Expanding Our Understanding of the Qualities and Names of God


A Seven Day Bible Study
by Dr. Linda Seger

Introduction

In the Judeo-Christian religion, there are over 300 names and attributes for God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Many of them are familiar: Father, Almighty, Savior, My Rock and Redeemer, The Good Shepherd, Lamb of God, The Light of the World, Lord, The Almighty. In this Bible Study we will be using prayers from The Alphabet Prayer by Linda Seger and Peter Le Var along with Bible verses, hymns and reflections to expand our understanding about these Names and how we might relate to these many qualities of God. With each prayer, say the prayer out loud at the beginning and end of your Devotional Time.

Day One

Prayer
“Almighty God, Awaken me to an Awareness of Your absolute authority and my absolute accountability to You.”

Scripture
Psalms 119:73: “Your hands made me and formed me; give me understanding to learn your commands.”
Reflection
For some, authority feels oppressive. It seems to give us rules and commands and sometimes it suppresses our talents and desires. But God’s authority frees us, and enhances us to become more truly ourselves. Have you ever felt authority as freeing? Has your accountability ever expanded you, rather than limited you?
Here are some other verses that help us better understand the Almighty: Genesis 28:3; Job 22:26-28; 27:10; Isaiah 44:6. Read the lyrics, below, to the hymn Praise to the Lord, the Almighty. Have you experienced the Almighty’s love in each of the ways mentioned: health? salvation? Prospering your work? defending you? Ponder each of the ways the Almighty befriends you.

Hymn
Praise to the Lord, the Almighty
by Joachim Neander (1680)

Verse One
Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation!
O my soul, praise Him, for He is thy health and salvation!
All ye who hear, now to His temple draw near;
Praise Him in glad adoration.

Verse Two
Praise to the Lord, who o’er all things so wondrously reigneth,
Shelters thee under His wings, yea, so gently sustaineth!
Hast thou not seen how thy desires e’er have been
Granted in what He ordaineth?

Verse Three
Praise to the Lord, who doth prosper thy work and defend thee;
Surely His goodness and mercy here daily attend thee;
Ponder anew what the Almighty can do,
If with His love He befriend thee.

Day Two

Prayer
Divine Deliverer, Deepen Me. Direct Me. Defend Me.

Scripture
Psalms 62:1-2: “My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock, and my salvation. He is my fortress, I will never be shaken.”
Reflection
Notice that this verse from Psalms includes other names for God: My Rock, My Fortress, My Salvation. Read the lyrics, below, to the hymn A Mighty Fortress is Our God. Does this language feel archaic, or can you identify with God as a fortress, a deliverer from the enemy, a defender?
Other verses that might expand this idea include: Psalms 18:3; 45:1-3; 54:3-7; 62:6; 91:2; 10:21; 144:2, Isaiah 19:20; Nahum 1:7; 2 Samuel 22:2

Hymn

A Mighty Fortress is Our God
by Martin Luther (1483-1546)

Verse One

A mighty Fortress is our God,
A Bulwark never failing;
Our Helper He amid the flood
Of mortal ills prevailing:
For still our ancient foe
Doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and power are great,
And, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.

Verse Two
Did we in our own strength confide,
Our striving would be losing;
Were not the right Man on our side,
The Man of God’s own choosing:
Dost ask who that may be?
Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabaoth His Name,
From age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.

Day Three

Prayer
Forgiving Father, Feed Me With Faith and Favor

Scripture~
Psalms 86:5 “You are forgiving and good…abounding in love to all who call to you.”

Reflection
Think of at least ten qualities of a Good Father. In the Lord’s Prayer, (Luke 11:2, Matthew 18:35). Jesus uses the word “Abba”, which is somewhat similar to “Daddy.” It’s a familiar term, rather than formal. Say the Lord’s Prayer slowly, praying to “Daddy” or “Papa” or whatever familiar name you might have used with your father. Are there favors or specific requests you would ask of God, your Father?
Here are some other verses that tell us more about God the Father and our relationship to Him: Psalms 103:13, Proverbs 15:20, Matthew 18:35, II Corinthians 1:2-3.
What are the qualities you admired in your father? What must we do to be good children to a Heavenly Father? Read the lyrics, below, to the hymn Our Father in Heaven. Does that expand your images of a loving Father-God?
Ordinarily as we grow up, we learn to separate from our need for our Father. But as Christians, we are asked to be more dependent upon God as we mature in Faith. We are asked to call upon Him more often. Is that easy, or difficult for you?

Poem
Our Father in Heaven
by Susan J Hale (1831)

Verse One
Our Father in heaven
We hallow Thy name;
May Thy kingdom holy
On earth be the same;
O give to us daily
Our portion of bread;
It is from Thy bounty
That all must be fed.

Verse Two
Forgive our transgressions,
And teach us to know
That humble compassion,
Which pardons each foe:
Keep us from temptation,
From weakness and sin;
And Thine be the glory,
Forever, amen.

Day Four

 

Prayer~ Immanent and Immediate God, immerse me in your inexhaustible inspiration.

Scripture~ Job 32:8 “But it is the Spirit in man, the Breath of the Almighty, that makes him understand.”
Reflection
Theologians often talk about God as Transcendent – the Heavenly, Almighty Great God, and Immanent – The Spirit that dwells within us. Genesis 2:7 tells us that we are literally brought to life by the Breath and Spirit of God; “The Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and the man became a living being.” We are so connected to God, that His breath has filled us. What an intimate, loving and close image!
In the New Testament, this image continues. The Holy Spirit is sometimes compared to the breath of God.The Hebrew word Ruach (roo’-akh) Strong’s 7307, can be translated as breath, wind, or spirit. Ruach is used 577 times in Scripture and is translated as God’s Spirit in Genesis 1:2, Genesis 6:3, Exodus 31:3, and Job 27:3 as well as, many other places.
Read the lyrics, below, to the hymns Breathe On Me Breath of God and Spirit of God Descend Upon My Heart. Is this frightening, freeing, or beautiful and warming to you, to feel that close to God?
Other verses about the Spirit of God and His inspiring presence are 2 Timothy 3:16, Romans 8:6, Isaiah 11:2, Job 33:4, 1 Corinthians 2:11-14

Hymn 1

Spirit of God, Descend Upon My Heart
by George Croly (1854)

Verse One
Spirit of God, who dwells within my heart, wean it from sin, through all its pulses move.
Stoop to my weakness, mighty as you are, and make me love you as I ought to love.

Verse Two
I ask no dream, no prophet ecstasies, no sudden rending of the veil of clay,
no angel visitant, no opening skies;
but take the dimness of my soul away.

Verse Three
Did you not bid us love you, God and King,
love you with all our heart and strength and mind?
I see the cross there teach my heart to cling.
O let me seek you and O let me find!

Hymn 2

Breathe on me Breath of God
by Edwin Hatch (1878)

Verse One
Breathe on me, Breath of God,
fill me with life anew,
that I may love the way you love,
and do what you would do.

Verse Two
Breathe on me, Breath of God,
until my heart is pure,
until my will is one with yours,
to do and to endure.

Verse Three
Breathe on me, Breath of God,
so shall I never die,
but live with you the perfect life
for all eternity.

Day Five

 

Prayer

Just Judge, join me to your Journey for Justice.

Scripture
Psalms 12:5, “Because of the oppression of the weak and the groaning of the needy, I will now arise, says the Lord. I will protect them from those who malign them.”
Reflection
Isaiah scolds nations for making “unjust decrees, depriving the poor of justice…despoiling the widow and plundering the orphan.” Isaiah 10:1-2. The First Mission Statement of Jesus clarifies that he has been anointed “to bring good news to the afflicted…to proclaim liberty to the captives…to let the oppressed go free.” Luke 4:18-19. There are hundreds of verses in the Bible that call us to show justice and mercy, to protect and care for those in need. God is called Judge and Restorer. He judges us and changes us so we can better manifest him and better help him bring His Kingdom to Earth, as it is in Heaven.
Do you have certain Just Causes that you work for? It might be Prison ministry. Rights for women and children. Feeding the poor and homeless through soup kitchens or through your church. Helping the unemployed or under-employed, refugees, or other victims of war. Working for Peace. How does your work help create a more just and merciful world?

Read the lyrics, below, to the hymn O Thou Whose Justice Reigns on High. Are there ways you can further work for God’s justice – through heart, hand, life, and breath?  See also Isaiah 30:18, Psalms 72, Psalms 99:4, Amos 2:7, Job 5:16, Job 34:12,18-19, Deuteronomy 32:4, all of which ask us to be part of God’s journey for Justice.
Hymn

O Thou Whose Justice Reigns on High
by Issac Watts  (1631)

Verse One
O Thou whose justice reigns on high,
And makes the oppressor cease,
Behold how envious sinners try
To vex and break my peace.
The sons of violence and lies
Join to devour me, Lord;
But as my hourly dangers rise,
My refuge is thy word.

Verse Two
Thou hast secur’d my soul from death,
O set thy pris’ner free,
That heart and hand, and life and breath
May be employ’d for thee.

In Thee, most holy, just, and true,
I have reposed my trust;
Nor will I fear what man can do,
The offspring of the dust.

Day Six

Prayer
Kind and Kindred Spirit, Keep me in Thy Care

Scripture
Psalms 73:24a “You guide me with your counsel.”
Reflection
In Christianity, we become close to God through our Brother, Jesus Christ. There are many qualities we can associate with Jesus: Compassion, Love, Care, Empathy, Sympathy, and His understanding of our human condition. Read the lyrics, below, to the hymn Jesus Our Brother Kind and Good. How do you feel about your dearest brother’s humble beginnings and humble life? Does this kindred spirit help you feel more compassion for yourself, and for others?
More scriptures about this are Matthew 11:29, I Corinthians 13:4; Ephesians 4:32, Hebrews 4:15, Hebrews 2:11.

Hymn
Jesus Our Brother Kind and Good (Carol of the Friendly Beasts)
English Traditional Author Unknown

Verse One
Jesus our brother, kind and good,
Was humbly born in a stable rude,
And the friendly beasts around him stood,
Jesus our brother, kind and good.

Verse Two
“I,” said the donkey, shaggy and brown,”
I carried his mother uphill and down.
I carried his mother to Bethlehem town.
I,” said the donkey shaggy and brown.

Verse Three
“I,” said the cow, all white and red,
“I gave him my manger for his bed.
I gave him my hay to pillow his head.
I,” said the cow all white and red.

Verse Four
“I,” said the sheep with curly horn,
“I gave him my wool for his blanket warm.
He wore my coat on Christmas morn.
I,” said the sheep with curly horn.

Verse Five
“I,” said the dove from rafters high,
“I cooed him to sleep, so he should not cry.
We cooed him to sleep, my mate and I.
I,” said the dove from rafters high.

Verse Six
Thus every beast by some good spell,
in the stable dark was glad to tell
of the gift he gave Emmanuel,
the gift he gave Emmanuel.

Day Seven

 

Prayer
Savior Sustain me with your substance and sustenance so I can better serve thee.

Scripture
Psalms 18: 35-36: “Your right hand sustains me; you stoop down to make me great. You broaden the path beneath me, so that my ankles do not turn.”
Reflection
God is sometimes called He Who Strengthens Us and the Sustainer.  Being sustained means we’re upheld. But this verse goes further – the path is broadened. We don’t just sustain but become greater, we become more. And we’re able to stand straight and tall and righteous.
Read the lyrics, below, to Oh God Do Thou Sustain Me, an Anabaptist hymn of prayer for strength and protection written by Leonhart Sommer, who died in prison, December 1573, because of his belief. What is the substance and sustenance you feel you need from God? How do you, or would you, use these qualities from God to help you better serve God?”
Other verses to read about God’s sustaining power; Psalms 54: 4; Psalms 55:22; Psalms 119:116; Isaiah 40:31; Habakkuk 3:19; Philippians 4:13.

Hymn
Oh God Do Thou Sustain Me by Leonhart Sommer (1750’s)

Verse One

O God, do Thou sustain me,
In grief and sore duress
Pride counter which disdains Thee
And comfort my distress.
O Lord let me find mercy
In bonds and prison bed
Men would seek to devour me
With guile and controversy
Save me from danger dread!

Verse Two
Thou wilt never forsake me
This firmly I believe
Thy blood Thou hast shed freely
And with it washed me.
Therein my trust is resting
In Christ, God’s only Son
On him I am now building
In tribulation trusting
God will me not disown!

Verse Three
To die and to be living
Until my end I see
To Thee my trust I’m giving
Thou wilt my helper be
Soul, body, child companion
Herewith commit I Thee
Come soon, Lord, come and take me
From ruthless men do save me
Be honour ever to Thee.

Amen.

Get more inspiration from The Alphabet Prayer written by Linda Seger and her husband Peter LeVar – purchase a copy for yourself or as a gift  >HERE< 

The beautiful illustrations in this article and the book are by talented Calligrapher/ Artist Matthew Wright.

 

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