Many Different Names…

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Philippians 2:5-11(KJV)

5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:
10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;
11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

The Bible ascribes many different names to Jesus, all of which provide great insight into His character and person.

Here are some from John’s gospel that I find particularly revealing:

The Good Shepherd (10:11) protects his sheep at all cost from predators. They know His voice and follow Him.

The Door (vv. 7-9) is the only way to enter heaven. Whoever enters through the “gate” of Christ will be saved.

The Vine (15:1-10) is the source of our spiritual life. When we stay intimately connected to Jesus, we bear fruit. If we do not remain in Him, we wither.

The Bread of Life (6:25-35) the only one who can truly satisfy our hearts. Jesus feeds our souls with sustenance that never leaves us wanting for more.

The Light of the World (9:5) shines His light through our countenance as a ministry and testimony to a dark world.

The Way (14:6) to happiness, peace, joy, and eternal life is Jesus Christ.

The Truth (14:6) of His revelation, as recorded in the New Testament, is the reason we can know as much as we do about God.

The Life (14:6) Jesus imparts to believers is powerful, effective, and fruitful, not only in eternity but here on earth as well.

In biblical times, Israelites would choose a baby’s name based on the child’s characteristics or a hope or prayer of the parent.

The names given to Jesus tell a great deal about His ministry on earth 2,000 years ago.

The scriptural names describing Him reveal who He was and is and will be for eternity.

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What Set Him Apart?

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Matthew 16 (KJV)

When Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” they replied, “Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.”

But Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matt. 16:13-16).

What set Jesus apart as the Messiah?

  • His birth:

He was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born, as prophesied, in Bethlehem to a virgin. Though angels announced His arrival and He reigns over all creation, Jesus entered our world in a lowly manner so He could be identified with the meek and the poor.

  • His wisdom: 

At age 12, He spent three days with rabbis, asking questions that showed his uncommon understanding.

  • His baptism:

Though He didn’t need cleansing, Jesus asked John to baptize Him so He could identify with sinners and demonstrate His love to them.

  • His temptation:

Satan tempted Him relentlessly for 40 days, yet He did not sin.

  • His ministry:

He challenged man-made religious traditions. And by healing people—regardless of nationality—raising the dead, and forgiving sins, He revealed that God wants to be involved personally in our lives. Leading Pharisees wanted Him dead, but the Father protected His life until the crucifixion.

Many people deny Christ’s deity, calling Him simply a “prophet” or “good teacher.” But Jesus was never merely human.

As complex as it is for us to comprehend, He was fully God and fully man.

This is the unique way in which our heavenly Father chose to demonstrate His eternal love for us.

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Acts of Service…

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1 Corinthians 12:4-11 (KJV)

4 Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.
5 And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord.
6 And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.
7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.
8 For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;
9 To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;
10 To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: 11 But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.

I don’t know how some in today’s church got the false idea that the preacher is a servant and the folks in the pews are just members.

No one is a bystander in God’s kingdom!

All believers are in partnership with the Lord (2 Cor. 6:1).

He chose to work through mankind to accomplish the gospel mission on earth. To borrow a biblical metaphor, we are the workers cultivating and harvesting His fields (Matt. 9:37-38).

God gave one or more spiritual gifts to every single believer to aid in the work for His kingdom.

We each need this special “wiring” to carry out our unique role in His plan. He knits that spiritual gift into our personality and inborn talents to create a useful and effective servant. And just to be clear, there is no such thing as a non-gifted believer.

Believers are the Lord’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for the purpose of good works (Eph. 2:10).

Spiritual gifts are not our own abilities. The Holy Spirit manifests them through us. Remember, it is the sap running from the vine into the branches that produces fruit (John 15:5). In the same way, the Spirit lives and works through God’s followers to bring forth acts of service. The Lord’s power is behind it all. Think of that when you are tempted to shy away from God-given opportunities.

God’s awesome power is present in and available to every believer.

The Holy Spirit equips us to obey the Lord in whatever He calls us to do. Don’t waste your life sitting in a pew! Get busy using that spiritual gift.

The fields of this world are ripe for harvest (John 4:35).

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A Great Harvest of Spiritual Fruit…

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Acts 1:8 (KJV)

8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

God’s Spirit works in every believer.

He does not limit Himself to pastors and missionaries. If you’ve received Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, then residing within you is the same great power that raised Christ from the dead (Rom 8:11) The Holy Spirit pours His energy into creating godly character in all who follow the Lord.

The fruit of the Spirit is so named because it is the character and conduct that the Holy Spirit produces in believers.

These are qualities that we can’t generate consistently on our own. The most powerful message we can give isn’t a testimony or sermon; it is the life we live when the pressure is on, temptation is tremendous, or we are buried under an avalanche of problems.

What the world most needs to see in this modern culture is godly families loving one another, business people working with integrity and frugality, and young men and women who choose moral purity.

In a word, the world needs to be exposed to believers who are obedient.

By showing peace instead of anxiety or practicing patience rather than speaking a sharp word, a Christian bears witness to the beauty of the gospel. We attract unbelievers to Christ through our words and deeds. They may turn down a doctrine, but they cannot ignore a righteous life.

The strongest gospel message does not come from a pulpit.

The most powerful witness for Jesus Christ where you work, where you live, and where you relax is you.

Submit to the Holy Spirit’s work, and He will produce a great harvest of spiritual fruit in your life. 

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Character, Divinity, and Authority…

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Revelation 1:4-8 (KJV)

4 John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne;
5 And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,
6 And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
7 Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.
8 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.

The first chapter of Revelation gives a compact description of the Lord.

In verses 4 to 8, John condenses the wonder of Jesus Christ to the bare but beautiful essentials of who He is:

Jesus Christ is the faithful witness.

Jesus came to earth to more fully reveal the character and ways of the Father (John 14:9). The miracles He performed validated His claim to be the Son of God.

Jesus Christ is the first-born from the dead.

The Savior bore our sins and died on the cross, was buried, and rose again on the third day. His resurrection proved that eternal life is possible for us, too, as Jesus taught in John 11:25: “He who believes in Me will live even if he dies.”

Jesus Christ is the ruler of the kings of the earth.

It is the Lord who raises men to power, just as it is He who removes them (John19:11; Rom. 13:1). Meanwhile, believers have access to a higher authority. In God’s throne room, we can beseech Him on behalf of our nations and lay claim to His promises.

Jesus Christ loves us and released us from our sins by His blood.

Note the change of tense in John’s writing. The Lord’s love is ever-present, but He has freed believers from their past. Both the penalty and power of sin have been broken.

When people ask you about Jesus, introduce Him by guiding them through this mini-biography.

In just a few sentences, John describes Christ’s character, divinity, and authority. The disciple was not timid about proclaiming the Lord.

We shouldn’t be shy, either, when we serve so great a Savior.

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A New Identity…

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1 Corinthians 1:1-9 (KJV)

1 Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother,
2 Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:
3 Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
4 I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ;
5 That in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge;
6 Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you:
7 So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ:
8 Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
9 God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

Many Christians are experiencing an identity crisis.

They know they’re saved, but they don’t really know what to think about themselves.

Let’s take a little test. Do you consider yourself a sinner saved by grace or a saint who occasionally sins? Both statements are true, but the first one dwells on your past identity, whereas the second focuses on the Lord’s perception of you.

If you are a believer, God’s Word says that you are a saint (v. 2).

But too many of us still see ourselves as the same old sinner, who’s been forgiven and patched up and yet is basically unchanged inside. But the Lord says anyone in Christ “is a new creature; the old things passed away” (2 Cor. 5:17). That’s what being born again is all about. We can never go back to the way we were.

The solution to this identity crisis is to change the way we think about ourselves.

If we don’t, we’ll rely on how we feel, and Satan will bombard us with reminders of our failures and sins. He wants to keep us focused on being a sinner, because he knows that the recognition of our sainthood will lead us to live like saints. We’ll be motivated and empowered to obey God, and the Devil will lose his foothold in our lives.

Jesus didn’t come just to save you from hell; He wants to live His life through you.

In Christ, you have a new identity which has replaced your old one.

If you will focus on who you are now, your actions will follow, and you’ll experience the enjoyment of a victorious Christian life.

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In Rough Water…

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Matthew 14:22-34 (KJV)

22 And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitudes away.
23 And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone.
24 But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary.
25 And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea.
26 And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear.
27 But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.
28 And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.
29 And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.
30 But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.
31 And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?
32 And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased.
33 Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God.
34 And when they were gone over, they came into the land of Gennesaret.

We can expect that at some point in life, we will hit turbulence.

Perhaps we’ve already experienced some and can tell there is more to come. Our situation may be so serious that we wonder, How am I going to make it through this?

Consider the time when the disciples found themselves in rough water on the Sea of Galilee.

Scripture tells us that waves were battering their boat and the wind was against them. In the midst of the squall, the disciples thought they saw a ghost approaching. These grown men, some of whom were seasoned fisherman, cried out in fear. Their apprehension didn’t subside until they became aware that it was Jesus walking toward them.

What happened when they recognized that it was the Lord? They received . . .

  • Comfort in their crisis.

Tension subsided as they thought, Ah, Jesus is here. We aren’t helpless and alone anymore.

  • Courage to face their trial.

Peter found the boldness to obey Jesus and step out of the boat.

  • Confidence for their future.

They realized that Jesus’ presence could not be driven away by the severe winds.

What waves and winds are battering you?

Are you afraid? Ask the Lord to reveal His presence in your situation and then to fill your senses with that awareness. Close your eyes and picture Him at your side, holding you tightly. Let your ears hear Him whisper reassurance and love.

Fill your mind with the knowledge of His promises, and draw upon the strength, comfort, and courage He offers.

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Spiritually Alive in Him…

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Ephesians 2:1-10 (KJV)

1 And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;
2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:
3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.
4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,
5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)
6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:
7 That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.
8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.
10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

Anyone who thinks of himself as a pretty good person ought to take a look at God’s assessment of humanity.

He says we all come into the world spiritually dead and are ruled by Satan, his world system, and our own sin nature, or flesh. In the Lord’s eyes, we are children of wrath who deserve only punishment.

On the other hand, God is so pure and holy that He is totally separated from all sin and cannot look upon it with any favor or approval (Hab. 1:13). Everything He does is appropriate and beneficial; by comparison, even mankind’s righteous acts are like filthy rags (Isa. 64:6).

Yet even though we have nothing of value to offer Him, the Lord wants us for His own and has done everything necessary to draw us close.

Those of us who have placed faith in Jesus Christ have been made spiritually alive in Him, and all our sins have been forgiven.

There’s a striking contrast between what we were and who we now are in the Lord.

But this change has nothing to do with how good we’ve been.

Even the faith with which we respond to the Savior comes from God. We can never make ourselves righteous; it’s all a gift from Him. And once He declares us justified, we will never be pronounced guilty again.

God has said that in the ages to come, He wants to show the “surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us” (Eph. 2:7).

For all eternity, we will be showered with this awesome demonstration of His love.

As great as our blessings are now, they’ll pale in comparison to what awaits us in heaven.

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