Sunday, January 29, 2012
Today, our journey through names of our Triune God provides us a glimpse from the angelic perspective. Found in both the Old and New Testaments, Christ’s title of Captain opens new vistas for the believer!
We first encounter the name with Joshua. As he prepared for the battle of
, Joshua encountered the pre-incarnate Christ: Jericho
And he said, Nay; but as captain of the host of the LORD am I now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto him, What saith my lord unto his servant? And the captain of the LORD's host said unto Joshua, Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy. And Joshua did so. Joshua 5:14-15
Earthly battles can cause us to wonder if God is for us or against us. The Captain’s message to Joshua is important for us to hear: our battles are actually the holy ground of eternal purposes. Scripture continually reiterates that God is for us—there is no doubt of that. Recognizing that Jesus is the Captain of the Angel Armies will not only bolster our courage for life’s battles, it places those battles back in their proper realm. God’s purposes are the focus of the Captain. Lining up under the authority of the Captain assures victory!
As we consider Christ’s role as Captain of the Angel Armies, our hearts will sing with the angels as we ‘look’ at the birth of Christ. The incomprehensible truth of the leader of angels accepting the vulnerability and limitations of a helpless human infant awes my mind! No wonder the angels ‘long to look into’ this matter of salvation—their holy, all-powerful leader submitting Himself to save fallen humanity is breathtaking, is it not?
With the New Testament context of the title of Captain, the picture of Christ as grows even richer:
For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. Hebrews 2:10
The Captain of the Angel Armies is Captain of our Salvation! The all-powerful leader of the angels, the Creator and Sustainer of all, submitted to sufferings that He would fulfill the purposes of God: bringing fallen humanity to glory. The reality of the Captain’s humble submission to suffering to bring salvation to me reveals the love of God in a special way. As Captain, Jesus commands the powers of heaven to assure the victorious completion of the perfect will of God. May the Spirit of God illumine new facets of Christ’s beauty to each reader’s heart.
Saturday, January 21, 2012
While not an official name, ‘Bearer of Sins’ is a title for Christ that is of critical importance to every Christian. Mulling over its significance blesses! It is the entry point to salvation, and it is the key to growing in the likeness of Christ.
Accountability for sin is a constant in Scripture. Throughout the Levitical laws, the phrase ‘he shall bear his iniquity’ peppers the text. Even the laws regarding the Priest’s handling of the sin offering bear witness to the crucial responsibilities associated with sin bearing. That accountability and responsibility never wanes. No Christian ever matures beyond a daily need for Christ to bear our sins--for everything not of faith is sin. No one can bear the weight of their own sin—or the sins of others. Everyone needs the help of the Bearer of Sins: Jesus Christ.
In the “ABCs” of salvation, admitting the sin nature is step one. For many long-time Christians, the reality of being a ‘sinner’ dims after the initial confession. It becomes an issue settled at the cross rather than a daily reality. As the years go by and external obedience becomes easier, the magnitude of our sins diminishes—in our own eyes only. We become complacent with our way of life and tragically fail to place sins we are accountable for upon the Bearer of Sins.
Those deeper, hidden sins of the heart do not weigh on our consciousness, as they should. The doubts and fears we allow to cloud our view of the Sovereign, Holy Father are sin. The resentments we allow to grow and separate us from others are sin. The prideful plans and assumption of individual rights we substitute for God’s plans are sins. Only the Holy Spirit can illumine the sins we protect in the deep recesses of our hearts. Those are the sins we need to hand over to the Bearer of Sins that the Spirit can bring life—to others and us!
Death is the result of sin bearing. Every sin we hold onto—instead of placing it upon Jesus--prevents true life from reigning in us. Seeing Christ as Bearer of Sins brings life to others and our selves.
So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation. Hebrews 9:28
As we contemplate the magnificence of Christ’s role as the Bearer of Sins, let us ask the Spirit to reveal those hidden sins. Then, let us we rejoice in handing them over to Him and watching as Life bursts forth!
Sunday, January 15, 2012
Our first stop on this Alphabet of Names journey may surprise you. Most of our prayers include the word. Both the Old and New Testament employs the word--over 75 times in fact! Jesus Himself chose the word as His own name. It is a word with richness, which encompasses the fullness of our triune God. Can you guess the first Name we will consider on this journey?
And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;
AMEN! Our typical use is to close our prayers with Amen. “Let it be” is what we are actually saying. When we use amen as agreement with God’s directives and will, ‘amen’ is a guarantee. As Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 1:20, all the promises of God in Him are ‘Yea and in Him, Amen!’ Jesus is the fulfillment of every revelation of God throughout scripture: righteous, holy, loving and perfect. He is the Amen, the ‘let it be’ that brought God to earth in human form!
Another emblematic use of amen in scripture is to signify the faithfulness and trustworthiness of God. Again, Jesus exemplifies faithfulness and trustworthiness for us. The unchanging faithfulness of God is a desperate need in the uncertainties of life. Only He is worthy of trust—all else disappoints. Jesus is rightly thought of as the ‘amen’ in this context as well. Jesus never leaves us alone; the Amen is our faithful companion!
Finally, Jesus often used ‘amen’ in His own teachings to introduce new revelations of God’s truths. Used as the name of Christ, Amen reminds us that He is the ultimate revelation of God’s identity. In the Lord’s prayer (John 17), Jesus says He has finished the work the Father gave Him to do: revealing the ‘name’ of God. He used the authority God gave Him to reveal the Father that we might have life: “For this is eternal life that they may know you…” The Amen is the revelation that brings abundant life!
When we consider Amen as a title, we see perfection to Christ’s name choice that delights. Truly, Jesus, the Amen, ‘lets the perfection of God be seen’ by all. Weaving the variety of uses of ‘amen’ together creates a beautiful composite of our Lord. May each of us take time this week to adore the Amen who reveals God and gives life!
Saturday, January 7, 2012
Hi, friends. For the new year, the little paper I write for (and thus the articles you read each week) has agreed to a little journey through the Names of God. Hope you enjoy! Please feel free to send notes or make comments. Blessings!
I hope you have enjoyed the past weeks of looking into the character of Christ. My prayer is that our time spent contemplating Christ will fill us with enthusiasm for our transformation into His very image! With the arrival of a new year, I would like to alter our journey just a bit. Considering the array of names and titles for God in scripture enhances our understanding of the Father, Son and Spirit. Circumstances will take our deepened understanding and allow us to live out that knowledge to the glory of God. Those close encounters with God bring blessing to others and ourselves when we see God’s fingerprints!
The name above all names seems a fitting place to begin such a journey. Our text today gives us a glimpse of the glory of the name of Jesus:
Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:9-11)
Imagine! One day we will see our incredible Savior fully in all His glory...and as the song says, What a Day of Rejoicing That Will Be!
Seeking to write a devotional on such an awesome title is daunting. In the Biblical times, names embodied the essence of one's character. In-depth study of individual names offers treasures of insight. Many of us are familiar with the ‘common’ names we use of Jesus...Yahweh saves; Christ, Messiah; Immanuel, God with Us. While we may consider some of the more well-known names, I hope to share some lesser-known titles that offer great blessing. Many books exist that list the names of Christ in scripture; savoring them individually offers a joyous time of praise. God is greater than our finite minds; it is a feast for our soul when we feed on thoughts of ‘who He is!’ We can never fully know the Lord--the book of Revelation reveals that Christ has a name written on Himself, which no one else knows.
Before we leave this glimpse of Jesus, we need to consider with awe the power of the name of Christ. Praying in His name, serving in His name--in the essence of Jesus--is victory! Jesus tells us in John 14:13 that whatever we ask in His name, He will do. Astonishing! Faith in the person of Christ gives sight, gives strength, gives healing...gives life: abundant life!
May the sweetness of His name fill your soul with joy today and throughout the New Year.
Sunday, January 1, 2012
Praying your Christmas was, and the New Year will be, filled with great joy!
With Christmas joy in the air, sightings of generosity abound. The spirit of giving initiated by the Father’s love gift of Jesus flows through time—and even through hearts hardened to His touch.. Human generosity blesses for a time—divine generosity blesses for all time!
Human hearts moved by tragedies often give generously. Many years ago, my family received such generosity from our entire community; it blessed us immensely. A devastating house fire just a week before Christmas inspired total strangers to give to us through the local fire department. Their bountiful provision transformed our emotions from shock and loss to humble awe and gratitude for unearned kindness. Human generosity improves situations—divine generosity triumphs over all.
Unlike the Christmas blessings we received in our need, hands cannot touch or hold divine generosity extended in human love. Nevertheless, recipients feel it in powerful ways. The cost to the Giver is immense…just as God’s cost was in giving Himself. Yet the returns are greater than the initial expense. Divine generosity brings freedom to recipients and fulfillment to givers. It is a precious gift, which always serves to remind others of the Father’s generosity. Do you know what divine generosity is? It is ‘simply’ sacrificial love. It is love that blesses the recipient even as it pierces the giver.
Watch a parent struggling to love wisely their wayward child, and you will see sacrificial love. Look at a spouse sitting near the bedside of their dying partner, and you will see a heart pierced as it pours out love. Consider the grandparents bearing the weight of child rearing as their own health declines, and you will see divine generosity. Sacrificial loving—putting the interests of another above one’s own concerns—is life changing for givers, recipients and even observers! God does miracles as His children let His love flow through them and into another.
In a small way—if divine generosity can ever be called small (and it cannot)—we are receiving beautiful gifts of sacrificial love in our home this season. Our family is preparing to leave this area, where we have lived and loved all our lives. Many hearts are torn, including our own. Our greatest Christmas gifts this year are those who, through their pain, have sought to encourage us. The words of thankfulness for our opportunity from our frail and aging parents are gifts we treasure. The ‘I’m mad at you for moving but still love you,’ comments are a generosity we do not despise. Our children’s efforts of seeking to see potential opportunities for good in the midst of their losses are treasures of priceless value. The giving of each of our dear ones is a generosity we cannot earn. And in that spirit, they remind us of the generosity of God. For His gift—Jesus Christ, our Savior—is a generosity no one can earn. My Christmas prayer is that you, dear reader, will receive of God’s generosity and share it with others that they might feel His transforming power!