‘What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet’
This couplet was one of many that I committed to memory for my O Level English Literature exam. Juliet is pining for Romeo and lamenting that he is a Montague – her family’s bitter enemies. On one level she is right, a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. Yet she knew that as a Capulet she would never be permitted to marry Romeo who was a Montague, such was the animosity between their respective families. The fact is names, especially names given to people, matter.
Christmas is a season of names; names given to Jesus. That is the most common name we use for him and was the name that Joseph was instructed by the angel to give to him. The name Jesus comes through Latin and Greek transliteration from the Hebrew name Yeshua (Joshua or Jeshua) and means rescuer or deliverer, clearly indicating his mission to become the saviour of the world.
One of the classic Christmas Bible readings is Isaiah 9:6–7 which says:
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the LORD Almighty
will accomplish this.
In this prophecy given some 700 years before Jesus’ birth we are told that he will be called:
- Wonderful Counsellor – his wisdom and guidance is beyond that of any human advisor
- Mighty God – his strength and power is unrivaled in the entire universe. In fact he is the source of all the energy throughout the cosmos.
- Everlasting Father – his love and mercy is eternally unending. His grace is matchless.
- Prince of Peace – he offers reconciliation to us even while we were his enemies.
- Eternal King – his reign is just and righteous and endures for all generations.
These are only a few of the names and titles that are attributed to Jesus throughout the bible. Each is rich with significance, directing us towards aspects of his character and nature. Each helps us to see that Jesus is so much more than a cute little baby snuggled in a manger. Each provokes us to worship our peerless saviour.
Take time this Christmas to meditate on the names of Jesus and bow your knee in worship to Him whose name is above every other name in heaven and on earth.
This blog post featured in the November 2016 edition of Lifelines
Many people are familiar with the life of Joseph. Whether it is because it is a Sunday school favourite, or as a result of the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, the story is always popular. The tale of a young man who has dreams, who is set upon by his older brothers, who conquers adversity and rises to be second only to Pharaoh is one that fires imaginations. Add in the sub plot of family fragmentation and then ultimately unexpected reconciliation and it is hardly surprising that ‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat’ became a worldwide hit.
The biblical account of Joseph’s life however is far more than entertainment. It sets the scene for the big picture. It marks the transition from a family descended from Abraham to a nation in slavery. The account in itself provides a cameo of salvation, foreshadowing the salvation won for us in Christ. Yet on a more practical level, each of the episodes of Joseph’s life can also teach us important lessons on how to live the Christian life – examples to follow and mistakes to avoid.
Drawing on his experience as pastor of KingsGate Community Church in Peterborough, which has seen remarkable growth, Dave Smith uses the life of Joseph as an illustration of how to live the dream; how to seize our destiny and fulfil our potential in Christ. In this book he shows how God has a wonderful plan for our lives and he wants us to live it! The story of Joseph is particularly helpful because it shows us the progression of Gods dealings in a person’s life and therefore has the power to speak to us through all the seasons of our life.
This book will be a great accompaniment to the preaching series we will be following through July and August looking at the life of Joseph.
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I am sure that most, if not all of you reading these words will recognise them as being the key phrase from Martin Luther King’s most famous speech. He had a dream, a vision of a better America where all men and women were treated equally regardless of their skin colour; where everyone could aspire to fulfil their potential. I wonder do you have a dream?
If you are a young person your dream may seem very fresh and bright and you may feel full of hope that you will be able to see the dream realised. If you are middle aged you may be going through a season where you still cling to the dream but the present circumstances are strangling it and you fear that you may have to let your dream go. Or perhaps you are older, in the twilight years of your life, time is short and talk of dreams somehow seems no longer relevant.
During July and August we shall be looking at the life of Joseph, the dreamer. We shall be considering the dreams that he had but more importantly the purposes that God had for his life. We shall discover how he was able to remain faithful to God through the peaks and troughs of his life journey. Whatever stage of life you are currently in I believe that in Joseph you will find an example that will help you to remain faithful to God’s dream for the whole of your life. If you are young, there are principles to adopt that will keep you on track as you look forward into your future. If you are in seasons of frustration there is hope that God is still with you. If you are older there is the assurance that God uses all of your past for his ultimate glory.
This series is being shared by a wider team than usual. This has two purposes. Firstly it is part of a desire to train and equip younger men and develop their gifting. Secondly it will help us to see the events of Joseph’s life through the eyes of different people with all the benefits that brings. Please pray for our preachers to hear what God would say to us as a church. Please pray that each of us will have ears to listen.
This blog post featured in the July/August 2013 edition of Lifelines