He Is

Awesome

I said, “I beseech You, O Lord God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who preserves the covenant and loving kindness for those who love Him and keep His commandments,”  Nehemiah 1:5 NASB

Exploring the Background

The one praying these words is Nehemiah. He had just heard the plight of God’s people in Jerusalem and he was completely undone.  Have you ever received news that has left you undone and brought to the end of yourself? Nehemiah was desperately seeking God for answers.

Jerusalem was in a terrible state, its wall of protection lay in rubble and its people were destitute and vulnerable.  Nehemiah was beside himself as he wept, fasted, prayed, and waited for the Lord to give him his marching orders.

Nehemiah’s mission would not be an easy one, he was to lead the people in rebuilding Jerusalem’s wall, and it would not be an easy task.  There would be opposition from their outside enemies and even from within their own walls, as they became exhausted from climbing over all of the rubble. Even in our own lives there can be so much rubble lying around that we are constantly stumbling over, we become exhausted and never move forward.

They would have days when that they were filled with fear and anxiety, when they were hungry and tired, yet amazingly, the wall around Jerusalem would be rebuilt in only 52 days.  All of God’s people within the wall, those who were skilled in construction and those who were not, worked in unity to get the job done.  As they were rebuilding the wall, the Lord was rebuilding their lives and their faith in Him.

Unearthing the Verse

I said, I beseech You, Oh Lord God of heaven…

When we are on a mission, we become consumed with the work.  We are busy planning, organizing, and getting anyone and everyone’s opinion.  To beseech in prayer is more than a casual prayer, it is a passionate prayer of seeking God in desperation. Each time Nehemiah came up against an obstacle his first step was to go God in prayer and passionately pray and ask God for direction. I honestly wonder if we have prayed with this kind of desperation, where we have been in a place that if God does not intervene, there is no way through.

Decisions are just plain hard, we can second guess ourselves and worry ourselves sick, ever been there?  Why do we hesitate to ask God for the answers?  He has them all.  He is the God of heaven, He sees all, knows all and is the One who has all the answers.  Do you feel that you can trust him with your decisions, big and small?

 …the great and awesome God…

Our relationship with God becomes so casual we forget how great, how wonderful, and how excellent God is.  His presence and power is so great, that we would not be able to stand upright in it, but rather fall to our knees under the weight of it.

Today the word awesome can mean that something or someone is great, wonderful, inspiring, or even cool. If we look into the Hebrew we will see that the word for awesome is ayom, pronounced (aw-yome), meaning terrible, dreaded or awe inspiring.  When Nehemiah declared that God was awesome, he was truly awe-inspired by God’s greatness, as well as knowing that    God was a terrible and dreadful power over his enemies. Israel’s enemies also had an understanding of God’s power and they were terrified of Him.  When we are looking for true “awesome” the only place to go is to our God.

…who preserves the covenant and loving kindness…

God is great and awesome in so many ways, but the one mentioned here is, He preserves and keeps His covenant with His people.  A covenant is a formal oath or promise, and God had promised Abraham that he would love his descendants. The Israelites have had great ups and downs, yet God’s love for them was unwavering, even when they waivered,  and He was always working toward their restoration.

Because of Jesus we are grafted into this same covenant, one of God’s love and His kindness.  If we could only wrap our minds around His great love for us, how tender His thoughts towards us are, the affection He longs to lavish over us, we would be completely overwhelmed. Even in life’s ups and downs, God is always working for our good, simply because he loves us.

…for those who love Him and keep His commandments.

Here is the contingency clause that walks hand and hand with God’s Oath.  He promises to preserve His covenant of loving kindness to those who choose to love Him and obey His commands.  The choice is ours.

When you have a new baby, you can’t get enough of them, can’t take your eyes off of them.  You lavish them with all of your affection, love and kisses.  It is not until they begin to grow that they can reciprocate that love, finally there are the first smiles, then hugs and kisses back to you and you just eat them up.

As they grow older and begin to mature, you see your children’s love for you demonstrated in different ways, and one of them is in their obedience. They choose to obey the rules you have set before them, because they love you, rather they admit it or not.  It is the same with us and God, we show Him our love in many ways, but the greatest way is to obey His commands.

The greatness of God is that His commands are set out of love and are really for our benefit, even though we may not always see it that way.  The awesomeness of God is that He provided forgiveness, through Jesus, for the times when we struggle and fail to obey them.

He Is

He Is Able

 Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within usEphesians 3:20 NASBline 1

We find this beautiful nugget of truth at the end of Paul’s letter to the believers in Ephesus.

If anyone knows how able God is, it’s Paul.  It took one encounter with Jesus on the Road to Damascus where Paul’s natural eyes became blind, so that his spiritual eyes could see.

Before Paul’s encounter with Jesus, he was Saul, a man who seethed with hatred, who hunted and killed Jews.   The change in Saul was so great, that he received a new name and Saul, meaning “prayed for,” became Paul, which means “small and humble.”   In the end, God completely changed Paul’s heart and he became a passionate follower of Christ.

Paul isn’t sitting in his comfortable home as he writes these words, he writes as he sits in a prison cell, yet he still knows and trusts that God is able.

Unpacking the Verse

Now to Him who is able…

 The Him that Paul is referring to is God the Father, He is the one who Paul declares Is Able.  We will come up against many obstacles in this life; some we are able to tackle and others are far out of our league.  When we’re faced with our own inability is a time that we find God has all the needed skill, knowledge and power to move on our behalf.

To do far more abundantly beyond…

Once we let go of the reigns and let God take control, is where we see just how able He is.  The question is, am I willing to let go?  If I refuse to, chances are I will only ever see with my natural eyes, my spiritual eyes will remain closed and I will miss out on the miraculous.

Since God is a God of fullness and completion, He does not do things half way.  When He takes action in our lives, He does it with great purpose and a final result in mind.  He is a God of abundance, and when He supplies, it is with great quantity that surpasses our need.  When I read this part of the verse all I can think of is Buzz Lightyear’s words, “To infinity and beyond!” Do we trust God enough to believe that He has no limits, that He truly goes to Infinity and Beyond?

all that we can ask or think…

God knows us completely, before we call on Him, and when our prayer is just a thought in our mind, He knows.  Before we dare ask, He knows.  He knows, when we are wrestling in prayer, crying in frustration, begging for someone to be made well, or hoping for a different outcome.  There will be times when no answers come, we see no change for the better, and our hopes are crushed.  Yet we hang on to Him as He pulls us through, trusting that God is at work in ways we may never understand.

God not only hears what we ask, but He knows our thoughts.

Those thoughts that spin around in our minds, the ones that we dare not speak.

We have to ask ourselves, “What is the condition of our thought life?”

Are our thoughts faith-filled or faithless?

 Are they longing for peace and reconciliation or  resentful and full of anger?

Are they awful and hateful, or pure and lovely?

Why are our thoughts so important to God?  I believe that where we let our thoughts wonder, we will wonder, into darkness or into light.  Our thoughts are responsible for controlling our attitude, emotions, our decisions, and actions.

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The truth is there is no fooling God’s Spirit, that is at works in us.  Scripture tells us that He searches our hearts.

And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.  Romans 8:27

according to the power that works within us

That power that works within us is the indwelling Holy Spirit, and that is not something we should take lightly.  The Holy Spirit power that works in us is dynamite, life giving power, so powerful that it can change our thoughts, attitudes and actions.  Holy Spirit knows what we are thinking, what we are dreaming, and the secret hopes of our hearts. He keeps us check, in accord, and in unity, with God.

When we place our inabilities in God’s hands, that is where we will see how able our God is.

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Faith

He Is

I love celebrating New Year! It is time to reflect on the past year and look ahead to the New Year.

As I sit here with my 2018 planner, I can’t help but wonder. What will 2018 hold?

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If I were to take a guess – 2018 will hold joy and heartbreak, hope and disappointment. There will be days I’m annoyed, grouchy and cold. Other days that I will be expectant, filled with peace and warm.

Only God knows what the days ahead hold.

I can rest assured in this – He IS Constant, HE IS Able, HE IS my Joy, HE IS my Peace, He IS Understanding, HE IS Wise, HE Is Faithful and the list will go on and on.

Every year I ask the Lord to give me His theme for my year. Every year He is faithful to give me direction. The words HE IS have been rolling around in my mind ever since.

My heartbeat for 2018 – That I will take my eyes off of myself, off of others and set them fully on Him. That I will purpose to know my God and all that HE IS.

What about you? What is your heartbeat for 2018?