Dear Friends,

 

This Sunday and continuing through Christmas day, I will be posting a short devotional each day that considers one of the names of God.

 

I’m calling this devotional IMMANUEL because it means “God is with us.”  My prayer is that we will know the Lord more intimately as we better understand who He is through His names.

 

Each day we will:

  • Look at a name of God (in Hebrew and English).
  • Consider the meaning of the name.
  • Look at Scripture where it’s used.
  • Consider what it tells us about the Lord.
  • See how Jesus portrayed this name.
  • Then you will write a short thought about what this name means to you.

 

I hope you will journey with me this Christmas as we take time to consider the blessings poured out on us from the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Be sure to invite others to join with us for this devotional.

 

Onward this Christmas,

Pastor Gary

 

What is in a name?

 

My name is Gary Stump, but that is not enough for you to know me.  I am a Christian.  I am Kathy’s husband.  I am called Dad.  I am called Papaw.  I am called a friend.  I am called Pastor.  I am a called chaplain by Fishers Police and Fire departments.  I am called a U. S. Citizen.  I am called a Hoosier.  I am called a senior adult.  I am called a golfer.  I am called a Colts and a Pacers fan.  And I am called a Yankees fan.  When I give you all of these descriptions, you can know much more about me than my name alone tells you.

 

A name is a representation of the person.  It discloses their identity.  So it is with God.  God desires for us to know Him—not just know about Him—but truly know Him…His heart…His character…His love…who He really is.

 

Throughout the Old Testament God progressively revealed Himself to His people by sharing His names.  Each of God’s names reveals or describes a little more about who He is.  When you consider all the names of God, you begin to see Him in His fullness, so that you can know Him more intimately.

 

Advent is named from the Latin word adventus, which in Greek is parousia, which means “the coming” or “the appearing.”  It is a time to prepare our hearts for Christmas, and has two aspects:  1) to remember that Jesus is coming again to rule the earth; and 2) to remember our Savior’s birth.

 

Hanukkah is the Festival of Lights and involves lighting a Hanukkiah (a 9-branch menorah)—one candle the first night and one additional candle each night—for the eight nights of celebration.  Hanukkah commemorates the re-dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem in 165 BC after it was desecrated by Antiochus IV.

 

This Christmas Devotional is provided so that you and I might consider one name of God each day of this season.  I hope you will take the time to spend with the Lord each day.  Let’s not allow the busyness of the season to rob us from experiencing our Lord and His infinite love for us as ultimately expressed through our coming Savior.

 

Here is how we will do this devotional.  Each day during Advent leading up to Christmas (this includes Hanukkah) we will:

  • Look at a name of God.
  • Consider the meaning of the name.
  • Look at Scripture where it’s used.
  • Consider what it tells us about the Lord.
  • See how Jesus portrayed this name.
  • Then you will write a short thought about what this name means to you.

 

May God reveal Himself, His love, and His purposes to us throughout this Christmas season!

 

NOTE:  So that this devotional can be used in future years, the days are numbered between 1-28 since Advent can be anywhere from 22-28 days depending on how the dates fall each year.  Here are the dates for Advent and Hanukkah 2018-2023:

 

Year Advent Begins Hanukkah Begins
2018 December 2 December 2
2019 December 1 December 22
2020 November 29 December 10
2021 November 28 November 28
2022 November 27 December 18
2023 December 3 December 7

 

 

 

DAY 1:  December 2, 2019   1st Day of Advent       1st Night of Hanukkah

 

IMMANUEL

(im-ma-nu-AIL)

“God with us”

 

All right then, the Lord himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child!

She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’).

Isaiah 7:14 (NLT)

 

 

In Isaiah 7:14 God promised that at the right time, He would give us a sign of His plan to deliver us by having a virgin give birth to a son who would be God with us.  Of course this was fulfilled when God’s Son, was born of a virgin in the city of Bethlehem—fully God and fully man—He was indeed “God with us.”

 

“For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form”

Colossians 2:9 (NASB95)

 

Jesus is the manifestation of the very character and identity of God in a human body.  Every name of God in Scripture is evident in Jesus.  Our journey through the names of God will be the basis of our Christmas Devotional

 

On the night of His last Passover, Jesus was with His disciples and explaining that He was going away to prepare a place for us with His Father.  The Apostle Philip asked Jesus to show them the Father.  Jesus responded,

 

Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time?

Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?

John 14:9 (NIV84)

 

God delights in being with His people.  He wanted to be with us so much that He came to live with us.  It gives me a sense of awe that the all-powerful, Creator God of the universe would desire to be with me…me!  Since the day I placed my faith in Jesus Christ as the bridge that led me into a relationship with God I have enjoyed an intimate connection with the Lord.  He is indeed my Immanuel—”God with me!”

 

So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness.

And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.

John 1:14 (NLT)

 

What does it mean to you that God is with you?

 

 

 

DAY 2:  December 3, 2019   2nd Day of Advent      2nd Night of Hanukkah

 

ELOHIM

(e-lo-HEEM)

“God”

 

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

Genesis 1:1 (NLT)

 

The first word in the Bible that speaks of God is this word Elohim.  El is the singular of God, but the word Elohim is plural so it could be rightly translated gods.  Except in this context it must be translated God (singular) because it uses the plural of the word God with singular verbs throughout this passage.  This word speaks of the fullness of God’s character—He is the God of gods.

 

The Nicene Creed (325 AD) is one of the earliest statements on the Trinity and nature of Jesus as fully God in particular.  It says in part,

 

“I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made.  Who, for us men for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary, and was made man; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; He suffered and was buried; and the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures; and ascended into heaven, and sits on the right hand of the Father; and He shall come again, with glory, to judge the living and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end.”

 

But Jesus remained silent. Then the high priest said to him, “I demand in the name of the living God—tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.”  Jesus replied, “You have said it. And in the future you will see the Son of Man seated in the place of power at God’s right hand and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

Matthew 26:63–64 (NLT)

 

The High Priest at Jesus’ trial knew exactly what Jesus was claiming.  He was claiming no less than being God.  C. S. Lewis writes,

“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

 

I shared my faith story with a man a few months ago, and then he explained how he did not believe in God.  I smiled and gently said to him, “You tell me there is no God, but I tell you I know Him.”  He stared into my eyes for a minute and then replied, “Yes, I believe you do.”  I know God the Father, through Jesus, God the Son, because of the indwelling presence of God the Holy Spirit.

 

What does it mean to you that Jesus is God?

 

 

 

 

DAY 3:  December 4, 2019   3rd Day of Advent      3rd Night of Hanukkah

 

YHWH

(yah-WEH)

“I AM”

 

But Moses protested, “If I go to the people of Israel and tell them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ they will ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what should I tell them?”

God replied to Moses, “I Am Who I Am. Say this to the people of Israel: I Am has sent me to you.”

Exodus 3:13–14 (NLT)

 

God has many descriptions, titles, and designations, but He only has one name.  God’s actual name is YHWH.  Through the centuries the rabbis were so concerned with taking God’s name in vain that we have lost the actual pronunciation of this Hebrew name.  God’s name is the verb of being.  We usually spell it Yahweh, but this is only because we add the first letter of Adonai (the Hebrew word for Lord) and the first letter of Elohim (which is the Hebrew word for God).

 

The Third Commandments says,

 

“You must not misuse the name of the Lord your God.

The Lord will not let you go unpunished if you misuse his name.”

Exodus 20:7 (NLT)

 

Often the Jewish people will call God “Hashem” which means “The Name.”  The name YHWH is used over 6,800 times in the Old Testament.  In our English translations, every time God’s name is used the translators will let us know by using large and small caps like Lord.  This is our clue that the actual name of God, YHWH, is being given.  This is a personal name.  It denotes that we can know the Lord personally, intimately.

 

Jesus revealed Himself to us as YHWH many times.  He is the fullness of Yahweh in bodily form (Colossians 2:9).  One day in having a discussion about who He was, Jesus told the Jewish leaders that Abraham rejoiced to see His day arrive. These leaders responded that Jesus was not yet 50 years old, so how could Abraham have seen Him since Abraham had been dead for almost 2,000 years?  Jesus responded,

 

“I tell you the truth, before Abraham was even born, I Am!”

John 8:58 (NLT)

 

It has always been an incredible thought to me that God’s name would be a verb, and the verb of being for that matter.  We could call God: “I Am, He Is, He Was, He Shall Be.”  Each of these would be a fair representation of His name.  It blesses me that God is eternally in the present…”I AM.”  He is the God who is with me in my present circumstances, problems, stresses and challenges.  My always-present-tense God!

 

What does it mean to you that you can know Jesus as I AM?

 

 

 

DAY 4:  December 5, 2019   4th Day of Advent       4th Night of Hanukkah

 

ADONAI

(a-doe-NAI)

“Lord”

 

“But Lord,” Gideon replied, “how can I rescue Israel? My clan is the weakest in the whole tribe of Manasseh, and I am the least in my entire family!”

Judges 6:15 (NLT)

 

The word Adonai, which is translated “Lord,” speaks of God’s right to rule your life.  It indicates authority, power, position, and sovereignty.  God’s rule over the universe is absolute.  He is in control of all things.  Nothing happens that doesn’t first pass through His loving hand.  Isn’t it interesting that we often refuse to obey our Lord?  We often take His commands as suggestions.  But Jesus is our Lord.  He is our master.  He is our commander.

 

When Tommy was a baby Kathy was with a friend who asked her, “What does it feel like to be holding your boss?”  Of course they both laughed, but any mom will understand the meaning contained in this question.  Can you imagine how Mary felt when she was holding the Lord of the Universe in her arms?

 

When the Apostle Thomas was absent from the disciples on the first night Jesus appeared, he said he would not believe Jesus rose from the dead unless he saw it for himself.  One week later the disciples were locked in their room when Jesus appeared in the midst for the second time.  He walked right up to Thomas and said,

 

“Put your finger here, and look at my hands.

Put your hand into the wound in my side.

Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe!”

“My Lord and my God!” Thomas exclaimed.

John 20:27–28 (NLT)

 

When Thomas was confronted with the proof the Jesus’ resurrection he came to the only conclusion that was logical: that Jesus was both Lord and God!  Since I have a son named Thomas I have always taken issue with anyone who calls him “Doubting Thomas.”  Thomas gives one of the most profound statements of faith in the entire Bible.  He knew what we should know, that anyone who can predict His own death, and resurrection, and then pull it off, deserves the right to be called Lord.

 

But Jesus asked the crowds that were following Him,

 

“So why do you keep calling me ‘Lord, Lord!’ when you don’t do what I say?”

Luke 6:46 (NLT)

 

My personal term of endearment for God is “Lord.”  When I pray to the Father I call Him Lord.  This reminds me of my need to surrender to Him…obey Him…follow Him.  The very word Lord carries with it the idea of submission.  Although I often mess it up, it is the driving desire of my heart to follow and honor my Lord!

 

What about your life shows that Jesus is your Lord?

 

 

DAY 5:  December 6, 2019   5th Day of Advent       5th Night of Hanukkah

 

GOEL

(go-EL)

“Redeemer”

 

“But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and he will stand upon the earth at last.

And after my body has decayed, yet in my body I will see God!

I will see him for myself. Yes, I will see him with my own eyes. I am overwhelmed at the thought!”

Job 19:25–27 (NLT)

 

This word Goel is the Hebrew word for Redeemer.  The idea of redeemer is one who buys back.  It is used of Boaz as a kinsman redeemer for Ruth.  Ruth was a widow from Moab who had married an Israelite originally from Bethlehem.  After her husband died, Ruth had the opportunity of finding a redeemer from among her late husband’s family who had the right to buy back the land that he had sold, and raise a son to be heir of the estate.

 

Boaz filled the role of kinsman redeemer for Ruth, married her, gave her a future hope, and raised a son to be heir to the land Boaz had redeemed.  In fact, Boaz was the father of Obed, who was the father of Jesse, who was the father of David.  It is because of David that Mary and Joseph were required to return to Bethlehem for the census, and while there, Jesus was born.

 

Jesus is our Kinsman Redeemer.  Approximately, 2,000 years before Jesus was born, Job spoke of his future Redeemer.  At a time when not a single word of the Bible had been written, Job had an extremely insightful understanding of his need for a Redeemer, and the future bodily resurrection that Job would experience as he stood before his Redeemer-God!  This thought overwhelmed Job (see Job 19:25-27 above).

 

Now the Redeemer is fully revealed in our Messiah, Jesus, as the Apostle Paul explains,

 

But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law,

to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons.

Galatians 4:4–5 (NIV84)

 

My journey through the nighttime of my loss of Donna made the book of Job very special to me.  I remember the first time I read these words about Job’s Redeemer.  It struck me that my rights to a future inheritance has been purchased by my Kinsman Redeemer, and this makes me no longer a stranger, but a son of my Father.  One day after my body has decayed in the ground, I will see my Redeemer face-to-face.  I, like Job, am overwhelmed at the thought!

 

What does it mean to you that Jesus is your Redeemer?

 

 

DAY 6:  December 7, 2019   6th Day of Advent       6th Night of Hanukkah

 

MASHIACH

(ma-SHEE-ach)

“Messiah / Anointed One”

 

Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain?

The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together

against the Lord and against his Anointed One.

Psalm 2:1–2 (NIV84)

 

This is one of the most important names of God in the Scriptures.  The Messiah was to be God’s Anointed One who would come to set things right.  Many of the Jewish teachers of the Law at the time of Jesus saw two Messiah’s presented in the Bible. The first one they named Messiah ben Joseph (Messiah son of Joseph) who was seen as a suffering servant.  The second they named Messiah ben David (Messiah son of David) who would be a conquering king.

 

King David speaks of this Messiah when he asks why (in the above Psalm) do the nations conspire against the Lord and against His Messiah.  The Old Testament speaks of the coming Messiah.  This was the hope of Israel.

 

Most Christians don’t connect that the Christ of the New Testament is exactly the Messiah of the Old.  Jesus is the promised Messiah, God’s Anointed One, who is coming to suffer and die for the sins of the people, but will return one day to reign as King on David’s throne.  Every time we read the word Christ in the New Testament, substitute Messiah so that you will recognize this connection.

 

When the angel announced Jesus’ birth to the shepherds on the hills of Bethlehem they declared, “For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11, NKJV).  Notice how this verse is translated in the New Living Translation, “The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!” (Luke 2:11, NLT).

 

Jesus came as God’s Anointed One, the Messiah.  One day as Jesus walked with His disciples,

 

Then he asked them, “But who do you say I am?”

Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

Matthew 16:15–16 (NLT)

 

On another occasion, Andrew had met Jesus and went immediately to his brother, Peter and proclaimed,

 

“We have found the Messiah” (which means “Christ”).

John 1:41b (NLT)

 

I use the word Messiah more often than I do Christ.  This is because it gives me great joy to connect the promised Messiah of the Old Testament with Christ my Savior in the New.  The name Messiah reminds me of the faithfulness of my Lord.  It assures me that God’s plan of redemption has been fulfilled in the coming Messiah…Israel’s Messiah, the church’s Messiah, my Messiah!

 

What blessings come to you because Jesus is the Messiah?

 

 

 

DAY 7:  December 8, 2019   7th Day of Advent       7th Night of Hanukkah

 

El Shaddai

(EL-shad-DAI)

“God Almighty”

 

When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said,

“I am El-Shaddai—‘God Almighty.’ Serve me faithfully and live a blameless life.

Genesis 17:1 (NLT)

 

This is the name that God used to reveal Himself to Abraham.  The name God Almighty speaks of God’s unlimited power, His unlimited knowledge, and His unlimited presence.  Of all the false gods that people have created to worship, there is only one Almighty God, and He is the Lord.

 

Jesus was talking to a wealthy young man one day.  Sensing the control his wealth had over him, Jesus told him that before he could be saved, he needed to sell all of his assets, give them to the poor and then come follow Jesus.  We’re told that the man left Jesus very sad because he had great possessions.  Then Jesus explained that it is easier to push a camel through a sewing needle, than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.  The disciples, believing that wealth was a sign of God’s favor, were astonished asking Jesus, “Who then can be saved?”  Jesus answered as Almighty God,

 

“What is impossible for people is possible with God.”

Luke 18:27 (NLT)

 

In fact, all of the miracles Jesus performed showed that He was El Shaddai—God Almighty.  Calming the storms, walking on water, feeding 5,000, healing the lepers, opening the eyes of the blind, and even raising the dead, all show Jesus as El Shaddai.  And this El Shaddai has taken up residence in the lives of those who have trusted in the finished work of the Lord Jesus.

 

Today, He sits at the Father’s right hand and proclaims,

 

“I am the Alpha and the Omega—the beginning and the end,” says the Lord God.

“I am the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come—the Almighty One.”

Revelation 1:8 (NLT)

 

I am encouraged that there is nothing God cannot do except to act contrary to His nature.  From His unlimited power He causes all things to work together for my good.  No detail of my life—no matter how small—escapes His attention.  My God can calm any storm I’m facing.  He can move any mountain I encounter.  He can bring beauty from ashes as Almighty God, by His great grace, He brought Kathy into my life.  He can even re-knit the delicate parts of my son’s brain together after Graham was severely injured.  Thank you for being my Almighty God!

 

What has happened in your life that would show Jesus is God Almighty?