He is Mine

woman reading Bible - lightstock_112728_medium_user_8104670When you read a Bible verse, how do you decide which words to focus on?

For example, which would you say are the important words in the following verses:

“Blessed be the LORD, my rock…
My lovingkindness and my fortress,
My stronghold and my deliverer;
My shield and He in whom I take refuge.” Psalm 144:1-2 (NASB)

The first time I read these verses, my attention was drawn to the various attributes and names of God listed there: LORD, lovingkindness, fortress, stronghold, deliverer, shield, refuge.

But the last time I studied the same verses, my attention was drawn to a word I had previously overlooked: my. Each name and attribute David listed was preceded by personal ownership. David didn’t just know about God, he had experienced these attributes in a personal way.

The author, David, was the second king of the unified nation of Israel, but he wasn’t born into a royal family. David was a shepherd and with that experience, God prepared him to shepherd a nation. Still, before he became a king, David was also a fugitive. For his own survival, he had to question the faithfulness of supposed friends even as he strove for godly responses to those who declared themselves his enemies.

The one constant throughout all his experiences, from shepherd to fugitive to king, was David’s relationship with the Lord. So when David wrote his psalms, he wrote out of personal experience. My rock. My lovingkindness. My fortress. My stronghold. My deliverer. My shield.

David didn’t just take someone else’s word for it. This was personal. He understood who God is because he had experienced who God is. David was able to say of God, “He is mine.”

Can the same be said of you and me?

Daily Reflections on the Names of God

 


What Makes You Feel Old?

I recently learned they’ve stopped teaching cursive writing in most schools. Print? Yes. Script? Not anymore. No longer are children learning how to link the letters of each word in a continuous flow.

But it’s not just the children. When was the last time you hand-wrote a letter? Or put a stamp on an envelope that wasn’t a bill? Even bills and commercial exchanges are being completed via the Internet. This past week, I completed a writing contract with an e-signature and returned it via email.

Just thinking about it makes me feel old. Between this and the perennial struggle to remember the year (anyone else been practicing turning 2s into 3s as they write the new year?), I’m acutely aware of the passing of time.

Remember Star Trek (the original television series)? Many of the futuristic tools used on the show are now commonplace in our lives. Personal computers, voice-activated computing (anyone have the newest iPhone?) tablets and styluses, wireless earpieces, and GPS tracking are just a few of the innovations originally imagined for the 23rd century. The future is now.

But no matter what happens, one thing will never change. The one, true, living God is immutable – He never changes. The Bible tells us:

Psalm 102:27 – “But you remain the same, and your years will never end.”

Malachi 3:6 – “I the Lord do not change.”

Hebrews 13:8 – “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”

James 1:17 – “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”

Why is it a good thing that God does not change? Because we can rely on Him. We can rely on His unchanging mercy and grace. His unchanging comfort and compassion. His unchanging guidance and protection.

My world is constantly changing, but my God will never change. Now excuse me while I go write a letter…in longhand!

What is it about our world that makes you feel old?

 


How Well Are You Known?

 

Twelve years ago, I moved from New York City to a much smaller city in Florida. More of a small town, actually. I welcomed the fresh air, the slower pace, and the improved quality of life.

 
But I also needed to make some adjustments…

About a week after our move, after a particularly long day unpacking boxes, we tried getting a pizza delivered. Several phone calls later, we discovered that nothing remained open after 10pm.

The satellite post office near our home closed for lunch each day.

I was late for church one morning because a cow stood in the road and a sheriff’s deputy blocked the road with his car while we waited for the cow to move.

One of the biggest adjustments I had to make was in realizing I could not leave the house without running into someone I knew. Someone from church or from our neighborhood. Someone from the interdenominational Bible study I attended or from the non-profit agency where I volunteered. The anonymity of living in a big city disappeared faster than a bag of M&Ms® at a chocoholic’s convention.

But that was nothing compared to what I’ve experienced lately on the Internet. Facebook seems to know exactly what ads fit my interests. One order on the Barnes & Noble website resulted in emails touting products geared to my interests. The website Spokeo.com contained detailed information about me and anyone for whom I might be searching.

Total strangers seem to know me very well.

To know and be known – truly known – is our deepest desire. Even the apostle Paul noted, “Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known” (I Corinthians 13:12).

God created us to know and be known. He created us to be intimately related to Him. He revealed Himself in His Word using a variety of names and attributes to help us know who He is and how He works. We learn from His Word that He is perfectly righteous and just, absolutely faithful and merciful, and truly trustworthy and holy. And because He is who He is, we can trust the most intimate details of our life to Him. In fact, nothing surprises Him – He knows the ugliest details and loves us anyway.

When we’re in a right relationship with the Lord, we’ll have the confidence to be vulnerable and transparent in our relationships with others. To know and be known is a gift, not just with God, but with fellow travelers on the road of life.

With whom is your most intimate relationship?
If you’re not as intimate with the Lord as you would like, what will you do about it?


The Center of the Universe

I’ve recently been thinking about black holes. According to Wikipedia, black holes form when heavy stars collapse at the end of their life cycle. Many astronomers believe black holes exist in the centers of galaxies. Especially intriguing is that a black hole is believed to continue to grow by absorbing mass from its surroundings.

This information probably would not have made such an impact on my life except for a blog I read a couple of weeks ago by author and editor Joel Miller. In it, he makes this point:

“This is an exciting truth: God made us to bless us, to love us. Sometimes we assume that we were created to serve, love, and worship him. These are good and holy actions, but they are responses to God’s initiating act of love. He did not require service, love, and worship, and so created servants, lover(s), and worshippers. God’s only requirement is to be himself, to love. We are born—all things are born—from that divine desire.”

What he wrote is all very true.

Yes, God made us.
Yes, God loves us.
Yes, our service, love, and worship are responses to God’s initiating act of love.

But I believe he stopped too soon in his assertions. If we stop there, the implication (at least to me) is that we become the center of the universe: God made us to love us. Like an astronomical black hole, our egos can easily begin to grow as we absorb a level of self-importance that rivals God for His rightfully preeminent position.

By stopping there, I believe we do a disservice to the very nature of God. He is Yahweh, the eternal I AM – dependent on no one and nothing else. If we say He made us to love us, we must go back one step further and ask Why?

The Bible is clear. He did it for His own glory. He made us for His glory (Isaiah 43:7). He loves us for His glory. He chose Abraham as an act of His grace to show His glory. He rescued Israel during the Exodus to show His glory (Exodus 15:11). He brought them back from Babylonian exile to show His glory (Isaiah 48:11). He sent His Son to show His glory (John 1:14).

Instead of backing into this truth, I believe we need to start with it. We start with God’s glory, and everything else – and everyone else – flows from that source.

God’s love for us is as lavish as love can get – so lavish that He did not hold back His own Son. What a privilege to know that He made us for His glory and He loves us for His glory. It doesn’t get any better than that!


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