He’s not concerned with the next president. He knows who it will be and how they will fit into His plan for the world. This is so important to remember. Why? Because it reminds us as Christians where we need to place our trust. If you’re trust is in the next president of the United States or some financial institution that holds your 
money, then your trust is misplaced and misguided. There’s an old hymn that says this:
 
My hope is built on nothing less
 
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness
 
I dare not trust the sweetest frame
 
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
 
On Christ the solid rock I stand,
 
All other ground is sinking sand.
 
All other ground is sinking sand.
 
Where’s your trust? Where’s your faith? Is it on the Rock, or are you sinking because it’s in the sand?
 
 
- Greg

 




June 23, 2016, 12:00 PM

Religion vs. Relationship


by Haley MaKenna Hardman

 

 

            Do you ever read a book and think that the whole world needs to read it? I’m kind of a book fanatic and I think that pretty much every book is one of those that you can’t put down. I’m currently reading The Great Romance by Brent Curtis and John Eldridge. I mean it when I say that this is a book that the whole world needs to read- especially in this day and age. It’s not one of those “self-help” books, but it is a book that calls you back to your heart- to the wild love that every person dreams of at one time or another. It calls you to adventure and excitement. Most important, it calls you to the very heart of God. This post is not a book promotion or advertisement, but I need to explain how I feel about the book to clearly state the main point: God did not create us to have religion with Him; He created us to have relationship with Him.

            Now, as I’m going through this book, I read things like, “Life is not a list of propositions, it is a series of dramatic scenes,” and “Just what if we saw God not as the Author, the cosmic mastermind behind all human experience, but as the central character in the larger story? What could we learn about his heart?” At first, statements like these perplexed me. I’ve always viewed God as the Author of my story who wants a relationship, but I’ve never viewed Him as the hero pursuing His heroine, like with an actual heart after me. I had head knowledge of this, but I never understood I guess. God is pursuing me (literally) and He wants an intimate relationship with me- a wild, adventurous relationship that goes beyond what any earthly relationship could be (Yes. I said beyond.). He is not satisfied with me just going to church, being involved in church, and the rest of my “religious activities”.

            According to Google, the definition of the word religion is, “the belief and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods.” The definition of the word relationship according to Google is, “the way in which two or more concepts, objects, or people are connected, or the state of being connected.” The very definition of these two words is completely different. Religion requires worship, relationship requires actual connection. Worship can be given to anything. Worship is given to our electronic devices when we give up family time to stare at them. Worship is given to our jobs when we devote too much time to them. Worship is given to scenery when we stare in awe at it. Worship is given to our significant other when we give up something important for them. Worship is given to ourselves when we can’t go past a mirror without looking in it. And connection? Connection is much deeper. Connection takes time, relatability, care, devotion, time, grace, significance and more time. Consider it like a friendship. One does not simply become best friends with someone after one conversation or an occasional visit. Connection takes being vulnerable; it takes trust. And that is precisely what God looks for with us.

            When God created us, He said, “Let us make man in our image.” (Genesis 1:26). Before creation, we’re told that in the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God (John 1:1). We’re also told that the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters of the formless and empty earth (Genesis 1:2). So if God, Himself, has a perfect relationship within Himself, and we’re created to be like Him, then we have the same exact desire for and hunger for a relationship that cannot be found here on this earth. In fact, when Jesus came down to this earth, He prayed a prayer for us that has MAJOR significance in his coming. In John 17, he prays:

 

John 17:21-23

“I pray that they will be one, just as you and I are one- as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me. I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me.”

 

            Does that sound like Jesus is asking God to bring us to a place where we attend church every Sunday and Wednesday? I am in no way trying to bring down the importance of church activities, but maybe some of us get caught up in the religion of it all and never understand the significant importance that needs to be placed on our relationship with God- the whole reason we, the body of Christ, are supposed to come together at church. I know I did. This isn’t the church’s fault necessarily. Anyone who’s grown up in church has been taught that He loves us with an indescribable love, and that in order to see Him face to face one day, we must have a relationship with Him. We’re all given a Bible that explains it even further with story after story of God pursuing His bride with a passionate love. We’re even given a whole book that is literally a love letter to us; it’s called the Song of Solomon. It seems risqué and hard to swallow, but viewed as a conversation between a husband and a wife, it is exactly right. Now, imagine if the conversation went like this:

She: “I’m so looking forward to our wedding day. I do love you so much. I really wish I could see more of you. There’s so much about you I want to know better.”

He: “Yes dear, I know. I’m going to send you a book that describes more about my life. I’m sure you’ll get a lot out of it.”

She: “I’ll be glad to read it. But I just want to hold your hand.”

He: “I’m sure you do, beloved. Let me send you a tape describing the role of physical affection at different stages of courtship. You’ll find it worthwhile, I’m sure.”

 

            This is not how the conversation goes between us and God. Actually, we’re the ones that usually run to books and tapes and music. None of those things are bad, but when we spend too much time diving into those, and not into actual conversation with the One whom those things are about, we miss the point and the time spent with the books, tapes, and music is pointless. We MUST have an encounter with Him in order to fill the emptiness that we all feel inside. If you’ve been in church at all, you’ve heard this before, but I just wanted to remind you that the Great Mysterious Heart that we all talk about like “it” is some theology to be debated, is R.E.A.L. real and until we make the effort to get to know Him, we’ll feel empty for all of eternity.

 

-Haley


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