"If you can't see the sun, you will be impressed with a street light. If you've never felt thunder and lightening, you will be impressed with fireworks." John Piper
I love a good fireworks show. Every fourth of July and New Years eve if I can't be there in person to watch this marvelous display, I will be watching from my television as the colorful explosions light up the sky, but my favorite thing that I've ever experienced is laying in bed with my husband and watching a lightening storm. Mere fireworks can not touch this majesty. Those who know me well know that I would never sit on my street at dusk waiting for the street lights to come on, I will be looking for the great orange orb to slowly make its way beyond the horizon and paint the sky with purples, pinks and greys as it sinks from sight and turns day into night. Nothing like a good sunset. It too is one of my favorites. How can anyone witness these things and not stand amazed at the God Who made them?
Matthew speaks of the research he did when writing this book and how he learned the nuances of each name given to God throughout Scripture. Each of us (at one time or another) settle for surface knowledge of Who God is while we struggle to find out who WE are and what His plan is for us.
I was convicted as I read Matthew's account of the woman on the plane he encountered who took the name of Jesus and used it as a swear word. People who know me well know I can tolerate most sear words but not the Lord's name. I have a dear friend who will not write out the word God, but in conversation she will curse using God's name. I've confronted her on it and thought I was being a good friend but then Matthew took it a bit deeper...I say things like "OMG!" and don't think twice about it. Suddenly I was reading and thinking, I am guilty of using His name carelessly. I wouldn't say "Oh My Spouse! Look what a great deal I got today!" He pointed out that there is something different, something greater about THAT name.
When Gabriel appeared to Mary he told her what to name the baby she was carrying.
Luke 1:31-32 "You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will call Him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, The Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David."
To Joseph he said:
"She will give birth to a Son, and you shall name Him Jesus (The Lord is Salvation) for He will save His people from their sins."
Names carry meaning. When we were choosing the names of our children we thought long and hard about what to name them. Our first two children were born before we were believers and so their names were picked with more secular reasons but still thought over long and hard before they were bestowed upon our children. As Matthew points out, it was Shakespeare who famously said, "What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet." The One who gives all names knew long before Shakespeare penned those words that there would be a name above all other names.
"For this reason also (because He obeyed and completely humbled Himself), God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow (in submission), of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess and openly acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord (Sovereign God) to the glory of God the Father." Philippians 2:9-11
The Old Testament foretold not only His birth but also His name.
In Matthew 1: 22-23 He is called Immanuel, which means God with us...
In Isaiah 9:6 His called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace...
When God inspired the writers of Scripture He could have stopped at telling us Jesus name meant "He will save them from their sins" that right there should be enough for us right? Matthew points out (and this is so, so comforting to me and I hope you) that God wanted you to know His name is so much more than that. Just as Apple cornered the market on "there's an ap for that" God cornered the market on meeting your needs...long before you even realized you even HAD a need.
*Do you feel Confused? He will be YOUR Wonderful Counselor (Isaiah 9:6)
*Are you lonely? He is WITH you, His name is Immanuel (Matthew 1:23)
*Do you feel like you're lost? He is the Good Shepherd, He will find you (John 10:11
*Has someone told you that you are a failure? He will Redeem you (Job 19:25)
*Do you feel desperate because of poor choices? He WILL provide, His name is Jehovah Jireh (Genesis 22:14)
*Are you troubled? He will give you peace, He is the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6)
*Anyone tell you that you are weak? You have a MIGHTY GOD (Isaiah 9:6)
*Have you been broken by the circumstances of this live? He will heal you, His name is HEALER (Exodus 15:26)
For EVERY negative or false identity....for every THING that WE lack, for every problem WE can't solve EACH of these names given is a promise by God to fill every void, provide every need and solve every problem. These names indicate WHO He is but they also invite US to join Him, not when we pull ourselves up by the bootstraps and get our game faces on, but right now, JUST AS WE ARE.
Armed with this knowledge aren't you ready to run to the throne room and cast all your cares at His feet? All the wicked names people have called you? All the shame you've been carrying around? All the worrying about what's going to happen tomorrow and who is going to pay for it?
Something stops you though, Matthew pointed it out and when he did I had the same ah-ha moment.
*There are people in the world with bigger problems than mine
*I should only bother God with my big problems, I can handle the "little" stuff
*My situation is gone too far for Him to repair it, and anyway, THIS must be His will, so why bother...
*I am in this situation because I didn't obey Him in the FIRST place so I am going to have to see it through...
Any of these sound familiar?
God knows and sees EVERYTHING and is watching and waiting for us to come to Him with our requests. When I think of that I think of the Prodigal Father peering down the road waiting for the Son to return, and the Father hiking up his robes and running out to meet the Son. That's God. He's bending His ear toward us waiting for the words so that He can release an ARMY to defend us, or relieve us, or comfort us or whatever our need is.
I know because when I was listening to the lies and believing that my life would be forever altered by poor choices I made and situations that were thrust upon me I believed that He would never, ever answer my prayers. My life has been altered by the way, but not in the way those folks hoped it would be. The Lord took the ashes and truly, truly made something wonderful and beautiful out of it. He hears and listens to the cries of His people.
Matthew says, 'There is freedom in the realization that each name given to our savior is a divine invitation given to us. A call to come to Him...with faith that He CAN and WILL work a miracle."
In closing, here are some final bible study questions for you to answer on your own, during your quiet time:
1) How amazed are you at God and Who He is? Or do you tune Him out from time to time, treating Him as the "same old, same old?"
2) Looking at the names of God, Listed in the Blog (Wonderful Counselor, Redeemer, Prince of Peace and others) which of them have personally impacted you?
3) Read 1 Peter 1:8 When have you felt an "inexpressible and glorious joy" that made you want to dance? What's keeping you from dancing now?
Finally, I want to share with you a favorite song of mine from Crowder. It's called, aptly:
Come as you Are