Bless Yahweh, O my soul
And all that is within me, bless His holy name
Bless Yahweh, O my soul
And forget none of His benefits
He who forgives your iniquities
Who heals all your diseases
Who redeems your life from the pit
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion
Who satisfies your years with good things
So your youth is renewed like the eagle.
Yahweh does righteous acts
And judgments supporting the oppressed.
He has made his ways known to Moses
His deeds to the sons of Israel
Yahweh is compassionate and gracious
Slow to anger and abounding in faithful love.
He will not always fight with us
Nor will He keep his anger forever. (Psalm 103)
Hooking Up With God
God is the King of the Universe. He is Lord of Heaven and Earth and all that is between. Jesus called Him Father, but He has many other names beside that. His name is Yahweh. He is also called El, Adonai, Lord, Savior, King, the most Holy, the all powerful and more.
At times God seems so distant, so remote from out lives. But God, all throughout history has tried to be intimate with humanity. In the beginning, He would walk with Adam (“the human”) in the garden (Genesis 2-3). He spoke directly to the children of Israel and showed himself to them (Exodus 20, 24). He tried to rule over Israel as their only king (I Samuel 8:6). He offered himself to Israel as her Husband (Hosea 3:10).
But every time God tried to be intimate with a people, they rejected His intimacy. Adam rebelled against God and refused His daily counsel (Genesis 3). Israel begged that God no longer speak to them directly (Exodus 20:19-21). Israel rejected God as their king, but wanted a human king (I Samuel 8). And Israel sought other gods instead of seeking Yahweh alone.
God remained separated from humanity, when what He really wanted was intimacy.
Making Up Is Hard To Do
Through Jesus, we have a new opportunity to be intimate with God in a way that Israel never did. We can individually relate to God through the kingdom of God that Jesus established. We ourselves have an opportunity to connect with God in a way that Israel never did. But how do we do this? How can we relate to God who is the all powerful king of the universe, when we are a part of a race that had rejected Him? How can we do this when we ourselves had rejected God in our actions so many ways, so much of our lives?
God himself gives us the pattern to relate to Him, even though we may be distant from Him, we are still to connect with Him directly in some ways:
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Almost all of us remember that passage right at the beginning of the Bible. The majority of the Bible is about just that—remembering what it is that God has done. And this is one of the best beginning ways to relate to God—to remember His great deeds. We need to remember the creation, we need to remember his deliverance of Israel, we need to remember his judgments, but most of all we need to remember his great mercy. (Psalm 103:1-6; Exodus 13:13; Exodus 32:13; Deuteronomy 8:2)
Sometimes it is easy to remember all the things we had without God and how “wonderful” they were, and so we complain to God that we wish our lives would be like before (Numbers 11:5). But instead we need to remember that we were once slaves to our own passions and drives and oppressed by all those around us and that God delivered us from all that (Deuteronomy 5:15). What we remember determines what we desire and what we will hope in.
If we remember the Lord and His great works, we will live our lives in Him and for Him, away from the tyranny we lived in before. And God at times establishes memorials with us to remember what He has done in the past and what He has done for us. Sometimes the memory could be held in a ceremony, a piece of clothing, a song, a tradition of some sort. But the memory has to be real to us, to reflect a reality, not just an empty piece of symbolism. This means that filling our lives with memorials should be significant, but it often isn’t something that we can pass on to others.
2. Have Faith
God is the almighty, the merciful, the great, the holy. And we can remember this, but sometimes it is hard to see it as being significant for our lives. “Sure, God is all-powerful, He created the world, but what does that have to do with me?” Perhaps nothing. We can believe intellectually about God all the right things—the Apostle’s Creed or whatever—but if we just keep it in our head, then it is meaningless. As James said, even demons have right believe, but it doesn’t do anything for their ethical conduct, and so it is meaningless (James 2:17-24)
Abraham was one who had true faith in God. He didn’t just believe the right things about God, but he acted on that faith. He left his father and inheritance, which should have been his security for his future. He trusted that God would give him a son when he was an elderly man. He knew that God had the power to destroy a city and so prayed to Him to deliver it. He knew that God had the power to raise a person from the dead, so he was prepared to kill his son (Genesis 12:1-10; 15:1-8; Genesis 18; Hebrews 11:8-19). It wasn’t that Abraham had received the promises yet and then believed. No, he acted on the promises before they happened.
Even so, if we believe that God is all powerful and that He listens to prayer, how often do we really act on it? Do we trust that God will answer our prayers for deliverance for us and others, or do we neglect our prayers? Do we trust that God will create justice or do we wallow in self-pity? Do we trust that God can overcome our enemies, or do we feel the need to kill in order to be safe?
God doesn’t help those who help themselves. He helps those who depend on Him.
3. Cry Out
When God looked at Israel, slaves to Egypt, he did not see a nation that was a moral nation. Nor a powerful one. Nor particularly impressive in any way. Rather, he saw a nation in need. He had sympathy for them, and wanted to help them. But he waited to help until they were ready to cry out. Once they called out to God, then He was immediately ready to act for them. (Exodus 2:23-25; Deuteronomy 7:6-8)
God is the God of the oppressed and needy. He looks upon peoples who are starving and wants to give them food. He has sympathy on people in prison and wants to free them. He has compassion on those who have no justice and wants to grant them shalom (Psalm 145, Psalm 146, Isaiah 61:1-5). But He holds back, waiting for just one thing—their request.
If God’s people would just cry out to Him for the oppressed, he would act, and quickly. If God’s people would identify with the needy and seek Him about them, He would do something dramatic. If God’s people would look to God instead of armies and missiles and diplomacy and sanctions and human rights and civil disobedience—if only we would see the power in God instead of humanity! Then God’s power would flow out of the heavens and change the earth in such a way that we have never seen it before! (Psalm 107; Luke 11:1-13; Luke 18:1-8;)
But we need to ask. We can’t just expect it to happen. We can’t just hope for it. We can’t just discuss it. We have to cry out, and God will stand with the needy once again.
God is ready to relate to us, right now. All we have to do is put ourselves in a position to receive it. We need to admit our poverty, our loss, our shame, our need and then cry out to God for it. We need to allow God to be our Father, and He will provide for us. But if we separate ourselves from God through our lack of belief, through our self-dependence, through our laziness in not wanting to pray—then we are like the people of old.
God is reaching out to us right now, seeking out our love and connection. But it is up to us as to whether we will receive God’s fatherhood.