Weekend Rerun: I’m Not A Boy!

I’m not a boy.
I’m not a good dancer.  I’m not easily offended.  I’m not a blonde or a red-head.
I’m not tall.
I’m not artistic.  I’m not quick to cry.
I’m not usually a fan of “chick flicks.”
I’m not much of a TV watcher.
I’m not from a small family.
I’m not a quick decision maker.
I’m not an extrovert.  I’m not athletic.  I’m not fond of “outside.”

We all define ourselves by lists of “I ams” and “I am nots.”

“Are you a Christian?”
I am.

“Are you fond of sports?”
I am not.

Is it any wonder that God has a list, too?  His “ams” and “am nots” through Scripture establish His character and give us reliable assurances in times of trouble.

We rest in safety because we know He is “I AM.”

It’s the most powerful declaration of God’s identity in Scripture, when He tells Moses His name: “I AM WHO I AM . . .This is my name forever, the name you shall call me from generation to generation” (Exodus 3:14, 15).

My Bible notes that His name could also be read as: “I WILL BE WHAT I WILL BE.”

He is I AM and I WILL BE.  He is eternal.  He has existed before our human history began and He has walked through the entirety of our time on this planet and will still remain forever.

So, we can trust Him.  We can place in His capable hands all that frightens us because He knows where we have come from and where we are headed.

It’s more than that.  He tells us:

  • “I AM with you” (Genesis 26:24).
  • “I AM God Almighty” (Genesis 35:11).
  • “I AM the LORD, who heals you” (Exodus 15:26).
  • “I AM the LORD your God” (Exodus 16:12).
  • “I, the LORD your God, am holy” (Leviticus 19:2).
  • “For I AM the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior” (Isaiah 43:3).
  • “I AM the LORD, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God” (Isaiah 45:5).
  • “I AM the LORD your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.” (Isaiah 48:17).
  • “I AM the LORD your God, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar—the Lord Almighty is His name” (Isaiah 51:15).

Can you read through this list of what God says about Himself, His “I ams” and not be in awe, not be filled with the desire to worship, not be comforted?

He is with you, there in the places of hurt and despair.  He heals you.  He is holy.  He is your Savior, pulling you out of the pit and redeeming you through the blood of His Son.  He is the only God.  He directs our steps.  He is Lord Almighty, in control of all creation, including the circumstances you find yourself in.

Praise God!

He doesn’t stop there, though.  He also has “am nots.”  Just as powerful, these are declarations of His dominion over all the fake gods that vie for our worship.

In Daniel 2:11, the magicians and advisers of King Nebuchadnezzar whine that no one can possibly tell the king what he dreamt except the gods, and “they do not live among humans.”

Not our God.  He made His dwelling among His people, directing them to “make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them” (Exodus 25:8).  He abandoned the glories of heaven and “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14).

He can say, “I am not distant from you.”

In Psalm 135:15-18, the Psalmist writes:

The idols of the nations are silver and gold, made by the hands of men.  They have mouths, but cannot speak; eyes, but they cannot see; they have ears, but cannot hear nor is the breath in their mouths.

Not our God.

Our God is the Shepherd who speaks to His sheep (John 10:27).  He is the God who sees us (Genesis 16:13) and hears our voices when we call to Him (Psalm 5:3).

He can say, “I am not ignorant of your need .”

And our God “is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?” (Numbers 23:19).

Colin Urquhart wrote, “God is the God of promise.  He keeps His word even when that seems impossible.”

He can say, “I am not a promise-breaker.”

It may feel difficult at times to believe in God’s nearness, responsiveness, concern, love and faithfulness because we are immersed in a pit of circumstances that blocks our view of Him.  And yet, He tells us all the things He is and all the things He is not and it is that Scriptural assurance of His character to which we cling.

We can rest in safety knowing that He is I AM.  We can rest in safety knowing all that He is not.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her upcoming book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, will be released in the Fall of 2013!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King

Weekend Walk, 08/06/2011

Hiding the Word:

Last week, I started the first half of a set of verses from Psalm 145 and they were a blessing to me.  There were days when it was hard to trust that God would truly keep His promises, and yet Psalm 145:13 says :”The LORD is trustworthy in all he promises
and faithful in all he does.

On days that I felt as if I had tripped and fallen or that the weight of stressors and annoyances and my own faults had pushed me hard to the ground, I recalled Psalm 145:14: “The LORD upholds all who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down.”

And in those moments when I calculated bank balance versus upcoming expenses, I remembered Psalm 145:15-16: “The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food at the proper time. You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.”

This was a powerful set of verses for me.  So, on to the second half for this week:

The LORD is righteous in all his ways and faithful in all he does.
The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.
He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them.
Psalm 145:17-19

Those are the verses that will be posted up on my stove and bathroom and in my journal for me to meditate on and memorize throughout the week ahead.

What verse(s) will you be learning?  Please share!

Weekend Rerun:
How He Loves Us, originally published 02/17/2011

If you ever see me driving down the road in my minivan and I’m clearly singing my heart out and maybe even have one hand up in the air (the other hand obviously on the wheel), I’m going to tell you right now what I’m doing because it could only be one thing.  I’m singing How He Loves with David Crowder, probably for the fifth time in a row off my iPod.  (I know this song was originally by John Mark McMillan, but I’m a huge David Crowder fan, so I’m biased to his version.)

Anyway, if you haven’t heard this song, feel free to stop reading for a moment and give it a listen here.  Go ahead, give it a listen.  I am going to stop writing and listen to it again, too.

Now, don’t you love that song?  It’s just not possible for me to write about God’s love without the song How He Loves playing through my thoughts.

I love the reminder in this song of the powerful simplicity in this truth: He loves us.  Sometimes I need to hear that over and over and be reminded of the magnitude and weight of His love.   It’s especially true when my circumstances are difficult and I feel like I’m sinking.  As the song reminds me, “If His grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking”—-not drowning in our circumstances, but enveloped by His grace.

When I take the time to truly meditate on God’s amazing love for me, I am changed.  My focus is shifted off of my failures or fears or what-ifs and fixed instead on His love.  Again, as the song says, “I don’t have time to maintain these regrets, when I think about the way that He loves us.”  It’s pretty difficult to meditate on God’s great love and be afraid or paralyzed by our past mistakes at the same time.

I wonder how my everyday life would change if I walked around fully aware of God’s love all the time.  All my self-condemnation would cease.  My worries would end because I’d know God loves me enough to care for me and not to abandon me.  I would love others more unconditionally because of the grace I myself have received.  I wouldn’t question God’s plans for me because I’d trust His love.

My life would be transformed.

Paul reminds us that our life changes when we live in the knowledge of God’s love for us:

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,  and to know this love that surpasses knowledgethat you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:17-19

The Message translates verse 19 this way: “Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.”

Amazingly, we’ve done nothing to earn this love and we can do nothing to end it.  Paul writes in Romans 5:8  But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  He loved us in our sin, with all of our mistakes and failures, with our lack of trust and our self-focused lives.  He loved us when we didn’t have anything to offer in return.

Life is sometimes exhilarating and sometimes frightening.  I cannot explain why we go through difficult times and why life is so hard.  But I do know that:

God sees you. He hasn’t lost you in the midst of your circumstances.  He knows your hurt and pain, as well as your joy and excitement, and He wants to walk with you at all times.

God is big enough to save you. He is mighty and powerful and has your world in His hands.

God loves you with a lavish, unconditional, and unchanging love. The Psalmist tells us God isn’t just a powerful being who doesn’t care about us.  In Psalm 62:11-12, it says,  “One thing God has spoken, two things have I heard:  that you, O God, are strong, and that you, O Lord, are loving.”

Rest in this today—He loves you.  Oh, how He loves you.

Book Review:

And a bonus for you this weekend!  If you click on the Bookshelf tab on this blog, you’ll see some of the books and studies I’ve been reading this year with some brief comments about each one and a link to more information about them.  There are some great reads on that list!  But, every once in a while I’m going to pop in a quick book review for you to enjoy here on the weekend page.

This past week, I picked up Lisa Harper’s book, Stumbling Into Grace, with no idea what to expect.  She’s one of the new speakers to the Women of Faith team and in just a few weeks, I’ll get to hear her speak.  After reading this book, I’m even more excited about that opportunity.

First off, she’s a riot.  We might type LOL in Facebook all the time, but how often do we actually read something that makes us laugh out loud?  Lisa Harper’s book did that for me.  She’s genuine and authentic with a knack for storytelling and an engaging wit.  Each chapter moved so quickly, I read the book in about a day.

That doesn’t mean what she said had no weight to it.  Lisa adeptly moves from funny to thought-provoking.  It’s a book I’d like to read again more slowly as a daily devotional or as a small group to really consider each of her points.  And she touches on so many big-deal issues for women in this book—things like handling disappointment, feeling loved, loving others, showing grace and receiving grace, and developing a heart of gratitude.  Her small group/personal reflection questions at the end of the chapter are what really could push this book from a basic overview of grace to a deeper consideration of each topic.

The bottom line is that we’re not perfect and we’re all stumbling a little into God’s grace, tripping over one untied shoelace after another.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.