What's in a Name?
November 29, 2021
Someday, when the work is all done 😊, I want to explore the origins of names. I'm sure it's been done by many others and all I'd have to do is Google it, but I have lots of questions: Why didn't God give Adam a last name? Did my ancestors originate the crazy spelling of my last name purposefully (Mighells rather than Miles? Figure that one out!). And then there's the whole subject of the meaning of names. Fascinating!
Do you know what your name means? What’s its origin?
Some names have been used for both boys and girls but with different spellings. Jesse and Jessie, Francis and Frances, for example. In today’s confusing society, when some would like to change everything God began, people are giving their children "non-gender-specific" names like Willow, River, or Flash. Others are using cartoon or Disney names.
Why do you think these trends are happening?
Many people are deeply involved in etymology (the study of words) and similarly, many others are pursuing their genealogy. Some are obsessed with filling in every branch of their family tree; others don't even know (or care, perhaps) who their great, great grandparents were. But lineage is very important to God as is evident in today's text, where the Holy Spirit, through Matthew, records Mary’s ancestry.
Why is Mary’s lineage so important?
Matthew writes: "All those listed above include fourteen generations from Abraham to King David, and fourteen from David's time to the Babylonian exile, and fourteen from the Babylonian exile to the Messiah" (vs. 17). This is Mary's lineage, and it’s significant because it shows that she was from the royal line of King David from which the Messiah is to come.
What’s important about some of the names in this list?
It would be a worthy study to check out the names in this genealogical list. It includes both men and women (often overlooked in ancient society) and some whose inclusion illustrates God’s grace in bringing them to this list. Mary and Joseph didn't choose their firstborn's name. He was named by God, the Holy Spirit, who sent an angel to tell them, "...you are to name him Jesus." (vs. 21). His name is like no other because it means the LORD saves. He is the promised and long-awaited Messiah, the Deliverer Israel was looking for. They wanted freedom from foreign bondage and a king to restore their kingdom. They weren't looking for someone to "save them from their sins."
Which is more important to you: a savior from sin or one who will bring health, wealth, and happiness now?
The Scriptures refer to Jesus by many names. Volumes have been written about his names and their meanings. The list is almost inexhaustible. Later in his Gospel, Matthew inserts Isaiah's prophecy which is a capstone, when he writes, “And his name will be the hope of all the world” (12:21). We won't find our hope in anyone else. Why? Because “God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth” (Philippians 2:9-10).
Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name (Hebrews 13:15). jbd & gmd
This Little Light
2 Corinthians 4:1-18
Friday, 26 November, 2021
Hard pressed on every side, but not crushed (2 Cor 4:8)
. . . this little light of mine
Perplexed, but not in despair (2 Cor 4:8)
. . . this little light of mine—I need to align
Persecuted, but not abandoned (2 Cor 4:9)
. . . this little light of mine—am I next in line?
Struck down, but not destroyed (2 Cor 4:9)
. . . this little light of mine—maybe it’s a sign
Carrying around in our body the death of Jesus (2 Cor 4:10)
. . . this little light of mine—to that I resign
Death is at work in us (2 Cor 4:12)
. . . this little light of mine—this is not benign
Outwardly wasting away (2 Cor 4:16)
. . . this little light of mine—my life to refine
Against all odds . . .
The life of Jesus will be revealed in my mortal body (2 Cor 4:10)
. . . at the right time; let it shine
We know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead
will also raise us with Jesus (2 Cor 4:14)
. . . like the Vine; let it shine
We do not lose heart, inwardly we are being renewed day by day (2 Cor 4:16)
. . . no decline; let it shine
Our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory
that far outweighs them all (2 Cor 4:17)
. . . don’t let Satan blow it out; let it shine
We fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen
since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal (2 Cor 4:18)
. . . under a bushel; no, I’m going to let it shine!
Life Application Questions
Do you ever feel that all odds are against you? The Apostle Paul felt like that, except that he provided an example of how to respond. What would it take for us to reorient our thinking in line with his, to focus on spiritual hope rather than physical despair?
In the four hundred years before Jesus’ advent, the Jews felt much like Paul did. Life seemed to only go from bad to worse: hard pressed, struck down, given over to death. Why was God silent across all those years, from Malachi to Matthew? (It happened before—between Genesis and Exodus—while the Israelites were enslaved in Egypt.)
What are some examples of what the prophets announced that should have given hope to the Jews, even if they had to wait a long time? What are verses that should help us to let it shine while we wait?
November 25, 2021
2 Thessalonians 2:1-17
Consider the Source
Writing of Christ’s return and prompted by false rumors an apostle encourages, “Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers and sisters not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by the teaching allegedly from us…” (2 Thessalonians 2:1-2a).
Wisps of foul noise blow across our world. Silence seldom sounds. Raucous voices demand to be heard. Abundant confusion spreads misinformation across many platforms.
Since humanity was barred from Eden, life forms a chaotic profile. Turmoil continues to fill news casts from YouTube to the Nightly News. “Breaking News Now reports,” are typically not different in kind, but in degree. Occasionally there is a good-feeling story, apparently delivered with the intention of softening bad news.
Explaining our challenge an apostle provides this insight: “Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way…” (2 Thessalonians 2:3a). Seemingly, deception’s strength remains strong and effective.
Over the centuries disciples of Jesus have sought solid spiritual support. We do so, as have many in earlier generations, believing Scripture’s direct encouragement which was delivered in the days of a dictatorship and persecution. “So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter” (1 Thessalonians 2:15).
Today, what resources help you to stand firm in the Faith?
As Christmas season approaches are there songs of faith you look forward to hearing and singing?
Do songs help you stand firm in the Faith? Two recent articles call disciples to appreciate music’s value. Jen Wilkin’s, “Sing to the Lord a True Song,” p. 30, and Sandra McCrakken’s, “The Songs That Get Stuck in My Head,” p.60 are published in Christianity Today, November, 2021. Article previews are available using the author’s name and the article’s title.
Preview of Wilkin’s article: “Before you read this article, start by reciting the alphabet in your head. There is a reason you just fought a strong temptation to hum. It’s the same reason you can remember jingles from childhood and lyrics to your favorite rock anthem, but not the security password you set up last week. If you can name all 50 states or all 66 books of the Bible, my guess is it’s because of a song. Sunday school teachers, marketers, hymn writers, rock stars, and kindergarten teachers are all well aware that ‘what is learned in song is remembered long.’”
Whose Friend Are You?
Wednesday, 24 November, 2021
Our natural desire is to be worldly – friends of the world. This makes us enemies of God. James is defining worldliness as: quarrels and fights, worldly desires, not asking God, or asking with wrong motives. But God’s desire is that we would repent and submit to Him, [resisting our natural inclinations and drawing near to Him. Our distance from God is not because He moved away; the reason we need to draw near is because we moved away from God.
The “respectable” sin of worldliness is “preoccupation with things of this temporal life, and accepting and going along with the values and practices around us without discerning if they are biblical” (Jerry Bridges, Respectable Sins, p.174,175).
Paul writes that the things of this world should be held loosely…those who use the things of this world as though not engrossed in them. For this world in the present form is passing away (1 Corinthians 7:31).
It doesn’t take much effort to be a friend of the world.
To be a friend of God, however, it takes strict self-discipline. Training for godliness is not for the faint of heart.
Beth Boggs, at Ladies Bible Study on 11/16/21, compared training for godliness like working out physically. It involves:
James says we manifest godliness by submitting to God, resisting the devil, drawing near to God, washing our spiritual hands, purifying our hearts, grieving over our sin and humbling ourselves before God.
Life Application Questions
Respectable worldliness isn’t gross disobedience, but it is, nevertheless, sin. How might we resist friendship with the world?
How can our use of money reflect whose friend we are - the world’s or God’s?
How might one wash their hands and purify their hearts in order to be the best friend of God possible?
Packing for Your Journey
November 23, 2021
Traveling requires some creative packing. Just add in some Christmas gifts and some young children and it’s a recipe for finding yourself inundated with suitcases and backpacks. What packing challenges have you faced? I realize that traveling light has its advantages but I like to be prepared for every situation. For instance if I was traveling to Indiana in November, I would need my snow boots, sandals and sweaters. What do you consider to be essentials, “can’t leave home without it” items that you pack? Our journey with Jesus requires some “essentials” as well.
Traveling requires some planning, some preparation and a whole lot of patience. Our journey with Jesus requires some of the same focus. Read Ephesians 6:10-18, what did you read about that you should be sure to pack for this “journey of a lifetime”. How would you plan, prepare and have patience for what is required in Ephesians 6: 10-18? Christ followers discover that instead of packing for a “vacation to Hawaii”, they will need to pack for a “battle”. As Christ followers we face three enemies on our battlefield; the world, the flesh and the devil. How do we plan for this battle? “…, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power.”(Ephesians 6:10) We cannot trust in our own strength; our own survival instincts, our planning, our preparation, or in our own patience. We need to rely on the Lord. Imagine a harried mom trying to herd her brood of children through O’Hare International Airport, alone. Now, picture your journey through life on your own, in your own strength; How difficult would that be? Our journey begins with prayer and leaning into the strength that only God can provide. On your “journey of a lifetime,” always pack Jesus as your essential item.
The “essentials” to pack for this “journey of a lifetime” are made clear in Scripture. “Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, after you have done everything to stand.” (Ephesians 6: 13) God has already provided the packing list of “essentials”, so open your spiritual suitcase and throw in the girdle of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shoes of the gospel, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit. It may take a lot of patience to make room for these “essentials” in your spiritual suitcase. If you are equipped, you will be ready in any season for this “battlefield journey of a lifetime”.
When impatience with the battlefield plan erupts, we have a surefire solution. No journey with Jesus is complete without your “coms”. Prayer is where we rein in our impatience, our battlefield fears, and rest in knowing that we have done all we can to prepare. “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.” (Ephesians 6:18) How can you, practically, pack the essential armor for your spiritual “journey of a lifetime”?