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.

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!

Pop for Pop

Sunday will be the day we set aside to honor fathers. Fathers are known by various names: Father – Dad – Daddy – Papa. Our son-in-law often referred to his father as Pop. Pop, known to me as Dan, was a wonderful godly man. He went home to be with Jesus 22 years ago because of multiple sclerosis. However, Jamey still sets aside special time to honor his dad in a unique way every Father’s Day.

Dan’s favorite soft drink (sometimes known as pop) was Dr. Pepper. On Father’s Day, Jamey takes his children to the cemetery where his dad is buried. They sit by his gravestone and share a can of Dr. Pepper while Jamey shares memories of his dad. It is a time for Jamey to remember his father and a time for his children to get acquainted with the grandpa they never met in person.

Jamey is not the only person to share insight of his father through story telling. While dwelling on the earth, Jesus revealed His Heavenly Father through His words and actions. He told stories about His Father. He is the Son of God and Son of Man. Jesus and Philip have a conversation in John 14:6-11. Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him.” Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves.

Jamey is a son of Dad Dan. His children now know Grandpa Dan through stories their dad has shared. However, they have also come to know Grandpa Dan through the lifestyle of their dad. Jamey honors his Pop not only when he shares a soda and a story with his children but also through the life he lives every day. Having known Dan and now knowing Jamey, I know fatherhood is honored in this family. This is true physically and spiritually. Jamey also shares about his Heavenly Father with his children.

God spoke to Moses about honoring fathers when He gave Moses the Ten Commandments. Exodus 20:12 says, “Honor your father and mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you.

In Psalm 145, David gives us an example of verbally honoring our Heavenly Father. Verse 4 says, “One generation commends Your works to another; they tell of Your mighty acts.” In verse 21, he concludes, “My mouth will speak in praise of the Lord. Let every creature praise His holy name for ever and ever.”

I encourage you to honor your biological father this Sunday on Father’s Day. If possible, spend time with him in person. Maybe a phone call or a Zoom chat if personal contact is not an option. If he has passed on, take a few moments to remember his place in your life. Share your memories with your family. Tell stories. I also encourage you to spend time with your spiritual father. Your Heavenly Father is only a prayer away. Thank Him for what He has done in your life. Prioritize time with Him so you will have the father/son or daughter relationship of being one with Him as exemplified by Jesus. Jesus prayed in John 17:20-21 for all believers. I am not asking on behalf of them alone, but also on behalf of those who will believe in Me through their message, that all of them may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I am in You. May they also be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.

This coming Sunday, uniquely celebrate Father’s Day. Find your own way to have pop with your Pop.

Happy Father’s Day to all men who have the privilege of being a dad. We honor you while we also honor our Heavenly Father.

Seed – Feed – WEED (3)

We took a break from our gardening theme to highlight Memorial Day last week.  Now we will focus upon our final week of  Seed – Feed – Weed. We planted the seeds. We fed, or fertilized, the new plants. Now we have to pull a few weeds. We will spend time in a natural garden in the soil and the spiritual garden of the heart.

As we survey our flower gardens, we should be encouraged by the plants that are growing nicely. Soon we will have blossoms to enjoy. However, we most likely will also notice some straggly green things growing that do not look like they came from the seeds we planted. These green things are better known as weeds. We must pull out these unwanted growths before they consume our flower beds.

When we examine the garden of our hearts, I hope we see Christ living in us. Colossians 1:27 says, “Christ in you, the hope of glory.We must not allow this hope of glory to get crowded out of our spiritual gardens. Consequently, there may be a few weeds to pull.

I am not a botanist. It is not necessary for me to identify the specific variety of weeds I am pulling from my botanical garden. For me, weeds are just weeds. My goal is to simply get rid of the pesky plants. However, it is different in the garden of our hearts. In order to pull out weeds that want to overtake our hearts, we must identify them.

Fear is a common weed that tries to take root. We can eradicate fear by allowing love to flourish in our heart’s garden.

Peter is an example of a man who experienced the weed of fear. On the night of Jesus’ arrest, Peter was fearful of what would happen if he acknowledged he was a follower of Jesus. He denied Jesus three times. (see John 19:15-27) After His resurrection, Jesus questioned Peter about his devotion. Three times He asked Peter if he loved Him. (see John 21:15-18) Jesus helped Peter replace fear with love. Peter’s spiritual growth is evident in his sermon at Pentecost. (see Acts 2:14-41)

I John 4:18 says, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.May lovely blossoms of love burst into bloom in the garden of our hearts.

Doubt, another weed, must be pulled out by its roots so the seed of faith can grow. We should not allow doubt to consume our spiritual gardens. James 1:6 says, “But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.The seeds of weeds travel quickly when blown by the wind. Think of the dandelion. A puffball of seeds airborne by the wind will result in an abundance of yellow flowers.

After pulling out the weeds of doubt, we can anxiously await the growth of faith flowers. Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.It will take time for faith to grow in our hearts and become visible. Jesus says in John 11:40, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?

The worry weed can be hard to control. Philippians 4:6-7 tells us, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.Peace posies grow and bloom when worry weeds are eradicated from our heart’s gardens.

In John 16, Jesus told His disciples that He would leave them but the Holy Spirit would come to them. Although they did not comprehend His words, Jesus concluded by saying 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.Worldly worry weeds will try to grow. However, we must not let them overtake our hearts. Philippians 4:8-9 tells us how to get rid of these weeds. “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in Me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

Sometimes it may take more effort to pull out weeds than we anticipate. Roots can go deeper than expected – physically and spiritually. However, we must be willing to get rid of the weeds that are taking up space. We must be careful to not allow our gardens to become overgrown with weeds that hide summer’s beauty. Encourage new flowers to grow and spread.

Spiritually, let us bloom where we are planted. Allow the beauty of Jesus be be seen. Psalm 90:17 NKJV says, “Let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us, And establish the work of our hands for us.” 

A garden is a place of life – whether it be the soil or the soul. Plants push back dirt and promises push back doubt. Weeds and worries must be yanked out. Allow flowers and faith to emerge. Both types of gardens are precious in God’s sight.