Monday, September 26, 2011

What's in a Name?

One of my favorite songs lately has been Natalie Grant's "Your Great Name." It speaks to the power of the name of Jesus Christ. But what power does His name hold?

We are first introduced to the name of Jesus in Matthew 1:21, with an angel telling Joseph to name the baby Mary is carrying Jesus "because He will save the people from their sins." Jesus means "the LORD saves."

From that moment forward, He is then known as a teacher, a healer, a friend, one who calms the storm, one who casts out demons, raises the dead, feeds 5000 hungry people with five loaves of bread and two fish, one who offers rest, God's chosen Servant, the Son of God, the Son of Man, The Lamb of God. He is known as Immanuel (which means "God with us"), Counselor, the Prince of Peace, Almighty, powerful, Holy One, Lord of Lords, King of Kings, the Lion of Judah - just to name a few.

So much power behind a name, yet some take the name in vain, giving no second thought as to what it means. Some in society even use it more as a "curse" word, when something goes wrong. I wonder, if they realized the power behind the name, would they still use it in vain? I mean, even the demons flee and shudder at the sound of Jesus' name. Jesus was with God in the beginning. He humbled Himself and then died for our sins. On the third day, he was resurrected and now sits at the right hand of God, preparing a place for us.

When I sit and meditate upon the names and descriptions of Jesus, I get goosebumps. His name means so much more than I can ever comprehend in this lifetime. Of course, I do have one name for Jesus that I  do comprehend - Savior. That is one I cherish and am most grateful for.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Is it Faith or Religion?

Isaiah 29:13 - "The Lord says: These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men." (NIV)

Confession time: I've found bits of this verse springing forth in my mind during praise and worship at church because I've been lacking focus. Here's an example of my thought process: "Oh, I like this song! I like the original version better. Hmm, the drums are awfully loud. How many times are we going to repeat the chorus? " Nothing in there about how wonderful God is or how beautiful, holy, forgiving and merciful He is. What's worse, I'll catch myself wandering and try to focus, only to be distracted by my intent to focus. That's when I give up and pray for mercy.

Though my example does not indicate the authenticity of my relationship with the Lord, I do believe this verse addresses a lack of authentic faith - where one claims to be a Christian because s/he shows up and sings the songs and follows the rules, but does not have a meaningful, personal relationship with the Lord.

The Lord desires more than lip service and rule-following from us. He desires a true, authentic relationship with us. If He didn't want that relationship, then He wouldn't have sent His Son to die for our sins. Though only the Lord knows a person's heart, we can at least have insight into our own hearts. Am I following the Lord because my parents did or because I "grew up" in the faith? Or do I follow the Lord because I desire to follow His ways and long for a relationship with Him? When I sing the praise and worship songs in church, am I wanting to bring praise or am I just going with the flow of the service (apparently I'm struggling with this one lately, though I am aware of it now)?

Do I want to follow rules for the sake of following traditon or do I follow the Lord and His ways in service to Him? My prayer is that my walk with the Lord is an authentic faith, not a religion built on man's traditions and lovely, shallow words.

What are your thoughts?