Friday, March 1, 2013

There is Power In the Name of Jesus


There is Power In the Name of Jesus

 

“Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” – Philippians 2:9-11

One of the things I most looked forward to when having my children was naming them.  Years before they were born, I’d picked their names.  I wanted to give them unique names that would carry no baggage from the last “Jack” or “Jill” that a person knew.  My mother blessed me with such a name by naming me “Faithie” after her mother.  I wanted their names to have meaning, and be a reminder of those we loved.  My son was named Levingston Mauries, after my great-grandfather, who meant so much to me, and his father’s grandfather.  I can think of no greater way to honor those you love than giving them a namesake. 
My daughter’s first name was actually picked by Lev from three names.  Being the big brother, I wanted him to have a part in her life from the start.  But since he was six years old, I ‘pre-approved’ the three names he could pick from.  Otherwise, she might have been named ‘the pink power ranger’! She was first named Isabella, but with big blue eyes sparkling, Lev came to me a little later sounding almost apologetic and said “Mom, I want to change her name.  I think her name should be Gabriella.”  And so it was!  But her middle name I had picked long before, which is Grace. Her middle name was to remind me of how good God’s grace is.  She was, in part, named after God. 

Mary did not get to name her baby Jesus.  He was named by His Father God, and it was given to Joseph in a dream.  It was not a family name or a familiar name, but it had meaning.  Isaiah 9:6 had proclaimed His name, and says 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.” Instead of telling the given name of Jesus, which God had not revealed, Isaiah prophesied the meaning of His name.  There would be no one else like Him: Mighty, Wonderful, Everlasting Jesus, our Prince of Peace.   
The name Jesus is like no other.  Philippians 2:9-11 tells us that it is the “name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”  There is power in the name JESUS over all in heaven, on earth, and yes, under the earth. 

In Acts 16:16-24, Paul and Silas have travelled to Philippi, the home of the church to which the book of Philippians was written.  There they went to pray daily by the river, which was customary in that town.  Along the way a young girl who had been taken into slavery would follow after them.  She was possessed by an evil spirit of divination, which is called a “spirit of python” based on Greek mythology, which says that Apollo once killed a snake, a python, and possessed the power of divination.  Her masters were paid for her fortune telling through this evil spirit. 
As she followed along after them she would cry out, “These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation.” Even the evil spirit within her had to proclaim the glory of God when Paul and Silas walked by!

But there was a problem in her being the one to represent them as “the servants of the Most High God”.  Paul and Silas would work miracles to prove their power through the Holy Spirit of God, and would be believed to indeed be “the servants of the Most High God”.  If she were to be found telling the truth about Paul and Silas, then some would believe the other things she said, which were evil and from the father of lies, Satan.  The evil power in her had to be defeated.
Rewind to the days of Moses and Aaron facing the Pharaoh of Egypt in Exodus 7:8-13.  Aaron had been told by God to perform a miracle for Pharaoh so that he would believe they represented God.  Aaron cast down his rod and it became a snake.  But Pharaoh called his magicians and sorceries, and they cast down their rods and they all became snakes.  God defeated their evil spirits right there!  Aaron’s snake ate the snakes of the magicians and sorcerers, proving that God has power over evil.  Paul and Silas had to prove this same thing to prevent the association of their ministry to the evil divination of the young slave girl. 

For days now she had followed after them crying out “These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation.”  Paul was “greatly annoyed” by her!  He finally turned to her and said to the evil spirit “I command you IN THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST to come out of her.” Immediately, the evil spirit came out.
Jeremiah 10:6 “There is none like you, O Lord; you are great, and your name is great in might.”  There is power in the name of Jesus!  In His Holy Name the evil spirit was cast out of her.  Paul’s command to the demon referenced the level of authority that he possessed, through the name of Jesus.

This wasn’t the first time a demon was cast out, and it isn’t a ministry that died with the apostles.  It was given to seventy disciples by Jesus in Luke 10:17-20 who all returned to Jesus proclaiming with joy, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.”  But Jesus responded to the seventy disciples and said I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven.”
Jesus doesn’t want us to focus on the power to overcome the evil spirits that possess or oppress us.  Instead, our focus should be on Him.  We are to “Abstain from all appearance of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:22), which we cannot do if we continually focus on evil spirits.  Our joy is in the salvation of Jesus Christ, and our names being written in the book of life.  This is our focus, and our refuge.  But in times of trouble, when evil spirits of anxiety, depression, failure, suicide, disease, and the like trouble us and cause us emotional and mental pain, Jesus does provide us with the power to overcome evil.  There is power in the name of Jesus!  When unleashed, “even the demons believe—and shudder!”(James 2:19)

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