From Praying the Names of Jesus Week Fifteen, Day Three

The Name
Christianity's earliest confession of faith consisted of three short but incredibly powerful words: Jesus is Lord! The early Christians believed that the Father had placed Jesus, by virtue of his death and resurrection, at the apex of time and eternity — higher than any power or person in the universe. It is no wonder that Paul was "convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:38 - 39). Both those who love him and those who oppose him will one day call Jesus "Lord."

In the end, even the devil will be forced to acknowledge him. As you bow your head in prayer before the sovereign Lord, remember that you are placing your life — the worst of your disappointments, the most protracted of your struggles, the wildest of your dreams — squarely in his hands. Knowing Jesus as Lord will lead you to a deeper experience of his presence and his power.

Key Scripture
Therefore 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, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:9 - 11


 Praying the Name

He [Christ] humbled himself and became obedient to death — even death on a cross! Therefore 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, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philipp ians 2:8-11

Reflect OnPhilippians 2:5-11.

Praise God: For Christ's victory on the cross.

Offer Thanks: Because you share in Christ's victory.

Confess: Any tendency to forget what God has done for you.

Ask God: To sharpen your spiritual vision.

My favorite Bible promise is this: "Love Wins." Okay, so it's really a bumper sticker and not a Bible promise. But doesn't the Bible say that Jesus died for us because he loved us? And doesn't it also say that God has exalted him to the highest place of all so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord? So, in the end, it does seem that the Bible promises us that "Love Wins."

Here's another little slogan I saw on the marquee of a church the other day: "Heavenly Forecast — Reign Forever." Corny as it sounds, it happens to be true. Jesus has already won the most important battle in history, and now he is on the throne and calling the shots. But if it is true that Jesus is the clear winner in the fight against sin and evil, why does it sometimes seem as though the outcome, at least in our corner of the world, is still in doubt? Because Satan has not yet admitted defeat. Because God wants to bring as many people into his kingdom as he can before wrapping things up. Because Christ wants our faith to be honed and perfected and that can only be accomplished in an environment of conflict and battle.

Have you heard of contrarians, people who buy stocks when everyone else is selling? Though this is not a strategy for the weak-kneed, it can yield enormous returns for those whose vision is clear. I believe that Jesus wants our spiritual vision to be so clear that we can become spiritual contrarians: people who continue to believe when life is at its worst, people who keep faith though everyone around us loses faith, people who continue to obey no matter how high the cost. If the apostle Paul had not had this deep certainty of Jesus' power and authority, of his ability to keep his promises come what may, how could he have endured being whipped, beaten, shipwrecked, stoned, and imprisoned, "in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger," as he says, "from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers" (2 Corinthians 11:26)? How could he have labored and toiled and gone without sleep and been hungry and thirsty, cold and naked? How could he have endured martyrdom?

Paul was the ultimate contrarian. I wish I were more like him. I want to stop complaining over small things and large, to press on no matter what presses against me, to have so clear a vision of what it means that Jesus is Lord that my natural pessimism is converted into a fierce kind of spiritual optimism.

Join me today in praising the Lord and in repenting for having so little faith. Let us plead with him, begging him to open our eyes through faith so that we will know the full measure of his love and the greatness of his power.

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Meet your spiritual ancestors as they really were: Less Than Perfect: Broken Men and Women of the Bible and What We Can Learn from Them.