Monday, January 25, 2016

Name Above All Names--King of Zion

artwork by Krista Hamrick



Krista Hamrick’s beautiful original art print, Name Above All Names Alphabet, has so inspired me. Each of the 26 individual Names she has identified are so special, as Krista has intricately painted, almost like stained glass windows, each one with its Scripture reference. Krista posted on her Krista Hamrick Illustration Facebook page... “This is probably the painting that I have most enjoyed researching, designing, redesigning and painting. Beth Willis Miller has expanded upon each name with devotional word studies. By knowing, believing and trusting who God says He is, we can be confident in who He has created us to be.” I so agree with Krista! 


My heart has been drawn to do a word study for each of the names included in her art print. Krista and I felt led to publish our Name Above All Names Devotional: Focusing on 26 Alphabetical Names of Christ available now on Amazon as a softcover book and as a Kindle book at this link. Combining the beauty of Krista's artistic excellence with these word study devotionals is perfect for individual quiet reflection or small group Bible studies focusing on the Name Above All Names—Jesus Christ—and His attributes and characteristics.


I was inspired by Hillsong United’s anointed Zion Acoustic Sessions while studying Psalm 9:11


ERV: Sing praises to the Lord, who sits as King in Zion. Tell the nations about the great things he has done.

Expanded: Sing praises to the Lord who is king on Mount [dwells on] Zion [the location of the Temple]. Tell the nations [among the peoples] what he has done.

NCV: Sing praises to the Lord who is king on Mount Zion. Tell the nations what he has done.

Benson Commentary: "As the special residence of his glory is in heaven, so the special residence of his grace is in his church, of which Zion was a type: there he meets his people with his promises and graces, and there he expects they should meet him with their praises and services. Declare among the people his doings—Not only among the Israelites, but to the heathen nations, that they may also be brought to the knowledge and worship of the true God. Sing praises to the Lord—As the result of these views of his character, and at the remembrance of his doings. The heart of the psalmist is full of exultation and joy at the remembrance of the divine interposition, and he naturally breaks out into these strong expressions, calling on others to rejoice also. Which dwelleth in Zion—As Zion was the place where at this time the tabernacle was set up, and the worship of God was celebrated, it is spoken of as his dwelling-place.
Declare among the people his doings—Make general and wide proclamation of what he has done; that is, make him known abroad, in his true character, that others may be brought also to put their trust in him, and to Praise him."

Pastor John Gill writes: “The psalmist having determined in the strength of grace to praise the Lord himself, and show forth all his marvelous works, and given his reasons for it, both with respect to himself in particular, and with respect to the people of God in general, here calls upon others to engage in the same work; the Lord is not only to be praised, which may be done by celebrating the perfections of his nature, and the works of his hands; by giving him thanks for mercies temporal and spiritual, and by living to his glory; but his praises are to be sung by a modulation of the voice in musical notes, as the word used signifies; where the same word is used of the singing of birds; and this is to be done by the saints jointly, in concert together, as Paul and Silas in prison sang the praises of God; and there is great reason why they should join together in this work, since they share the blessings of divine grace in common together. Jehovah, to whom praises are to be sung, is described as the inhabitant of Zion, the ark and tabernacle being there before the temple was built, which were symbols of the divine Presence. God by his essence and power is everywhere, he fills heaven and earth, and cannot be contained in either; his glorious presence is in heaven; his gracious presence is in his church and among his people; where they dwell he dwells, and where he dwells they dwell: hence the church is called by the same name as the Lord is here, the inhabitant of Zion; and this description of him points out the place where his praises are to be sung, in Zion; who are to sing them, the members of the church; and the reason why, because the Lord dwells in Zion; and is there a refuge for his people, and protects them.”

What does it mean to trust the Lord, the King of Zion? It means looking to Him as the source of our security and putting our faith in the grace, love, power, and protection of God when the inevitable pressures of life come. It means knowing as the psalmist did that as the mountains surround and protect Zion, the city of Jerusalem, God himself surrounds and shields His people. When we trust the Lord, we don’t have to focus on the wicked and what they are doing or might do to us. We don’t have to rehash our own woes. Even though there are problems the size of mountains facing us, we can cry out to the Lord who created the mountains and is able to move them. As we sing praises to Him, and focus on Him and His truth, He will encourage our hearts and help us to tell the nations about the great things He has done!

Lord Jesus, King of Zion, I put my trust in You today. You are my security and protection, my shield, my fortress, and my hiding place, and I sing praises to You. When enemies surround me and troubles multiply, help me to remember that you are ever faithful and that you surround and protect me, both now and forever. Thank You for the free gift of salvation, that we are justified on the basis of Your finished work on the Cross. Thank You that, right now, we are under the completely sufficient imputed righteousness of Christ. Because we have placed our trust in the finished work of Jesus Christ, we are redeemed by Your precious blood. The threat of failure, judgment, and condemnation has been removed. Knowing that God’s love for us and approval of us will never be determined by our performance is the most encouraging promise to which we cling—what great things You have done! In Your mighty Name Above All Names—King of Zion, we pray, amen.

Look Up—meditate on Psalm 9:11

Look In
—as you meditate on Psalm 9:11 pray to see how you might apply it to your life.

Look Out—as you meditate on Psalm 9:11 pray to see how you might apply it to your relationships with others.

Name Above All Names Devotional: Focusing on 26 Alphabetical Names of Christ

Weekly LinkUps…

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Name Above All Names--Yahweh

artwork by Krista Hamrick
Krista Hamrick’s beautiful original art print, Name Above All Names Alphabet, has so inspired me. Each of the 26 individual Names she has identified are so special, as Krista has intricately painted, almost like stained glass windows, each one with its Scripture reference. Krista posted on her Krista Hamrick Illustration Facebook page... “This is probably the painting that I have most enjoyed researching, designing, redesigning and painting. Beth Willis Miller has expanded upon each name with devotional word studies. By knowing, believing and trusting who God says He is, we can be confident in who He has created us to be.” I so agree with Krista! 

My heart has been drawn to do a word study for each of the names included in her art print. Krista and I felt led to publish our Name Above All Names Devotional: Focusing on 26 Alphabetical Names of Christ available now on Amazon as a softcover book and as a Kindle book at this link. Combining the beauty of Krista's artistic excellence with these word study devotionals is perfect for individual quiet reflection or small group Bible studies focusing on the Name Above All Names—Jesus Christ—and His attributes and characteristics.




I was inspired by worshipping with Conrad Johnson, our worship leader, to the anointed hymn, At Your Name (Yahweh, Yahweh) while studying Exodus 3:13,15

HCSB: Then Moses asked God, “If I go to the Israelites and say to them: The God of your fathers has sent me to you, and they ask me, ‘What is His name?’ what should I tell them?” God also said to Moses, “Say this to the Israelites: Yahweh, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you. This is My name forever; this is how I am to be remembered in every generation.”

LEB:  But Moses said to God, “Look, if I go to the Israelites and I say to them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ and they say to me, ‘What is his name?’ then what shall I say to them?”
And God said again to Moses, “So you must say to the Israelites, ‘Yahweh, the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you. This is my name forever, and this is my remembrance from generation to generation.’”

NOG: Then Moses replied to Elohim, “Suppose I go to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The Elohim of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ What should I tell them?”
Again Elohim said to Moses, “This is what you must say to the people of Israel: Yahweh Elohim of your ancestors, the Elohim of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, has sent me to you. This is my name forever. This is my title throughout every generation.”

WEB:
Moses said to God, “Behold, when I come to the children of Israel, and tell them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you;’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ What should I tell them?”
God said moreover to Moses, “You shall tell the children of Israel this, ‘Yahweh, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, and this is my memorial to all generations.”

Pastor Ken Hemphill writes: “Most Bible scholars would agree that the name Yahweh, or Jehovah, as it is sometimes translated, would be the proper name of God. The other names, including the compound names, provide further revelation of His character and His activity. JEHOVAH (YHWH…or JHVH) Note that the 4 letters (tetra means 4) of YHWH are often referred to as the Tetragrammaton. Vowels were added to the Tetragrammaton (literally "four lettered name"…Prior to 6th century Hebrew has no vowels—added to text AD 600-700) yielding the Name...YAHWEH ... which is most commonly transliterated (transcribed from one alphabet into corresponding letters of another alphabet) as...JEHOVAH.
Various scholars have suggested different translations of the name of God used in this passage. The name is from the imperfect stem of the Hebrew verb "to be." The imperfect tense denotes an action that started in the past, continues in the present, but is not yet complete. Many Bible scholars follow the simple translation that we have in our text, "I am who I am." One of our Old Testament scholars at Southwestern translates it this way: "I AM who I have always been." I like this translation because it affirms that the God who spoke from the burning bush is the same God who worked through the lives of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. It also implies His ability and desire to work through Moses in the present and the future. However we translate this name, we can be assured that it affirms God's self-existence and His eternality.”

Pastor Alexander Maclaren writes in his Expositions of Holy Scripture:
The fire that burns and does not burn out, which has no tendency to destruction in its very energy, and is not consumed by its own activity, is surely a symbol of the One Being, whose being derives its law and its source from itself, who only can say—“I AM THAT I AM”—the law of His nature, the foundation of His being, the only conditions of His existence being, as it were, enclosed within the limits of His own nature. He says, “I AM THAT I AM.” All other creatures are links; this is the staple from which they all hang. All other being is derived, and therefore limited and changeful; this being is underived, absolute, self-dependent, and therefore unalterable forevermore. Because we live, we die. In living, the process is going on of which death is the end. But God lives forevermore, a flame that does not burn out; therefore His resources are inexhaustible, His power unwearied. He needs no rest for recuperation of wasted energy. His gifts diminish not the store which He has to bestow. He gives and is none the poorer. He works and is never weary. He operates unspent; He loves and He loves forever. And through the ages, the fire burns on, unconsumed and undecayed.”

Pastor John Piper writes: “The most common and the most important name for God in the Old Testament is a name that in our English versions never even gets translated. Whenever you see the word LORD in all capital letters, you know that this name is behind it. In Hebrew the name had four letters — YHWH — and may have been pronounced something like Yahweh. The Jews came to regard this word with such reverence that they would never take it upon their lips, lest they inadvertently take the name in vain. So whenever they came to this name in their reading, they pronounced the word “adonai” which means “my lord.” The English versions have basically followed the same pattern. They translate the proper name Yahweh with the word LORD in all caps. This approach is not a very satisfactory thing to do, because the English word LORD does not communicate to our ears a proper name like John or Michael or Noël. But Yahweh is God’s proper name in Hebrew. The importance of it can be seen in the sheer frequency of its use. It occurs 6,828 times in the Old Testament. That’s more than three times as often as the simple word for “God” (Elohim – 2,600; El – 238). What this fact shows is that God aims to be known not as a generic deity, but as a specific Person with a name that carries his unique character and mission. (Note: The word “Jehovah” originated from an attempt to pronounce the consonants YHWH with the vowels from the word adonai. In the oldest Hebrew texts there are no vowels. So it is easy to see how this would happen since whenever YHWH occurred in the text, the word adonai was pronounced by the reverent Jew.) The most important text in all the Bible for understanding the meaning of the name Yahweh is Exodus 3:13,15. God has just commanded Moses to go to Egypt and to bring his people Israel out of captivity. Moses says to God, “‘If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, “The God of your fathers has sent me to you,” and they ask me, “What is his name?” what shall I say to them?’ 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.”’ God also said to Moses, ‘Say this to the people of Israel, “The LORD (that is, Yahweh!), the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.” This is my name forever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations.’” Two facts persuade me that this text provides an interpretation of the name Yahweh. One is that the name Yahweh and the name I AM are built out of the same Hebrew word (hayah). The other is that Yahweh seems to be used here interchangeably with I AM. “I AM has sent me to you” (v. 14). “Yahweh . . . has sent me to you” (v. 15). I think it would be safe to say that God’s purpose in this meeting with Moses is to reveal, as he never had before (Exodus 6:2), the meaning of his personal name, Yahweh. The key is in the phrase, I AM, and especially in the phrase, I AM WHO I AM. So here is where we ought to spend a lot of time meditating. What does it mean when you ask your God, Who are you? and he answers, I AM WHO I AM? I hope you can begin to feel how important these words are. There aren’t any words more important than these. Any words that you think might be are important only because these words are true. The more you ponder them, the more awesome they become.”

Our world has seen more change from 1900 to the present than in all history recorded before 1900, and things continue to accelerate rapidly. As time speeds by, measured not just in minutes or seconds but in nanoseconds (billionths of a second), everything changes. Technology changes so fast in our twenty-first-century world that we can barely keep up with the upgrades on our computers. Our bodies undergo the inevitable aging process, and we witness constant upheaval in the nations of the world. Material things change and deteriorate. The changes in the world do not change God one bit or thwart his plans. He’s the same yesterday, today, and forever, and his love extends to the next generation and the next. Our security can’t be found in any of the things in this ever-changing world. Instead, our security is in God and his promises.

Unchanging Lord Jesus, Yahweh, I praise You and worship You for Your love and faithfulness that extend from one generation to the next. Thank You that although our circumstances may change and the things around us pass away, You remain the same forever. Help me to find my security in your eternal sameness. Through all generations, even before you made the earth, You have been our dwelling place. You are God, without beginning or end. I am thankful that wherever I go, I don’t have to feel insecure or anxious because You are there! Thank You for Your faithfulness and loving-kindness that follows me all the days of my life. In Your mighty Name Above All Names—Yahweh, we pray, amen.

Look Up—meditate on Exodus 3:13,15

Look In
—as you meditate on Exodus 3:13,15 pray to see how you might apply it to your life.

Look Out—as you meditate on Exodus 3:13,15 pray to see how you might apply it to your relationships with others.

26 Name Above All Names Alphabet Posts Page…

Weekly LinkUps…

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Name Above All Names--Exalted One

artwork by Krista Hamrick
Krista Hamrick’s beautiful original art print, Name Above All Names Alphabet, has so inspired me. Each of the 26 individual Names she has identified are so special, as Krista has intricately painted, almost like stained glass windows, each one with its Scripture reference. Krista posted on her Krista Hamrick Illustration Facebook page... “This is probably the painting that I have most enjoyed researching, designing, redesigning and painting. Beth Willis Miller has expanded upon each name with devotional word studies. By knowing, believing and trusting who God says He is, we can be confident in who He has created us to be.” I so agree with Krista! 

My heart has been drawn to do a word study for each of the names included in her art print. Krista and I felt led to publish our Name Above All Names Devotional: Focusing on 26 Alphabetical Names of Christ available now on Amazon as a softcover book and as a Kindle book at this link. Combining the beauty of Krista's artistic excellence with these word study devotionals is perfect for individual quiet reflection or small group Bible studies focusing on the Name Above All Names—Jesus Christ—and His attributes and characteristics.

 
 


I was inspired by Chris Tomlin’s anointed hymn, Exalted, while studying Acts 5:30, 31

NASB: The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you had put to death by hanging Him on a cross. He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.

Amplified: The God of our forefathers raised up Jesus, Whom you killed by hanging Him on a tree (cross). God exalted Him to His right hand to be Prince and Leader and Savior and Deliverer and Preserver, in order to grant repentance to Israel and to bestow forgiveness and release from sins.

Expanded: You killed [murdered] Jesus by hanging him on a cross [tree]. But God, the God of our ancestors, raised Jesus up from the dead! Jesus is the One whom God raised [exalted] to be on his right side [hand], as Leader [Prince; Ruler] and Savior. Through him, the people of Israel [Israel] could ·change their hearts and lives [repent] and have their sins forgiven.

J. B. Phillips
: It was the God of our fathers who raised up Jesus, whom you murdered by hanging him on a cross of wood. God has raised this man to his own right hand as prince and savior, to bring repentance and the forgiveness of sins to Israel.

The Message: The God of our ancestors raised up Jesus, the One you killed by hanging him on a cross. God set him on high at his side, Prince and Savior, to give Israel the gift of a changed life and sins forgiven.
Young’s Literal: and the God of our fathers did raise up Jesus, whom ye slew, having hanged upon a tree; this one God, a Prince and a Savior, hath exalted with His right hand, to give reformation to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.

Pastor John MacArthur
writes: "The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom ye slew and hanged on a tree." Peter got right back in that Sanhedrin and said, "Right. That's exactly what you did, you slew Him and hanged Him on a tree." The one that God raised up as your Messiah, you hanged on a tree. That word slew is an interesting word that's used only one other time in the New Testament, very unusual word. It means to murder with your own hands. So he says, "You not only slew Him but you hanged Him on a tree." Why does he say that? Well He was crucified. He could have said that, but to say hanged on a tree ties it in with Deuteronomy 21:23. The Old Testament said, "Cursed is anybody who hangs on a tree." That was the most shameful, despicable, cursed death a man could die, and they chose that one for the Son of God. After indictment there is always exaltation of Christ as Messiah, verse 31. "Him hath God exalted with His right hand." Right hand means power. God by power ripped Christ out of the grave and exalted Him and made Him a Prince and a Savior. Now you thought He was nothing. You thought He was something to be trampled, but God lifted Him up and made Him better than a Prince. The Greek word is Archegos, which means King, Pioneer. It's got so many meanings…Creator, Originator, Author. All of those words, Archegos, has so many concepts. Peter was a fisherman. Maybe one concept that we haven't talked about that Peter may have had in mind is this: on each ship there was a strong swimmer, who was called the Archegos. Whenever the ship got into trouble, his job was with a rope around his waist to dive in, swim to shore, secure the rope and then everybody else could get to shore on the rope. But the Archegos, was the guy who had to make his way there and secure the rope. He says Jesus Christ is the one who having been killed on this earth when the ship wrecked God lifted Him up, took Him to heaven, He left the rope there and all of us are able to reach it on the basis of His provision. And so Jesus Christ is the Archegos—the strong swimmer who secured the anchor to God and then the Savior who gathers us and takes us into God's presence. At the end of verse 31, "He offered you repentance and forgiveness and beloved there's no forgiveness for a man apart from repentance. That's the missing ingredient so much in the message of salvation. People always talk about salvation and they leave out repentance. That doesn't mean you become sinless. That means you're sorry for your sin and you say, "God help me and make me different." Forgive me, and He does. He is Prince and Savior.”

Pastor John Piper writes: "The Foundational Facts of Christianity from Peter's message here in Acts 5:30, 31

Fact  #1—God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Verse 30: "The God of our fathers raised Jesus whom you killed by hanging him on a tree." The God who created the world—and called Abraham, Isaac, and Israel to be his people—this ever-living God raised Jesus from the dead.

Fact  #2—God exalted Jesus to his right hand as Prince and Savior. Verse 31: "God exalted him at his right hand as Leader [or Prince] and Savior." God did not raise Jesus from the dead just to die again. He raised him to reign and to save. He is alive today. He upholds the universe by the word of his power (Hebrews 1:3). All authority in heaven and earth has been given to him (Matthew 28:18). He is building his church as he said he would (Matthew 16:18).

Fact  #3—Jesus has authority to give repentance and forgiveness of sins and he is giving them to men and women from all the peoples. Verse 31b: "God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins." But not only to Israel—that was only the springboard to the world. Acts 11:18 says the church glorified God saying, "Then to the Gentiles [i.e., the peoples] also God has granted repentance unto life."

Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is high and holy, the glorious, exalted One. He reigns over all in heaven and on earth. Our Savior needs no house, for His dwelling place is all eternity. And yet He chooses to dwell with—literally to abide and make his home in—those who are anything but “high and holy” and who know it. Rather they are those whose spirits are humble, contrite, open, and teachable. They know how unworthy they are of God’s love and mercy. But God’s holy and loving heart is moved by individuals who humble themselves and acknowledge their weakness and dependence on him. Then He refreshes, revives, and gives new courage to these repentant souls. How gracious our God is!

Lord Jesus, You are high and lifted up, glorious and exalted! And I am not. I bow before You and ask You to develop in me a heart of humility. Thank You for meeting me right where I am and for bringing renewed courage for my life. Thank you for the ministry you have entrusted to me. If others praise me, help me to remember that my one purpose should be that Your gospel is proclaimed and You are exalted. In everything I do, may I be a stepping-stone instead of a stumbling block so that others may come to know you as Savior and Lord. In Your mighty Name Above All Names—Exalted One, we pray, amen.

Look Up—meditate on Acts 5:30, 31

Look In
—as you meditate on Acts 5:30, 31 pray to see how you might apply it to your life.

Look Out—as you meditate on Acts 5:30, 31 pray to see how you might apply it to your relationships with others.

Name Above All Names Devotional: Focusing on 26 Alphabetical Names of Christ

Weekly LinkUps…

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Name Above All Names--The True Vine


 
Krista Hamrick’s beautiful original art print, Name Above All Names Alphabet, has so inspired me. Each of the 26 individual Names she has identified are so special, as Krista has intricately painted, almost like stained glass windows, each one with its Scripture reference. Krista posted on her Krista Hamrick Illustration Facebook page... “This is probably the painting that I have most enjoyed researching, designing, redesigning and painting. Beth Willis Miller has expanded upon each name with devotional word studies. By knowing, believing and trusting who God says He is, we can be confident in who He has created us to be.” I so agree with Krista! 

My heart has been drawn to do a word study for each of the names included in her art print. Krista and I felt led to publish our Name Above All Names Devotional: Focusing on 26 Alphabetical Names of Christ available now on Amazon as a softcover book and as a Kindle book at this link. Combining the beauty of Krista's artistic excellence with these word study devotionals is perfect for individual quiet reflection or small group Bible studies focusing on the Name Above All Names—Jesus Christ—and His attributes and characteristics.
 

I was inspired by Lauren Daigle’s anointed hymn, Trust In You, while studying
John 15:5

NASB: “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.

Amplified:  I am the Vine; you are the branches. Whoever lives in Me and I in him bears much (abundant) fruit. However, apart from Me [cut off from vital union with Me] you can do nothing.

J. B. Phillips: I am the vine itself, you are the branches. It is the man who shares my life and whose life I share who proves fruitful. For the plain fact is that apart from me you can do nothing at all.

TLB:  Yes, I am the Vine; you are the branches. Whoever lives in me and I in him shall produce a large crop of fruit. For apart from me you can’t do a thing.

The Message: I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can’t produce a thing.

Pastor John MacArthur
writes: “The night before His death, Jesus says, "I am the Vine." Like the other great "I am" passages recorded in the Gospel of John, it points to His deity. Each one is a metaphor that elevates Jesus to the level of Creator, Sustainer, Savior, and Lord—titles that can be claimed only by God. The metaphor in John 15 is of a vine and its branches. The vine is the source and sustenance of life for the branches, and the branches must abide in the vine to live and bear fruit. Jesus, of course, is the vine, and the branches are people. The true meaning of the metaphor is made clear when we consider the characters in that night's drama. The disciples were with Jesus. He had loved them to the uttermost; He had comforted them with the words in John chapter 14. The Father was foremost in His thoughts, because He was thinking of the events of the next day. Jesus made a promise to His children, "I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.” He guaranteed the security of the child of God: "All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.” A true believer cannot lose his salvation and be condemned to hell. A branch that is truly connected to the vine is secure and will never be removed. Jesus chose the figure of a vine for several reasons. The lowliness of a vine demonstrates His humility. It also pictures a close, permanent, vital union between the vine and branches. It is symbolic of belonging, because branches belong entirely to the vine; if branches are to live and bear fruit, they must completely depend on the vine for nourishment, support, strength, and vitality. Yet many who call themselves Christians fail to depend on Christ. Instead of being attached to the true vine, they are tied to a bank account. Others are attached to their education. Some have tried to make vines out of popularity, fame, personal skills, possessions, relationships, or fleshly desires. But none of those things can sustain or bear fruit. The true vine is Christ.”

Pastor Ray Stedman writes: Jesus does not leave the interpretation up to us. He identifies what this rich symbolism means. "I am the vine," he says, ''the true one." In the words, "I am the true vine," Jesus is not saying that Israel was a false vine. What he means is that he is the true vine of which the nation was a symbol, a picture. It is he who will produce at last the fruit that God was looking for through the centuries. "My Father," Jesus declares, "is the gardener." This is the Greek word georgos, which means "earth worker" (the word from which we get the name "George.") That is the Father's work—he is the "vinedresser," the gardener who takes care of the vineyard. In this verse, Jesus says, “I am the vine, you are the branches.” He did not say, “I am the vine, try to be the branches.” In other words, He wants us to realize that we are already the branches. We do not have to struggle to become the branches. As His branches, we only have to abide or remain in Christ our vine. How do we do that? We do that by simply being conscious every day of our position in Christ. Because we have received Christ, we are in Christ and are accepted in the Beloved. (2 Corinthians 5:17, Ephesians 1:6) God accepts us because we are in the Beloved and He is in us. And that is how God sees us today when we come into His presence. What the devil wants to do then is to get you to focus on your condition instead of your position in Christ. The devil wants you to focus on your condition and forget your position—that you are the righteousness of God in Christ and that you are seated with Him in heavenly places at the Father’s right hand. (2 Corinthians 5:21, Ephesians 2:6) He wants you to forget that you are an heir of God and a joint heir with Christ. (Romans 8:17) The devil knows that once you focus on your position in Christ, it will give you the power to change your condition and circumstances. John 15:5 says that you will bear “much fruit.” This means that when you pray against any lack, abundant supply will flow. None of these things can happen by your own doing, but by His life which flows through you. Just as sap flowing through the branches of a vine will cause them to bring forth fruit, His life flowing through you will bring forth a bountiful harvest of provision. You only need to remain conscious of who you are in Christ!”

Oh that we would delight in abiding in Christ, that his Word would be continually in our thoughts, and that we would bear fruit in each season of our lives. None of this happens apart from God’s Spirit and power working within us. But fruit bearing is the inevitable by-product of opening our hearts and lives to the power of his life within us. As we abide in Christ and his Word, our roots to go down deep in Christ, keeping us close to him, just as the roots of trees planted along the riverbank sink into the water source so that their leaves stay green and don’t wither. And when we pray, the Spirit releases this wonder-working power that draws us to God, roots us deeper in him, and causes our faith to mature. Be assured of God’s promise that as you draw near to him today and each day in the year ahead, he will draw near to you.

Lord Jesus, Thank You for being my True Vine, by Your Spirit, give me the desire to read your Word and to meditate on it day and night. Most of all, empower me to do what it says. And for the fruit that is borne, I will give you all the glory! Grant me the power to understand the limitless extent of Your love. Be the center of my life and reveal Yourself to me today! Thank You for Your abundant supply day by day as I abide in you. Thank you for making Your divine wisdom available to me through your indwelling Holy Spirit! Give me a heart which focuses on my position in Christ. I cannot do this on my own. But in your Spirit’s power, as Your life flows through me, just as sap flowing through the branches of a vine will cause them to bring forth fruit, enable me to be aware of Your presence with me continually in Christ.
In Your mighty Name Above All Names—the True Vine, we pray, amen.

Look Up—meditate on
John 15:5

Look In
—as you meditate on
John 15:5 pray to see how you might apply it to your life.

Look Out—as you meditate on
John 15:5 pray to see how you might apply it to your relationships with others.

Name Above All Names Devotional: Focusing on 26 Alphabetical Names of Christ

Weekly LinkUps…

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Name Above All Things--Upholder of All Things

artwork by Krista Hamrick
Krista Hamrick’s beautiful original art print, Name Above All Names Alphabet, has so inspired me. Each of the 26 individual Names she has identified are so special, as Krista has intricately painted, almost like stained glass windows, each one with its Scripture reference. Krista posted on her Krista Hamrick Illustration Facebook page... “This is probably the painting that I have most enjoyed researching, designing, redesigning and painting. Beth Willis Miller has expanded upon each name with devotional word studies. By knowing, believing and trusting who God says He is, we can be confident in who He has created us to be.” I so agree with Krista! 
My heart has been drawn to do a word study for each of the names included in her art print. Krista and I felt led to publish our Name Above All Names Devotional: Focusing on 26 Alphabetical Names of Christ available now on Amazon as a softcover book and as a Kindle book at this link. Combining the beauty of Krista's artistic excellence with these word study devotionals is perfect for individual quiet reflection or small group Bible studies focusing on the Name Above All Names—Jesus Christ—and His attributes and characteristics.

 
 


I was inspired by Chris Tomlin’s anointed hymn,
Indescribable, while studying Hebrews 1:3
 
NASB: And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.

Amplified: He is the sole expression of the glory of God [the Light-being, the out-raying or radiance of the divine], and He is the perfect imprint and very image of [God’s] nature, upholding and maintaining and guiding and propelling the universe by His mighty word of power. When He had by offering Himself accomplished our cleansing of sins and riddance of guilt, He sat down at the right hand of the divine Majesty on high.

ESV:  He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.

Expanded: The Son ·reflects [or radiates; shines forth] the glory of God [
John 1:14] and shows exactly what God is like [is the exact representation/imprint/stamp of his being/essence/nature]. He holds everything together [sustains/upholds all things] with his powerful word. When the Son made people clean from their [provided purification/cleansing for] sins [9:14], he sat down at the right side [hand; the most honored position beside a king; Ps. 110:1] of God, the Great One in heaven [the Majesty/Preeminence in the highest places; a Jewish way to avoid saying the divine name of God].

J. B. Phillips: God, who gave our forefathers many different glimpses of the truth in the words of the prophets, has now, at the end of the present age, given us the truth in the Son. Through the Son God made the whole universe, and to the Son he has ordained that all creation shall ultimately belong. This Son, radiance of the glory of God, flawless expression of the nature of God, himself the upholding principle of all that is, effected in person the reconciliation between God and man and then took his seat at the right hand of the majesty on high.

Wuest: Who, being the out-raying [effulgence] of His glory and the exact reproduction of His essence, and sustaining, guiding, and propelling all things by the word of His power, having made purification of sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.

Young's Literal: who being the brightness of the glory, and the impress of His subsistence, bearing up also the all things by the saying of his might -- through himself having made a cleansing of our sins, sat down at the right hand of the greatness in the highest.

Greek Scholar Kenneth Wuest  writes: “The word substance deserves careful treatment. In Greek, it is hupostasis, made up of stasis “to stand,” and hupo “under,” meaning “that which stands under, a foundation.” It speaks of the ground on which one builds a hope. Moulton and Milligan’s Vocabulary of the Greek New Testament report its use as a legal term. They say that it stands for “the whole body of documents bearing on the ownership of a person’s property, deposited in archives, and forming the evidence of ownership.” They suggest the translation, “Faith is the title-deed of things hoped for.” The Holy Spirit energized act of faith which a believer exercises in the Lord Jesus is the title-deed which God puts in his hand, guaranteeing to him the possession of the thing for which he trusted Him. Thus, he would have assurance. Theologian Marvin Vincent translates, “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for.” He says that “It is the firm grasp of faith on unseen fact.”

Pastor Charles Spurgeon writes: “Whatever God is, Christ is. The very likeness of God, the very Godhead of Godhead, the very Deity of Deity, is in Christ Jesus. Dr. John Owen, who loves to explain the spiritual meaning in the Letter to the Hebrews by the types in the Old Testament, explains the brightness of the Father’s glory by a reference to the Shekinah over the mercy seat, which was the only visible token of the presence of God there. An extraordinary brightness is said to have shone forth from between the cherubim. Now, Christ is God manifesting Himself in His brightness. But, on his forehead, the high priest wore a golden plate, upon which was deeply engraved, in Hebrew letters, the inscription, “Holiness to [or of] Yahweh.” Dr. Owen thinks there is a reference, in this “representation of his essence”—this cut-out inscription of God, as it were—to that which was on the forehead of the high priest, and which represented the glorious wholeness or holiness of Yahweh, which is His great glory. You see how glorious was His original—the “representation” of His Father’s person. How lowly did He become to purge away our sins, and that by Himself, too, using His own body to be the means, by His sufferings, of taking away our guilt. Not by proxy did He serve us, but by Himself. Oh, this is wondrous love!”

Pastor Vernon C. Grounds provides two wonderful illustrations for
Hebrews 1:3 : “A Navy pilot was describing his complex helicopter to his parents one day. He told them that a small hexagonal nut held the main rotor to the mast of the helicopter. “Guess what we call that nut?” he asked his mother. She could only shrug her shoulders. With a smile, the pilot answered his own question: “It’s called a Jesus nut.” That may sound irreverent, but here’s an explanation. If that small piece of metal ever came off, the helicopter would not be able to stay in the air but would come crashing to the ground. So it’s understandable why pilots in the Vietnam War gave that little part the name “Jesus nut.” The writer to the Hebrews said that Jesus, who made the world, upholds “all things by the word of His power” (Hebrews 1:3). Because of Him, we inhabit a created cosmos, not a chaotic accident. He who made all reality keeps it from collapsing. We also need Jesus Christ as our Savior from sin and as Lord of our everyday lives. He is the One who can lift us above the degrading forces of evil in our world. If you feel as if your life is crashing down around you, remember that it’s Jesus who holds all things together—even your life. “Why don't the stars fall down?" A child may ask that question, but so does an astronomer. And they both get essentially the same answer: A mysterious power or energy upholds everything and prevents our cosmos from collapsing into chaos. Hebrews 1:3 tells us that it is Jesus who upholds all things by the word of His power. He is the source of all the energy there is, whether the explosive potential packed inside an atom or the steaming kettle on the kitchen stove. That energy is not simply a mindless force. No, God is the personal power who created everything out of nothing, including the stars. So when life's problems are baffling, when you face some impossibility, call upon the wonder-working God who upholds all things. And remember that with our almighty God, nothing is impossible.”
 
Maybe, like me, you’ve been on an airplane as it flew through a thunderstorm. All around you, you see and hear the storm’s beating rain and the wind whipping against the cabin wall. Looks of worry and panic cloud passengers’ faces as we wonder when will we get to the other side of the storm. We long to see the sun, and as soon as the plane has landed, we quickly form a line to get off. On such a turbulent flight we can dramatically experience the light and peace after a storm almost instantly. Peace replaces anxiety in just a moment as we break through a cloud and see the sun and its radiance just on the other side of the storm. As God’s children we do not need to wait until our personal storms have passed in order to see and experience the radiance, the substance, the light and peace of the Son—the Upholder of All Things. The Word of God, His truth, not only sustains us in the storms of life, but opens our eyes to see the Son, the exact representation of His nature, the radiance of God’s glory, while we are soaring through them.

Lord Jesus, Upholder of All Things, I want to know You and Your will. I’m willing to be willing to surrender to Your will. No matter what storms of life I may face, I will keep my eyes on the brightness of Jesus Christ, Your Son—the radiance of your glory! Help me to look to You and to trust in You today. There is great joy to be found in living with my eyes fixed on You. Help me to do that so that my life will be radiant with Your joy. May others be drawn to You because of the radiance and joy You have put in my heart. In Your mighty Name Above All Names—Upholder of All Things, we pray, amen.

Look Up—meditate on
Hebrews 1:3

Look In
—as you meditate on
Hebrews 1:3 pray to see how you might apply it to your life.

Look Out—as you meditate on
Hebrews 1:3 pray to see how you might apply it to your relationships with others.

26 Name Above All Names Alphabet Posts Page…

Weekly LinkUps…

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