The Best Gift — Reconciliation

During the Christmas season, we consider the best gift for those we love. When God sent His Son, Jesus, He sent His best gift for us. What made this gift so perfect?

For a moment, consider the best gift you have received. It probably never came from a store and could never have been purchased with money. Was it the birth of child? Or special occasions with someone you loved? A friendship?

This may seem odd for most of you, but one of my most cherished gifts has been the last ten days of my mother’s life. Our relationship had always been rocky. We never seemed to mesh on anything, although we both tried. There were many misunderstandings, painful words, and harsh judgments. But during the last ten days of her life, when moments mattered most, God showed us great mercy and brought reconciliation. We talked, prayed, laughed, and loved. Those ten days proved richer than all the previous sixty years combined. I will be eternally grateful for that sweet gift.

Reconciliation. How deep the chasms of indifference, apathy, and misunderstanding grow! How humanly impossible to restore relationships so deeply severed!

But God! But God through His only Son, came to reconcile. First, to reconcile us to Himself. Then, to reconcile us to each other. Both necessary. Both impossible apart from Him.

“For God so [greatly] loved and dearly prized the world, that He [even] gave His [One and] only begotten Son, so that whoever believes and trusts in Him [as Savior] shall not perish, but have eternal life.
John 3:16 AMP

Reconciliation

We find it difficult to comprehend just how much “God so greatly loved and dearly prized” you and me. He would not rest until we were reconciled back to Him. The Oxford Dictionary defines reconciliation as the restoration of friendly relations, or the action of making one view or belief compatible with another.

You see, we all begin life alienated from God — enemies in fact. We arrive bent, broken, and turned away from Him. Though He loves us deeply and desires a personal and intimate relationship with us, we carry on preoccupied, self-absorbed, and consumed by temporary things. Though He calls, we choose not to respond to Him.

It took something drastic to get our attention. It required extreme measures to bridge the gap between us. When reconciliation seemed impossible, He alone made the way.

“For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!”
Romans 5:10

A Savior

Many outside the Christian faith live contented and unaware of their need for a Savior, believing that doing good is enough. Surprisingly, many within the faith maintain a false sense of security based upon the same reasoning. They go to church, serve faithfully, and even give financially.

If doing good was enough, there would be no need for Jesus, the cross, or the resurrection. But, doing good will never be enough to bridge the gap between holy God and broken humanity.

” . . . He has also set eternity in the human heart . . .”
Ecclesiastes 3:11

We all have an inner knowing that there is something more to life than what we now see. Though we live bound by the temporary and limited by time, God created us for eternity — an eternity with Him.

But why do “good” people need a Savior? Paul explained it this way,

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
Romans 3:23

We all sinned in some way. Whether intentionally or unintentionally, we lie, steal, gossip, hurt others, live selfishly, disobey authorities, and a long list of other moral failures. No one meets God’s perfect standard. We all fall short.

“The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Romans 6:23

Separation

Not only does sin separate us from God, it results in more than a physical death, but an eternal separation from God. Therefore, we need a reconciler. We need someone to restore relationship and compatibility with God.

Each Christmas, we celebrate the coming of that One — the One who arrived as an innocent baby, lived a sinless life, died a cruel death as payment for our sins, and rose again to offer hope of an eternity. The innocent paid the price for the guilty.

The Bible tells us how.

” . . . For if you publicly declare with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will experience salvation. The heart that believes in him receives the gift of the righteousness of God—and then the mouth confesses, resulting in salvation.
Romans 10:9,10 TPT

When we declare Jesus Christ as our Lord, believing that God accepts his death as penalty for us, we receive salvation. How unbelievably amazing is that? Jesus closes the gaps between God and us, reconciling us to the Father. The best gift becomes ours. Through Jesus, we become righteous before God.

The Best Gift

Many gifts will be shared this Christmas season — gifts expressing friendship, love, and family. But my greatest desire is that we would receive the best gift of all, the gift of reconciliation. I pray that we would receive the gift of eternal life which God offers us today.

Jesus already paid the full price! We cannot earn what He has already made available for us.

“So turn away from your sins. Turn to God. Then your sins will be wiped away. The time will come when the Lord will make everything new.”
Acts 3:19 NIRV

I anticipate the reaction of those I prepare gifts for. The giving only becomes complete as the recipient accepts my gift. The gift of salvation, the best gift of all, waits for each of us to receive it. To accept God’s perfect gift, we verbally declare our faith in Jesus from a believing heart. It is a simple but profound action.

The Savior waits for our response.

Jesus, thank You for Your salvation. I confess that I have sinned and could never meet God’s standard of perfection. I need a Savior. Forgive me, Lord, of my sins and failures. I believe that You died to save me and set me free. I believe that You were raised from the dead to give me eternal life. Come Jesus. I invite You to be my Lord and Savior. I thank You that You have become my best gift.

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The Perfection of Love: Unfailing, Unconditional, Infinite Love

A longing for the perfection of love — unfailing, unconditional, infinite love — drives us to seek beyond what anything earthly provides. The quest for love often leads us into places of pain and disappointment. Though we might find temporary and alluring counterfeits, they will ultimately leave us empty and wanting.

True love comes only from God. He fills our love vacuum to capacity, enabling us to reflect His love to others.

“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”
1 John 4:7-8

Even the best human effort proves tainted and inadequate in comparison.

God is Love

Only God loves in a way that continuously seeks the ultimate best for the object of His love.

We will never fully understand how far sin caused humanity to fall — at least not until we witness heaven’s full restoration. We have no comparison with which to measure the Father’s ultimate love. In the perfection of love, He sent Jesus Christ to pay the penalty for all sin and failure.

“Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were sinners, Christ died for us.”
Romans 5:7-8

We all begin life looking for others to love us in a way that meets our need. Personal brokenness renders us ineffective to love fully, however. Our efforts often result in frustration, disillusionment, and disappointment.

Unfailing Love

We are inspired when by a couple celebrating decades of married love together. For most of us, marriage is hard work! So, we applaud love that weathers the challenges and ever-changing seasons of life. But even the best earthly example of love ends.

Only God can make a claim to the perfection of love — enduring, unfailing love.

“Give thanks to the LORD; for he is good; his love endures forever.”
1 Chronicles 16:34

We often look to 1 Corinthians chapter 13 to discover the essence of love. But Romans chapter 8 makes the most triumphant declarations about the unfailing nature of God’s love.

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Romans 8:38-39

Oh, what assurance! What confidence rests in the unfailing love of God — the perfection of love!

Unconditional Love

If we move even slightly from the conviction of being loved by our Abba Father, we begin to attempt to earn His love through service or sacrifice. How foolish! Since God so unconditionally loved us when we were alienated from Him, how much more now that He has adopted us as His sons and daughters? If we could do nothing to merit His love as sinners far from Him, must we now work to merit His love?

No! God loves unconditionally! He loves not because of how wonderful we are, but because of how wonderful He is!

“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!”
1 John 3:1

Love is too precious to be purchased, too valuable to be earned, too rare to be merited. What price could we ever place on the perfection of love?

“Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot sweep it away. If one were to give all the wealth of one’s house for love, it would be utterly scorned.”
Song of Songs 8:7

We rest as humble recipients. No other posture suffices.

Infinite Love

Song writers and preachers tell of God’s unfailing and unconditional love. But, seldom, if ever, do they speak of God’s limitless infinitude.

“But you, O lord, your mercy-seat love is limitless, reaching higher than the highest heavens. Your great faithfulness is infinite, stretching over the whole earth.”
Psalm 36:5 TPT

God, and everything about Him, is limitless — beyond confines of time or space. Everything that flows from Him also comes in limitless measure. Though boundaries limit our capacity to receive, God knows no limit to His capacity to demonstrate love.

I may become too preoccupied, too tired, or even too uncaring to love well. God never suffers such deficiencies.

He loves each one with limitless capacity. God loves you and me with infinite measure. How wonderful that we don’t need to understand the perfection of love to receive it.

Perfection of Love

The enemy’s greatest attacks attempt to cause us to see God as anything but perfectly loving. If he succeeds in his deception, fear grips our hearts and plagues our minds.

We all fight this battle both to receive and respond to God’s love.

“The Spirit your received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.'”
Romans 8:15

The perfection of love flows from our Abba, Father. “Abba” refers to the most intimate name given for a father, similar to Dad. “Father” is more of a formal term. God loves us deeply and intimately.

Because we are the objects of such lavish love, satan hates us even more. He is powerless to stop God’s love, so he tries to convince us that we are still slaves, alienated from God’s love. Nothing could be further from the truth! We never need to fear again. God adopted us into His family. We are loved and secure.

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”
1 John 4:18

May we each take a moment to appreciate and thank God for His unfailing, unconditional, infinite love.

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Give Praise to the Lord

Expectation begins to rise when we choose to give praise to the Lord. For every difficulty we face, we have even more reasons to praise God. Many people, including myself, have learned how to spiritually press through humanly insurmountable roadblocks. Some things we continue to contend for in prayer. At other times, we have witnessed doors open before us and bridges form under our feet. Where there previously had been no way through, God made a way.

This isn’t an unusual phenomenon known only by a choice few. Every Christian who consistently prays, seeks God’s direction, and waits for His answers experiences His hand at work in inexplainable ways. Some might mistake it for coincidence. People of faith know their God!

“In that day you will say: ‘Give praise to the LORD, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done.’ “
Isaiah12:4

In this single verse, the writer encourages us toward action. After looking more closely, I notice the four calls to action: say, praise, proclaim, and make known. Each action rests upon “what he (God) has done.”

May we pause our busy lives for just a moment to consider what God has done within our families, communities, and faith centers.

You Will Say

Whatever we look for, we will find. If we look for good in someone or something, we will discover it. Our attitude either negatively or positively colors our world more than we might realize.

Yesterday, my husband and I shared a bit of what God has been doing in our lives. As we spoke of God’s goodness, those listening were encouraged. Soon others shared what they also see God doing recently. A few shared about things they continue to pray for with faith.

“The goodness of God is infinitely more wonderful
than we will ever be able to comprehend.”
– A.W. Tozer

Through Holy Spirit direction, biblical authors encourage us to press beyond silent, heart-felt gratitude to verbalize our praise.

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good. His love endures forever. Give thanks to the God of gods, His love endures forever. Give thanks to the Lord of lords, His love endures forever.”
Psalm 136:1-3

When hearts overflow, praise naturally comes forward. “You will say,” Isaiah wrote. As we speak, thanksgiving and praise activates both within and around us.

Praise

Often the frequent use of a word causes us to overlook the significance of its meaning. “Praise,” or in Hebrew yadah, means to acknowledge, to praise, to give thanks, to confess, or to cast. It represents the act of acknowledging what is right about God through praise and thanksgiving. Yadah’s heavenward recognition is sometimes structured within corporate worship. Often, yadah flows as personal expression.

Someone once said, “Give praise where praise is due!” Good advice, I think.

We should publicly recognize the people and organizations among us who work hard. However, the grandest accolades belong to the LORD. He is worthy of all adoration, honor, glory, and praise.

Praising God doesn’t always come easily. Life’s pressures often weigh heavy on us. We worry. We fret. God knows, understands, and cares deeply for us in the midst of struggle. Perhaps, it is in these times more than any other, that the transformational power of praise really shines the brightest.

“Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.”
Psalm 42:11

Amidst severe oppression, the psalmist commanded himself to give God praise. He shows us that praise is a decision of the will. As we begin to praise, we welcome God into our circumstances allowing Him to shift spiritual atmospheres within and around us. The enemy quickly loses his position.

Proclaim

The word proclaim comes from the Hebrew, qara, meaning to proclaim an announcement. When we proclaim we make a verbal declaration about something. Proclaiming resembles a flashing message on a neon sign or a broadcast over a loudspeaker. Proclaiming commands everyone to pay attention.

The more we proclaim and declare His active participation in our lives, the more we see His hand at work.

Many and varied opportunities have opened for ministry over the summer — at a Bible camp, in churches, and during a city-wide gathering. In every occasion, I have witnessed God answer prayer at a level I have not seen for many years, if at all. People have powerfully experienced the presence of Holy Spirit moving through healing, deliverance, words of knowledge, and the prophetic.

Jesus quoted these words from Isaiah,

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free.”
Luke 4:18

Jesus still proclaims good news to the poor. He still proclaims freedom for prisoners. He still gives sight to the blind and sets the oppressed free. Through willing human hands and voices, He moves and speaks.

A great hunger for God is rising in our nation and in the nations around the world. God is on the move! Give praise to the Lord! Proclaim His Name!

Make Known

Isaiah combines two words for “make known.” The first word, yada, means to know, learn, perceive, discern, experience, confess, and consider. It means to be skillful at making something or someone known. I, too, easily forget even the good things God does around me.

One of the practical ways, I stir up my memory is through journaling, or keeping a record, about how I’ve seen God move in my life and in the lives of others for whom I have been praying. I want to remember! Somehow, writing things down helps to solidify them in my memory and improves my recall of them in the future.

Isaiah calls us to skillfully “make known among the nations what he has done.” At no other time in the history of mankind has this been so easy to do. Whether in person or through the internet, we have opportunity to converse with people of all nationalities. The fluid movement of people from one nation to another creates a wellspring of opportunity to make Jesus known among the nations.

In the prayer tent during a praise gathering, we had the privilege of making God known to peoples from First Nations communities and many immigrant nations. What an honor! Give praise to the Lord for what He is doing. Today, people groups from virtually every nation are being reached with the Gospel.

“Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise — the fruit of lips that openly profess his name.”
Hebrews 13:15

Fruit of our Lips

As we give praise to the Lord, it becomes the fruit of our lips. Sweet, nourishing, and enjoyable!

In every season, may we each “through Jesus . . . continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise.”

Let’s take a few moments to acknowledge God’s goodness. Let the answers to prayers already received build anticipation for those yet to come. He hears our every cry and holds every prayer precious. He is not slow to come to our aid. His ways and timing are perfect.

Through prayer or songs may the atmosphere of our homes radiate with worship. May today be a “that day” moment when . . .

“In that day you will say: ‘Give praise to the LORD, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done.’ “
Isaiah 12:4

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The Middle of the Camp — What Centers My Life?

What centers my life? What anchors me through different seasons? We all center daily tasks and assignments around priorities. What are mine?

As I read Numbers chapter 2, God reminded me how He specifically ordained the order of how the tribes of Israel were to camp. Whether they stayed for a night or for an entire year, a consistent pattern was established for setting up camp.

“The Israelites are to camp around the tent of meeting some distance from it, each of them under their standard and holding the banners of their family.”
Numbers 2:2

I envision their family tents positioned with their doors opening towards the epicenter of the camp. Every morning when they began a new day, the first thing they saw was the Tabernacle where God’s Presence rested among them.

There God stayed at the core of all activities, social functions, and worship. What a beautiful image!

The Center

The word center often refers to a noun — a person, place, or thing. What person, place or thing occupies the core of my activities? I desire it to be God, but is He?

I understand the mutual struggles we face. The pressures of parenting and providing for our families demands immediate attention and time. Probably, the most tangible way to honor God comes through faithfully caring for the practical needs of those close to us.

But even within the Israelite camp, grouped by families, every face turned towards God’s tabernacle.

“I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me.”
Deuteronomy 5:6-7

When God alone is the center, the Person we worship, the place we look to, and the main component in our lives, everything else will move in synchronized harmony.

Is it God who centers our lives?

The Central Point

Our hearts fill the central position of our physical bodies — protected by skeletal structure and muscles. From this central point the whole body is nourished and sustained. When the heart functions well, the entire body benefits. The same holds true for our spiritual well being.

I find it a constant battle to keep God as my central point. External demands constantly pull and pressure me to relinguish this prime location to lesser things.

“The LORD is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.”
Psalm 28:7

God helps us form practical ways to bring Him to the center.

  • Daily routine of Bible reading and prayer, seeking God’s wisdom and direction. (For me, the best time is first thing in the morning, before the rush hits!)
  • Accountability! When my time is under a lot of pressure, I ask others to pray for and check in on me. They hold me accountable to keep God first when time is stretched thin or when disappointments and discouragements drain me.
  • Mentorship has been one of the key things to help keep me on track. Whether I am mentoring others or being mentored, mutual benefits produce the desired consistency.
  • The example of other more recent giants in the faith also inspire me to pursue a centered lifestyle.

Keeping God as the central point requires intentional effort — an effort that pays spiritual dividends. But I ask again, “What centers my life?”

Centered

Whether used as a noun, adjective, or verb, God fulfills each application of the word center. Even as the camp moved from one place to another, they centered themselves around God.

“Then the tent of meeting and the camp of the Levites will set out in the middle of the camps. They will set out in the same order as they encamp, each in their own place . . . ”
Numbers 2:17

God never sits stagnantly by! He goes with us. Or more accurately, we go with Him.

From the center He directed the camp with a pillar of fire by night and cloud by day.

Are our homes centered around God? Do we pray together. Do we read, watch, and listen to God-honoring entertainment? Are our homes open and available for God to use for the encouraging of His body, the building of His church, and the advancing of His Kingdom?

Is my business or occupation centered around God? Do I ask God for His strategies and ideas to build and expand my business? How well do I live my faith in the marketplace with honesty and integrity? Am I committed to praying for those I work with and for? Do I consistently tithe from the returns?

Do I welcome God as part of recreation and relaxation, or do I confine Him to church and formal worship?

The Question

When I honestly answer these questions and more, I discover what centers my life? Then I can lift God to His rightful place. Adjustments might be necessary. Realignment may be needed in one or more areas.

God speaks to us today as clearly as He spoke to His displaced people wandering through that harsh wilderness environment. He invites us to include Him in every aspect of our lives, repositioning Him to become central to everything we are and do.

God will never abandon us. He fills us with His Presence, instructs us through His Word, and guides us with His loving hand. When we center Him over our lives, boldness and confidence mark our steps. He comes along side, helping us and giving us the capacity to live well in community and to thrive wherever He plants us.

What about you? What effective ways have you discovered to live a God-centered life?

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Easter — Why the Blood? Part 1— Surrender

Surrender

Easter, the greatest celebration of the Christian Church, correctly emphasises the resurrection. Though once dead, Jesus Christ lives! His resurrection signed the guarantee for each of us to now have the hope of eternal life.

Easter celebrates His life.

As we approach this Easter season, I again consider the significance of the shed blood of Jesus. Many believers today, hesitate to discuss this often controversial subject. In so doing, we perhaps miss key truths and essential realities of our faith.

So pardon me while I briefly share a few thoughts. Each one only skims the surface, but hopefully it will help us to consider why the blood is so significant, both to us as individuals and also to the larger church “body.”

“For the life of the body is in the its blood. I have given you the blood on the altar to purify you, making you right with the LORD. It is the blood, given in exchange for a life, that makes purification possible.”
Leviticus 17:11

Baby Bird

Surrender of Will

Redemption began, not on the cross, but in the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus travailed in prayer, calling to His Father and seeking another, even easier, way to accomplish His mission.

“‘Abba, Father,’ he said, ‘everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will , but what you will.'”
Mark 14:36

Jesus knew every detail within the impending hours. Being fully God, Jesus was also fully man. As a man, He felt, as intensely as you or I, the sting of betrayal, the isolation of abandonment, and the pain of physical suffering. Yet in great angst, He surrendered His will.

Baby bunny

“And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.”
Luke 22:44

Our redemption began in the Garden. Because of the blood of Jesus, now our wills, too, may be fully surrendered to the authority of Lord.

Surrender of the Mind

“They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand. Then they knelt in front of him and mocked him. ‘Hail, king of the Jews!’ they said.”
Matthew 27:28-29

The full cruelty of these soldiers is difficult to imagine. They wove a crown of thorns, pressings it into Jesus’ head, piercing his flesh, and releasing a flow of blood. But as they mocked, Jesus won for us the victory over the devil’s influence over our thoughts, shattering the negative strongholds over our minds.

Baby Kitten

“The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
2 Corinthians10:4-5

Why the blood? Easter reminds us that through the blood, Jesus gave us the ability to surrender our minds completely to the authority and truth of God.

Surrender of Pride

The soldier continued to vent their full agression upon Jesus.

“Again and again they struck him on the head with a staff and spit on him.”
Mark 15:19

We scarcely want to believe the brutality Jesus experienced. They beat His face and head again and again with fists and rods. The prophet Isaiah spoke about the event hundreds of years prior,

“Just as there were many who were
appalled at him —
his appearance was so disfigured
beyond that of any human being
and his form marred beyond
human likeness —”
Isaian 52:14

Baby Chick

Why the blood? Jesus submitted to the soldiers beating as a symbol of surrendered pride and vanity. Through His blood, we now have the power to endure humiliation, reproach, and the loss of reputation. The blood of Jesus strengthens us to withstand persecution as His divine beauty shines through us.

Surrender of Position

Isaiah adds another detail to the soldiers treatment of Jesus.

“I offered my back to those
who beat me,
my cheeks to those
who pulled out my beard;
I did not hide my face
from mocking and spitting.”
Isaiah 50:6

The beard represents priesthood, dignity, distinction, maturity, and position.

Baby Duckling

Why the blood? As the soldiers ripped the beard from Jesus’ face, His blood paved the way surrendering earthly position and prestige. Now, He brings us into a higher place of serving the Him as His priests.

” . . . To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father — to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.”
Revelation 1:5-6

Easter

We celebrate Easter, rejoicing in the resurrection of our Lord and Savior. No one and nothing could hinder Him from completing our redemption to the fullest. Through the power of His blood, we gain the victory to surrender our wills, minds, pride, and position to Him completely.

Why the blood? Through Jesus shed blood, we join Him in overcoming, conquering, and triumphing.

“They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.”
Revelation 12:11

As we prepare for family gatherings and celebrate Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, may we appreciate every way Jesus’ blood was shed.

“Thank You again, Jesus, for Your precious blood. Amen.”

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The Names of God

The Names of God reveal His nature and character. With each disclosure of His Name, God reveals something unique about Himself. In this way, we discover how to relate to Him and others and a life-giving manner.

As we meditate upon His Names, we discover more about who we are by design, how to maintain healthy relationships with others, and how to live fulfilled and exciting lives.

I have created a few resources to help you meditate more on the power of God’s Name and the qualities of His character. This is only a beginning, but it is a start.

Click on any of the icons below for your free downloads. Use them yourself or even print copies for your family or church group. Enjoy!

Infographic

Infographics display in point form the main points of a topic. “Knowing God” illustrates the five main benefits to studying His Names.

Bookmark

All readers, young and old, need bookmarks. Grab crayons, markers, watercolor pencils, or whatever other writing tool you design and personalize your bookmark.

Coloring Page

I find that turning on the artistic side of my brain quickly reduces stress and helps me jump back into “work mode” with greater enthusiasm. Studies show that coloring actually improves brain function and improves motor skills.

Take full liberty to print off a sampling of new coloring pages I am working, focusing on the Names of God. Copyright is reserved. Please don’t altar image in any way or sell to others. Free to you, freely pass it on. Woohoo!

Other

If you feel like going deeper, check out this recent post which may inspire you. Or perhaps you may be interested in watching sermon on two of God’s Names — The Lord my Shepherd and the Lord Who Makes us Holy. You can grab that HERE!

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God’s Names: God’s Nature: Why Study God’s Names

God’s names reveal God’s nature. When God reveals a new name in the Bible, He uncovers previously hidden attributes of His character. The more we know His Name, the more we know our God.

We understand names carry great significance. Businesses invest time and money in deliberation, strategically choosing and designing catchy names, brands, and logos. Parents mull over baby names for hours, carefully deciding on the perfect name their child will carry.

Recently, a young companion illustrated to me the importance of a name. She chattered non-stop as we headed toward the barnyard. Upon arrival, she proudly held fuzzy balls of purring fluff for me to see. Each meowed and purred at her attention.

“I call this one Calli, because she is a calico kitten.”

Good choice, I thought.

“Here comes Greg,” she said, as a dusty grey kitten squirmed into her lap.

“And this one?” I asked as I held up another.

“Oh! I named him Tucker, because of his tortoise shell markings.”

Pretty smart, for one so small, I thought again.

I studied the litter of kittens more carefully. Their names revealed characteristics I previously ignored. As she continued to point out details of each one, I held another soft bundle of fur, gazing closely into its bright green eyes as whiskers twitched and wet paws stretched.

At that moment, I realized again the importance of studying and valuing the things that matter to us. There in the barnyard, I remembered God’s many names and the significance of them. Over time, I have grown to know Him more clearly, love Him more deeply, and appreciate Him more fully by studying His names.

Written below you will find a few benefits from studying the names of God. God’s names really do reveal His nature.

Security and Identity

“So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. ” Genesis 1:27

In the first chapter of the Bible, God introduces Himself as Elohim — Creator God who spoke all things into existence. All except for mankind! Humanity He created in His own image, forming every detail personally with His hands. Then in the ultimate expression of love and intimacy, He bent low, placing His mouth upon clay-formed lips and breathed.

How amazing! God intimately filled mankind with the essence of Himself. I wonder if at the core of our insecurity and at the root of lost identity, we might find a lack of knowledge of the nature of God’s commitment to us and His loving care.

Elohim, the first name we discover, presents God as one who will not rest until He brings confusion into order, darkness into light, and dust into life! In Him we may trust and in the power of His Name we rest. We discover true security and core identity only in the knowledge of His Name.

Salvation

When Peter speaks before the Sanhedrin, he draws from the Psalmist’s words, “Then I called on the name of the LORD: O LORD, save me!” Peter boldly declared,

“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”
Acts 4:12

What Name bears such significance? What Name, unlike any other name, rescues and saves? There is only One! Only one of God’s names reveals such excellence — the Name of Jesus!

The beautiful Name of the Lord Jesus Christ — each portion carrying deep significance — should be the first Name we learn. Lord represents the Father; Jesus identifies the Son; Christ (the Anointed One) signifies the Holy Spirit. In His Name we find salvation and the fullness of the Trinity.

Confidence in Prayer

“Because he loves me,” says the LORD, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, and I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.”
Psalm 91:14-16

Whether in desperate situations or the monotony of everyday life, as we acknowledge and declare His Name in prayer, God releases power and authority through our humble words. He hears. He moves and responds. By proclaiming His Name over situations, circumstances shift. Confessing the greatness, the goodness, and the glory of His Name releases His Spirit into unseen realms, transforming the seen ones.

At times uttering His Name takes on a warrior tone, another Name spoken in hushed reverence, still another sung with joy. What assurance comes as we pray, not to a deaf and distant god, but to our Lord — our Healer, Provider, Shepherd, and Peace.

Puts All Things Into Perspective

“I love the LORD, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live. The cords of death entangled me, the anguish of the grave came over me; I was overcome by distress and sorrow. Then I called on the name of the LORD: ‘LORD, save me!'”
Psalm 116:1-4

Just as the small moon, at times, blocks the sun’s light from reaching earth, present reality, at times, eclipses the larger truth of who God is and the greatness of His Name. The more we study God’s names and His attributes, the clearer we see the fleeting nature of this present life and difficulty.

Limits constrain everything earthly. But nothing constrains God! He defines Himself in limitless terms: omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, eternal, without beginning or end.

Deeper Awe and Worship

“Praise the LORD. Praise the LORD, you his servants; praise the name of the LORD. Let the name of the LORD be praised, both now and forevermore. From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the LORD is to be praised.”
Psalm 113:1-3

For some people, finding a reason to praise God may initially appear difficult. Yet as we practice the adoration of His Name, worship bursts forth. God remains forever worthy of exultation. He commands worship, not because He is a self-seeking egotist, but rather because worship strengthens us! As we pour out unrestrained worship to Him, we become complete and fully satisfied.

For me, the abandonment of worship flows easily. When asked why, I give no other reason than He is worthy!

Every morning when I awake, I ask, “Today, is He worthy?”

Every morning, I come to no other conclusion but, “Yes! Yes! Today, and every day, He is worthy! Today, and every day, my God is worthy of ALL praise.”

Strength under Trial

“We have escaped like a bird from the fowler’s snare; the snare has been broken, and we have escaped. Our help is in the name of the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.”
Psalm 124:7-8

Allow these words to comfort, strengthen, and seep over you.

“The name of the LORD is a fortified tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.”
Proverbs 18:10

When everything feels like it is closing in, when there seems no way out or around a difficulty, “our help is in the name of the LORD.” God’s Name is always enough. In sickness, the whisper of that Name brings healing. In defeat, the mention of His Name secures victory. Where depression and anxiety paralyze thoughts and actions, the uttering of His Name enables release.

Power in Spiritual Battle

“The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. Those who know your name trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.”
Psalm 9:9,10

To “know” God’s names means to know both intellectually and experientially. It means to personally “know.” As a child, I knew I could run to my earthly father in times of trouble. Why? Because he was strong enough, loving enough, and wise enough to deal with any struggle I faced.

How much more my Heavenly Father!

“The people that know their God shall be strong, and do exploits.”
Daniel 11:32

When we “know” His Name, He gives us authority to release the characteristics and qualities of His Name into situations we are contending for.

David came against Goliath, “in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel” (1 Samuel 17:45). As we face our own battles “in the name of the LORD Almighty,” He fills us with courage, boldness, audacity, tenacity, and anything else we might need to overcome.

Increased Faith

“Who among you fears the LORD and obeys the word of his servant? Let the one who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the LORD and rely on their God.”
Isaiah 50:10

We face our personal faults, fractures, and failures daily. However, the more we gaze into His magnificence and perfection, the more we will realize success and living life well depends not on us, but on God. Every mighty man or woman of God comes to the same conclusion. Though weak, they become strong in Him. Though fearful, they grow bold in Him.

One only needs to turn to Hebrews 11 to read the exploits of faith-filled ones, those who knew God well. The more we know God through His names, the more we too become “fully persuaded that God (has) power to do what he (has) promised” (Romans 4:21) and faith builds, rising to dominate our words and actions.

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The more time my little companion spent with her kittens, the more she knew them, not just by color, but by their character. She knew which ones would play inquisitively and which ones would withdraw to solitary corners and watch.

The more we spend time with our God, studying His names, the more we will know Him and His ways. God’s names reveal His nature, attributes, and character.

The intentional study of God’s names results in eternal dividends.

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From “Misfit” to Beloved! Chosen and Loved by God

From "Misfit" to Beloved

Going from “misfit” to “beloved” requires more than a simple name change. To realize how loved and chosen by God we are reshapes everything!

“Misfit!” they called me. Whether within my family and outside, belonging seemed distant, often unattainable. I never quite fit in among the predominantly male student population in our one-room country schoolhouse. Nor did I quite measure up to family expectations and standards. The name “misfit” fit me well, eventually becoming an invisible internal compass, determining personal expectations, goals, and desires.

Even in adulthood, echoes of the nickname infiltrated relationships and clouded personal perspectives. Until one day, God spoke, not in audible words, but rather through deep impressions to a wounded heart, “I love you! I have chosen you!”

Have you heard Him whisper your name within your inner recesses? Have you sensed His loving Presence?

“Listen to me, you islands; hear this, you distant nations: Before I was born the LORD called me; from my mother’s womb he has spoken my name. He made my mouth like a sharpened sword, in the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me into a polished arrow (and) said to me, “You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will display my splendor.”
Isaiah 49:1-3

Was Isaiah referring to God’s call over his life. Or was he speaking of the nation of Israel or to the ultimate fulfillment in Jesus Christ? Perhaps all three and more! All who are “hidden in Christ”, who have a personal relationship with Him, can identify.

God knew each one of us “from our mother’s womb.” He continues to speak our names, wooing us close.

Chosen

I love these verses. Before conception, God has a plan for every life. No one enters the world by mistake or arrives by chance.

Alone

We may legitimately place our names in this passage. I have used The Passion Translation as an example. Insert your name where I have inserted mine, then read and reread it. Allow the truth of God’s sovereign love and care to permeate our hearts.

“Listen to what I have to say, you islands. Pay attention to me, you who live in distant lands. Yahweh called (MaryAnn) as his own before (she) was born and named (her) while (she) was still in (her) mother’s womb. He gives (her) words that pierce and penetrate. He hid (her) and protected (her) in the shadow of his hand . . . prepared (her) like a polished arrow and concealed (her) in his quiver. And he said to (her), “(MaryAnn), you are my special servant; in you I will be glorified.”

If this seems like a stretch, it really isn’t. The Bible says that when we believe in and confess Jesus, we become hidden in Him.

“For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God.”
Colossians 3:3

It is a profound truth. God loves the unlovely. He chooses the misfits, renegades, and outcasts. In Him, we all find belonging, family, identity, and purpose. Before, any of us proved ourselves worthy, He loved us. Before conception, He knew us and chose us,

Loved

Nothing we did merited such grace. Nothing we could ever do validates His love. In our worst, He loved. Nothing can stop the reckless, indescribable love God has toward us.

“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Romans 5:6-8

Lightbulbs Different

Jesus provided the ultimate demonstration of love to us by giving His life for us on the cross.

We all hold remnants of “misfit” stories — moments or seasons of profound rejection, cast-aways from the comfort or care of others. Isaiah again scribes a clear image for us,

“For your Maker is your husband — the LORD Almighty is his name — the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth. The LORD will call you back as if you were a wife deserted and distressed in spirit — a wife who married young, only to be rejected.” says your God.”
Isaiah 54:5-6

Our husband calls us His beloved. He comes to us as our Maker, the LORD Almighty, the Holy One, Redeemer, and the “God of all the earth.” We have not been short changed! The One who knows us best — deeply and intimately more — loves us most.

Jesus tasted rejection. He, more than any of us, felt the sting of “misfit” — fully God, yet fully man. Divinity robed in human flesh. He understands. So, he reaches out with endless love to you and me.

Beloved

To be loved by someone is a privilege, but to be loved by holy, righteous, perfect God, is incomprehensible! To declare such things of ourselves would be presumptuous. But when God declares them, the truth becomes life-giving, sustaining, and powerful.

You are His beloved! One who is greatly loved!

“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! ...” 1 John 3:1

Different Cubes

Right now, God greatly loves us. Right now, He secures us into His holy family as His chosen children. Not after we clean ourselves up or improve in some way, but right now. Now, He loves! He plays no favorites. Even though He loves everyone, only those who believe in Him and receive Jesus develop the capacity to truly experience it.

Receive

For those bearing the label of “misfit,” receiving love becomes a challenge. Thoughts of unworthiness invade the reality of His divine love, warping and twisting it. Far too many people carry the scars of failed commitments and broken promises, which mask the promise of love’s full potential.

Misfit Locker

When two people devote themselves to love each other in marriage, they often exchange rings as a symbol of enduring love. Though the rings may last, the pledged devotion too often fades — its essence cast away and discarded like an old garments. But not with God. God loves perfectly and permanently.

God speaks through Isaiah again, saying,

“See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands . . .”
Isaiah 49:16

God publicly demonstrates His lavish love for each of us, wanting everyone to see and know. Your name and mine, your identity and mine, He carves into His being. “Engraving” carries the sense of a commandment or decree. The engraving becomes God’s decree of His undying love and devotion before the entire world and throughout all ages.

A Prayer

You, too, can move from “misfit” to beloved. You, too, may experience God’s deep love. If this is your daily reality, then thank Him again for it! But if HIs love seems foreign, I would like to encourage you by faith to reach out, accept His love.

Dear Lord, thank You for loving me and making room for me in your family even before I was born. Thank You for offering me — the least, the misfit, the outcast — Your great love. Today, I simply receive Your love. May I experience the power and presence of Your love in undeniable ways. I possess nothing of earthly value to offer You in return. As You have loved me, I choose to love You. Thank You.

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The Lightning and Thunder of God

Lightning & Thunder of God

God reveals Himself in innumerable ways. Have you sensed the lightning and thunder of His Presence recently? If so, was it fierce or awe-inspiring?

In our area, we often experience thunderstorms — some severe. People respond to the storms in various ways. Some people run for cover and hunker down until it’s over. Others carry on with life like nothing unusual is occurring around them. Still others, who border on insanity, pursue storms, enjoying the near-death experience of pushing the boundaries of reasonable safety.

Sometimes a soft rumble of thunder offers the only evidence of atmospheric disturbance. More often a sudden flash followed by an intense clap awakens onlookers to take heed. The more experienced may “feel” the storm coming a long way off, sensing it in the air, and feeling it in their bones.

God often speaks through nature, pointing our attention to deeper spiritual concepts. Paul said,

“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities — his eternal power and divine nature — have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.”
Romans 1:20

Storm Clouds

God reveals His “invisible qualities” through His creation. In nature, the flash of lightning produces the sound of thunder. What about in the spiritual? Do we need a similar combination of visible and audible, power and voice, to comprehend God more personally and fully? Perhaps.

Word and Light

The Gospel of John opens with Word and Light, the audible and visible, thunder and lightning.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.”
John 1:1

In the beginning — before created things — the Word, Jesus Christ, was with God and was God. From the beginning, preceding time as we know and understand it, the thunder of God’s Word existed and resonated.

“In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
John 1:4-5

Here it is! Lightning and thunder! The Word, above all words, speaking all things into existence! The Light overcoming every darkness!

Lightning flashes and is gone; Jesus came and remains eternal. Thunder roars for a moment; Jesus’ words endure forever.

Storm Coming

Fearful

My mother experienced disabling fear of electric storms. At the slightest hint of danger, she gathered everyone and everything into protection. Quickly she closed and latched windows and doors, pulled curtains shut, and busied herself attempting to occupy her fear-filled mind. Many others react similarly.

When God descended upon Mount Sinai with “thunder and lightning, with a thick cloud over the mountain and a very loud trumpet blast. Everyone in the camp trembled (Exodus 19:16). Such an awesome revelation of God certainly would have made my knees shake and heart beat intensely.

” . . . Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die.”
Exodus 20:19

Many people easily relate to the Israelite’s response to God’s Presence, seeing God as fierce, cruel, and judgmental. Moses knew God personally and more fully.

“As the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke and the voice of God answered him.”
Exodus 19:19

Storm Over the Ocean

Years later, David wrote these words:

“He made known his ways to Moses, his deeds to the people of Israel: The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.”
Psalm 103:7-8

The fear of God will either draw us near, like Moses, or cause our hearts to tremble and our feet to run away, like the people of Israel. Knowing God’s attributes and nature dispels negative fears and nurtures positive affection and attraction.

Storm Chasers

For a rare breed of others, the mention of an impending thunderstorm incites excitement, their hearts pound with enthusiasm and anticipation. Just the mention of lightning and thunder to these folks causes a flurry of motion as they leap from lethargy, jumping into their jalopies to go wherever necessary to experience the storm close up. With cameras in hand, they ready themselves to catch the ultimate image. Then they tell their adventurous stories with enthusiasm.

The church contains a few similar enthusiasts, ready on a moment’s notice to fly to the far reaches of the globe to hear their favorite speaker, teacher, revivalist, healer, or evangelist. Their enthusiasm for the things of God is exemplary. Their senses sustain high alert for revival. They, too, zealously tell their stories of close encounters with God’s Presence.

Into the Storm

Though not all fit this category, some people chase God only for the thrill of the experience or for what they hope to receive, rather than to know Him more fully. There have always been a few followers, only seeking fringe benefits.

“Jesus answered, ‘Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill.”
John 6:26

God will eventually confront all selfish seekers who attempt to imitate true God followers. Seeking God for the rush of spiritual lightning and thunder falls far short of leaning close to God, waiting to discover His heart and learn His ways.

Resting

My father labored through many storms while keeping alert to the shifting skies. Wisdom taught him to respect the power of lightning and heed the warning thunder, but he walked confidently through them both. He knew when to stand in awe with appreciation and when to shut the door for protection. We often sat together in a dark room, scanning the horizon for the next lightning flash, giggling, gasping, and glorying in God’s majestic display. Even secure in our home, we felt the fear as the house shook with intensity. It was a fear that drew us close in wonder and amazement.

I think this best illustrates how I approach God’s lightning and thunder — the awareness of His Presence and the sound of His voice. I don’t want to miss the miraculous, but desire to see clearly His movements in my generation. God still speaks. I want to be tuned to listen.

Lightning and Thunder

While multitudes came and went, a few stayed true to Jesus. Peter captured the reason well.

“Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”
John 6:68-69

To be a Christ-follower isn’t only about rushes and thrills, miracles and encounters, although these are available and important. Being a worshipper of Jesus means knowing there is no other One we want to be with — to see and hear, to believe and to know.

Lightning And Thunder

The Holy Spirit enlightens our minds to understand, so the thunder of God’s voice creates the greatest impact. The disciples who knew Jesus the best missed most of the essence of what He did and said, until He opened their minds so they could understand” (Luke 24:45).

Everywhere Jesus went, He performed miracles and taught truth. He became incomparable lightning and thunder wrapped in humanity! The Book of Acts records how the apostles followed His example of teaching and doing miracles. Paul speaks to the church in Corinth, saying,

“My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.”
1 Corinthians 2:4-5

Lightning And Thunder

Lightning and thunder, miraculous power united with God’s Word, best demonstrate God’s attributes and character. They steer our eyes from Earth to Heaven — our allegiance from human to divine. Today, this combination still evokes various responses.

Like the seasoned, experienced weather trackers of old, may we possess a strong sense of God’s movements and His ways. May we acknowledge His transcending Presence, His unstoppable power, and His overflowing goodness and grace. May we stand in this window of opportunity, delighting in His display, seeing His lightning power, and hearing His thunderous voice. Fear not!

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The Holy Spirit — God’s Gift at Pentecost

Holy Spirit in You

Leading up to Pentecost, many people fast and pray, seeking a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Why such earnest hunger for God’s gift? May I present one possible answer? We are a broken people. We leak and run dry. (Or at least, I do.) People of all ages and creeds desire a refreshing experience of God both within and upon them, bringing wisdom, revelation, and power.

In the desiring comes a waiting — a waiting in His Presence for more of His Presence.

Something significant occurs while waiting, both for the disciples and for us. These men and women pressed through three years of personal sacrifice and transition, public expectation and humiliation, and finally Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection. Jesus knew they needed rest in their waiting. By comparison, the past days and years paled to what loomed ahead.

“On one occasion, while (Jesus) was eating with them, he gave them this command: ‘Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about.”
Acts 1:4

Prayer

The Gift

I love giving gifts! Often the smallest gift brings the greatest joy. Someone else goes through the effort and pays the price for gifts given. Someone else considers carefully the most appropriate gift.

As much as I appreciate gifts, I often find it difficult to receive gifts well. Perhaps these strong-minded disciples shared my handicap. There in the upper room, they gathered in preparation to receive. Others assembled with them.

“They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.”
Acts 1:14

Years ago, I painted a landscape picture for someone I deeply cared for. It was my first attempt at oil painting, created with love. Initially, the recipient gladly welcomed my gift, but later returned it. They found something newer and better, which probably wasn’t difficult. My gift, now shunned and rejected, stayed hidden in a closet.

Give gift

Have you given something, perhaps a piece of yourself, only to have it rejected? At some time, we all share the experience. When Jesus offered the gift of the Holy Spirit to these men and women, He ultimately offered the gift of Himself. No gift compares to the valuable treasure of the Holy Spirit. Yet like my painting, it too often becomes pushed aside, shunned and rejected.

In order to receive the Holy Spirit well, we must understand what makes this Gift the best, most appropriate, and needed gift.

A Powerful Gift

For over three years, Jesus cared for and supplied everything His followers needed. But now they struggled to adapt without Him. Jesus knew they needed something, or rather Someone, more.

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Acts 1:8

For the duration of time they were with Jesus, they operated under His mantle of authority and power. God performed amazing miracles through them. They travelled into the surrounding towns and villages sharing the good news, casting out demons, and healing all kinds of diseases.

That was yesterday! Today called for a difference only the Holy Spirit could make. The most beneficial gifts match the season we live in.

Too easily, the disciples might have dashed into the world ill prepared for the new season ahead. Too easily, self-effort and self-sufficiency may have dominated their strategies. Old season thinking needed to give way to new season momentum.

Living gift

The gift of the Holy Spirit comes with power — power to share Jesus at home and abroad and power for a few men and women to face a world against impossible odds. Sometimes people move out in ministry before the Gift. Then later, they joyfully experience what a difference the Gift of the Holy Spirit makes in missionary endeavors.

A Needed Gift

Paul traveled to Ephesus. His first recorded question reveals much about his priorities in ministry.

“. . . There he found some disciples and asked them, ‘Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?'”
Acts 19:1,2

When Paul learned they hadn’t even heard about the Holy Spirit, he immediately baptized them and prayed. “The Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied” (Acts 19:5,6). With that, the needed gift of the Holy Spirit arrived in Ephesus. Yet years later, Paul continued to pray for this mature, thriving church to experience the Holy Spirit in ever-increasing ways. Why?

“I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.”
Ephesians 1:17

The Holy Spirit enables us to know God better — to know Him more deeply, intimately, and fully. To begin to comprehend the vastness of “the glorious Father” requires Holy Spirit’s help, “wisdom, and revelation.”

May the hunger and desire to “know Him better” be the propelling force, preparing us to receive the Gift available to all who will receive.

The Gift that Gives

Paul’s second prayer for the Ephesian church reveals another reason.

“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge — that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”
Ephesians 3:16-19

Love gift

Paul packs punch into his prayer, asking the Holy Spirit to root and establish his listeners in God’s love. He desires the Holy Spirit to help them “grasp how wide and long and high and deep” the love of Christ is. Who can deny that God’s overwhelming love “surpasses” human knowledge and yet the Gift provides the way? Paul longed for the second generation of Christians to be “filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” It’s a longing straight from the Father’s heart.

The Holy Spirit doesn’t stop there. In the rooting, establishing, and grasping of God’s love, the Holy Spirit gives the ability to offer the same love to others. Isn’t this the greatest expression and evidence of the Holy Spirit’s Presence among us? The remainder of Paul’s letter speaks of loving and living through the Gift of the Spirit.

When I first encountered Jesus Christ, my prayer was, “Lord, teach me to love.” Over four decades later, my heart’s cry remains. To love as the Father loves is beyond personal ability. Only the Holy Spirit enables and empowers such love — even in the smallest form.

The Holy Spirit in You

I apologize as I struggle for words to articulate in a few paragraphs the expanse of the Holy Spirit within us. The Gift turned red-necked fishermen into fishers of men and transformed the uneducated into teachers of the learned. Their lives, and the lives of multitudes since, speak louder than letters and words formed into sentences.

Peter spoke far better than I,

“Fellow Israelites, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him as you yourselves know.”
Acts 2:22

Receive

Peter saw and knew Jesus as a man sent by God. We might easily forget He came to earth fully human. Yet this one Man, Jesus, through the Spirit, performed miracles, wonders, and signs. Let Peter’s words sink in. “Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs.”

Any limitations rest not in our humanity. We are no more or less human than Jesus was. Limitations originate in our responsiveness (or lack thereof) to the Holy Spirit. That’s good news! What God gave to the disciples on the first Pentecost, He fully and freely offers to us. His Presence overcomes any and all human weakness, bringing hope for everyone.

We don’t need to wait for a certain day of the year like Pentecost Sunday to receive this gift. Every day, the Father extends His Gift to us. May faith reach to ask and trust welcome to receive the Holy Spirit in you.

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