Sunday Blog

Importance of Rest

Importance of Rest

IMPORTANCE OF REST

We live in a world where hustle culture is huge, we’re busier and more stressed than ever before. So busy that a lot of us may struggle finding time in our day to read the Bible and take a moment to rest. Which is interesting because the Bible talks about the importance of rest.

Well, welcome to Sunday Bible Study Basics where we provide weekly Bible study tips to help you dive deeper in your faith.

So what is biblical rest? What is the Sabbath?

Rest is defined as “peace, ease or refreshment.” the Bible speaks quite highly of rest. Its repeated all throughout Scripture, beginning with the creation story in Genesis 1 and 2. We see that God created for six days straight and then he rested on the seventh. It wasn’t because he was tired or anything, it was to set a standard for mankind to follow. And what’s even crazier is that in the book of Exodus we learn about Moses receiving the 10 Commandments from God and he makes one of the commandments about rest. Do you know what they are?

Put God first, worship only God, only use God’s name with respect, respect your parents, don’t hurt other people, be faithful in marriage, don’t steal, don’t lie, don’t be jealous of what other people have, and remember God’s Sabbath. It’s actually the fourth commandment. Resting on the Sabbath was a requirement of God’s Law.

He said, “Remember the Sabbath.” It wasn’t something new, it had been around since creation. All God’s people and their servants and their animals were commanded to have one day out of the seven to rest. It wasn’t an excuse to be lazy. It was actually like no, you better work really hard for six days, not just Monday through Friday 40 hours a week, but six days and then you get to the Sabbath. God takes it very serious because especially now in our culture, it isn’t natural for us. To rest means that we need to trust God will take care of things for us. We have to trust that if we take a day off, the world will not stop turning and everything will be ok. It takes faith. He’ll provide.

One of the definitions of “relax” is actually “to become less firm”, so that means we need to relax our grip on our own lives, our careers, our families, and giving them over to God in faith that He’ll provide when we aren’t working. And that’s the best way to exercise rest.

For us as believers, the ultimate rest is found in Christ. He invites all who are “weary and burdened” as he said, to come to Him and cast our cares on Him. It’s only in him that we find our complete rest - rest from the cares of the world, from the things that cause us pain, and from the need to work to make ourselves acceptable to Him.

There’s an awesome book called “Ruthless Elimination of Hurry” by Pastor John Mark Comer that is honestly one of my favorite books recently. I highly recommend it. It’s helped me tremendously because my natural inclination is to be a workaholic and always be on the go. But this book taught me to slow down and actually enjoy true biblical rest. And I pray that it helps you as well. Try to work a little rest into your schedule this week and see how God transforms it. You’ll be blessed, I know it.

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What is Tithing? (and biblical generosity)

What is Tithing? (and biblical generosity)

WHAT IS TITHING? (AND BIBLICAL GENEROSITY)

Many people wonder what the Bible says about tithing. The question, “Where does it say to tithe in the Bible” is important for sure. Many misunderstandings on this topic have even led people to leave the church altogether. One thing that is often missed is that tithing is about more than money; it’s about our hearts.

Welcome to Sunday Bible Study Basics where we provide weekly Bible study tips to help you dive deeper in your faith.

So what is tithing?

Tithing is the term commonly used to mean setting aside a certain amount of our income for God. Typically a tithe refers to 10% of your income because the word literally means, “tenth”, but it is often generalized to mean any amount of money set aside for God. And traditionally this tithe, this 10% is given to the local church, but we believe that you’re giving that 10% to Jesus himself.

Ok but where is this in the Bible? Because 10% can be a lot of money and some of us may not have much leeway to give in that amount.

Well tithing is something we see in the beginning of the Bible, before the Law even. Abraham and Jacob both tithed their “first fruits” to God. Then we see it in the Law, it’s actually a command to tithe. Leviticus 27:30 says, "A tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the Lord, it is holy to the Lord.” It was a reminder that everything belonged to God and a thank you for everything that they had received.

So it’s before the Law, it’s in the Law, and then we see it alluded to in Hebrews 7, again in the New Testament. There isn’t a command after Jesus that we HAVE TO tithe 10% of our income to the local church, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t biblical or we shouldn’t be giving back to God now. Because if you look at church history, the early church was all about tithing, taking care of other believers, and knowing that everything they make is because they were blessed by God.

I mean, aside from the Kingdom of God, Jesus actually talked more about money than any other topic. He talked about what we should do with our money, and the importance of radical generosity, and being obedient with what we are given.

As the apostle Paul planted churches around the world, he also spoke on the subject of giving. And his views on giving were a lot more radical than just 10%. He focused on giving generously, consistently and joyfully.

In 2 Corinthians, Paul says, “For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability”. He continued on by saying that, “Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously”. Instead of assigning a certain percentage, he encouraged them to give generously. So number one, give generously.

Number two, give consistently. Paul encourages the church to set aside an amount of money to give every single week. The goal is not for this to be a new rule every believer must follow, but a general principle to encourage consistent giving.

Jesus never looks at the amount you give, it’s always about the percentage and your heart towards giving. If you make more you should give more. $1000 to one person is a lot, while $1000 to another person is a little. We must give in relation to our income.

And God looks at our heart towards it. So the third thing is to give joyfully. Paul says in 2 Corinthians, “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver”. A cheerful giver knows that this is not their final destination, that they are meant to build the Kingdom of God and the work of the local church.

So tithing is always about your heart, and never about the amount of money. Giving to God today is about so much more than setting aside a certain percent of our monthly giving for God. It’s about declaring that life is more than the things we can gather on this earth. Giving is about generously using the resources God has given us to improve the world through the gospel. If you are considering giving for the first time, remember to give generously, consistently, and above all, joyfully.

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What translation of the Bible should I use

What translation of the Bible should I use

WHAT TRANSLATION OF THE BIBLE SHOULD I USE?

When you’re just starting to read the Bible, what translation should you use?

Welcome to Sunday Bible Study Basics where we provide weekly Bible study tips to help you dive deeper in your faith.

So, what translation is best for me? There’s so many of them and it’s super confusing because there’s a lot of disagreement about which is the best and which is most accurate and yada yada yada.

Well there are over 100 translations available in English only today so I definitely understand the confusion.

And the original text of the Bible was written in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. So if you don’t know Hebrew, Aramaic or Greek you gotta rely on something else.

When it comes to translations, there’s basically three types of translations.
You have word for word,
Thought for thought,
And a paraphrase.

Now word for word would probably make the most sense when you think about it, but the tricky part of that is that the Hebrew language consists of way fewer words than the English language. And most words mean a ton of different things. So it would be pretty easy to get lost in translation.

Then you have thought for thought, which is looking at a string of words or a sentence in the Hebrew or Greek, and they created a thought out of it in English.

And the third is paraphrase, which rewords things a little bit and adds to the thought to help us really understand it. May be great for casual reading but not necessarily for a deep dive on the Scriptures.

So let’s look at a few translations:
NASB, it’s the New American Standard Bible, this is a word for word translation and it’s often considered to be the most accurate English translation available. Not necessarily the easiest to read, but it’s a great direct representation. I use it frequently.

Next up we have ESV, or English Standard Version, this is probably my favorite when I’m studying. It’s also word for word and just slightly easier to read than the NASB, but very close to the ancient text.

Then you have the KJV, the King James Version, It’s probably the most owned translation in the U.S. It’s full of thees, and thous, and thus. This is the cream of the crop, the gold standard for a lot of people, and they actually will discredit all other translations aside from this one. For me it’s almost impossible to understand but I respect the passion that people have towards it.

Next up we have the NIV, the New International Version, which I’m sure a lot of you have heard of. It’s kind of a mix between word for word and thought for thought. Getting closer on the spectrum to thought for thought. It’s definitely one of the most popular translations today. It’s easy to read, easy to understand. It’s great.

Now when you get into the thought for thought category you’re going to have translations like the NLT, the New Living Translation or TPT, which is the passion translation. These are going to be a lot more relaxed, a lot more modern in language. I love them because it really helps you understand the text.

Then you have the paraphrase category, with the most popular one probably being the Message. This is probably the most debated translation of Scripture available. I mean, we know it’s not word for word, it’s not thought for thought, it’s a paraphrase, but some people despise this translation. I personally don’t think it’s bad. Probably don’t use it when you’re trying to understand how the original text used a word, but if you’re looking for a new breath on a text, it’s worth using.

Well I hope all of that made sense, I hope you now have a little direction when picking out which translation is best for you.

Peace.

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Zach Windahl's Bible Highlighting Tips

Zach Windahl's Bible Highlighting Tips

ZACH WINDAHL’S BIBLE HIGHLIGHTING TIPS

So what are some Bible highlighting tips?

Welcome to Sunday Bible Study Basics where we provide weekly Bible study tips to help you dive deeper in your faith.

When it comes to Bible highlighting everyone kind of has their own version that works best for them. I’m going to share what works best for me in hopes that some of it helps you as well.

First off, you know how at the beginning of every book in the Bible there is the title? Like, at the beginning of Matthew there is the title on top with some extra space on the side. Now your Bible may be a journaling Bible where there’s a bunch of space on every page to write notes or it may be a normal thin line Bible without tons of space. Mine is a thin line, skinny Bible because I just like it smaller. Either way close to the title of every book there will be some space. So where it says Matthew for instance I find it super important to write down some of the historical information so that I always have it close by and I can reference back to it. I’ll include the author, date that it was written, who the audience was, and what the main theme throughout the book may be.

And if you don’t know where to find this information, we have it all laid out in the Bible Study, some Bibles have an intro to each book that may include it, or you can do some research online.

So, for our example of Matthew, up top I’m going to write “tax collector” because it was written by Matthew the tax collector. I’m going to write AD 50-55, which is when it was written. I’m going to say that it was written to the Jewish people of the time. And then I’m going to write “Jesus is Jewish Messiah, the fulfillment of the Old Testament” because that’s the theme that we will see throughout the Gospel.

Once you have those written on the top of the page by the Title, I’m going to read through the entire book to get the big picture of the text. This isn’t a time to really dig in, this is an overview perspective, no need to go slow.

Then now I’m going to go back through and highlight. When I lived in Australia we called this color coding because you would have different colors of highlighters for different things that you wanted to highlight in the text. And I think it’s a great idea for you to do as well.

So buy a few highlighters, they actually make Bible highlighters so they don’t ruin your pages if you have thin pages, and then I would assign each color to a specific quality that you want to remember in the text, whatever is important to you. This could be highlighting a characteristic of God,
every time that Jesus spoke,
every miracle, every command for us,
every location if you’re really into the history.
Pick 3-4 things that interest you and now go back through the text slowly, highlighting according to your colors and afterwards you’ll be able to see the text through a new lens.

I hope that helps! Have the best week!

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What book of the Bible should I start with?

What book of the Bible should I start with?

WHAT BOOK OF THE BIBLE WOULD ZACH BEGIN WITH AND WHY?

So I get asked the question a lot: If this is your first time reading the Bible, what book would you start with? And why?

Welcome to Sunday Bible Study Basics where we provide weekly Bible study tips to help you dive deeper in your faith.

Now typically when you ask other people this question they will most likely say John or Matthew. They’re the typical two that everyone thinks will make you believe in Jesus just by reading them. But I disagree.

Matthew is the perfect book to read for the first time, if you’re Jewish, and have a strong understanding of the Old Testament. If not ehhhhh.
John is perfect if you believe there is a God. It’s one of the most important books in my opinion, but you have to first believe that there is a supernatural God.

So, what if you’re still skeptical? Then where do you begin?

Well, the Bible is laid out into two main sections. The first is called the Old Testament and the second is called the New Testament. At the beginning of the New Testament there are four books, which look like chapters, and they’re called the Gospels. They’re Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. And in those books is where we learn about Jesus.

So if I were looking into the Bible, not really sure if God is real yet, I would start by reading Luke and then the book of Acts.

You see, the Gospel of Luke was written by a doctor named Luke. And, since he was a doctor, he was fascinated in the miracles that Jesus performed because they went against all human reasoning and what his practice as a doctor would say.

And Luke actually wrote a second book called the book of Acts, which is kind of like a part two to the Gospel of Luke. Acts looks at the start of the church, diving into the missionary journeys of a guy named Paul and really how this Gospel of Jesus Christ spread all over the world.

If you don’t know what translation of the Bible to read, since there are so many of them, I’d pick something easy to understand for your first time around. My two suggestions would be the New Living Translation which is abbreviated as the NLT or I’d go with my personal favorite, the Passion Translation which you can look up as TPT.

So, Luke and Acts are my two choices if I were to read the Bible for the first time.

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What does it mean to receive eternal life

What does it mean to receive eternal life

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO RECEIVE ETERNAL LIFE?

So what does it mean to receive eternal life?

Welcome to Sunday Bible Study Basics where we provide weekly Bible study tips to help you dive deeper in your faith.

I don’t know if you’re like me, but when I hear the phrase eternal life I always thought of heaven and hell, and where you go after you die. Like it’s either to paradise in the clouds with gold streets and everything is perfect, or to hell where there’s a lot of fire and screaming and suffering for eternity. Like forever.

Which I do believe that we either go to heaven or hell, but when you get to the phrase "receiving eternal life” that’s a little bit different.

There are many verses throughout the Bible that talk about eternal life. 1 John 5:13 says, “I’ve written this letter to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you will be assured and know without a doubt that you have eternal life.”

John is saying that by having a relationship with God you will experience eternal life. Without a doubt. But he says that it’s here and now. It’s a heaven on earth statement, not focused on the future when you die. It’s now.

Yes, we have something to look forward to in the future.
Yes, restoration is coming to the world, which we read about in Revelation with the New Heaven and New Earth. But THIS eternal life begins now. Most of the New Testament is actually about HOW to live out eternal life. Not about how to receive it. How to live it.

So, how do you receive eternal life and begin living it out?

John 17:3 says, “Eternal life means to know and experience you as the only true God, and to know and experience Jesus Christ, as the Son whom you have sent.”

To know and experience God.
To know and experience Jesus.

And in order to do that you need to first and foremost above anything else, spend time with Jesus. In the Word. In prayer. In silence. Build a relationship. And work on bringing heaven to earth in the now instead of waiting until you die.

In heaven there is wholeness, restoration, love, joy, peace. We should be bringing those things into every relationship, every interaction, every moment of our day.

Yes, we will spend eternity somewhere else once we die, but eternal life begins the moment you accept Jesus into your heart. We have a role on earth. How are you going to live it out?

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How to share the Gospel

How to share the Gospel

HOW DO YOU SHARE THE GOSPEL?

A question that people have all of the time is, how do you share the Gospel? Because lets be honest, it can be super intimidating and awkward and what if you say the wrong thing or they ask questions that you don’t know the answer to and then you look dumb and you don’t want to look dumb and the list goes on.

In reality, it can be a lot easier. So we broke it down into 4 things to remember as you share the Gospel with others.

Number 1, understand that your own life speaks volumes. Your testimony is huge. Your relationship with God needs to be real and active, because people not only listen to the words you speak, but they also look at your life. So, what fruit are you producing? How has Jesus changed your life? Talk about that. People love stories.

Number 2, realize that we earn the right to be heard only by truly listening to others. And caring about what they have to say. Jesus was a FRIEND of sinners. That’s our example. To be a friend, to listen to people, see where they are, and be willing to walk with them where they need to go. It’s all about relationships.

Third, keep it simple. Don’t over complicate the Gospel, it’s a simple message. Jesus died for our sins. He was crucified. He rose again. We simply need to turn away from the things that are wrong in our lives, which we call sin, accept Jesus’ death on the cross that gives us a clean slate, and ask Him to be Lord aka guide aka teacher of our lives. Don’t complicate it. So many times we throw in religious terms that a lot of people don’t understand. We end up confusing them and creating barriers that cause people to shut down. Explain the Gospel in a way that people understand.

And finally, the fourth thing, talk about the love of God. John 3:16 says, “for God SO LOVED the world that he GAVE his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” It starts with love, and that’s where we need to start too. Level the playing field; we were all sinners. God provided a way out through the sacrifice of Jesus. The Gospel is the message that God is good, He forgives, He has a plan for everyone, and He offers the promise of eternal life for anyone who believes in Him and allows Him to guide them.

That’s it! So to recap:
Understand that your life and testimony speak volumes. Be a friend. Keep it simple. Talk about the love of God.

Have the best week.

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How to study the Bible (SOAP Method)

How to study the Bible (SOAP Method)

HOW TO STUDY THE BIBLE (SOAP METHOD)

So you may have seen one of our other videos where I give my 5 tips on how to study the Bible and if you haven’t, I’ll put that link below. This week we are going to look at what’s called the SOAP method.

Soap stands for Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer, and it’s one of the most popular ways to study small portions of scripture.

So in the first section, you have the Scripture that you’re going to study for the day, which can be found in a reading plan, a daily devotional, or just a random set of verses that you choose to focus on. When diving into Scripture, it’s important to stay consistent with studying specific books instead of jumping around, reading one verse from the Old Testament, one verse from the New, one from Proverbs, etc because by doing that it’s much harder to understand what’s going on in the passage.

For our example we will choose Proverbs 3:5-6, which says, “Trust in the Lord completely, and do not rely on your own opinions. With all your heart rely on him to guide you, and he will lead you in every decision you make.”

Some people will write it out, which is a great practice and reinforces what you’re reading. Others will read the same verse from different translations of the Bible, which is also great to get it from different perspectives.

So now that we have the scripture chosen, the next step is Observation.

This is where we observe the scripture and ask yourself questions about The Who, what, why, when, it was written. Who wrote the passage? Who was it written to? What is the theme? What words or phrases stand out to you? Was this written before or after Jesus lived? Timeline questions are huge.

Write all of the observations out below the verse. So for our example, looking at this verse in Proverbs, we know it was written by Solomon in the middle of his reign as he’s sharing his wisdom with others, because we know that Solomon was the wisest man to ever live. The themes here are trusting God and allowing Him to guide your life. And it was written way before Jesus, in the Old Testament.

So the next section of SOAP is the A. The application. Where we see how to apply the Scripture to our lives. We can be asking God, how can I apply this to my life? What changes do I need to make in my life after what I read today? And what actionable steps do I need to take to get there? Sometimes you will have a list of ways to apply it but focus on 1-2 and stick with those for now. The key is to not get overwhelmed.

So how do you apply Proverbs 3:5-6 to your life? Remember, it says, “Trust in the Lord completely, and do not rely on your own opinions. With all your heart rely on him to guide you, and he will lead you in every decision you make.” So instead of making immediate decisions in the heat of the moment, I should be taking time to slow down and ask God what His plan is for me. And then listen, because He’s always wanting to talk to us.

And then you end it off with Prayer, the most important part. Asking God for His wisdom, understanding, and a heart to learn - to grow closer to Him. Pray the verse back to God, thank Him for speaking to you through His Word, and ask for guidance as you apply the Scripture to your life.

That’s it! That’s how you study the Bible with the SOAP method. Scripture, Observation, Application, and Prayer.

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Timeline of the Bible

Timeline of the Bible

TIMELINE OF THE BIBLE

The Bible is based around about two thousand years of history, two thousand years of Israel’s history, God’s people, our history essentially.

Now at the beginning of the Bible you have this pre-historic history of Israel and we aren’t going to put a timeframe to that because it’s an incredibly debated topic. But during this time we learn about how God created everything. We learn about the Fall of Man where sin gets entered into the world. We see the great flood and Noah’s Ark and the Tower of Babel with everyone getting spread out all over the earth.

Then right around 2000 BC we get introduced to a man named Abraham and this is the start of Israel’s history. You see, their history can basically be split into 4 parts of 500 years each. The first section right around 2000 BC, the second section around 1500, the third around 1000, and the fourth around 500.

We learn about the 2000 BC section in Genesis 12-50. This is where the people are led by what’s called the Patriarchs. Abraham to Joseph. It’s a family of God’s people that’s beginning to build out into a large community. Then all of a sudden we have a 400 year gap in history where God was silent. There aren’t any records of what happened during this time in the Bible.

Beginning in Exodus we learn that the Israelites are now in slavery in Egypt and there’s a lot more of them than before. Whereas 70 Israelites entered into Egypt, during that 400 and maybe 30 year period, that number grew to over 2 million people! And during this 1500 BC timeline is when we see Moses leading the Israelites out of slavery and first into the wilderness and eventually the Promised Land.

Instead of being led by the Patriarchs, like before, the people are now being led by Prophets. Moses to Samuel. And we can learn all about it in Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, and Ruth.

Now the third section is around 1000 BC. This is the empire, led by princes, from Saul through Zedekiah. It was the golden age. One of the main people at the beginning was King David. And all Jews have looked back to that time period where everything was glorious. The Messiah was said to come from the line of David. This was the peak. But as time went on, everything began to go downhill. The Israelites split into two groups: You have the northern kingdom of Israel consisting of 10 tribes and then the southern kingdom of Judah consisting of 2 tribes. And everything falls apart for hundreds of years.

Around 500 BC we have the lowest part in Israel’s history. They were just getting out of being in exile and finishing up the second temple but it was nothing in compared to the first one. It was a fresh start but things weren’t looking good. The people were now being led by priests. We learn about this time in Daniel and Esther and a lot of the Major and Minor prophets. It can be tough to even read.

And then all of a sudden we have another 400 year gap where God is silent. During this time, the world is introduced to Socrates and Plato and Aristotle and Alexander the Great. A bunch of major thought leaders in history.

But then the New Testament comes around. And God begins to speak again. We meet John the Baptist first then Jesus enters the scene and everything changes. This is the Messiah that everyone was waiting for since the time of King David. He was here to bring restoration. To bring the Kingdom of God to earth. But it looked a whole lot different than people expected. If you remember, the Israelites tried to be led by the Patriarchs, prophets, princes, and priests, what they didn’t realize is that they needed someone who could embody all four types of leadership. And the only person who could do that was Jesus.

So for the next hundred years, the New Testament was only written in around 100 years or less, but during this time we see the birth, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus. We see Paul go on his first missionary journey around AD 44, followed by 3 other missionary journeys. And we see the birth of what we know as the church today.

So if you want to see a full detailed timeline where you can plug in each book to know what’s happening in history so that it makes more sense as you’re diving deeper, you can find it in the Bible Study or in our Bible Made Easy download in the free resources section of our website.

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Names of God explained

Names of God explained

NAMES OF GOD EXPLAINED

In Jewish tradition, a name is much more than a name as we see it today. They believe that a name transforms a person’s identity, which is why so many names in the Old Testament describe the character of the person.

And the same goes for God. We see name after name explaining His different characteristics and nature throughout the Old Testament and then once you hit the New Testament we get to know Him even more through the life of Jesus.

But what do all of these names like YHWH, Adonai, El Shaddai, Jehovah Jireh, really mean?

We’ll start with Yahweh because that’s the personal name of God and appears 6,500 times in the Old Testament. There’s this story in Exodus 3 where Moses is out in the wilderness for 40 years, he actually ran away from Egypt and was hiding out there. One day God shows up to Moses in the form of a burning bush and tells him about all of these miracles He’s going to perform through Moses. And Moses asks Him, “who should I say sent me?” And God said, tell them my name is “Yahweh” in Hebrew, which is translated as “I Am who I am”, so he said, “tell them that “I Am” sent you”.

Now this is the personal name of God. And when you see the name LORD in all caps in the Bible, that’s this word, Yahweh.

But the Jewish people wanted to show their respect for the sacred name Yahweh so over time they changed the name throughout the Hebrew Bible to the name Adonai, which in Hebrew means Lord, not all caps. And we see this name a lot throughout the Old Testament as well.

Some other names that we see describing God’s character are:
King of kings and Lord of lords and Ancient of Days
In Hebrew we have El-Shaddai, meaning God Almighty.
And Elohim, showing the 3 persons of the trinity in one name and also that He is Lord of lords.
And Jehovah Jireh, meaning "God will provide".
And Jehovah Rapha, “The God that heals”.
Or Jehovah Nissi, "the Lord is my banner”.
And my favorite, “Father”. Because we are His children and He loves each and every one of us more than anything.

So what does your name mean? If you don’t know, look it up online this week. Is it an accurate description of your life? Or were you named after someone? Maybe a family member or significant person? Spend some time looking into it! You might be surprised with what you find out!

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