Thursday, February 21, 2013

Call on His Name

Once years ago, I was calling a church member on the phone.  They weren't home, so I left a message on their answering machine.  At the end of my message, instead of saying goodbye, for some unknown reason I heard my mouth say, "In Christ's name, Amen."  I was mortified at that point, because it was just a bizarre thing to say on a phone message, and there was no way for me to take it back.  I had been taught all my life to end my prayers with those words.  I must have said them thousands of times in my life, so often I didn't even think about them when I said them.  That explained why they slipped out of my mouth at an inappropriate moment.  But why was I taught to pray that way? The short answer is we're commanded in John 14:12-14 to pray in the name of Jesus.  But what does that mean, exactly?

 We are ambassadors for Christ.  Our mission in life is to help people reconcile with God.  When I look at the people in Scripture who represented God well in godless times, they had certain characteristics in common.  One was that they were men and women of supernatural power.  They changed the world by calling on His name.  Scripture tells us that at the name of Jesus, demons flee.  At the name of Jesus, someday every knee will bow in Heaven and Earth.  But it’s not a magic trick.  Acts 19 tells the story of seven young men who fancied themselves exorcists. They were trying to cast a demon out of a man by saying, “In the name of Jesus who Paul preaches, come out of him!”  The demon spoke from within the man and said, “I know Jesus and I know Paul, but who are you?”  He then pounced on these seven guys and beat them so severely, they ran out of the house naked and bleeding.  We also know it isn’t a matter of just tacking “In Jesus’ name” onto the end of your prayer, like I was in the habit of doing.  After all, in the model prayer Jesus gave us—we know it as the Lord’s Prayer—He ends it with a simple “amen.”  So for the next six weeks—from now until Easter—we’re going to talk about how we can experience the power of Jesus Christ.  We’re going to look at the various names He was called in the New Testament (names like Jesus Christ, Son of Man, Son of God, Lamb of God, and My Lord and My God), so that you and I can know more about this God to whom we pray.  This Sunday, as we start this new series, let’s look at where this idea of praying in the name of Jesus comes from—and what it really means.

By the way, the title of this sermon has had me singing this song in my head all week.

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