Peace Pearls

Today I am envisioning pearl necklaces. One is a piece of jewelry worn to display outward beauty. The other is a spiritual necklace of scriptures that creates an inner beauty.

Natural pearls are formed when a rough substance, like a parasite or sand granule, finds its way into an oyster or clam. For protection, the mollusk secretes a fluid to coat the irritant. Multiple layers of this coating form a lustrous pearl. The more layers of secretion, the larger the pearl. The pearl is the only jewel that is formed by a living being.

I believe God is transforming us into beautiful spiritual pearls.

Jesus says in John 16:33, “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” The problems and struggles we encounter are the irritants that invade our lives. However, the oil of the Holy Spirit is being secreted upon us and coating us with His presence. John 14:26 NKJV describes the Holy Spirit as our Helper. In Ephesians 5:18, we are told to be filled with the Spirit.

We are being formed into lustrous pearls. I Thessalonians 5:23 says, “May God Himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Today we will take time to allow the Holy Spirit to slather us with layers of peace through specific scriptures.

For God is not a God of disorder but of peace
I Corinthians 14:33

the peace of God, which transcends all understanding,
will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:7

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts
Colossians 3:15

the God of love and peace will be with you.
II Corinthians 13:11

Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace
at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you.
II Thessalonians 3:16

You (God) will keep in perfect peace those whose minds
are steadfast, because they trust in You.
Isaiah 26:3

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace
as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope
by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 15:13

Peace I (Jesus) leave with you; My peace I give you.
John 14:27

The God of peace be with you all. Amen.
Romans 15:33

My Reader, you may currently be experiencing an irritating situation. Remember Philippians 4:6-7. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. May each scriptural promise of peace become a layer of God’s love lavished upon you. Your pain is the Holy Spirit’s opportunity to transform you into an opulent jewel. Ecclesiastes 3:11 promises He makes everything beautiful in its time!

Who Is Olam El?

While studying Genesis 21, I learned about Abraham’s life and his relationship with God. I discovered that Abraham gave God a new Hebrew name. Olam El. In the English language, it is translated Everlasting God. However, Olam El is more inclusive. Translations can sometimes limit our understanding. Let’s make a few observations.

A quick overview. Abraham had been on a 25-year journey with God. Reflecting upon his life, he became aware of God’s faithfulness. Abraham knew there had been times when he had messed up. He had not been faithful. However, God had continued to be faithful. Abraham realized God was bigger than his past and could be trusted with his future. God had promised him a great nation that had not yet become a reality. He had to continue trusting God. He searched for a new name that would describe God’s faithfulness to His promises. He wanted to thank God for what He had done and glorify Him for who He would continue to be.

Genesis 21:22 summarizes Abraham’s life. “God is with you (Abraham) in everything you do.” Past, present and future events. This timeline is important when we think about Olam El.

Verses,22-24 tell of a treaty Abraham made at Beersheba. He now owned a small piece of the Promised Land. He revealed his intentions to stay in the region by planting a tamarisk tree. A tamarisk tree is a slow growing evergreen tree that symbolizes long lasting faithfulness.

While the tamarisk tree was a symbol of Abraham’s physical intentions, it also revealed something about Abraham’s God. Genesis 21:33 NKJV says, “Then Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba, and there called on the name of the LORD, the Everlasting God.” The New International Version uses the phrase, “the Eternal God.” Another translation of Olam El could be “God of all ages and all generations.” Whatever English translation, the Hebrew name is Olam El. Abraham planted a specific tree that symbolized God’s enduring grace, faithfulness and provision. I think Abraham’s choice of names also revealed his own spiritual growth. Trees grow slowly. Faith grows slowly. Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

An evergreen tree – an everlasting God.

Abraham gained a new understanding of God. Abraham gave God a new name.

Now let’s delve a little deeper into the meaning of Olam El.

The Hebrew word “Olam” means eternal. Olam refers to time forwards and backwards. He is the God of all ages. Psalm 102:12 says, “But You, O LORD, shall endure forever, And the remembrance of Your name to all generations.” The Lord God declares in Revelation 1:8, “I am the Alpha and the Omega who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.” I emphasize that eternal refers to time past as well as time future.

“El” is the prefix of Elohim which means “strong Creator.” El is translated as strong, mighty powerful. El can be translated God and can be used in conjunction with other words to describe different aspects of God’s character.

When combining Olam and El, we proclaim God is our eternal strong God. Olam El literally means eternity. It describes His never-ending nature.

Olam El describes God as infinite. Psalm 147:5 NKJV says, “Great is our Lord, and mighty in power; His understanding is infinite.” Psalm 145:3 NLT proclaims, “Great is the LORD! He is most worthy of praise! No one can measure His greatness.

Daniel 7:9 describes God as the Ancient of Days. He rules over our past, present and future. He sees all time simultaneously. He has a unique perspective not available to us. There are some things about God that will always be a mystery. However, we can be confident that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8) Who Is Olam El? Past – present – future. Yesterday – today – forever. For Olam El, there is no start or finish.

We are familiar with Romans 8:28. We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. Abraham needed this perspective while waiting for the fulfillment of God’s covenant. A great nation was to emerge through him. However, he had no offspring. He was 99 and Sarah was 90. Both were beyond the age of conception. We might say that God shared some of His timeless nature with Abraham and Sarah. Isaac was born. God was faithful to His promise.

II Peter 3:8 says, “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.” Hebrews 12:2 encourages, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.”

Isaiah 40:28 says, “Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and His understanding no one can fathom.”

God was Olam El to Abraham. He is our Olam El today. Let’s go back to the first scripture I quoted, Genesis 21:32. God is with you (Abraham) in everything you do. Replace Abraham’s name with your name. God is with you in everything you do! Deuteronomy 31:6 tells us, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.” Psalm 46:1 says, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” God will be faithful to fulfill His promises to you just as He was faithful to Abraham. It is part of His character and nature.

My Reader, where are you on your journey with God? Would you be wise to do some reflecting? God may be bigger and more forgiving than you think. Like Abraham, have you messed up a time or two? I John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

I referred to God’s mysterious nature earlier. As Olam El, God is greater than we can fully comprehend. His ability to forgive is also beyond our understanding. Psalm 103:12 NLT says, “He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.” We can be confident, no matter what our past has involved, our Everlasting God will remove it forever.

Jesus’ last words to His disciples were, “Surely I am with you always.” (Matthew 28:20) Again we can personalize scripture. He is always with us. This is evidenced by the presence of the Holy Spirit. I Corinthians 3:16 asks, “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?

Past. Present. What about our future? We can be confident that He who has begun a good work in us will bring it to completion. (Philippians 1:6) When God starts, He will finish. We must not let anything deny our joy of knowing Olam El. I Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

Olam El! Everlasting God! Faithful. Eternal. Infinite. Abraham created an awesome new name. By proclaiming the name Olam El, Abraham thanked God for what He had done and gave Him glory for who He would continue to be. Let us follow Abraham’s example!

Psalm 48:14 NKJV says, “For this is God, Our God forever and ever; He will be our guide even to death.

Sources:
Meaning of EL OLAM – God’s names (bibliatodo.com)
Bible Study: The Treaty at Beersheba (Genesis 21:22-34) | kdmanestreet
Daily Give Him 15 for 01/27/2022 by Dutch Sheets

Grapes or Grasshoppers?

In Exodus 12:31-50, we have the account of the Israelites escaping from Egyptian slavery. Then, they wandered in the wilderness for 40 years. However, God had a specific destination for them – the land of Canaan. In Numbers 13 we read about the mission and report of the spies who explored this area. Their report is interesting.

Numbers 13:23 says, “When they reached the Valley of Eshkol, they cut off a branch bearing a single cluster of grapes. Two of them carried it on a pole between them, along with some pomegranates and figs.” A single cluster of grapes that had to be carried on a pole! Those must have been some gigantic grapes! Forty days later, the spies returned from their exploration. They shared their experiences while sharing the land’s fruit. They reported in verse 27, “We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit.”

Unfortunately, their report also included some not so positive information. Verse 28 begins, “But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large.” They saw lots of big people living in the land.

Caleb, one of the spies, was not deterred by the powerful people. Verse 30 says, “Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, ‘We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.’”

The other spies, with the exception of Joshua, said in verse 31, “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.” Verses 32-34 continue, “And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored. They said, ‘The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size. We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.’”

These spies made their assessment of the land based upon what they perceived. Caleb made his declaration upon faith and fruit.

How do we make decisions regarding difficult situations? Do we keep our eyes on the grapes or the grasshoppers? Do we see things from a positive or negative viewpoint?

Caleb saw the fruit with faith. The Life Application Bible describes Caleb as not being so much a man of great faith as a man of faith in a great God. His eyes were focused on God’s faithfulness rather than human limitations. The Lord says in Numbers 14:24, “But because My servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows Me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to, and his descendants will inherit it.”

In contrast, ten other spies only saw the physical size and strength of the giant inhabitants. The spies seemed like grasshoppers in their own minds. They allowed their inferior feelings to influence their report. They forgot God’s faithfulness over the past 40 years of wandering.

Today, are we more like Caleb or the other spies? We are confronted with crises around the world and within our nation as well as in our personal lives. What is our perspective? Do we see with supernatural or natural eyes? Do we see what God promises to provide according to His Word or do we see what only our physical eyes see and what we think we can do in our own power? Jesus says in Luke 18:27, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.” Let us follow the example of Caleb. II Corinthians 5:7 NKJV tells us to “walk by faith, not by sight.”

It is tempting to listen to news reports and feel like we are surrounded by powerful giants. However, according to II Timothy 1:7, “God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” I Corinthians 2:16 says, “We have the mind of Christ.”

According to Ephesians 1:17-21, may we keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, give us the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that we may know Him better. May the eyes of our hearts be enlightened in order that we may know the hope to which He has called us, the riches of His glorious inheritance in His holy people, and His incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength He exerted when He raised Christ from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.

Let’s focus upon the grapes – the fruit of faith. We are not grasshoppers.

The Lord is our Lifeguard

Going to the beach and swimming in Lake Ontario is a popular summer activity in upstate New York. While swimming is fun, it can also be dangerous. Lifeguards are stationed at various intervals along the shore watching for swimmers who may need help. The guards have life preservers by their side if they are needed.

Life preservers are devices made of buoyant material that can keep someone afloat in the water. I believe God is our spiritual lifeguard who desires to preserve our lives and keep us afloat during turbulent times. He is our lifesaver.

We just need to call out to Him. David cries out in Psalm 16:1 NKJV, “Preserve me, O God, for in You I put my trust.” The NIV translation says, “Keep me safe.” David also says in Psalm 64:1 NKJV, “Hear my voice, O God, in my meditation; Preserve my life from fear of the enemy.”

We have the promise in II Timothy 4:18 NIV, “The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom. To Him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”

Let us personally hear the Lord speak the words of Isaiah 43:1-2 NIV, “Do not fear; for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.”

No matter how hard we try, there are times we need the Lord’s help. Luke 17:33NKJV says, “Whoever seeks to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.”

We have the promise of Psalm121:7 NKJV, “The LORD shall preserve you from all evil; He shall preserve your soul.” We might like the New International Version of this verse. “The LORD will keep you from all harm— He will watch over your life.”

Preserve is most often used in the King James Versions of the Bible. Other translations may use different words for preserve. Psalm 37:2 NIV says, “You are my hiding place; You shall protect me from trouble; You shall surround me with songs of deliverance.” Psalm 40:11 NASB says, “You, LORD, will not withhold Your compassion from me; Your mercy and Your truth will continually watch over me.”

Psalm 41:2 NIV tells us, “The LORD protects and preserves them— they are counted among the blessed in the land— He does not give them over to the desire of their foes. The Lord is our lifeguard on duty.

I like the wording as well as the truth revealed in II Peter 2:5 & 9 of the Berean Study Bible. If He did not spare the ancient world when He brought the flood on its ungodly people, but preserved Noah, a preacher of righteousness, among the eight; … if all this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to hold the unrighteous for punishment on the day of judgment.

Let’s look at Psalm 119:154 in various translations. NKJV: Plead my cause and redeem me; Revive me according to Your word. NIV: Defend my cause and redeem me; preserve my life according to your promise. NLT: Argue my case; take my side! Protect my life as you promised. Reviving, preserving and protecting are all descriptions of a lifeguard’s job.

Let us cry out Psalm 86:2 NIV to our spiritual lifeguard. Guard my life, for I am faithful to you; save your servant who trusts in You. You are my God.” Then we can receive the promise of Palms 121:7 NIV. The LORD will keep you from all harm— He will watch over your life.

Now declare to the Lord Psalm 119:50 NIV, “Your promise preserves my life!”

Summer Sun and Son

Sun and Son. Homonyms – words spelled differently but pronounced the same. Two 3 letter words with only the middle letter changed. Sun of the solar system. Son of God and Son of Man.

I bask in the summer sun. I soak up the warmth of the sun’s rays. I absorb the warmth of the Son of God’s touch of love. His love is available every season. Today the sun reminds me of the Son. Let’s meditate upon some sunny scriptures.

The first chapter of the first book of the Bible gives our first scripture referring to the sun. Selected words of Genesis 1:14-17: And God said, “Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, . . .and let them be lights in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth.” . . . God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day. . . . . God set them in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth. The light to govern the day is the sun of our solar system.

Jeremiah 31:35 says, “He who appoints the sun to shine by day, who decrees the moon and stars to shine by night, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar– the LORD Almighty is His name.”

Ecclesiastes 1:5 declares, “The sun rises and the sun sets, and hurries back to where it rises.” A scriptural verse that refers to a scientific fact.

Psalm 136:3,7-8 tells us to give thanks to the Lord of lords who made the great lights with the sun to govern the day. Psalm 113:3 declares, “From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the LORD is to be praised.” From the rising to the setting of the sun is proclaiming that God is with us all the time every day.

Malachi 4:2 is interesting. But to you who fear My name The Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings; And you shall go out and grow fat like stall-fed calves. The Sun of Righteousness is the Lord’s name and refers to Jesus who is the Son of Righteousness.

Habakkuk and Isaiah are two more prophets who describe the coming Messiah using references to the sun. In Habakkuk 3:4, the prophet describes God’s splendor being like the sunrise; rays flashed from His hand, where His power was hidden. Isaiah 60:1 says, “”Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you.”

Father Giod reveals Jesus’ identity in Matthew 3:17. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” Matthew 20:28 says, “the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.”

John, the writer of the gospel of John and Revelation, refers to the Son and the sun. Jesus says in John 5:25-27, “Very truly I tell you, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son also to have life in Himself. And He has given Him authority to judge because He is the Son of Man.” The angel showed John in Revelation 22:5, “There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever. For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son also to have life in Himself. And He has given Him authority to judge because He is the Son of Man.

Romans 1:3-4 refers to Jesus as both Son of God and Son of Man. Regarding his Son, who as to His earthly life was a descendant of David, and who through the Spirit of holiness was appointed the Son of God in power by His resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord. Being a descendant of David reveals Jesus as Son of Man. He is also directly called Son of God.

Sunshine and Sonshine! I like the combination. While enjoying summer’s sun, receive the blessing of Numbers 6:24-26. “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn His face toward you and give you peace.”