Week 8: My Shepherd

Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. –Psalm 23:6

Week 8 featured three more names of God, and each was a Jehovah name that I was not as familiar with in one way or another.

  • Jehovah-Sabaoth, the Lord of hosts, the One in whom we can find deliverance when we come to the end of ourselves.
  • Jehovah-Raah, the Lord my Shepherd, the One whose care we need due to our helpless, timid, feeble ways
  • Jehovah-Tsidkenu, the Lord our righteousness, the One who can give us a new heart and make us right with God

I have had sheep on the brain a lot this year as I learned about praying the psalms through Psalm 23 earlier this year, and as I recently started the Illustrated Faith Yes and Amen kit, written by a lovely woman of God who loves sheep. So of the sections of this week’s reading, I was drawn to the Lord as my Shepherd once again.
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In reflecting on the passages Kay provided from John 10 (v. 1-17, 26-33), I was reminded how much I am indeed a sheep. I definitely do stupid things. I can be fearful, timid, and in need of constant attention and protection. I know I need to follow God’s voice alone, but I don’t always do it. And when I don’t, I get myself into trouble.

But I was so encouraged by these readings to remember that the Good Shepherd loves me and cares for me. My job is simply to believe and follow. I will lack for nothing in His care. He meets the needs of His sheep and keeps us from hunger, from worry, from tension with others, and even keeps pests (pesky thoughts) from taking root in our heart and mind and attempting to destroy us.

He is so good.

I am wrapping up the study as I write this. The final Week 9 focuses on the Lord is there. It is a good way to finish in these troubling times we live in.

How have you seen the Lord’s care this week? Are you leaning in to follow His voice? I pray so.

Week 7: Victory, Holiness, Peace

And Moses built an altar and called the name of it, The LORD Is My Banner. –Exodus 17:15

If I could redesign this reading plan, I would have focused on just Chapter 11 (Days 29-31) for this week. Perhaps it was because this followed a challenging sermon at church on Israel’s defeat at Ai in Joshua, and I am getting deeper into the Armor of God study, that I was so aware of the battle we are in. I needed this word. I needed to be reminded of both defeat and victory.

To back up for a moment, before I get to Kay, our last week’s sermon walked us through Joshua 6 and 7. We were reminded that God owns everything and that our faith step is stewardship. When we attempt to hold things back from God (which is not bright because He knows everything) and enter into secret sins, we demonstrate that we don’t trust Him to take care of us. And we ignore that our sins have consequences.  As our pastor said, “when we take legitimate things and use them in an illegitimate way, we are walking in unbelief.”

What a humbling message. And it went further. Although Joshua and the people had achieved great victory at Jericho, they were defeated by the little town of Ai because of Achan’s sin in the camp. As the message said, “without God’s presence, any little thing can defeat us.” Talk about a punch to the gut. How many times do I get discouraged and defeated by the little things? Too often. Why do I walk away from God thinking, this is not big God, I can handle it by myself?? WRONG.

The message didn’t end on a downer. We were encouraged to remember to get on our face before God and humbly seek Him. To confess and make restitution. To receive God’s forgiveness and grace. Thank the Lord for the blood of Christ and grace!

Coming into this week of study, I asked the Lord to examine my heart and get the gunk out. Boy, did He. Not a pleasant process. But it was needed. This week of the study highlighted that one of our first enemies as Christians is our flesh. This flesh is no good (Romans 7:18). As Kay writes, it is our first and constant enemy (p. 107). Therefore we have to be on constant alert. “The flesh must constantly be put to death. It can’t be tolerated, catered to, or spared in any way. If it is, it will devastate you” (p. 108). If we try to fight this battle alone, we will lose.

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But GOD. We are thankfully not alone in this fight. The little things that wanted to knock me out this week didn’t. Not because I am special or particularly brave–in fact I can be quite slow to get in the fight. But because our God is mighty. Because after I see my weakness and rely on Him, I find rescue. I love when Kay writes, “It is the Lord’s battle; victory depends on His rod being lifted up….But you, O valiant warrior, are to put on the full armor of God and get on the battlefront. Under His banner, victory is always assured” (p. 112).

Praise be to God that He has the ultimate victory. I am clinging to my Jehovah-Nissi this week. I am trusting in Him.

Where have you been in the Word, in the study this week? Who is God showing Himself to be in your life? I hope you will trust Him. He is strong and mighty!

I can’t believe this is almost at the end. This week takes on three more chapters:

Week 8 (July 25-31) The Lord of Hosts
The Lord My Shepherd
The Lord Our Righteousness
Day 34
Days 35-36
Days 37-38

I hope you have had a chance to peek in the study and have been encouraged by knowing more about our great God!

Week 5: God Heals

Our wounds are great. As sin ravaged Christ’s body at Calvary, so it has ravaged men, women, and children throughout the ages. –Kay Arthur, Lord, I Want to Know You (p. 71)

I started this week with news of 100s being killed in Baghdad. Many children in that number. I continued the week bearing the sorrow of  Black men being slayed at point blank range by police officers. As I prayed, unplugged, loved, prayed more, carried on, I was grieved by the death of police officers just one state over at the hands of an evil man. I grieved the precedent set by his death without a trial as well. And every day it seems there is evidence of more wounds. Unarmed Latino men, White men, killed by police without trial. Racist words spewed all over the internet. Police officers and their families dealing with threats and abuse.

Over and over I have found myself praying Kay’s words.

Our wounds are great.

Our wounds are great.

Our wounds are great.

But you O God–you can heal even this.

There could not have been a more important week for me to read about Jehovah-Rapha, our healer. The Lord who heals is a powerful physician. This week was thick with verses to show that God is ready and able to heal all things. All things.

imageThis has been a throw your hands up week for many people. A drop to your knees week for many people. Look up my friends, look to our healing God. Every passage in this chapter was a reminder that God can heal all things: physical ailments, terminal illnesses, our sin sick hearts, our emotionally wounded lives, our distracted and wayward minds
—>EVERYTHING. He is able to restore and heal beyond what we can imagine. He calls us to examine the sin in our lives first, but as the verses demonstrated, not all illness/hurt is connected to your sin, your family sin, or the sin of the world. Sometimes we need to see His healing take place so we can see Him.

There is no question we are in a moment where we need to examine corporately and individually our sins. Our selfishness, our greed, our racism, our rebellion, our hate, etc. But the reassurance is that if we give those things to Him and turn, He can heal.

I probably would recommend you get this study just for this week alone. I have enjoyed every week, but the truth and the challenge here is so good and so timely.

Heal me, O Lord, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for Thou art my praise! Jeremiah 17:14

***

It is hard for me to believe this study is more than halfway complete. This week, Week 6, is just three days; it is designed to be a moment to pause and review. So if you are studying along or want to jump in, this is a nice moment to catch up, review, or sketch out a plan for your work in the book.

Week 6 (July 11-17) Pausing for a Moment Days 26-28

What have you been learning about the character of God this summer? How has knowing His names helped you through this past week of tragedy?

Week 4: God Provides

And my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. –Phil. 4:19

Summer school got the best of me during Week 4. I was able to stay with my plan, but finding extra time to blog did not happen in the midst of final grading. Praise the Lord, that part of my work this summer is done–or so I thought. I was planning on a nice, restful, and creative July, but my Jehovah-Jireh had other plans!

What I learned in Week 4 as we studied the name Jehovah and Jehovah-Jireh, is that I had a limited understanding of this name. I always think of various worship songs when I hear this name of the Lord and equate Jehovah-Jireh with “my provider.” This is true but what I didn’t know was that jireh literally means “to see.” Our Jehovah-Jireh sees ALL of our needs. This week of the study made me so grateful for God’s presence outside of time — imageHe provides because He has already seen our needs. He knew and knows. What we cannot provide for ourselves, He has already provided. I am so grateful that He had already put a plan in for our salvation before we knew that was our greatest need. So grateful that He has already seen to the needs I will have in the months and weeks to come. What a challenge to not worry!

This summer, my husband and I were facing our lowest income summer. As professors, we are only paid 9 months out of the year. We save what we can, but Uncle Sam and Dr. Sam take out a healthy chunk when you get 12 months of pay in 9 months. So we generally supplement
our income with summer teaching to avoid depleting our savings. Well, this summer, my husband’s normal teaching was cut this year, and we were bracing ourselves for the bare minimum. But in more ways than I can list, God already had things lined up for our summer that were not on our radar. I wanted to be “off” this July, but He opened a door for me to work from home! My husband has received several new opportunities that do not involve teaching at all. God also sent a friend to invite me to be a part of the Armor of God study. I had been wanting to do this study for a while but missed the one that I could have done in June. Now I know, I did not miss it–He had a July study waiting for me. I just didn’t know about it. He foresaw the need and made a way.

Are you grateful for your Jehovah-Jireh today who sees to your needs? Doesn’t that just fill your heart with comfort and security?!

More on Week 5 over here!

Week 3: The Lord

I said to the LORD, “Thou art my Lord [Adonai]; I have no good besides Thee.
Psalm 16:2

The God Who Sees.
The All-Sufficient One.
The Lord.

As I worked through these three chapters I was overwhelmed by the goodness of God and also challenged by the obedience and humility knowing Him encourages.

To review, the first portion of Week 3 focused on El Roi, the God who sees. This name, from Genesis 16, reminds us of the omnipresence of God. Even in our most troubling circumstances, He is there. Reviewing Hagar’s story reminded me of times of abuse, loss, and sadness in my life which could have left me in despair or feeling alone in the wilderness. But in each of those moments–by prayer, by friends, by His Word–I was always aware that God was there. Even if He did not respond when or how I had hoped, He was there. Knowing God as my El Roi motivates me to remain obedient in hard times, encourages me to be free from worry, and changes my position to expectation for His plan rather than focusing on my pain.

Meditating on God as El Roi led seamlessly into the next reading on El Shaddai. Of course, as Kay alluded to, I could not even read this name without thinking about the 80’s song and hearing it in my head! Reading more on His name as God Almighty, has catapulted this to the top of my list of favorites. Kay writes: “When I have run to my El Shaddai, I have never come away wanting. He is my all-sufficient One” (36). In His might, He protects me. He takes care of me. In His power, He is able to fill me and meet the needs of my heart as no one else can. For me, El Shaddai is my reminder of how He satisfies. imageOne of my first attempts at Bible journaling this year began after praying through Psalm 90. I have truly found this year in a new way that He will indeed satisfy. El Shaddai.

This week’s readings ended with a challenge from Kay: “Before you can ever really know God as El Shaddai, the all-sufficient One, I believe you must bow before Him as Adonai, your Lord and Master” (41). Through a series of passages, Kay makes the case that commitment to the will of God should be central to being a Christian. This is NOT to say we have to work our way into being in relationship with God, but acknowledging Him as Lord moves us to submit to His plan–to be totally dependent on Him. We are His servants, which means, where He sends, we go. When He speaks, we listen. When we see His greatness and His power, our response is one of thanksgiving and praise. Recognizing He is Lord over all and in charge means that I am not. If I am honest, in my independence, in my pride, in my “I can do it” only-childness, this is not easy. Humble obedience to His lordship requires daily (minute-ly) submission. Daily surrender. From the moment my feet hit the floor, as the dear Amy Bruce writes, my mouth should open to praise Him and ask, “Okay Lord, what do You want to do today? Speak to me Lord, Adonai.

I am still creating my way through this week while beginning Week 4 on Jehovah. So much good stuff here to get down! Here is how Week 4 is shaping up:

Week 4 (June 27-July 3) The Self-Existent One
The Lord Will Provide
Day 15
Days 16-19

Are you reading along? What are you learning? How is God revealing His character to you in the circumstances you are facing?

Week 2: Most High–Sovereign God

I will cry to God Most High, to God who accomplishes all things for me. –Psalm 57:2

One of the major themes that has remained in all my studies this year is that when we trust in the Lord, we find rest. Some of the people I dearly love are in seasons of storms. Some have peace and rest; others are filled with anxiety and fatigue. Trusting in Him is the difference maker.

The main takeaway for me in week 2 is that our God, El Elyon (the Most High), is sovereign.
imageHe rules all things in all of the universe. In this week of the study, Kay provided verse after verse that revealed His sovereignty. I took lots of notes, but these are some of the things I highlighted on my Most High note page:

  • His dominion is everlasting (Daniel 4:34-35).
  • What He plans, stands (Isaiah 14: 24, 27).
  • He is in charge of time (Daniel 2: 20-23, my favorite passage of the week).
  • He controls life and death (Deut. 32:29).
  • He promotes; He demotes (1 Sam. 2:6-10).

I will probably go back and journal all of these truths individually because they spoke to so many places in my life and in the lives of those I love right now. I am in a busier June than usual; it was convicting and comforting to be reminded that He is in charge of time. I do not have to “make up for lost time,” or “find time,” or “manage” time–that is not my dominion. Yes, I can be a good steward of my days here, but I can let go of the pressure that I should be doing more to “make time” in my day. He has given me just what I need; I have to remain in tune with Him to operate in His agenda for my days (and hours and minutes)!

I was grateful for the short number of days in my plan this week. It gave me a few extra days to apply what I learned to other messages I am hearing right now. For example, just last night at church, our pastor continued our series in Joshua with chapter 3, focusing on our faith and obedience to God to cross our Jordan Rivers. As I was listening, I kept hearing the name God Most High. Sometimes we do not cross those obstacles or even stick our foot in the water because we do not truly believe the Most High is in control of ALL things. What a challenge. This week and last night’s message moved me to think about the areas of my life I am holding back in believing.

imageIf you search for God Most High, you will find that many of the uses of this name appear in Psalms. I have been returning to various psalms so much this year; it was no surprise to me as I went through the references to be reminded that Psalm 9:2 is one I have visited and scribbled in several times this year.
Each note indicates an event that was clearly out of my control. Yet, each note also indicates the comfort I found in clinging to Him and remembering He hears my cries.

I also spent some time in my Illustrated Faith His Love Never Fails devotional this week, and as the Most High would have it, the day for me to complete was on trust. The verse for the reading was Psalm 16:8. While the reference to God here is not the Most High, it drilled home for me that imageGod is my Most High God, and that means He is control of it all. All. Once I stand in that truth and truly embrace the Sovereign God is by my side, I will not be shaken.

Week 3 is already off to a wonderful start with one of my favorite names of God, El Roi, the God who sees. I’m already encouraged!!

Three names of God to cover this week means three potential memory verses. Think about making Proverbs 15:3, Genesis 17:1, or Psalm 16:2 your verse to focus on this week. As I shared on IG, I sometimes write verses over and over again to remember them or place them in the weekly page of my planner. Another thing I try to do is bring my verse of the week into conversation with someone. Even if just a text. Try it!

Here’s a quick reminder about this coming week:

Week 3 (June 20-26) The God Who Sees
The All-Sufficient One
The Lord
Day 10-11
Day 12
Days 13-14

Are you in the study? Heads up–Days 13 and 14 might take you a bit more time this week, so plan accordingly.

I have enjoyed hearing your thoughts as you read the posts here and on Instagram. I will continue to pray for you. Send me an update!

Week 1: His Name/Our Creator

One week into this study, and it is already clear to me this is where I am supposed to be right now. In this week’s devotionals (Days 1-5), Kay introduced why it is so important to know God’s names–the expressions of His character and who He is–and led into the study of one of His first names in the Old Testament, Elohim.

For several months now, I have been reminded through various studies that knowing God enables us to trust in Him, to endure through all things, and to combat the lies of the enemy. The empowering nature of resting in God’s name was reinforced this week for me through Daniel 11:32. As Daniel paints a picture of a time when many stumble in their faith and are led astray by leaders, he writes, “but the people who know their God shall stand firm and take action” (ESV). Daniel 11:32 Bible journaling page by Monika of mon_creates on InstagramI also like the NASB translation which says “will display strength and take action.” Increasingly, we are approaching times in which faith in God is challenged and seductive alternatives are offered. Right here in the Word we have the way to remain unshaken and to avoid being misled –to know our God. This really stood out to me in thinking about raising our son in this changing world. It is critical that our children know who God is — not in some vague big guy in the sky way — but according to His Word.

Another favorite topic of this week was a study of Psalm 20. It brought me back to a childhood song and caused me to slow down and think about its meaning. I did a little word study of “boast in chariots” Psalm 20 Bible journal page by Monika of mon_creates on Instagramand found that here it meant: “praise,” or “trust” or “made strong through.” It reminded of how we can fall into the trap of putting our trust in things like cars and homes and even other people to make us feel comfortable and secure. But what is different about people of God is that we are to boast in the name of the Lord our God. In this respect, boasting in His name means to “praise” or “make mention of” who He is, so I wanted to journal this page as a reminder to remember that I am made strong through Him, not things, and that it is my honor to adore, applaud, and admire who He is.

This week’s devotionals closed with our first name of God from Genesis 1, Elohim. This has already become more precious to me this year after really embracing the idea that I am created by my Creator to create (love what Leah hadto say about this idea), so I decided that for each name I encounter in the study, I want to make a page Deut. 10:17a Bible journal page by Monika of mon_creates on Instagramwith that name and jot some notes on it about what I learned. This page may have been a case of experimentation going wrong, but I love it (and wanted to share it as a reminder for those who are new to Bible journaling that this is not about Pinterest perfection but the process of getting in the Word, which Amy talks about more eloquently here) and will continue to think about how I want to remember each name of God in my Bible. The verse I selected for these notes was Deuteronomy 10:17a which tells us that, “For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God….” What reassurance we can have in being led by our great, mighty, and awesome God!

On Monday, I am continuing on with Chapter 3, The God Most High. There are just four days of study in this week so feel free to join in and catch up, or if you are already studying along, get ahead! I will be taking my time through this week. There are a few more scriptures in these readings to meditate on. I hope you will join in!

Date

Topic

Study Days

Week 2 (June 13-19) The God Most High Days 6-9

Did you read along this week? What did you respond to in these opening days of the study? And even if you are not reading this study right now, how does the name of Elohim encourage your heart?