It’s God’s Gift – Enjoy it!

By Wilma on November 26, 2013

Solomon wrote in the book of Ecclesiastes some very appropriate words for how I feel sometimes. I know, for many, this book is depressing or difficult to make sense of. It does in some places seem to portray a sense of hopelessness, but I think, it is a book, written to show us the futility of so many material and temporal things. It makes clear that no matter how hard we try, we can’t make much lasting impression on anything , or affect anyone to a significant change! Sometimes, it even appears that the harder we try, the less we actually accomplish!
However, I believe we should come to the point in life, when we realise that we are nothing, we know nothing, we have nothing and we can do nothing, without God!! I think that is then the beginning of us learning to live for Him and with Him, and what is achieved through Him is of eternal worth!
In chapter 5 verse 19 it is written, ‘We should make the most of what God gives, both the bounty and the capacity to enjoy it, accepting what is given and rejoicing in the work. It’s God’s gift! [TM]
At this time of Thanksgiving, we do have so much to be thankful for that He has given us. And he has given us the ability to enjoy it. His Salvation, His Love, His Mercy, His Grace, to say nothing of His Daily Provision of food, clothing, health, energy, work, His placing us in families with extended family, friends, and people around us, is also not to be taken for granted.
Most of us are grateful for the Harvest He has so bountifully provided. Many farmers have great joy in working the land and seeing it produce food for us all, and we are thankful for those who gather, who work the produce as well as those who sell it and get it to the place where we can buy it!
But do we really thank Him for each other and what we have? Do we take time even for those who may not be our dearest friends. Everyone brought into our lives is there for a reason and we are to enrich each other in some way! Do we have the capacity to enjoy, or do we merely go through a ritual of having to be together because it is Thanksgiving?
No one wants to live with deep regret, but we are all only here for a limited period and the time to enjoy is now!! The time to be thankful is now! The time to be prepared is now! There is a time for everything under the Sun, and that includes the time when it is our turn to be called home. Have we enjoyed our time on earth, as we relax and let Him work through us and see eternal things done through Him!!
Again in this past month we have seen the passing of two very precious ladies in our lives. They both showed clearly, in totally different ways that they were in our lives to enrich us with their love and prayers for us. Now they are reaping their eternal reward and we are bereft of their company, but thankful for their example and memory!!
Let us enjoy our Christian lives, our experience with God & each other and that Joy will overflow to others who need to see it and learn to enjoy what Jesus has given and offered to us all!! It is after all God’s gift!!

The Forgotten Faith

By Jon Marc Lyttle on October 6, 2013

Last night Jen and I were talking about clearing out some of Evangeline’s old toys she doesn’t play with, and I mentioned that we need to do it at some point where Evangeline isn’t around to see us throw out or donate some of her toys because, as most parents know, throwing out children’s toys while in their presence is an uphill battle. Then it struck me how similar this sentiment is to our faith at times. When we first meet our Savior, He becomes the most important thing in our life. We take Him everywhere, we wear Him on our sleeve, we want everyone to witness our most recent discovery. Yet as time goes one we tend to forget Him at home, or leave him at church to meet with once a week. Suddenly He’s completely forgotten about until we have a chance encounter in the attic while walking down memory lane through the things we’ve packed away on our lives.

I know its not a perfect analogy, the difference between a forgotten toy and our Faith is that toys are vulnerable to age and can be broken when played with too hard. True faith should only get stronger with age and interaction and it is eternal, as nothing on earth can weaken or undermine it, yet we still treat it like we treat a new toy. Despite the vast differences in value and longevity of the two items in comparison, they both so often experience the same fate in the long run, and only on occasion see the light of day. So why does our faith so often become relegated to the emotion of sentiment rather than an aspect of our life that should influence our every thought, decision and action? How does something that was at one point so pivotal and important become worthless for the majority of our lives, and how do we avoid it?

At the moment, Evangeline has one toy in particular that she can’t live without. Its a little stuff sheep she has named “Lamby” (original, I know), but how did Lamby become so important to her? Its not a flashy toy, its not particularly huge, its simply a toy that she always keeps close by and has had in her bed every night since she was an infant. So it has remained relevant to her because it has remained present daily. What about our faith? Has it remained an aspect of our life that we interact with daily? Are we in God’s Word each day strengthening our faith, putting action behind our words and beliefs?

Are we fellowshipping weekly with other believers who share our faith? The Bible tells us not to forsake the assembly of believers (Heb. 10:25), but why is that? What is it about being around other believers that is important to our faith? I think about the annual events all across the globe that attract enthusiasts and hobbyists alike such as Comic-Con or WorldCon. If these people who are enthusiastic about a particular topic didn’t have friends or groups with similar interests they could meet up with, discuss with and learn from, their zeal for their particular area of interest would, I’m sure, be much diminished. Again not a perfect analogy, as these conventions often celebrate the temporal and sometimes ridiculous, however, the zeal and enthusiasm is often alike.

These days we often hear about how our religious freedoms are being trampled on and how we’re losing our right to practice our faith openly, but honestly the majority of people who are complaining about it sound like children complaining about parents throwing out toys they don’t use. Why should anyone care that you are not allowed to share your faith openly at your workplace, if you never do it anyway? Why is it a travesty that what is being said in the pulpit might come under government scrutiny, when you rarely even darken the doors of your church? And yes these things do matter, they are serious, but unless our faith is actually an important aspect in our lives they are simply the rantings of a hypocrite. Hypocrisy is something that Christians are often accused of, and it is absolutely poisonous to our testimony.

Keep your faith relevant by building on it daily, engage your local support weekly at church with other believers and you will be amazed at how impossible it will be to live without your faith. You will also notice how many people will see how much a part of you, your faith is and the doors to sharing your greatest gift will open.

He Made it Again!

By Wilma on October 2, 2013

Recently, while looking through my mother’s Bible, I came across a sermon from my father Rev. Neil MacDonald. It was rewritten by my mother’s hand, as she so often rewrote his sermon notes to make them more legible.
Since I have recently been typing out sermons both from my father and from David, I know dad appreciated the labour of love mum did for him!

I thought of how often we sat together at night and read the Bible and prayed together, and I’m eternally grateful for that privilege, as they shaped our lives for the Potter. We, in turn, have passed this habit to our children, who do the same with their children. As they grow up, trusting in Jesus, they too will know what it is to be formed into vessels fit for the Master’s use! Don’t neglect to teach your little ones about God and let Him form them for Himself!

It is a simple sermon from Jeremiah 18, and I want to leave it with you in short form!

Jeremiah 18:4 ‘the vessel he made of clay was marred in the hand of the Potter; so he made it again, another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it!’

Four words are the key to this message: ‘He Made it Again!’
Here we have the Gospel of Recovery, or the Gospel of the Second Chance!
There is Grace sufficient to take the most disastrous backslider and make him what he should be because: ‘All things are possible with God!’

We have here three simple stages:
• We have Creation
• We have Desecration
• We have Re-creation!

1. Creation:- The potter had a lump of clay and he wrought a work on the
wheel.
But there was hardness in the clay and it failed the test!
It was not pliable and would not come up the design of the Master!

The vessel was marred! Is that the case with you?
Has he given you a task to do and you failed? Or you said, ‘I can’t’

2. Desecration:- God says you can!
He says He is willing to re-make you! To give you another chance!
Don’t look at anyone else’s failure.
There is enough in each one of us to mar the vessel!
If a man wants to play a reed instrument and make good music,
he must first fashion the reed [cut it and flatten it]!
God wants to make music out of our lives and sometimes before He can do that, He needs to flatten and reform the vessel to make it anew!

3. Re-Creation:- He made it again! No attempt to patch!

• With Passion – The Potter is passionate about his work.
God has great passion for our souls. You need not fail,
but if you do, with His whole heart God wants to restore you!

• At a Price – It costs time and effort, possibly material to reform a vessel!
The Potter’s Field was bought with the price of blood!
This field was littered with broken vessels, but Jesus paid the price for every broken vessel and He works faithfully to remake us!

• Through a Process – The clay must be broken, crushed, softened –
and only then comes the remaking!
If we will allow Him, He will make us vessels fit for the Master’s use!

Resurrection – The Empty Tomb

By Wilma on April 11, 2013

In most of Europe and America and many other parts of the world, Easter has already been celebrated. This is an amazing time for believers who remember the fact that Jesus not only died for our sins, but that He rose again and is coming someday soon to take those remaining home to Glory! The cross has been the symbol for Christianity since the middle ages, but really the cross is only one part of the story. If there had not been an empty tomb, as believers, we would not have had the definite knowledge and proof of Jesus resurrection. Also the sceptics, of other religions, who had watched the whole procedure from start to finish, would be inclined to believe in this Jesus.
The unbelieving Jews knew that! Why else did they seal the tomb so carefully? They thought that if some of the believers were to steal the body and hide it, then people would believe that Jesus either had not died or that he was alive again. They thought to keep humans out, but the tomb could not keep Jesus in! They in sealing the tomb and guarding it carefully, actually added to the excitement and the evidence of His resurrection. Yes, the Empty Tomb is the real symbol of Christianity and of the hope we have for the future with Jesus in eternity.
Easter has not yet come for the people of Greece and other Orthodox lands. We will once again celebrate the Empty Tomb and the Resurrection on May 5th this year with the other believers in Greece and Macedonia.
In looking forward to that time again, I am reminded of the raising of Lazarus from the dead and have been looking at that passage in John 11. Jesus loved, Lazarus and his sisters Mary & Martha, of that there is no doubt as we are told clearly in Scripture. Yet for the sake of the onlookers, He did not rush to their side to help immediately, but allowed them to go through the suffering and grief of bereavement for a time. God was going to do an even greater miracle than healing a sick man, therefore Lazarus was allowed to die before Jesus arrival.
Lazarus was already 4 days dead. Is that significant? Yes, the Jews believed that by the fourth day there was a separation of the soul from the body, therefore no more chance of life. This only would add to the miracle Jesus would perform and also show some of the Jews the folly of some traditional beliefs. I like to think, this was also a little bit of an assurance to the believers, that if Lazarus could be raised after 4 days, then it was going to be no problem for God to raise Jesus to life after three. But that is only a side thought!
Knowing that He was in control and would eventually raise Lazarus, why then did Jesus weep [35]? Was it for the deep sympathy He felt for Mary & Martha, that they were suffering this bereavement? Was it His deep personal love for the man Lazarus? I really don’t believe that is sufficient cause for Jesus to weep, especially since He knew the end from the beginning. When we look at another time Jesus wept in Luke 19:41 , He was weeping over Jerusalem and their unbelief in spite of all He had shown them and taught them. In the Garden of Gethsemane, [Mark 14:33,34] Jesus was again distressed and weeping over the weight of our collective sin, which He was to carry to the cross.
I think in the instance with Lazarus, it is probable that Jesus was groaning in His Spirit and weeping over the fact that despite all his teaching and discipling, still even those He loved, and far less the onlookers, did not understand who He was or what He could and would do. Our unbelief makes Jesus weep, yet so often we doubt what He is doing in our lives, or don’t see the bigger miracle until after the fact!
Do we really believe He has risen and lives in our hearts? Do we know with deep assurance that He is coming back for us one day? If so, this is the best news anyone ever had and many, who are still causing Jesus to weep with their unbelief, need to hear it and see in our lives that we live for another world and not only for this temporal one. Make this year count: as you ask the Lord to cause you to weep over the sin of our nations, plead with God for His Mercy and Grace for the unsaved and spread the Good News of the Empty Tomb and the Resurrection to our friends, families and acquaintances.

One Year On!

By Wilma on February 25, 2013

In Loving Memory and with grateful thanks for the life of

Elizabeth Ann (Betty) MacDonald,

died 6th February 2012

One year has passed since Mum was called, to her eternal rest,

Now living with her Saviour, we know she’s fully blessed

Mum left this earth so swiftly, in the blinking of an eye,

She was gone to join our father, we’d no time to say goodbye,

But, we really need no special day, to bring thoughts of Mum to mind.
For a day we don’t long to have a chat, would be very rare to find.

Our thoughts so often go to her, whose place no one can fill.
In life we loved Mum dearly; and in death we love her still.

 

Yet, we know that those who mean the most, are never really gone.
For in our thoughts and in our hearts, their memory still lives on

Though Death has left us Heartache, which on earth won’t ever heal
Their Love has left a Memory, which none could ever steal.

No space of time or lapse of years, can dim that treasured past.

A loving memory keeps it dear and affection holds it fast

To us, They haven’t gone away, nor have they traveled far,

Just entered God’s eternal home and left the door ajar.

That those of us, who must remain, till it is our time to go

Can go through life and follow the example they did show,

Of loving Jesus first of all, then with true servant hearts

Tell the wonder of eternity, where we’ll never need to part.

This was the poem in the paper in Fort William recently, which we trust it let people know just a little of how life is so very different with out mum. We have just had the birthday celebration of my Grandmother who is 103 years old and although I missed mum so much in the party and all the celebrations, I believe she would have been thrilled at how it was done. It was a very fitting celebration, to honor a lady who needs more courage now to be a very old lady waiting to go home, than she ever did. Life for my grandmother was not easy as she saw the very early death of two husbands and one son, and more recently two more of her children on whom she was quite dependent. Still she faces each day bravely as she keeps her trust and faith in the Lord to bring her to join them all when He comes or calls.

Saying Goodbye

By Jon Marc Lyttle on September 11, 2012

It is with heavy hearts that we announce the passing of Granny Jean Lyttle. She went home to be with the Lord on Monday and the family are all gathering in the next few days to say goodbye to the matriarch of the Lyttle clan. Jean has walked with Christ for 40 years and now rests in the arms of the One who has been holding her so long. Please be in prayer for her children who faithfully cared and visited her these past many years through failing health and her time in the nursing home, and her many grandchildren and great-grandchildren who adored her. Though Granny is in a much better place and is happy, she still leaves an empty place in all of our hearts.

As a faithful prayer warrior she was constantly interceding on the behalf of her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and also this ministry. Constantly writing letters, often visiting us overseas, looking after the boys and many times sending care packages with the taste of home, she always made sure to stay in touch and to let us know we were being thought about and prayed for. It is at times like these when we have to realize the extent of the calling to missions, and the things we have left behind in order to be faithful. As with the home-going of the previous 3 grandparents we were unable to be there at the moment of passing, each one coming very suddenly, causing us to try to make our way home to be with the remaining family members during the hard times, but still after the fact. We thank God that He will grant us peace during this hard time and ask that He will also be with the extended family as they too mourn.

Prayer Requests:

  • The Rev. Eric Stewart as he preaches the funeral
  • Traveling mercies for family overseas trying to get home from Australia, the Middle East, the USA and the rest of the British Isles
  • Comfort for family members
  • Openings into the hearts of those who have fallen away from the Lord, and those who have never wanted to hear

Open Doors, Man cannot Shut!

By Wilma on September 1, 2012

Brother Andrew the Dutchman, who founded Open Doors, to assist the Persecuted church, has given 55 years to the Lord’s work and is still working on! In a recent interview, he said ‘people can retire from secular work, but not from their calling’.
It was through the reading of his book, ‘God’s Smuggler’ that David was called into this work and I am sure there are many others whose lives have been changed through reading that book. Open doors is now a huge organisation producing literature, sending people to help train pastors, providing for the persecuted, educating children who would not otherwise have any chance of schooling, creating work projects for many hundreds denied jobs because of their faith, etc etc.
It is a wonderful privilege to honor men like Brother Andrew for the work and ministry they have done. He deserves every earthly reward and we know his eternal reward will be massive. However, more and more, as I look at the men whom God has called to do great works for His Church, they tend to be humble men and not to want any praise for themselves. Indeed, the greatest statement in my opinion that Brother Andrew made in that interview, was his reply to being asked how he would like to be remembered.
He said, ‘When Jesus was carried into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey, how many people honoured the donkey? Not one hair of that donkey’s back changed color because Jesus rode on him! They were not interested in the bearer, but in the one who was borne!’ Likewise Brother Andrew was the one who carried Jesus to the people and he wanted not to be remembered, but that His Life would have achieved its purpose if His Saviour is remembered and served by others.
Sometimes it makes us feel good to be honoured or praised, but let us never forget the one who we carry to others = Jesus! We would not be where we are if not for Him and I dread to think what we would have turned out like if not for His Salvation! He has said in John 12:32 ‘I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all [men] unto me.’ Carry Jesus to the multitudes around one at a time, uplift Him and your life will be as rewarding as it can be on this earth – there is no nobler task!
Brother Andrew says the one regret he has, is that he should have been more radical, done more!! I believe, if we are truly serving the Lord faithfully, the vastness of His love & compassion for mankind will always cause us to wish we had given Him more, been more and done more, yet all He asks is that we are faithful and obedient, giving Him all the Glory!

Giving a Good Testimony!

By Wilma on August 2, 2012

Recently, in some of the areas we have been we have listened to testimonies to the goodness and care of the Lord. Others have spoken of His love & protection and still others of grace under fire. These testimonies are important for our encouragement as we see how the Lord is leading and guiding His people. But, really, how important is a testimony?

The word ‘Testimony’ in Hebrew is ‘eduth. It also means ‘precept or warning.’ It is derived from a word meaning “witness,” as in, ‘one who gives evidence’. That’s what a witness is supposed to do – to tell the truth. That word has a primitive root (Ayin-Vav-Daleth) meaning “to return, to repeat, to do again.” If we look at this meaning it can show us that our experience of which we testify can influence others to imitate or copy us or even to be warned from doing a particular thing because of how it affected us.

Testimony of the Scriptures
In the Old Testament we see much reference to testimony when talking about the Scriptures and, of course, this precious book given by God to us is to be our guide, our roadmap, our instructions and our warnings where needed, but also our encouragement and to lead us in all truth. Testimony or ‘eduth is always associated with God witnessing to the Truth. His Word is Truth and of we live by it, we can stake our lives upon it.

According to concordances and some Bible encyclopedias, in the first five books of the Bible, the word ‘testimony’ is most often used in reference to the Tabernacle. The Tabernacle contained the Law of God to Moses, it was symbolic of God’s Covenant with His People and to them it meant that God’s Presence was with them. It was a sacred place of deep Holiness and indeed a testimony to God’s People. The generations following would know from seeing the Tabernacle and hearing the stories connected with it.

The law of the LORD is perfect, restoring the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. Psalm 19:7. No matter what our needs are, His Word, restores our souls, reassures us of His promises and makes us wise unto Salvation. In this book, written down in human language for us, He has told us He cares, shown us He cares and sent Jesus to die to save us. It should be a privilege for us follow its guidance and to be willing to testify of Him.

Testimony of God
That is God’s testimony to us and to the rest of the World of His truth, but He does require us also to give witness and testimony to others even although it is not always easy and not always accepted.
Luke 21: 12-15 ‘But before all these, they shall lay their hands on you, and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues, and into prisons, being brought before kings and rulers for my name’s sake.
And it shall turn to you for a testimony. Settle it therefore in your hearts, not to meditate before what ye shall answer: For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist.’

Even today, there are those who suffer for witnessing or testifying to what God has done and can do for mankind and for individuals! But just as He promised in the Old Testament, He never changes and He will give us the wisdom to say what we should, to influence others for Jesus, to share His Word.
In giving others the Scriptures, they too will find them to be filled with the History of the beginnings of the Faith, the promises of God and the fulfillment of the plan of redemption for each one of us.
It means that God will do it, repeat it, do it again, whatever we need as He leads us safely home, no matter how often we have let Him down. He will forgive!

Testimony gives us Quiet Assurance
‘Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you:’ 1Corinthians 1:6. His Spirit witnesses with our Spirit that the works of God have been done in our hearts, that the promises of God are sure and that He is leading and guiding our lives. This assurance makes us happy to do His Will, keeps us from Worry and allows us to stand quietly steadfast in His Love. The example of this assurance is often what speaks to other people’s hearts. We have a contact who noticed how a fellow colleague, who was a believer, had quiet confidence in the midst of a very difficult home background. When she asked how this was possible and was told that it was only through God’s power in life, this contact immediately sought us out, to tell her how she could find this peace for herself.

Our Testimony to Others
Maybe what we have to say will be a warning to others and save them going that way before coming to Christ! It could be that we encourage others, with our experience, to realize God loves them and wants to forgive them too! It just may be they see for the first time, that there is a plan of redemption provided!
Acts 14:3 Long time, therefore, abode they speaking boldly in the Lord which gave testimony unto the word of his grace, and granted signs and wonders to be done by their hands.’ shows that the Apostles testimony was seen and believed by many and God was able to use their testimony to reach others.
People today don’t always want to hear us defend our faith with loud words, lists of rules or even scientific evidences, but they want us to show them the difference He makes in our life and the joy & peace He gives to our living. They want to find certainty in the midst of their chaos and we can tell them how to find Him! He has given us a testimony to share!

Contentment of Country Folks!

By Wilma on June 29, 2012

This time of the year, from early morning till late at night we hear the sound of farmers and farm workers working in their fields. Tractors are trundling past our gateway from 4.30 am, heading to the fields before the heat of the sun makes their work more difficult. Combine harvesters and crop -collectors drone on most of the day, while the field workers run behind the vehicles doing whatever is necessary to get the crops planted or the harvest in.
No offence to those who were born, brought up or live in cities, but don’t we all in some respect have a relationship with the countryside? Even those living in the city, love to take a trip away from the mundane and spend time enjoying the beauty of nature. Not that those who have the privilege of living in the country, don’t thoroughly enjoy a good day at the shops in the city, or a visit with friends to some city sights. But when one has time in the countryside, we are refreshed, relaxed and ready for anything. We feel closer to the Creator than before we went, which we can’t really say of going to buy new shoes or a dress!!
It has been said by Tom Keller a New York Presbyterian, that God’s future redeemed world is depicted as a ‘city.’ He uses as his evidence the verse in Hebrews 11:10 which says, ‘Abraham sought the city, whose builder and maker was God.’ He concludes, ‘We began in a garden, but will end in a city. God’s purpose for humanity is urban.’
Personally, I am not so sure about that, since before the Fall Eden was the perfect place for Man to live and be in complete and total harmony with land, self and God! The Fall, of course, destroyed the innocence and purity of that harmony, and so the happiness of the people, but in Salvation through Jesus, we see the world once again through new eyes!
When it came to creation of the earth, animals etc.. God made it all without any pre-existent matter. In other words, He made it all out of nothing! As romantic created beings, we have little problem in realizing that although God could have created Eve from nothing, He chose to use a rib from Adam, signifying the closeness and interconnectedness of these two humans in their relationship. From then on Adam would feel the responsibility to care for her as part of himself and she in turn to care for her family as one who belongs and is loved!
But, is it not also very significant to note that in the creation of man, God uses the dust of the earth to make Adam and breathed into Adam’s nostrils. Surely, this was showing not only man’s eternal connection with God, but also man’s connection with the earth. Indeed, the task given man in Eden was to ‘work it and take care of it.’ Even after the Fall, Adam & Eve were to work the land, only this time it would be by the sweat of their brow, with all the problems and troubles that entails.
Some of those who farm in this area, have for a time been living outside the country for education or for work after the war. One close friend is an engineer and in Germany was earning a lot of money every month. He had a ‘good life’, but gave it up to return to take over the family farm a few years ago. He is amazed at how unstressed his life is now! He has much less money, especially in these hard times of crisis here in Greece, but he says the benefits to his health and his family’s life, far outweigh the sorrows. He reminds us often, that the satisfaction of growing and living from your own produce leaves him with a much greater feeling of success than he ever felt in his engineering firm.
I know, this is not and cannot be the case for everyone, but in some ways we all are inextricably connected with the soil we were created from and get great satisfaction from even looking at the beautiful sights we see around us. We do enjoy looking out over the patchwork quilt of color, which changes repeatedly through the entire year, as each crop is planted, grows and is harvested. As we look over the scene before us, or any other beautiful picture, we can do nothing less than worship the Creator who made it all, who provided the earth, the seed and the people to work them. The God who controls the weather, that we always have seedtime and harvest, food to eat and clothes to wear. That same God, sent His only Son to die for your redemption, that once again we can enjoy His Peace and Satisfaction through all Eternity!

Called by a New Name

By Wilma on June 9, 2012

On our recent deputation, we spent some time in the Isle of Skye, where my father was born and brought up, and where many of our relatives still live. It came afresh to me that people when being referred to or identified in Gaelic are introduced as being the son of their father. For instance, my father who is called Neil, would always be known as Neil son of Angus who was his father, and I in turn would be known as Wilma daughter of Neil Angus and so on. This has always intrigued me and also as a child given me a feeling of belonging, emphasizing the importance of family.
Also in Greece, names are very important, as the first born son is called after his paternal grandfather, and the first daughter after the paternal grandmother etc, making people not only easier to identify, but I am sure giving the children a very definite feeling of belonging in the family circle. Naturally, if your grandfather was a good man who lived a good life, then a boy would feel very proud to carry that name further.
In the Bible it is also so, that sometimes people are known by different names. Some of the most notable being Levi & Simon: Levi was a tax collector before he came to know Jesus and a pretty dishonest one at that. The first Levi was the third son of Leah, who was the first wife deceitfully given to Jacob by Laban, his father-in-law. This name in Hebrew originally meant ‘joined’ as Leah in Genesis 29:34 thought that since she had given Jacob 3 sons, he would now be joined to her and choose her over Rachel, the wife he loved, but who was at yet barren. From this name eventually came the tribe of the Levites who were set aside to be the priests.
But, after Levi followed Jesus, he became known as Matthew, which means ‘gift of God.’ Recorded in Mark 2:14 and Luke 5: 37, this could have been to signify the free gift of salvation, which has been given to Matthew when he trusted in Jesus. In Revelation 2:17, the person who overcomes will be given a new name. We have been given a new name as followers of Christ. We are known as Christians, not because of anything we have done but because we have been reborn into the family of Christ and are therefore known by His name. We should therefore, always be aware that how we live as believers reflects on the family of God our Father.
Simon means ‘he who has heard’ and in spite of being hard headed and a bit strong willed Simon had heard and listened to Jesus teaching for three years. He had obeyed Jesus in following Him, he had failed many times and yet Jesus could see much more potential. He, who knows the heart, could see, not only a disciple, but one with amazing leadership qualities. Jesus therefore wanted him known from then on by the name Cephas (in Aramaic ), or Peter meaning ‘rock’. God was going to use Peter as a founding leader in the New Testament Church and He gave him a name to identify him as such. (Matt 16:18 and John 1:42).
If a person is very good at tennis or running, he likes to be called an ‘athlete’, a pianist likes to be called a ‘musician’, or a university professor to be known as an ‘academic.’ I am sure these men were glad to be known by the names which identified them in their new roles.
Amazing that despite our failures, our pride, lack of love and forgiveness toward others, God calls us reconciled, justified, forgiven and beloved in Him! He calls us by these names and many more, continuing to cleanse and making us holy, transforming us into the image of His Son, till the day he takes us home. He is allowing us to have the family resemblances to go with the name we carry as a gift from God. Do we let Him do this transforming work in us, by renewing our minds? Or, are we still conforming to the world and what it expects from us. Romans 12:1&2
In this world today it is possible to have your identity stolen and it can cause such a lot of hassle to try to prove who you actually are, but remember no one can ever steal our identity in Christ! He knows each one of us by Name!