Tuesday, July 23, 2013

"His name is ..."

As the world awaits the appearance of the new little Prince in England, and reporters gather to try to be the first to hear his name (all this will probably have happened by the time you read this!), my thoughts during this whole time have been turned towards another baby who was born under very different circumstances.  No one knew his parents.  His father was a carpenter, his mother an unmarried virgin ... until God told Joseph to take her for his wife because the baby who was to be born was the Son of God, conceived by the Holy Spirit.  Then the angel told Joseph that he was to give the child the name, JESUS, because He will save His people from their sins (Matthew 1:21).

His name was ... IS ... JESUS!  Never was there a birth with more significance than this.  Shortly before His crucifixion, Jesus prayed, "Father, the time has come.  Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. ... I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do.  And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began" (John 17:1, 4-5).  Jesus is the eternal Son of God who took upon Himself a human nature in order to be our Savior, the "second Adam," who offered perfect obedience to the Father and then bore His wrath against the sin of all who would believe in Him, that by faith we might receive forgiveness and life through the work of His Spirit within us.

Writing to the Philippians, the Apostle Paul wrote, "Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:  Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.  And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death - even death on a cross!  Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of the Father" (Philippians 2:5-11).

What are people expecting from this little baby born to the royal couple of Great Britain?  I heard a reporter ask someone why people around the world seemed to be paying so much attention to the birth of this baby, and the person responded that he thought people were looking for some positive news, something they could be happy about.  I suspect he is right.  There is enough bad news in the world.  People are weary of bad news and for a moment they can be distracted by something that gives them a break from the suffering and trials of life in this world.  But what can this baby... or his parents ... or any other human being DO to make this world better??

Try as we might, the world's peoples are growing more and more desperate for solutions to the world's growing economic woes, continual wars and terrorism, and the fears of global warming, epidemics of new viruses and other diseases and the like.  The Pope is visiting Brazil and the people mobbed his motorcade hoping for a look at a man who claims to be the leader of the church.  And if they were able to TOUCH him their life would never be the same!  Why?  Because people are desperate for hope, for good news, for something more than they have.  Everyday life is a drudgery for most and it weighs heavily on the soul.  So people live for diversions ... trying to fill their lives with as much "fun" as they can find and yet feeling empty at the end of it all.

My heart is heavy much of the time, but for a different reason ... because there IS hope and there IS good news ... but people don't seem to want to hear it.  "God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).  The gospel of Jesus Christ is the best news anyone could ever hope to hear!  One of the newspapers in Great Britain, "The Sun," changed it's title for one day upon the birth of the new Prince.  The title read, "The Son."  Seriously, people are so blind to the truth that, as Jesus said from the cross, "Father, forgive them, they do not know what they are doing!"

The Psalmist writes in Psalm 2 that God has anointed and installed HIS King, and warns the rulers of the earth to "Kiss the Son, lest He be angry and you be destroyed in your way, for His wrath can flare up in a moment.  Blessed are all who take refuge in HIM!" (Psalm 2:12).  All people lie under the judgment of God and exist "without God and without hope in the world" (Ephesians 2:12).  But God Himself sent HIS Son to be the Savior of all who believe in Him.  "You will call His name, JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins" (Matthew 1:21).

It is God's Son and His name that should inspire hope and joy in people's hearts!  Jesus walked this earth, God in the flesh, and revealed the power of God over the power of evil.  He healed the sick, raised the dead, restored sight to the blind and fed the hungry.  He calmed the storm and walked on the water.  But more than that, He bore the wrath of God against your sin and mine to purchase our salvation ... to redeem us from the desperate life that so many continue to live.  To the believers in his day, Peter wrote, "It was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.  He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake.  Through Him you believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and glorified Him, and so your faith and hope are in God" (I Peter 1:18-21).

God's Word holds this precious truth for all whose hearts and minds are opened by His Spirit.  As I write this, I pray for you as you read it, that the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ will stir your heart to look to JESUS for all you need - for hope, for joy, for peace.  Jesus asked His disciples, "Who do you say I am?"  And Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God" (Matthew 16:15-16).  As the religious leaders plotted against Jesus and the crowds began to leave because of His teaching, Jesus asked the disciples, "Will you leave Me, too?"  And again Peter answered, "Lord, to whom shall we go?  YOU have the words of eternal life.  We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God" (John 6:67-69).

Do YOU know this truth today?  Do not get caught up in the desperate attempts of those around you to find hope in other things.  Thank God for those who know Him who are serving others and who are making a difference in this world.  Thank God that He is wise enough and powerful enough to use even those who DON'T know Him to accomplish His purposes, for the the welfare of others.  Our God is able!!  But know this, only one person who ever walked this earth can give you eternal life.  Only one person who ever walked this earth can remove the barrier of sin that stands between you and God so that you stand righteous in His sight.  Only one person who ever walked this earth can bring peace and hope and joy to the people of the world.  And HIS name is Jesus, the Christ, the Son of the living, true and only God.  HIS name is above every name, and at the name of Jesus every knee will someday bow and every tongue will someday confess that HE is Lord, to the glory of God the Father, from whom every good and perfect gift comes.

I pray for YOU!  I pray that God will encourage you and draw you near to Him today as you confess your sin and your need for a Savior and find in Jesus more than you ever dreamed.  May the peace of God, that transcends all understanding, be yours in abundance this day as you place your hope in God's Son, Jesus Christ!

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