November 2015 Final Issue
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Hallowed Is Your Name

Do you have a nickname? I have several friends named Kim. Short name, only three letters. But one likes to be called Kimba, and another prefers Kimmy. One uses her full name, Kimberly, and yes, one does prefer Kim. My first name is also made up of three letters. Ava. But while I haven’t offered any alternatives, people have created their own variations over the years. In addition to my given name, I’ve been called Eva, Eve, Ave, and Av. Frankly, I’ve wondered why anyone would feel the necessity to shorten a three-letter name to two letters! If I get annoyed at the variations of my name thrust upon me by others, I wonder how God feels about what we do to His name. It’s Hallowed Some names are too important to use casually or to assign a nickname. But in our informal society today, it seems nothing is off-limits. Our culture is intentional about pushing God aside or cutting Him out altogether. Yet, despite that stance, we hear references to God everywhere we go. “Oh, God!” is often proclaimed in surprise. “Jesus Christ” is uttered in disgust at the slightest inconvenience. “OMG” is an accepted texting acronym for surprise or extreme pleasure. What a difference from the ancient Israelites who wouldn’t dare speak God’s name even under the most extreme circumstances. God first revealed Himself as “I AM that I AM” when Moses asked His name at the burning bush. While scholars had translated this name in English to Jehovah, they were never certain this was the best translation. The name had not been spoken for millennia, and the written Hebrew alphabet did not contain vowels. Centuries later, the rabbis added pronunciation aids to serve the role of vowels. Further linguistic research caused scholars to believe a more accurate translation is Yahweh. But why should we care? A High View of God The difference between these two names of God is more than a history lesson. The past fifty years has seen a significant change in the way we relate to the Lord. What used to be a reverential awe has shifted to a view of God as “the man upstairs.” Many Bible translations now use lowercase pronouns to refer to God. Jesus has become our pal—a buddy to call on when we need a friend. We’ve lost our high view of God. A high view doesn’t require cathedrals or rituals. But it does require a constant awareness that the God who invites us to call Him Abba - Father is the same God who is Creator of the universe—the great I AM. The Jesus who is our Friend is the same One who calmed the sea and raised the dead…and who conquered death for all time. The most accurate view of the Lord we can have is one that sees Him in all His fullness. Holy and compassionate. Creator and Abba. Friend and Savior. The One who forgives and the One who will return to judge the world. The Power of a Prayer As a writer, I’m often asked where I find ideas for articles and books. Those ideas usually come from noticing what God is using to get my attention. It might be a relationship. It might be a season of suffering or rejoicing. It might also be a time of teaching. For one book, God used a prayer I had learned by rote as a child. You probably know it as The Lord’s Prayer: “Our Father who is in heaven, hallowed is Your name, Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.” I remember sitting in church years ago as my pastor began a sermon series on this prayer. He began with “Our Father in heaven” and spent that first message talking about the nature of God the Father. But in the second week, for the phrase, “hallowed be Your name,” he took a detour. For the next several weeks, he spoke on God’s names. I was hooked. I was fascinated by how much I didn’t know about God despite the information He had revealed with each name in Scripture. That sermon series sparked a lifelong quest to learn what God said about Himself through His names and attributes. I kept coming back to a word in the first line: “hallowed.” God’s name is hallowed. Holy. Set apart. Different from the myriad gods that were worshiped in the ancient world. And what is His name? He has many names in Scripture. He is Elohim, the Creator. He is Adonai, our Sovereign Lord and Master. But one name in particular belongs to Him alone. The name He told Moses. Yahweh. The name that describes God as the self-existent holy One, not dependent on anyone or anything else. The name that lifts our view of God out of the mundane to a higher plane. The name that catches our attention and keeps our attention when the vagaries of life seek to distract us from our unchanging God. The Complete Picture But Yahweh is not the only name God used to describe Himself in Scripture. There are many names and attributes in the Bible, each one telling us something more about who God is and how He works. And we find several of them in the same Lord’s Prayer that taught us to hallow, or set apart, God’s name from the commonplace. Everything else in the prayer builds on this foundation. Consider the next lines: “Your kingdom come, Your will be done” describes the sovereignty of God, reflected in His name, Adonai, which means Lord and Master. “Give us this day our daily bread” acknowledges God as our Provider, Yahweh Jireh. “Forgive us our debts” (or trespasses) recognizes God as the One who forgives our sins because of what Jesus did on the cross to redeem us. “As we forgive…” describes our need for Him to be our Helper, the One who transforms us to do what we could not do on our own. “Lead us not into temptation” is our request for God to reveal Himself as the One who leads and protects. “Deliver us from evil” reminds us that He is our Deliverer, the One who conquered sin and the devil. “For Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever” is praise we offer because He is the King of kings, omnipotent or all-powerful, and the eternal One—El Olam. This prayer only begins to describe who God is. The various names and attributes God reveals in His Word give us a complete picture of His nature and His ways. Unequaled by anything or anyone. Worthy of our respect, our awe, and our worship. Don’t settle for less than a high view of God…for the glory of His Name.
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About Ava Pennington

Ava Pennington
Ava Pennington is an author and speaker. She also teaches a weekly Bible Study Fellowship class. Her newest book, Daily Reflections on the Names of God: A Devotional, is published by Revell Books and endorsed by Kay Arthur, founder of Precepts Ministries.

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