Some of us begin our spiritual journey searching for relief from pain or difficult circumstances. Others are looking for direction or meaning in life. These can be powerful motivators to explore new options and initiate change, to find a different and better path. They may lead us to a personal relationship with Christ, even if that was not where we expected our journey to lead. For a while, that new relationship brings new awareness, positive change, and motivation to begin or continue doing what is good and right. We experience far more life than we have experienced before!
But we cannot sustain Christian growth for an extended time with personal fulfillment as our motivation. If we want far more life to last a lifetime, our motivation must become our love for God. As our relationship with Him matures, our perspective on Him naturally changes. We grow to see Him less as Santa Claus or a cosmic vending machine — someone who gives us what we desire if we perform correctly. Instead we recognize His character and the reverence He deserves. Here are a few examples of His name and titles that reveal His character:
- Yahweh (Usually translated “LORD”, this means “self-existent one” or “He who brings into being”. Yahweh is God’s name, just like my name Shari.)
By Wisdom Yahweh laid the foundation of the earth. By understanding he established the heavens. (Proverbs 3:19, NOG)
- Elohim (title meaning almighty or all-powerful):
In the beginning Elohim created heaven and earth. (Genesis 1:1, NOG)
- Elyon (title meaning supreme or most high):
…Your name is Yahweh. You alone are Elyon of the whole earth. (Psalm 83:18, NOG)
- El Olam (title meaning everlasting):
Don’t you know? Haven’t you heard? El Olam, Yahweh, the Creator of the ends of the earth, doesn’t grow tired or become weary. His understanding is beyond reach. (Isaiah 40:28, NOG)
- Adonai/Adonay (title meaning master):
The priests who carry the ark of Yahweh, the Adonay of the whole earth, will stand in the water of the Jordan. Then the water flowing from upstream will stop and stand up like a dam. (Joshua 3:13, NOG)
- El Shaddai /Shadday (title meaning all-sufficient sustainer):
…The breath of Shadday gives me life. (Job 33:4, NOG)
- Roeh (title meaning shepherd, friend):
Yahweh is my Roeh. I am never in need. (Psalm 23:1, NOG)
He who brings into being. All powerful. Supreme. Everlasting. Master. All-sufficient sustainer. Friend. Those terms describe Someone worth getting to know! Not just because of what He can do for us, but because of His own merits. They describe Someone who deserves our respect. Someone we can learn from. Someone we would do well to emulate. And God does want us to emulate Him! The Old Testament and Jesus’ first recorded sermon both include this instruction:
…I am the Lord your God. I am holy, and you must be holy too! (Leviticus 19:2, CEV)
But you must always act like your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:48, CEV)
Of course, humans are incapable of living a completely sinless life. We are born with a sinful nature that desires to do our own thing and be our own boss instead of giving God His rightful place in our hearts and lives. (Romans 3:23, James 4:17) Fortunately, when we accept Jesus as our Savior we receive a built-in “righteousness guide”, the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38, I Corinthians 6:19). From that day forward, God the Spirit lives inside of us, giving us the power to overcome sinful thoughts, beliefs, feelings, and actions (2 Peter 1:3). But the change is not automatic; we must reclaim control from our sinful nature.
“…Live your life as your spiritual nature directs you. Then you will never follow through on what your corrupt nature wants.” (Galatians 5:16, GW)
Do not be shaped by this world; instead be changed within by a new way of thinking. Then you will be able to decide what God wants for you; you will know what is good and pleasing to him and what is perfect. (Romans 12:2, NCV)
We know that we are being directed by our spiritual nature when we display His characteristics: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Any time we do not feel or display those traits, we are being directed by the corrupt nature. We can try harder to push it aside, but sometimes our effort is not enough to create permanent change. Instead we must be changed from within through a new way of thinking.
We change our thinking by changing our core beliefs. Sinful thoughts, feelings, and actions reveal core beliefs that are still spiritually “corrupted”. But we can “follow the feelings” to bring them to the light. First, we recognize what negative emotion we are feeling. Then we ask ourselves why we feel that (i.e., what do we believe). Which may lead us to another negative emotion; asking “why” again reveals another belief. When that back-and-forth reaches a belief about our identity or God’s character that disagrees with the Bible, we have exposed our corrupt thinking! Bringing to mind God’s truth — His perspective, words, and actions — at that moment allows us to renew that part of our mind for God. When presented with a similar situation in the future, we will be able to respond as God would! It can be a slow, painful process to find and replace corrupt beliefs. But it is worthwhile because each step of that process yields far more life: becoming more like God!
What initially prompted you to seek out God? What prompts you now?
How would you describe your friendship with God? Is it one-way or two-way?
Which name or title of God is most meaningful to you? Why?
How do you feel about being more like God? Any hesitation or reluctance?
Do you experience negative feelings regularly? Are you willing to try “following them” to renew your thinking?
Praise God for allowing you to keep growing far more life!
Copyright 2021, Shari Damaso