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Monday, August 17, 2015

What's In a Name?

I can’t really remember the first time I started taking notice of how people in the movies or on TV pray.  But I do know that for some reason, it has always bothered me that they hardly EVER end their prayers be it before a meal, at the bed of a sick or dying loved one, or in a time of great distress, by making their request “in the name of Jesus.”  In fact, I would be hard-pressed to think of just about any secular movie that even mentions the name of Jesus except as part of a vulgar expression.
I was stunned and happily surprised last December when the Catholic church ran a Christmas themed commercial on regional TV out here that talked about Jesus as being the real reason for our celebration of the Holidays!  It would seem that society would not only like to marginalize the name of Jesus (and Christianity in general), but also remove it from our everyday vocabulary.
I may not agree with all the tenets of my Catholic upbringing, but one of the things that I learned and hold dear to my heart is a genuine and holy respect for the precious name of Jesus.  I have many memories from my Parochial school days of the nuns teaching us to respect and honor the name.  I may not have learned a lot about Him and all that His name constitutes, but I definitely witnessed and developed a strong reverence for the name.  I clearly recall taking great notice of the various nuns and priests around the two different parishes we belonged to, as they crossed themselves, bowed their heads and at times genuflected whenever the name of Jesus was audible spoken.
Those actions and their reflections on the holiness of His name caused me to develop an almost mystic (and slightly confused) reverence and limited understanding of the Son of God.  That is probably why I was so interested and even a bit enchanted by my high school sweetheart’s reverent but yet seemingly strong, best-buddy relationship she enjoyed with the mysterious God/man!  I WANTED what she had, because it was real, it was a major influence in her life and there was a certain miraculous POWER attached to it.
Through the decades since then, I have grown tremendously in my understanding, personal relationship and communion and fellowship with Jesus.  But over the last few years I have gained a much greater understanding of the authority, legal stance and expectancy of His power working in, for and through me when I actively believe in the name of Jesus in response to the wiles of the enemy of our souls.
Over the last few months in particular, I have been reading everything I can get my hands on that discuss this subject.  It would seem that this is one aspect of our faith that the church has largely ignored through the centuries, although I believe that we are seeing a resurgence of what I am beginning to realize was a common core and/or practice of the early church following Jesus’ assumption into the heavenlies.
My attention was peaked over the weekend as I read Colossians 3:17.  Here we find the Apostle Paul telling his readers that “Everything you do or say should be done in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (God’s Word ©)  As with the majority of the commentaries I looked at, I have always understood this verse as telling me to always do and say everything to the praise and glory of the Christ.
But as I read it on Saturday, I suddenly realized that this verse is really instructing us speak and act with definite purpose and expectation in the power and legal authority that has been given to us who believe (See: Matthew 1:21, 28:18-19, Mark 16:17, Acts 4:10, 30, Eph 1:21, Phil 2:9; etc)  With that I saw that the Apostles, disciples and members of the early church understood this principle and lived their daily lives accordingly.  I thought of Peter and James speaking out the Name to deliver the lame man at the gate to the temple.  Paul delivering the young girl from the demons that held her captive to fortune telling and the 70 disciples as they returned amazed that “even the devils are subject to us through thy name. (Luke 10:17 KJV)
Can you imagine what it would be like if the church really got a hold of this truth?  Can you but imagine how different the world would look?  Can you visualize how different YOUR life would be?  Well, if you’re anything like me… I’m sure that your heart is stirring with wonderment, excitement and expectation of what mountains we can see move before us today, as we walk, do and say all in His name!  Have a great week ahead.  Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “In What or Who’s NAME am I expecting to do everything today?”

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