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What’s in a Name? - Girlfriends in God - August 27, 2013

August 27, 2013
What’s in a Name?
Mary Southerland

Today’s Truth

The God who made you is like your husband. His name is the LORD All-Powerful (Isaiah 54:5, NCV).

Friend to Friend

When Dan and I were first married, I really struggled with what to call his parents. Mr. and Mrs. Southerland seemed too formal, but Jerry and Norma seemed too familiar and did not address my level of respect for them. On the other hand, “Mom” and “Dad” were just a little too intimate for me at the time. My dad died when I was only four, and my mom was both mother and father to me for most of my life. It almost seemed disloyal to address another woman as “mom.”

So I solved my problem by not calling them anything – which was not really a solution at all. 

I loved Dan’s parents and wanted to convey that love to them. After years of marriage and the death of my own mom, I one day found myself calling them “Mom” and “Dad.” It was not a conscious decision on my part. In fact, I did not even realize that I had made that transition until Dan commented on how much it meant to them that I would call his parents “Mom” and “Dad.”

Over the years, I not only learned to love and respect Dan’s parents more, but my relationship with them had grown to a new level. The same should be true in our spiritual journey.

How can we know God in an intimate way – on a marriage level? We get to know anyone we meet by first exchanging names. We taught our kids that a simple way to meet someone new is to say, “Hi! My name is Jered (or Danna). What’s yours?” Names are very important.

God has a first name – Yahweh or Jehovah, a Hebrew word that means, “I am.” “LORD” should be translated “Yahweh” meaning that Yahweh Almighty is His name. Translators did a great job with the Bible, but here they took the name of God and substituted a title. When you see “LORD” in all caps, read it as “Jehovah.” Yahweh Jehovah is a personal name that reveals the very core of God’s being, His sufficiency and His holiness.

God wants to be on a first name basis with us, and He wants us to come to Him just as we are – yes, in our weakness and incompleteness. When we come honestly before Him, sharing who we really are and what we really need, God then shares His last name. God’s last name is always based upon the current need of our lives. 

God came to Moses and said, “I want you to be on a first name basis with me. My name is Yahweh Jehovah.” From that point on, whenever the people had a need, they cried out in their insufficiency saying, “God you are the I Am. Come and meet me!” God would then come, meet them and give them His last name.

  • In Exodus 16, the people cried, “”God we’re out here in the desert with no food or water, literally starving to death! Jehovah Yahweh, where are You?” God says, “I’m right here. My name today is Jehovah Jireh, which means “Provider.” All of a sudden, quail are raining down from heaven, manna is found on the desert floor, and new water begins pouring out of a rock!
  • In Exodus 17, the people come up against a vastly superior military force and cried out to God saying, “We can’t do this! This army will wipe us out! Please help us!” God says, “I’ll be there. My name today is Jehovah Nissi, which means “Banner.” In Biblical times, when tribes went to war, flags and banners were carried out in front. Therefore, God is telling the people that He will go before them and fight the battle for them.
  • In other passages, people came to God overwhelmed and anxious. God says, “I am Jehovah Shalom, your Peace.”
  • David came to Him in a moment of desolation and said, “God, I am in the wilderness totally alone.” God says, “I am Jehovah Shammah. I am here.”
  • Jesus cried out to God saying, “Abba Father” which means “Dearest Daddy.” This name paints the picture of a broken-hearted child climbing up into the lap of the loving Father for comfort and safety. The Father wraps His arms around that child and becomes a refuge. 

God wants an intimate “marriage level” relationship with you, His child. You can come to Him, calling Him by name, and He will meet the need of your heart.

Let’s Pray

Father, I want to know You more. I want to see Your face in my daily life and hear Your voice above all others. I long to see You in every circumstance, and sense Your presence with every breath I take. In Jesus’s name, amen.

Now It’s Your Turn

Do you want to know God – I mean, really know Him? You can. Consider the following questions:

  • Understand that we can come to God on a first name basis.
  • Accept His invitation to meet Him at the point of your deepest need.
  • Recognize that intimacy requires honesty.
  • Be willing to come to Him – just like you are.

More from the Girlfriends

It’s finally here! Sharon, Gwen and Mary’s new book, Knowing God by Name, is now available. This is the perfect book for individual study or for gathering a group of friends in what we call GiG Groups. With impactful devotions, study questions, journal pages, and free on-line video intros, this book is a resource you’ll refer to time-and-time again.

Looking for a Bible Study? Join women from across the world in Mary’s Online Bible Study, From a Mess to a Miracle. If you enroll now, you will also have access to all of the 2013 lessons from Proverbs. Check it out! And be sure to connect with Mary on Facebook or through email.

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