Thursday, January 12, 2012

El Emunah

I did a search for God’s names and found this website: Lilyof the Valley Virginia. It lists the Hebrew names of God in the Old Testament and the verses where they can be found. It would be exciting to do a study of these verses, but for now I just used it to find the name this Psalm is referring to.  

El Emunah – the faithful God. 

It’s used in Deuteronomy 7:9
Understand, therefore, that the LORD your God is indeed God. He is the faithful God who keeps his covenant for a thousand generations and lavishes his unfailing love on those who love him and obey his commands. (NLT)

I’m blessed to be a recipient of God’s faithfulness in this regard. I know enough of the history of my family to know that my ancestors have loved Him and obeyed His commands for many generations. Maybe even 1000. A 17 times great-grandfather founded a church in Rhode Island that is still active. Another ancestor was a circuit rider in the old west. The last three generations have been missionaries. These generations are evidence of God’s faithfulness. God has faithfully kept His covenant with my family.

This truth not only humbles me and makes me aware of my responsibility to love and obey Him. It also reminds me of His promises and gives me hope for future generations. I can trust that He will lavish His love on my children and grandchildren, that they also belong to Him because He keeps His covenant with a thousand generations.

With this assurance, I worship and praise Him and I thank Him for keeping His promises, promises that are backed by the honor of His name.

His name is El Emunah. His name is The Faithful God.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Ears Open, Mouth Shut

I’m currently teaching Sunday School, helping in the nursery and will soon be working with the youth. I’m also planning a ladies fellowship and Bible study and I will be leading the missions segment of VBS this summer. Whew.

I don’t feel overwhelmed right now, but I think this verse is for me. I’m so quick to jump in when there’s a need at church, that I don’t always think about whether I should. Does that make my offerings of service mindless?

Before I offer God anything, I need to think and pray about it. I need to keep my ears open and my mouth shut. In other words, listen before I speak. And don’t make promises to God I can’t or won’t keep.

A mindless offering is a rash promise that I haven’t thought about. Before I promise Him anything, I should weigh it out first - make sure I’m committed. Otherwise, I might end up making excuses, and that’s not just disappointing someone, it’s a sin. It’s better not to make a promise than not to keep it. So if I do make a promise to God, I’d better do it. 

One thing I have to consider is whether I’m over committed. Too much activity gives you restless dreams; I already suffer from insomnia, I don’t need nightmares too! But I think the scripture might be talking about other kinds of dreams as well. When I serve God, and do it well, I’m tempted to take credit for it – especially if others praise me for it. I start imagining what I’ll do, what I’ll accomplish, what I’ll change, how I’ll impress. I’m no longer listening to God.

And then, if I start to talk about it, I may look silly. Too many words make me a fool. Instead of listening to God and others, I speak up and my ideas are probably not the best ones available. In fact, I may not know what I’m talking about. It’s always better to listen first, then speak.

Talk is cheap - so are daydreams. They’re useless; they don’t accomplish anything.

Instead I want to fear God when I walk into His house. I want to be in awe and let Him do the talking. I want to keep my ears open and my mouth shut.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Honoring His Name

I was a youth group leader in the days when teen girls used “like” in every sentence. Like, I loved being a youth group leader because it was, like, so much fun to hang out with kids. Like, it was such a blessing to, like, see how God worked in their lives.

It was annoying, but a little bit funny. They had another verbal habit that was not even a little bit funny. They said “oh my God” a lot too. I tried to point it out gently by responding, “I hope that was a prayer.” But, even though they didn’t recognize it, they were swearing, not praying.

The third commandment is to not take God’s name in vain. That means don’t swear, right? Yes, but this passage has given me a deeper understanding of it. 

It means don’t dishonor God’s name.

God’s people dishonored His name by their actions, not by their words. They brought defiled offerings to the altar; they turned up their noses at His commands because they were hard and they cheated Him by saying they would do one thing and then doing another. 

I don’t swear. I cringe when I read or hear OMG and I even ask my secular college students not to say “Jesus.”

But I’m afraid I’ve still been guilty of dishonoring God’s name by my actions.

When God has asked me to do something that’s hard for me, I haven’t always done it. Sometimes I say it’s too hard. Sometimes I put it off until it’s too late. Because of that, I dishonor His name. But when I do something for Him that’s hard, I’m offering a pure sacrifice. Avoiding it or doing it halfway is bringing a defiled sacrifice before Him. 

I bear His name so the things I do are in His name. What I do either honors or dishonors Him. I want to honor Him. I want to be as careful about not taking His name in vain by my actions as I am about not swearing.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Fear, Obedience or Misery

What does God want?

For His people to fear His glorious and awesome name.

In fact, He told them that if they didn’t, He would send them plagues, sickness and exile. Most of them would die because they wouldn’t listen to God.

So there’s another thing God wants.

For His people to listen to Him and obey the words of instruction in His book.

The people were about to enter the Promised Land when God issued this warning. It’s part of a much bigger set of instructions about how He wanted them to live in the land. The main point was that they were to leave everything of Egypt behind – the things they remembered fondly and the things they had hated. Egypt was the land of slavery, but the people who had wandered in the wilderness for 40 years remembered its flesh pots fondly. 

I live under the New Covenant, but I need to take this warning to heart too. God has saved me out of the bondage of sin and He wants me to fear His glorious and awesome name. He has also given me instructions in His book for how to live.

If I don’t, I don’t think He’ll send me to Egypt and He probably won’t inflict me with a plague. But I was a slave of sin, and I can think of plenty of ways that sin can make me sick. Anger, impatience, worry, envy, pride . . . not only make my soul sick, they can also make my body and my heart sick. And sin has a way of entangling me that pulls me back into bondage.

I’ve been saved by God’s grace from sin. The only right response is for me to fear Him and obey Him. The result of not doing that is to return to sin. Worshipping God and following His Word is what keeps me healthy.

I can fear and obey God or be miserable. It’s a no brainer.