Sunday, December 11, 2011

Baby Names - Isaiah 9:6

Those of you that are parents know just how important it is to pick out just the right name for your baby.  People spend hours and hours picking out just the right name and matching it with just the right middle name, taking into account what the initials will be, will it be easy to make fun of by kids at school, how easy it is to say.  Some people want Bible names.  I looked online at the most popular names this year and was surprised by how many were biblical.  Noah, Caleb, Benjamin, Jacob, Levi, Gabriel, Isaac, James were all popular boys' names this year and interestingly, Elizabeth was the only biblical girls' name that was popular. 

When my sister was pregnant and found out it was a boy, my bro-in-law wanted to make sure that whatever name they picked would sound good when announced by the Major League Baseball announcer.  "Chase Caywood at the plate!"  "Homerun by Chase Caywood!"  15 years later and I was at one of his little league games when the announcer said just that and I looked at my sister and said, "That does sound good."  She just nodded knowingly. 

Somebody tell me what you named your child and why.  I know Carol had several boys and named them all the same thing.  We will see in just a minute how important names are for us as we relate to Jesus.

Last week we had a "guest speaker" who told his version of what happened to him when an angel came to him to tell him about Jesus being born.  He quoted some scripture from the Old Testament prophesying the birth of Jesus and I wanted to spend a little time looking at some of those for the next week or two. 

Turn to Isaiah 9:6 and as you do I want to tell you that Isaiah wrote his book about 700 years before Jesus was born and wrote it to the Hebrew people who lived in Israel.  I continue to be amazed at the relevancy of the Word of God as where else could a group of Gentiles in Runaway Bay, Texas find hope and encouragement 2700 years after it is written?

Read Isaiah 9:6 

Isaiah is a book that shows completely both God's wrath and his provision for his people.  In chapter one he calls Israel a rebellious people.  In chapter 6 he says they are blind and deaf.  In chapter 5 a vineyard to be trampled and in chapters 5 & 10 they are devoid of justice and righteousness.  In fact, in just the previous chapter (8) he uses the words "distressed and hungry, famished, enraged, curses, darkness, fearful gloom".   

But then in chapter 9, the first word is "Nevertheless".  He says in the previous chapter that there are consequences for your disobedience.  But in chapter 9 he brings hope.  In the previous chapters he says God is "the Holy One of Israel" who must punish His rebellious people.  But in our passage today we see God fulfilling His promise that He had made so many years before with Abram that we were looking at in Genesis. 

We could stop right here and learn that lesson and see that application that when we sin there are consequences.   NEVERTHELESS God is faithful to do what He said He would do.  But I want us to look closer at these names that are given to Jesus who fulfills this prophesy and I want us to see that even today, Jesus is the embodiment of these names. 

"...And He will be called Wonderful Counselor" 

The term refers to a king or someone of royalty that has a plan or a program to carry out.  They know what is going on.  They know how to fix the problem and are willing to help you do the right thing. 

One morning the young new president of a bank made an appointment to see his predecessor to seek some advice.  He began, " Sir, as you well know, I lack a great deal of the qualifications you already for this job.  You have been successful as president of this bank, and I wondered if you would be kind enough to share some of your insights."

The man looked at him and said, "Young man, two words:  good decisions."

The young man responded, "But how do I know which is the good decision?"

"One word young man:  experience."

"But how does one get experience?"

"Two words young man:  bad decisions."

Now that may be true but I want to make the right decision the first time.  In the Bible, Jesus was constantly being asked questions.  Usually it was somebody trying to trick Him but Jesus always answered correctly.  He always answered wisely. 

In Matt.22:34 it says..."Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind."
It's just an example of Jesus knowing what was going on and knowing the right answer.  I go back to one of my favorite verses, Proverbs 3:5-6 that says, "Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;  in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight."
Jesus has the credentials to be our advisor because he is completely trustworthy and wise.

Jesus provides two things that we’d look for in a great counselor:
a. He is understanding. – “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are - yet was without sin.” (Heb. 4:15)

b. He is someone who really cares. – “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” (1 Pet. 5:7)

So when we face any and every decision, this prophecy tells us that Jesus is there to advise us and give us direction. What should I do with my investment portfolio? When do I retire? Should I spank my child? Which movie will we rent? Should I re-model my kitchen? Jesus is our top advisor. He can see every possible outcome, and knows which choice is best. Every time.
Now I want you to go to the insert in your bulletin and take the first part of the self-evaluation that is in there.  How well do you do going to Him with your decisions?  How much do you trust Him to understand you and care for you?  Do you trust in Him or do you lean on your own understanding? On a scale of 1-10 how do you rank?  Don't show anybody and don't look at anybody else's. 
The next name given to Jesus is "Mighty God".The word “mighty” was commonly associated with warfare and has to do with the strength and vitality of a successful warrior.
King David had a group of bodyguards around him.  Do remember how they are called?  His "Mighty Men".  I love to read in 2 Samuel 23 about those guys.  There were 3 main ones and it says that one of them killed 800 enemies in one encounter!  The other 2 both fought off entire armies by themselves when all the other men had fled.
That's some serious special-ops, Green Beret, special forces, Navy SEAL bad dudes right there!  They were brave and strong but not only that they had to be wise in the ways of battle.  You don't kill 800 other warriors just by being brave or just by being strong.  You have to know the secrets, you have to have skill.  You have to be experienced.
And that's why the name "Mighty God" fits Jesus so well.  Jesus never got into a physical fight but we know he was a powerful man from reading in Luke 19 where he had the physical aptitude to drive out all the money-changers.  And then in John 18:6 it tells that with a word Jesus made his enemies fall back and drop to the ground.
 But even more than just being a physically mighty man, Jesus was spiritually mighty as well.  In all 4 Gospels it tells that Jesus was powerful enough to overcome death and the grave and after being dead for 3 days He rose again and has the might and the power to remain alive.
And not only that but it says in Ephesians 1:18-20 that Paul was praying for the church at Ephesus:  "I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms."
So, not only is Jesus mighty enough to overcome death but we have that same power today in our lives as believers to overcome anything that God has asked us to overcome.  We have the power in us but through Him to do anything He asks us to do!
Now I want you to rank yourself on a scale of 1-10 on how well and how often you believe and use God's power.  How often do you try to use your power to fix something or how much do you use the power of God?
So, not only do we have a Wonderful Counselor who can help and will show us the way, we also have a Mighty God who gives us the strength to do it and we also have an Everlasting Father. 

Several years ago one of the mens' prisons decided they would do something nice for the inmates on Mothers' Day and provide them with free Mothers' Day cards to send.  It was a great idea and was so popular they decided to do the same thing for Fathers' Day.  Only this time hardly anybody took a card.  What was the difference? 

One of the common denominators for those men was not knowing or having a relationship with their fathers.  They all knew and loved their mamas but most didn't have anything to do with their fathers.  Today, no matter how you think of your father, you can understand the importance of having a good relationship with your him.

But I hear what you are saying.  Pastor Todd, I thought we were talking about Jesus the Son not God the Father.  You're right.  We are, but Jesus the Son also has fatherly qualities.

In Luke 13:34 Jesus is coming into the town of Jerusalem.  As he tops the last hill before the city limits He says, "Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. "

Can’t you just hear the longings of a parent in those words?  And in Matthew 11:28 He says, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."  In Luke 7:13 Jesus sees a widow crying because her only son had died and just before He raises the boy back to life it says that His heart went out to her and He told her not to cry.

Who here doesn't need a father-figure?  Who here doesn't need a strong hug from someone you know will give you good counsel, someone who has the strength to protect you and loves you like only a good father can?

How well do rate when it comes to running to Him when you are in trouble?  On a scale of 1-10, how do you rate trusting Him with your secrets and telling Him your dreams or just curling up with Him and His Word when you have had a bad day?

This ties right in to the next name that we see in Isaiah.  Prince of Peace.

I can probably just skip this one especially this time of year when we sing about peace, we talk about peace on earth, everything is so peaceful.  I'm sure you all have your Christmas shopping done and that sure is peaceful, right?  Maybe if you do have shopping left you just skip over to the store, getting a great parking place and then breezing into the store where you find what you want quickly with the help a friendly and knowledgeable employee and then you ease on home where you sing "O Holy Night" around the fire with your spouse looking at you lovingly.

Or maybe not.  Maybe there is no spouse for you this year.  Maybe there is no job to provide for a house, much less money to buy gifts.  Maybe you're in poor health or maybe you drag around guilt like a boat anchor.  Maybe addiction or relational problems have stolen your peace.  Or maybe you just don't have a relationship with the Prince of Peace.

I've told you before that some years ago I spent a long time away from the Lord.  I knew what I was supposed to do but I was too stubborn to give up doing what I wanted because I was having fun.  I would go out with my friends and laugh and have a good time but when I was alone, laying in bed, and this is the part I've never told anybody ever, sometimes, oftentimes, I wanted to kill myself and end all of the hurt.

I had a job, friends, stuff, hobbies.  I had everything except peace.  And that hurt was almost unbearable.  But Satan kept telling me that I was having too much fun.  I was living my own life, doing what I wanted and that was worth it.  But Satan is a liar and a thief and he wanted me dead.  It wasn't until, by the grace of God through His Son Jesus, I asked for forgiveness and the Prince of Peace was waiting for me there.

He was waiting like a Wonderful Counselor with a plan for my life.  He was waiting like a Mighty God with the power to help me overcome.  He was waiting for me like a loving and Everlasting Father ready to forgive me and like the wonderful Prince of Peace He continues to sing over me and make this life worth living.  And without Him I have none of that.

How do you rate your peace?  Romans 5:1 says, “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

If your peace is lacking then maybe it's because your relationship with Him is lacking.  You may have heard me several times say that we have these things as believers.  As believers we have all of this and more but it's not guaranteed to non-believers.  Have you asked Him into your life to be your Lord and Savior?  Have you asked Him for forgiveness?  Today is the day of salvation!  Today a child is born.

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