Facets of God’s Character: Sovereign Over All

Do you know who is in control? It is so easy for us to yearn for that. We strive and strive to have the control so we feel safe and secure. But, wait, where is God in all of that striving? I love the Bible stories from Sunday School that taught me such amazing truths from the pages of scripture.

The Hebrew name El Elyon speaks of God as the Most High God. El means powerful and here the El is used twice, indicating that God has supreme power, there is no higher authority. Elyon means that God is the highest one, the exalted one. We often use the term sovereign to describe this attribute.

Our Sovereign God is Creator, Provider, Sustainer, Ruler over all. Job 42:2 tells us He can do all things, no thought or purpose of His can be restrained or thwarted. Daniel 4:35 tells us that He does according to His will and no one can stay His hand. He is all powerful.

One of my favorite Bible story is in Daniel 4 where King Nebuchadnezzar shares his story of transformation. He explains how he was at home in his palace relaxing, not worried about a thing, because he in his pride thought that he had everything under control.

Pride is an offense to God, and is is the opposite of the humilty of heart we are suppose have before God. Proverbs 16:18 tells us, “Pride comes before destruction and a haughty spirit before the fall. ”  Well, that is the truth that we will see King Nebuchadnezzar learn.

He has this nightmare that shakes him to the core, but he has no idea of what it means, so he calls in the wise men of Babylon. He asks these magicians, enchanters, fortune tellers and witches to tell him what the dream meant but none of them are able to do so. And then Daniel was called in and with the wisdom of the Holy Spirit Daniel is able to interpret the dream.

Daniel was afraid to even tell the king the meaning because it was in regard to what would happen to him if he didn’t turn from his evil ways. The king encouraged him to give it to him straight, so Daniel explained that the king was the tree he dreamed about. He had grown strong and great, ruling over much. And the holy angel that spoke of chopping down the tree, destroying it in the dream, was speaking of the king also. It was a warning that if the king did not change his ways he would be driven away from other humans to live with the wild animals. He would eat grass lik the ox. This would go on for seven years to make him realize that the Most High God, El Elyon is Ruler over all. Daniel warned the king that he better make some changes, but the king ignored it all.

When all is going well, and in our human pride we get to thinking we have it all under control, sometimes we laugh at trouble as if it cannot touch us. We lose sight of who God is. We lose sight of His sovereignty. It seems so much more comfortable being in control. But that is not what is real. Our hearts always need to bow in humility before the Most High God, El Elyon.

Back to King Nebuchadnezzar. Things went on without change for a year. Then as he stood on the balcony of his palace proclaiming his own greatness and how it had all come about by his hands, for his honor and glory, suddenly the verdict was given and the kingdom was taken from him. The king was driven out to the fields as he had been shown in the dream. He was given seven years to learn that El Elyon is the Ruler over all.

There in the field he ate grass like and ox and grew feathers like and eagle. He had claws like that of a hawk. Then, at the end of seven years he was given his mind back and he blessed God, giving Him thanks, and giving Him the glory due His name. It was then that he was given back his kingdom and he became greater than ever.  Daniel chapter 4 comes to a close with King Nebuchadnezzar singing and praising the King of Heaven. King Nebuchadnezzar learned humility the hard way. He learned of the sovereignty of God by way of a very difficult lesson.

King Nebuchadnezzar in his pride had taken credit for what was God’s alone to take credit for. 1 Peter 5:6 tells us, “…humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and in His good time He will honor you.” When we do it His way, he promises to give us honor also.

Humble yourself under El Elyon. Remember He alone is the Sovereign One. He is the One with all wisdom, and power, and strength. We, like Adam and Eve, and like King Nebuchadnezzar, often want to be the god of our own lives. This name of God tells us the truth about Who He is. He is the One we honor, and the One we give glory to. He is the One in control, and the One we are to be in submission to?

What are your trying desperately to control that you need to turn to El Elyon with?  Is there something in your life that holds a higher place than Him? It seems so easy to conceal our pride, or think it is a lesser sin. But that is not how God sees it. His truth is clear, King Nebuchadnezzars story makes God’s view of pride very evident. I know I need to fall on my knees before El Elyon and confess my pride, what about you?

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Facets of God’s Character: God of Power and Might

El is the God of Power and Might. Our Omnipotent God.

We are encouraged to call on God as our strength in times of feeling helpless or when we feel weak. Jesus gives example of this as He hangs on the cross when He cries out, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani.” This can literally be translated, “My Strength, My Strength, why have You forsaken Me?”

El is described in 2 Chronicles 20:6 as King Jehoshaphat prays, he says to the LORD, “… in Your hand are power and might, so that none are able to withstand you.” What a beautiful prayer of trust. The king realizes that they have no might to stand against the forces that are coming at them, and tells the Lord also that their eyes are on Him, looking for Him to come to their rescue.

Helplessness, weakness, and fear are common themes in God’s Word. He knows our human frailty, and gives us many examples of meeting His people in their troubles. I shared in my last post how His presence brought me great comfort in my fear. This facet of God’s character ahows us how He uses His power and might to defend us in our battles.

When Jehoshaphat finished praying, the Spirit of the Lord comes upon one of the men who then gives the word of the LORD. He tells them, “Be not afraid or dismayed at the great multitude; for the battle is not yours.” The LORD tells them He will fight the battle for them.

Do you have any battles you are facing? Do you need the LORD to fight for you?

The people of Judah followed Jehoshaphat’s instructions and marched to the battle. They chose to trust in the LORD, and as they went they sang Him praises.

Can you walk forward in the midst of terror singing praises to God? Do you find that kind of trust in your heart?

The people of Judah marched forward singing and as they did the LORD sent ambushments against those who came to destroy them. The enemy self-slaughtered, fighting and killing each other.

How great is our God! El, the God of Power and Might.

Have you called on the power and strength of God Almighty? His strength has not diminished. He never changes.

Pour out your heart to Him, tell Him the fears you feel, tell Him about the terrors you are facing. Then go forward through your day singing His praises and watch Him work. He is faithful and able to win the battles we face!

Facets of God’s Character: I AM WHO I AM

Fear gripped my heart. I woke up startled, my heart racing, my thoughts filled with anxiety-producing worries. I got up, found my favorite chair in the living room, and tried to calm down. Soothing music wasn’t helping. I opened my Bible and started reading passages to calm the terror within, but that didn’t seem to help either. I talked to God telling Him what I was feeling, He immediately impressed on me the evidence of His presence with me. I am here. 

When you are feeling fearful, just knowing someone is with you is calming. But, when you are fearful and you recognize that the LORD, YAHWEH, is with you, the fear suddenly dissipates. It wasn’t simply I am here.  It was I AM here. 

Moses dealt with great fear when he was asked to go speak to Pharaoh. God told him to tell the Israelites that I AM sent him. The God of Abraham, The God of Isaac, The God of Jacob. He identified Himself as the Self-Existent One. He said, “I AM THE ONE WHO ALWAYS WAS.” (See Exodus 3.) The LORD promised that His Presence would go with Moses.

The reality of knowing the LORD’s presence changes everything. Jesus helped us to learn so much more about who I AM is through His own I am statements.

Jesus told us in the Scriptures that He is the Bread of Life, the Light of the World, the Gate (Door) for the sheep, the Good Shepherd, the Resurrection, the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and the True Vine. The One Who Always Was sent His Son to be all we need.

He is always with me, I need not fear.

Deuteronomy 31:8 NIV says,

“The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; Do not be discouraged.”

Proverbs 139:5 NLT says:

“You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head.”

How can we fear if we know the One Who goes before us? How can we be anxious when we know the One Who goes with us? How can we tremble if we know He follows close behind and has our back?

Jesus is the Shepherd Who guides me, and the Door that leads me safely in. He is the True Vine that when I am connected to Him I am able to accomplish His will. He is the Bread of life that meets my each and every need. I am saved for eternity by way of trusting in Him and His Resurrection. He is the Way, showing me direction, the Truth, the plumbline of righteousness for me, and the Life, the One Who gives me life eternal.

I have all I need in knowing the great I AM.

What do you need today? Find it in the LORD, He is with you.

Facets of God’s Character: My Sweet Abba

Romans 8:15 NLT “So you should not be like cowarding, fearful slaves. You should behave instead like God’s very own children, adopted into his family — calling Him ‘Father, dear Father.’ “

I spent a lot of time with my Opah (paternal grandfather) when I was a little girl. He taught me about the Lord, and demonstrated me His love to me. Opah helped me to understand so much about God and His truths through stories he told me and by the way he lived. He made a huge impact on my life. Opah helped me know my Heavenly Father’s love for me.

Knowing and feeling loved is very important to a child. I taught school for many years and during those years it became evident that some children were not blessed with a family or parent that loved them. It was heartbreaking.

People search for love all of their lives in order to fill the emptiness inside. Human beings can touch your life with beautiful love. My Opah’s love for me remains a precious treasure in my heart. But nothing fills the emptiness inside except knowing the Father’s love.

If Jesus is your Savior, God is your Heavenly Father. It was God’s love for us that changed the hopeless into hopeful. While we were yet sinners, God sent Jesus to die on the cross for us. What amazing love. God so desired a relationship with us. He loves us so much. (Read John 3:16, Romans 5:8)

Luke 15 tells us the familiar story of The Prodigal Son. This story so beautifully displays the characteristics we can come to depend upon as we grow in knowing God as our Heavenly Father. The father in the parable of the prodigal demonstrates grace, compassion, affection, generosity, forgiveness, and love for his wayward son.

A number of years ago I began calling on God in my prayer time as My Sweet Abba. The memory of crawling up into my Opah’s lap, laying my head on his chest, and listening to him talk to me came to mind whenever I prayed. I thought of climbing into my Heavenly Father’s lap, feeling the warmth and safety of that. Hearing Him whisper to me, knowing the belonging I had, basking in the warmth of His love as I shared my heart. Nothing could be more perfect.

God as my “Abba” or “Daddy” is one of my favorite facets of who God is in my life. A good father is a safe place, a refuge for a frightened child. A good father is present and available. A good father is kind and generous. Generous in love and tenderness as well as generous in meeting the needs of his family. God is a good, good father.

Do you know God as your Heavenly Father? Draw near to Him. He wants you to know His love for you.

Surrendering: True Self Desperate for God

Are you faking it in prayer? Just going through the motions? Do you know what I am talking about? Are there some days where you read off the list or ramble off some stuff with your heart far away? Does prayer seem empty and difficult at best, almost like a chore that must be done?

We know as Christians we are supposed to come to the Lord and pray. The Bible goes so far as to tell us to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Has it gone through your mind, ‘without ceasing, I can’t get through 5 minutes’?

I know, I have been there, I have struggled with prayer.

I am learning and finding new excitement for prayer and new joy in prayer.

It was about a year ago that my church was listening to a series on prayer by David Platt. One of the questions that he asked had to do with personal desperation for God. It made me think. It made me realize my own self-sufficiency. I realized that I often did not feel desperate for the Lord and that left my prayers shallow and empty.

Then one day I was reading in Genesis 16 about Hagar and how she recognized the Lord as “the One who sees me” (verse 13). The Lord showed me some truths that day that touched my neediness deeply. I shared about this in a previous post “He Sees Me.”

It has been since then that I have been looking more closely at the precious names of God and realizing that they are really for me. He is really for me. I mean that the names of God help me to know His character more and help me see who He is in light of what I need.

Consider the following? Can you relate to any of these?

Do I feel invisible and unheard? He is the God who sees me (Genesis 16).

Do I feel wounded (in body or emotions) or sick? He is the God who heals (Exodus 15).

Do I feel needy in any area of life? He is the God who provides (Genesis 22).

Do I feel anxious and stressed? The Lord is Peace (Judges 6). He can give us peace.

Am I struggling with sin and having difficulty living the Christian life.  He is our Righteousness (Jeremiah 23:6).

Am I all alone and feeling discouraged or worried? He is there (Ezekiel 48:35).

He is whatever you need.

It seems so obvious, but yet so difficult. Too often we choose not to go deep, not to go to the heart of the matter. We cry out a list of symptoms and want Him to fix them. We ask Him to make it fast, easy, and painless. But we don’t recognize the real need beneath the symptoms, we don’t take time to search beneath the surface. And, in the end we remain stagnate in our prayer life, we don’t grow.

The Lord wants to change our hearts. He wants to change us from the inside out. I am realizing that I have to come to a place where I must recognize my need for Him in each area of life. I need to bring my heart wounds to Him for healing. I need to yield up the depths of my sin-sickness, all of it, all of the life-long effects, and seek Him, seek His wisdom.

I am finding Him meeting me in the depths with such an amazing understanding of my heart. He is such a personal God. He touches the pain inside with tender love. He holds me in the midst of the life-quakes, and the aftershocks. He helps me to know the reality of the belonging I have with Him. The intimacy of prayer is incredibly beautiful and satisfying.

Next time you go to Him in prayer, lay open your heart, share the desperation within, cry out and He will meet you. He will draw you in. You will find there is no sweeter place. You will yearn to go back often. You will learn to pray without ceasing, because being with Him is being home.

Go home today and find His loving presence.

 

Surrendering: Growing Meek in Spirit

Meekness is not a term used very often today. Jesus used it to describe Himself in Matthew 11:29 AMPC. He said, “Take my yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am gentle (meek) and humble (lowly) in heart…”

The word meek is defined according the HELPS Word Studies as “not weakness” but rather referring “to exercising God’s strength under His control – i.e. demonstrating power without undue harshness.” It is a “blend of gentleness (reserve) and strength.”

It seems that often meekness is acquainted with weakness, but this shows that to be meek really is to demonstrate harnessed power. It would be having the power to plow over someone in words or actions but to harness that power, to keep emotions in tack, to remain humble and set aside personal rights.

Jesus had all of the power in the world to change things for His purposes, for His self-protection, but He gave into the will of the Father. He had perfect trust in His Father as His Advocate. He put aside His rights and privileges.

Philippians 2:5-8 NIV  describes it like this: “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus; Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God; But made Himself of  no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of man; And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. ”

Let this mind be in me. I have a lot of surrendering to do in order to demonstrate meekness. There are so many areas where I need help in living out meekness.

I need the Lord to help me surrender my need to have my way.

I need the Lord to help me stop seeking to advance my cause or be given my rights above others.

I need the Lord’s help in harnessing the power when I have opportunity to use it for my purposes rather than His.

I need the Lord’s help to keep my anger from boiling over.

I need the Lord to help me keep my pride from bursting out, and instead lead me to humility.

I need Him to teach me meekness. It is only as I trust Him to be at work on my behalf that I will have the strength to be meek. When I trust that He will accomplish what is best for me, then I don’t need to have my own way or advance my cause, because He is all about doing just that.

I need to trust my Fathers’ heart of love as Jesus did, and then I will know meekness and how to live it out.

Surrender is costly. Meek is such a little word, but but requires great strength to live up to it in our daily lives.

Are you recognizing areas that you need to surrender in your life as well?