On Life and Fulfillment

Standard

Photo credit to Stephen Cunningham.

 

“Then those of you who escape will remember me among the nations where they are carried captive, how I have been broken over their whoring heart that has departed from me and over their eyes that go whoring after their idols. And they will be loathsome in their own sight for the evils that they have committed, for all their abominations.” Ezekiel 6:9

It’s funny how we say this is an awful way for God to feel. But I wonder if we were married and loved the one we were married to with all our hearts and they “went a-whoring” and left us for others, how we would feel? And I’m not saying that anyone should run out and destroy their unfaithful partner. That’s not my point. Isn’t the truth that they have already not only begun destroying themselves, but destroying true intimacy itself? Aren’t they bringing turmoil into their own lives and into the lives around them? Aren’t they being caught up in twisted thinking that will one day lead to their own demise?

Had God’s people ever been warned? Had they witnessed the power of the true God versus the lack of power of the gods of other nations? Had they witnessed and been supplied by the provision of the true God? Did You, God, really cause their demise? Or were You there trying to continually call them back to the safety and provision of You?

The people were playing with what they shouldn’t be playing with, nations who didn’t care about them. They were making themselves vulnerable because they were no longer alert. They were allowing themselves to lose their identity in God, who was their strength, and falling into the lie of the nations that they were great of themselves. They were worshipping at empty altars that bring emptiness and desolation.

Paul talks of desolation, this word shamem in Hebrew, also. “For it is written, ‘Rejoice, barren woman who does not bear; break forth and shout, you who are not in labor; for more are the children of the desolate than the one who has a husband.’” (Galatians 4:27) What is this about? What is today’s reading in Ezekiel about? It describes “the inner barrenness of an unfulfilled life.” (Skip Moen) Shamem is about being desolate and amazed. It can mean one or the other or it can be both at the same time. It’s like looking around at the great desolation and destruction around you and being totally appalled and overwhelmed at the same time.

The reason judgment comes is because we refuse to live fulfilled lives. We were created to be filled fully with God, to bear His image throughout this world. This is true fulfillment, what we were created to be filled with, just like Adam when God breathed into him and he became a living soul. But we choose, yes we choose, to warp that image and defile it and create our own. We choose to live unfulfilled lives in these places of desolation, and we don’t even realize how appalling it is. But God does. He never intended us to walk in the wilderness. He hadn’t intended for Israel to walk there. They chose desolation instead of the kingdom. Aren’t we doing the same? And then we have the nerve to blame our consequences on God? And all You have ever been trying to do is to turn us back to our purpose, true life fulfillment in You.

The truth is that God doesn’t leave us alone in the wilderness. He was there for Hagar. He was there for the Israelites. He is there for us today, waiting to rescue us from emptiness and unfulfillment. We think self-sufficiency is the answer but the answer is in dependency on a God who is fully able. Think about it. Joseph couldn’t rescue himself from that pit his brothers placed him in. The Israelites couldn’t find their way out of the desert. Hagar couldn’t find water to keep her and her son alive. Moses couldn’t even lead a people on his own. The truth is not one of us is sufficient on our own.

Paul understood that. He was once a very self-sufficient man. But not once he met the risen Jesus. He shares, “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think anything as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God…” (2 Corinthians 3:5) God enables us in Him to do and to bear His image in this world, that we may fulfill our purpose in Him.

How could a barren woman have more fulfillment than the one with a husband? How did the desolate woman find more fulfillment? Because our fulfillment doesn’t come in our husband or in our job or in our position or in our ministry. Our satisfaction and fulfillment comes from God. This world is a wilderness and we have to learn to cling to God in the midst of it because clinging to the wilderness will always leave us empty.

Are you in an overwhelming place right now that seems totally desolate? Stop fighting God. Let Him come to You in the desolate empty place and let Him fill You. Run into His arms and let His ways become Your ways. Let Him redefine Your thinking and Your living by His standards, by His love, by His grace, and by His mercy. Let Him be the spouse that He promises to be to you and let yourself be His. Let go of the emptiness. Walk away from it and walk into His arms. You don’t have to stay there. You never did. He’s been waiting with open arms every minute of every day, right there with you, only you wouldn’t acknowledge Him or give Him the time of day. But He never stopped thinking about you or reaching out to you.

We can keep fighting a losing battle and trying to find fulfillment elsewhere. But it will always leave us empty and grasping for more. Or we can stop fighting and let the One who has always loved us, the One who created us, fill us full of Himself and we can live out our purpose in life and eternity. The choice is each of ours. Only, don’t get upset if you choose the consequences of self-fulfillment. It’s not like we’ve not been warned. The blame game is a losing game. Let’s take responsibility for our choices and let’s choose life and fulfillment.

Advertisements

Making the “Titanic” Choice

Standard

“It has been said, ‘Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement:’ but I say unto you, that whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causes her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced commits adultery.”  Matthew 5:31,32

Divorce.  Oh my goodness, how taboo!  But this isn’t really even about divorce.  It’s about what was happening in someone’s heart first that led to divorce.  It’s a story of men who just decided they didn’t want their wives any more.  She wasn’t satisfying them in some way, whatever way that was.  It wasn’t even about her having a sexual relationship and being unfaithful to them.  It’s a story about a woman being a wife and a man just not wanting her anymore.

When did this become about divorce?  When did we miss the point that God values women and He values them as highly as men.  I think maybe that happened when our world became man’s world instead of God’s world.

This isn’t about divorce.  It’s about the value of another person.  Jesus, You are dealing specifically here with the worth of a woman to a man.  And obviously she wasn’t worth much.  Because here it was all up to the man to divorce her.  You said there was one reason that was allowed, infidelity, but to free yourself from your commitment to your wife on any other grounds was to put her in the position of having to live a life of adultery.  There was absolutely no way in that culture that she could make a life for herself without marrying another man.  And that other man would be just as guilty of adultery.  Why?

I’m going to jump around a little bit here.  When Boaz started to notice Ruth, he asked an interesting question.  “Then said Boaz unto his servant that was set over the reapers, ‘Whose damsel is this?'” (Ruth 2:5)  Why was that so important?  Well, in our Greek thinking today, we identify ourselves individually.  Not so for the Hebrew.  For the Hebrew “identity is directly tied to someone else’s involvement…Her identity is expected to be derived from the possession and protection of someone else.  She is who she belongs to.  She is the extension of the one who has responsibility for her.”  (Skip Moen)

Now put that into the light of these passages about divorcing these women.  Here were men who had taken a vow before God to protect and be responsible for this woman.  Today, You say, “Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved those He called out and gave His life for them.”  Now, how does this divorcement show that kind of love, that kind of responsibility for the best for someone else, that kind of protection?

Now let’s go back to Genesis 2:24.  “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife:  and they shall be one flesh.”  That’s a pretty strong picture there.  How could it be so easy for these men to rip their own flesh apart with no feeling and no pain over it?  See, these men should have forsaken, abandoned, and separated from their parents and parents’ ways in order to “cling, attach and join with his wife.”  They should have entered into a new union, a real union, a separated union with their wife.  But they never really paid that price.  They just got a possession and not a wife.  And they never knew what they were missing.

We can be given so much and miss it all.  But sometimes in our deepest sorrow and disatisfaction, we start to see the truth.   Like Solomon in Ecclesiastes.  “After all this, there is only one thing to say:  have reverence for God, and obey His commands, because this is all that we were created for.  God is going to judge everything we do, whether good or bad, even things done in secret.”  Did these men reverence Your heart, God?  Do I?  If I do, then I’ll know the worth of those around me because You created each one.  You created every one of us to be a masterpiece.  Did these men obey Your commands?  Do I?  Did they cling to their wife as though she was flesh of their flesh and bone of their bones?  Do I really stop to think about the heart of Your words and live it out in my life by Your revelation and power?  Am I not only concerned with what You created me for, but am I just as concerned with what You created my fellow man or woman for?

We are responsible for each other just as those men were responsible for the well-being of their wives.  You are going to judge us for how we take care of those around us.  There is nothing hidden from You.

I better learn what Your love looks like because it’s the standard I’m being held up to.

We’ve been trained to think of “theology” as “the science of God and divine things; or the science which teaches the existence, character, and attributes of God, His laws and government, the doctrines we are to believe, and the duties we are to practice. “  That came straight from Noah Webster’s dictionary.  But this kind of theology was never Your intent, Lord.  Your theology really goes to the roots.  The roots of this word are God and discourse.  Theology is about intimately listening to You as You disclose Yourself and then it’s relating that back to You in the discourse not only of my words, but in the discourse of my life.  See, being involved in a discourse with You is all about “the act of the undertaking, by which it passes from premises to consequences; the act which connects propositions, and deduces conclusions from them.”  That’s the original intent, and unfortunately, it’s become obsolete.

Jesus lived out what theology is supposed to look like.  He took His discourse with God and applied it wholly to His life and the lives around Him.  That’s what our discourse with You should look like too.  It’s not cut and dry.  It’s full of emotions and hard things including pain.  Somewhere along the line we have to realize we’re all shattered souls and that we are responsible for the other shattered souls around us.  But if I don’t see myself as shattered and in need of care, why would I see myself needing to care for anyone else and why would I see my own need for care from my spouse?  Praise and worship is not seperate from our heart’s cry or the heart’s cry of our spouse or neighbor.  Maybe the problem is that we’ve become anemic to real Christianity.  Skip Moen shares, ” If God is to be my really intimate partner, the lover of my soul, then He must come to me when I am overwhelmed with grief, desperate and alone.  I need a God Who feels what I feel; a divine spouse Who knows the darkness that wants to drown me.  I need the equation balanced.  Forsake must become cling.”  And if this is the kind of intimate partner that I need, then what kind of partner should we be to our spouses?  What kind of love should I show to those around me whether man, woman, boy, or girl?  How can I call myself a Christian if I don’t love like Christ?

“Just as the Father sent me into the world, so am I sending you.”  I wonder how many times I’ve displeased You?  I wonder how many times I’ve just totally missed the mark?  I wonder how many times I have totally disregarded Your heart for my own desires?  Yet, You don’t divorce me.  You say that You will never leave me or forsake me.  You put an example in Your Word of a prophet who You told to marry a prostitute.  And even though she falls back to her old ways, he stays faithful, and searches her out and gathers her off the slave block back into his arms.  Why?  Because Your heart is for those who belong to You.  You would do everything to do what’s best for them.  You would sacrifice Your life and Your pride.

What would man sacrifice for his wife’s well-being?  What would I sacrifice for someone else’s well-being?  Would I?  Or are we too caught up in ourselves like Narcissus?  Narcissus, from Greek mythology, was a beautiful hunter.  He had an enemy named Nemesis.  Do you know how Nemesis defeated Narcissus?  He lured him to a pool of water and when Narcissus saw his own reflection in the water, he was so infatuated with himself he couldn’t stop looking.  Eventually, he died, overcome by his own beauty.  He was infatuated and obsessed with himself.  And isn’t that the root of the problem here?  “But God, in His sovereign love for us, fixed His eyes on us as His Bride, condescended to our weakness and self-centered arrogance, dwelt among us, lived for us, served us, and gave Himself for us–and He did it all for our eternal good and His eternal glory.” (Burk Parsons)  What a “Titanic” lesson we have to learn here.

Lord, in the true story of the Titanic, at the moment of decision, class barriers were broken down.  Because of the prevalance of “Christian influence,” men, both rich and poor, gave way to women and children at the cost of their own lives.  Paul’s words, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain,”(Philippians 1:21) became real in their lives.  Narcissism was defeated and Christ reigned in the hearts and lives of those men.  So Lord, whether I’m a man or a woman, do You truly reign in me?  Do I live a life dead to self and alive in You, a life that dwells among others, lives for them, serves them, and gives myself for them?  Am I doing what I do for their eternal and temporal good and for Your eternal and temporal glory?  May I make that “Titanic” choice.

God’s Still Engraving My Story

Standard

Photo credit unknown.

“And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.”  2 Corinthians 3:3

So, the other day, Lord, You brought me to meditate on how You have engraved me in Your hand and the significance that holds for my identity in You.  Actually, it’s significant for my absolute identity.  That placement defines and creates who I am.  But You don’t stop there with that amazing placement of making me so close to You that I am a part of You and united with You.  You also engrave Yourself in me!

That Greek word for writing is “eggrapho.”  It can mean “to engrave, inscribe, write in or on.”  Is this just something written superficially?  Or has the ink sunk into the paper and has it become as one body?  Is this whole idea significant?  What was Paul talking about in verse 2 when he said, “You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men…”?  So we are like a letter that God has written, or like something engraved or inscribed even in other people’s hearts, and in our own hearts?

Jeremiah 31:33 tells me it doesn’t stop there.  “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”  And maybe this is an awkward procession, but because I’m grafted in to Your people by faith in Christ, You put Your law, Your ways, Your will, Your heart, Your Spirit in me.  How do You do that?  You write it in my heart and You write it in the heart of every believer.  That’s why we are in one another’s hearts!  That Hebrew word for write is “kathab.”  Guess what?  It means “to grave.”  What if this is deeper than writing on the surface?  What if this is writing into the depths of our hearts like You engrave us in Your hands?  What if You are not only placing us deeply within You but placing Yourself deeply and permanently inside of us?  You have created this beautiful two way relationship.  And there is none other like it.  You make Yourself our God and You make us Your people.  It’s all by Your power and work as we surrender to You.

Paul reminded his brethren how they could not please God on their own in Hebrews 8:10.

“This is the covenant I will establish with the people of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. ” He reminded them of His promise to make a new covenant with them.  Now understand this.  That word for new doesn’t mean brand new, wipe away the old.  This Greek word “kainos” means “what is new in nature, different from the usual, impressive, superior.”  What’s better, to have God write His nature on blocks of stone or in our hearts?  There was a time when most people had to live by “superficial” obedience in their strength.  The Holy Spirit didn’t yet indwell all believers.  But God already designed that He was going to change our natures, make them different from what they usually were, make them more impressively like Him, and give us superior power.  That’s the new nature we have in Christ because He’s not about following rules and regulations and speculations out of a book or written on stone.  He takes Himself and engraves Himself within our hearts.  We experience Him individually in our lives.  He’s personal even though He is God and more than personal.  He stoops to engrave His character personally in our hearts so we can experience and understand Him and live for Him and in Him ourselves.

Now in Hebrews 8:10, Paul stresses the truth of You, Lord engraving Yourself, Your law, Your character, in our hearts and putting You in our minds.  But in Hebrews 10:16 he states, “This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.”  Lord, You are not only going to engrave Your will in our hearts, but You will engrave Your will in our minds also!  Everything that guides my emotions and thinking will be engraved with Your character, Your person, You.  You care that much about me that You would do the work in me that it takes to make me like You.  You care that much about me that You would reach into the very depths of my soul and place Yourself there.

So today I’m going to do something different.  I am just going to summarize with powerful words of encouragement about the effect this work of Yours has on us.  I’m going to just praise You right now by shouting out and rejoicing in what this means for me and every believer and praise You that You have chosen to love us this way and work in us this way.  May these words of truth and life bless every reader.

“And the LORD your God will circumcise your heart, and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your sould, that you may live.”  Deuteronomy 30:6

“The law of his God is in his heart; none of his steps shall slide.”  Psalm 37:31

“I delight to do your will, O my God: yes, your law is within my heart.”  Psalm 40:8

“Listen to me, you that know righteousness, the people in whose heart is My law; fear not the reproach of man, nor be dismayed at their revilings.”  Isaiah 51:7

” And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them.  I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them.  And they shall be my people, and I will be their God.”  Ezekiel 11:19

“Then will I sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you.  A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will Iput within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.  and I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and you shall keep my judgments, and do them.” Ezekiel 36:25-27

“For I delight in the law of God after the inward man ” Romans 7:22

“For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.  For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:  that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.  For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh: but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.  For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.  Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.  So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.  But you are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you.  Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His.” Romans 8:2-9

“For as much as you are manifestly declared to be the epistle [letter] of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart…Now if the ministry of death, carved in letters on stone, came with such glory that the Israelites couldn not gaze at Moses’ face because of its glory, which was being brought to an end, will not the ministry of the Spirit have even more glory?” 2 Corinthians 3:3,7,8

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” Galatians 5:22,23

“‘For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days,’ says the Lord; ‘I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people” Hebrews 8:10

“‘This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, ‘ says the Lord, ‘I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them'” Hebrews 10:16

On Account of the Basics

Standard

“But all these things they will do to you on account of My name, because they do not know Him who sent Me.”  John 15:21

Image

“But all these things they will do to you on account of You Are Who You Are.”  This verse today takes me back to Exodus 3.  Here we have another story of You, God, sending someone.  This time Moses is being sent for a purpose, to deliver Your people from bondage and unto freedom in the promised land.  So Moses says to You, “Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say unto them?'”  “Who are You?  How will I get people to know?  How will they know I’m coming because of You and not because of me?  How will they recognize it’s really You?”

That’s a good question, Lord.  I mean, after all, Moses was just a man and he had already tried to take things into his own hands once and tried to deliver his people in his own way.  And the people didn’t recognize him for it.  But now he was being sent under Your authority.  What would make them see that?  How would they recognize this was of You and not Moses any more?

Has my life changed like that?  Am I done with doing things in my own strength?  Have I come to the point where I am being sent for a purpose by You?  How will people know?  How will people see?  Will they recognize who sent me?

God said to Moses, ‘ I AM WHO I AM’. And he said, ‘Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.'”  And then You take it a step further, Lord, by saying You are “the LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.”  And You identify this as Your name forever, this as Your memorial to all generations.

You are the Ever Existent One.  You were, You are, and You always will be.  Really, how could we ever give You a name that expresses all that You are?  You just ARE ALL THAT YOU ARE.  And in this immensity and power of all that You are, one of Your favorite parts of You is that You seek relationship from that part of Your creation known as mankind.  Stop to think about that.  A God whose name is so wonderful that we can’t really express it, chooses to associate His whole essence with identifying Himself in relationship with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  And this You choose.  To me, it’s like You are saying, “The only way You can ever know my name, know who I am, is to know Me.  You can’t know of Me.  You just have to know Me, experience Me, come along with Me, be Mine.  I’m not just an entity, I’m a relationship.   You can’t just label Me; You need to live in Me.”

And now we’re ahead in time with John, and Jesus, You’re telling them and us the things that people will do all based on the way they perceive God still, based on who they see as having sent You.  On account of who You are, some will choose to mistreat us.  Because it excites them in a bad way to think about all that You stand for, it will incite them to take out their anger and frustration on Your representatives.  Anyone’s image of You effects their impulses.  It excited Pharoah, it excited Meriam (when she became jealous of that relationship with You and Yours to Moses), it excited Moses.  But whether our excitement is for You or for ourselves will determine our outcome.

On account of all that You are, some people will be excited against us.  It will cause them to act against You by acting against us.  And what is the reason for this animosity?  The whole cause is because they don’t know or recognize who God is in the first place.  So they don’t recognize even the basic fact that You, Jesus, were sent by Him for their benefit.  The interesting thing here is that the word for sent here in Greek is “pempo” and it’s related to the word group with things like “apostello.”  Now, on one hand the “apostello” group of words is implying a being sent under authority, with the same authority as the one doing the sending.  But, “pempo” is just that idea of being sent.  If one doesn’t even get the basic idea that You were sent by God, then they are not even anywhere near understanding the power behind the idea and the authority.  If one doesn’t even believe the basics, they’re going to miss the meaty stuff altogether.

“[T]hey do not know Him who sent Me.”  They can’t see Him; they can’t perceive Him; they can’t discern Him,  they can’t know Him; they don’t have regard for Him; they don’t cherish Him.  They don’t see Him with their “physical eyes” so that they perceive Him with their “mental eyes”.  They can’t say “I see what you are saying.”  According to HELPS Word Studies, “eido”- “seeing that becomes knowing” “then is a gateway to grasp spiritual truth (reality) from a physical plane.  Eido then is physical seeing (sight) which should be the constant bridge to mental and spiritual seeing (comprehension).”  How do You physically see a God whose face no man has seen?

We see Him in Jesus Christ.  We see Him in the ways He intervenes in our life.  We see Him in the way He speaks to our hearts and through His words.  We see Him and His evidences in creation and the lives around us.  All we have to do is recognize Him.   And it all starts with acknowledging Him.  Then it’s followed by responding to Him.  And before we know it, He has included us in Him, in His purpose, and He’s sending us with Him on His mission and we are experiencing Him for ourselves.

Lord, all these things they’ll do to me on account of I’m in You.  Because they identify me with You, they’ll treat me like You.  If they love You, they’ll love me.  If they hate You, they’ll hate me.  Like Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, and You, Jesus, my life has become entwined with Yours.  And it’s not the telling people who You are that counts as much as the showing.  Because, actually, every one of these people I just mentioned, including You, Jesus, were a demonstration of the power and leading and loving of God.

Lord, I just want to focus on who You are.  In the midst of everything, good or bad, I want to demonstrate You.  I want people to have every opportunity to see and perceive and to know You.  Keep me from being a hindrance to anyone.  Look at my examples here.  Only one was a perfect example, and that was You, Jesus.  And You are in the process of perfecting Yourself in me just as You were perfecting Yourself in Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Moses.  I am eternally grateful that You were sent for me.  I am eternally grateful that You have opened my eyes to perceive and know You and that You draw me closer every day.  Now, let me be so identified with who You are, so wrapped up in who You are, so a part of Your name, that not only do I identify with You, but You identify with me.  Let me be a light for You whether it excites people to anger or to love.

 Above poster by paintin4him.

Not Just Any Name

Standard

“You have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that you should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain:  that whatsoever you shall ask of the Father in My name, He may give it to you.”  John 15:16Image

What is in a name?  Because it must be important.  Well, at least what’s in Your name must be important.  You tell me that “whatsoever” I ask of the Father in Your name, He may, He will, give to me.  Well, that’s some kind of a promise.  But I had better make sure I understand what You mean.

So, do I get everything I ask when I pray “in Jesus’ name?”  “I pray that You heal my friend, in Jesus’ name, Amen.”  “I pray that You make sure we have really nice weather for the fund raiser, in Jesus’ name, Amen.”  So, are those requests to the Father a done deal?  Will He give these to me?  Did I just really pray in Your name?

When the disciples, the apostles, heard this, what was going through their minds?  It makes me rethink this verse.  “I chose you and gave you the responsibility and ability to bear eternal fruit so the result of all this is, when you ask to bear this fruit and for what you need to bear this fruit of Mine, God will give it to you.”    And what encourages God to give it to us?  It’s not just that I ask, but who I ask in, or better yet, who I am identified in, therefore, who I am in.

Names were much more significant in the ancient eastern world than they are to us now.  They weren’t just labels picked out because they liked how it sounded with the last name.  They were also “symbols, magical keys, as it were to the nature  and essence of the given being or thing.” (Ephraim A. Speiser)  Rabbi Andrew David pointed out that “[i]n life, you discover that people are called by three names: one is the name the person is called by his father and mother; one is the name people call him; and one is the name he acquires for himself.  The best one is the one he acquires for himself.”  

Naming is a divine gift.  God is it’s originator.  In the name is the whole identity and essence of a thing.  And God said, “Let there be light!” And there was light.  God named and it was everything that light is.  It wasn’t just called light; it was light.  Light’s character, light’s atomic structure, was created and established by God’s naming.

God’s naming represents our identity.  The name defines us.  The Hebrew belief is that the “names we are given at birth aren’t accidental.  They are to some extent prophetic.  They capture our essence…Your name is the key to your soul.”  Rabbi Benjamin Blech states, “Names are a book.  They tell a story.  The story of our spiritual potential as well as our life’s mission.”  And keep this in mind.  I must keep this in mind, that God has created a name for me.  It is my story.  It is my spiritual potential.  It is my life’s mission.  And that name is “Christian.”  That name means “in Christ.”  That name is Jesus.  And I am in that name.  That name now represents me as I represent Him.

Abram received a new name from God because He was receiving a new life, a new identity.  “Neither shall your name any more be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for the father of a multitude of nations have I made you.” (Genesis 17:5)  Jacob’s name comes from the root word “heel”.  He used to believe in “flight, not fight.”  But then he chose to fight the angel instead of flee.  “Your name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel; for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.” (Genesis 32:29)

But we’re not talking about men’s names here.  If I ask in Your name.  This isn’t about asking in my name, or Abraham’s name, or Israel’s name.  This is all about the significance in Your name.

“As his name, so is he” (1 Samuel, 25:25). Now this is talking about Nabal, and his name wasn’t a good thing.  But I think this is perfect for thinking about Your name.  As Your Name Is, So Are You.  Your name, Your names represent Your power, Your actions, Your reputation.  If I look at the Greek meaning of the word for name here, “onoma,” I see that it literally means authority, character.  And that’s what Your name is all about.  It’s all about who You are.

Hebraicly thinking, “a person’s name was viewed as equivalent to the person himself.  A person’s name signified their person, worth, character, reputation, authority, will, and ownership.” (Jason Dulle)  The name is the person.  I need to say that again, the Name is the Person.  When Proverbs says, “the name of the Lord is a strong tower: the righteous run to it and are safe,” it means You, God, are a strong tower.  You are not like a strong tower; You are our Strong Tower.  Your name is equivalent to who You are.

Jason Dulle went through Scripture and pointed out the significance of naming.  He found that “speaking and writing in “the name” signified authority; naming something indicated one’s ownership of that person/thing; to forget God’s name was tantamount to departing from Him; acting in someone’s name was to represent them; to blot out someone’s name is to destroy that person; one’s name signified their reputation, and their character.   Christ is said to have manifested the Father’s name, meaning that He has made His person known to humanity.   To believe on the name of Christ is to believe in the person of Christ. To be gathered in Jesus’ name is to be gathered together in His mind, will, and purpose.

“Knowledge and use of God’s name does not provide power over Him but rather relationship with Him and responsibility to Him.”  His identity and nature are revealed through His name which imparts to us His history and His words and His actions.  Through His Word we learn of Him by relationship with His people.  That’s what this is all about, being in relationship with You, Jesus.  This is all about knowing You intimately.  This is all about being under Your ownership, under Your authority, hiding in Your Strong Tower.  This is all about letting You make Your name, my name.  It’s all about giving up my identity to take on Yours.  It’s all about dying to self and living to You and in You and for You.  And I can only know Your name and understand Your identity and have a relationship with You because You revealed it to me, You chose me to know You.

To call on the name of the Lord, to ask in Your name, is to trust in Your faithfulness, to trust in all that You are.  I can’t use Your name to force You to act.  I don’t want to.  Well, I hope I don’t want to.  You are to be invoked by all that You are.  When I ask for something that You are or something that is Your desire, it’s not even that You start doing it.  You actually already were doing it.  You were just waiting for me to join in with You so that I could rejoice in experiencing You with You.  You want me to come near, so that I can experience You more.  Your promises are true and You want to show that, but I have to know them, and I have to seek them in You, and then I will see them and I will experience them.  But more importantly, I will experience You.  You will come to me and bless me, not for the things I ask, but because I am seeking You, and all that You are will flow from You, because it has to, it’s who You are.  

You want me to be bound up with You.  You want me to be one with You.  To be bound in Your name is to be bound in You.  With Your presence, God’s presence is given to me.  Because You “‘possess a relationship with God which none can perceive’” (Theological Dictionary of the New Testament), as I place myself in Your identity, in Your name, I too possess that relationship in You.   

Lord, may Your name, may Your identity, may Your life and all that You are, be glorified in me.  May others admire me because they see You in me and it draws them to admire You.  Count me worthy of bearing Your name, of representing You.  You must make me worthy, but let me seek You continually.  Let me seek Your presence, Your encouragement, Your correction, Your power, Your love.  Let me seek all of You more and more every day.  Remind me Who I represent.  Remind me Who dwells within me.  Enable me through all that You are to fulfil all the good pleasure of Your goodness and all the works of faith that You have for me in Your power.  Let this be so that Your name, Your identity, You will be glorified in me and I in You, according to Your grace.  Your name is precious because You are precious.