Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Do You Have a Good Name?

“When your name is said in your community,

 what do you think comes to a person’s mind?”

“A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold.” (Proverbs 22:1) What do you think of that statement from the Bible? It should make you stop and reflect on the kind of life you are living. (Image from iStock)

When your name is said in your community, what do you think comes to a person’s mind? What about among your family and closest friends, those who know you best, who know both your good and bad? What about with God? Keep in mind, He is a Spirit that is present everywhere all the time. Meaning, He has seen everything we have ever done and heard everything we have ever spoken. He also knows everything that has ever passed through our mind: all images, thoughts and motives. Based on that, what if someone came to God in heaven and mentioned your name to Him, what do you think would come to His mind?

The Bible verse clearly communicates that a person’s name has significance because it is a reflection of their life. And it states that a good name is to be chosen over riches. What does riches mean? It refers to a person’s strong focus on increased income, possessions, influence and all the different things that money can do at the expense of a good name. But what is at the heart of the pursuit of riches? Self. We want, what we want, when we want it. This reveals our perspective on life. First, we are the most important person in our life and primarily focus on what has a direct or indirect benefit on us. Second, we are only focused on the present or future of this life.

What does the proverb mean by desiring a “good name”? It does not primarily refer to a good name among people, because that would lead to pleasing others in order to be accepted by them. It indicates desiring a good name before God and acceptance by Him. This is the wiser and to be sought out above everything else in life.

How does one achieve a good name? It starts with admitting your life has been primarily about you, which has led to disobedience against God and the disrespect of others. It is lifting your eyes off yourself and up toward God’s only Son, Jesus, who died and rose again. It is calling upon God in faith, asking Him to help change your ways, and maybe even going to others to make things right whom you have wronged. It is God pouring His Spirit within you and giving you His character and power to live differently. And according to His Word, your life will start to become marked by a new set of qualities: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control.

The new life God will bring upon us will have three amazing promises. First, we will receive a new name. Yes, we will keep our previous name, but in being changed by God our name will become “good” by Him, thereby becoming new. Second, Jesus promises that our new name is written down in a book of life He possesses. Third, He promises that one day in the future, beyond this life, He will confess our new name before God the Father in heaven and all the angels.

If you continue living as you are, the God who knows all things will judge you accordingly and the present and eternal consequences that come will be justified. But if you desire a good name and favor with God above the temporal things of this life, and turn to Him with all your heart, you will escape His judgment and receive a new name that one day will be voiced among the angels.

A prayer for you - Lord God, I pray you will help us to examine my ways. Have we been only living for ourselves and this life? Have we disrespected others and disobeyed You in the pursuit of our interests? Lift our eyes toward You, for You are King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Save us. Change us. Give us a new name that we might live honorably before You. In Jesus name. Amen.

Parents, Change Starts with You

“The harmful choices of one generation

 gets passed on to the next through


How do the choices you make affect your children and grandchildren? I read the following from a woman about her family, Everyone in my family for the past four generations has cheated — except for me and one cousin. (And I’m not sure about him.) My great-grandfather’s affairs were legendary, and I now own the mirror he bought my great-grandmother as an apology after one particularly public affair. My grandmother had affairs. My grandfather [did to], and used to take my father along to see his [lovers]. My father cheated with girls I went to high school with, and my sister has never had a relationship in which she hasn’t cheated. One cousin has been divorced four times, and is always engaged to the next one before the divorce is even filed.”(Image by Denise Husted from Pixabay)

How does this happen where the hurtful decisions of the parents are repeated by the children? We see this in a range of moral choices from divorce, sex outside of marriage, gambling, alcoholism, physical abuse and more. We see it in lifestyle choices like living in financial debt and maintaining an unhealthy life leading to obesity. We also see it in various attitudes and beliefs that are passed down to each generation.

The harmful choices of one generation gets passed on to the next through influence. It is written, Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.” (Proverbs 13:20) When children are young and impressionable, who are their biggest influencers? Family—parents, grandparents and siblings. And if those influencers are wise, what a blessing, but if dad and mom engage in foolish, reckless and immoral behavior in those early years, the children are likely to repeat the same things.

What is another word for bad moral choices? Sin. It is where we fall short of God’s perfect standard. Parents and children are all born with this inner corruption, which leads them toward rebelling against God’s ways. However, parents play a key role through influence. They can either lead their children away from God and deeper into a sinful lifestyle, or they can lead them toward God, and show how they can be free from the power of sin. How can a parent do this?

1)    Examine your life to see if there are areas where you have provided an ungodly example, and thereby influenced your children. 

2)    Be willing to stop and change your ways for the sake of yourself and your family.

3)    Turn toward Jesus by faith, and call upon Him with a desperate heart to change you.

4)    Through the power of God, be transformed and live the difference every day before your family.

5)    Teach your children and grandchildren the ways of God, that they would follow after them.

6)    Earnestly pray for them, that God’s Spirit would change their hearts, just like He did yours.

7)    Accept responsibility for how you influenced your children, but do not bear the guilt of their own independent choices.

8)    Step out of the way and let God work. Do not let your guilt from past choices cause you to be an enabler or rescuer of your children. Give them to God, and let them succeed or fail because of their own choices. The Scriptures say, “Let each one test his own work…For each will have to bear his own load.” (Galatians 6:4-5)

9)    Be patient and endure. It took time for you, and it will take time for them.

10) Be filled with optimism and hope. No matter how hard it is, how you are treated or how long it takes, believe that nothing is impossible with God.    

A prayer for you – Lord God, I pray that the cycle of harmful choices that have been passed down from parents to children for generations. Let the family tree be changed today! The death and resurrection of Jesus, shows us that change is possible and how nothing is to big for God. Come, Lord, change our own hearts as parents. Come, Lord, change our family! In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Wednesday, April 3, 2024

When The Laws of God and Man Clash

“These are divisive times like we have not

 seen in generations. How shall we live in

 such polarization?”

President Abraham Lincoln once said, referring to America in the face of civil war, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” And Aesop, a great thinker and story teller of history, wrote something similar, “United we stand, divided we fall.”
(Ian Hutchinson on Unsplash)

America is facing tremendous division, and the future of our land of liberty is at stake.

What is dividing our nation? It is a division rooted in fundamental differences of values on very important moral and spiritual issues. They are hotly debated topics like abortion, gay marriage, transgenderism, illegal immigration, climate change, election interference, Covid vaccines and DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion).

These issues have been formed into governmental laws and policies that either further promote or restrict them. And whether someone be known or unknown, if they oppose an agreed upon narrative for these divisive issues, then they could be subject to a form of persecution. They may have their social media accounts shut down. Other online companies may end their relationships with them. Their banks may no longer do business with them. They may be fired from their job. They may be subject to state or federal investigations. They may be sued. They could be arrested. They could be jailed.

These are divisive times like we have not seen in generations. How shall we live in such polarization? Does God have anything to say?

The New Testament was written to followers of Christ under attack because of their beliefs and practices, which stood in opposition to various Jewish, Roman and Greek laws and traditions. The times we live in are unique to us, but not to the annals of world history.

Read what Peter, one of Jesus’ leading Apostles, wrote to Christians who were living under a godless form of government that was persecuting them, “Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him…For this is the will of God.” (1 Peter 2:13-15) Then Peter went on saying, “But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God.” (vs. 20)

Peter is saying straightforward that followers of Christ are to live as model citizens by complying with the law, but at the same time he recognizes that occasionally the two conflict. Sometimes doing what the Bible says (either directly or in principle) may violate the law. Then what?

Doing what God’s Word says is the definition of “doing good.” That can mean sharing the plan of salvation with others, providing material help to those in need, offering godly counsel to the struggling or standing for biblical truth and justice. Through Peter, the Lord God tells us to always press forward and do good no matter the situation we face.

Here are three points to keep in mind. 1) We should do good by faith at all times, while entrusting the outcome of our actions to the Sovereign King. 2) We should not let the sin of anger, bitterness or evil speaking be found on our lips toward those who oppose us. 3) We should be willing to fully accept all consequences that may come our way.

The outcome of this, is that we will follow Jesus’ example as He suffered unjustly on His way to the cross, doing good for the whole world.

In the divisive times we live be prayerful, walk wisely and always remember, in the eyes of God, it is eternally lawful and just to do what is good and loving.

A prayer for you - Lord God, I pray against this evil that is dividing our nation. May the eyes of people be open to see the way before them that is true and just. And I pray for the church, that it would be bold, wise and loving, never fearing to do what is right and good. In Jesus’ name. Amen.