Sunday, May 4, 2008

Community: What's in a Name? It Tells Your Story

Daniel had a story to tell.
His name said a mouth full! God is my Judge. Think of the power behind that name!

In fact, most of the children in the Bible were named by their father. One did not, Benjamin, Rachel’s and Jacob’s boy. His mother was dying giving birth to him and wanted to call him Ben-Oni. Meaning “son of my sorrow.” Dad said no, he intervenes and renames the boy child Benjamin--meaning “Son of my right hand.”

This was a very important move on Jacob’s part. The boy will not draw his identity from a dying mother or from her sorrow but from the father who needs his support. It was an active intervention. It had to be.

As with our lives, few of us were named by ourselves. You could change your name in a court of law. Ten Million: Baseball player from the 1910s. Moon Unit Zappa, Reverend Canaan Banana, first President of Zimbabwe. An American man changed his name to Trout Fishing in America. Will Power: Australian Champ Car driver. A daughter of a Texas Governor Hogg named Ima Hogg. What were they thinking?

What is your name and what does it mean?

As a Believer, we had been given a new name that is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. Our name becomes, Christian, Believer, Chosen One, Dearly Beloved, My Child, Ransomed. Other?
Our Name is important for a few reasons:
1. It identifies us as to Who’s we are.
2. It gives us Hope.
3. It sets a future in our lives.

Jesus calls His Followers names as well.

John 15:15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from My Father I have made known to you. 

This speaks of deep intimacy.  

All over the New Testament, you can read of people who were named: Simon, Agabus, Timothy, Bar-Jesus, Rhoda, Cornelius, Saul, Tabitha, Gamaliel, Lazarus, Nicodemus. Why? Names are important. Does God know your name?

When there is a gathering here at ICCS, like the covered dish, we have placed outside in the hallway, name tags for us to sign and put on so that people we do not know us and will learn our names. It is part of the getting to know you sort-of-thing.

IS that the depth of the knowing? Just our names? Do we really know each other that well? Are we even wanting to know people? 

Relationships are really hard to work with when one side does not bother to add to the relationship. It is a two-way street. Give and take. I tell you this and you tell me that. Should not be one-sided all the time, but there are times when one does more of the giving than the other. It is one way we make friends. 

Not everyone is at ease with putting on a name tag. Some have said to me, “I think they know who I am…” or “Don’t like them.”  Whatever. We will continue to use them for those who like them. Some need to SEE the name to remember it.

As far as our relationship with God, in the Person of Jesus, the Bible teaches us that there is not one way to build a relationship with Him, but several--... but only one way to KNOW Him. To come to Him with whatever you are dealing with--your pain, joy, hurt, problems, conflicts, sins, anger, frustrations, burdens, worries, hatred, whatever you have, but come to Him through Jesus alone.

Therein you will find forgiveness. There you will find peace. You will find His love. Become clean before Him. All the sin was washed away by the Blood He shed on the Cross. By His Strips we are healed. He took the punishment for our sins SO THAT we do not have to! He suffered on our behalf, so that once we place our Faith in Him, God, when He looks on us, only sees the Blood of His Dear Son covering us and declares us redeemed!

Once our sins are covered and the penalty is paid by Jesus, THEN community begins. We are given our new name: Redeemed by the Blood of Jesus. 1. This identifies us as to Who’s we are.

There was a story of a man in Alexander, the Great Army who fled from battle. He was brought before his king who was a fierce fighter and general. The king was told of his crime and became angry. He then asked the man what his name was. The man weakly said something under his breath. The king said “Louder!” The man fell back and sputtered out: “alexander, sir”. “What did you say?” “ALEXANDER!” Then, Alexander the Great said, “You either change your name OR change the way you walk!” 

In other words, live up to your name! Righteous Child of God!

2. Your name gives you HOPE. 
Once you are a member of God’s Family, one of the gifts He gives us is a deep sense of HOPE. Hope for eternal things. An eternal hope in His presence.

In Job, almost 20 times hope is expressed. 33 times in Psalms. Hope is a main benefit to the Believer. 

Psalm 147:11 the LORD delights in those who fear Him, who put their hope in His unfailing love. 
Psalm 130:5 I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in His Word I put my hope. Or in 
Romans 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. 
Ephesians 1:18 I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints, 
Titus 2:13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ,

3. Our name also sets a future in our lives. 
It gives us purpose. The adventure of living a life for God gives the Believer a sure future. Our future is tied into the Blood of Jesus. While we eat the bread and drink of the cup today, we are remembering a past that speaks of our future. “I will come again!” “And when I return, I will call all men to Myself!” 
Rev. 2:17 To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it.

Our community here today could be artificial--fake, even make believe. That is not what we come for. That is not what the Lord wants to see happen to us over the years! He is looking for a living community. How can you be sure?

Spring has been springing up here in Kotesashi much more fervently than we are used to seeing. The warmer air is causing the sweet smells of new life in the gardens and the sounds of birds in the parks to fill everyone here with hopes of a summer to come.

Some of that hope may be found to be false. We are seeing stories of food riots and shortages in nations around the world caused by the high price of gasoline and a weaker economy. It looks like this world - and our future - is not the secure place we'd like to think it is. We would like to think that we'd be safe and could avoid the effects of such a conflict. That is a naïve hope, however.

The only sure place to be in these days is in a vital relationship with God in Jesus Christ. People used to say things like that because they were preaching. Not any more; instead, that is a simple truth and a fact of life. 

It's not what you know; it's Who you know.

Now, we need to remember in an active way, what the Lord has shone us...what He’d want us to remember. 

Tell your story to someone you trust today.