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  • Book Review:Knowing God by His Names

    Posted on September 17th, 2012 rhonda No comments

    “Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.”

    Psalm 9:10

    Years ago, I was in church, and someone was about to lead the congregation in prayer.  Before praying, the brother said that we should address God by one of our favorite names for God.  That comment stayed with me, because I didn’t have different names for God.  I only knew “God”, “Jesus”, “Lord”, “Son” and “Holy Spirit”.  That’s a fairly limited vocabulary.  I felt embarrassed.

    God covered my shame by answering me.  A few days later, I was looking through the Christian books at CVS, and found a small volume called Knowing God by His Names: A 31 Day Experiment.  It’s written by Dick Purnell and published by Harvest House.  (ISBN #978-0-7369-1510-6)  It’s essentially a 31 day devotional which allows us to read and reflect on a different name for God each day.  I worked through it on my own, but it can also be used for small group study.

    I now have 3 favorite names for God; Jehovah-Rophe (Lord who Heals), Rock, and El-Roi (God who Sees).  Coming to understand God as my Rock is actually what brought me to faith in the first place.  A world without God is a scary and dangerous place to be.  As to El-Roi, Hagar used to puzzle me.  One of the last things she said before her story ended in the Bible was “I have now seen the One who sees me” (Gen. 16:13).  I get the sense that Hagar was comforted by knowing that God sees her, even though her circumstances did not change materially.  I used to think, “What’s the point of God seeing if He’s not going to change anything?!”  Now, as I grow in faith and maturity, I think I get it.  Last, the older I get, the more aches & pains I accumulate, the more I want and need a God who can and will heal me (Exodus 15:25-26).

     “The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge.  He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”

    Psalm 18:2

  • Just Add Water: Wash and be Cleansed!

    Posted on September 12th, 2012 rhonda No comments

    “Wash and be Cleansed!”

      Kings 5:13

    One of the benefits of hearing an effective sermon is how it stirs our own thinking.  I listened to a sermon entitled, Just Add Water.  A few days later, the story of Naaman and Elisha popped into my mind (2 Kings 5).

    I’ve learned that sometimes water is used as a metaphor for the Word of God (John 1:1-2) and Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:11-12), so what does it mean that Elisha ordered Naaman to wash himself in the Jordan river to be cleansed of his leprosy?  To me, Naaman’s leprosy represents our sin, which we can only be cleansed of by coming to Christ (the Word who became flesh).  Once we come to Christ, the Holy Spirit comes to live within us, giving us His encouragement, His comfort, His counsel.  The Holy Spirit will also remind us of what we’ve learned of God’s word (John 14-25-26).

    I see Naaman himself as a picture of our resistance to God and our determination to do things in our own strength.  Naaman was the commander of the army of the king of Aram.  “He was a great man in the sight of his master and highly regarded” (v. 1).  His leprosy was not his only flaw.  He also had pride.  When Elisha’s servant told him to wash himself in the Jordan, he was insulted, and almost walked away without a healing.  He said, “I thought he would sure come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, wave his hands over the spot and cure me of my leprosy” (v.11).  My thinking is that is Elisha had done all of that, Elisha would have gotten the glory instead of God.  Naaman would have left thinking that Elisha healed him, rather than God.  Naaman may have also thought that God and His prophets could be bought if Elisha accepted his gifts.

    Instead, Naaman left changed on the outside and the inside, saying “for your servant will never again make burnt offerings and sacrifices to any other god but the Lord” (v.17).  Interestingly, Naaman, a commander and great man in his own right, was now referring to himself as a servant.  Before he was healed he was mad that Elisha didn’t come out and greet him personally; now he’s calling himself Elisha’s servant.  God replaced his pride with humility.

    God promises to make us a new creation, and in the story of Naaman, we see that promised fulfilled instantly in his life.

     “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”

    2 Corinthians 5:17



  • Precious

    Posted on September 11th, 2012 rhonda No comments

    “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?”

    Job 2:10

    One of my friends died in the early morning of Tuesday, 9/11/12.  Over the past few years, she’s been in and out of the hospital, and endured multiple surgeries.  Yet, everyone knew that if she wasn’t in the hospital, she would be in church, praising God for bringing her out – one more time.

    Trouble is all around us; and she is just one of several friends that Satan had given several opportunities to curse God and die, but they didn’t.  She didn’t.   Her faith was so strong that I’m dumbstruck by it.  Thinking of the enormity of her faith renders me speechless and makes me cry.

    “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.”

    Psalm 116:15

  • Just Add Water: The Word Becomes Flesh

    Posted on September 10th, 2012 rhonda No comments


     “And Israel saw the Egyptians lying dead on the shore”

    Exodus 14:30

    In my last post, I said I heard a sermon founded on the Passover and Exodus stories.

    When I re-read chapter 13, I saw something I’d missed.  “When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter.  For God said, ‘If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.’  So God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea” (Exodus 13:17-18).

    We are not to go back to Egypt.  God wants us to grow in our faith in Him.  Pastor said it is important for to stay in the church and “march” with fellow believers.  If you stay in the thick of the group while marching through the Red Sea, the people in front of you will urge you forward, and the people behind you will prevent you from turning back.  Remember those nature shows like Animal Kingdom?  The stray antelope that wanders away from the group is the one that the lion kills and destroys (1 Peter 5:8).

    When we immerse ourselves in the waters of life, the word becomes flesh (John 1:14); hence the title of his sermon, Just Add Water.  He said that all of us must come to a point in our faith where we believe that the promises of God are true for ourselves.  It is possible to believe God would honor these promises to other people, but not be sure if He’ll do it for you.  Pastor says that when we each go through our Red Sea, we will know we can depend on God for ourselves when we see how He brings us out.

    One of the ways that we can consistently add water to our faith is to consistently help other people.  One sign of a mature faith is to know that, no matter what happens today, we will continue to praise and worship God tomorrow.  We extend ourselves to help others.  We might be betrayed.  We may be talked about.  We may not even get a thank-you.  A person with an immature faith will go back to Egypt.  A mature person begins to recognize, and get comfortable with, the struggle.  That person is then able to stand firm in the faith (1 Peter 5:9).  I was reminded of a sermon I heard years ago.  The Pastor said that servants put themselves in a position to really see the miracles of Jesus.  At the wedding in Cana, it was the servants who saw Jesus turn water into wine (John 2:7).  The master of the banquet didn’t know anything.

     “And when the Israelites saw the great power the Lord displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the Lord and put their trust in Him and in Moses His servant”

    Exodus 14:31



  • Just Add Water: Celebration as Commemoration

    Posted on September 8th, 2012 rhonda No comments

    “The whole community of Israel must celebrate it.”

    Exodus 12:47

    I attended a powerful mid-week service in which the pastor used the Passover & Exodus stories (Exodus 12 – 14) as the basis of his sermon.  The pastor entitled his message “Just Add Water”, because he wanted to describe the transformation we undergo in our relationship with God when we pass through the red seas of life.

    Pastor wanted us to understand the mindset of the Israelites at the time.  At the point where God gave His instructions and required that they celebrate Passover, the Israelites were still in bondage.  In fact, they’d gotten their hopes up several times.  Just at the point when it appeared that Pharaoh would relent and let the Israelites leave, God would harden Pharaoh’s heart again.

    Pastor used Egypt as a metaphor for persistent challenges.  Some troubles are not removed quickly & completely.  We’ve all felt the disappointment & discouragement that comes when we think we’ve overcome a problem – and then it comes back.  That’s how the Israelites must have felt.

    That’s why Pastor stressed the importance of celebrating the fact that God is with us.  It is also imperative that we celebrate every day.  Pastor said that, for every struggle we encounter, there’s also a secondary struggle that accompanies it.  The secondary struggle is the thought that God has abandoned us.  That thought is more dangerous than the original problem.  If we believe that God is with us, then we just take our troubles to Him.  If we believe that God has abandoned us, then we’re really in trouble.

    Ultimately, though, God has the victory.  In Him, we also have the victory.  At the time of the celebration, the Israelites may not have known it, but God was about to put Egypt behind them – forever.  So when we celebrate, this is what we are celebrating.

    1. God is with us.
    2. He will provide for us.  That’s what the Passover meal was about.
    3. We are redeemed.  We are no longer the property of sin.  The devil might want to mess with us, but he can only go “so far”.
    4. We have peace with God.

    In establishing Passover, God was instituting a celebration for future generations.  “On that day tell your son, ‘I do this because of what the Lord did for me when I came out of Egypt’.” (Ex. 13:8).

    Pastor explained that God is a God of covenant.  Covenant confession is our agreement with what God says.  Covenant strength is us depending on the Lord to do all the work (Ex. 14:19-20).  Covenant law is God giving us a heart of flesh so that His law would be in our hearts (Ezekiel 11:19)

    “The Egyptians you see today you will never see again.”

    Exodus 14:13



  • How I Got Over

    Posted on September 6th, 2012 rhonda No comments

       “ . . . the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him.”

    Mark 5:18

    The healing described in Mark 5:1-20 always impresses me.  I get a clear before and after story.  It’s always amazing and humbling to me when a person endures a horrible event or circumstance, and they come out on the other end with gratitude and dignity.

    I just finished reading a graphic novel about Nelson Mandela.  I was in college during the height of the anti-apartheid movement in the United States.  My college, and many others, set up shanty-towns on campus to demonstrate solidarity with the Black South Africans.  I remember there being workshops, sit-ins and teach-ins.  People got arrested for political protests.  We donated money to the cause and we stopped doing business at companies that refused to divest in South Africa.  It was a great moment for all of us when Mandela got out of jail.  He was imprisoned for 27 years.  It was inconceivable to me that someone could be in jail longer than I had been alive.  I remember people commenting on how poised and dignified he was.  People admired his loyalty to the ANC.  We liked seeing he and Winnie walk together.  They were a good looking couple.

    The guy who was freed from legion demons was so grateful that he wanted to follow Jesus.  Instead, he was told to “Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you” (Mark 5:19).  So my word of wisdom for today is that you tell your own story.  Now, if I had been demon-possessed, living in a graveyard, and cutting myself with stones, I would be ashamed and afraid to tell someone that story.  However, when people tell me their shameful stories, those are the stories that impress me the most.  I’m impressed because I get a clear picture of what God has really done for someone.  I get the before and after picture.  I’m also impressed when I hear the story of a person who could easily be embittered and broken by what they’ve been through; but instead they’re joyful and grateful to God.  I like to hear a person’s “how I got over” story.