December 2, 2004
Encouragement for Today
By Rachel Olsen, ETC Editor and P31 Speaker Team Member
"Because of this [Jesus' obedience to the point of death], God raised him up to the heights of heaven and gave him a name that is above every other name" (Philippians 2:9 NLT).
I remember spending hours pouring over lists of baby names. There are so many things to consider when choosing a name for your child: Is it easy to say? Does it go with your last name? What do the initials spell?
In the Bible, a person's name often revealed a basic characteristic about them or their life. Similarly, a person's name could be changed to reflect a change in their self or circumstances. For instance, Abram became Abraham in Genesis 17:5, and Jacob became Israel in Genesis 32:28. With this in mind, I decided to choose names for my children that would speak to traits I hoped they would develop or display in their lives.
The meanings behind the names I liked narrowed our list of possibilities considerably. For instance, one beautiful name I liked for my daughter actually meant "young attendant at a pagan ritual" - I crossed that one off my list of favorites in a hurry! We wound up choosing an Irish name for her that means "bright shining light." We chose a biblical name for our son, meaning "faithful and bold."
In addition to a positive meaning, I wanted names that were just a little uncommon. As I was growing up there wasn't another Rachel in my grade. I don't even think there was another Rachel in my school. I liked that - it strengthened my sense of identity. My brother David, however, often became David B. because there was also a David K. and a David W. I wanted to choose names that set my children apart a little from their peers.
Choosing an unusual name, however, can carry some risks. For instance, people may have trouble pronouncing it, or spelling it correctly. This is often the case with my daughter's name. I'm afraid I doomed her to a life of spelling and repeating her name for people. Being an extrovert (to the point of being a ham), she doesn't seem to mind this so far. She is also not likely to find pencils or barrettes in the store with her name already on them.
The most significant risk we faced in choosing an uncommon name was that it might lend itself to teasing. Children can be so cruel sometimes and I feared an atypical name might be used by bullies to torment my child on the playground. I certainly did not want my children to be ashamed of their own name!
There is another name I do not want my children to be ashamed of: the Name of Jesus. The Bible clearly states, "There is salvation in no one else! There is no other name in all of heaven for people to call on to save them" (Acts 4:12 NLT).
There is tremendous power in the name of Jesus. It has the power to wash our sins away (Acts 2:38). It has the power to heal our wounds (Acts 4:7-10). It has the power to repel evil (Mark 1:25-26, Mark 16:17). It also has the power to usher God's will and blessings into our lives when we pray (John 15:16).
To the ancient Hebrews, the name of God was synonymous with God Himself. They understood His name and His being to be one in the same. God himself described His name simply as "I Am" (Exodus 3:13-14). Therefore, the very name of God is holy (Psalm 99:3; 111:9). As His people, we are to revere His name (2 Thessalonians 1:12), love His name (Psalm 5:11), praise his name (Hebrews 2:12), and place our trust in His name (Matthew 12:21).
As they become older, my children will learn that aligning themselves with the glorious name of Jesus will set them apart from their peers. They may even discover that persecution sometimes ensues for bearing His name. Paul writes in Philippians 1:29 that "it has been given to you on Christ's behalf not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for Him" (CSB). Jesus declared that "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness, because the kingdom of heaven is theirs" (Matthew 5:10).
Father God highly exalted Jesus "and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord..." (Phil. 2:9-11 NRSV). This is my ultimate goal as a parent: to live, love and parent in such as way as to encourage my children to bow in wholehearted agreement that Jesus Christ is their Lord.
My heartfelt prayer is that the names you and I choose for our children are written in Jesus' blood in the Lamb's Book of Life (Philippians 4:3). For it is only through His Name that any of us can become citizens of Heaven.
My prayer for today:
Father God - Thank you for my salvation, and for making the power of your Son's name available to me. I pray that my children will receive salvation in Jesus' name and that their names will be written in the Lamb's Book of Life. I lift up the name of Jesus and ask that you draw my children unto you Lord.
Praise His Holy Name throughout the day today.
Is your name written in the Lamb's Book of Life as a citizen of Heaven?
If so, do you understand how your identity has been changed?
Are you living in accordance with your new identity?
Do your children daily see the light of Jesus in you?
"I am proud of the Good News, because it is the power God uses to save everyone who believes - to save the Jews first, and also to save those who are not Jews." Romans 1:16 (NCV)
"All the prophets say it is true that all who believe in Jesus will be forgiven of their sins through Jesus' name." Acts 10:43 (NCV)
"The people who live now are living in a sinful and evil time. If people are ashamed of me and my teaching, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes with his Father's glory and with the holy angels." Romans 8:38 (NCV) 8:38
"For God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness, but one of power, love, and sound judgment. So don't be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, or of me His prisoner. Instead, share in suffering for the gospel, relying on the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began." 2 Timothy 1:7-9 (HCS)
"Always give thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." Ephesians 5:20 (NCV)
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