Jesus the Game Changer
She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. Matthew 1:21
“Gip” Hardin, a Methodist preacher, named his son after the famous preacher John Wesley, reflecting Gip’s hopes and aspirations for his baby boy. John Wesley Hardin, however, tragically chose a different path than his ministry-minded namesake. Claiming to have killed forty-two men, Hardin became one of the most notorious gunfighters and outlaws of the American West of the late 1800s.
In the Bible, as in many cultures today, names hold special significance. Announcing the birth of God’s Son, an angel instructed Joseph to name Mary’s child “Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). The meaning of Jesus’s name—“Jehovah saves”—confirmed His mission to save from sin.
Unlike Hardin, Jesus completely and thoroughly lived up to His name. Through His death and resurrection, He accomplished His mission of rescue. John affirmed the life-giving power of Jesus’s name, saying, “But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:31). The book of Acts invites everyone to trust Him, for, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
All who call on Jesus’s matchless name in faith can experience for themselves the forgiveness and hope He provides. Have you called on His name?
Thank You, Father, for providing salvation through Your Son, Jesus. I love You.
Jesus’s name is also His mission—to seek and to save that which was lost.
In the Bible, people’s names often end up calling attention to their failures. For example, at birth Samson’s parents gave him a name that meant “like the sun.” By the time he died, his name reminds us of one who lived a dark and troubled life.
The names of God remind us of one whose character never fails. He is named, described, and remembered not only as the self-existent one (Exodus 3:14), but as the all-powerful Creator (Genesis 1:1), the Lord who provides (22:13–14), the Lord who gives peace (Judges 6:24), the Lord who is present (Ezekiel 48:35), and ultimately, the God and Father of our Savior (Romans 15:6; 2 Corinthians 1:3).
Life is like a ladder we climb until we die. It would be a shame if we simply stopped and never progressed. But it could be utterly disastrous if we placed our ladder against the wrong wall and after a lifetime of climbing discovered that we had wasted all the years given to us.
This may have been how Nicodemus felt after talking to Jesus. He’d climbed to the top rung of religious success in Judaism and was known as “the teacher of Israel” (John 3:10). Yet Jesus told him the only way he would see the kingdom of God was to be born again. All his good works, extensive knowledge, and great accomplishments were worthless. Nicodemus realized immediately that just as he had done nothing to bring about his first birth, he could do nothing to be born again. His hopes for eternal life were dashed.
Before Nicodemus was ready to hear the good news, he had to be emptied of all his self-confidence and accomplishments in order to see his need for a Savior. His ladder came crashing down, and he had to start afresh with a new birth of the Spirit if he hoped to gain the kingdom of heaven.
Where have you placed your ladder? Has God ever emptied you so He can fill you up again? Although there’s nothing you can do to be born again—no good works or religious service—there is something you can believe. God wants you to glimpse His holiness and realize how far you are from His perfect standard. Then, if you come broken and contrite to Jesus, believing His death paid your sin debt, you’ll be born again and will someday see the kingdom of heaven.
“Then Joshua commanded the officers of the people, saying, Pass through the host, and command the people, saying, Prepare you victuals; for within three days ye shall pass over this Jordan, to go in to possess the land, which the LORD your God giveth you to possess it.” (Joshua 1:10-11)
God’s leaders are expected to exercise authority, but they must be careful to do it in God’s name and be mindful of the examples they set.
Leadership requires command. “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you” (Hebrews 13:17).
Leadership must command in God’s name. “O that there were such an heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children for ever!” (Deuteronomy 5:29).
Leadership serves as examples to those being led. “The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being examples to the flock” (1 Peter 5:1-3). HMM III
Paul was about to leave Ephesus and journey to Jerusalem, when a riot occurred, which is thus described:—Acts 19:23-41.
Acts 19:23, 24
He employed a large number of artisans in making shrines, which were purchased by pilgrims, to be carried home with them as memorials of the goddess. Demetrius was afraid that his trade would be injured through the spread of Christian doctrine, and, therefore, stirred up his men.
How finely does he veil self-interest under the cloak of religion. Selfishness is the most powerful adversary to the cause of truth.
Yes, and greatly profitable was the trade of shrine-making!
Had it not been for these entreaties the heroic apostle would have faced the crowd.
If this man was Alexander the coppersmith, we can understand why the Jews pushed him forward as their representative, for he would be supposed to have weight with his brother craftsmen. The object of the Jews was to show that they were not connected with Paul, and also to cast more odium upon the Christians.
The mob confounded the Christians with the Jews, and were in no mood to hear any explanation.
townclerk or recorder
Paul’s language had been moderate and winning. He had used no opprobrious language in reference to the idol.
Calmed by his judicious speech, the mob retired, and the danger for the Christians ended. The Lord can rule the raging of the people and preserve his own servants from imminent peril.
The waves of the sea when highest they rise
Are governed by thee, our Lord in the skies;
Thy succour imploring, thy presence we find
To silence the roaring, and quiet the wind.
The fierceness of men who threaten so loud,
Thy word can restrain, and bridle the crowd;
And when it represses their madness of will,
The hurricane ceases, the tumult is still.
But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, but unto the Greeks foolishness. (1 Corinthians 1:23)
The Greek philosopher Pythagoras divided men into three classes: 1. Seekers after knowledge; 2. Seekers after honor; 3. Seekers after gain.
I wonder why he failed to notice two other classes: those who are not seeking anything and those who are seekers after God.
Let us add them to his list:
4. Seekers after nothing. These are the human vegetables who live by their glands and their instincts. I refer to the millions of normal persons who have allowed their magnificent intellectual equipment to wither away from lack of exercise. Their reading matter is the sports page and the comic section; their music is whatever is popular and handy—and loud!
5. Seekers after God. I am thinking of men and women who are God-hungry souls though their numbers may not be large. By nature they are no better than the rest of mankind, and by practice they have sometimes been worse. The one sign of their divine election is their insatiable thirst after the Source of their being. Thank the Lord for seekers after God and their destiny lies in the hand of the One who gave His only begotten Son to die for the life of the world!
“His heavens shall drop down dew.” Deut. 33:28
What the dew in the East is to the world of nature, that is the influence of the Spirit in the realm of grace. How greatly do I need it! Without the Spirit of God I am a dry and withered thing. I droop, I fade, I die. How sweetly does this dew refresh me! When once favored with it I feel happy, lively, vigorous, elevated. I want nothing more. The Holy Spirit brings me life, and all that life requires. All else without the dew of the Spirit is less than nothing to me: I hear, I read, I pray, I sing, I go to the table of communion, and I find no blessing there until the Holy Ghost visits me. But when He bedews me, every means of grace is sweet and profitable.
What a promise is this for me! “His heavens shall drop down dew.” I shall be visited with grace. I shall not be left to my natural drought, or to the world’s burning heat, or to the sirocco of Satanic temptation. Oh, that I may at this very hour feel the gentle, silent, saturating dew of the Lord! Why should I not? He who has made me to live as the grass lives in the meadow, will treat me as He treats the grass; He will refresh me from above. Grass cannot call for dew as I do. Surely, the Lord who visits the unpraying plant will answer to His pleading child.