It is through personal revelation that our exclamation comes, “You are the God who…”
Did you know that God can delight in you assigning a name to him? I encouraged attendees to do so in the meditation held on Wednesday.
Do you know who scripture records as the first person to do so? Said in Hebrew, the name she gave is El Roi.
Hagar was Egyptian. A maidservant subjected to the will of her mistress Sarai. Now pregnant, suffering mistreatment, she runs away and has a personal encounter with God. God went after her in her fear and upset. The result? She gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her, “You are the God who sees me.” She says “I have now seen the One who sees me.” (Genesis 16:13)
You are the God who… Who is God to you?
John the Baptist inaugurated Christ with a new name. He proclaimed, “You are the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29, 36)
Christians might too quickly dismiss his words, thinking it’s not profound. But we have the benefit of 2k+ years of revelation post resurrection. John did not.
The only part of the New Testament John would have had was probably a hand written version of his father Zechariah’s prophetic song he wrote praising God and proclaiming John’s call and God's coming work, Luke 1:67-79. Maybe he also had a copy of Mary’s song, Luke 1:46-55. I’m sure verbal recollections were given to him many times regarding the angelic visitation of Gabriel. Mind blowing declarations and miraculous manifestations soon followed, Luke 1:5-45! There was no denying God was unfolding a plan. But what was it?
Who was coming? The angel Gabriel didn’t declare a lamb was coming. He said that John would be great before the Lord, bringing back people to the Lord, going on before the Lord, making ready a people prepared for the Lord. To Mary he said the one who was coming would be called the Son of God. Gabriel didn’t assign Lamb as a title.
In God’s divine assignment for John, he gave him godly and righteous parents. Both were from an extended legacy of the Levite priesthood. They both would have known the Old Testament, the Law, and the intricacies of the sacrificial system as a means to please and encounter God.
Did their religion help or hurt John as he grew up? I personally believe it helped him. Scripture says that his parents were upright, observing all of the Lord’s commandments blamelessly, Luke 1:6. It seems they understood something of grace because Zechariah refers to God as extending tender mercy, Luke 1:78. He prophetically announces and enabling people to serve God without fear, Luke 1:73-75. John grew up to be strong in spirit (Luke 1:80). I think they were a help, not a hindrance to his profound revelation. But who figured out the one coming was a divine lamb? The old system of sacrifice would end by one death, God himself.
John’s youth would have been one of preparation. One day, God would launch him out as a herald, a prophet to his people. He had to know what to say and do. He needed direction and answers. Certainly his childhood was a treasure hunt, searching for clues in the Old Testament. They probably had some good family discussions wrestling with scripture together, growing strong together.
Another special help besides family was given John. The Holy Spirit. Without His assistance, there is no revelation for salvation, Romans 8:9. God uniquely filled John with the Holy Spirit even from birth. Upon hearing the voice of Mary, John leaped in his mother Elizabeth’s womb by the presence of the spirit in him (Luke 1:44).
On Wednesday at the meditation, we pondered Isaiah 53, thinking it was a key scripture for John. Is Did he see the Lamb as God in these scriptures? At what age did John first say, "You are the God who takes away the sin of the world!"
To this day, Jewish people are confounded by Isaiah 52:13-53:1-12. One of their current Jewish study bibles says these are hotly contested verses; that many argue the servant mentioned symbolizes the entire Jewish people or a pious minority of Jewish people who suffer as a result of the sins of the nation at large. Another comment says that it could refer to a Messiah, but it is unlikely since nowhere else in Deuteronomy to Isaiah is there a reference to a Messiah. Others argue it refers to Jeremiah or Moses. Commentary does include Jesus but notes that “medieval rabbinic commentators devoted considerable attention to refuting this interpretation”. [i] This is the confusion created without the presence and help of the Holy Spirit. Man cannot know God without his help.
On Wednesday, we also reflected on suffering, Christ’s and our own. We pondered the description and relayed a first hand account of the suffering Messiah in Isaiah 53. We looked for any comparison of our own suffering. Could we connect to not having a beauty or majesty that attracted us to others? Have we ever been despised or rejected? Have we had much suffering? Are we familiar with pain? Do people hide their faces from us? Have we been held in low esteem by others? Have we ever been falsely accused? Also we considered how we do not compare to Christ. Are we currently astray in any area? We waited on the Holy Spirit to reveal, speak, open our eyes, receive His help. We responded, prayed, praised, worshiped the Lamb of God.
The Holy Spirit can show you how suffering gives us eyes to see our Savior. He shows us the depth of our unrighteousness in comparison to a holy Lamb that takes away the sin of the world. He brings meaning to our own suffering producing perseverance and character and hope. How does this happen? Only by God’s love being poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us (Romans 5:3-5).
May you respond to the sacrificial gift of Heaven, Christ. May you pursue Him. May you assign him a name, a sweet incense of praise, “You are the God who…”
Blessings this resurrection season!
[i] Berlin, Adele; Brettler, Marc. The Jewish Study Bible: Featuring the Jewish Publication Society TANAKH Translation. Oxford University Press, 2004, Print.
Who is your enemy? Do you believe you have enemies? If you do, do you believe you are just supposed to love them more, love them better, that love will win them over? Do you believe that, like Jesus did, you should hand yourself over to the ones seeking your demise? Do you believe you must aggressively defend yourself?
A lot of us get very confused and rattled in spirit because we don’t know what to do with enemies. Our efforts to love them seem to fail. People’s hate can really damage and disillusion our faith walk, harden our hearts. Many walk in fear in their careers because of it. Many leave their fellowship and service in ministry because of offense, because of hurt, because of continuous attack that wears down and wearies the spirit. When attack comes, it is easy to do one or more of the following: stop trusting, cut people off, make inaccurate conclusion about God’s character, vilify our accusers, panic, become depressed, give up.
Added confusion or frustration can come when we share our pain with others. Often Christians can be too quick to say to the one hurting, “We don’t battle against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers…” In other words, Christians can be too quick to tell others their enemy is not really another person; their enemy is spiritual only, i.e. the devil and his forces at work. I’ve been guilty of giving this input right off. I need to stop doing it. Why? One, its empty comfort, and two, I’ve realized it is not how God counsels and comforts me. Why then would I counsel someone else differently? I need to model the way He comforts me so I can comfort others (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).
So first, know that going around quoting Ephesians 6:12 and 1 Peter 5:8 is not the best first approach when you are listening to someone under strain from the wicked words and vicious actions of others. Also, know for yourself if you are being wrongly accused, insidiously attacked, if there is a vicious plot in play against you, God will first and repeatedly acknowledge the injustice and validate your feelings to draw you into His arms for comfort, counsel, and wisdom. Spend time there in his arms, a good amount of time.
If you aren’t used to someone acknowledging your pain or validating your feelings, knowing that God will do this with you is surprising. And I personally believe that knowing him this way is critical to hearing God accurately. When you are suffering wrongdoing, before He tells you how to respond, He is first very willing to validate your pain. He will acknowledge the wicked schemes of others set against you. He does not say, “Buck up, get over it, don’t cry, stop being weak.” He will console you by giving you perspective and helping you rest in your innocence and in His ultimate response. Psalm 3, Psalm 5, Psalm 7, Psalm 11, and Psalm 17 are examples that support what I just said.
Think about it. When a good father finds out his child is being bullied, picked on, attacked, betrayed, harassed, what is his response? He consoles his child. He wipes tears. He holds in extended embrace. Then he acts. He counsels his child. He defends. He protects. He uses his influence and authority to seek justice. He makes his upset known. In this way an earthly father will let his child see through his actions that they are loved.
In an even more powerful way, God as Heavenly Father, wants His children to know he sees unjust suffering. He reads the intents of hearts. He wants his people to know that to the pure, he will show himself to be pure, but to the devious, He will show himself shrewd (Psalm 18:26). If you know Him this way, your soul is stilled much more quickly, you rest easier in His love; you wait for His response to your enemies instead of taking action yourself (Romans 12:19). You are able to say as King David said, “I have kept myself from the ways of the violent”- Psalm 17:4. You are increasingly able to be silent under duress (Matthew 27:12, 14), to bless and not curse, to do good and not evil, Romans 12:14.
God the Father was very open with Jesus about the wicked plots, evil schemes, insidious thoughts, and back-stabbing betrayals of others set against him. Jesus was very aware of what was happening to him and why. Not only was He aware, he proclaimed it in the midst of his enemies (John 7:19, John 8:37, John 8:40). Jesus also shared with his closest friends that He (the Son of Man- Daniel 7:13-14) would be crucified (Mark 9:31, Matthew 26:1-2).
As I write this, a prayer request came in from a good friend who is under insidious attack in a high level position. Just this morning he was given an impossible deadline from people intent on seeking his job and livelihood. People are serious about seeing him suffer and getting him fired. It’s an attack that hasn’t just been thrust upon him today; it’s been going on for awhile now. His wife recently received Psalm 7 and Psalm 17 to give to him as a response from the Father’s heart to him. Notice God affirming mortal enemies. Read those Psalms. Who sees his innocence? Who rescues? Who saves? Who vindicates? Who displays his wrath? Notice the one who falls into the pit isn’t the one being attacked; it’s the one who was pregnant with evil intent. Letting these truths transform us is a path towards peace that surpasses understanding with our hearts and minds guarded in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7). Jesus knew we’d need acknowledgment that attacks are real. So he told us to expect attack, and be wise as serpents, gentle as doves (Matthew 10:16, 2 Thessalonians 3:2).
If you struggle believing God’s defense of you, your first prayer should be for healing regarding the Father’s heart for you. Ask the LORD to help you process your hurt, your pain, and your confusion with him. Ask for ears to understand his perception of the situation.
Evaluate whether you first take your pain to others and flush it out mainly there. Notice if you tend to suffer in silence, thinking God won’t help. Ask yourself, do I believe God is a good and loving father? (Do make sure you haven't contributed to the chaos, if so, just go to God for mercy. He lovingly forgives and will help you go to people you've hurt.)
For those who through relationship have come to know and experience that God is good, we find rest in His presence. We believe He will act, we proclaim to others that what our enemy meant for evil, God will transform for good. Our path straightens and fills with light and divine power. We can pray for our enemies. Now we respond in God’s power and are not used as an instrument of the evil one. Now we can do good to those who hate us.
Jesus knew his Father loved him, Mark 1:11. He knew God would not abandon him to the grave, Psalm 16:10. He knew who He was and what his purpose was, Luke 10:21-22. He stood strong in the face of opposition. His final words on the cross were of victory, “It is finished.”
Follow Christ on his path, draw nearer to his suffering and look closely at the Lamb of God. As you do so, your suffering can find meaning and purpose. Your heart can become more receptive to the Father’s heart for you. The way to the Father’s heart is through Christ (John 8:19).
Attend the meditation this coming Wednesday, March 23 at either 4pm or 7pm. Go to the calendar page and sign up! Extended time in His presence brings healing! If you want some perspective from past attendees, click here.
We are asking ourselves serious questions. Should I stay in this marriage or leave? Do I force my frail elderly parent into assisted living? How do I handle my rebellious teen refusing to follow the rules? Does God want me to keep taking this abuse from him/her? How do I manage this work crisis? Where is my boldness to share Christ with others? How do I get out of this mess? My child relapsed again, now what? How can I ever forgive this person? Where is my joy? How much more can I bear?
Ultimately, the answers are not in us. The strategies are not found in self-help. Mindfulness will not help. We need God. We need His power and intervention.
More of His wisdom. More of His counsel. More of His power. MORE. This is the reason I am holding meditative prayer sessions. With extended time in God’s presence He counsels, He comforts, He heals, He speaks, He gives divine strategy. This is the promise of meditation in God’s terms. Did you know that?
In the book of Joshua, chapter 1 verse 8, God tells Joshua to meditate on His law day and night, to be careful to do everything written in it, for then he will be prosperous and successful.
The word “meditate” is the Hebrew word #1897 “hagah”. It means to moan, mutter, growl, roar, utter, muse, mourn, study, devise, plot, speak with one self in a low voice.
Notice meditation is NOT silent. It says nothing of emptying yourself of all thought. It says nothing of focusing on the present, external moment. It says nothing of tapping power within. Instead, God’s definition reveals meditation is verbally expressive, mentally creative, active, earnest endeavor, strategic, an emotional outpouring. In meditation, with the Holy Spirit as guide, we devise, we plot, we mourn, we sing; we study God. This process leads to strategic insight. The Spirit delivers wisdom and spiritual understanding inaccessible via any other human method. True meditation is a divine tool only for God’s people or for those seeking God. You won’t read that in the NY Times or in Time magazine.
NY Times just posted an article about Mindfulness, the world’s new word for meditation based upon Buddhist roots. It’s a word that apparently has been stripped of Buddhist teachings like reincarnation and enlightenment. Now it’s about “paying attention in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.” This sounds lovely; but there is no access to a nature beyond the limits of my human ability. No problem solving happening here, no tuning into God’s thoughts and perspective for resolution. Just be more present for the task at hand... I will fail.
Instead, leave your current moment and go to God. Ask the Holy Spirit to transform you. Meditate on this one scripture. First read the scripture a couple of times.
Isaiah 31:4 says - For thus hath the LORD spoken unto me, like as the lion and the young lion roaring H1897 on his prey, when a multitude of shepherds is called forth against him, he will not be afraid of their voice, nor abase himself for the noise of them: so shall the LORD of hosts come down to fight for mount Zion, and for the hill thereof.
Now, look at this picture for help with visualizing the stance of the lion. And notice upfront that the word roaring has the same Hebrew reference as meditate, H1897 in Joshua 1:8 above.
Connect with intensity of the hunger of the lion. See it being surrounded by a multitude of shepherds who will kill him, yet he is unafraid. He is intent on keeping his prey. His hunger speaks louder than their threats. He won’t be deterred. He is willing to lose his life to keep his prize. His roar reveals his need and stance.
This is the intent of meditation. Having the hunger of a lion; aggressively seeking God’s Word as food absolutely necessary to sustain our souls. Despite the surrounding noise; we like the lion would be willing to stand our ground, remain in God’s word, consume it and live (Deuteronomy 8:3, Matthew 4:4). Do you have an intense hunger to consume it?
What other picture do you see in Isaiah 31:4? The LORD of Hosts. He comes down to fight. For who? For His people, the ones who reside on Mt Zion. Like the lion, He was willing to lose his life to keep his prey. To keep you. To keep me. To keep anyone who calls upon His name (Psalm 125:1).
We are in a wonderful season to meditate on the Holy One who gave His life for us. The WORD of God. The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Join me on Wednesday, March 23rd for a meditation on the Lamb of God. I will hold 2 sessions, one at 4, one at 7. Invest an extended prayer time being led in a meditation on the sacrifice of Jesus. Seek His counsel and input and love to sustain your soul, for strength beyond your human limitations.
Love offerings only. Seating in this venue (Irondequoit Public library) is limited. (Update as of 3/15, sessions already half full). Sign up is on the calendar page- here.
I am so thrilled about this week's post! My 25 year old niece wrote it. Blessed to have her staying with me for a short season. Been a true joy to watch her spring up and unfold like a flower! If you have family that you've been praying for, let this post encourage you to persevere. Don't give up! I've been praying for many years for my family and to see her awaken is truly a reason for praise! Certainly I don't take credit for her; God deserves all glory. But prayer is joint venture with our Holy King; Him depositing his heart in ours and we pray accordingly. We rejoice in seeing resurrection life manifest in others! Be blessed in reading Amber's post! Be challenged to seek Him! ~ Gina
by Amber Williamson- For the last several years, the passion in this psalm has reverberated in my heart. The thought of a man longing for someone in such a way that the imagery of fainting was the best descriptor, struck me as profoundly beautiful. Meditating on that image opened a floodgate of questions: Why didn’t I have that longing for God? How could I make myself feel that way? Could I change how I felt about Him? Did He even want me to approach Him the way King David did? Did I have to earn His audience? And so on the questions continued. Irreversibly unsettled, I began my quest to answer the questions.
Night by night, I stayed up into the AM, mining through the seemingly endless theologies that were available online. My Amazon account became a monster to my monthly budget as I omnivorously purchased everything available on Kindle’s ”Christian Spiritual” bookshelf. I would take everything I read and compared it to the Bible. When I wasn’t reading I would fall asleep to the voice of a myriad of pastors and theologians on podcasts.
Day by day, I visited church after church, interacting with one denomination after another. I joined bible study groups, small groups, recovery groups, attended prayer meetings, volunteered my time at church functions and attended weekend services. I reached out to individuals for time outside of church. We shared the questions we had about God and brainstormed answers. I annoyed people by talking about God so much.
During this time, I encountered many earnest people who, like me, participated in the church programs and faithfully served as they were taught. I sensed the same aching hearts working hard to power smiles. Many of these friends bravely admitted that they were still slaves to addictions and insecure hearts. I knew they were earnest because I had my own share of brokenness that I was simultaneously striving to mend. We were all committed though, waiting for the breakthrough and the answers.
Something was missing.
I knew it had to be connected with God somehow, but my studies and Christian involvements weren’t giving me the answers. I felt like my quest had only brought more questions and I was terrified that I was missing the point. My growing list of questions and opinions of who he was only made me feel further from him.
Then one night, I heard a song. It was a Father’s Song by Steffany Gretzinger, titled “Out of Hiding.” As I listened, it released something and I began to weep. When the song ended, I realized that I was sick for intimacy.
I had left his audience to go find the answers when what I really needed was his company.
The year that followed that night became a season of recovery- a lot of resting in His presence. I remember driving home from work one day (a few months after I heard the song) having unknowingly relapsed into my fearful earn-His-favor ways, when I heard in my heart “You are sick.” It sounds strange to hear, but it was the best thing I could have acknowledged.
I was sick for him. I was malnourished and starving for time in his presence. I realized that this wasn’t just going to be a season of spending time with him. It was going to have to be a lifestyle. Since then, it’s been a full transformation of how I live. My endless purpose and desire is for deeper intimacy with him-I believe it’s what we are all made for. This means that I get to make scary sacrifices for that space. I get to let go of what makes sense. I get to give up efforts that other Christians would have me burn out for. I get to let go of having to know all the answers. I get to let go so that I can hold onto him.
And the reward?
God’s presence is the most desirably beautiful, sacred, sublime, lovely, and safe place I can be. He is literally my refuge.
As spend time in his presence I am healed. I leave his audience braver, stronger and more secure in my identity. I leave with sweet secrets and special nicknames. I leave with questions too, but now they are wrapped in wonder. I leave with him still with me. Since this has begun, I have continued to walk in increasing victory and joy. It’s easier to admit fault and let him remake me as I continue to experience his genuine interest in my freedom. My time with him never gets old. He continually shatters my expectations.
We are all made to know him like this.
Think about it.
What is the only thing we can truly give to the God who has everything-the Daddy who has all the tools and the toys? Ourselves. We can sit on His lap and tell him we love him. We can cry and sing to him. We can wrestle with him. We can dance with him. We can tell him thank you.
We are made to want to stay a little longer with him. John 4: 23-24, Matthew 4:4
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Hi my name is Gina; and I'm the founder of the ministry. My 25 year journey with God has been centered on immersing myself in the safe relationship God offers, learning about the power of surrender, and praying for His life in greater measure!