STUCK OR PLANTED?

I recently inquired of the Lord, “Now that TOOLS for a LIFETIME has ended for this semester, why am I still stuck in Jonah?”

Jonah was our study material for learning how to study the Bible. I thought that once this semester was over, I would move on to another study topic. But, I can’t. For some reason, I feel something is left unfinished. Undone. Unlearned. Did I miss the call? Did I go the wrong direction? Did I miss what God was asking me to do? Did I miss what he was teaching me?

One of my bad habits, okay, let’s not call it a bad habit, let’s just call it what it is…. a lack of organization.  My study notes are everywhere! A notebook here, observation sheets here and there, and post-it notes and FB posts everywhere else.  Nothing is in the same place.  So, I decided to get it all organized and in doing so, maybe I could find out why I’m stuck and get on to something else.

I bought a notebook, notebook paper, and tabs for each chapter and topic.  As I organize my notes, I am also going back through the Book of Jonah using one of the most remarkable tools available to us, the cross-reference tool in most Bibles. As I started listing and then looking up each of the cross-references from several different Bibles, a new world of wonder was opening before my eyes. Then, God whispered in my heart this amazing thing:

“It doesn’t matter where you are, I will take you where you need to go.”

So, I don’t see myself stuck in Jonah anymore. I am planted here. Jonah is my “home base” and as I venture into the world of cross-reference, God is guiding me through the adventure of a LIFETIME. Seeds of things are being planted in my heart and in my mind. I no longer worry about what God is showing me, where it’s supposed to go or why. I just treasure everything I see, knowing it will all come together in His timing. How do I know this? I know by what He has shown me so far…. In Jonah 1:2. Yes, I am back to square one, but oh, what an amazing new thing! I have been “planted” in Jonah for over a year now. I don’t actually stay in Jonah all of time, because God sends me on wonderful adventures.

As I pondered on Jonah 1:2 and the part of the Scripture that says “for their wickedness has come up before me”, the Holy Spirit brought to my mind the verse “for their sin has not yet reached full measure”. (The Holy Spirit is the best cross-reference!)

The verse is Genesis 15:16 where God is telling Abraham that He will give his decendants the land He is showing him, but not until the fourth generation because the sin of the Amorites had not yet reached full measure (complete in the NASB). Without going into detail on the depth of this Scripture and the remarkable timing God gave Nineveh (Jonah Chapter 3), I will say that God’s timing is perfect. He is not going to do things too early and He knows when the time is ripe for harvest. He knows when hearts are ready and He knows when hearts have gone stone cold.

God is so amazing, so wonderful and so patient! He waited 450 years for the Amorites to reach “full measure”. I believe He did this because there were people along the way that would turn to Him. He knew when the time was right for Nineveh to turn from their wicked ways.

He knows when I am ready to learn and most importantly, He knows when I am ready to act and turn in His direction. I will trust Him and stay where I am until He tells me to go. He knows this for you as well. So, get planted in the Word. Where? It doesn’t matter where. Just get planted and let God take you on the most amazing adventure of a LIFETIME.

“Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.”

JONAH 1:2 (NIV)

 

 In the fourth generation, your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure.”

GENESIS 15:16 (NIV)

EPHESIANS 4:29

EPHESIANS 4:29

I was awakened at 3:30 a.m. this past Wednesday morning with the Scripture reference Ephesians 4:29. That’s it. Just the Scripture reference. Of course I tried to go back to sleep, but that was a crazy idea! Since it was not a verse I had committed to memorization, I needed to look it up.

As with other Scriptures that the LORD has placed on my heart upon awakening, it was very appropriate for my current situation. I have been dealing with a sensitive situation and I needed this verse to remind me how it should be handled as far as it concerns me.  Okay, let’s just be honest, here.  I needed this verse to remind me how I should handle my own mouth!

I decided to use two of the tools that we have acquired in our small group, TOOLS for a LIFETIME, to study this verse in detail. I printed the verse in columns on a piece of paper in three different translations (NIV, ESV, NASB) and I used the “I see” method.  Then I summarized the results. Below, you will find my journal notes to Ephesians 4:29. “I see” is noted in italics. What follows, in regular font, are my thoughts to what I saw. After the summary, I have noted  references to Scriptures that came to my mind as I worked through this verse.

Ephesians 4:29

NIV

 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

ESV

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

NASB

Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.

I SEE

I see- Do not let; let no: Allow. This means what follows in this verse or passage is under my control.

I see- unwholesome talk, unwholesome words: Foul language, offensive slang, hurtful words, gossip.

I see- corrupting talk: Infected, dishonest, death, decay. Corrupt in the Bible means death.

I see- come out of your mouth: The words I say.

I see- but: This means what comes next is what I should say or do.

I see- what is helpful, what is good: What will benefit someone. What is right.

I see– building up, edification: What encourages, strengthens, supports, lifts, instructs, teaches.

I see- according to their needs:  Every need is different.

I see- as fits the occasion, according to the need of the moment: Not only is every need different but the circumstance is different as well. How I speak depends, not only on the need itself, but also on the situation and the person who is in need of helpful words. The words I want to say might not fit the moment. If moment is not right, don’t say them.

I see- that it may, so that: The reason my words should be helpful and good are for desired results. I think it also means that the words I say, although good and helpful, might not be received by the other person as such.

I see- Benefit, give grace: I say words that give value. I say words of mercy. I say words of forgiveness (according to the moment).

I see- those who listen, those who hear: The words I speak can be heard. The words I speak can be heard not only by the person to whom I am speaking, but to any person who is within earshot. It also means that just because I speak and the other person hears, they may not actually listen.

SUMMARY

I have control over what I say. I shouldn’t use foul, hurtful, or abusive language. I should refrain from saying things that hurt, slander, hear-say or gossip. I should never allow myself to say things that tear another person down. All of these things bring death. The words I say can be heard by anyone. The words I say are heard by God.

The words I say should not be idle, they should fit the moment and they should always be spoken in truth with a foundation of love.

My words should build up and not tear down.

Sometimes my words may not be what a person wants to hear, but if the moment is right, my words may be what they need to hear. I must understand and accept that the other person may not receive. I must also understand and control my words when I know that they will not be of benefit at this moment. Sometimes, it is best that they remain unspoken. However, I must also understand that sometimes I must say words that I know will not be well received but there is benefit and grace in saying them. Whatever the moment,  love is the foundation.

RELATED SCRIPTURES

Proverbs 18:21 (NASB)

Death and life are in the power of the tongue,
And those who love it will eat its fruit.

2 Timothy 2:14-16

Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers. 15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. 16 But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness,

Matthew 12:34-37 (NASB)

34 You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good? For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart. 35 The good man brings out of his good treasure what is good; and the evil man brings out of his evil treasure what is evil. 36 But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment. 37 For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

APPOINTMENTS

I discovered today the benefits of one very important tool in Bible Study. Set an appointment and keep it. If possible, don’t let anything take priority over this precious time with the Lord.

A few days ago I was thinking I needed to set an appointment to use the Bible study methods I have been studying on the “Jonah Project”. I had not spent quality time on either project for a couple of weeks and time is getting short. The fall small group semester will start before I’m ready!

As I was thinking of the time to set aside Saturday morning for God and Jonah, my heart hears “7:00 am.” I thought, “okay, that might work I can get up at my normal time like the other days of the week, drink my coffee, read my daily Bible plan from the One Year Bible, and then run a couple of miles before it gets too hot.” I would be back and ready to sit down and enjoy my time  with God and Jonah  before it was time to mow the yard. Good Saturday plan……. wrong!

Saturday is the only day of the week that I do not set my alarm. Sunday through Friday my alarm goes off just before 4:00 a.m.  However, due to a lifetime of being an early riser, I am usually awake early on Saturdays as well, even without an alarm.  But, oh, not today. I wake up at 6:30 a.m. with only enough time for a cup of coffee and the reading plan before it’s “appointment time”. I seriously thought of pushing it back in order to get a run in before the temperature soared.

Thank goodness for sound teaching from people like Pastor Robert Morris in his book Frequency. You make time for what is important. I knew this time with God should take priority. I wanted it to take priority, so I skipped the run and started reading Jonah, again.

I have read Jonah so many times, I’ve lost count, but I knew I needed to use the methods I have learned in order to teach it to others since Jonah is the Book we will use to practice our newly learned skills.  I needed “living proof” that good solid methods change how we read, study, see, and hear God’s Word. By keeping the appointment today and making it a priority over the busy-ness I had scheduled for the morning, I found that God honors the time we set for Him. God showed up for the appointment and He brought Jonah with Him. I discovered some beautiful truth that I had missed in all the other times I have spent reading the Book of Jonah.

We set aside time for things and people that are important to us. We make appointments to go to the doctor and dentist. We make appointments for car and home repair. We make time for necessities such as work and for mundane tasks such going to the store. We set aside time for family and friends and whether we are single or married, we set aside time for dates and gatherings.

There is another appointment that we should make and one that we should never be late to keep. It should be the most important one in our life and it should take priority in our schedules. What is that appointment? It is an appointment with God. Setting an appointment does not make our time so precious that we need to “assign” time to Him. Setting an appointment with God actually honors Him. It shows Him that He is so important to our daily life, that we value our time with Him.

God even sets appointments. He has appointed times for all things. He gave us time and he knows how precious it is on this earth. In Exodus 19:10-11 God set aside time to speak to the people. He gave them time to prepare. God shows up to a prepared people! He speaks to those to who spend time with Him.

Set aside an appointed time with God every day. Bible study doesn’t have to be daily, but time with God, in His Word and in prayer and worship, should be a priority every day. I promise you, He won’t disappoint.

Exodus 19:10-11 (NIV)

10 And the Lord said to Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow. Have them wash their clothes 11 and be ready by the third day, because on that day the Lord will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people.”

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8  (NIV)

A Time for Everything

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:

    a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
    a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

 

Journaling is a Tool

Journaling is one of the cheapest and most effective Bible study tools available. Thoughts just seem to untangle themselves as they travel from the brain, through your heart and out the tip of your fingers.

Bible study requires you to write down what you have observed in the Scripture. It requires you to put on paper your thoughts about what you just read. You can read the Bible without writing, but you can’t study it. If you haven’t written anything down, you really haven’t thought about it.

You might even be surprised after you read what you have written. You will see insights that the Holy Spirit has given you as you think about the verse or passage you have been studying. There may be times when all you write is “I don’t get it”. That is good, too. When that happens, write it down and ask God to give you insight. It might not happen right then, but it will as you continue studying. It might be another verse or another passage, a sermon or a song that causes that “ah ha” moment . God speaks to our hearts, but sometimes we can only hear Him when we write it down.

Journaling isn’t just for Bible study time. I believe everyone should have a personal journal. Unless I’m doing an in-depth study on a particular subject, my personal journal and daily devotional journal are one and the same. One entry may be about the Scripture I read that morning, another one may be about my thoughts on the events of the day, while yet another entry may be a prayer that is on my heart.

God gives us thoughts and insights throughout the day. We should stop and write them down, lest we forget. I don’t mean that you need to carry a journal around with you all day (however, a journal app is very convenient!). I have written down insights on the backs of receipts, post-it notes, important documents (oops), you name it. I have even used the microphone app on my phone when something comes to mind while I’m driving! Sometimes, I just keep as-is, sometimes I transfer them to my journal at a later time.

A journal tracks our emotional, spiritual, and relationship growth.  It reveals our pain and our healing. It encourages us keep fighting for that prize.

So, if you will allow me, I will reveal to you a portion of a very personal side of journaling. In doing so, I hope you see why I believe in this process so much.

Last week, the benefits of journaling became very evident as I skimmed through my journals in preparation for the “Treasure” post. I knew I had written down the words that God placed in my heart about “searching for the treasure”, so I began thumbing through the pages. The timing for this couldn’t have been more perfect. I had been a little discouraged over certain aspects of my life, over changes that hadn’t yet occurred, prayers that seemed to remain unanswered and so on. In reality, I was just down right feeling sorry for myself.

But God, in His wondrous and often not so ordinary way, lifted my spirits through my own words. I saw insights that He has given me and I saw prayers that had been answered. I saw change.

Some of my first entries are actually  quite embarrassing.  They were written by a very emotionally and spiritually broken woman. I saw in these pages a woman desperately seeking love and confirmation.  I saw a woman crying out to her God, a woman turning to the only One who could give her the love and confirmation she so desperately needed.  I wanted to rip the pages from their binding and burn them so that no one would ever see them. But, I couldn’t. They are my testimony of a faithful God who heals the brokenhearted.

As I continued to read, I saw a woman beginning to change. Instead of heartache and, well, whining, I saw a woman reading her Bible, writing down Scripture, applying Scripture. I saw a woman falling in love and conversing with her God on paper. I saw hope for the future and a reassurance from God that everything is a process and that everything happens on His time schedule.

I praise God for all of it!  I am so thankful that I am not the woman I used to be and I know I have a long way to go before I am the one I am meant to be. But, with the evidence of a journal before me, I know God is faithful and I know He will guide me as long as I keep my eyes on the prize.

 “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:14

TREASURE

As I was researching Bible Study methods for TOOLS for a LIFETIME, something absolutely wonderful and amazing happened.

In 2011, I found myself on a journey towards the biggest challenge to change that I had ever faced. Well, I take that back. I had faced this challenge before and failed, miserably. However, this time, I realized I would succeed only if I allowed  God to direct my path. So,  I began to read the Bible more and attend women’s Bible study. The study on Esther, by Beth Moore literally lit a match and started a burning desire for the Word of God in my heart. I wanted to study it and know it like she did!

It was frustrating. I didn’t know where to begin or even how to start.  So I hunted and hunted for every book I could find on how to study the Bible (still do! ) And I prayed. One day, as I prayed, I heard the Lord say in my heart “Search for the treasure.” Not knowing exactly what He meant other than knowing that I would search for the treasures in His Word, I decided to read the Bible from cover to cover. I started in January 2012 with the NIV One Year Chronological Bible. I highlighted and marked every Scripture I came across concerning any kind of treasure. I found beautiful Scriptures that gave me strength and courage and in September of that year I wrote in my journal:

“I believe the treasures are the hidden things that He will reveal to me as I read, study, and meditate on His word”.

Treasure, is a word to which I still pay close attention, but for the most part, the search had faded after I finished reading the Bible that year. But the desire to study and learn still burned and I knew God would reveal the hidden things to me as I continued in the pursuit of Him.

Then it happened. God, in His own wonderful and beautiful timing revealed the “treasure”. He knew that I needed to be in a certain place in my life, pursuing the dream he placed in my heart,  before I could understand His words to me in 2011.  I read the following paragraph by Howard and William Hendricks in LIVING BY THE BOOK.

“The Bible does not yield its fruit to the lazy. Proverbs 2:4 gives an interesting insight concerning the richness of God’s Word. It admonishes us to “seek (wisdom) as silver, and search for her hidden treasures.” In other words, biblical wisdom is like precious ore. It’s not found lying around on the surface, but at a deeper level.”

In the very moment that I read this  paragraph, I believe my chin hit my chest as my jaw dropped and my heart leaped. I had misunderstood all this time and thought I was looking for the word “treasure” in order for God to reveal the deep and hidden things (Daniel 2:22) he wanted me to see. What God revealed to me  is that personal Bible Study is a treasure hunt! I will find treasures more precious than the diamonds in South Africa or the oil in the Middle East, but I’m not going to find them on the surface. I have to dig.

I find it ironic that I actually had the revelation in 2012 when I wrote in my  journal. It just took a little more digging before I could see that the treasue God has for me is joy of the  treasure hunt, the joy of Bible study and the precious gems in  His Word.

 

TOOLS for a LIFETIME: SLOW DOWN

My favorite form of exercise is running. However, due to some bad habits concerning diet and exercise that managed to creep into my lifestyle in the last couple of years, I’m out of condition. I am running again, just not as frequent or as enthusiastic as before.  My current long distance run doesn’t even measure up to my previous short runs.  Not to mention speed… the turtle wins every time!  It seems the more I want to run and the harder I try, the worse the results. It’s frustrating, it’s exhausting and I wonder if it’s time to give up this once favorite form of exercise.

Last weekend, during another attempt to run longer and faster and lacking any great success, it felt as if the Lord whispered something in my ear… “Running when you are trying to get back in shape is like Bible study when you don’t know how or are out of practice.” What?  Then it dawned on me…..

SLOW DOWN

To build back up, I can’ try harder and faster…. It is methodical, it’s planned, it’s slow and steady with intervals of short sprints. It’s running at the right time with the right warm-up and preparation. It’s as much mental as it is physical. Then, as I obtain strength, speed and endurance are natural by-products.

JUST LIKE BIBLE STUDY

Many of us long to spend more time in the Bible. We want to know what it says and we want to understand it, so we plow ahead fast and furious and end up frustrated, exhausted and wondering if we should just give up.

Effective Bible study is approached the same way as training to run or for any other activity in which we wish to excel. It is methodical, it’s planned, it’s slow and steady with intervals of short sprints. Then, as God begins to open our hearts, eyes, and ears, as we meditate on his Word, we gain the endurance that comes with the knowledge and wisdom God has placed within our reach.

If we read the Bible at all, we often read our daily devotional or current reading plan just to be able to place that check-mark on our to-do list for the day. What happens when we do the dreadful thing and get behind? Well, of course, we read several days’ assignments all at once to catch up! It’s our duty after all to read the Bible in order to be spiritual, right? I know I’m alone here… am I?

What do we actually accomplish with this style of Bible reading because it sure doesn’t classify as “study”? Sure, God blesses us anyway when a Scripture stands out and meets our need at just the right time. He is faithful like that! But, at the end of the day, were we able to put what we read into action? Did the Lord reveal something to us as we read? Did it touch our heart or lead us to repentance? Did we leap for joy at the promises? Did we see an amazing attribute of our God? But most importantly, did we get a little closer to Him today?

Bible study is not a race. It’s not about how fast we can read or how often. Although reading the Bible through every year is great life plan, it’s not even about that. It’s not about how much we get out of the Bible, it’s how much of the Bible gets IN us. It’s not even about information or knowledge for the sake of knowledge.  It’s about transformation.  The Bible will teach us to live prosperous and successful lives, it equps us for all good work. It teaches us righteousness and above all, it brings us into an intimate relationship with the Author!

In summary, the TOOLS for a LIFETIME tip for today: Slow down.

Read smaller portions. It can even be one or two verses that you want to etch on your heart.  Mediate on them (think about them). Take your time until you know them in your heart. It may take a week or more of reading the same passage over and over again. Remember, it’s not a race. Turn them into a prayer. Turn them into praise! If it’s a passage of history, ask God how it applies to you today. Ask Him to show you the timeless truth.  Don’t read just to read. Read to be transformed.

Joshua 1:8 (NIV)

 Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NIV)

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Romans 12:2 (NIV)

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

 

 

 

TOOLS FOR A LIFETIME

Father, create in me a pure heart and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Search me, O God and  know my heart. Test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. (Psalm 51;10, 139:23-24)

I begin this post today  with this  prayer from Psalms . Why? Because, honestly, I’m a little scared. God has placed a wonderful desire in my heart to learn to study His Word. But, the desire is not just for me to hold on to for myself; it’s a  desire to share and teach others what I have learned.

Disobedience to His call will kill the desire, pride will kill the desire, procrastination will kill the desire, doubt, sin, unfaithfullness and many more things will also kill the desire….all of which I am guilty.

God placed A Heart Him on my heart a few years ago as a tool to share the things that I have learned with others. I have not been faithful to the call.  I pray to change that with this wonderful second chance (or is it the third, fourth or hundreth chance?) I may not have been faithful to the call but God is always faithful!

Tools for Lifetime  are tips and methods that I have learned over the last few years from well known teachers. Each teacher has a style and method all their own, but I have discovered that they flow together beautifully. Each method I learn builds on or enhances the understanding of the one before, until BOOM, it makes sense and, above all….it WORKS. Scripture has opened up like never before. It’s mind blowing! It’s exciting! (see the SLOW DOWN post coming soon!)

Tools for a Liftime will be a small group at my church. However, I pray that those of you who read the posts will know that, from the bottom of my heart, the posts are not intended to be an “advertisment” for that group . My desire is that somehow, through these tips that are posted, God will stir a hunger in hearts and begin to open doors for people who want to read his Word and understand what it says.

Ask and you will receive, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you.

I love you all and may God give us hearts that are open, eyes that see, and ears that hear.

Sherri

 

 

 

 

It’s NOT about me!

I recently read the book, IF, by Mark Batterson. In the book he asks “If money was not an issue and you knew you could not fail, what you be doing?” My immediate response was I would spend hours and hours in His Word, studying and sharing what I learn. The author then prompts this response “What if I started living it, even if?

So today, while doing my Bible Study homework for the Armor of God Bible Study by Priscilla Shirer, I read her reference to Ezekiel 36:24-32. I know that we are not to read things into the Bible that aren’t meant to be, such as, in this passage Ezekiel is talking about the restoration of Israel and not to me personally. However, the Bible is timeless. It is also how God speaks to you and me.

The amazing thing about this whole process is being obedient to what God has placed in my heart. To do that I need to……WRITE IT DOWN. So, I wrote out the passage in the margin of my study guide. As I wrote it out the Holy Spirit gave me the following  revelations about how this passage applies to me!

v24) God rescued me from a life of sin, hurt, anguish fear and strife. He brought me to a place to call my own.

v25) He saved me, washed away my sins and changed my focus to worship Him alone.

v26) He changed my heart (work in progress) by showing me His love. He changed the inner me and broke down the wall I had around my heart of stone. He is giving me the heart of Jesus, one day at a time.

v27) He gave me the Holy Spirit to guide me in His ways and on His path.

v28) I will live in the places he gives me. He is my God and I am His daughter!

v29) He will save me (forgive me) when I confess my sin. He provides for me in abundance even when things look bad all around me.

v30) He will increase the fruit of the Spirit. I will have an increase of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

v31) I will remember my old self and know that I have sinned. I will remember my sin to use as my testimony of the results of a life going down my own path instead of His path.

v32) God changed me, saved me, rescued me, and blesses me in great abundance in ways above any I can think or imagine……But I must realize…..IT’S NOT ABOUT ME!

It’s about HIM, about HIS work in me for the benefit of others so that they can have it too!

Praise the LORD. He blesses my heart of stone every day! I can feel the mortar cracking 🙂

Ezekiel 36:24-32 (NIV)

24 “‘For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land. 25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. 28 Then you will live in the land I gave your ancestors; you will be my people, and I will be your God. 29 I will save you from all your uncleanness. I will call for the grain and make it plentiful and will not bring famine upon you. 30 I will increase the fruit of the trees and the crops of the field, so that you will no longer suffer disgrace among the nations because of famine. 31 Then you will remember your evil ways and wicked deeds, and you will loathe yourselves for your sins and detestable practices. 32 I want you to know that I am not doing this for your sake, declares the Sovereign Lord. Be ashamed and disgraced for your conduct, people of Israel!

THE NAMES OF GOD: El Shaddai

When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty; walk before me faithfully and be blameless. 2 Then I will make my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers.
Genesis 17:1-2

El Shaddai (EL shad-DAI) translates in the English as God Almighty or All Sufficient One. God first reveals Himself as God Almighty to Abram in Genesis 17. Here is where God first began to set apart a people for Himself, a people to be uniquely His and to be His representatives on earth. He tells Abram that He is God Almighty; not only is He the all-powerful God who is Creator, He is the All-Sufficient One.

As we learned in the lesson on Elohim, El is an ancient word used for divinity. All the definitions for El are related in contextual meaning: “strong, leader, power, might”. But, the fascinating thing about Shaddai (also spelled Shadday) is that a firm single definition is a little more difficult to establish. At first, I was confused by all the variations but, as different meanings to the word began to surface and the more I reviewed the Scriptures related to “God Almighty”, the more overwhelmed I became about the true and complex meaning of the Name that God uses for Himself.

Stay with me for little bit in the next couple of paragraphs as we review all of the meanings tied to the word Shaddai and I’m sure that you will begin to see an amazing and awesome God for yourself.

The reason that the word Shaddai is hard to define is because Bible scholars are unsure of the actual root word that was used in original ancient Hebrew text. The Greek authors of the Septuagint and the fourth century Latin authors of the Vulgate, translated the word El Shaddai as pantokrator and omnipotens (Almighty, Omnipotent).

First, let’s review a couple of English meanings for Shaddai.

Almighty: having unlimited power or influence; extreme. Synonyms: supreme, sovereign, all-powerful.
Sufficient: adequate for the purpose; enough

Now, let’s look at some of the actual translations of different Hebrew root word meanings that are also used to define Shaddai.
• (sdh; sadu): mountain
• (saday; sadeh): cultivated field, open field, pasture
• (shad): a woman’s breasts; to pour out, nourish
• (shadad): to deal with violently, to destroy
• (day):meaning, enou gh, sufficient. Other forms of day mean: what suffices, for need of; abundance

Do you see where I became confused? At first I thought, “This word is too much. It’s too hard to pin down.” Then I just laughed to myself as all of the meanings began to mingle and I saw that the word is not “too much” but the word overflows with SO MUCH!

One scholar noted that although El Shaddai describes power, it is not just intended to be a power related to violence or strength alone, but it is power of “all-bountifulness”. Shaddai is the Pourer forth of blessings, both temporal and spiritual.

If anyone needed to believe that God Is Who He Says He Is, as God revealed himself, it was Abram. In this passage, God tells Abram that He is El Shaddai (God Almighty) and if you believe in Me and do as I command, I will provide for you. I will make an everlasting covenant with you and I will make you fruitful and many nations and kings will come from you. I will provide for you and care for you. You will be my people. Abram was 99 years old and God promised him heirs with his 89 year old wife! Abram, now called Abraham, had to believe in El Shaddai!

My personal meaning of El Shaddai: God Almighty, the All-Powerful and Sovereign God who created all things, who is The God that nourishes like a mother gives milk to her babe the God who gives me strength and destroys my enemies, The God who is a Mighty Mountain and protects me, The God who provides in abundance all that I need. El Shaddai, The God whose grace is sufficient and The God who pours out His Life Blood for me.

 

Read the following passage and list all the different names for God that you see. Also, note any reference to some of the definitions we reviewed above:

“Joseph is a fruitful vine,
a fruitful vine near a spring,
whose branches climb over a wall.[a]
23 With bitterness archers attacked him;
they shot at him with hostility.
24 But his bow remained steady,
his strong arms stayed[b] limber,
because of the hand of the Mighty One of Jacob,
because of the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel,
25 because of your father’s God, who helps you,
because of the Almighty,[c] who blesses you
with blessings of the skies above,
blessings of the deep springs below,
blessings of the breast and womb.
26 Your father’s blessings are greater
than the blessings of the ancient mountains,
than[d] the bounty of the age-old hills.
Let all these rest on the head of Joseph,
on the brow of the prince among[e] his brothers.
GENESIS 49:22-26

God Almighty study verses:
1) Who first used God Almighty as a name for God? (Genesis 17:1)
2) What did Abram do when God revealed His name? (Genesis 17:3)`
3) To whom does power belong? (Psalm 62:11)
4) Who has the power to bless and curse? (Genesis 12:2-3; 22:17) (2 Corinthians 9:8)
5) How does God bless? (2 Corinthians 9:8)
6) Complete the following Scriptures:
(Job 5:17) ___________________Is the one whom God corrects; so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty.
(Psalm 84:12) LORD Almighty, _________________ is the one who trusts in you.
7) How does God surround us?(Psalm 125:2)
8) Those who trust in the Lord are like what (Psalm 125:1)
9) Where does God have us lie when we need rest (Psalm 23:2)
10) What are two things that God Almighty is able to do? (Psalm 80:19)
11) What is God called in Zephaniah 3:17?
12) Although El Shaddai means might, power, and destroyer, does He do wrong or evil? (Job 34:10, 12)
13) How will the LORD Almighty be exalted? (Isaiah 5:16)
14) Can anyone stop God from His plans? (Isaiah 14:24, 27)
15) Is God Almighty revealed in Scripture as a Destroyer? (Jerimiah 51:56, 29:17)
16) Does God Almighty restore? (Jerimiah 33:11-12)
17) Who is our Redeemer? (Isaiah 47:4)
18) What else besides bread shall man live on? (Matthew 4:4)
19) What are three things that Paul says were poured out upon him in abundance? (I Timothy 1:14)
20) Write out 2 Corinthians 12:9

Now that you see some of the different ways that God Almighty is revealed in Scripture, please take a few moments and offer a praise offering to God by outlining your own definition of El Shaddai.

ANSWERS (From the New International Version)
1) God Himself
2) He fell facedown
3) To God
4) God
5) Abundantly
6) Blessed, blessed
7) Like the mountains of Jerusalem
8) They are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever
9) In green pastures
10) 1) Restore us 2) save us
11) The Mighty Warrior (NIV)
12) No, it is unthinkable
13) By His justice and He will be proved by His righteousness
14) No
15) Yes
16) Yes
17) The LORD Almighty (NIV)
18) Every word that comes from the mouth of God
19) 1) The grace of our Lord 2) faith 3) love
20) But he said to me “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness”. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weakness, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

THE NAMES OF GOD: EL ROI

El Roi (El-Raw-ee) is the name given to God by Hagar, the Egyptian maidservant (personal hand maiden) of Sarai, when she flees Abram’s camp after being mistreated by her mistress, Sarai. This is the only time the name El Roi is used in the Bible. However, through this story and various other Scriptures, we will discover the loving, compassionate, omnipotent El Roi, The God Who Sees.

In Genesis 16, we come across an Egyptian slave, who by no choice of her own, is “used” by Sarai, the wife of Abram. It was a common custom in that period of time for a maidservant to bear a child that would be given to a barren mistress as her own. The maidservant typically had no choice in the matter. Today, we have a hard time understanding why a wife would offer another woman to her husband to provide an heir; but in ancient rabbinic times, a man could “put away” (divorce) his wife or marry other wives if she didn’t provide children after ten years. Sarai may have been fearful for her status. For whatever reason Sarai made this decision, it turned out badly because after conceiving a child fathered by Sarai’s husband Abram, Hagar began to flaunt her pregnancy in front of the barren Sarai (despise, lowered in esteem). There was now a tug of war in the household.

Because Hagar despised her, Sarai wanted to blame Abram. After being confronted with the situation, he told Sarai to do to Hagar “whatever you think best” (v.6 NIV). Abram told Sarai to do what was right; instead, Sarai mistreated Hagar. The treatment must have been severe, because in desperation, Hagar fled.

Next, we find Hagar by a spring in the desert. She was probably tired, thirsty, hungry and distraught. Oh, yeah, she was also pregnant! She had no husband, no family and nowhere to go. She was a runaway slave.

 “Now the Angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, by the spring on the way to Shur.” (Genesis 16:7 NKJV)

The New King James Version capitalizes Angel. Some scholars believe that the Angel who visited Sarai was the pre-incarnate Jesus (before He became flesh.) The Hebrew word used for “found” in this text means “finding: to find someone or something that is lost or misplaced”. I’m sure Hagar felt very lost and very misplaced. Have you ever felt this way? Lost? Misplaced? Mistreated?

In v. 8, we see a type of Hebrew parallelism (chiasmus) that shows the compassion of the God Who Sees. In this verse he knows her by name and he knows her history (to whom this slave girl belongs) and yet in the same verse he asks her where she has been and where she is going! God already knew yet He asked the questions anyway. Don’t you wonder what the full conversation might have been? This distraught young woman pouring out her heart of despair to God. The Angel of the Lord brought two things to light in this conversation, Hagar’s social position and the future of her son. I believe our conversations with God work the same way. As we pour out our hearts to Him we open up enough to see our situation clearly. I know many times I have said, “Help Lord, I don’t know how I got to this place and I don’t know what to do!” He wants us to trust him and open up to him. God will not force himself on us, and yet he desires a relationship with us. Although He knows everything about us, he prompts, he encourages, and he draws out the parts of us that hurt so that he can replace them with promises of Himself.

As Hagar pours out her desperation and sees the reality of her life, The Angel of the Lord tells her to humble herself by returning to the household and facing the oppressive life a slave must endure. He doesn’t promise that her situation will change, but he does promise her a grand future! He gave her the blessing of descendants too numerous to count and ensures her future provision. She saw God, she believed Him and she went home. But first, she gave Him a name.

13 She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.” 14 That is why the well was called Beer Lahai Roi; it is still there, between Kadesh and Bered. Genesis 16:13-14 (NIV)

A few interesting things about a couple of names mentioned in this chapter of Genesis. Hagar’s name in Hebrew means “flight” and the spring where God found Hagar was on the road to Shur, which means “wall”. Have you ever felt like Hagar…with your back against the wall and all you wanted to do was flee?

So, Hagar returns and bears a son and names him Ishmael. She remained in camp until just after the birth of Isaac, the son God gave to Abraham (Abram) and Sarah (Sarai) in their old age. However, it appears Ishmael may have learned some bad habits from good ol’ mom. After Sarah witnessed Ishmael mocking Isaac, Sarah insisted that Hagar and Ishmael be sent away for good.

In Genesis 21:14 we once again find Hagar in the desert. And once again God comes to her rescue. We see the fulfillment of the promises that He made to her in verses 20-21. Ishmael’s descendants are innumerable and as God promised in Genesis 16:12, Ishmael still fights with his brother (Islam vs Jews).

1 I lift up my eyes to the mountains—  where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip— he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord watches over you— the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all harm— he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.

Psalm 121 (NIV)

  Read the full story of Hagar in Genesis 16 and Genesis 21:8-21.

The God Who Sees study verses:

  1. Why did Hagar give God the name El Roi? (Genesis 16:13)
  2. How well does God know us? (Luke 12:7)
  3. Complete this verse: Deuteronomy 12:28 (NIV)
  4. Be careful to obey all these regulations I am giving you, so that it may always go well with you and your children after you, because you will be doing what is good and right ___________________________________.
  5. Where are the eyes of the LORD? (Proverbs 15:3)
  6. What is he watching? (Proverbs 15:3)
  7. What three things did God do for Jacob when He found him in the dessert? (Deuteronomy 32:10)
  8. What will God do for us with His eyes upon us? (Psalm 32:8)
  9. What are some other things that God watches over? (Deuteronomy 11:12) (Jeremiah 1:12)
  10. What is something that might keep us out of trouble if we asked God to watch over it? (Psalm 141:3)
  11. How would that benefit us?
  12. How long will God watch over us? (Psalm 121:8)
  13. Why does God search the earth? (2 Chronicles 16:9)
  14. Can we hide from God? (Job 34:21-22) (Hebrews 4:13)
  15. Does God only see those things we do in the open? (Matthew 6:3-4)

Read Psalm 33:13-22 and journal you thoughts about The God Who Sees.

Answers:

  1. Because she had seen the “God Who Sees Me”
  2. He even knows the number of hairs on our head
  3. We wake because the Lord sustains us (he watches us as we sleep)
  4. In the eyes of the LORD your God
  5. Everywhere
  6. The wicked and the good
  7. 1) shielded him 2) cared for him 3) guarded him
  8. Instruct us, teach us in the way we should go, and counsel us with his loving eye on us.
  9. The land, His Word
  10. My mouth, my lips
  11. (your words here)
  12. Forevermore
  13. To strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.
  14. No
  15. He also sees what is done in secret