Greg Laurie is the senior pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, Calif., one of the largest churches in America. He is also the featured speaker for Harvest Crusades, large-scale evangelistic outreaches that have been attended by more than 4 million people around the world since 1990. Greg is heard internationally on the daily radio broadcast, "A New Beginning." To learn more about Greg Laurie go to www.greglaurie.com.More ↓Less ↑
Editor’s note: We at WND would like to wish Pastor Greg a hearty happy birthday as he celebrates his 60th this week! May his God-glorifying writing, preaching and pastoring continue for many years to come.
If you have gone through life with a name you don’t appreciate, then you know that names can really make a difference. One psychiatrist studied the names of 15,000 juvenile delinquents and discovered that those with odd or embarrassing names were in trouble four times as often.
In the Old Testament, we see that names often were connected to something related to the birth of the child or something to describe a physical trait of the child. For instance, the name Esau meant “hairy.” His parents looked at him and essentially said, “Yeah, he’s hairy. Let’s call him Hairy.” His twin brother, who was hanging on to Esau’s heel at the time of their birth, was named Jacob, which means “heel catcher.”
Then in 1 Samuel 4, we find the story of Phinehas’ wife, who, while she was in labor, learned that the Ark of the Covenant had been captured in battle and that her husband and father-in-law were dead. She named her newborn son Ichabod, which means “the glory has departed.” Just imagine your child coming home with him: “Mom, this is my new friend, The Glory Has Departed.” OK … why don’t you guys go outside now?
But the most important name of all is found in the New Testament, when the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary and told her that she would give birth to a son, and he was to be called Jesus, because he would save his people from their sins.
Jesus Christ is the name above all names. It’s the name by which we divide human time. There is power in that name. If you don’t believe me, just try saying it out loud sometime in a crowded, noisy room where people are jabbering away. Even people who don’t believe in God will sometimes use his name as a form of profanity. Why not invoke the name of “Buddha” or “Hare Krishna”? Because there is power in the name of Jesus. And by using his name, even in profanity, people are unwittingly acknowledging this.
Isaiah 9:6, one of the Bible’s great Christmas verses, gives us more insight into his name: “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
His name is Wonderful. That takes care of the dullness of life. The “wonder” in this verse could be translated amazement, surprise, astonishment, admiration, bewilderment, worship, awe. The best way to sum it up would be as follows: God is awesome. That is really the only way to properly use the word awesome.
Medical science seeks to add years to your life, but only Jesus Christ can add life to your years and give you a life that is worth living. His name is Wonderful.
His name is Counselor. That takes care of the decisions of life. Did you know that God Almighty wants to personally give you direction? He has a plan custom-designed just for you. Think of all of the places people look for answers today. Some go to the local bar and pour out their troubles to anyone will listen. Some will go to psychics. Others will go to psychiatrists and psychologists. Others will even go to Google trying to find answers.
But everything we need to know about life and about God is found in his book, the Bible. And God will speak to us through it. As Isaiah said, his name is Counselor.
His name is Mighty God. That takes care of the demands of life. It is important for us to know that Jesus was not a man who became God. That is impossible. Rather, he was God who became a man. That is what Christmas is all about. It is the incarnation, when God became a man.
A lot of people, when they try out the electronic gizmos they receive for Christmas this year, will find they don’t work. So they will call tech support. And a tech support representative always will begin with two questions: Is it plugged in? And, is it turned on? It is amazing how many people’s devices do not work because they are not plugged in or turned on.
God might ask the same of us. Are you plugged in? Jesus will give you the power to live the life you have been called to live, because his name is Mighty God.
His name is Everlasting Father. That takes care of the future of life. The Bible teaches that you will live forever. And that is not necessarily a good thing, because it all depends on where you live. One day, life on earth will end and your soul and your resurrected body will go into God’s presence. If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, you will live in heaven. But if you are not a believer, the Bible teaches that you will spend all eternity separated from God in a place called hell. But if you know the Everlasting Father, then you don’t have to be afraid of that.
When you think of God as a father, it may be hard for you to relate because of your relationship with your earthly father. Or perhaps you didn’t have a father around at all. But God is a caring father. He always will be there for you, because he is your Everlasting Father.
Lastly, he is the Prince of Peace. That takes care of the disturbances of life. In the storms of life, we long for peace. Life is filled with friction and hardship and difficulty. But you are not going to find peace in a bottle. You are not going to find peace in a drug. You are not going to find peace in a possession. You are only going to find peace in a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. He will be your Prince of Peace.
We talk a lot about Christmas trees at this time of year, but the real Christmas tree is the cross on which Jesus Christ hung. Before there was a planet called Earth, much less a garden city called Bethlehem, a decision was made in heaven. And the decision was that Jesus would come to this earth and die for us.
So what’s in a name? Well, it all depends on whose name it is. If it is the name of Jesus Christ, then everything you need is in that name.