Wednesday, January 26, 2011

I AM Provider

The economy is awful, people are unemployed, expenses are increasing and payment is decreasing. For those of us in our early 20s or in college, the job world is a scary place. It is difficult to find a job if you don't have experience even if you have a degree, and very few companies will take a chance to offer you the experience. Businesses want to employ the unemployed experienced workers who have families to take care of (and rightly so) rather than those of us fresh off the college press. Many are living with a mounting worry of where their next paycheck will come from.

I planned to talk about another character trait of the Lord today, but felt I needed to focus on this one: I AM Provider. This is a name of the Lord (Jehovah Jirah in Hebrew); however His name is also an action He demonstrates on our behalf. Ultimately, though, this is an action for our good and His glory. It is all a reflection of Him. Check out this story.

In Exodus 16, the children of Israel are in the desert having crossed over the Red Sea and are headed to the land the Lord promised them. The people were grumbling because there was little food. To top it off, these people, who had just seen the Lord part the waters of the Red Sea and kill their oppressors, desired to go back to the people who had beaten and abused them. How quickly we forget the Lord's power and His provision for us. So the Lord decided to prove His power to unfaithful Israel once again:

While Aaron was speaking to the whole Israelite community, they looked toward the desert, and there was the glory of the LORD appearing in the cloud. The LORD said to Moses, “I have heard the grumbling of the Israelites. Tell them, ‘At twilight you will eat meat, and in the morning you will be filled with bread. Then you will know that I am the LORD your God.’” That evening quail came and covered the camp, and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. When the dew was gone, thin flakes like frost on the ground appeared on the desert floor. Exodus 16:10-14

So daily the Lord provided for His people. If they chose to gather more food than the Lord allotted them for one day, it would spoil. The Lord desired to teach His people to daily look to Him for provision and sustenance.

Do we do that? 

After I graduated, I stayed another year in my college town working as a substitute teacher while I applied for grad school and helped out in my college group. The Lord did not create me to teach school, and I constantly worried that I wouldn't get a job for the next day. I would stay up until after midnight some nights calling the sub line every five minutes to pick up a job. In eight months that I worked for the school district, there were only two days that I didn't have a job. The Lord was/is my Provider. Daily I learned to depend on Him for that next job, for favor with the teachers to call me back, for patience and the money to pay my bills. I never went without. 

In Genesis 22, the Lord asks Abraham to sacrifice his only son, Isaac. Abraham is about to kill his son on the alter he made, knowing all along that the Lord will provide a lamb if He chooses, but an angel stops him. Check out the next part of the story:

Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called that place The LORD Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided.”  Genesis 22:13-14

What faith! The Lord is your Provider. It may not look like you planned, but make no mistake, He will provide. The God of the universe provided His only Son, Jesus, the Lamb of God to save us from our sins. He was crucified on a cross, was buried, and rose three days later and eventually went back to heaven. That is provision on your behalf. It isn't something He had to do, but something He chose to do! No other religion has a god who loved enough to die for them.  If you are suffering in this tough economy, count your blessings and wait and see the provision the Lord will bring. It is not only an action He performs, but who He is. Jesus is I AM your Provider.

Resting in my Provider,

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

I AM Truth

I heard in a sermon that we shouldn't focus on thanking the Lord for WHAT He has done as much as we should thank Him for WHO He is. I really struggled with that statement for a long time.  We know the Lord is love because he loved us. He is Savior because He saved us. He is King because He is King of heaven and is coming back. You get the point...So many of the names and character attributes of God are in response to an action He has performed on the behalf of mankind. So how do you separate what He has done from who  He is?

This week, I have studied truth in regards to faith and have come to one solid conclusion: JESUS IS TRUTH. Truth that we understand as God's Word did not come before God was truth; God's Word was dependent on Jesus being truth before the foundation of the world. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."(John 1:1) In the beginning is before time began, before man existed, before we were God was and was the WORD which is TRUTH. Do you see the correlation? It's a little confusing but stay with me! "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth."(John 1:14) Jesus was truth and is truth. The man who walked on water, turned water to wine, died on the cross, came back to life, and ascended to heaven is truth. We know truth because God is truth!

I think I understand better what my pastor was saying about praising God for who He is and not just what  He has done. Action follows character. God acts because it is an outpouring of His character. Whereas we tend to define the Lord by what He does for us, God is defined by embodying the characteristics of the actions He performs. We have it all wrong!

Our culture has done away with truth. In fact, we struggle to see the black and white in the midst of a situation that looks very gray. Absolute truth exists and it is Jesus Christ. The Lord makes it easier for us to discern the black and white. When we acknowledge that He is truth, then we have an inward understanding (Psalm 51:6) that truth comes from God (Psalm 40:11) and that those of us who claim Jesus as Savior know that truth draws us closer to Christ (Psalm 43:3), we daily walk in truth when we follow Jesus (Psalm 86:11) because God is abundant in truth (Psalm 86:15), and the Lord is close to those who call on Him in truth (Psalm 145:18). To break that down: believers in Christ following the Lord have the ability to discern truth because they are searching whole-heartedly to know and understand the One who is truth. The fuzzy, gray areas become clear in the light of the One who knows and is truth. He is the great I AM of Truth. Rest in that and follow Him! The path is peace and abundant understanding.

Seek the real deal, not an indiscernible imitation! "Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." (John 8:32)

Following the the great I AM of Truth,

Friday, January 14, 2011

I AM who I AM

It is the sunrise of a new year and already it is the second week. Where is time going? Last year, on this blog, I examined the issue of love and what the Lord designed it to look like. I feel that I grew a lot through the study. This year, I want to focus on the character of God. I truly believe that when we understand who He is, we understand who we are in Him. Let me give you an example: When I realize that God is good, He is in control, and that as Creator, He loved me and designed me for a unique purpose, then I remember that my worth is not dependent or determined by man but by the God of the Universe. It is a comforting and convicting realization.

So, this is my first post of the year on the character of the Lord and what better way to start out than with a name the Lord called Himself and then claimed throughout the Old and New Testaments: I AM. Because He is God, there doesn't have to be a completion to that sentence. I AM defines a God who existed before time, created it, exists right now, and will exist forever.

In Exodus 3, the Lord speaks to Moses from a burning bush. He tells Moses that He has seen and heard the oppression of His people, Israel, in Egypt, and He is sending Moses to set them free. Moses is hesitant and doesn't think the people will listen to him. I love what the Lord says in verses 14-15:

"God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’”God also said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘The LORD, the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.’“This is my name forever, the name you shall call me from generation to generation."

I AM WHO I AM. It encompasses the entirety of God's character. Everything He says He is, He is and always has been and always will be...FOREVER. It is a promise and a guarantee and has been fulfilled and is still being fulfilled. Confused? Me, too, a little. But I am excited to study the character of God. Who is this God who has baffled theologians, caused century old arguments, and has people willing to die for Him, not for a reward in the afterlife, but because they refuse to deny His existence? I hope you will stick with me and learn the character of this amazing God. He is good. Enjoy the song by Bebo Norman called "I AM." It lists character qualities and actions of God on YOUR BEHALF! If you aren't a Christian, this is who God is for the believer. He is present, directing their steps and waiting for them in their future. Do you know Him?

Resting in the Great I AM,

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Beautiful You

"This year I commit to losing weight through dieting and working out. I promise to count more calories and focus on my overall appearance in 2011."

Does this sound familiar? It is a blueprint of many people's new year's resolutions for 2011. Want to know the problem with this healthy goal? The focus is in the wrong place.

In the Old Testament, the people of Israel wanted a king. In essence, they wanted a physically present hero who would represent them. They wanted to replace the King of Kings with an imitation. Saul was a man handsome in appearance and he was chosen as king over Israel. He fell for the classic Hollywood syndrome. He became absorbed with his position and failed to follow the One who anointed him. He disobeyed a direct order from his King. So the Lord rejected him as king over Israel and sent Samuel to anoint a new king from the house of Jesse in Bethlehem. Jesse had handsome sons and Saul thought surely one of those was chosen of the Lord to be the next king. The next statement is brutal:

"But the LORD said to Samuel, 'Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.'” 1 Samuel 16:7

What a simple and profound statement. How many of us wrestle with our outward appearance? We are too tall or too short. We need highlights because our hair isn't as pretty as Kate Hudson's without them. We need to lose more weight so we look like the gorgeous models in the magazines. We need to wear makeup because we won't be pretty without it, and if we don't wear the latest fashions, our friends will make fun of us.

Jonny Diaz's song "More Beautiful You" has another profound statement. "There's a Man whose love is true who will treat you like the jewel you are." The God who made you, treasures you. He desired to make you uniquely because no one else could possibly fulfill the purpose He created YOU for, or fill His world with a beauty that is distinctly YOURS to give. We look to Hollywood  or to our own unrealistic expectations to be our standard. In reality, our new year's resolutions should focus more on growing as a person and growing closer to the Lord than focusing on the improvement of our outward appearance.

Please hear me, I am by no means saying that working on being healthier is a bad thing. It is a very good thing. The Bible says our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit if we belong to Christ, so we need to take care of them. But as you do, please remember how beautiful you are because the Lord made you. There could never be a more beautiful you! Your motivations should be for God's glory and not your own gain. You are marked by the ALMIGHTY CREATOR of the universe and YOU bear His fingerprints.

Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.

You are beautiful,

Monday, January 3, 2011

Happy New Year! Thought for the day....

"Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God." -Corrie ten Boom

We serve a big God who is bigger than the circumstances that this year may throw at you. If you don't know Jesus, He is the only one able to bless you and walk with you as you walk into this new year!