Names of Jesus Week Eleven, Day Four

The Name
Though God has always revealed himself in some way, the incarnation is the clearest, most compelling revelation of who God is — of his holiness, love, and power. Because Jesus is one with the Father, he is uniquely able to communicate God's heart and mind. As Logos, or "the Word," everything about Jesus — his teaching, miracles, suffering, death, and resurrection — speaks to us of God. Our destiny depends on how well we listen. Will we believe, or will we turn a deaf ear to the message of God's love? When you pray to Jesus as the Word, you are praying to the One whose voice calls us from death to life and from darkness to light.

Key Scripture
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truthJohn 1:14

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Thursday
Praying the Name

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14

And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe. 1 Thessalonians 2:13

Reflect On: John 1:14 and 1 Thessalonians 2:13.

Praise God: For his living, active Word.

Offer Thanks: For the freedom to read and study the Bible.

Confess: Any negligence of God's Word.

Ask God: To make you hungry for his Word.

I remember my first Bible. I loved running my fingers across the grain of its rich, red leather binding, elegantly stamped in gold, with lavish end papers featuring a Renaissance portrait of Jesus. Inside the words of Christ were printed in the requisite red ink on thin, gilded pages. Though I prized it as the most beautiful book I had ever seen, I don't remember reading it — not ever. It seemed too massive, too otherworldly, and much too difficult. It never occurred to me that God could speak to me through this ancient, holy book.

Years later I began to read it, hungry for a sense of God's presence in my life. Since then I have read through the Bible several times. To be honest, I haven't found it easy or always pleasant. Often I have had to force myself through the long genealogies and the endless records of wars and disasters. But imperfect as my efforts have been, I have been richly rewarded. The more I read, the more I see. Connections get made. Lights go on. God speaks. Often, when I am facing some difficult or puzzling situation, God reminds me of a Scripture passage I have read. And it makes all the difference — like when I adopted my first child.

I remember sitting in a hotel room in China, holding my daughter on my lap as I explored every inch of her nine-month-old body. That's when I felt the lump. It was small and hard and lodged in the back of her neck. What was this? A tumor? I wanted to rush her home to our pediatrician for a battery of tests, but we couldn't leave China until the adoption was complete. And that would take ten more days. So I prayed, asking God to heal my baby and deal with my anxiety.

Instantly, I recalled words Jesus had spoken to his disciples: "Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!" (Matthew 7:9 - 11).

I felt reassured, as though God were telling me that my daughter was going to be all right. He had not given me a stone — a burden of grief I could not carry — but a child, who would live and grow. When our pediatrician finally did examine her, he merely diagnosed a swollen lymph node, a common enough occurrence in young children fighting an infection. Since then, through all the ups and downs that inevitably accompany parenthood, I have held on to this Scripture, sometimes as though for dear life.

Then came my second child. It wasn't immediately apparent that something was wrong. But my little girl didn't take her first step until she was two. And she barely spoke at three. Then the diagnosis: mild cerebral palsy and a severe speech disorder. Her progress was painstaking and slow, especially when it came to speech. In the midst of a season of discouragement, God spoke to me through the words of the apostle Paul: "And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not" (Galatians 6:9 KJV). I love that part about not fainting because it captured how I felt, as though I might faint, as though I wasn't up to the task, as though I couldn't be the mother she needed me to be. Now I hold on to this Scripture, letting it motivate me while believing that a harvest of good things will someday come from the efforts I am making now to help my daughter as she struggles to overcome her disability. Whenever I start to feel discouraged, I aim that passage like a laser gun straight at my fears.

These kinds of experiences have convinced me of the importance of reading Scripture whether I feel like it or not. Opening myself to God's Word is a way of investing myself in the conversation God wants to have with me. It is a way of clearing the channel for communication, of giving him room to speak while I listen.

I believe that God wants to speak to every one of his children through the words of Scripture. If you have been letting your Bible languish on the shelf, maybe it's time to start reading it on a regular basis. If you don't own a Bible, consider buying a modern translation with study notes that will help you understand the text. And as you read, pray. Ask Jesus, the Word made flesh, to communicate his heart and mind to you. He is eager to speak. Be eager to listen. Decide to base your life on his Word. Lean all your weight on it. It will hold you, nourish you, challenge you, and change you. If you let it, God's Word will become flesh in you. 

For more from Ann Spangler, visit her blogspot on Christianity.com. Be sure to check out Ann's newest book, Praying the Attributes of God: A Daily Guide to Experiencing His Greatness.