Updated: Apr 4
You will show me the way of life,
granting me the joy of your presence
and the pleasures of living with you forever.
Psalms 16:11 NLT
In the beginning God created and breathed life into existence. By using cloud and fog, I wanted to show in a visual way that God is still both near, at work, and calling us closer to fellowship with Him today.
Return to Me..
God is in pursuit of us, but He also knows He can't make us love Him or ask for our broken relationship to be mended between us and Him. The truth of the story is, God has never left us, but we have abandoned and fled His presence from the very beginning (Genesis 3). It's in our nature to push God away (Romans 5:12, Galatians 5:17). However, because of God's nature to love us unconditionally and His heart to have a relationship with us (1 John 3:1), God sent His Son to redeem us from becoming completely separated from His presence (Romans 6:23) that we are all meant to know and live in forever (John 3:16, John 14:2), by paying for our sins Himself on a cross (Romans 5:8). He offers us forgiveness through Christ to make our relationship whole again. Just like the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32), if we humble ourselves and return home to Him, we will find Him waiting with joyous welcoming arms, so we can begin again and fellowship with Him once more.
Who is He?
God wants us to approach Him with confidence, and one of the ways He breaks down barriers is in the revealing of His names. Some of us carry names with meaning or sentiment behind them, but God introduces Himself with names titled as character qualities to help us better understand just who He is and His heart towards us. What's more interesting is in The Bible He reveals portions of Himself only as the story of humanity unfolds, almost like a developing friendship would as it matures.
Woven throughout the Bible, He is called (focusing mainly on His relationship qualities):
"Elohim: All powerful, Sustainer, Creator, and Judge" (Gen.1:1),"El Roi: The God who sees" (Gen.16:13-14), "Jealous" (Ex.20:5), "My Rock" (Ps.18:31, 62:7), "My Light and Salvation" (Ps.27:1), "My King" (Ps.74:12), "My Refuge and Shield" (Ps.119:114), "My Physician" (Ps.147:3, Mat.9:12), "Brother" (Prov.17:17), "My Beloved and Friend" (Song of Sol.5:16), "The Father" (Isa.9:6, 1 Cor.8:6), "Forsaken and Betrayed" (Isa.53, Mat.27), "The Hope" (Joel 3:12-16, 1 Tim.1:1), "Emmanuel: God With Us" (Mat.1:23), "A Friend of Sinners" (Mat.11:19), "My Healer" (Luke 9:11), "The Word made flesh" (John 1:14), "My Teacher" (John 3:2), "The Shepherd" (John 10:11, Heb.13:20, 1 Pet.5:4), "The Resurrection" (John 11:25), "The Comforter" (John 14:26), "A Servant" (Luke 12:37, Phil.2:7-8), "My Redeemer" (1 Cor.1:30), "The Head of The Church" (Eph.1:22, Col.2:10), "My Peace" (Eph.2:14), "The Mediator" (1 Tim.2:5), "The Great High Priest" (Heb.4:14), "The Intercessor" (Heb.7:25), "My Helper" (Heb.13:6), "The Life" (1 John 1:2), "Jesus Christ our Lord" (Rom.5:21, Rev. 1:5).... (*see footnote)
Knowing God's character helps us recognize Him. The more we lean in to commune with God, in our Bible reading and pausing in prayer to listen to Him, we will enrichen both our loyalty to and enjoyment in Him. The better we know and love Him, the more we can't deny that no one or thing compares to Him. The best part of the story is He made the way for us to come dwell with Him, regardless of where we are standing with Him today. He wants to love us and meet with us, both in this moment, whatever the circumstances, and forevermore!
But as for me, how good it is to be near God!
I have made the Sovereign Lord my shelter,
and I will tell everyone about the wonderful things you do.
Psalm 73:28 NLT
Each piece in this collection is given a dedicated verse on the theme of God's presence for the purpose of encouragement. I pray the messages here serve your heart and faith well.
Psalms 43:3-5 3 Send out your light and your truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling! 4 Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy, and I will praise you with the lyre, O God, my God. 5 Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God. This passage really defines and captures the imagery I wanted to represent in this piece. God's presence is magnificent, like a light breaking through a dark sky does God's word teach and lead the lost where to go. Where God is, we are moved away from the strongholds that brought us great depression and towards the hope found only in coming close to God. This relief gives us joy and a place to stand free, even God given purpose, to sing..
Psalms 3:3-4 ESV "But you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head. I cried aloud to the Lord, and he answered me from his holy hill. Selah" We were not meant to dwell in anxiety or fear, but to know the One who is our shield, glory, and lifter of our heads. In God's presence we are free to cry and access His goodness for comfort and shelter. The name Nadia means "One who is full of hope".
Hebrews 4:16 (NKJV) Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
How comfortable do you feel with God? Maybe you have been avoiding His face because it brings up feelings of pain or dread. Maybe you are hiding or oppressed by accusations of shame and doubt. Satan wants to keep us from enjoying God's free grace, so he will distort God's character and name every reason we should never go into God's presence. Sometimes the goal is to make us distrust God, and sometimes it's to make us feel like we don't belong in God's presence. Hebrews 4:14-16 talks about how Christ, The High Priest, sympathizes with us and our weakness to temptations, so there's nothing that will surprise Him if we opened up about how we really think or feel or have acted. What makes it so crucial about Him being The High Priest is the role a high priest plays as a mediator between the sinner and God. Jesus mediates on our behalf by offering Himself as the sacrificial atonement for our sins, which "clears the air" between us and God. The truth is we CAN come confidently before God. We don't need anyone else to mediate for us or special acts to appease God each day. Jesus paid and stamped that lifetime ticket into God's courts with His blood, and there's no expiration date or fine print clause that will erase that offer. God wants us to be close to Him, to come to Him when were tempted, in need of forgiveness, or when were struggling to believe or trust Him. He wants true worship, and sometimes it comes from the rawest place in our hearts that fights to choose to surrender and give God room to transform us. He knows us, and yet loves us. It's okay to have weakness, He wants us to come struggle with Him. He makes us strong..
John 16:33 (ESV) I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. Even above the rage of the storm, God heard your voice. Whether past, present, or coming, God is pressing closer. He sets free the bonds of strongholds and shame. He comforts the mourners and weeps along with them. He finds the lost and brings them home with great celebration. He heals the broken hearts and fills the voids with Himself. He accepts the abandoned and hated and makes them sons and daughters. He sent His only Son to forgive the worst of sinners and clean their hearts. He clothes us anew and gives us new beginnings. He sees the end, though the storm may loom in our minds and hearts whether present, coming, or gone. He gives us hope and makes a way for break throughs. He is the author of life, though we are dying, we can be assured that we will not be left alone in the worst of battles. He collides with the storm and overcomes our fears, touching the pain. He is the closest friend..
Psalms 73:23-25 NLT Yet I still belong to you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, leading me to a glorious destiny. Whom have I in heaven but you? I desire you more than anything on earth. The entirety of Psalm 73 is a comparison between two perspectives of prosperity. One is value gained in this world and the other is the "wealth" of being close to God. As we mature in our faith we understand it's not about having a perfect or struggle-free life in Christ, but pursuing and loving a perfect God who lives with us, even in the hardship, and gives us life eternal. ... "just to be close to YOU God! You are my glorious destiny!"
John 5:17 NLT But Jesus replied, “My Father is always working, and so am I.” This piece was inspired by the song lyric from Waymaker, "Even when I don't see it you are working". The fog coming up in a hazy treeline behind the focal point, the daisies, represents how there are times in our lives when we can't see past what's going on, but God is working in the backround. The name Connie was chosen as a playful version of "Constance", which means dependable. Maybe we are living in a real state of overwhelm or battling through the toughest days of our lives, but God promises His presence and help always, and is always working. He doesn't take a day off, but is ever present in our struggle, because He sees us and cares about our circumstances. We can face the future because He is our hope and is with us always.
Eric Ludy - He is (The Names of God), https://youtu.be/NscHCa395-M, Accessed 03/26/20