A to Z Reflections

Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Psalms 103:1

 

This is my second year doing the A to Z Challenge. The challenge is to write a post every day of the month of April (except Sundays) using the letters A-Z.

At the end of the challenge last year I decided I would plan ahead better this year and write some posts in March.  March started off strong with choosing a theme and writing out possible post titles for each day.  But, then the flu hit our house for most of March, and my mom duties trumped writing.

When April 1 rolled around, I had decided I had too much on my plate and I wouldn’t do it. Then April 2 came and I saw my calendar with the theme chosen and a word for God for each day of the month written in and I decided to go for it.

And I’m glad I did. Thank you to everyone who read or commented this month. You’ve been a blessing to me!

My biggest takeaway

After spending a month reflecting on the character of God my take away is that God is God and I am not.  He is so beyond what my mind can grasp.  As I read Psalms 103 this morning I realized I could spend the rest of my life trying to answer the question, “Who is God?” and still only have a glimpse of His majesty and power.  Yet, it is a worthwhile pursuit, I believe.  As I realize more of who God is my love swells for Him and others.

Lessons I learned

  1.  I love writing.  I mean I really, really love writing – like catching the drips of a triple decker chocolate ice cream melting down my hand on a hot July day.
  2. Doing one thing means not doing another.  Time is a limited commodity – that was evident to me last month.  My zero-inbox email has become the 100’s of unread emails inbox.  I didn’t read as much as I would have liked.  My husband is a saint, and cheerfully cereal for supper more than once.
  3. Even when I’m short on time I need to take care of myself (sleeping, eat healthy, exercise, time in the Word). When one of those slips, I get grumpy. When I’m grumpy I don’t love those around me well.
  4. Done is better than perfect.  Often I would have preferred to edit and re-write the posts over a period of a few days.  Needing to post each day and having a limited amount of time to do it meant I had to resist the urge to edit and edit.

Blogs I discovered

Part of the challenge was to visit five blogs a day and comment.  That was fun and I found some new friends – too many to list here. But here are a few of my favorites:

Heather Erickson – Her husband has stage IV cancer. She writes candidly about their journey. I appreciated advice and thoughts on how to encourage and bless someone going through cancer. Her writing is full of grace, love, and life.

Tossing it out – His theme was It’s About Time. I enjoyed his thought-provoking posts.

Life and Faith in Caneyhead – I enjoyed her theme on Perspectives.

Word Dreams – Her theme was Literary Genres. I was not surprised to learn I love biographies and historical fiction.  Zombie fiction – not so much.

Missed a letter or want to go back and re-read one?  Head to my website Filled to Empty.  There is a A to Z Challenge link under the tab Devotionals at the top of the page where you can find all the posts.  Happy reading!


What was your take-away from the series?  Has your view of God changed? How do you read your favorite blogs?  I have a list of blogs I discovered and would love to read on a regular basis. I’ve tried email, bloglovin, and Feedly with little success.  I’d love to know if you’ve found something that works for you?

 

 

 

 

God is zealous

“The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this” 2 Kings 19:31

When my kids were babies I loved scrapbooking. I would have three prints of each picture developed so I could make three scrapbooks – one for each of us. I bought stickers, acid-free paper, punches, markers and every kind of scissors and circle cutters. That passion rolled into the idea of saving money by making my own cards. So I bought rubber stamps and ink and glitter – you get the idea. A few years ago I sold the entire set because I hadn’t used it in years.

In the beginning, I was zealous. I dreamed of my children as adults flipping through the photo albums I had hand made for them. But times changed. I changed. We moved to digital cameras and I found it was easier to organize and display my photos on a screen rather than paper.

God is a zealous God

To have zeal is to have passion, to be diligently devoted to something. God is zealous which means He is fully committed to what He plans. He is in it 100% – all the way to the end. He doesn’t get tired, bored or overwhelmed. Quitting isn’t in His character.  Unlike my scrapbooking adventures, God never changes.

I recently had a conversation with a friend. He said he was glad that I had a personal relationship with God, but He didn’t view God that way. He believes in God. But he feels God made the world and then sits up in heaven watching us like a player of the Sims video game. When I looked at the antonyms for zealous (apathetic, cold, unconcerned, indifferent) it became clear my friend didn’t believe God was zealous.

God calls us to be zealous.

I can easily get all fired up about something – a careless word spoken or rudeness. God has been helping me to turn that passion into honoring Him and loving others instead.  When I chose to set my mind on God that changes my perspective.  I’m going to be zealous. The question is what am I going to be zealous about?

Those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh; but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. The mind of the flesh is death, but the mind of the Spirit is life and peace. Rom 8:5-6

Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Rom 12:10-12

God’s unending love

We are at the end of our  A-Z journey of God’s characteristics.  As we wrap up today I want to close with some words from Romans 8 that describe how much God loves each of us.  Thank you for joining me, I pray God’s richest blessings on you as you walk with the King and be a blessing!

If God is for us, who can be against us?  He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Do you have any hobbies? How about past hobbies that have fallen by the wayside? Are you zealous by nature? If not, I would wonder what being zealous for God would look like for you.  Leave a comment below.


Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you for the opportunity to reflect on who you are. I thank you for each one who has joined me on the journey through the alphabet. I pray you would bless them and strength them. I pray your face will shine upon them and give them grace. May we all be zealous for you. As you have loved us, may we love others lavishly. We pray these things for your glory. In Jesus name, Amen.

Y – God is Yahweh

“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.” Deut. 6:4

 

One afternoon my daughter and I were looking through the hope chest filled with memories. She pulled out my cabbage patch doll and looked confused at the doll’s birth certificate. My doll was named Catherine Marie – which is also my daughter’s name.

As young girls do, I dreamed of what I would name my children when I grew up. I wanted to name my daughter Catherine Marie after my mom Mary Catherine. My middle name is Marie so I thought the spin was perfect. My daughter and I had a good laugh as we figured out that I named a doll after her 20 years before she was born!

I think most people ponder what they will name their little one before they are born. Names are an important part of our culture as they provide identity. In a face-paced society, a name has significance since it is something you carry with you for your entire life.

YHWH

We call God by many different names, titles, and attributes. YHWH is special because is the name He gave Himself. It is a proper name like Bob or Sue. The ancient Hebrew language had no vowels so we aren’t exactly sure how to pronounce YHWH.

YHWH appears over 6,000 times in the Old Testament.  The Jews viewed YHWH with such reverence and respect they would not write or speak the name.  So they substituted Adonia (Lord) and Elohim (God). Over time the vowels from each found their way into YHWH and we now pronounce it as YaHWeH. In the English Bible, you will find Yahweh written in capital letters as LORD.

Meaning of Yahweh

Yahweh refers to God’s self-existence. God describes Himself as “I AM WHO I AM” He is self-sufficient, having life in and of himself. He has no beginning, no ending, and no dependence. He simply is, always was and always will be. (Got Questions)

God said to Moses, “I am who I am.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I am has sent me to you.’” Ex 3:14

I AM

God is not I was, I will be or I want to be -He is I AM. Perfect and complete, ever present (Psalms 107:13), ready to forgive (Psalms 25:11) and our helper and guide (Psalms 31:3).

Yahweh is a great way to wrap up our journey through the alphabet of Who God is. He is I AM – the combination of all we’ve studied and so much more we haven’t. I think I could spend the rest of my life here on earth trying to understand who God is and only have a glimpse of His nature and character.

In 1 Cor 13:12 we see that God knows us fully now, but we only see as a reflection in a mirror. “For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”  Like the kid dreaming of Disney World the more I learn about God the more I want to know Him. Rev. 22:1-5 gives us a glimpse of what it will be like.

Do you know what your name means? Is there significance to you in the meaning? What does God being IAM mean to you? Share in the comments below.


LORD, you are the great I AM.  I thank you because you are lacking in nothing. You are perfect and complete and ever-present help in my time of need.  I can only imagine how majestic and magnificent you are.  I worship and adore you, for you are worthy.  In Jesus Name. Amen.

X – God is like an x-ray

And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Heb 4:13

The x-ray was discovered by accident in 1895 by a German physics professor Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen. The original x-ray machines took 90 minutes compared to the 20 milliseconds today. Could you imagine trying to stand still for 90 minutes?

Before the discovery of the x-ray people would just feel around and make their best guess as to where the bullet or tumor was.  He named the machine x-ray because in math x stands for unknown. What was unknown is now known.

The Unknown God

In Acts 17  Paul is in Athens where he sees among all the many idols they worship an idol for the unknown God. Paul gets excited about this because he knows who the unknown God is! He starts telling everyone around him:

“The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands.  And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else.”

You can read the rest of what Paul said here.  He goes on the share that this God – the one who created the world wants a relationship with them.

God can be known

Like an x-ray God is hidden from our physical eyes because He is a spirit. I sometimes try to imagine what it would be like to see God. If God is so beyond what I can think or imagine He is, How amazing is He? I mean, When I see a sunset, or waves crashing endlessly onto the shore, or Niagara Falls dumping 600,000 gallons of water a second, or the width and vastness of the Grand Canyon as far as my eye can see – I know something amazingly awesome is behind all that we see.

1 Timothy 6:15–17, “He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion.”

While we can’t see God in physical form He has provided a way for us to know Him with our hearts and minds this side of heaven through the Bible, the mediator Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit who indwells us.

The Bible

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Heb 4:11

Jesus Christ

“I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. John 14:6

Now, this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. John 17:3

The Holy Spirit

John 14:26 “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”

God wants a relationship with us

He created us and knows us. Often we can be afraid that if someone really knew us they wouldn’t accept or like us.  God’s not like that. He already knows all of our good and bad – and He still loves us. He, like an x-ray machine, can see through all the fake smiles and silent tears. He knows our hearts.  If it ended there, I would be hopeless.  But, not only does He know our hearts – He has the power and desire to help us if we let Him.

O Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. Psalms 139:1

For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” Rom 8:1

Psalm 51:10 “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”

Can you count how many x-rays you have had in your life? While we can’t see God with our physical eyes, we do see Him working in and around us. How have you recently seen God work in your life?

Fun fact: X was a challenging letter! Did you know in modern English, x is the third least used letter, occurring in only about 0.15% of all words. The least used letters are q and z.


Father in Heaven, Thank you for your unending love for me.  I thank you for creation and the beauty in it. I can only imagine how amazing, glorious and majestic you are.  I want to know you more. “Search me,  God, and know my heart, test me and know my anxious thoughts.  See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” In Jesus name. Amen. (Psalms 139:23-24)

 

W – God is wise

Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! Rom 11:33

As my 18-year-old son got behind the wheel of the car, I snuggled up in the backseat and fell sound asleep. Waking an hour later I felt refreshed and ready for the last leg of the trip. I was able to fall asleep because I was confident in his training, skills, and experience. I trusted he knew where we were going and he had the ability and desire to get us there.

Knowledge vs. Wisdom

Knowledge is having the information to accomplish a goal. Wisdom is taking the best steps to achieve it. Knowledge is in your head where wisdom is in your heart. To be wise you need to have knowledge. But just because you have knowledge doesn’t make you automatically wise. You can have knowledge and not apply it and be a fool.

If Jon knew the route home but didn’t get behind the wheel, or if he got behind the wheel and chose to drive in a different direction we wouldn’t have gotten home. He had to know both how to get home and then choose to do it.

God is wise

Because my God is wise He is not: careless, foolish, inexperienced, insensitive, ignorant, unaware, uninformed, thoughtless, unreasonable

He is trustworthy -He is competent. I don’t sit in the passenger seat second guessing God’s every move anxious He will fall asleep or run out of gas. I can hop in the back seat and sleep confidently knowing He knows the way and will get me to the destination.

He is respected – To respect someone is to have a feeling of deep admiration elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements. God is worthy of my respect. I stand in awe of Him – who He is and how He acts. It is a privilege and honor to be called His child.  (John 1:12-13)

Can you think of a time when you trusted in God’s wisdom? Was it hard for you? How did things work out?


Father in heaven, how deep is your wisdom and knowledge. How unsearchable are your ways? You are the everlasting god, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth. You do not become weary or tired. Your understanding is inscrutable. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are your thoughts and ways higher than mine. To the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ. Amen.   (Rom 11:33, Romans 16:27, Is 40:28, Is 55:9)