Thursday, October 29, 2009

What is in a Name?

Have you ever looked your name up in a book to see what it means? A name defines a person...what they do, who they are, what they believe. It is your identity and speaks of your character. My dad was studying Greek and Hebrew in seminary when my brother, sister, and I were born. He and my mom chose our names because of their meanings. My name is Greek for "God's grace", my brother's is Greek for "God is my good", and my sister's is Hebrew for "protected of God." Growing up, my parents often prayed that we would embody the meaning of our names.

Did you know names in the Bible were often chosen to define a person? Moses was named because he was drawn up from the water. The prophet Micah's name meant "for who is like God." Adam means "earth" or "man." Get the point? Did you also know that God chose to rename people because of things they did or something He called them to do that redefined who they were? Abram is changed to Abraham (father of many nations) and God promised to bless this fatherless man with generations more numerous than the stars. Jacob (deceiver) was changed to Israel (struggler with God) because He wrestled with God. Naomi means pleasant, and she changed it to Mara (meaning bitter) after she lost her family. Saul changed his name to Paul after his conversion. Jesus changed Simon's name to Peter (Rock) and promised he would use Peter to help build the church.

So if names are chosen to define a person and our names are often reflective of our character, actions, and decisions - then how much more should we recognize and trust in the character of our God who is defined by His many names?

I AM God Almighty (Genesis 17:1)
God Most High (Genesis 14:18)
Lord, Master (Genesis 15:2)
The Lord is My Banner (Exodus 17:15)
The God who has been my Shepherd (Genesis 48:15)
I AM the Lord your Healer (Exodus 15:26)
The Lord is There (Ezekiel 48:35)
The Lord is our Righteousness (Jeremiah 23:6)
I, the Lord, sanctify you (Exodus 31:13)
The Lord, the Everlasting God (Genesis 21:33)
God, Creator (Genesis 1:1)
I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God (Exodus 20:5)
The Lord will Provide (Genesis 22:14)
The Lord is Peace (Judges 6:24)
Jesus, Savior (Matthew 1:21)
Alpha and Omega, beginning and end (Revelation 1:17-18)

All of these phrases are actually names for God in the Hebrew language. Have you ever heard of names that pack a more powerful punch? If names reflect character and the Hebrews considered names to identify and match the character of the person, what does that say about the names by which God is identified? What an awesome God we serve! If you don't know Him, understand that these names of God not only identify His character but demonstrate His power and love for His people. He created You and desires for you to know Him! He has a mighty purpose for your life!

In The Crucible, a play by Arthur Miller about the Salem Witch Trials in Massachusetts in the 1690s, one of the characters, Proctor, is falsely charged for witchcraft and sentenced to hang. To avoid death, he is asked to sign a confession that he participated in witchcraft and here is what he says, "Because it is my name! Because I cannot have another in my life! Because I lie and sign myself to lies! Because I am not worth the dust on the feet of those that hang! How may I live without my name? I have given you my soul; leave me my name!" (Quoted from a spark notes site on Crucible quotes taken directly from the book.) Are you getting why names are SO important? They not only reflect who we are, but who we belong to. Are we making our King proud...the One who Defends, Saves, and Provides? Do our lives, our character, our names reflect the One we serve? Are we marring his name by claiming to be His but living in such a way that disrespects ourselves and Him?

I know this is long, but stay with I mentioned earlier, sometimes God renamed His people to redefine who they were, equip them, and remind them what task He had designed them for. Maybe you haven't felt God calling you to something specific, or maybe you have. This summer, I felt God renaming me "His Bold Grace." I desire to share the gentleness and love of His salvation while standing up for what is right...even if that means standing alone. Is your name associated with good character? Do people know to whom you belong? Wait and listen for His calling in your life. Live a life worthy of the name He has given you and look to see if He will rename you to equip you and define you for the purpose He has created you to fulfill. I will be right here....serving along with you!

In the name of the One who is Mighty to Save,


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