What’s in a good name?

Growing with God: A daily devotion with Tonia Slimm.

Luke 1:31 (NIV)
You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus.

Luke 1:31 (MSG)
You will become pregnant and give birth to a son and call his name Jesus.
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“Listen carefully: you will conceive in your womb and give birth to a son, and you shall name Him Jesus.” -AMPLIFIED

You may wonder the importance of a name; does it really make a difference? The angel had told Mary that she would be with child, give birth and she was to name this son, Jesus. Jesus? Why Jesus?

The name “Jesus” is the English form of “Yeshua”, which is Hebrew and it a variant of the name “Joshua”. The literal meaning of Joshua is “Jehovah is salvation”, but can also be translated as: Jehovah is generous, Savior or Deliverer.

Yeshua ben Yoseph, better known as Jesus the son of Joseph, is the very center of God’s answer to mankind’s problem; that would namely be sin. Jesus Christ would be our Savior and our Deliverer. It was through Jesus that God’s generosity and salvation would unfold and be revealed to all of mankind.

Joseph, Jesus’ earthly father, was also instructed on the name of this child. “While he was trying to figure a way out, he had a dream. God’s angel spoke in the dream: “Joseph, son of David, don’t hesitate to get married. Mary’s pregnancy is Spirit-conceived. God’s Holy Spirit has made her pregnant. She will bring a son to birth, and when she does, you, Joseph, will name him Jesus—‘God saves’—because he will save his people from their sins.” This would bring the prophet’s embryonic sermon to full term: “Watch for this—a virgin will get pregnant and bear a son; They will name him Immanuel (Hebrew for “God is with us”). Then Joseph woke up. He did exactly what God’s angel commanded in the dream: He married Mary. But he did not consummate the marriage until she had the baby. He named the baby Jesus.” -Matthew 1:20-25 (MSG)

What is the importance of a good name? Solomon tells us in Proverbs; “A good name [earned by honorable behavior, godly wisdom, moral courage, and personal integrity] is more desirable than great riches; and favor is better than silver and gold.” -Proverbs 22:1 (AMP)

He also tells us in Ecclesiastes 7:1- “A good name is better than precious perfume.” Precious perfume was something that was quite expensive and highly treasured in those times. So too would a good name be. It should leave a pleasant fragrance or feeling in the air when someone speaks it .

Sadly, many of us do not live up to the meaning of our name, but Jesus certainly did. He is our Savior. He is our Deliverer. He was Immanuel; God with us. He was the epitome of every one of the names assigned to Him; He personified them all. He was the Christ, the anointed one. He was the Messiah, the deliverer of the Jews. He is everything that we need Him to be in our lives.

God left nothing to chance when His Son came to Earth; even the child’s name held great weight and meaning. This child was the Son of the Most High; He would change the course of History for all time. He was to have a name that held great meaning; a name that others could understand and look to for strength. His name was Jesus; for He would save His people from their sins!

My Prayer:
Jesus, my Savior, my Deliverer, Emmanuel; you are my all in all. You have lived up to every one of your names in my life. You are indeed, “God with us”; dwelling with each of your children personally. I can look to you and see the example that you gave and I try to be just like you. Help me to have a good name, just as you had a good name. I want to have a name that was earned by honorable behavior, godly wisdom, moral courage, and personal integrity; just as Solomon taught. Allow your Holy Spirit to work in my life to make me more like you Jesus.

Teach me your ways, Lord.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=obi5ZGujiuU

Growing with God: A daily devotional with Tonia Slimm.

Psalm 86:11-12 (NIV)
Teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever.

Psalm 86:11-12 (MSG)
Train me, God, to walk straight; then I’ll follow your true path. Put me together, one heart and mind; then, undivided, I’ll worship in joyful fear. From the bottom of my heart I thank you, dear Lord; I’ve never kept secret what you’re up to.
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“Teach me Your way, O Lord, I will walk and live in Your truth;
Direct my heart to fear Your name [with awe-inspired reverence and submissive wonder]. I will give thanks and praise You, O Lord my God, with all my heart; and will glorify Your name forevermore.” -AMPLIFIED

Psalm 86 is another prayer of David. He implores God to; “Incline Your ear, O Lord, and answer me, for I am distressed and needy [I long for Your help]. Protect my life (soul), for I am godly and faithful; O You my God, save Your servant, who trusts in You [believing in You and relying on You, confidently committing everything to You]. Be gracious and merciful to me, O Lord, for to You I cry out all the day long.” Psalm 86:1-3 (AMP)

David, in turn, pleads with God to “Teach me your way”; God, instruct me, show me Your way, direct me in how it is done. God, demonstrate your way, so that I can follow your way with an undivided, submissive, way. My wish is to honor you in all I do.

Charles Spurgeon shares these thoughts on Psalm 86:11. “Teach me thy way, O LORD. Instruct me thus at all times, let me live in thy school; but teach me now especially since I am in trouble and perplexity. Be pleased to shew me the way which thy wisdom and mercy have prepared for my escape; behold I lay aside all willfulness, and only desire to be informed as to thy holy and gracious mind. Not my ways give me, but thy way teach me, I would follow thee and not be willful. I will walk in thy truth. When taught I will practice what I know, truth shall not be a mere doctrine or sentiment to me, but a matter of daily life.” (Treasury of David)

David’s heart’s desire was to learn God’s way; His mercy, love, and grace. Why? So that he, David, could worship, praise and glorify God with all that was within him and also for this fact, “For great is your love toward me; you have delivered me from the depths, from the realm of the dead.” (vs. 13) It is God who has saved us and not we ourselves.

Teach me your ways, Oh Lord. Instruct me in your ways of grace. Tutor me in your boundless love. Develop within me an understanding, non-judgmental attitude towards others. Allow your Holy Spirit to train me to honor you in all things. “Show me your ways, LORD, teach me your paths.” -Psalm 25:4 (NIV)

From time to time it is important to do a heart check and see where we are in our walk with God. Do we continue to have a pliable spirit? Are we open to His instruction and teaching? Are we growing and bearing fruit? Are we becoming more and more like Jesus? If not it is time to ask God’s forgiveness and invite Him once again to teach us His way. If we do see progress in our spiritual life it is still of great importance to strive to honor God in every area of our lives. Our attitude should always be, “This is my desire, Lord, to honor you.”

My Prayer:

Lord, it is my desire to honor you in all I say and do. I ask that you would teach me to be more like Jesus. Teach me your way and help me to walk in it. Tutor me in your love and compassion. Let your grace be in me as I encounter others. In this Lord, also allow me to have a good attitude and a heart of praise. My wish is always to bring glory, honor and praise to your Name. Here I am Lord, use me for your glory.

Focus on these things!

Growing with God: A daily devotional by Tonia Slimm.

Philippians 4:8-9 (NIV)
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

Philippians 4:8-9 (MSG)
Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.
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“Finally, believers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable and worthy of respect, whatever is right and confirmed by God’s word, whatever is pure and wholesome, whatever is lovely and brings peace, whatever is admirable and of good repute; if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think continually on these things [center your mind on them, and implant them in your heart]. The things which you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things [in daily life], and the God [who is the source] of peace and well-being will be with you.” -AMPLIFIED

In our text we find Paul giving his final exhortations to the Philippians. He has encouraged them to rejoice in the Lord always; no matter what the situation. He has urged them to let their gentleness be apparent to everyone; for God is near to them. He has directed them to stop worrying over things, but instead give those anxieties to the Lord.

Paul quickly transitions into what our focus should be on; ” And now, brothers, as I close this letter, let me say this one more thing: Fix your thoughts on what is true and good and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely, and dwell on the fine, good things in others. Think about all you can praise God for and be glad about. Keep putting into practice all you learned from me and saw me doing, and the God of peace will be with you.” (The Living Bible)

Accentuate the positive, (There was a song out there a while back that sang those same words.) focus on the positive, not the negative. Paul says, Let your mind dwell on the good things; center your mind on them, and implant them in your heart. Fill your mind with good things and meditate on those things. Focus on things that are “true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.”

F. B. Meyer calls these instructions given by Paul to be “the six sisters”. He says we should, “Let these six sisters stand at the gateway of your soul, and challenge every thought.”
The six sisters are:
1.) Think on the True.
2.) On the Honorable.
3.) On the Just.
4.) On the Pure.
5.) Whatsoever things are lovely.
6.) And on the Things of Good Report.

F. B. Meyer goes on to petition us, “Let these six sisters stand at the gateway of your soul, and challenge every thought as it offers itself, admitting only those thoughts which approve themselves as true, just, pure, lovely, and of good report. O God, let these six angels come into our souls, and from now until we meet Thee, let us give the entire control of our nature up to their serene, strong, wholesome restraint, that all that is inconsistent with them may be abashed, and everything which is consistent with them admitted to infill and dwell within us.” – F. B. Meyer (The Epistle to the Philippians – A Devotional Commentary)

My Prayer:
Lord, help me to keep my mind focused on the good and not the bad or the ugly. I want to have the heart and mentality of Jesus. Help me to not be judgmental, but loving, kind, compassionate and understanding in my relationships with others. Work in my heart I pray, make me more like you every day. Help my focus to be on the godly righteous things; things that are true, noble, reputable, pure, lovely and praiseworthy. Work in my life I pray.

Let our prayer be, to be more like Jesus!

Growing with God

Micah 6:8 (NIV)

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

Micah 6:8 (MSG)

But he’s already made it plain how to live, what to do, what God is looking for in men and women. It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor, be compassionate and loyal in your love, And don’t take yourself too seriously—take God seriously.

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“He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you Except to be just, and to love [and to diligently practice] kindness (compassion), And to walk humbly with your God [setting aside any overblown sense of importance or self-righteousness]?” -AMPLIFIED

What does God expect from His people? What does He require?  Micah 6:8 paints us a very clear picture, “You mortals, the Lord has told you what is good. This is what the Lord requires from you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to live humbly with your God.” (GW)

The people of Israel had been living their lives going through the motions, but God could see that their hearts were not in it. In fact, verses 6-7 of this chapter give us an idea of what their attitude was like; “How can I stand up before God and show proper respect to the high God? Should I bring an armload of offerings topped off with yearling calves? Would God be impressed with thousands of rams, with buckets and barrels of olive oil? Would he be moved if I sacrificed my firstborn child, my precious baby, to cancel my sin?” (MSG)

Dr. Henry Morris, the theologian, reminds us of this fact; “The Levitical sacrifices had been established by God. They were vitally important when offered in faith, acknowledging personal sin and trusting God’s provision of forgiveness on the basis of the shed blood of the innocent substitutes. They were of no avail, of course, if offered simply as a ritual or for other unworthy motives.” Are we not at times guilty of the same thing in the NT, going through an external ritual without any authentic change of heart? I fear that at times I even confess my sins in such a way as to just be going through the motions, using 1 John 1:9 almost as a “spiritual band-aid!”

Let us remember the lesson that Samuel tried to teach Saul, “Obedience is better than sacrifice”. And since God looks at the heart He knows exactly what our intentions are; there are no secrets with God. God desires all of you, not all of your things. He is not trying to keep track of how many sacrifices you make for Him, or how hard you work for Him. He is looking for you to desire to do things that are right and pleasing to Him. He is looking for you to be loving, compassionate and to show mercy to those around you; just as He has shown it to you. He is looking for you to take your relationship with Him seriously. He is asking you to put “self” aside and to walk humbly and prudently before Him.

Spurgeon reminds us, “It was a spiritual worship that the Lord required; not externals, not outward gifts, but the heart. If thou wilt bring an offering, bring thyself; there is no other gift that the Lord so much desires.”

Act justly! –Act with fairness and honesty. Walk the walk; do not just talk the talk. “Be kind and helpful to one another, tender-hearted [compassionate, understanding], forgiving one another [readily and freely], just as God in Christ also forgave you.” -Ephesians 4:32 (AMP)

Love Kindness! — Let love be the drive behind everything that you do. “Let everything you do be done in love [motivated and inspired by God’s love for us].” -1 Corinthians 16:14 (AMP)

Walk Humbly! — Remember, we are to have the same attitude as Christ did. “In other words, adopt the mind-set of Jesus the Anointed. Live with His attitude in your hearts. Remember: Though He was in the form of God, He chose not to cling to equality with God; But He poured Himself out to fill a vessel brand new; a servant in form and a man indeed. The very likeness of humanity, He humbled Himself, obedient to death—a merciless death on the cross!” Philippians 2:5-8 (Voice)

“The true proof of godliness is not expensive rites, but hearty obedience; not a loud profession, but holy living; not large subscriptions, but a yielding up of the heart. Have we this vital godliness? Has the Holy Spirit wrought in us a change of heart?” -Charles Spurgeon

My Prayer:

Lord, may I indeed walk justly, love mercy and walk humbly before you. Let my attitude be growing more and more to be like Jesus’. Help me to walk in obedience to you and not fall into the trap of going through the motions. I want to be “real” with you at all times. God, I definitely want to be serious with our relationship. Help me to be just, loving and humble in your sight, Oh Lord, my God.

Will we have the heart of a servant as Christ has called us to do?

Matthew 23:11-12 (NIV)
The greatest among you will be your servant. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

Matthew 23:11-12 (MSG)
“Do you want to stand out? Then step down. Be a servant. If you puff yourself up, you’ll get the wind knocked out of you. But if you’re content to simply be yourself, your life will count for plenty.
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“But the greatest among you will be your servant. Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be raised to honor.” -AMPLIFIED

Jesus very pointed spoke these words to His followers after sharply warning them of the dangers of hypocrisy. Jesus cautioned His listeners that others may do things to draw attention to themselves and to earn praise, but they were not to do that.

Jesus told His followers, “The religion scholars and Pharisees are competent teachers in God’s Law. You won’t go wrong in following their teachings on Moses. But be careful about following them. They talk a good line, but they don’t live it. They don’t take it into their hearts and live it out in their behavior. It’s all spit-and-polish veneer.” -Matthew 23:2-3 (MSG)

Do not be like them; was Jesus’ message. Do not try to be something that you are not. Do not knowingly draw attention to yourself; for those who exalt themselves will be humbled. He who humbles himself though will be honored.

Jesus’ words were an oxymoron to His listeners, “In order to be great; be a servant?” Yet, Jesus knew what He was speaking of and He demonstrated it time and time again in His own life. Case in point; John 13:1-17 we find Jesus humbly washing the feet of His disciples; a servant’s job. Yet, here was the Son of God down on His hands and knees quietly demonstrating what He expected of His followers.

Servant-hood to many people seems to be a place where a person must demean or lower their dignity, status or standing among others. They assume that others will look down on them, but in all actuality being a servant demonstrates God’s love in and through us to others. Servant-hood is an attitude which exemplifies Christ.

The Bible has a whole lot to say about humility and servant-hood; especially because the central theme of the whole book is about the “Servant of all”. Jesus, our prime example, spoke these words, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” -Mark 10:42-45 (NIV)

“Rank is given you to enable you to better serve those above and below you. It is not given for you to practice your idiosyncrasies.” -General Bruce C. Clarke, USA

My Prayer:
Lord, help me to exemplify you when I am interacting with others. I desire to have the heart of a servant. You were God, yet you did not think it was beyond your station to come to Earth and live as a man; even humbling yourself to serve those whom you came to save from the very sin that we had put ourselves in. Help me to have your heart Lord. Help me to not think of myself more highly than I ought.

Let us have the mind of Christ!

1 Corinthians 2:16 (NIV)
…for, “Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

1 Corinthians 2:16 (MSG)
Isaiah’s question, “Is there anyone around who knows God’s Spirit, anyone who knows what he is doing?” has been answered: Christ knows, and we have Christ’s Spirit.
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“For who has known the mind and purposes of the Lord, so as to instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ [to be guided by His thoughts and purposes].” -AMPLIFIED

It was Isaiah who first wrote these wondering words, “Who can fathom the Spirit of the Lord, or instruct the Lord as his counselor? Whom did the Lord consult to enlighten him, and who taught him the right way? Who was it that taught him knowledge, or showed him the path of understanding? Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket; they are regarded as dust on the scales; he weighs the islands as though they were fine dust.” -Isaiah 40:13-15 (NIV)

As a child learning catechism in a Christian school one of the first lessons we learned was in answer to the question, “Who made God?” The answer was, “No one; for God has always been.” This is instrumental in understanding the fact that God is the ultimate Authority in all things. Who has instructed God? Who has taught Him knowledge or shown Him the path of understanding? No one, for His is the One who knows all and understands all; He is our Ultimate Authority!

The apostle Paul tells the Corinthians that they should have the mind of Christ. How in the world is that possible? Paul tells us earlier in the passage that we can have the mind of Christ through the direction and instruction of the Spirit. ” However, as it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived”— the things God has prepared for those who love him—these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.” -1 Corinthians 2:9-10 (NIV)

Having the mind of Christ means being in tune with the Holy Spirit and being willing to be a part of God’s plan and purpose. It means that we concede that God is in charge and we follow His leading. It means that we understand His plan in this world and are willing to participate in it. It means that we think of ourselves in the same way that Christ thought of Himself. “Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.” -Philippians 2:5-8 (MSG)

“Having the mind of Christ is having your spiritual antenna pointed in the direction of the Holy Spirit’s signal. When you are properly attuned, you will understand more things and make more sense out of life than you ever thought possible.” -Tony Evans

To have the mind of Christ is a process of learning and maturing. It is learning to listen to that still, small voice within speaking to you and waiting on Him to give direction. Paul shared these thoughts with the Romans; “So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.” -Romans 12:1-2 (MSG)

We cannot instruct God in what we want Him to do, but we surely can be in tune with what He is doing and be part of it. We are to seek to have the mind of Christ; let us strive to mature in this area of our lives. To be like Jesus should be our goal.

My Prayer:
All-Knowing God, there is no one like you. You, who know and understand everything, are the Ultimate Authority. You are the Mighty God; yet in your great love and goodness you have given your Holy Spirit to guide your children. You have allowed us the privilege of serving You and given us your Spirit to lead and guide us. Help us to mature into the children you desire us to be. Help us to have the mind of Christ; so we can serve you as we should. Lord God, we love and adore you!