Your Name Hidden in No Name

Have you noticed how many names are omitted in stories recorded in the Bible? Multiple times Jesus performs miracles for specific people whom we know only as a man or a woman. I want to suggest that this may present us an opportunity. God wants us to do more than read about these individuals. He desires us to personalize these stories. He is inviting us to insert our own names into these situations.

In John 4:1-16 we hear the conversation between Jesus and a woman – a woman from Samaria to be specific. Jesus asks the woman for a drink of water. However, He offers her Living Water. The woman asks Jesus who He is while He already knows who she is. Jesus answers her question in verse 26. The New Living Translation says, “Then Jesus told her, ‘I Am the Messiah!’

If you do not know Jesus as the Messiah and your personal Savior, this is a good starting point. Even though you may have a personal relationship with Jesus, are you thirsty spiritually? Your physical thirst may be satisfied but spiritually you are parched. Is there a situation in “some area” of your life that is depleting your supply of Living Water? Jesus is calling you by name and offering the Living Water of the Holy Spirit to satisfy your thirst.

Mark 3:1-5 records the healing of a man with a withered hand. We don’t know this man’s name, but Jesus does. He knows his name and his need. Jesus tells the man to stretch out his hand and He restores it.

Have you allowed a talent or a gift to atrophy because you have not used it for God’s glory? You may have to stretch your faith to ask Jesus for help. He is willing. He knows your name as well as your need.

In Luke 8:40-48 we read of another women without a name. We only know her as a woman who has been suffering with constant bleeding for 12 years. In desperation and in faith, she reaches out and touches the hem of Jesus’ garment. Her bleeding stops immediately. Jesus tells this woman in verse 48, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace. Did you notice that Jesus now gives her the name of Daughter? She is not nameless to Jesus.

The King James Version describes her problem as being an “issue of blood.” Is there some “issue” you have been struggling with for an extended time? Reach out in faith to Jesus. He will sense even a timid touch. Then He will touch you with His healing power.

We encounter a man by the pool at Bethesda in John 5:2-9. This man has seen sick for 35 years. Jesus approaches him and asks if he wants to be healed. His first response is that he has no one to put him in the pool, However, he must finally answer positively because in verse 8 Jesus tells him to pick up his mat and walk.

What is paralyzing you from walking in God’s freedom? Do you want to be set free? Hear Jesus calling your name and start walking in your new freedom.

Within each of these stories, we find a person identified by his/her problem rather than a name. However, God sees each individual as a person, not a problem. He sees you in the same way.

You can insert your name in additional verses throughout scripture. Sometimes a pronoun speaks your name.

I encourage you to insert your name into Isaiah 43:1. “But now, this is what the LORD says– He who created you, ______, He who formed you, ______: ‘Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.’” I intentionally left a blank where the names Jacob and Israel was written in scripture.

The Lord says in Isaiah 49:16, “See, I have engraved you on the palms of My hands.When Jesus hung on the cross with nails piercing His hands, He bore our sins. Our personal names were on the palms of His hands.

We all know John 3:16. But, do we take time to personalize it? Read the familiar words while replacing “whoever” with your name. For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. How does this make you feel?

I have started to rewrite Romans 8:28. Now you can insert your own name. And I know that in all things God works for the good of (your name) who loves Him, who has been called according to His purpose.

Hear Jesus speak your name in Matthew 28:20. “Surely I am with you always.”

Where are you in the Bible? I know you are there. God knows you are there. He wants to help you just as He helped the men and women in the stories I have highlighted. Which person is an example of you? In which scripture passage do you hear the Lord calling your name? Max Lucado has said, “We have to admit who we are before Jesus can help us.”

God does not identify you by something you have done or some tragedy you have experienced. He knows your name. He sees your needs. Allow Jesus to have an active part in your life. He is calling your name.

Cups of Character

I spent time with Jeremiah the other morning. To be specific, I was in the potter’s house. While at the potter’s wheel, God spoke to both Jeremiah and me about shaping and reshaping clay into a usable pot. Jeremiah 18:5-6 says, “Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying, ‘O house of Israel, declares the LORD, can I not treat you as this potter treats his clay? Just like clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel.’” Let us declare the words of Isaiah 64:8. Yet you, LORD, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of Your hand.

The pot I thought about was a cup – not just a bowl. A cup is a bowl with a handle attached. Jesus says in John 15:5, I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in Me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing.I imagined myself being a cup. The handle of my cup was where God placed His hand. Isaiah 41:10 tells me, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.

I meditated upon my being a cup held in God’s hand. I am a usable cup that can fulfill a purpose because I am held in God’s hand. What fills my cup? Jesus answers my question in John 7:37-39. “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’ But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” I am filled with the Holy Spirit so I can fulfill the plans and purposes God has for me according to Jeremiah 29:11. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Each of us is a unique cup formed in the Potter’s hand for a specific purpose. The Lord says in Jeremiah 1:5, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart.

I think about my cups and mugs. Let’s look closely at a few of these containers to discover the various purposes portrayed.

One of my most cherished mugs features a picture of a heart puzzle. Each piece of the puzzle has the name of one of our six grandchildren. Proverbs 17:6 NLT says, “Grandchildren are the crowning glory of the aged; parents are the pride of their children.I desire to pour out my love upon these precious ones and invest in their lives.

I spot my husband’s favorite liquid container. It is a sturdy dark green mug with a yellow John Deere emblem. He grew up on a farm with a John Deere tractor. He is still a farmer at heart. A farmer works in fields plowing ground, planting seeds and harvesting crops. Matthew 13 records parables related to seeds and weeds. Jeremiah 4:3 NLT says, Plow up the hard ground of your hearts! Do not waste your good seed among thorns.Plowing is a spiritual metaphor for repentance.

I handle another mug our son gave my husband. It is a clear thick mug with a sports emblem. Athletes are physically strong. There is also a need for us to be spiritually strong. Joshua 1:9 says, Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.

I inherited a small collection of teacups from my mother. Teacups are delicate and easily broken. I do not trust just anyone to handle these fragile cups. Maybe God has entrusted me with T cups that are containers of my Time, Talent and Treasure. Proverbs 3:5-6 tells, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.

I have a teacup that belonged to my mother-in-law. There is an image of the World Exposition 1893 imprinted on it. It reminds me of Jesus’ words in Mark 16:15. Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.

I also have a couple of child-sized teacups. I felt privileged when I received them as a child. They were like my mom’s cups – only smaller. Small but still special. Zechariah 4:10 NLT warns, “Do not despise these small beginnings.” I Timothy 4:12 says, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.” Jesus says in Matthew 19:14, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.

Each of us can be described as a cup or a container. I have described several of my cups. Our cups and lives have a greater purpose than to just occupy space. We are to be used in the Potter’s hand as well as held in His hand. Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

We must be sure our cups are clean. No one wants to drink from a dirty cup. II timothy 2:21 NLT says, “If you keep yourself pure, you will be a special utensil for honorable use. Your life will be clean, and you will be ready for the Master to use you for every good work.” We are to be vessels of honor who fulfill God’s purposes. We are fashioned to be containers of the Holy Spirit. We are not to be cups full of conceit and selfishness.

Cups can be filled with either hot or cold drinks. If I let a cup of coffee set too long, it becomes lukewarm and is not desirable. If I have a mug of iced tea and the ice has melted, it is no longer refreshing. Revelation 3:16 says, “So, because you are lukewarm–neither hot nor cold–I am about to spit you out of My mouth.I don’t want my faith to become lukewarm!

I desire to be a cup held in God’s hand. I want to be filled with the Holy Spirit because apart from God I can do nothing. It is a blessing to have my life placed upon the Potter’s wheel and made into the vessel God designs.

My Reader, what kind of cup would describe your life? Don’t be a disposable cup! Disposable cups are not good for the environment of Christ. God has a plan and purpose for you.



Two Ships

If you were to embark upon a seafaring vessel, would you choose a boat of peace or turmoil? Whether we realize it or not, we each make a choice. As we navigate upon the waters of life, we encounter two ships. We can sail upon a wor-ship or a war ship.

Our vessel of peace is known as worship. The vessel of turmoil is a war ship. I realize I am taking liberties with words. However, I believe God has a message for us through this play on words.

A war ship is waiting at the docks of our lives. There are numerous seafaring battles to fight. In history, we read of many battles fought upon the waters. Ships sinking and the sailors drowning were (and still are) possibilities. As spiritual sailors, we are involved in spiritual warfare. I Peter 5:8-9 tells us, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith.” Ephesians 6:12 NLT says, “For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.”

This results in a violent voyage. However, we can be encouraged by II Chronicles 20:15. “Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.” Psalm 34:19 says, “The righteous person may have many troubles, but the LORD delivers him from them all.” In Ephesians 6:10, we are told to be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power.

According to II Corinthians 4:8-9, we will encounter times when we are hard pressed on all sides, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed. 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.”

It is time for us to embark upon the wor-ship! Psalm 95:6 invites, “Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker.” Psalm 96:9 instructs us to, “Worship the LORD in the splendor of His holiness; tremble before Him, all the earth.” Psalm 105:1 encourages us to “Give praise to the LORD, proclaim His name; make known among the nations what He has done.” John 4:24 says, “God is spirit, and His worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”

Throughout our lives, we will be onboard both ships at various times. Prayer includes praise and petitions. Our prayers will burst with praise when we are on a wor-ship. II Samuel 7:22 says, “How great You are, Sovereign LORD! There is no one like You, and there is no God but You.” However, our prayers will include plenty of petitions when we are on a war ship. Romans 5:20 says that where sin increased, grace increased all the more. That describes a spiritual battle. Prayer is asking God to speak to the chaos of our lives. Prayer fights both outward and inward forces. The fervency of prayer will overcome the ferociousness of the enemy.

We will encounter violent waves of a vicious enemy. Ultimately, however, we will ride upon God’s victorious waves. There will be a tsunami of triumph. I encourage you to read Romans 8:31-39. I highlight a few verses. Verse 31-32 asks, “If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also, along with Him, freely give us all things?” Verse 35 asks another question. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or distress or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? Verses 37-39 answers, “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor principalities, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

I John 5:4 NLT declares, “For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith.”

With a renewed fervency of prayer, we will defeat the enemy’s ferociousness. I believe a big wave of revival will soon crash upon our nation. Living water will flow across our land. Isaiah 44:3 promises, “For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and My blessing on your descendants.”

We are spiritual sailors upon the seafaring vessels of wor-ship and war ships. Using another another play on words, let me ask a question. Are we embarking upon a seafaring or see-faring vessel? Do we have spiritual eyes with which to see what is happening in the heavenlies? Paul says in Ephesians 1:18, “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in His holy people.”

When the war ship tries to steer you into tumultuous turmoil, claim Psalm 91. I encourage you to proclaim the complete Psalm but I quote verses 2 and 3. I will say to the LORD, “You are my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Surely He will deliver you from the snare of the fowler, and from the deadly plague.” The captain of wor-ship is waiting for your arrival. Jesus promises in John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

I suggest that wor-ship is the best place to be when we encounter war ships. The best wor-ship is also a war ship because worship is a form of spiritual warfare. Philippians 2:10-11 says, “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” This is a picture of the final victory of all worldly battles. There will be no more turbulent seas. In Revelation 4, we find a description of the Throne of Heaven. Verse 6 says, “in front of the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal.” Around this sea are four living creatures who worship God saying in verse 10,Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.”

In closing, I include a few lines from two current worship songs. The first is Battle Belongs by Paul Wickham. The song begins, “When all I see is the battle You see my victory.” I also like the lyrics, “So when I fight, I’ll fight on my knees with my hands lifted high. Oh God the battle belongs to You.”

The other song is Defender written by Bethel Music vocalist Steffany Gretzinger and recorded by Francesca Battistelli. I highlight the following portion. “You go before I know that You’ve even gone to win my war. Your love becomes my greatest defense. It leads me from the dry wilderness. And all I did was praise. All I did was worship. All I did was bow down, oh All I did was stay still.”

Welcome aboard to the wor-ship!

God’s Garden of Gladiolas

I spent the afternoon in a garden of gladiolas. A floral array that created a botanical masterpiece. Gladiolas are perennial plants known for their tall floral spikes and large, colorful blooms. Each blossom is composed of multiple flowerettes creating one flower that bursts forth from a sturdy green stalk. I was enthralled by the beauty surrounding me. I felt like I was surrounded by God’s presence portrayed through posies. In my spirit, I sensed multiple multicolored messages.

Botanically, gladiolus originates from a Latin term meaning sword. This flower is sometimes called the sword lily. It is described as a plant with unbranched stems having several narrow, sword-shaped longitudinal grooved leaves enclosed in a sheath. From within these green leaves, funnel-shaped irregular flowers emerge on slender stalks. I thought about the sword of the Spirit that is part of God’s armor. Ephesians 6:17 says, “Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

The botanical spires inspired me. The gladioli, commonly known as glads, seemed to echo Psalm 122:1, “I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the LORD.’”

Each flower reminded me of the steeple of an old church. Each blossom pointed to God in heaven. I felt like I was in a cathedral of living stained glass windows. So many flowers! So many colors! Ruby red – coral – pink – yellow – white – lavender – deep purple.

The stalks talked to me of God’s goodness. Psalm 25:8 declares, “Good and upright is the LORD; therefore He instructs sinners in His ways.” Psalm 23:6 says, “Surely Your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.” God is good!

Some gladioli were standing up straight declaring the glory of God. I Chronicles 16:24 says, “Declare His glory among the nations, His marvelous deeds among all peoples.” Other floral stems appeared to bend lowly in humility. Psalm 95:6 invites, “Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker.

Through the magnificent beauty of the flowers, I experienced the fulfillment of Isaiah 33:17. Your eyes will see the king in His beauty and view a land that stretches afar. Psalm 90:17 NKJV says, “Let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us.” I also was aware of a sweet perfume in the air. It was the fragrance of the flowers! In Ephesians 5:1-2 we are encouraged to, “Be imitators of God, therefore, as beloved children, and walk in love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant sacrificial offering to God.” II Corinthians 2:15 NIV says, “For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.” The New King James version translates it, “For we are to God the fragrance of Christ.”

Each cluster of blossoms appeared to symbolize a choir of trumpets. I sensed that the gladioli, or trumpets, were declaring a chorus of triumph. Psalm 98:6 NLT says, “With trumpets and the sound of the ram’s horn, make a joyful symphony before the LORD, the King!” A cacophony of praise was being declared by the colorful trumpets. God’s greatness and grandeur was being portrayed and proclaimed. Psalm 47:1 NKJV says, “Oh, clap your hands, all you peoples! Shout to God with the voice of triumph!”

Throughout the afternoon, I was encircled by a floral hedge. Psalm 135:9 NKJV says, “You have hedged me behind and before, And laid Your hand upon me.” I was captivated by more than splashes of color. My spirit was communing with the God of all creation. Revelation 4:11 declares, “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for You created all things, and by Your will they were created and have their being.”

Trinity – Trilogy – Triplet

Trinity – Triune – Trilogy – Triple – Triad – Triplet

All words signifying three.

Let’s begin with Trinity – the term used to describe our God. He is one God yet three persons. God the Father – God the Son – God the Holy Spirit.

Genesis 1:1 states, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. We skip a few verses and read Genesis 1:26,Let Us make mankind in Our image, in Our likeness.” “Elohim” is the Hebrew word for God in both verses. Elohim reveals that God is the majestic ruler over all. It is a plural word and is used as the first name of God placing Him high above all other gods. It also foreshadows the later revelation of the triune Godhead – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

My favorite scripture revealing the trinity of God is Matthew 3:16-17. After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and He saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him, and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.” These verses specifically name the three persons of the Trinity. Jesus, the Son, is water baptized. The Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit, descends upon the Son. God the Father declares Jesus as His Son.

I think of the hymn Holy, Holy, Holy by Reginald Heber.

Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
Early in the morning our song shall rise to thee;
holy, holy, holy! merciful and mighty,
God in three persons, blessed Trinity!

Holy, holy, holy! All the saints adore thee,
casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea;
cherubim and seraphim falling down before thee,
who wert and art and evermore shalt be.

Holy, holy, holy! Though the darkness hide thee,
though the eye made blind by sin thy glory may not see,
only thou art holy; there is none beside thee,
perfect in power, in love, and purity.

Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
All thy works shall praise thy name, in earth and sky and sea;
holy, holy, holy! merciful and mighty,
God in three persons, blessed Trinity!

I have highlighted “trilogy phrases” within this hymn. It begins with the repetition of “holy” three times. This is a literary form of emphasis that accentuates the holiness of God. There are several other “three phrases” within in the hymn.

““Wort” and “art” and “and “evermore” can be stated in more common terms “was” and “are” and “forever.” Whatever the choice of words, it reminds me of Hebrews 13:8. Jesus is the same yesterday and today and forever.

Heber refers to the perfection of God in “power, love and purity.” Another trilogy is found in “earth and sky and sea.” The conclusion of the hymn emphasizes the blessed Trinity of God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit – three yet one.

I think God knew it would be hard for us to grasp the concept of His being “three yet one.” Consequently, He has surrounded us with examples of “threes.” Let’s look at numerous triad references found in scripture and our surroundings. Although none of the following triplets give us a 100% accurate description of God, they are helpful reminders of His nature.

Remembering that God said He made us in His image, we find our first illustration of “three in one” within our makeup. Human beings have a body, soul and spirit. Another triad is reflected when we describe our soul as being our mind, will and emotions. Even our ears have three parts: outer ear, middle ear and inner ear.

When explaining the Trinity concept of God to children, we often refer to an apple. An apple is one piece of fruit yet it has three parts. The peal, the flesh and the core or seeds. These three parts are found in all fruits.

A family is a unit of a father, mother and child/children. One group with three individual identities.

Within the Holy Trinity, the Son is known as Lord Jesus Christ. Lord is His title. Jesus is His name. Christ, Anointed One, is His role. Philippians 2:10-11 says, “so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow,, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.One person with three names. Most of us have a first, middle and last name.

Every 24 hours we encounter triplets. Morning – Noon – Night. Or, we might prefer to say Morning – Afternoon – Evening. One time period yet three parts.

The government of our country, reveals a triad through the executive, legislative and judicial branches of the one government over one nation. As I look at our nation’s flag, I see three colors. Red, white and blue.

Jesus says in John 14:6, “I am the way and the truth and the life.

In music, a triplet is three notes given one count or rhythmic beat.

As a child, I remember having a puzzle with three pieces. Each piece was a primary shape: square, triangle or circle. One puzzle. Three pieces. Three in one. Even the triangle piece was formed of three lines.

I see a triad symbol when I look at the lights above our bathroom mirror. One light with three bulbs. 

A traffic light is comprised of three separate lights.  Each light gives a different directive.  Green tells us to go. Yellow wars us to slow down. Red commands us to stop. One traffic light with three colors giving three instructions.

Deuteronomy 6:4 that says, “The LORD our God, the LORD is one.” The word “one” comes from the Hebrew word “echad” that means “united one.” This supports the fact that God is three in one.

None of my illustrations are perfect. They are simply reminders of the Holy Trinity. My list is certainly incomplete. I challenge you to look for your own triplets in your surroundings and scripture. Whenever you find a “three in one” symbol, take time to remember the unique nature of our God. Take time to praise God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit!