Sunday, April 22, 2012

El Roi- The God Who Sees (or how to have fruit in a trial)

by Annmarie Worthington


Today I want to talk about another Hebrew name used for God—El Roi. We meet Him in Genesis 16 through the story of Hagar.

Hagar was the Egyptian maidservant of Sarai (Abram’s wife). This is before they became Abraham and Sarah. Sarai, frustrated with her inability to conceive, gave her maidservant to Abram as a second wife in the hope he could conceive through her.

Hagar did conceive. It must have been hard to be Hagar. Here you’re given to a man without much say in the matter. Now your pregnant. It is obvious Abram has no love for Hagar because he doesn’t seem to come to her aid in any tangible way later in the story.

Next Hagar begins to resent Sarai and Sarai begins to resent Hagar. Isn’t that just like human beings? We fight. We resent others. We’re jealous of our fellow beings. Sarai gives Abram an earful. What was Abram’s response?

“Thy maid is in thy hand; do to her as it pleaseth thee.” vs. 6

I already felt bad for Hagar. Now I feel worse. Really, Abram. “Thy maid”? You’re the one who married her and got her pregnant. Do you feel no responsibility toward her? She’s not just Sarai’s maid, she’s your wife.

As in many situations of jealousy, people are dealt with harshly. That is what happened to Hagar. In fact, Sarai treated Hagar so badly that she ran away. It must have taken a lot for her to run away. Think about it. A pregnant Egyptian servant running away. No money. No relations. Nowhere to go. There must have been serious provocation to get her to run away from her food and shelter.

While she was by a well, the angel of Jehovah approached her and asked her what she was doing. She admits running away from Sarai. Here He gives her a difficult command.

“Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself under her hands.” vs. 9

He then promised to bless her seed exceedingly. She honored him and called him El Roi, the God who sees.

If you’ve ever been used for someone’s pleasure and then tossed aside, maybe you can relate to Hagar. Or maybe you’ve been mistreated in another way and wonder where the justice is. Few people will get through this life without being wronged by someone. I want to offer some help and comfort to you in those situations.

Hagar is right. Our God sees. He knows everything that has happened to you. His heart is full of compassion. The pain you feel; He feels. Just as the Savior wept at the graveside of His friend Lazarus, He weeps for your pain as well. He loves you.

Maybe you feel like He can’t love you because He let the person who harmed you get away with it. Believe me, they are not getting away with anything. They may have lied to the authorities and gotten away with it. They may have lied to the Bishop and gotten away with it. They cannot lie to God and get away with it. Psalm 139:7-12 shows that there is no place to hide from the eyes of God. He sees EVERYTHING.

One day we will all face the judgment seat of God. Even those who’ve harmed you. There they will not be able to “spin” their way out of just recompense, because God judges with a righteous judgment. He can truly do that because He has seen everything.

You may wonder why He doesn’t just go ahead and punish them right now. Why does He wait until eternity for complete justice to be meted out? Because, my beloved brothers and sisters, they are His children too. Maybe His punishment is delayed because He is working on their hearts. Maybe He wants to give them as much time as possible to repent. Think of how grateful you are for the forbearance of God on your behalf. Think of the times He’s given you opportunities to repent. Let’s offer that same compassion and grace to those that have harmed us.

Oh wouldn’t it be so much better to be able to join hands in eternity with those who’ve harmed us because they repented, then just to see them punished? Can you see how glorious that would be? How much praise and glory that would bring to the atonement!

But, what do we do in the meantime, when people are clinging to their sins and calling it righteous?

Hebrews 12:15 warns us, “Looking diligently…..lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you.”

I know there are wicked people out there. I know people do many unrighteous deeds and hide them. But, be careful about becoming bitter. It only allows the perpetrators to harm you more.  A couple of years ago I was struggling with someone who was bringing me harm. For about a year or so, I tried to work out a way to maintain friendship, but it became increasingly difficult. One final act of unrighteousness pushed me over the edge and I decided this person could not be trusted and I’m safer away from the perpetrator.

I was devastated. The breach of trust was almost more than my worn out heart could bear. I cried out to God. I pleaded with Him to help me understand why. Shortly after that, my friend began having severe trials of their own. You’d think it would be tempting to think, Well, that’s what you get. But, that is not what my heart felt. Instead I felt sad. I don’t want vengeance. I want righteousness.

I noticed a change in my heart after that. Yes, I’m still devastated. Yes, I’m not sure I will ever completely trust someone again. Yes, my life has been 20 times harder as a result. But, I will not be bitter. Instead of just praying for God to deal with the person, I began praying for God to lead the person. To help them develop an honest heart. That has healed my heart more than I think any punishment could. Compassion is a healer all its own.

I want you to trust in El Roi. Trust in the God who sees all. Trust that He is dealing with it. Protect your heart from bitterness.

Let me share one more thing and then I promise I will shut up. Everything that God allows to happen to you, (and I do mean everything) is for your good. One of my favorite passages in Romans says this very well.

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.” Romans 8:28-29

Each time I have had a trial and asked the question, “How can this make me more like His Son?” I’ve gotten wonderful answers from the Spirit. Even the trial I had over the last two years that I mentioned earlier, has produced wonderful fruit in my life. But, all the trial can do is plant the seed. It is up to us to make sure it does not develop a bitter root. It is up to us to make sure it produces beautiful fruit.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Elohim- Who Made Us


by Annmarie Worthington


No, I haven’t disappeared off the planet. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and whenever I think on my blog, I say things I shouldn’t. So, I’ve been thinking through some things in private, not allowing myself to blog. In the meantime, I’ve had some great Scripture studies I want to share with you.

I’ve been going through all the Hebrew names used for God in order to get to know my Heavenly Father and my Savior better. You can never spend enough study time learning about them. I’ve also been doing an in-depth study of Mosiah. But, that’s not done, so for now I’ll just bring up the names of God I’ve been learning.

The first one is Elohim. It is sometimes translated Almighty God or Creator. Elohim is taken from two Hebrew roots. The first is El which means mighty or strong. It is used in reference for any gods. The second root is him, which is essentially a plural ending. Its first occurrence in scripture is Genesis 1:1

“In the beginning, God (Elohim) created the heavens and the earth.”

Because of the plural ending, it really should have been translated “In the beginning Gods created the heavens and the earth. You see futher evidence plurality in Genesis 1:26.

“Then God (Elohim) said, “Let Us make man in Our image….”

The Scriptures go into more detail about His creation of us in the Psalms.

“For thou hast possessed my reins (Hebrew=created my inward parts): Thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb.… I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” Psalm 139:13-14

Some translations say, “…thou didst weave me in my mother’s womb”.

I’d been thinking about God as the maker of our bodies. Mostly because my body sometimes seems defective. I’m hypo-thyroid. Even with thyroid medicine my body doesn’t convert my T3 to T4 (or maybe it is the other way around) so I have to take two kinds of thyroid medicines. I also don’t convert my folic acid, so I have to take medicine for that, AND I have PSOD, so I have to take medicine for that.  It gets tiresome,  literally so, when my thyroid medicine isn’t working.

Does that mean that God wasn’t paying attention when he was forming my inward parts? Was He napping during the endocrine system section? No. I think He made me this way intentionally. As He does all of us. Why do I think that?

Look in Exodus 4:10-11

“And Moses said unto the Lord, O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue.

And the Lord said unto him, Who hath made man’s mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? Have not I the Lord?”

Moses was giving his reasons for not speaking to Pharoah. He had a speech impediment. Surely God wouldn’t call him to be a public speaker, let alone a national ambassador? Why yes, yes He would. Especially since He was the one who made Moses’s mouth. Therefore, if He called Moses to the task of speaking, Moses would be up to that task. Maybe he’d need God’s help, but he’d be able to accomplish what he was called to.

Why would God make Moses that way if He knew He’d need to speak? Maybe the better question is why does He make any of us “defective”. The answer is in John 9:2-3.

“And his disciples asked him, saying , ‘Master, who did sin , this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?’  Jesus answered , ‘Neither hath this man sinned , nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.’”

Let me make a quick doctrinal tangent in this verse before I continue our topic. Notice that they asked him if this man had sinned. Yet, he was born blind. If he was born that way, when could he have possibly sinned? I’m so glad you asked.  This verse demonstrates that the disciples clearly believed in a pre-earth existence. There was no other opportunity for the man to sin before he was born. I know many evangelicals criticize  us for our belief in a pre-earth existence, saying it is mentioned nowhere in the Bible. I believe it is there, you just have to read the passages with an open mind.  Tangent over.

The Creator intentionally made this man blind. Why? To make manifest the works of God. His deformity was on purpose. It was easy to see how God would be made manifest in him. The world got to learn of the Savior’s healing power to restore his sight.

But, you might ask how the works of God can be made manifest in your or my defects. Not sure. I just know if He made you the way, He did it for a purpose. So, ask Him. You might be surprised at what He’ll accomplish in and through you BECAUSE of the various ways your body doesn’t cooperate with the norm.

I’m learning to rely on His grace. I also think people can see me rely on His grace. With my schedule (single mom, homeschooling, several jobs) people might be able to attribute any ability to keep up with all that by my being one of those lucky energetic, high metabolism people. But, with my physical issues, that is not only NOT the reason I accomplish what I do, it’s not possible. I truly am only able to do the things I do because I know my Heavenly Father called me to them and He will supply my needs. He is the one who lifts me up when I am so exhausted all I want to do is cry. He is the one who brings me comfort when I feel I’ve been asked to do too much alone. It has nothing to do with my energy and capabilities at all. I think that brings Him glory. When people ask me how I do it, I can truly answer, I don’t. He does.

I can’t wait to share with you some of the other names of God I’ve learned. But, this will have to do today.