LORD

You may not be aware of this in English Bible translations, but when you see the word LORD in all capital letters (though this does depend on translation) it usually means it is translating the Tetragrammaton, or the four-letter word which God revealed to be His Name, YHWH, blessed be His Name. English translators do this out of respect for the Name of God, so as to not overuse it. I think this is a mistake.

If you were to be reading in the original Hebrew, you would see His Name written. He chose that His Name be written down so that we would not forget It. He wants us to know His Name. By the same token, the fact that we often see LORD instead of YHWH actually lessens over time, as we rarely use the term lord anymore. Lord, as with all English words, change meaning over time. The only time I ever hear the word used outside of church or historical dramas is in the word “landlord”, which often leaves a bad taste in the mouth. In American culture, we has eschewed titles of nobility because we are all “free men!” So a title such as “lord” just doesn’t carry the same weight it used to.

But YHWH has never been used for any other purpose than the Name of God. It’s connotation has not been diminished by common usage. There are no little “yhwh’s”, no diminutive of the Name. It has and always will be the Name of God. Whether you pronounce it Yahweh or Yehowah (please, not Jehovah) is still a matter of how you insert vowels, but the Name is unchangeable. In it is the nature of an unchanging God, who still loves, cares, and helps. He is the Rock that cannot be moved.

If you need an anchor today, a Rock as your sure foundation, then you can’t go wrong with putting your faith and trust in YHWH. He not only made you, but formed you and molded you to to be the person you are today. He loves you, and despite the fact that others have harmed you, or you have harmed yourself, His love for you has not diminished. He does not consider you “unforgiveable.” Even though we are enemies of Him by our deeds and thoughts, He sent His Son to die for us. He reaches into the pool of history and calls out to us, “Take my hand! I can save you!” and it is up to us to choose to take His nail-scarred hand and be pulled to safety.

Dear Heavenly Father, My gracious and precious YHWH, You alone are great. You alone are worthy. You alone are God. By Your Holy Word, Jesus Christ, I am saved today, certain of my eternity because the God I trust in is certain. His promises are sure as stone. May my life fall aligned to Your Word and promise. In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen.

Frenetic

www.bible.com/1713/isa.26.3.csb

That word describes the pace of life these days. No, it’s not because life is moving so fast. In fast, life is much slower now than it used to be. No, rather this word describes the state of living today. Every day we are given new rules, new rules for COVID, new rules for work, play, even worship. Unless your eyes are glued to the news, you will something, usually something important. It is to keep one’s ear to rail, knowing the train is coming, and waiting until the last second to move, because they don’t want to miss it. It is that tense.

But it doesn’t have to be. Regardless of how deadly you think this virus is, or how important it is to social distance or wear a mask, there’s really nothing in this world that can save you. I mean, according to some, this virus escaped from a lab. It brings to mind the idea of a prison break or something, but a lab like the one this virus was in is designed to keep the little beasts inside. Yet this virus escaped containment from the most secure place viruses like this are kept. I don’t live in a virus lab. I doubt you do either. Is there anything you can do better than a lab to protect yourself?

Do we have reason to be afraid? Probably. Should we take precautions? What could we do better than a lab to protect ourselves? So, ought we to worry? Why?

There are thousand things that could kill me every time I go out my door. And yet I have a God that protects me from all of them. I don’t worry about it. He gives me peace and shelter under His wings. Trust in the Lord isn’t for the fearful or the worriers. You can’t save yourself by worrying. You can call upon the One who can save you and protect you. With God, the only thing to fear is Him.

If you are a lion tamer, the only thing you worry about it the lion. You don’t worry about your blood pressure or your heart rate. Your mind is focused on the one thing that could kill you at any moment, the imminent threat. All your other worries fade into the background.

If you are a God-feared, all of your other worries ought to fade, because you have only one concern, to please the King of the Universe who watches your every move.

Heavenly Father, though perfect love casts out all fear, I pray my fear of You eclipse any other fears I have. I pray that my chief goal be to please You, and that all other concerns and worries of life will fade away. I know You control the future. You control the tiniest of particles to the largest stars. No virus escapes Your attention. I pray for You protection today as I work and serve to please you. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Thank the Maker!

www.bible.com/1713/psa.121.2.csb

When Star Wars came out in 1977, I was  a little young, only five years old. I can’t remember going and seeing the movie in the theater, but I know I was in love with the toys, because I remember getting many of them for Christmas. I know the toys were not available right away, so it may have been Christmas of ’78 or ’79 when I finally got my hands on them. I remember taking my C3PO to the sandbox at school and pretending that we were on the desert planet. I still have that toy, somewhere.

C3PO is also the character in the movie taht reminded us of the “Maker”. When he emerges from his oil bath, he exclaims, “thank the Maker!” Coming from the mouth of a droid, its doesn’t sound all that odd, since droids (robots) are artificial and must have a maker or manufacturer of some kind. But back then, we all thought C3PO was referring to a robot making company or some such. Fast forward to 1999’s The Phantom Menace, Star Wars Episode 1, and suddenly we discover that the maker was personal, a brilliant little boy named Anakin Skywalker. Suddenly the phrase, “thank the Maker!” means more than coming off of an assembly line, but something that was carefully crafted and molded by the hands of a person. Our perspective of C3PO of maybe ourselves changes.

It is one thing to thing you are product of natural processes over millions of years, that you are nothing special but a happy accident in the course of eons. It is quite another to realize that you were specially and wonderfully made by a person, an Intelligence that intended to make you, especially you, to fulfill His great purpose. For Anakin, that purpose was to be a droid to “help mom.” For us, what might that purpose be? For the very fact we are created means that we were made for a purpose, to help one another, to worship the Maker of heaven and earth, to give, to love, to defend the truth and so on. Because we are made, we have purpose. You were made, and you have a purpose. Thank the Maker!

Heavenly Father, thank you for bringing me into the world, especially and wonderfully made for a reason. I know that today, I am not the result of an eons-long experiment by nature to “see what happens” but a special product, and special person with a special purpose. Help me realize that purpose in my own life, that I may fulfill the purpose given to me by my Maker. Thank You Lord for giving me life. I love and worship You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Do Not Love

www.bible.com/1713/1jn.2.15.csb

Of all the people in the world, we ought to be the most loving, most caring people on the planet, right? But here comes 1 John, who instead of encouraging us to love everyone and everything, actually cautions us against it. There are some things we ought not to love, namely the world and everything in it. That sounds like it excludes a lot, doesn’t it?

The world here is shorthand for the worldly system. Something that is worldly is typically not from God but from man and his sinful desires. So to love not the world is to not love sin and its effects. That’s a good thing. But that excludes an awful lot from our purview. We are not to love murder, sexual deviance, sinful pleasures, a whole host of things that derive their nature from the Enemy and his minions. We are to resist carnal lusts. We are to resist the pleasures of the flesh if they are delivered through sin. Sex outside of marriage, any sexual act or appearance of sex is to be avoided. We are not to love that.

You see as Christians we have been led into a trap by the world. We have been told since we are all about love, then we should be accepting of two people who love each other. We should be encouraging love of self. And we certainly can’t tell anyone what true love is, because love is love, no matter who experiences it. But it is. Lie, because that is ”love” without truth. We are not afforded the luxury of defining love for ourselves. We are not love. God is love. God sets the standard and definition. We do not have that authority. This when it comes to love, God is the authority on what it means. God set this standard by sending His own Son to be crucified for our sins. True, selfless, self-sacrifice is God’s standard of love. He tells us what relationships have His approval: heterosexual monogamy in marriage, friendship, family, and worship. All are experiences of love. He did not approve others.

God has the right to tell what to love and what not to love. As His creation, we have the right to obey or disobey. But there are always consequences. I hope you make fbe right choices.

Help me God to make good choices today in how and to whom I express love. Help me to enjoy your Creation without loving the world, because I know that sometimes it’s hard to know the difference. I love You Lord. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

More Important

www.bible.com/1713/php.2.3.csb

Who is most important in your life? Of all the people in your life, who is has the most significant impact over your daily affairs? Some might say my employer really has the most to say about how I live and work. He governs my time, tells me when I am scheduled for work, and how I ought to dress and act while I am there. Granted, that person does have a lot of power over your life. But that person cannot tell you how to think, or what to think about.

Well, what about your spouse? Doesn’t she have a lot of say about who you are and what you’re about? Certainly. I share my life with her. She and I are very close, and she has much to say about how I live my life and what I occupy my time with, as she should.

What about your God? Doesn’t God have a lot to say about how to live your life and what to think about? Absolutely. And of all who have something to say about me, it is God’s opinion I value the most. So with certainty, God is the most important person in my life. So why doesn’t God say that here?

Here, it is others who are the most important. Others? What others? Just anybody? It reminds me of something Jesus said, “Do unto others as you would have done unto you,” and “however you treat the least of these, you have done it unto Me.” The least of all humanity is just as important as the greatest. All are made in the image of God. All.

So how we treat others reflects on our treatment of God. For how can we say we love God and yet hate our brother? Is not our brother made in the image of God? For all of this talk about welcoming our neighbors (as a feint for accepting illegal aliens) are we really addressing the underlying Christian principle? Inviting the world to our doorstep sounds like a good idea, even a Christian one, but do we also couple that with our Christian missionary work? We may well want to accept the illegal in the name of Jesus, but don’t we also proselytize him? The name of Jesus demands it! If they are to come under our roof, they must also give respect to our God. If they accept our hospitality, then they must also be respectful of our religion. If we are going to bring the world to our doorstep in the name of Christian hospitality, then we must also demand that the world give respect to our Christian faith. You would never allow a houseguest to disrespect your family’s faith, would you? That’s not how hospitality works.

Sorry, that got off into rant territory. Many in our community are fond of posting signs that welcome “neighbors” regardless of where they are from, without realizing how the underlying Christian principles they pretend to espouse actually work. Hospitality does not also mean tolerance of all and every idea. It means we welcome you as a child of God made in His image. When you come under my protection, there are certain rules while under my roof you must follow. You don’t pee on the floor. You don’t have sex in front of my children. You eat with your mouth closed. You don’t curse my God or threaten my life. Just some basic rules of hospitality in my opinion.

Lord Jesus, help me continue to see others as You do. Sometimes, I get all jumbled up with my worldview and how I see others, especially when I see the worst in others on a daily basis. Father, you didn’t call me to judge other people. You called me loved and spread Your love to them in the gospel message. Remind me today to bless these souls with your loving Presence. Help me to remember my role as an ambassador for Your Kingdom, not mine. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

A God-Shaped Hole

www.bible.com/1713/ecc.3.11.csb

There it is. This is why we are never content. This is why we keep looking for the next thing. This is why without God we are never happy. Paul once said “godliness with contentment is great gain.” Why? Because few there are that find it. Without God Life is just a great black hole sucking joy out of all things. God designed with an eternity-shaped hope, a hole only He can fill of we will let Him.

Solomon in his vast wisdom knew this. But this book of his isn’t finished until the end of his life, after he’s made his mistakes. He realizes now towards the end of his life that he really has nothing without God. The world itself cannot fill the vacuum of our heart. And Solomon could certainly have explored every avenue and venture there was in His time. Every pleasure and lust he could invent were his to explore. He did everything there was to do. And he still recognized that none of it was enough. He still felt the god-shaped hole in all of us.

As we come to the close of another year, perhaps you are feeling the same thing. You’ve done everything you can do to fill that hole. You’ve dumped everything you can think of into it and you still feel empty. You’ve tried everything to be happy, and you come to this time of self-reflection and see nothing but dread for the new year.

You have a god-shaped hole in you. You can’t fill it. Nothing you do or experience will ever satisfy that deep hunger for something more until you accept Jesus as your Savior. It may sound like cliche, but Jesus is the only One that can fill your heart because your were designed for Him. That hole is there because He built you that way.

There are places in your life that only your parents can fill, good or bad. The same goes for children. We know how these feel when suddenly these holes are empty. We know the grief and the loss after losing a loved one. We are familiar with these kinds of holes. So it is with this God-shaped void in us.

I urge you today. Don’t turn to a bottle or a syringe to fill that hole. Don’t rely on friends or even family to fill it, because they are not enough. Decide today that you will accept Jesus as your Savior, and be filled.

May God bless you as you go into your new year!

Credit where Credit is Due

www.bible.com/1713/psa.100.4.csb

Do you give God enough credit for the goings on in your life? Many years ago the movie Shenandoah put this into words. As Jimmy Stewart is gathered with his family around the table, he began his prayer for the blessing. His prayer, however, was more about his own work than God’s. ”Thank you for this food, though we are the ones who cultivated the ground, planted the seed, harvested the grain by the sweat of our brow,” and so on. By the end of his prayer, he was essentially telling God “Thanks for nothing.”

You may feel the same way today. You had to get up this morning, go to work, pay your bills, get your groceries, and prepare your own dinner. What did God do?

Working as I do with the sick and infirm, I learn a few things about thankfulness. Some people are in so much pain, they cannot work, let alone pay rent or buy food. Some have debilitating conditions where they ask God for a pain-free day. Some wish they could work, just to be normal again. I have discovered that I have much to be thankful for.

What Jimmy failed to acknowledge is that they were given strength of body every day, sunshine, good weather for their crops to grow, sufficient storage and ability to put up crops once they were harvested, the ability to sit with your family when the work was done. Some families can’t even speak to each other on the phone. While Jimmy could account for a he had done, he failed to thank God for all those things he could not control.

We ought to give credit where credit is due. And Thanksgiving is one day where we do exactly that. Are you thankful that you had a job to go to today? Thankful that you had money to pay bills? Are you thankful for the roof over to head, or shoes on your feet? A car that started today? There are so many ways in which life can go wrong, let us be thankful when it goes right.

Bless God today with your thankfulness!