What’s In A Name?

“The name of the Lord is a fortified tower;
the righteous run to it and are safe.”
Proverbs 18:10 (NIV)

“Abraham looked up and there in a thicket
he saw a ram caught by its horns. 
He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it
as a burnt offering instead of his son. 
So Abraham called that place
The Lord Will Provide” [Jehovahjireh]
Genesis 22:13-14 (NIV)

“…for Demas, because he loved this world, 
has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica.”
2 Timothy 4:10 (NIV)

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 
the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort…”
2 Corinthians 1:3

The grandparents welcomed a new grandchild into the family and wondered what their children would name him. They did not have to wait long. To their horror the name was Demas! The shocked grandparents explained to the new parents the negative undertone that name carried. They quickly changed the baby’s name to one without a negative history.

Mentioning the name of a loved one can elevate the mood of a depressed individual. Alternately hearing a certain name can cause distress. So, some names carry a lot of baggage and can create strong emotional reactions.

In Scripture we find numerous names for the Lord. These various names appear at significant times and speak to the context very well. Abraham had an extraordinary experience of the Lord’s provision for him and called the Lord “Jehovahjireh”. This name means the Lord will provide. Indeed, the Lord did provide for him. As Proverbs 18:10 indicates, God’s people can run to the Lord and find comfort in one of His names just as Abraham did.

Recently I learned of a dear man of God who attempted suicide. His world had fallen apart. He was suffering such trauma that ending his life seemed a good solution to his agony. When I prayed for him, I began my prayer by saying, “Father of mercies and God of all comfort be all of this to your dear, suffering, child Bill…” What I was doing was running to a relevant name for God and using it as a basis for calling the Lord to action on behalf of His child in a specific way.

Too often our prayers can be vague and thus ineffective. What is needed in times of trouble is to take a name for God that speaks to our particular problem. For example the name for the Lord, Jehovah Rapha – The Lord Our Healer – (Exodus 15:26) can be used effectively when praying for someone who has a physical illness or a broken heart in need of mending.

Today do you need to pray using a specific name of the Lord? Search for a particular name that can be your “strong tower”. Make straight for it and the safety it brings. You can go on the Internet and find many biblical names for the Lord.

Here is a sample for you to begin your search.

12 Jehovah Names of Our God and Savior

  1. Jehovah Jireh – The Lord Our Provider – Gen. 22:14
  2. Jehovah Rapha – The Lord Our Healer – Exodus 15:26
  3. Jehovah Nissi – The Lord Our Banner – Exodus 17:15
  4. Jehovah Rohi – The Lord Our Shepherd – Psa. 23:1
  5. Jehovah Shalom – The Lord Our Peace – Judges 6:24
  6. Jehovah Shammah – The Lord Our Presence – Ezekiel 48:35
  7. Jehovah Tsidkenu – The Lord Our Righteousness – Jer. 23:6
  8. Jehovah Sabbaoth – The Lord of Hosts – 1 Sam. 1:3
  9. Jehovah M’Kaddesh – The Lord Our Sanctifier – Lev. 20:8
  10. Jehovah Tsuri – The Lord Our Strength – Psa. 19:14
  11. Jehovah Sel’i – The Lord Our Rock – Psa. 18:2
  12. Jehovah Go’el – The Lord Our Redeemer – Isa. 49:26

However you find the names of the Lord seek them out and strengthen your faith in the safety of those strong towers.

Hope Holds Us Fast

“…remember that at that time you were separate from Christ,
excluded from citizenship in Israel
and foreigners to the covenants of the promise,
without hope and without God in the world.”
Ephesians 2:12 (NIV)

“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, 
set your hearts on things above, where Christ is,
seated at the right hand of God. 
Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things…”
Colossians 3:1-2 (NIV)

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!
In his great mercy he has given us new birth
into a living hope through the resurrection
of Jesus Christ from the dead…”
1 Peter 1:3 (NIV)

Sally had the same form of cancer that took her mother’s life when she was 12 years old. Now in hospital again, she was fighting for her own life as her husband and three preteenagers waited anxiously at home. On one visit I made to her she asked if I thought she would win the battle with the dreadful disease.

I assured her that I was praying she would be cured and hoped she would be cured but said I was not a doctor and so was not able to offer a medical opinion. She did not like my response. I was not offering her the hope she desired and needed to face an uncertain future.

One of the most fundamental aspects of a healthy mind and a happy life is hope. Those who lose hope regarding their future are susceptible to depression and even self-harm.

Christians have a “living hope” as Peter calls it. Our future is guaranteed by our Lord’s resurrection from the dead. Thus, we need to frequently read the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ resurrection to “feed” our faith. Such meditation on the historical accounts is an excellent spiritual exercise for all of us, not just people with depression and hopelessness.

Also, studying passages in Scripture such as Revelation 21 and 22 where the eternal state is described has a profoundly positive effect on us. We need to remind ourselves frequently of our glorious future as we work through the challenges of today.

Today draw near to the God of all hope and receive all the hope and encouragement you need for today and every day until hope and faith become sight.

Day by day, and with each passing moment,
Strength I find to meet my trials here;
Trusting in my Father’s wise bestowment,
I’ve no cause for worry or for fear.
He, whose heart is kind beyond all measure,
Gives unto each day what He deems best,
Lovingly its part of pain and pleasure,
Mingling toil with peace and rest.

Every day the Lord Himself is near me,
With a special mercy for each hour;
All my cares He fain would bear and cheer me,
He whose name is Counsellor and Pow’r.
The protection of His child and treasure
Is a charge that on Himself He laid;
“As thy days, thy strength shall be in measure,”
This the pledge to me He made.

Help me then, in every tribulation,
So to trust Thy promises, O Lord,
That I lose not faith’s sweet consolation,
Offered me within Thy holy Word.
Help me, Lord, when toil and trouble meeting,
E’er to take, as from a father’s hand,
One by one, the days, the moments fleeting,
Till with Christ the Lord I stand.

-Lina Sandell

A Simple Prayer

“Then he said, ‘Jesus,
remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ 
Jesus answered him, 
“Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
Luke 23:42-43 (NIV)

“…he was heard because of his reverent submission.”
Hebrews 5:7 (NIV)

I will call her “Anna”. I met her at the request of her Christian physician. She had endured much adversity. She and her husband had a son who died at age 8. Their daughter was tragically killed in a car accident age 23. Then she nursed her late husband through a debilitating illness for several years before he passed away. Now it was finally her turn to soon leave this tragic world.

I visited with her weekly and sometimes twice a week. I was not able to share the Gospel with her because she would mock my faith. However, I kept visiting her, helped her by running a few errands and sought to show the love of Christ in various ways.

When Anna was moved into a palliative care facility for her final weeks with us, Susan and I visited. She was out on the back deck and when we greeted her she asked me to teach her to pray. Such a request shocked me. I asked her what she wanted to talk to the Lord about. Her simple yet profound response was, “I am not ready to die.” After explaining the Gospel, I said that I would lead her in a simple prayer of repentance. I suggested we pray in a manner similar to how the minister leads a couple through wedding vows. So, Anna willingly repeated bit by bit after me a simple prayer.

Everything went well until I finished leading her in prayer. When I said “Amen” she immediately began her own prayer and it was a most humble petition. I am sure she was heard. When she was finished, she had a peaceful expression on her face. She had assurance she had been heard and the peace of God filled her heart and mind (Philippians 4:7).

When a person seeks the Saviour, the Holy Spirit guides their thoughts, and they offer their own simple prayer to the living God. Such prayers take their own shape and expression. The repentant thief offered a one sentence prayer, and he was heard. Anna offered a prayer several sentences long and was heard.

Believer, your prayer may be brief or long. What matters is your attitude of heart as you pray. Your loving Father in heaven delights to hear your petitions and invites you to come anytime for any reason. So come to Him and come now.

Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer!
That calls me from a world of care,
And bids me at my Father’s throne
Make all my wants and wishes known.
In seasons of distress and grief,
My soul has often found relief,
And oft escaped the tempter’s snare,
By thy return, sweet hour of prayer!

Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer!
The joys I feel, the bliss I share,
Of those whose anxious spirits burn
With strong desires for thy return!
With such I hasten to the place
Where God my Savior shows His face,
And gladly take my station there,
And wait for thee, sweet hour of prayer!

Sweet hour of prayer! sweet hour of prayer!
Thy wings shall my petition bear
To Him whose truth and faithfulness
Engage the waiting soul to bless.
And since He bids me seek His face,
Believe His Word and trust His grace,
I’ll cast on Him my every care,
And wait for thee, sweet hour of prayer!

Darkness Good Or Bad?

“On my bed I remember you;
I think of you through the watches of the night.
Because you are my help,
I sing in the shadow of your wings.
I cling to you;
your right hand upholds me”
Psalm 63:6-8 (NIV)

As little children most of us were afraid of the dark. Such fear is very understandable. Not being able to see anything around us combined with an overactive imagination makes a person able to conjure up all kinds of danger lurking nearby. Fear of the dark inspires us to have night lights in our children’s bedrooms to turn on when they are put to bed.

On the other hand a shadow can be very comforting. When we are in danger and are in the shadow of a tall powerful person, we feel safe. As a young boy on my grandmother’s farm, I occasionally when out hunting a black bear who chased our cows home. My very tall uncle, who cast a long shadow and carried a powerful loaded rifle, was right beside me. I was hoping we would meet the bear. My uncle was an expert marksman and so I felt very brave standing in his shadow.

Our verses today speak of confidence in the darkness of night and in the shadow of Jehovah’s wings. No safer place is possible for the child of God than in the Lord’s shadow. This position speaks of ultimate safety. Being beside the Creator of the universe gives the believer total confidence regardless of how frightening the threat might be. Cease staring at the enemy believer and look long at the mighty God Who is your sovereign, loving heavenly Father. Read the following words of John Newton and be at peace with your present problem.

Begone, unbelief,
My Savior is near,
And for my relief
Will surely appear;
By prayer let me wrestle,
And He will perform;
With Christ in the vessel,
I smile at the storm.

Though dark be my way,
Since He is my Guide,
’Tis mine to obey,
’Tis His to provide;
Though cisterns be broken,
And creatures all fail,
The word He hath spoken
Shall surely prevail.

His love, in time past,
Forbids me to think
He’ll leave me at last
In trouble to sink:
Each sweet Ebenezer
I have in review
Confirms His good pleasure
To help me quite through.

Why should I complain
Of want or distress,
Temptation or pain?
He told me no less;
The heirs of salvation,
I know from His Word,
Through much tribulation
Must follow their Lord.

How bitter that cup
No heart can conceive,
Which He drank quite up,
That sinners might live!
His way was much rougher
And darker than mine;
Did Christ, my Lord, suffer,
And shall I repine?

Since all that I meet
Shall work for my good,
The bitter is sweet,
The medicine, food;
Though painful at present,
’Twill cease before long,
And then, oh, how pleasant
The conqueror’s song!

Why should I?

“Create a clean heart in me, O Lord”
Psalm 51:10

For a few years as a teenager I was a rebel in thought and sometimes in deed.  I belonged to the segment of society who were “free thinkers”. We asked why should we obey the laws of the government? We thought ourselves to be above the law. When someone suggested that it was wrong to disobey the rules of the government we would ask “Why?”

We thought that we should live by our own rules. When a person said we should be nice to each other I would ask, “Why should I?” Often the person had a lame answer and would splutter out something such as, “Everyone knowing being nice is best.” I would respond that I did not think being nice was best and liked my rude, hostile way better.

Were I and my friends just a fringe of society and were most people law abiding? I do not think so. When the Police went on strike for 16 hours in Montreal on October 7, 1969, the city experienced its worst night of looting, violence, car racing on the streets and other acts totally illegal. In July 1974, police in Baltimore Maryland staged a strike and similar things occurred with citizens looting, committing arson, and other random acts of a criminal sort.

Some people were taken back at the way law abiding citizens would readily break the law if they thought the police were not there to catch or prevent them. It seems that the law enforcement officials are the only restraint that stops many people from breaking the law as much as they wish. A significant group in society would be far more evil if the strong arm of the law was not there to protect the innocent.

There is a spirit of rebellion in peoples’ hearts that we may wish to deny, but experience teaches us something else. We need some higher authority than the police if we are truly going to be law abiding citizens from the heart. There is a need for us to have new hearts if we are going to obey fully and willingly what is good and just in the world.

The man who wrote our verse today was a good man who wrote some wonderful Psalms recorded in the Bible. But after doing so much good he found himself committing murder and adultery. Even someone who was as fine a person as King David in the Bible discovered a sinful heart inside himself.

So King David prayed to God to give him a clean heart so that he might do what was right in God’s eyes and not what he craved in his sinful state. How vitally important it is for all of us to have a heart to obey God and do what is right in His sight. Perhaps you struggle with life, you may have some secret sin or habit, and are mixed up about how to behave.

You need to meet your Creator by reading the Bible and learn from Him what is right and wrong. You need God to give you a new heart in order to break the cycle of sin. God turns sinners into saints in every generation. He is the authority we all need to obey. He waits for you to come and ask for a heart to follow Him. His invitation is open. Come and come today.