Name That Summer Study
by Ava Pennington
Elohim. Adonai. Yahweh. El Elyon. Yahweh Jireh.
The names of God intrigued me. Why did he choose these names to describe himself? How many names does he have?
It all started with a Sunday morning sermon on The Lord’s Prayer. “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name…” But instead of continuing on to the next line, my pastor detoured into a review of some names of God found in the Old Testament.
I was hooked. So I completed an in-depth Bible study of those Old Testament names. But I wanted to learn more. I read books on the names and attributes of God. I explored the names associated with each Person of the Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. That study began my love affair with the names and attributes of God.
Each new name reminded me that if I truly want to trust God, I must know who he is. The best way to do this is to discover what he says about himself. But it can’t stop with knowing about God. His intent is for us to know him intimately and love him deeply.
Learning the names and attributes of God changed the way I relate to him. My faith is not a blind faith. It’s based on who God is according to what he has revealed about himself. When I pray, I’m not praying to some impersonal force out there in the universe, I’m praying to my very personal God by name. Whatever the subject of my prayer—whether worship, thanksgiving, interceding for others, or requests for myself—there is a name or attribute God has revealed which helps me relate to him in that area.
When I’m tempted, I cling to his attribute, Holy, and to his name, Helper. Because he is holy, sin is serious. But because the Holy Spirit is called the Helper, I know I’m not alone in my struggle against sin.
When I’m anxious, I cling to his name, Yahweh Shalom, for he promised to be my peace, regardless of the situation.
When I need direction, I cling to his name, Guide. Life can become confusing, but in the midst of the cacophony of the world, his voice whispers to me the way to follow.
When I’m weak, I cling to his attribute, Omnipotent. My strength is limited, but his is not.
When I fail, I cling to his name, Restorer. Because no sin is too big to be covered by the shed blood of the One who died for me.
Knowing God’s names and attributes has also helped me share Christ with others. I can confidently point them to the one who meets them at their point of need. It gives me the specific words to describe who he is. It also helps me when others speak of who they think God is, because I can respond, “Let’s look at who God says he is!”
Continued study led me to write the devotional, One Year Alone with God: 366 Devotions on the Names of God.
I organized it by examining each name or attribute of God three ways:
• Who God says he is
• How this name or attribute applies to our relationship with him
• How this name or attribute applies to our relationship with others
But these are more than just intellectual observations. A personal prayer and questions at the close of each entry challenge the reader to apply the information individually. The goal of learning what God says about himself is a deeper intimacy with him and a greater capacity to trust him, no matter what our circumstances. Not only is our relationship with him deepened, we also learn how he wants us to relate to others.
Even though your favorite Bible study group may be taking a break this summer, your individual Bible study doesn’t have to. One way to stay in the Word during the summer months is by doing a study on the names of God. Although One Year Alone with God is not structured as a formal Bible study, the single-page devotions offer an easy-to-follow summer exploration of God’s names and attributes. For example, you might:
• Choose one devotion each day and meditate on what it says about the Lord, and how that affects you and your relationships.
• Read the devotions in groups of three (one name or attribute at a time) to receive a fuller perspective of what God communicated about himself.
• Focus on a group of names associated with one Person of the Trinity. Perhaps you want to learn more about the Hebrew names for God, such as Adonai or Yahweh Jireh. Or you may be interested in exploring the various names and attributes associated with the Holy Spirit.
• Study the names and attributes of God as they appear in various books of the Bible, using the Scripture index.
The vacation season will pass quickly enough. By studying the names of God, you’ll be able to look back on a summer that reinvigorated your body and your spirit!
Ava Pennington is the author of One Year Alone with God: 366 Devotions on the Names of God. She is the co-author of Do You Love Me More? and Will I See You Today? in the Faith Basics for Kids children’s picture book series. Ava has also contributed to more than twenty anthologies. She is a board member of the Christian Authors Network, and a popular speaker at churches, community organizations, and writers conferences. She lives with her husband in southeast Florida.