Category Archives: Lessons in Wilderness

LESSONS IN THE WILDERNESS

GOD Who Are You? AND Who Am I?

Knowing and Experiencing God by His Hebrew Names

PART 2 – eBook 2

And the Lord said to Joshua . . . “Tell the priests who carry the ark of the covenant: ‘When you reach the edge of the Jordan’s waters, go and stand in the river.'”

Joshua said to the Israelites, “Come here and listen to the words of the Lord your God [lessons in the wilderness]. . . . ”     Joshua 3:8-9

Part 2 is comprised of the second three modules of the book and is Part 2 of the FREE eCourse Bonus on this Web site. They are:

Module 4 – Chapter 6: God is Jehovah-Shalom [The Lord is Peace]

Chapter 7: Because God is Jehovah-Shalom, I am Like a B-E-A-R

Module 5 – Chapter 8: God is Jehovah-Rohi [The Lord My Shepherd]

Chapter 9: Because God Is Jehovah-Rohi, I am Guided

Module 6 – Chapter 10: God is El Shaddai [The All Sufficient One]

Chapter 11: Because God is El Shaddai, I Am Blessed

M6H How We Learned to Give: Because God is El Shaddai

“Don’t give away those three dollars; keep it for the babysitter tonight,” Jim told me.

“Okay.” A friend was taking me to a women’s meeting the next morning and driving, so I didn’t need gasoline; I thought, no problem.

“Don’t give away those three dollars; keep it for the babysitter tonight,” Jim told me. “Okay.” A friend was taking me to a women’s meeting the next morning and driving, so I didn’t need gasoline; I thought, no problem. It was October 12, 1978, and our last payroll check had been spent. Savings was gone, too.

It was October 12, 1978, and our last payroll check had been spent. The last of our savings was gone, too. I totaled the bills: $252.00! We had expected to have another job by now, but we didn’t. Jim and I prayed over the bills and gave them to the Lord.

The longer I looked at the bills, the more frightened I became. Jim was a picture of peace. Confused and desperate, I decided to take a shower. I didn’t know it would be with my own tears. Fear as I had never known enveloped me. I thought about the words of Jesus after he said not to worry about what we shall eat or drink or wear, “Seek first his Kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matt. 6:33). But Really? How can this possibly be true for a time like this?

After my shower, I put away the bills, got out my Bible, sat down, and turned to Ephesians 6. It read, “Wherefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.”

I said, “Lord, we have presented ourselves to you, no strings attached, and nothing has happened yet as we had expected. We’ve done all we know to do in order to obey you, and we will stand.” Immediately, peace flooded my soul. I thought: this must be the peace that passes all understanding that the Bible talks about, (see Phil. 4:7). I began to see that Jesus and His Word truly are one and the same.

There will be many Jordan Rivers to cross

Give because of El Shaddai

The next morning my friend came to pick me up. The meeting was like nothing I had ever attended. The speaker spoke about victory in all our trials and that we will have many Jordan Rivers to cross in our lifetime. At the conclusion, the attendees were asked to give an offering. Small envelopes were on the table for that gift. I thought about the three dollars in my purse and what Jim had said. Then, my thoughts wandered to the widow Jesus observed giving into the temple treasury:

“Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny” (Mark 12:41-42). Jesus told his disciples that she had put in more than all the others. “They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on” (Mark 12:43).

I wondered, what happened to that poor widow who gave all she had? The Bible doesn’t say. So, without hesitating, I pulled out the three dollars and stuffed it in the envelope. After the meeting, I saw a hand, out of the corner of my eye, put something in my outside purse pocket.

Retreating to the car, heart beating wildly, I opened the envelope. There was $11.00—a ten dollar bill plus one dollar for the tithe! I was overcome with the feeling I was in the presence of Jesus the Nazarene, who says that whoever believes in Him, streams of living water will flow from within him—a never-ending stream of joy (see John 7:38). I asked my friend if she had put that envelope in my purse. She had not.

Jim gave $5.00 to our Bible study leaders (to God) that night, leaving $5.00 for the babysitter and one dollar for us. After the meeting, our leader said, “It’s time we give our tithe to the Lord from the proceeds of these meetings. We do that by giving away one night’s offering.” Then he said it would go to us. We had not told him about our situation, but he said he would call us later with the amount. It was $254.00—two dollars over our immediate needs we had written down and taken to the Lord, and one dollar was the tithe returned to us. I thought, in determining our needs, why hadn’t we added in the tithe?

Give because of El Shaddai

November 14 came and we were still in Carthage. “You have made your way around this hill country long enough; now turn north” (Deut. 2:3). But where, Lord? And how do we get across this Jordan?

A couple verses kept haunting us: “. . . as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water’s edge, the water from upstream stopped flowing . . . the priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firm on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan . . . .” (Josh. 3:15-17).

It became clear we could not keep our feet on the bank of the river if we were to reach the other side. We gave thirty-days-notice on our house; the neighbors rented it the next day. We got boxes and started packing and withdrew teacher’s retirement to help with the move. The check arrived in one week, double the amount we expected. “But where are we going, Lord?”

“Northward,” was the answer we received, and then this: “The Lord your God, who is going before you, will fight for you, as he did for you in Egypt, before your very eyes” (Deut. 1:30).

Next, from the Amplified Bible, He quickened Isaiah 40:4, “Every valley shall be lifted and filled up, and every mountain and hill shall be made low; and the crooked and uneven shall be made straight and level, and the rough places a plain.” He would make our way straight— northward.

December 13 arrived and we would be loading the moving truck the next day. We still did not know where straight northward was.

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Here is your>> Module 6 Making it Personal Exercise – El Shaddai. This includes a blank covenant of monetary agreement between you and the LORD Almighty. Please take this seriously. It will change your life, and you will never be the same, if you’ve not given to the Lord first (and last).

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How we Learned to Give to God When We Had Nothing: a Lifestyle of Experiencing Miracles Daily

 

BECAUSE GOD IS EL SHADDAI, I AM BLESSED - LEARNING TO GIVE

M6G Manage Abundance Because God is El Shaddai

HOW DO WE MANAGE ABUNDANCE WHEN IT COMES?

We are warned, “You may say to yourself, ‘My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me’” (Deut. 8:17), but remember it is the Lord alone who is our only source of supply to whom we give and from whom we receive, in order to establish His name on the earth. In reality, when we have abundance, we may feel the tithe remains enough to give, if we even do that.

Should we tithe from the gross or the net? Most pastors would say either, but first fruits come off the top, the gross. However, giving from the net is a good place for beginners to start, and then increase from there. God made a promise to the Israelites, “Little by little I will drive them [enemies] out before you, until you have increased enough to take possession of the land” (Exod. 23:30). Little by little, no matter how large or how small our income, this is our promise—to see debts, etc., driven out, leaving more money to give to the Lord’s work in the land.

Bless Others because of El Shaddai

One pastor challenged his people to give a double tithe. Why not make twenty percent a long-range goal? Track what God does. This can easily be done by taking each year’s income tax return, finding the amount of giving on Schedule A—Itemized Deductions—and dividing it by total gross wages. One benefit of tithing on gross wages means never having to worry about paying income taxes. Not only does the higher deduction help, but God’s return on money is a supernatural thing that cannot be explained. Even if we do not itemize deductions, we can take joy in tracking the increase of giving and receiving.

Why not set a reasonable budget to live on and give the rest away? Jesus says, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (Luke 12:15). Without a plan, we will be tempted to spend any extra on extravagant living. And without a responsible plan it may not happen at all.

Remember the verse in James 4:2, “You do not have, because you do not ask God.” The very next verse says, “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” God gives us richly all things to enjoy, but it is our motives we must always keep in check, because wealth is so uncertain (see 1Tim. 6:17).

We must take the limitations off what God desires so badly to do through our lives. Stanley Tam’s story shows what He can do. Stanley started out just like most of us—broke. At a young age, he chose to honor God with his small income. Daily obedience to God’s leading brought increase and abundance to the point that he legally made God the senior partner in his business—hiring a lawyer to do so.

From there, he went from giving 51 percent to giving 90 percent and living on the ten. He founded three businesses: United States Plastics, States Smelting, and Industrial Safety and Tamco. At eighty years of age, he travels twenty-five weeks per year speaking at churches. His inspiring story is in God Owns My Business. Every Christian can follow his example—whether a business owner or not.

WHAT IF WE DON’T BLESS OTHERS FROM OUR ABUNDANCE?

Abundance of El Shaddai

From the same passage of Scripture in Luke where Jesus discusses possessions, he tells a story about the rich fool. The ground produced him a very rich crop. He decided to tear down his small barn and to build bigger ones to store his abundance, and he said to himself, “You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy, eat, drink and be merry” (Luke 12:19).

“God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’

“‘This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself and is not rich toward God’” (Luke 12:20-21).

Not rich toward God. The prophet Malachi tells us what that means:

“Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord Almighty. “But you ask, ‘How are we to return?’ “Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me.

“But you ask, ‘How do we rob you?’

“‘In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse—the whole nation of you—because you are robbing me’” (Mal. 3:7-9).

Not living rich toward God means not tithing.

Could it not be said this is what the millionaire in our story did? He robbed God by not giving to His loving servants— Grandma and Grandpa—with right motives. God seems to have said, “It is enough, today your soul will be required of you. Now, who will get what you have kept to yourself?”

The stranger had prospered in the worldly sense of the word at some time in his life, but he was not a blessed man. Fear, not faith, ruled his life. He hoarded his money and could not even part with a small portion to repay his gracious hosts for the food he ate from their table. It was obvious to him they could use it. And the car he feared to buy is what eventually took his life.

Did Grandma and Grandpa pass the test, or were they just unable to receive from this man as from the Lord? The King James Version of Luke 6:38 says that men will give to our bosom. Certainly, God uses other people to bless us. The Apostle Paul’s letter to Timothy answers this question:

Godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.—1Timothy 6:6-10

Is Our Abundance Blessed?

Abundance of El Shaddai

The money from the stranger would have been a trap for Grandma and Grandpa if they had accepted it. It was not blessed money from anyone wanting to bless them with it. The man was thinking only of himself. Leaving without reimbursing for gasoline and food proved that. Deuteronomy, Chapter 7, warns the people not to covet silver or gold from the ungodly because they could be snared by it, “for it is an abomination to the Lord your God” (Deut. 7:25). Abomination in Hebrew means “morally disgusting; things which belong to the worship of idols.”[1] The man loved and worshiped his money believing falsely it could buy anything.

Grandma and Grandpa chose against the snare of money and passed the test. Better still, they gave of themselves to those who were unable to return the favor. During the Depression years and every difficult year, Joyce’s grandmother had enough food for everyone who came to her door. This seemed unbelievable since her cabinets barely had anything in them.

Like the manna, those who gathered little had enough—it stretched and multiplied. Grandma cherished the jelly she made and rationed it to her family. After it was destroyed in one of the fires, she resolved to never again withhold any food. She learned: when we come to an end of our own means, we will see the provision of the Almighty.

It is not by chance that manna and wealth are used in two sentences one after the other in Deuteronomy 8:16-18. The manna was to test us so it would go well with us in the end—when we gained wealth. Wealth is to be treated the same as we treated manna—not to be hoarded, lest it rot.

Moses gave the instructions for manna, Jesus gives the instructions for wealth, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matt. 6:19-21).

Furthermore, James, the disciple of Jesus, warns those living in the last days, against hoarding wealth and withholding it,

Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming upon you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. Look! The wages you failed to pay the workmen who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence.–James 5:1-5

Those who are rich toward God, who have placed their security and complete trust in Him alone, are those through whom He will do His work. A harvest of souls will be brought into the kingdom because they will be blessed beyond measure by The Almighty—El Shaddai.

[1] Zodiates, Key Word Study Bible, p. 1791.

M6F How to Bless Others Because God is El Shaddai

HOW ARE WE TO BLESS OTHERS?

How are we to bless others according to the Old Testament?

There are so many ways to bless others, most of which will be discussed in Chapters 16 and 17, when we take the responsibility of being salt. Our purposes here are to address how we can fulfill the Great Commission to reach our world for Jesus Christ in giving of our resources, whether small or large.

Have you ever spent one day without having to spend money for something? Our ancestors may have lived off the land and were able to do this, but it is unrealistic in today’s society. Money drives our world; therefore, what we do with our own money defines our life and reveals who we are. God gives us wisdom in how to order our world aright by establishing the tithe.

For those living off the land the tithe is defined in Leviticus:

A tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the Lord; it is holy to the Lord. If a man redeems any of his tithe, he must add a fifth of the value to it. The entire tithe of the herd and flock—every tenth animal that passes under the shepherd’s rod—will be holy to the Lord.—Leviticus 27:30-32

Wage earners can relate more to Malachi, the last book in the Old Testament:

“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this,” says the Lord of hosts, “if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows. Then I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it may not destroy the fruits of the ground; nor will your vine in the field cast its grapes,” says the Lord of hosts.—Malachi 3:10-11

Bless Others because of El Shaddai

When we follow God’s way of giving, the nine-tenths left is blessed because He will rebuke satan from it—the devourer of appliances, cars, money, and possessions. He causes it to s-t-re-t-c-h when we give the tenth off the top to Him. The Bible tells us not to put God to a foolish test (see Deut. 6:16; Matt. 4:7). This is the only time God asks us to test him—to see for ourselves if He will not open the windows of heaven and pour out blessings until they overflow! He tells us to try it and see what He will do! This is not a foolish test.

The best definition of the tithe is the first fruits of all thy income (see Ex. 23:16, 19). The first fruits were to be brought to the house of the Lord, in other words, off the top, the first check written, not from what is left over. If you have had a garden, especially tomato plants, you know the first ripe tomatoes are the very best, the only unblemished ones worthy to give to God.

King David, Solomon’s father, gathered together all the materials (their tithe and more) for the building of the temple—God’s house—that Solomon was to construct. In dedication, David prayed an enlightened prayer:

Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things, in your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all . . . But, who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand.—1 Chronicles 29:12-14

We are stewards in charge of the Lord’s trust to bless others

Bless others because of El Shaddai

David’s prayer shows that we are to be stewards—giving back to God what comes from His hand. We are vessels He desires to bless with wealth and honor, not only for our own benefit, but mainly so we can bless others. Stewards are in charge of the Lord’s trust. A trust can be defined as “a charge or duty imposed in faith or confidence or as a condition of some relationship; to commit or place in one’s care or keeping.”[1]

God has placed in our care and keeping everything we have. Only if we are faithful with what we have, will the Lord bless us with more. Jesus tells a story about a man going on a journey who entrusted his property to his servants. To one he gave five talents of money, to another two talents, and to the other, one talent, “each according to his ability” (Matt. 25:15).

The man who had received the five talents went at once and put his money to work and gained five more. So also, the one with the two talents gained two more. But the man who had received the one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.—Matthew 25:16-17

The first two servants were told by their master, upon his return, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

The master told the man who hid his talent, “You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.

“Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents. For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance” (Matt.25:28-29). The faithful will see increase.

Rob Leacock was a financial controller at Capital Christian Center in Sacramento, California. He counseled many people regarding their money situations. Even though he gave them sound Biblical teaching, most of them did not change their lifestyles. Only those who integrated financial planning with a lifestyle of total discipleship [as a condition of their heart relationship with the Lord] realized improvement in their finances.

Leacock says, “Believers who connect prayer and Bible study with the use of their finances save more money, get out of debt and give and serve more in their local church.”[2] Denise and Joe are good examples of a couple who did this. They learned stewardship through their relationship with the Lord. Without that relationship, they would not have seen any real blessings and believe they would have been bankrupt a second time. They learned to tithe. Many months it was especially tough to do, but they were obedient. Giving is an act of the will. Giving demonstrates our belief God alone owns it all, and that God alone is our only source of supply.

How are we to bless others according to the New Testament?

Bless others because of El Shaddai

The tithe is never specifically mentioned. Isn’t this interesting? Jesus came to bring a New Covenant, completing the old—not doing away with it. He gives a new principle of giving. He tells us that whatever we do will return to us—in the matter of judging, condemning, forgiving, and giving of our resources,

Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven. Give and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.—Luke 6: 37-38

“For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Without abolishing the tithe, Jesus gives a higher principle. The apostle Paul says it another way, “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor. 9:6-7).

Giving is like sowing seeds that grow, producing more seed from which to give. “Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of our righteousness. You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and . . . your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God” (2 Cor. 9:10-11).

A youth group in Arkansas learned that sowing seeds of forgiveness returned in good measure. They worked and saved for two years to go on a mission trip to Cambodia. When the youth director attempted to check with the travel agency to confirm the tickets, worth $30,000, he discovered the mother and son team were gone. They had taken money from customers for six months after filing bankruptcy and skipped the country.

Radio and television stations found out about the scam and interviewed a couple of the teens. They asked the usual question, “How do you feel about this situation?”

One young man spoke up immediately, “We have forgiven them and are praying for them.”

Donations came flooding in—one for $5,000 and another for the full $30,000! Their church turned money away. The biggest lesson the youths learned that summer was that when they gave back to God in obedience to forgive without judging, He returned—pressed down, shaken together and running over. No one can eventually steal from a child of God who knows how to give and forgive. It has been said that when we do not forgive, waiting for an apology, we are forselling. We are not giving anything.

Need money? Give it. Need encouragement? Give it. Need food? Give it. Need clothes? Give some. Need love? Give it. Need a friend? Be one. “When what we have is not enough to meet our need, it becomes our seed.”[3]

[1] Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, p. 1344.

[2] Rob Leacock, “Using Money God’s Way,” Pentecostal Evangel, No. 4580, February 17, 2002, p. 20.

[3] Quote from Pastor John Hagee.

M6E I Am Blessed Because God is El Shaddai

He gave you manna to eat in the desert, something your fathers had never known, to humble and to test you so that in the end it might go well with you. You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.” —Deuteronomy 8:16-17

But Remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your forefathers, as it is today. —Deuteronomy 8:18

I am Blessed because of El Shaddai

Joyce Love tells a story about her grandparents in her devotional book, Memories from the Heart. After three of her grandparents’ homes burned to the ground, they learned that possessions do not last. Consequently, they hoarded nothing and showered love and blessings on everyone who came to their door. Living by the railroad tracks gave them many opportunities to feed hungry hobos.

While the youngest son, Wilbur, was still home, he and his father went to town for lumber to build a small brooder house for chickens. On the way home an elderly gentleman hitched a ride. He was wearing a dirty, gray shirt and tie that formerly were very nice clothes.

Grandpa stopped and asked, “Wanna ride?”

The stranger climbed into the truck. As Grandpa neared his turn-off, he stopped to let the stranger out. “No,” he said, “I would like to ride some more.”

This happened again with another turn until they arrived at their house. Grandma was not surprised, as they often provided shelter for strangers. As Grandpa started building the small brooder house, the man said, “There’s no need to make such a small house. Let’s make a big one. Let’s go back to town and get more lumber so we can make a big building.”

“I can’t afford that. I can’t afford anything like that. We’ll just go ahead with this small one,” said Grandpa.

“Let’s build a big one. Instead of ordering 100 chickens, get three to four thousand!”

Grandpa laughed and said, “Naw, we’ll just make the little brooder house.”

That night, the stranger slept on the porch. The next morning he asked Grandpa who the neighbors were. Grandpa told him.

“How many acres on this place?” Grandpa told him he just rented the forty acres.

“We could build a new house and after we get that brooder house built, we could build whatever else you want. We’ll make a ranch out of this,” the stranger said.

The stranger went around to the property owners and found they did not want to sell. He said he was surprised because, “Money will usually buy anything you want.”

Again, Grandpa laughed at the stranger and tried to ignore him, thinking he was not responsible for his actions and out of his mind. The man kept making ridiculous suggestions and claimed to have a lot of money.

Finally, Grandpa asked the man, “Why are you dressed like that and why were you hitchhiking if you have so much money?”

“Well, I’ll tell you. A few years back I bought a brand new car and had a wreck. It really messed me up. I said to myself right then that I would never own another car. That was going to be my last one. And the only time I ride is when I get awfully tired. Otherwise, I just walk.” He later told Grandpa he used to own a lot of oil wells and had all the money he needed.

The visitor spent several days at Grandma and Grandpa’s table. Then one morning he quietly left. Later that same day he was struck by a car and killed. A large sum of money was found on his body, and they later heard he was a millionaire!

This story raises many questions. What would have happened if Grandpa had taken him seriously? Wilbur and Grandma believed him. Was the man looking for a home, for love? He received the latter, but what did he do with it? This is a sad story that deserves our attention. If Grandma and Grandpa, as well as the stranger, were being tested, who passed? Did any of them? These questions will be answered as we look at why and how we are blessed. In the process, we will find that God alone is our only source of supply and security—not the job, not parents, 401K’s or retirement plans, and not even a millionaire who happens by our door— only El Shaddai.

WHY I AM BLESSED

What is God’s purpose for blessing His people? Deuteronomy 8:16-18, answers this question—to confirm or establish His covenant. But what is His covenant? [This question was addressed in detail in Chapters 4 and 5 of Jehovah-Tsidkenu.] In a nut shell, the covenant is God’s promise to Abraham’s seed, passed on to his children, next to his children’s children, and eventually to the nation of Israel. To the nation of Israel, which the Father had prepared to receive His son, He sent His seed—Jesus Christ.

What is God’s purpose for blessing us? This is it: that the whole world may know that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, the only Way, the Truth and the Life, and that no man can come to the Father except through Him. When we have this firmly established and settled in our heart and mind, Jesus gives his disciples what is called the Great Commission:

All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end on the age.–Matthew 28:18-20

WHAT TWO WAYS DO BLESSINGS COME?

I am blessed in the desert:

To go into all the world takes many resources. Before looking specifically at how this can be accomplished, we need to review how blessings to establish His covenant come to us. They come in two forms:

I am blessed in the desert

In the desert: with one-day-at-a-time manna. “He gave you manna to eat in the desert, something your fathers had never known, to humble and to test you so that in the end it might go well with you” (Deut. 8:16). Manna was supernatural, miraculous bread from heaven that fell every morning for the children of Israel to gather—only enough for one day. On the sixth day, they were to gather enough for two days so they could rest on the Sabbath. On the Sabbath, none fell. Being disobedient and undisciplined children, some gathered more than they could eat in one day during the week; thus, when hoarding it, they found it rotten the next morning— full of maggots and smelly.

Manna means “whatness,” or “What is it?” because this is what the people said when they saw it. It could be ground or milled, baked or boiled, and tasted like honey wafers. On the sixth night they were to bake and boil it and keep it for the Sabbath. It did not rot this day. El Shaddai provided manna forty years while the first generation of Israel wandered in the desert until they died. In contrast, their children chose to enter the land of El Shaddai’s abundance.

The desert was testing ground. Would the children of Israel follow God—the same God who delivered them from Egypt and met their needs one day at a time, when they did not know what was ahead? Would they be able to praise the one and only true God when times grew tough and real fighting battles erupted in the land? Would they allow themselves to become hardened to difficulties for the Lord’s sake? Could they be trusted with more responsibility? The desert would tell.

I am blessed in the land:

I am blessed in the land

In the land: with plenty, prosperity, and a plan to serve others, one day at a time. Prosperity is more than money. It is defined as “to become strong and flourishing”[1] Its definition is from Deuteronomy 28:1-14, the Biblical definition for blessings: to be above only and not beneath, to be the head and not the tail, able to lend and not borrow, to be at the top, and not at the bottom. These are the desires of El Shaddai for all His children. Should it be so hard for us to believe that the God of the whole universe wants to bless His children even as an earthly father wants to shower on his children good things?

“Remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant” (Deut. 8:18). God is saying that after the time of hardship, recall those times when there was no doubt it was God alone who met our needs because we had nothing. He also tells us to guard against ever thinking we have produced any wealth on our own, because it all comes from Him.

Wealth comes from the Hebrew word chayil. “The main meanings of this noun, which occurs 244 times in the Heb. O.T., are strength, army, wealth.”[2] It is also derived from the word chayl, additionally meaning “power, valor, military force, virtue, and honesty.”[3] Chayil refers to the entourage of the queen of Sheba who visited King Solomon, the third king of Israel, David’s son, who built the temple in the land of Israel.

After King David’s death, Solomon worshipped the Lord. In that night, God appeared to him and said, “Ask what I shall give you” (2 Chron. 1:7).

Solomon responded, “Give me now wisdom and knowledge, that I may lead this people, for who is able to govern this great people of yours?” (2 Chron. 1:10).

God said to Solomon,

Since this is your heart’s desire and you have not asked for wealth, riches or honor, nor for the death of your enemies, and since you have not asked for a long life but for wisdom and knowledge to govern my people over whom I have made you king, therefore wisdom and knowledge will be given you. And I will also give you wealth, riches and honor, such as no king who was before you ever had and none after you will have.—2 Chronicles 1:11-12

King Solomon asked for wisdom and God gave him wisdom and wealth. It was the queen of Sheba who pronounced how blessed everyone was who heard Solomon’s wisdom. Regarding the king’s wealth, she exclaimed, “Blessed be the Lord your God who delighted in you, setting you on His throne as king for the Lord your God; because your God loved Israel establishing them forever, therefore, He made you king over them to do justice and righteousness” (2 Chron. 9:8 emphasis added). She recognized Solomon’s true wealth, virtue and honesty, and above all, that the true God was the God of Israel forever. Then, she showered on him even more earthly wealth, which he used to bless the people.

[1] Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary-Eleventh Edition, (Merriam-Webster, Incorporated, Springfield, MA 2003), p.998.

[2] Spiros Zodiates, Th.D., Executive Editor, The Hebrew-Greek Key Word Study Bible, (AMG Publishers, Chattanooga, TN 1990) p. 1725.

[3] Ibid.

M6D Blessings: What if We Are Not Seeing Them?

WHAT IF WE ARE NOT SEEING  BLESSINGS OF EL SHADDAI?

There may be times when we do trust the Lord, and live our lives with integrity, but it seems God’s blessings have stopped, or His face is turned away from us. We have unmet needs. What is wrong? If we ask ourselves some questions from Psalm 24, we will usually find our answer:

Who shall go up into the mountain of the Lord? Or who shall stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted himself up to falsehood, or to what is false, nor sworn deceitfully. He shall receive blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation. This is the generation [description] of those who seek Him, who inquire of and for Him, and [of necessity] require Him, who seek Your face, [O God of] Jacob. Selah [pause, and think of that]!—Psalm 24:3-6 Amplified (emphasis mine)

Are our hands clean and our hearts pure to receive blessings?

Clean hands of blessings

Are our hands clean and our heart pure? Are we experiencing the consequences of disobedience in Deuteronomy 28, as discussed in Chapter 5 of this book? Is sin causing God’s face to be hidden from us? God is talking to Christians, not unbelievers, when He says:

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered. . . .—2 Chronicles 7:14-15

It may be hard to identify with “wicked ways,” but if we will come before the Lord honestly and ask Him if there is anything we need to get right with Him, He will certainly answer that prayer. A good one to pray is from Psalm 139:23-24, “Search me, O 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.”

Are we believing something false or speaking deceitfully that withholds blessings?

Blessings withheld by believing lies

Falsehood from the Hebrew has a double meaning. One means “taking the Lord’s name in vain” or “using the Lord’s name lightly or without thinking.”[1] Another means “anything not substantial, is not real, or is worthless”[2] In other words, has satan fed us a lie we are believing? Are we blaming God for our misfortune? The serpent’s strategy with Eve was to cast doubt on the Word God gave her and Adam. She quit trusting God and accepted the lie—you will not die—and ate the forbidden fruit. Satan’s continual strategy toward Christians is still the same, and then we blame God because things do not work out as we had once hoped.

Another question we need to ask ourselves is: “Am I holding a grudge because of something someone did or said to me, not forgiving; therefore, blaming God?” This is not real and worthless, because God cannot bless it. It is sin.

Blessings of El Shaddai

Jacob knew His God as El Shaddai. From Genesis 27, we learn that after Isaac finished blessing Jacob and he had scarcely left his father’s presence, “his brother Esau came in from hunting. He too prepared some tasty food and brought it to his father. Then he said to him, ‘My father, sit up and eat some of my game, so that you may give me your blessing.’”

“Who are you?” Isaac asked.

“I am your son, your firstborn, Esau.”

Isaac trembled violently and said, “Who was it, then, that hunted game and brought it to me? I ate it just before you came and I blessed him—and indeed he will be blessed!”

When Esau heard his father’s words, he burst out with a loud and bitter cry and said to his father, “Bless me—me also, my father!”

But he said, “Your brother came deceitfully and took your blessing.”

Esau said, “Isn’t he rightly named Jacob? He has deceived me these two times. He took my birthright and now he’s taken my blessing!” Then he asked, “Haven’t you reserved any blessing for me?”

The only blessing Isaac could give was to tell Esau he would be the servant of his brother Jacob. This is when, because of Esau’s wrath, Jacob fled to the land of his Uncle Laban, where he lived for forty years—fourteen years to earn his two wives, twenty years as a neighboring wage earner, and six years to build his own herds.[3] Jacob reaped what he had sown, for Laban did everything he could do to deceive Jacob out of wages and flocks. Laban knew God was blessing him because of Jacob, yet begrudged giving his own son-in-law anything. When the time came that the Lord led Jacob to return to his homeland, Laban did not want him to leave, because Laban knew the blessing would go with him.

God is in the business of building character

God Almighty is not only in the “business” of blessing and deliverance, but of building character. During these forty years of Jacob’s early life and growing his family, his attitude slowly changed, but it came only through much testing, trial, and submission to his deceiving father-in-law.

When the Lord told Jacob to return to the land of his father, he had a choice to make. He discussed it with his wives, who agreed, because they had seen how their father treated Jacob. However, to go back meant Jacob had to face up to his past and his own deceptive ways. He had to face his brother.

Listen to Jacob’s prayer:

“O God of my father Abraham, God of my father Isaac, O Lord, who said to me, ‘Go back to your country and your relatives, and I will make you prosper,’ I am unworthy of all the kindness and faithfulness you have shown your servant. I had only my staff when I crossed this Jordan, but now I have become two groups. Save me, I pray, from the hand of my brother Esau, for I am afraid he will come and attack me, and also the mothers with their children. But you said, ‘I will surely make you prosper and will make your descendants like the sand of the sea, which cannot be counted.’” Genesis 32:9-12

Blessings of increase are from God alone

Blessings of increase from El Shaddai alone

Jacob acknowledges his unworthiness because of his past behavior and that his increase is from God alone, that God’s Word is true. He still trusts God to confirm His covenant to him as He did for his forefathers. In faith, he takes that promise back to God, voicing it with the words of his mouth, “but you said.” Jacob is totally at the mercy of El Shaddai. With his large family, many young and older children, large herds and baby animals, he is afraid and helpless—much like a “cast” sheep. He is hemmed in on both sides—Esau out in front and Laban behind, both who have the ability and desire to do him great harm.

Jacob sleeps on it. The next morning, with God’s wisdom, Jacob gives of his increase to God, by setting aside a gift for Esau: “two hundred female goats and twenty male goats, two hundred ewes and twenty rams, thirty female camels with their young, forty cows and ten bulls, and twenty female donkeys and ten male donkeys” (Gen. 32: 14-15). He sends them ahead in separate groups to appease Esau, but also as restitution for what he had stolen.

That night Jacob helps his family cross a stream, sends them ahead and is left alone. The angel of the Lord, appearing as a man, wrestles with him all night. Jacob would not let him go at daybreak saying, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” The angel asked him, “What is your name?” “Jacob,” he answered.

Then the angel of the Lord said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome” (Gen. 32:28 emphasis mine).

Being accountable in facing our past brings blessings

In the “valley of decision” (see Joel 3:14) where his Shepherd led him, Jacob wrestles with facing his past, finds healing and comes out a new man. He gains God’s forgiveness and encouragement, and is ready to start a whole new life. He is also left with a limp from his struggle that will always remind him of the time he asked for blessing from The Almighty and when he received it. At this time, he has eleven sons and Benjamin will be born “in the land” giving him twelve sons who will be the founders of the twelve tribes of Israel.

Jacob finds that God will fight his battles for him. Laban chased him for seven days, but before overtaking him, God spoke to him in a dream, “Be careful not to say anything to Jacob, either good or bad” (Gen. 31:24). After Laban arrives, they strike an agreement not to do each other harm, and set up a heap of stones as a reminder. Laban kisses his daughters and grandchildren goodbye and blesses them. Jacob’s decision to take responsibility for his choices changed Laban’s attitude as well.

Next, Jacob meets up with Esau and his four hundred men. Jacob goes ahead of his family and bows down to the ground seven times with Esau in sight. But, Esau runs to meet Jacob and embraces him, throws his arms around him, kisses him, and they both weep. Jacob tells Esau, “To see your face is like seeing the face of God, now that you have received me favorably” (Gen. 33:10).

El Shaddai carried Jacob and his family as a father carries his son (see Deut. 1:31) back home across the Jordan River. Jacob found that underneath were the everlasting arms (see Deut. 33:27).

As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you . . .” (Isaiah 66:13).


[1] Zodiates, Key Word Study Bible, p. 1782

[2] Ibid.

[3] Adam Clark, LL.D., F.S.A., & C., Clark’s Commentary Volume 1 – Genesis-Deuteronomy (Abington Press, New York., Nashville), p. 197.

M6C Conditions to Receiving Blessings of El Shaddai

God Almighty gives two very important conditions to being blessed in Genesis, chapter 17:1-2: “When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty; walk before me and be blameless. I will confirm my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers.”

Conditions of El Shaddai

TRUST: first of two conditions to be blessed

I am God Almighty, walk before me” (Gen. 17:1 emphasis added). The Amplified version says, “. . . live habitually before Me.”

The bottom line of walking before the Lord means trusting in Him. Jeremiah 17:7 says, “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him” (emphasis added). (See also Prov. 16:20; Ps. 84:12). The psalmist also says, “Blessed are all who fear the Lord, who walk in his ways” (Ps. 128:1 emphasis added). If we are following Jesus as our Shepherd, we are walking before him—in His presence. Walking blameless adds another dimension.

BE BLAMELESS: second of two conditions to be blessed

“. . . and be blameless” (Gen. 17:1)

The Hebrew word for blameless is Tâmîym: the divine standard for man to obtain. It means “entire (literally, figuratively, or morally) whole, complete . . . upright in one’s conduct, especially toward God, innocent, simple, honest, sincere, secure, integrity.”[1] The Amplified Bible gives an interesting amplification: blameless, whole-hearted, complete. Remember Joshua and Caleb, who followed the Lord whole-heartedly, were the only ones left of the original generation coming out of Egypt and are now leading the children of Israel into the Promised Land. It all comes down to facing our life honestly before the Lord one day at a time.

The psalmist again gives a great summary of what it takes to be a blessed child of God: “Blessed are they whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the Lord. Blessed are they who keep his statutes and seek him with all their heart” (Ps. 119:1).

God’s ways are higher than our ways, therefore, we may see times when His blessings of health or family are taken away, and we cannot figure out why. We see ourselves as blameless and completely trusting in the Lord. Chapter 14 of this book examines this life situation in detail.

As important as these two conditions are to being blessed, there is another condition that we absolutely cannot ignore! And, it’s the very first condition God laid down. When the Lord called Abram to leave his father’s household and go to the land that He would show him, He finished His blessing to Abram with these words: “I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse” (Gen. 12:3).

We know God is referring to “Israel,” the nation of the Jewish people, Abraham’s descendants through Isaac—the child of a promise fulfilled—and Jacob whose name is changed to “Israel.”

WHO SHALL RECEIVE THESE BLESSINGS?

“. . . between me and you” (Gen. 17:2)

God is talking directly to Abraham, of course, and the me here is El Shaddai. He is also talking directly to you and me. Galatians 3:29 tells us so, “And if you belong to Christ (are in Him, Who is Abraham’s Seed), then you are Abraham’s offspring and (spiritual) heirs according to promise” (Amplified). We are Abraham’s spiritual offspring because we belong to Christ and are a child of the only One and True God. These promises and every promise in the whole Bible belong to us, and have already been given to us.

Jabez passed the conditions test

These blessings come only to those who dare to look for and receive what the Almighty has given, men like Jabez who cried out to God, “‘Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.’ And God granted his request” (1 Chron. 4:10).

Bruce Wilkinson, in his book, The Prayer of Jabez for Teens, says, “I’ve met so many Christians who think that such an idea is wrong. They assume that they’ll seem greedy or immature if they ask God for too many blessings. But that’s not what Jabez believed. Somewhere in his bones he knew something that most of us miss. He was convinced that God loved him and wanted to really bless him and that He could because He had unlimited power and resources. That kind of trust in his heavenly Father made it natural for Jabez to pray exactly the kind of request God wants to hear.”[2]

[1] Zodiates, Key Word Study Bible, p. 1792.

[2] Bruce Wilkinson, The Prayer of Jabez for Teens, (Multnomah Publishers, Inc., Sisters, Oregon 2001) p. 32-33

M6B Purpose, Deliverance & Protection of El Shaddai

THE BLESSINGS OF EL SHADDAI – continued

God is El Shaddai

El Shaddai’s promise of a homeland—purpose and heaven

Isaac blessed Jacob with these words, “May he [God Almighty] give you and your descendants the blessing given to Abraham, so that you may take possession of the land where you now live as an alien, the land God gave to Abraham” (Gen. 28:4). With this promise, Jacob knew he would someday return from his Uncle Laban to claim possession of God’s purpose for his life. We know now that he became the father of twelve sons who would personally possess the land of Canaan that would become known as Israel. In fact, God changed Jacob’s name to Israel. [This is only one of many times the Israelites left their homeland to later reclaim it.

###

Denise and Joe had been trusting God for their future and life purpose. Jeremiah 29:11 meant much to them, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’”

After Joe’s ten-year managerial job ended, he struggled to find something that utilized his skills and desires. In four years he had four jobs. Denise kept encouraging him and together they kept standing on the promise that the Lord is able to restore the years the locusts have eaten (see Joel 2:25). Seeking the Lord’s direction and purpose, they felt God shepherding them to move, but not knowing where.

###

The promise of a homeland refers also to  heaven of which the Promised Land of Canaan symbolizes. The word crossing, as of crossing the Jordan River (see Josh. 4:1), is the Hebrew word âbâr, which means “to pass over . . . to go beyond . . . to depart . . . to impregnate . . . going beyond a certain physical point.”[1] It also symbolizes entry into our destiny purpose and God’s best for our lives here on earth—going beyond our present state, possessing all God has for us.

El Shaddai’s purpose to promise deliverance from bondage

El Shaddai powerful and mighty one ofpurpose

Jumping from Jacob’s story to the story of Moses, we learn that in obedience to The Almighty, Moses returned to Egypt where he tried to persuade Pharaoh to free the people. To Moses, El Shaddai reveals himself as The Powerful One, the Mighty One, and changes, or replaces, his own name to “Jehovah,” [Chapter 22 of this book explains this in-depth name of God] with the same self-sufficiency as El Shaddai. The fullness of time had arrived for Jehovah also, because now, through Abraham and his descendant’s obedience and influence—Moses and the children of Israel (Jacob)—He obtains greater influence upon the earth. With increase in influence, comes a name change. The Lord, meaning Jehovah, said to Moses,

“I am the Lord. I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob as God Almighty, but by my name the Lord, I did not make myself known to them. I also established my covenant with them to give them the land of Canaan, where they lived as aliens. Moreover, I have heard the groaning of the Israelites, whom the Egyptians are enslaving, and I have remembered my covenant.”   —Exodus 6:2-4

He remembered His covenant—the blood.

The Almighty promises deliverance from bondage—spiritually and physically on this earth. That is His job, His purpose, and His desire. But, the deliverance of the children of Israel did not manifest until the most important last plague occurred. The Lord, through Moses, instructed them to sprinkle blood over the doorposts of their houses—from a sacrificial lamb. The blood protected them from judgment that Passover night when the death angel took the life of the firstborn sons of Egypt, including Pharaoh’s son. All this pointed to Jesus, our sacrificial Lamb, and the deliverance from sin, death, and bondage we have through his blood.

###

Denise and Joe felt they were in limbo land, much like when the children of Israel traveled around the same mountain, getting nowhere. She went back to work after six weeks at home with the baby—while Joe was still on unemployment. In the evenings, she took over baby care, fell into bed at 11:00 p.m., and awoke at 5:30 a.m. to care for baby again.

During this time Joe made a number of trips to Texas to take a test to get on the railroad, driving his only mode of transportation, his motorcycle. He passed the test three times, but could not get hired. Unemployment ran out. He was offered another dead-end job. He and Denise finally had enough; it was time to take a leap of faith.

Friends in Texas offered Joe a place to stay, so Denise pushed him out the door and stayed behind to sell the house. After only eight days, Joe was hired on temporarily with Northwest Pipe Company—with great pay and benefits. After two and one-half months and permanently hired, he rented an apartment and went back for Denise and the baby. They left town on a Sunday; the house sold on Monday. This time they were driving a pickup truck that a friend traded him for his motorcycle. Proceeds from the sale of their house paid their debt. The best part: Denise was now able to stay at home with their year-old daughter.

El Shaddai’s Purpose: Shadow of Protection for His Children

El Shaddai's purpose shadow of protection

One of the most comforting verses in the whole Bible comes from Psalm 91:1, “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High, will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.” This shadow can be equated to the shadow the Lord gave the children of Israel in the cloud by day to give them shade to protect them from the hot sun of the desert. It can also be thought of as the protecting wings of a mother hen as she shelters her chicks from the storm. Referring to Chapter 5 of this book, the shadow is the protecting red umbrella dipped in the blood of the Lamb over our heads. Psalm 91:1 is one of the forty-eight times where the Almighty (El Shaddai) appears in the Old Testament. He is our Protector.

###

Many stories of God’s protection can be told, but for Joe, it was with his motorcycle. On one of the trips to Texas, Joe’s motorcycle had mechanical problems. It just so happened to be in a place where a mechanic was able to help him. All Joe had to do was buy the part, and the man told him how to put it on, saving Joe labor costs, and he safely made his time deadline while being protected on the interstate highways—carried by El Shaddai.

[1] Zodiates, Key Word Study Bible, p. 1756

M6A God is El Shaddai [The All-Sufficient One]

 When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty [El Shaddai]; walk before me and be blameless. I will confirm my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers.” —Genesis 17:1-2

God is El Shaddai

Francy’s story is the best thing to help us understand who El Shaddai is . A few weeks after the birth of her second child, she left both children with her husband Scott while she escaped to the hairdresser. Returning later than planned, she found her house in total uproar. Both children were crying. Since the baby had not yet learned to take a bottle, Scott was unable to meet the needs of his infant child. Within minutes, peace ruled as Francy nursed the baby, and Scott was able to console his two-year old son.

This is the concept God was teaching Abraham in Genesis 17:1-2—His all-sufficiency is everything we could ever need—“able” to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves. As our parent, He blesses us as both our mother and our father. As a nursing mother is able to completely meet the physical and emotional needs of her child, God is able to care for, and console, us above all we can ask, think or dream of—the essence of El Shaddai.

THE BLESSINGS OF EL SHADDAI

El Shaddai pours out

The Hebrew name for God, “El Shaddai,” appears as “God Almighty” seven times in the Old Testament until the time of Moses. Almighty means Shaddai. The “El” of El Shaddai (and of El Roi and Elohim) means mighty, whereas some scholars say that El Shaddai means the Powerful One, or the Mighty One. “Rabbis believed the term meant the ‘One who is self-sufficient.’”[1] The root word comes from shadah, to shed, to pour out. “I am that God who pours out blessings, who gives them richly, abundantly, continually.”[2]

As you can see, scholars differ on the meaning of the root word of El Shaddai, which is no mistake, because He is all things. Kay Arthur in her book, The Peace & Power of Knowing God’s Name, leans toward the definition set forth by Andrew Jukes in The Names of God, explaining that the Hebrew word shad refers to “the breast,” or more exactly, a “woman’s breast.”[3]

The Hebrew word for blessing means God’s favor, benefits, happiness and peace.[4] What are these blessings poured out for us that we can expect from our Heavenly Father, El Shaddai? What are the conditions to receiving them, and who can receive them? The blessings are: increase, fruitfulness, promise of a homeland, deliverance from bondage, and protection. Let us review how Scripture relates each of these to El Shaddai.

Increase by El Shaddai

Remember, God’s confirmation of the covenant blessing God made to Abraham was nine months before Isaac was born. El Shaddai reassured him that he truly would increase his numbers through a child from his wife Sari. Abram meant “a high or exalted father;” whereas, God changed his name to Abraham (see Gen. 17:5), meaning “a father of a multitude.”[5]

Increase for Abraham was not only in numbers of descendants, but in influence and leadership. His faithfulness, trust and obedience to God influenced the whole world, like water spilling over a barrel covering the earth. Who is not familiar with the reputation of Abraham and of his faith which claimed a new nation? Especially since the war in Iraq, we see the descendants of Ishmael claiming him as their father also.

###

Christmas was always a sad time for Denise and her husband Joe, because they had no children. Finally, able to give it over to God one Christmas, Denise prayed, “Lord, if You want me to be a career woman and not have kids, I’ll accept that. If You want me to be a mother, it’ll have to happen soon. If You want us to adopt a child, You’ll have to drop one in my lap because we can’t afford one. If You’re not going to give me a child, then You’ll have to take away the desire.” In seeking God’s will, Denise was to find He was willing for increase.

Fruitfulness by El Shaddai

Before Jacob left for his Uncle Laban, Isaac passed on the blessing to him, “May God Almighty bless you and make you fruitful and increase your numbers until you become a community of peoples” (Gen. 28:3). In turn, Jacob blessed his son Joseph with these words, “Joseph is a fruitful vine . . . because of the Almighty, who blesses you with blessings of the heavens above, blessings of the deep that lies below, blessings of the breast and womb” (Gen. 49:22, 25).

Fruitfulness in every way is the promise of El Shaddai. Abram had to wait until he was ninety-nine years old, and Sari until she was ninety, to receive the child of promise, but it did happen. And, at the fulfillment of the promise came a name change for them both. [God told Abraham in Genesis 17:15 to call Sari, Sarah.]

###

Less than one month after Denise’s prayer, at an uncle’s funeral dinner, Joe’s mother approached him and Denise and said, “An unwed couple from within the family is expecting their sixth child and wants to give it up for adoption. They want to know if you want it. They want to keep it within the family.”

Denise’s heart leapt at those words, but they were almost like gossip, not a fact. The baby was to arrive in only two months, so they called the expecting man’s father. A meeting was planned with the parents. The couple did want to give the baby up for adoption.

The adoption cost only $1,000 for lawyer fees, but it was a fortune to Denise and Joe; however, just as a mother cares for her child, El Shaddai met their needs. Co-workers and friends gave of their best, and for the last remaining amount, Joe liquidated some assets. After a Bible study and sharing time, a friend named Patty donated her valuable social-service expertise for the background check for the adopting parents.

Denise had only two months to prepare for the baby. One particular day, with an unusual feeling of urgency, Denise shopped for her final baby supplies. The next day, the baby was born—one month earlier than expected.

After arriving at the hospital the night before, Denise and Joe heard the mother might be changing her mind. They prayed all night long in great anguish. The next morning, a beautiful baby girl was born, with one major complication, metopic crainiosynostosis, where the sutures of the cranium are closed rather than open to allow for growth of the child’s brain.

In the final outcome, the baby belonged to Denise and Joe. Surgery corrected the defect before the baby was six months old. Her forehead had appeared trianglar when looking from the top, but now she was normal, and the pressure on the brain was alleviated. The $100,000 hospital costs and surgery for the baby was paid with insurance from Denise’s job and financial aid. Meanwhile, two weeks after the adoption, Joe was laid-off from his job.

[1] Spiros Zodiates, Th.D., Executive Editor, The Hebrew-Greek Key Word Study Bible, (AMG Publishers, Chattanooga, TN 1990) p. 1782.

[2] Adam Clark, LL.D., F.S.A., & C., Clark’s Commentary Volume 1, Genesis-Derteronomy (Abington Press, New York, Nashville), p. 113.

[3] Kay Arthur, The Peace & Power of Knowing God’s Name, (Waterbrook Press, Colorado Springs, 2002) p.

[4] Zodiates, Key Word Study Bible, Hebrew word 1293, p. 1717.

[5] Zodiates, Key Word Study Bible, “Hebrew and Chaldee Dictionary,” p.8.

M5G Our Guidance Story, Because Our Lord is Shepherd

Our Story of Learning Guidance

Our Story of Learning how to trust God's guidance. Our hearts were in turmoil. There was no peace for either of us in our present situation without God's guidance, even though Jim was making good money. We had absolutely no idea what to do. Something had to change.

Our hearts were in turmoil. There was no peace for either of us in our present situation without God’s guidance, even though Jim was making good money. I worked during income tax season and was able to stay home with our two preschool children. We were renting a nice house with eighty pine trees in the yard, but we were miserable. We had absolutely no idea what to do. All we knew is that something had to change.

A minister mentioned something that caught our attention, “God has a plan for your life. That plan is demonstrated in the Bible as the Promised Land to the children of Israel.” We started to read our Bible with this in mind. How do we know God’s plan for our lives?

Jim and I discussed, “What is truth? What really matters?” The Holy Spirit brought to our remembrance a verse of Scripture we had learned in Sunday school as children. Jesus told his disciples, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the father except through me” (John 14:6).

“If Jesus is the only truth and life, then why aren’t we following Him?” we said.

DOES GOD HAVE A PLAN FOR YOUR LIFE - GUIDANCE

Together, we repented before God for not making Him first in our lives (even though we were going to church), and decided to find that Promised Land plan that God laid out for us before the very foundation of the world (see Eph. 1:4).

We had heard the story of the escape from Egypt and the deliverance through Moses and the wilderness journey, but reading it for our personal guidance brought no comparison. We realized we were as much in bondage as Jacob’s offspring in Egypt. We searched the Scriptures to see how they got there. We were shocked to find Genesis 46:2-3, “I am God . . . Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make you into a great nation there, I will go down to Egypt with you, and I will surely bring you back again . . . .”

We were amazed that God told Jacob to go to Egypt where bondage was the plan so He could get them out of it, and then get the glory for doing so. We realized it was not a mistake for us to be where we were–in bondage–and that God was with us and hearing our groaning as much as He heard the Israelites (see Exod. 6:5).

We had felt the $10,000 debt we made for ourselves was something we had to deal with in our own strength–and the job, too; but, now, we knew God wanted to deliver us, His way, and that deliverance was His job.

Are we Willing to Follow the Shepherd’s Guidance

Guided by Lord My Shepherd

We both felt Jesus tugging at our hearts with these words, “Now are you willing to relinquish all and follow me?”

The Lord continued to show us that He had met His disciples before the time He asked them this question. It was as though, He was still walking along the seashore saying, “Come, follow me.”

Our answer could be nothing other than yes. It was no different than when some of Jesus’ disciples turned back from following him, “‘You do not want to leave too, do you?’ Jesus asked the twelve.

“Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God'” (John 6:67-68).

It was time to act on our faith and to take a stand. Having God’s Word on it, I could confidently tell Jim, “I think you ought to resign. If so, I will never second-guess your decision.” Feeling he could always find work, he put in his notice.

We read all the book of Deuteronomy; then, reread it again. The day after the job notice was up, August 1, 1978, when we had been in Carthage eleven months, God quickened Deuteronomy 1:3 to us, “In the fortieth year, on the first day of the eleventh month,” after the children of Israel had been in the wilderness.

Verse 6 also popped out at us, “You have stayed long enough at this mountain. Break camp and advance into the hill country . . . .” “How do we do that?” I asked Jim.

Jim found it first. We did not know the children of Israel had to cross two rivers. All that was in our minds was the Red Sea, with Moses (Charlton Heston) holding out his rod so the people could cross over on dry land. But, they had to cross the Jordan River, too! The book of Joshua brought more light to our path, confirming our way, to stand still and hear the words of the Lord.

“Sit still” is what we did, with the encouragement of two Godly women we could talk to. Other well-meaning friends said, “If you think you want to work for the Lord, why don’t you go to seminary?” We knew this could not be God’s plan because we were already in debt with school.

This only caused us to search more Scripture to discover that Jesus’ disciples did not need seminary to be used by Him. Even the apostle Paul, after meeting Jesus, did not consult any man, but went immediately into Arabia to seek the Lord and later returned to Damascus when he began his ministry (see Gal. 1:15-17).

Jim and I were flooded with peace as we camped at the river’s edge, listening to the words of the Lord; that is, until the three days turned into three months, and we came down to the last $3.00 to our name.

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You have just read one fifteen-minute segment of two chapters in the book GOD Who Are You? AND Who Am I? that gives details about how we are like sheep and need a Shepherd’s guidance. This second chapter detailed the 3 harbor lights to watch for as we seek God’s plan and guidance for our life. I think about these lights every day, because that’s how often I need to make a decision.

This printable of the 3 harbor lights will give you a hint of the secret to really knowing how to follow the Lord with confidence–if you’ve not read the whole chapter. To know more about the free eCourse, click the LEARN MORE  link below. We would love to have you join us. May God bless you in your quest.

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3 harbor lights of guidance

M5F Circumstance Guidance, Because the Lord is Shepherd

HARBOR LIGHT #3: CIRCUMSTANCES – 10%

Circumstance Guidance

By the time we get to this last harbor lighthouse, we have an assurance in our heart of what we think God is telling us, especially if we have researched the details. We know if an opportunity does not present itself, it was not God speaking in the first place. It may have been a selfish ambition or a desire from a wrong motive. In these cases, closed doors are good. Proverbs tells us that “in his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps” (Prov 16:9)-or is in control of circumstance. With experience, we find we don’t have to be afraid to try to open doors of opportunity, because one thing we can be sure of-a door will not open that is not right for us-when we are earnestly seeking God’s will.

Marlene finished her book, queried forty-one publishers and spent a ton on postage. Not one bought her book. But she had God’s Word on it. She had a piece of the rock to stand on, and she knew it was His calling and His will that her story be told, and published.

Finally, and unexpectedly after six years, a publishing house gave her a contract. She had heard about a new publisher, and then God brought the editor to her local writer’s conference. The circumstances finally lined up with the other two lights–in God’s timing, not her own. And with the promotion of the book, she realized that any time sooner she would not have been able to deal as well publicly with the sensitive nature of her life story.

# # #

In the fullness of time, the Israelites obeyed and broke camp to cross the Jordan. The priests carrying the ark went ahead of them. As soon as they reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water’s edge, an act of faith, the water from upstream stopped flowing. It piled up in a heap while the water flowing down to the sea was completely cut off. “So the people crossed over opposite Jericho. The priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firm on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan, while all Israel passed by until the whole nation had completed the crossing on dry ground” (Josh. 3: 16-17).

All the people had to do was to obey and follow the ark–not hurrying or losing focus–not getting distracted by threatening “things” on the right or left-hand sides. God did the rest like slipping a hand in a glove. God is the hand; we are the glove. The hand just moved into the glove. The people of the second generation learned how to allow God to work through them.

Circumstance Must Line Up with the Word and Holy Spirit Counsel

Have you ever seen a firefly at night moving slowly along an evergreen branch? Until it takes the next step along the sprig, the green section underneath cannot be seen. The bright yellow light of the firefly is much like God’s Word is to us, for “it is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path” (Ps. 119:105). Amanda and Mark’s story shows how we cannot know God’s guidance until we start taking steps and persist in trusting God with the results.

Guided by Lord My Shepherd

Amanda and Mark needed a lot of guidance in how to make children a part of their marriage. In the very beginning of their search for adoption agencies, a friend asked, “Do you think an international adoption would be the way to go?” Deciding it would be too expensive, they tried a private attorney. Up-front fees were less expensive and they heard it was easier; however, after two failed adoptions and eighteen months, they were discouraged and gave up that idea. Next, they tried foster parenting classes. After the first class, Mark was not interested.

Amanda kept a journal, recording God’s encouraging words to her, along with her disappointments. The main Scripture that kept them going was Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”

Their thoughts went back to the international adoption idea. They learned it was possible to adopt two children at one time through an agency near them. They checked out references and received positive feedback. They could have two children within one year. “By this time, we just knew that God was directing us this way. People wondered why we didn’t adopt in America. We prayed through the whole process that God would guide us and we just had faith that He was.”28

After paperwork and home visits were completed and flight dates arranged to a Russian orphanage, discouraging problems still loomed. Their scheduled flight in April was cancelled. They had to wait and wait some more. Finally, another date in June. Mark made a determination, “We will not come home without two children.” By faith, they prepared a nursery.

In a city northeast of Moscow, the couple was given a picture of three-year-old Alexey. The minute Amanda saw his picture she knew he was their child. He had Mark’s furrowed brow and a little frown on his face. But, the biggest part was his name. “During the recent Olympics there had been a Russian ice skater named Alexey. I thought it was the most beautiful name and I went around the house saying, ‘I’m going to name my baby Alexey.'”

Circumstance Lines Up for Mark and Amanda

The next day, the Ministry of Education called to say they had another child for them to consider-an infant by their standards. He was two years old, with soft blue eyes, with the same name Alexey. With no reservations, they knew God had given them their family. When circumstances lined up, with confirmations, they did so quickly.

God not only guided them to their children, but he provided for them. Adoption tax credits made the adoptions affordable. A few years later they went back for a beautiful three-year-old girl named Annalyse, making their family complete.

Circumstance is Always the Last Light to Line Up

Circumstance Lines Up

Choices and decisions of a lesser degree that we make every day are made so much easier with the three harbor lights in mind. Anita had a friend who was threatening her husband with divorce after learning of his infidelity. They had a two-month-old baby boy. She knew she needed to share God’s love with Sally, which she had never done. Her heart pounded and tears came to her eyes every time she thought about it. God’s Word was very clear she should go and share (see Matt. 28:19-20). She knew she had the Holy Spirit’s witness in her heart, so she asked for confirmation, “Lord, if you want me to go to Sally and tell her about how I became a Christian and that You can save her marriage, please let her call me first; then, I’ll know you are leading me, without a doubt.”

Within hours, the phone rang, “Hello Anita, this is Sally.” The final harbor light of circumstances lined up. Anita was obedient, and through her fear, trusted God to give her the words to share. That was the last time Anita had contact with Sally, but she learned that she chose to stay with her husband. They accepted the Lord as their Savior, moved from town, changed jobs, got into the Church, and reared nine children.

As the pilot of a ship trusts in the captain, we can trust our Shepherd to lead us. He is the one who qualifies us, and says, “I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them” (Isa.42:16).

When we follow Jehovah-Rohi, we gain experiential knowledge we will have no other way. “Surely goodness and love will follow [us] all the days of [our] lives, and [we] will dwell in the house of the Lord forever” (Ps. 23:6).

ENDNOTE
28. Laura Hyer, “Couple Becomes Family,” Fort Scott Tribune, (November 15, 2002), p. 1-2.