From Praying the Names of Jesus Week Eighteen, Day Four
Just as Yahweh is God's personal name revealed in the Old Testament, Jesus is the personal name of the One we call Redeemer, Lord, and Christ. His name is intimately linked to the God of the Hebrew Scriptures because it means "Yahweh is salvation." Indeed, Jesus is Yahweh come to earth. If you have ever pictured God as a distant, wrathful Being, you will have to reconsider that portrait in light of Jesus Christ, who is God bending toward us, God becoming one of us, God reaching out in mercy, God humbling himself, God nailed to a cross, God rising up from the grave to show us the way home. Jesus, name above all names, beautiful Savior, glorious Lord!
Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins. Matthew 1:20-21
Praying the Name
[The angel said to the shepherds,] "Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest heaven,, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests." Luke 2:11-14
With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith. We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12
Praise God: For the greatness of his glory.
Offer Thanks: Because God has created you to be his image bearer.
Confess: Any tendency to be more concerned for your glory than for God's.
Ask God: To fulfill his primary purpose for your life.
My daughters love things that sparkle — stars that glow in the dark, rainbow stickers, pink glittery wands. Through the years I have had to fend off many a request for gaudy red shoes "just like the ones Dorothy wore in Oz." I trace these attractions not so much to feminine stereotypes as to a basic human yearning. Boys display their own form of this yearning when they wear superhero capes and brandish plastic swords. But what is this yearning? It's a longing for something beautiful and shining and powerful, for something beyond ourselves that we can make a part of ourselves. It's a yearning for glory.
But what does this yearning have to do with Jesus as Savior? To begin with, it is important to realize that Jesus' saving work has both negative and positive dimensions. First, we are saved from something — Jesus rescues us from God's wrath directed at our sins. Second, we are saved for something — Jesus saves us so that we can fulfill the primary purpose for which God made us. Think for a moment of a time when you sat by the edge of the ocean or by a lake, transfixed by the beauty of the waves as sunlight danced across them. That's a picture of how we are meant to reflect God's glory to the world. We are to shine with his presence, power, and love.
Scripture is full of this notion. The book of Daniel tells of a time when those who belong to God "will shine like the brightness of the heavens . . . like the stars for ever and ever" (Daniel 12:3). St. Paul assures the Roman Christians:
"I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us" (Romans 8:18). Additional passages speak of "the Lord of glory," "Christ in you, the hope of glory," and "the crown of glory that will never fade away."
This craving for glory seems to be imbedded in our spiritual DNA. It is something God has hardwired into our souls. But sin has so distorted the human genome that our search for glory is often misguided. We look for it in flimsy, temporal things, such as success, money, relationships, personal charm, and beauty — none of which can ultimately satisfy. No matter how many sparkling red shoes we own or how many superhero capes we don, we find they are never enough. Carol Cymbala, director of the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir, gives us a glimpse of what it means to seek true glory. The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir doesn't perform. We haven't provided backup to musical superstars or sung at national political conventions, even though we've been asked to more than once. Our call, our greatest joy, is to worship God, and to lead other Christians to experience him in worship. We also want to sing the message of the gospel to those who don't know Christ. So week after week, we open our hearts to him eagerly waiting, painfully aware that if God doesn't come to meet us, we will never accomplish our purpose.
We are not naïve about the dangers that come with apparent success, because we know that self-aggrandizement displeases God. And God won't bless us if we're out to please ourselves. I tell the choir, "God has allowed us to win four Grammys. But there are better choirs out there. The only reason he's blessed us is so he can use us to reach more people.
So just remember who you are, and I'll remember who I am. Apart from God we're nothing." Carol means what she says. She understands that worldly glory is like tinsel compared to God's glory. Today as you worship Yeshua, the Lord of glory, give in to your appetite for glory by praying the refrain from Graham Kendrick's well-known song:
Shine, Jesus, shine!
Fill this land with the Father's glory.
Blaze, Spirit, blaze!
Set our hearts on fire.
Flow, river, flow!
Flood the nations with grace and mercy.
Send forth your word,
Lord, and let there be light.
Two of Ann Spangler's most-loved books have been released in paperback: Praying the Names of God and Praying the Names of Jesus.
These books help us understand the biblical context in which these names and titles were revealed, and help us gain a more intimate knowledge of the Father and of the Son.