God is . . .

Some of you know me as Dorcas. Some of you know me as Beth. My Dad called me Sis and my brothers called me Dorcas deLizard. Some of my classmates called me Dorky Dorcas. My husband calls me Sweetheart or Bubba and my son calls me mom. But my favorite name is Nana. I’m all the same person, but I fill different roles to different people. I love to study names. Names in the Bible were not just a tag, they defined people and their lives.

I have spent years studying about God in textbooks. But I have learned more about Him by experience – and struggle – than I ever could from a book. I came to know God as Jehovah-Jirah – The Lord my Provider, when my pantry was bare. Jehovah-Rapha – The Lord my Healer, came to me when I was very sick.  I discovered that He is Jehovah Shalom – The Lord my Peace during a time of turmoil and chaos, and that He is Emmanuel–God With Us, when I felt abandoned and alone. He is Yahweh Tsuri–The Lord my Strength when I am at my weakest, and He is Jehovah Ori –The Lord my Light when the darkness of depression surrounds me. When the enemy is attacking me, I know that Jehovah Gibbor Milchamah–The Lord Mighty in Battle is at my side. David wrote in Psalm 9:10, “Those who know Your name will trust in You.” God’s name reflects His character.

He met me in the hard places and showed Himself to me. I trust Him in the difficulties I face today and tomorrow and all the days to come because I know Him by name and by nature. My favorite names for God, the names that mean everything to me, became most precious when my life and heart fell completely apart. It was there that He came to me. El Emunah, the Faithful God. El Hayyay, the God of my life. He has proven Himself to be so ever since. Beloved, He is all this and more for you too.

God is Good

So how do you like my new glasses? They’re probably the most stylish pair of spectacles I’ve ever owned. And they are at the heart of my God-story this morning. You may recall a few months ago I wrote about Joy accidentally whacking me in the side of the head with her head and knocking my glasses off. (I’ll share a link to that post in the comments.) That hit badly warped my frames and it threw my vision off. A few days after that post someone who followed me on Facebook messaged me and wanted to send me some of her frames that she couldn’t use anymore to replace my pitiful glasses. I was amazed at her kindness. And amazed at the quality of the frames she sent me – none of the cheap $69 frames I usually got. These were designer-quality. We struck up a sweet friendship through online conversations about eyewear and snow and babies I don’t know the “official” name of these frames, but I’m calling them “Grace” because they are God’s gracious gift to me.

But never occurred to me to pray for new glasses. I just assumed I would struggle along with the old ones until I could afford to replace them. But God . . . It makes me think of Jesus’ words: “Your Father knows what you need before you ask Him” (Matt 6:8). In the margin of my Bible next to this verse are dates and words like: “transmission,” “septic repairs,” “a home,” “healing,” “groceries,” “diapers,” and “job.” They are followed by more dates – when God met those needs. Every. Single. One. God knew that I needed good glasses and He provided in that incredible way that only He can do.

This is not my usual devotional because I just want to testify to God’s goodness. He saw my need and He met it. He pricked the heart of someone I didn’t know on my behalf. She obeyed that prompting and now I can see. If you need a takeaway, it would be two-fold. First, if God pricks your heart to help someone in need, do it. It will be a blessing for them and for you. Second and most importantly, God loves you. He knows your need. Whether it’s glasses, groceries, a home, peace, hope, or wisdom, it’s His delight to take care of His children. I am living, seeing proof.

Daily Bread

Image may contain: people dancing and food

The doorbell stirred me from my studies and I opened the door to find a dear friend from church standing outside with bags in her hands. “I have something for you,” she said and we unloaded bag after bag after bag of groceries from her car. “The Lord told me you needed some food,” she said very simply. I cried as I hugged her over and over. “Yes ma’am, we did – thank you so much!” She quickly made her way back to her car and was gone in minutes as my family stood in shock at the bounty God had provided. There was enough food for two weeks – milk and eggs and bread and sandwich fixings and meat and vegetables and even baby food for my granddaughter. I had told no one that we were down to a half a bag of grits in the pantry – and it was another week before payday. But God knew, and He gave us “our daily bread.” That evening our family sat down together and enjoyed a delicious meal of spaghetti and grace.

The first part of The Lord’s Prayer is praise, worship, and surrender. That’s so important to our relationship with God and our hearts. When I begin my prayers with praise and acknowledge God’s sovereign authority in my life, my attitude and desires shift from self-centered to God-centered. The more I focus on God, the less I focus on me.

But Jesus wanted His disciples and us to know that God is deeply concerned for the needs and cares of His children, so He taught us to pray, “Give us today our daily bread” (Matt. 6:11). That’s exactly what God did for us.

In my fifty-something years of walking with God, we have been in some hard places financially, but we have never gone without a roof over our heads or food on our table. God has always provided for us. Sometimes just in the nick of time, but never too late.I don’t know what your need is today

Beloved, but I know that the God who sent His Son to redeem you and give you eternal life is also the God who loves you and cares for you and about you. He is Jehovah Jireh – “the Lord the Provider” (Gen. 22: 14) and He lives up to His name every day.

The Good Giver

giftgiving“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights . . .” (James 1:17).

“Please sir, I want some more.”

You probably recognize those words spoken by Oliver Twist in Charles Dickens’ classic tale of the same name.  Oliver is a young boy, orphaned at birth in Dickens’ story set in 1830’s England.  He is one of many orphans who are kept in cruel near-slave conditions and given meager rations to survive on.  He warily approaches the master and makes his plea, but his  request only causes the boy even more trouble.  How dare this no-account waif ask for more!  Who does he think he is to presume upon the charity of the master?  We see the cruel irony of a hungry orphan approaching the well-fed head-master, and we understand that he at least deserves a decent meal to sustain him.  He is not acting out of greed, but out of need.  It is a reasonable request, we think.

Yet how often do we approach God with the same trepidation as Oliver Twist?  How often do we approach Him as if we think He is a harsh master who will refuse us even the humblest request?   We assume He rations out His blessings only to the most deserving, or worse, that He is holding back His blessings from us.  That is what Satan implied to Eve in the Garden when He told her, “God knows that when you eat [of the fruit] your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God . . .” (Genesis 3:3).  You can almost hear him hissing: “God is holding out on you missy, don’t be a naïve fool!”  But we know that Satan is a liar, and the Bible reveals God as a generous Father who loves to give good things to His children.

Jesus compared our Heavenly Father with earthly fathers who provide for their children’s needs.  And even though it is really no comparison at all, the Lord said if we, as human parents give our children what they need and desire, “how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him?” (Matthew 7:11).  How much more will the God who gave us life (Romans 4:17) give us what is necessary to sustain life?  Why then, do we hesitate?

James 4:2 says “You do not have because you do not ask.” And Ephesians 3:20 tells us that God “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.” Jesus Himself said “Ask and it will be given to you…” (Luke 11:9). I think we can all agree that this isn’t so much about stuff—houses and cars and a pair of Jimmy Choo’s, although God has generously provided a home and a vehicle for me when I needed them. (Still waiting on the shoes 🙂 But God promises to bless us when we ask for those things that are in His will, such as wisdom (James 1:5), healing (James 5:14-15), forgiveness (1 John 1:9), faith (Luke 17:5), joy (John 16:24), strength (Philippians 4:13), love (1 John 4:7), grace—actually “more grace” according to James 4:6. Best of all He gives us what we don’t even think to ask for: peace (John 14:27), hope (Romans 5:5), light (John 1:9), a future (Jeremiah 29:11), glory (John 17:22), revelation (John 17:26), direct access to the Father (John 16:23), and eternal life (John 17:2).  He gave His only Son for you (John 3:16).  Does that sound like He is holding out on you?

2 Peter 1:3 says He “has given us everything we need for life and godliness;” those things we need for life, like our daily bread (Matthew 5:11), clothes on our back (Matthew 6:30) and “all these things” that are necessary for life (Matthew 6:33).  I’ve been the recipient of His practical generosity and kindness many, many times.  He also promises to give us everything we need for a godly life: chiefly His Word (John 17:8) and His Spirit (John 14:16).   God provides with a generous heart and an open hand.

I love John’s affirmation in 1 John 5:14-15: “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: That if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.”  The writer of Hebrews echoes the same thought: “Let us approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).  That is an invitation we should jump at!

You do not have to come to your Heavenly Father with a sense of apprehension, as if you are asking for more than God is willing to bestow.  He has so much he desires to give you—till your cup overflows (Psalm 23:5).  Don’t come crawling to Him with a little teacup in your hand. Come running to your Father with the biggest bucket you can find, and He will fill it till is spills over and you can’t contain it all.  He is a God who loves to give!

Holy Father, I cannot count the number of times You’ve blessed me—You have given and given and given even more.  Not only do you give from an endless supply, but You give from extraordinary generosity.  Please help me to always come to you with the confidence of a child coming to her loving Father.  Amen