Names Are Powerful

A name is a powerful thing.  From the very beginning, names have meaning. When God created the world God started to name each thing as it is made, as if it’s not complete until it has a name.

Over and over in Scripture, God is said to know the names of God’s people. My absolute favorite scripture passage is Isaiah 43 “But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.” 

Knowing that God loves me and cares for me so much that He knows me by name, and that he has claimed me is amazing!!  

Throughout our lives we have had different names.  Our names change and we see this idea of name changing throughout the Bible.  The name changes in the Bible signify a radical change in or emphasis on a person’s identity. So Jacob becomes Israel, and Saul becomes Paul.  

And today Abram and Sarai become Abraham and Sarah. These are the names by which these two, the mother and father of nations and kings, will be known for all time. These names redefine their identities, give them a calling. 

 As God did for Abraham and Sarah, God names each of us for who we truly are.

God gives to Abram a name that means “ancestor of multitudes.”  And Like the covenant with Noah, God’s covenant with Abraham is an everlasting covenant — for all time, all who are born to Abraham’s name will be God’s own. The “exceedingly numerous” nations that will come from Abraham’s line will belong to God, and God will be theirs. Sarai’s name is changed to Sarah, “princess,” a name indicating perhaps the line of kings that will be descended from her and Abraham. God also names their promised child Isaac, “laughter,” for the laughter that erupts from both Abraham and Sarah at the news that they will have a child in their old age.

Also like the covenant with Noah, God’s covenant with Abraham is an unconditional covenant. There is nothing that Abraham has to do in order to fulfill this covenant.  It is a promise from God to Abraham and Sarah down to us.  

Not only is the covenant passed down, but the model of faith is passed down as well.

Faith is defined for Abraham by his relationship to the promise God makes.  

Faith is believing in God's ability to keep a promise! Click To Tweet

God promises Abraham that he and Sarah will have a child — and that promise came true.  There was no logical reason that they should of believed God.  They tried for years to have a child and were unsuccessful.  Now here they are – in their old age promised a child by God.  And they did…..

Paul expands on this concept in Romans chapter 4.  “….   {Abraham} grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, being fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.”

Faith for Abraham was living in light of God’s promises. No matter what the outward circumstances were, Abraham trusted the larger picture God had given in the promise of nations yet to come.

A few years ago as I was teaching a first communion class we were talking about how if felt to be a part of a faith community.  The kids all said it was great.  They loved how they could be themselves in the faith community and how much support they got from the other people in the church. 

Then I asked, what are the questions you have about faith.

One of them asked.  “How do we know when God is talking to us? Is it like a voice in our head?”  

I thought for a minute —  How do we know that God is talking to us?  How do we know that God is there listening when we pray?  How do we know that God is going to keep His promises — the ones that he made to us on the cross — promises of eternal life.  Promises that he is going to keep our loved ones safe from harm, promises that he is going to cure our loved ones cancer?  

All of these promises from God.  How do we know…….?

If you want a concrete answer — I can’t give you one.  The truth is that we don’t know.  All we have is the promise of God……the promise of salvation, the promise of eternal life, the promise that when we worship.  We worship a God of promise and we have seen that promise carry throughout the Bible, throughout thousands of years to us.  

Our church might not look like it did hundreds of years ago.

Our church is not built on the foundation of this world but on the foundation of Christ. Click To Tweet

As Christians we are marked, as God’s own, in our baptism.  This is where the promise starts……Baptism is a physical sign, of our true identities our true names. Our names are stated at our baptism, and are written in the book of eternity. 

God knows who we really are, and frees and calls us to live into the name that God has given us. To know our true name is, as it was for Abraham and Sarah, to turn, to reorient ourselves according to that name, and to live it. Just as God’s naming of Abraham and Sarah was also a calling, a fulfillment of a promise.  That is also given to us.  A promise of grace, love, and forgiveness of our sins.  A promise given in the form of a covenant in the form of a rainbow and now a child.  Nothing that we have to do for that covenant….that’s all from God. 

Want to be inspired to live a better life? Here are six Bible verses that will help.

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