We talked in the last message about how God wants to add more of His favor into your life, thereby increasing the meaning of your name. No matter what people thought about you when your name was mentioned God is adding new meaning day by day. Every time that you obey Him He pours more of His power and favor into your life!
In this message I want to talk to you about the Apostle Paul. He is a perfect example of how God can change a life so dramatically that it affected his name in such a great way. Your name reflects your success in life and God wants to enhance yours and mine.
In Acts Chapter Nine Saul was on his way to kill some more Christians with new authority from the High Priest. To Christians, Saulís name meant a murderer, one who they needed to avoid, but God had other ideas! There was a great light that shined from heaven and this light blinded him and knocked him off his horse. He knew that it was God and said "who art thou Lord?" Jesus answered "I am Jesus." This must have sent shivers through his spine. He was killing people who belonged to Jesus. He now knew that Jesus was Lord! Paul knew now that Jesusí name had a meaning which he didnít realize before. God led him to a man named Ananias who laid hands on him and Saul received his sight and got saved! As soon as he got saved he started preaching Christ in the synagogues (v. 20). The meaning of his name was starting to change, as well as his name itself (Paul). God showed Paul through Ananias how much great things that he had to suffer for His Nameís sake (v.16) and it really happened. He was arrested and put on a ship heading for Rome that was sinking in a storm.(Acts 27) God rescued him and he landed on an island named Melita (Acts 28). There a snake bit him, but he felt no harm. The people on the island turned to Jesus and got healed. Paulís name and reputation were growing because of Godís favor in his life. He finally got to Rome and God used him to reach people in Caesarís court. He had his own hired house and preached Jesus with all confidence and nobody was able to stop him (v. 30, 31). His ministry and reputation for Jesus was starting to really grow as well as the persecutions.
When I think about Paul I think about the fact that he wrote two thirds of the New Testament but I also think of all the persecutions that he had to endure! In 2 Cor. Chapter 4 we read about many of them: In v. 8 he said that he was troubled on every side, yet not distressed. How many people are troubled on every side? Some of us are going through something we think it is so bad and it is sure not pleasurable but it is nothing compared to what Paul had to go through! But through all his attacks and trials he never wavered on Jesus, he never compromised. Can God say the same thing about you? Can people think of your name and see the obedience and determination in your life not to compromise on God or His word? Paul also said in v. 8 that even though he was perplexed he was not in despair, persecuted but not forsaken, cast down but not destroyed. He knew that if he didnít understand why God allowed something into his life to attack him that he was not going to try to figure it out, but press on! Paul said in Philippians 3 v. 13 that he was not going to look back but only ahead and press towards the prize of the high calling. Look how much honor is attached to Paulís name because of his non-compromised spirit! Paul also mentioned in 2 Cor. 4 v. 11 that the spirit of death was always trying to get him. Imagine being pursued by the spirit of death 24 hours a day? Paul considered all these things as light afflictions.(v.17) If ever there was a great teacher in the bible besides Jesus it was Paul. He taught by example. The same passion that drove him to kill Christians drove him to convert and save others to the same faith. He had such zeal. This is what his name meant to so many people! This is what his name means to so many Christians now too! Never was his devotion to Jesus and his non-compromise attitude more evident as when he was facing death. In 2 Timothy Chapter 4, he told Timothy to preach the word and to be instant in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine. All Paul was concerned about was preaching the word and was not concerned about the pressures coming against him as a result. He was probably surprised if there was no pressure. He was so accustomed to the pressure. This is such a lesson to many of us; just do what Jesus says to do no matter what the devil is allowed to throw at you. God will attach so much more meaning to your name, as He gets the glory from your life. Some of Paulís final words are contained in v. 7- "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, and I have kept the faith! As the authorities probably wanted to threaten him to deny Jesus before he died, he responded to their attacks in v. 18. He said that the Lord would deliver him from any evil work and will preserve him into His heavenly kingdom! He knew that God had kept him up to this point and that he was not going to let anybody talk him out of serving Jesus, even at the end!
So, I pray that we learn from the life of Paul that no matter what our name meant to people before, including Satan, God is building up a reputation attached to our names that will scare even the Devil. Satan said to the seven sons of Sceva in Acts 19 v. 15 that "I know Jesus and I know Paul but who are you." By living a non-compromised life for Jesus and obeying Him in what He asks you to do, your name will strike fear in the enemyís camp, just like Paul. When Gideon overheard the fear that the enemy had when they said that the sword of the Lord and the sword of Gideon was going to destroy them, he marched towards them in confidence. (Judges 7 v. 14- 22)
So, know today that God is changing the meaning of your name everyday as you obey Him, especially to Satan and his crowd! As you obey, God adds favor to your name! Remember in the life of Paul, that what his name meant before he got knocked off his horse was totally changed after he followed Jesus.
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