Tag Archives: relationship with God

God in The Nothing Times

One evening in a woman’s Bible study group we talked about the “nothing times”. It started when a young woman said something like this, “I moved here about five years ago. I had a baby who turned out to have serious life threatening health issues. My whole life has changed.  My husband and I used to be respected leaders in my church. I was a professional in the field of law and had a respected job. But now I am nothing. No one knows who I am or what I was.”  So we talked about those times in our life when we feel as if we are worth nothing, and we are doing nothing.

“Nothing  times,” such as experiencing a major health problem that alters our life style; losing our job and title; experiencing a major financial loss; marital problems; problems with children, and countless difficulties and life changes, can reveal what our identity and life is based on.

The truth is in order to make it through these times we need to have a value beyond ourselves, our position, looks and what we can do or achieve. Who we are needs to be defined by something greater than our appearance, education, position, achievements, health or success in life.

Great Men and Nothing Times
The Bible tells stories of men and women who experienced “nothing times.” Nothing times or desert times, are those times when everything we associated with who we are and what we do that gives meaning to our lives is stripped away. We may feel like a no body, a nothing, a non-contributor, but it is in those times we can learn whose we really are and how the truth we learn can change our life.

We could study the “nothing times” of Abraham, Sarah, Joseph, David, Elijah, Elisha, Mary, Paul and others, but today let’s look briefly at Moses.

Moses’ Nothing Time
Moses was a prince of Egypt but was demoted to a shepherd in the desert (Exodus 2:11-25).  Truly this must have seemed like a “nothing time” to Moses. After all, Moses had been educated in the pharaoh’s courts, trained as a soldier in the Egyptian army, entrusted with leadership and responsibility, experienced wealth, luxury and privilege. Moses was in running to be the next ruler of Egypt.

What a come down it must have been for Moses when he found himself a fugitive running from Egyptian officials and then tending sheep in a desert. Yet, God used this time when Moses probably felt like a “nobody,” who was doing nothing of importance, to teach Moses how to live in relationship with God, and what his true identity and purpose is.

This “nothing time” is referred to as Moses’ desert experience. During this time, Moses learned to be humble before God. Moses fell in love with God during this time and became deeply bonded to God. It was because of this humility and bond that God was able to use Moses in such a powerful way. Even though Moses was well educated and powerful within himself, God worked through Moses’ humility and Godly devotion more than any of Moses’ previous education and training.

A key for Moses was that he did not hold unto his past position, or continue to define himself as a privileged son of Egypt, but rather he opened himself to learn of God and to do God’s will, God’s way. God used Moses to lead Israel out of Egypt and to bring Israel into a covenant relationship with God.

The Glory Times
As we read through Exodus, we see what a beautiful and close relationship Moses developed with God through his nothing time, as well as time when he led God’s people through their wilderness. Through humility and faith, Moses developed an intimate relationship with God so much so that Moses had the faith to ask God to see His glory, and God did as Moses requested in Ex. 33:18-23

“Then Moses said, “Now show me your glory.” And the Lord said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.” Then the Lord said, “There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen.”.

Something Out of “My Nothing”
As we read through the Bible, we can see many other people who had those “nothing times.” Some, such as King Saul, responded in pride and fear, and as a result were unable to be used by God. Others responded in faith.  In conclusion, as we reflect on Moses we see some of the keys to surviving and growing in the “nothing” or desert times:

  • relinquish your hold on your  self-made identity, value and purpose
  • define yourself by your relationship with God
  • be humble and open yourself to God’s working; allow Him to show you what you need to know about yourself and Him
  • trust that God is in control, He sees your distress and is working in and for you behind the scenes.

I believe that all of the seemingly nothing times in our life can bring us closer to God and help us see Him in a way that we may have never seen Him before. The question is:
“Are you willing to look to God during the “nothing” times?”

A Verse for Thought
“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” 1 Peter 2:9-10

A Language for Prayer

Language to Pray
Sometimes in my communication with God I wonder what language could I possibly speak that would communicate effectively my thoughts and my heart? Words from an old hymn express this thought well, “What language can I borrow to thank Thee, Dearest Friend?”

Recently on a quest to learn how to praise God, I read through the book of Psalms and looked at the language of praise and of prayer.  I came away with an amazing new understanding of God just by studying the expressions used to describe God in the Psalms. Here are several examples of these expressions, there are many more.
Ps. 111:3 – the God of splendid and majestic works (NASB)
Ps. 104:1 – God who is clothed in majesty
Ps. 29:4– the God of powerful and majestic voice
Ps. 24:10 The Lord Almighty— he is the King of glory.
Ps. 68:8 – God, the One of Sinai

Thinking about these names and descriptions of God found in the psalms gave me a greater awareness of  “Who” I am talking to in prayer. This transformed my reverence for God. How can one not be reverent when thinking of God as presented in Ps. 68:8 “God, the One of Sinai.” When praying to God and thinking of Him as the same God who appeared to Moses and the people on Mt. Sinai in thunder, lighting, smoke, fire and quaking earth, (Ex. 19:16-19), I gained a greater sense of awe. This is the same God who hears my prayers. I can come before the throne of this God through the grace of Jesus.

I found these expressions and descriptions affecting my attitude towards God and my actual words in communicating to God. It made me more aware that I am actually communicating to the God who created the universe.  Speaking to God as the King of Glory; the God who sits enthroned above the earth; my refuge and high tower, or my shield and protector makes my communication with God more real. It helps me to more deeply appreciate prayer not just as a spiritual exercise, but as it really is a “relationship” with “God.”.

Use the inspired Word of God to help you express your heart to God and to develop greater intimacy with God. (More of this topic will be presented in the future on the Digging Deeper page of this site).

Bless the Name of God

Blessed be the name of God!
As I am reading and learning to pray the psalms, I came across the expression “blessed be the name of God.” That sounded so familiar to me. Slowly, my mind unraveled the mystery. As a young girl I remember kneeling down in a small church building and responded “blessed be the name of God,” over and over again. As the lector called out attributes and actions of God, we responded “blessed be the name of God”. Since most attendees were of Polish, or partial Polish descent, often this call and response was in Polish. My mind still remembers the response “Niech będzie błogosławione imię Boga”. It is only recently that I connected the Polish phrase to the English form of the call and response worship.

As I read through the Psalms (and other passages) I see this expression in various forms: blessed be the name of the Lord; let God’s name be blessed; bless the Lord and so on. Some examples :
– Psalm 113:2 “Blessed be the name of the LORD from this time    forth and forever…”.
– Daniel 2:20 Daniel said, “Let the name of God be blessed forever and ever, For wisdom and power belong to Him.
– Psalm 103:1,2 “Bless the LORD, O my soul, And all that is within me, bless His holy Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget none of His benefits…”

There are many statements of this expression in the scriptures. (See other references to this expression: Ps. 41:13; 50:2; 72:18,19; 89:52; 106:48; 124:6; 144:1; Gen. 14:20; 1 Kings 1:48; 5:7;8:15,56;10:9;8:56; I Chron. 16:36;29:10-13; Job 1:21. It is an encouraging study to read these passages in context and learn who blessed God, what did they say in blessing God and why).

How does one  “bless” God?
I was a little stumped by the term bless in the expression “bless, the Lord.” I thought, how can I bless God, isn’t that something He does to me? Isn’t that something we say to one another,?” We write it in notes of encouragement, birthday cards, and so on, ” God bless you”, and so on.

In the context of Ps. 113:2, the term “blessed be” comes from the Hebrew term “barak” which means bow or kneel. Brown, Driver and Riggs provides the following meaning, in reference to its use in numerous psalms: “to bless God, to adore on bended knee.” This gives us the picture of  bowing before almighty God, surrendering our pride, our self, honoring, and praising him.

“Blessed be God, blessed be the Lord, blessed be the name of God” are all terms of praise, a praise to God that indicates His position as sovereign, Almighty God worthy of our honor and thanksgiving and crediting Him for all goodness and acts in our favor.

So when I, with purposed intent, take time to bow and worship God, praising His nature, His character and great deeds, I am “blessing the name of God.” So, “blessing” in this sense is a term indicating worshiping God, bowing before Him, honoring Him, and praising Him.

Blessing is Praising
The idea of blessing God, or blessing His name is closely related to praising Him. In the psalms we often see parallel type statements that mean the same thing with a slightly different tint or shade of meaning. In Psalm 145: 1-2  we see this parallel structure:
“I will extol You, my God, O King,
And I will bless Your name forever and ever. Every day I will bless You, and I will praise Your name forever and ever.”

Another example of this is in Psalm 34:1 which states:
“I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.” And, again, we read it in Ps. 634:  “So I will bless You as long as I live; I will lift up my hands (a stance indicating praising God) in Your name.”

In my way of thinking, when I bless God I am praising Him with a heart of good will and gratitude to God.  When I praise God I am praising Him from a heart of deep reverence, honor and adoration, with an understanding of His worthiness and my need for Him.

Blessing the name of God is worshiping Him and praising Him. We are ascribing to God the value and worth that He has. We, the creation, are honoring the Creator. We, the subjects are honoring the King. We, the children, are honoring our eternal Father.

Read through the book of psalms highlight all the verses on blessing the name of God.  When was the last time you thought about God and honored Him as God? Take time today to bow before God and bless His name.

 

 

 

 

Ring the New Year in With Praise

Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits— Ps. 103:2

A Hum Bug about New Years
I am generally a “hum bug” about New Years.  I am not sure why but I am. Maybe it is because time seems to be flying by and each year I think I will not accomplish what I should or what I want to do. I fear I will not fulfill my purpose(s) in life.

There have been times when I have dutifully examined the old year and set out goals and plans for the new. Yet in the end I felt that I came up short. I didn’t meet the goals. I didn’t fulfill what I thought was my purpose.

A Change of Focus
But recently I have tried to switch the focus from me, myself and my self constructed world to God and His realm, His kingdom.  I have begun looking for Him and His handiwork and presence throughout my days. And I have seen it, yes, I have seen His working in the good and the difficult situations and feelings in my life.

So, this New Years, I am not full of consternation and regret but of joy-not the bring out the party hats and toot the horns joy, but a deep inner peace and contentment. Sure, I failed to do some things I thought I should. Sure, I have had my share of sadness, and challenges in my character and relationships. But I have seen God working, giving me patience, humility, grace, courage to speak, and ways to serve and help others.

So this year I am spending New Year’s Eve and day with specific time to praise God. Praising God and His Son Jesus will be my focus not just on this day, but it will be my theme for this year.

Praise Truths about God
The pages of scripture reveal the character and nature of God. As I read these words I begin to see a God I can trust and who is worthy of praise. These truths about God help me understand what my life is about and help me during the challenging times and feelings. I praise God for His love, faithfulness, mercy, goodness, power and more.

Here are a few that help me:
God is good. This is a truth. He cannot act against His nature. He is good and has good intentions towards me. So, this year when life does not seem so good and I am wondering about God’s part in it, I will choose to believe that God is good and has good intentions towards me no matter what things around me look like or feel like.
• Psalm 145:9 – The Lord is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made.
Psalm 100:5 – For the Lord is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and His faithfulness   continues to each generation.

God is faithful. He is always there. He is reliable, even when you feel you have nothing to stand on, He is there.
• Lamentations 3:22-23– The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

God is personally involved in your life. God is always working on my behalf even when I do not feel it. He is intricately involves in my life. God is not the author of bad things in my life, but when bad things happen, I know He knows and is helping me.
• Psalm 56:8– You keep track of all my sorrows.You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.
• Psalm 139:16-You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.

These are but a few truths about God that I will hold unto and praise Him for in the New Year.

Make a collection of truths about God and use them to encourage you and to praise God as you go through this next year