Happy New Year!!!
Every December 31, the next day is anticipated as “the year” when a fresh start is given to each one of us. A new chance to get our weight under control, a new hope for better family relationships, a better job, or more security for our future. Some resolve to begin daily devotions for a closer walk with the Lord. Some hope for a fresh start for their marriage, while others hope for someone to marry. Someone on Facebook said that the new year presents us with 365 clean slates, 12 months of new opportunities to get it right.
Without trying to ruin the hopes of a new year, the same thing could have been said on January 1 of 2020 as well. We know what a disaster of a year that turned out to be.
I correspond with a couple in the ministry who are getting on up in years (early 80s). She and her husband are still very active in a vital ministry. They do more than many who are 20 years younger than they. But they both are experiencing the frailties of failing bodies. Add to that the burden of the many trials their children and grandchildren are facing. After writing me about all of those issues, she said, “we (my husband and I) just want to hold hands and be transported together to heaven.”
After reading the list of maladies, physical and relational, that they were facing, who wouldn’t want that escape from this life to the next?
I wrote back to them these words: “God with us. Can you imagine facing all of the crud of the past few months that your family has faced without “God with us”? It is nice that you want to go there, hand in hand, to be with Him, but He, Himself, has come to be with us. I guess He couldn’t wait for us to get to heaven, so He came here.”
I watched a church service from a church we used to attend. An elder, holding back tears, told of the death of the wife of one of the church’s pastors. A young woman, with two young children, died on Christmas Eve. January 1, eight days later, doesn’t hold the promise for this young pastor that it does for so many of us.
This young pastor’s wife is in heaven, he and his children are here, each experiencing a new, to them, version of aloneness. But God is not waiting for them to come to Him in heaven, He has come to them. God does not only hold out hope for tomorrow but gives hope today, right now, by dwelling in us. Colossians 1:27 is realized: “To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”
Christ in us, the hope of glory. It is not the change from one year to another that gives us hope, it is Christ in us. It is not the drop of some ball in New York that gives us hope. It is not “365 clean slates” in 2022 that give us hope. It is Christ in us. The God who came and tabernacled in us.
My brother did a Bible study one time and used the illustration of the people of the Exodus when God was tabernacled with them in a tent nearby. He said that, in the beginning, the Israelites would walk by the tent and speak in hushed tones, being careful what words they used. No one wanted to offend God when He lived next door. Only a few months later, the kids were using God’s tent for a backstop for their pickup baseball games (my brother was avid about baseball). His point was that the Israelites, over a period of time, became used to God being next door. It is a good point, and it relates to us. We become used to God living, not next door, but in us. We forget, that the “I Am” dwells within us. That He empowers us…if we choose to let Him. That He convicts us…if we do not become hardened. That He comforts, and guides, and listens, and strengthens.
I have wondered over the years, why God’s Son has been given so many different names. Isaiah 9:6, a favorite Christmas passage, says, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”
Five different names in one verse of scripture, each describing the same Person. A cursory search on the Internet reveals “The 20 Names of Jesus”, or “The 50 names of Jesus”, with one claiming to list “The 200 names of Jesus.”
Why so many names? Why not just Jesus? Or Jesus Christ? Or even, the Lord Jesus Christ? If you go down through the list that follows, you will find Him in a way that meets your needs today. It may be as the Advocate; as the Bread of Life, as the Author and Finisher of our faith, or God with us. Maybe you need Hope today or the Wisdom of God. He is those, and more.
When you wonder about whether “I will never leave you nor forsake you” is true, read the list that follows. He is active in every single facet of our life. He is Lord of every possible way in which we could possibly need Him. The New Testament expands on the names for Jesus that we find in the prophecy of Isaiah. His name, “I Am” gives a covering over every possible way in which we could need Him. It hearkens back to the book of Exodus, when God was telling Moses how He should be identified to the people in bondage in Egypt. God instructs Moses to tell them, “I Am” has sent you to them. If they need ten plagues to convince Pharaoh to let them go, “I Am” will provide. If they need safe passage across the Red Sea, “I Am” is that passage. If they need daily food, “I Am” will provide fresh food. If they need water, “I Am” will provide water from a solid rock. If they need passage across the Jordon, or a way to defeat Jericho, or safety in a thousand different times and places, “I Am” will provide that safety. “I Am” is the cloud by day and the fire by night.
And Jesus Christ, Wonderful, Counsellor, the Prince of Peace, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, is our “I Am”. He is our “Enough”, for whatever we could possibly face. And He dwells in us.
Herbert Lockyer, in his book on the names of God writes:
“There is a legend to the effect that an artist tried to paint a portrait of Christ, but every time he tried, he failed. Disconsolate he went to Him and asked the reason for his lack of success, and Christ simply smiled and said, “No one can paint a picture of me for anyone else, for if he did, it would be said that the Christ was thus and thus; every one must paint his own picture.” Is this not what every man does when he answers the question, “What think ye of Christ?” He challenges the world by His wonderful versatility and presents an amazing revelation of qualifying attributes.
“A remarkable feature of Jesus Christ is the way He fits into everyone’s thinking. He is so many-sided each can find Christ in the mold of his own occupational life and day-by-day experience. In this respect He challenges the attention of the world and meets the needs of all classes of men. As deep answereth to deep, so Jesus responds to the movings of each soul of man. Life is varied, just as occupations are, and all, no matter what their round of duty may be, can find in Him the Saviour who is able to meet the particular need of each.
o To the Architect—He is the Chief Cornerstone (1 Peter 2:6).
o To the Artist—He is the One altogether lovely (Song of Solomon 5:16).
o To the Astronomer—He is Sun, and Morning Star (Revelation 22:16; Malachi 4:2).
o To the Baker—He is the Living Bread (John 6:35, 51).
o To the Banker—He is Unsearchable Riches (Ephesians 3:8).
o To the Biologist—He is the Life (John 14:6).
o To the Botanist—He is the Plant of Renown (Ezekiel 34:29).
o To the Bride—He is the Bridegroom (Matthew 25:1).
o To the Builder—He is the Sure Foundation (Isaiah 28:16).
o To the Carpenter—He is the Nail, and the Door (Isaiah 22:23; John 10:9).
o To the Christian—He is the Son of the Living God (Matthew 16:16).
o To the Disconsolate—He is the Comforter (John 14:1).
o To the Drifter—He is an Anchor (Hebrews 6:19).
o To the Doctor—He is the Great Physician (Matthew 8:17).
o To the Educator—He is the Superb Teacher (John 3:2).
o To the Engineer—He is a Polished Shaft, and a Living Way (Isaiah 49:2; Hebrews 10:20).
o To the Farmer—He is the Sower, the Wheat, and Lord of Harvest (Matthew 13:37; John 12:24; Matthew 9:38).
o To the Florist—He is the Rose and the Lily (Song of Solomon 2:1).
o To the Friendless—He is the Friend closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24).
o To the Genealogist—He is the Name above every name (Philippians 2:9).
o To the Geologist—He is the Rock of Ages (Isaiah 26:4 ASV).
o To the Heavy-Laden—He is Rest (Matthew 11:28–30).
o To the Herbalist—He is the Ouster of Camphire and Root of Jesse (Song of Solomon 1:14; Isaiah 11:10).
o To the Horticulturist—He is the True Vine (John 15:1).
o To the Jeweller—He is the Precious Stone (1 Peter 2:6).
o To the Judge—He is the Righteous Judge, Judge of all (2 Timothy 4:8).
o To the Juror—He is the Faithful and True Witness (Revelation 3:14).
o To the King—He is KING of kings (Revelation 19:16).
o To the Lawyer—He is Counsellor, Advocate, LawGiver (Isaiah 9:6; 1 John 2:1, 2).
o To the Lonely—He is the Abiding Companion (Hebrews 13:5).
o To the Lover—He is the Betrothed (Song of Solomon 2:16).
o To the Metaphysician—He is Alpha and Omega (Revelation 22:13).
o To the Newspaperman—He is Good Tidings (Luke 2:10).
o To the Oculist—He is the Light of the Eye (Matthew 4:16; 6:22).
o To the Outcast—He is the Friend of Sinners (Luke 15:1, 2).
o To the Philanthropist—He is the Unspeakable Gift (2 Corinthians 9:15).
o To the Philosopher—He is the Wisdom of God (1 Corinthians 1:24).
o To the Photographer—He is the Exact Likeness (Hebrews 1:3).
o To the Pilgrim—He is the Way (John 14:6).
o To the Potter—He is the Vessel of Honor (2 Timothy 2:21).
o To the Preacher—He is the Model Preacher, and Word to preach (Luke 4:18; Revelation 19:13).
o To the Ruler—He is Ruler of the Kings of Earth (Revelation 1:5 ASV).
o To the Sailor—He is Master of ocean and sea (Mark 4:41).
o To the Sculptor—He is the Living Stone (1 Peter 2:4).
o To the Servant—He is the Good Master (Ephesians 6:9).
o To the Shepherd—He is the Lamb (John 1:29), and Good Shepherd (John 10).
o To the Sinner—He is the One born the Saviour (Matthew 1:21).
o To the Slave—He is the Redeemer—One who buys back (Galatians 3:13).
o To the Soldier—He is the Captain (Hebrews 2:10; Psalm 24:8).
o To the Statesman—He is the Desire of all Nations (Haggai 2:7).
o To the Stormtossed—He is a Refuge in storms (Isaiah 25:4).
o To the Student—He is Incarnate Truth (John 1:14; 14:6).
o To the Theologian—He is the Author and Finisher of Faith (Hebrews 12:2).
o To the Thirsty—He is the Water of Life (John 4:10).
o To the Toiler—He is the Rest-Giver (Zephaniah 3:17; Mark 6:31).
o To the Traveller—He is the Guide (Psalm 48:14).
o To the Unclean—He is the Fountain of Cleansing (Zechariah 13:1).
o To the Weak—He is the Power of God (1 Corinthians 1:24).
o To the Widow—He is the Husband (Isaiah 54:5; Jeremiah 49:11).
o To the Wise—He is the Wisdom of God (1 Corinthians 1:24, 30).
o To the Zoologist—He is the Lion of Judah (Revelation 5:5).
Herbert Lockyer “All the Divine Names and Titles in the Bible”:
For some, 2021 was just about the best year imaginable. Our grandson and his wife welcomed a beautiful baby girl into their home. What can be a more precious gift than that? For others, 2021 was the year that their spouse died, or a child, or a parent and life as they know it has changed forever.
Whether you are looking forward to the very best year of your life, or to the fulfillment of your worst fears, Jesus Christ is the great “I Am”. He is enough for whatever this year brings. And, if you know Him as Savior, He loves you so much that He has come here to live in you now, until that day He takes you to live with Him there.
It is His promise.