שַׁדַּי

May the sovereign God bless you! May he make you fruitful and give you a multitude of descendants! Then you will become a large nation.
Genesis 28:3

Then God said to him, “I am the sovereign God. Be fruitful and multiply! A nation – even a company of nations – will descend from you; kings will be among your descendants!
Genesis 35:11

because of the God of your father,
who will help you,
because of the sovereign God,
who will bless you
with blessings from the sky above,
blessings from the deep that lies below,
and blessings of the breasts and womb.
Genesis 49:25

When God commanded reproduction (Genesis 1:28), He had already enabled it in His nature. El Shaddai meaning God who nourishes, supplies and satisfies. “Shaddai” seems to have its meaning from a number of sources:

  • The root word shadad (verb), meaning “to overcome” or “to destroy” indicating omnipotence
  • Shad meaning “breast”, or shadairn meaning “breasts” (Genesis 49:26) indicating sufficiency and nourishment
  • Dai meaning enough, indicating sufficient provision

El Shaddai is often mentioned when God’s providence/ reproductive fruitfulness is needed particularly in Genesis (Genesis 17:1-2, 28:3, 35:11, 48:3-4, 49:24-25). Children are a gift from God (Psalm 127:3) because reproduction comes from Him. Not just the command, but the design and ability.

We need to treat the ability and responsibility to reproduce with respect, never to downplay it (as is the case with homosexuality) or to disrespect it (as is the case with abortion). Life is sacred and life comes from God.

Advertisements

Pursuit

So then, don’t worry saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For the unconverted pursue these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But above all pursue his kingdom and righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
Matthew 6:31-33

The Christian life can be understood as a journey. Some things are necessary to stay on the journey, some things we do as entertainment during the journey, but all that we do is to ensure that our journey reaches it’s destination. If the necessities of our journey become the destination, we accumulate more and more necessities, but end up going in circles without actually reaching our destination.

My life works the same way. Eating, sleeping, working and playing are things that are necessary to keep me going to ensure that I get to His kingdom (Colossians 3:17). But the moment any of these things become the focus of my journey or pursuit, I find myself going in circles. I might accumulate more play, more work, more money, more cars and houses, but never get anywhere in His kingdom. The destination is lost.

The absolutely magical thing about this pursuit is that if we keep a steadfast focus on the destination, we will always have more than enough to keep going. I must keep my pursuit steadfast, but not for the sake of the necessities, for the sake of the destination.

μαμμωνάς

Your conduct must be free from the love of money and you must be content with what you have, for he has said, “ I will never leave you and I will never abandon you.” So we can say with confidence, “ The Lord is my helper, and I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?”
Hebrews 13:5-6 (NET)

Money is indeed a strange thing. We just can’t live without it. It almost chases after us. No matter how much I try to detach myself from being mindful of money, it always comes back.

I often take a disengaged view of money – I use it, but it is not of me; I control it, it doesn’t control me. Money is my tool, to be used to do my bidding, to carry out my intentions. I generally don’t budget too tightly so that I don’t feel like im being strangled by my finances. But sometimes the table flips, particularly when I have the intention but not the money. When my money refuses to do my bidding. When I see something nice that I can’t afford; when I want to bless someone but can’t afford it. I get the other side of the coin, and find myself on the tail end. Lack is a hard thing to swallow. Living in lack is like having my hands tied behind my back all the time. In Hebrews, Paul gives us to key to dealing with lack.

The Messianic Jews (Christian Jews) were being persecuted by the Jews and many of them were thinking of giving up and returning to Judaism. The environment for a Messianic Jew was extremely hostile. The Messianic Jews also had an urgency about the second-coming. They imagined Christ second-coming to be soon and after a few years of waiting, some of them got disappointed that it hasn’t happened. Paul’s letter to the Hebrews warns them not to commit apostasy and encourage them to keep faithful to Christ. He persuades them by pointing out the benefits of Christ over the Law, the yearly sacrifices and religious rituals. He mentions the faithful people of the Old Testament who waited their whole lives to see their reward and persevered in their faith through persecution and even unto death. 

However, there are other practical issues to deal with as well – money. Some of them who believed had their property seized from them, others were put in prison (Hebrews 10:32-34). They were broken and discouraged, they were more well off before they accepted Christ. Some of them have yet to recover financially from accepting Christ; years after some heavy persecution, they were still living in lack.

This is when Paul tells them to be free from the love of money and to be content with what they have. These two things seem to come together like strawberries and cream. That is exactly what I need to live with lack. Are they trivial words for a real problem? Absolutely not. His words have a real backing. That backing is the key to living with and without money. That backing is in the promises of God. He will never leave or forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6). That promise was to Joshua when he faced enemies that were enormous and walls that were too high to climb and that promise is to us now when the odds are against us, when our books are in the red.

“God is my helper; I will not be afraid”, Paul tells us to confess this truth with full confidence because we have already received that God has promised. He is with us. He holds us. He will come through for us. Our testimony will become one of God’s providence and goodness. God’s sovereignty trumps anything that man can do to us. Notice that he appeals not to the hip pocket, but to the heart and mind – “I will not be afraid”. God’s providence can come in financial providence, but lets not limit God to a sugar daddy or generous heavenly banker, He is so much more! His providence also comes in encouraging us through hard times, strengthening us to persevere and empowering us to be satisfied with what we already have. That is where my freedom from the love of money and contentment comes from.

Paul’s personal experience with money and his personal outlook of finances is a constant encouragement that whether I have little or much, it all comes from God and He supplies all I need. Because of that, I can rejoice in my little and in my much, and be satisfied with His provision. His lack or plenty wasn’t a limitation, it was an empowerment to do things through God’s strength.

Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
Philippians 4:11-13 (NET)

Natural as nature

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Matthew 6:25-34

There are verses in the bible that need no ripping apart and no exegetical analysis to find out what it says about God and about us. Look at the birds, look at the flowers and look at the grass, God’s providence is as natural as nature is to us.

Sometimes I forget God’s providence and begin fretting. My ears fall deaf to the birds chirping in the morning, and my eyes go blind to the grass growing and the flowers blooming. When we fail to see God’s providence, we fall into worry. When we fail to see the beauty and wonder in nature, we lose perspective of God’s sovereignty.

Harlem

“Walk that line
Torn apart
Spend your whole life trying
Ride that train
Free your heart
Midnight up in Harlem”
Derek Trucks – Midnight in Harlem

The best songs creep up to me from behind and drop on me like a ton of bricks. Like Adele’s Hometown Glory. This is another one of them. It is strange that the songs that speak immensely to me always speak of a belonging and a city.