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Change of name

digital-art-396825_640Genesis 28:19: He called the name of that place Bethel, but the name of the city was Luz at the first.

A change of name in the bible marks a new beginning. Jacob’s name was changed to Israel and that marked a new beginning for him (Genesis 32:28). The name of Abram was changed to Abraham, and his wife’s name from Sarai to Sarah (Genesis 17:5, 15). Though that did not immediately make their new beginning visible, it set them on the sure path to it

Names also have prophetic meaning. That was how we came about the name of Jesus (Matthew 1:29). He was not the first person to be so named. But for him the name conveys his destiny. It was not just a nice cute name, it conveys his mission. It constantly remind him of why he has come to the earth, kept him fixed on his divine mission.

Jacob decided to call a place Bethel because of the revelation of God he got while he was there (Genesis 28), the manifestation of the presence of God he experienced there. He saw the place as a portal, a gateway of heaven. He had a powerful experience there, named it and it became a reference point. What he saw that night marked a mighty encounter with God. Though he thought that he just all alone in the bush, he discover that God sees him, is with him and was committed by covenant to him.

Similarly, Hagar, the slave mother of Ishmael son of Abraham had an encounter with God at a crossroad and she gave God a name based on that encounter (Genesis 16). She had ran away from Sarai her mistress while she was pregnant with Abraham’s first child.

She felt she was all alone in the world. She was an Egyptian far away from her family; a slave, low on the social ladder, and in the wilderness, she felt really alone. But he had an encounter with God which changed her life. She had an encounter with God, who spoke to her through an angel. She discovered that contrary to what she thought, God sees her. And he gave powerful words of promises to her.

She gained direction from the angel of God who helped her to gain a different perspective on her situation, make the right choice even in her confusion. So she decided to give the God who appears to her a name which is: the God who sees. Through she felt alone, from the encounter, she realised that God sees her.

Abraham also had his own “naming” encounter with God. God told him to go to and sacrifice his son and he heard a voice from heaven which says, he should not but should replace it with a ram (Genesis 22). He named the place: the Lord will provide. That to him was the revelation of God that he got. The sacrifice that was supposed to cost Abraham everything (his son, was everything to him) cost him nothing. He experienced God as provider.

Samuel a prophet in Israel named a stone Ebenezer (1Samuel 7:7-13). Which means the stone of help. When the armies of the Philistines wanted to crush Israel when they were weakest, Samuel prayed to God, made a sacrifice, and God thundered from heaven and discomfited the foreign army and gave victory to Israel. On that day, they experienced God defending them supernaturally.

When you became a Christian, your name is changed from sinner to righteous, from sick to healthy, from poor to rich. Paul wrote that though Jesus was rich for our sake he became poor so that through his poverty we might become rich. It is the doctrine of divine exchange.

He went through a gruelling physical experience. He was beaten almost senseless just for the fun of it, not because he did anything wrong. And He died. And after he rose up he declared that all powers in heaven and on earth are given to him, and since we are in union with him we are jointly empowered. He was physically beaten and so the bible says by his stripes we were healed, and because that we can come to peace with God and with ourselves the bible says that the chastisement of our peace was laid upon him (Isaiah 53:5, 1Peter 2:24). So that we can come to peace he was chastised.

Because of Jesus we are moved from bondage to freedom. He said to a woman bound by the devil for eighteen years, you are loosed. Jesus was for her a change of name from bound to free. A man was paralysed for eighteen years (Luke 13:10-17), meeting Jesus, or Jesus meeting him changed his story. He rose up and walked.

Jesus described the different areas of help he offers when he said the Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor, etc. Peter said that he went about doing good and healing those who are oppressed by the devil because God was with him (Acts 10:38). God with him is descriptive of the power of the Holy Spirit with which he operated.

He brought a change by the power of the Holy Spirit. And when he was going he said we shall receive power after the Holy Spirit has come upon us (Acts 1:8). He wanted to bring all of us to his name changing level, make us name changers.

A few days after that happened, Peter and John ministered to a man who have been lame for a long time (Acts 3:1-11), and his name was changed his name/label from lame to healed and jumping. He then entered the temple maybe for the first time in his life. Before then he was a confined to a place, he can move around now, while before he was an object of pity he became an object of joy. He suffered rejection, now he is a point of attraction.

A change of name thereby means a change of position. When we become Christians, our possibility became changed. John wrote that as Christians we have the right to become sons of God (John 1:12). That is the most radical identity change there is. We move from being of the earthly sinful first Adam to be of the heavenly Second Adam (1Corinthians 15:45-48), Jesus, and through him we have access to the greater things, greater life all because of our change of name, which goes along with our change of life.

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Prayer and success

steps-388914_640Genesis 24:12: And he said, “O LORD, God of my master Abraham, please grant me success today and show steadfast love to my master Abraham.

Prayer is as simple as that- making a request from God. Those who pray seek help from God, they do not seek to try and accomplish things on our own. The bible says it is not by power or might but by the Holy Spirit. Prayer is about deriving help from the Holy Spirit in all your ways.

When Jesus prayed, he received the Holy Spirit, and he was powerfully impacted to He had a successful ministry (Luke 3:21).

The man who prayed in the focus verse did not have an alternative but to do that, to ask for help to successfully accomplish his mission (Genesis 24).

He was going to a strange land to get a wife for Isaac his master’s son. That was uncharted territory, it was something he had not done before and he needed to prayer for success.

Ezra also prayed for success (Ezra 8:21-31). Making a journey to Jerusalem, through precarious landscape and he had with him precious metal for the temple which had been carted away to a foreign land many years with him. So he prayed and fasted for safe journey.

When Moses was leading the children of Israel from the land of Egypt to the Promised Land, he prayed that God should go with them, saying if you will not go with us, take us not from here (Exodus 33:15). He knew with the presence of God the millions of people he was with can move through the wilderness in peace.

This world is also a wilderness. And because of that Jesus taught us to pray: deliver us from evil (Matthew 6:9-13). Similarly, Paul asked for prayer that he will be delivered from wicked and unreasonable men (2Thessalonians 3:1-2).

When we pray it is a sign of humility that we need God and that qualifies us for grace. When Israel moves from place to place in the wilderness, Moses will declare: let God arise, and let his enemy be scattered, let those who hate him flee before you.

Prayer releases the power of God to aid us in our journey in life. It is a recognition of the supremacy of God. In the Garden of Eden, the devil was able to get Eve to reject the supremacy of God and seek supremacy herself (Genesis 3). That was the beginning of a fall, and you start to rise when you say Jesus is Lord (Romans 10:9-10).

We would not trust in the Lord with all our heart and not lean on our own understanding, and acknowledge him in all our ways when we are not do not see him as supreme, as worthy of our total trust (Proverbs 3:5-6).

If we do not recognise that we are empty without him, we would not seek to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Jesus said that we who are evil know how to give good gifts to our children how much more would our heavenly father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him (Luke 11:13). But you cannot ask for what you do not think you need

When we ask for the Holy Spirit we express a recognition of the power of God, we express an openness to the workings of God, a need to experience the glory of God.

In prayer we are empowered to go to the next level. In prayer we seek an encounter with the light of God, with Jesus the light, with the Spirit of revelation, we seek enlightenment, as Paul prayed that the church in Ephesus be given the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of God (Ephesians 1:15-18).

We are constantly moving into new places, into new situation, even new days and we constantly need God’s help. When Jesus was in the garden of gethsemane, he did not go there to express objection to the will of God as much as to seek help from God to do him will, because of the new experience of dying on the cross, seeking God’s help (Luke 22:42).

Remember he said to God: let your will and not my will be done. That has a parallel in the words of the prayer he taught his disciples, thus: let your (God) will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Success therefore can be defined by the will of God getting done. There is hardly a more powerful prayer than saying: help me to do your will Lord.

Prayer brings a change of fortune. The widow of a prophet was about to sell her two sons to pay for a debt owed by her husband. It was not a good thing. She needed respite and she met Elisha for a solution. That, at that time was like seeking God in prayer. And Elisha gave her a prophetic word, and from a pauper she became a major oil seller of some sort (2Kings 4:2-7).

What about Hannah (1Samuel 1)? Her prayer was for a child and she got it. Before the birth of the child she was an object of mockery, and she felt life has dealt her a poor set of cards. But with prayer her situation changed.

Jesus taught on the central role of prayer in our lives. He told his people: men ought always to pray and not to faint (Luke 18:1). Jesus pushed the prayer mandate saying: we should pray in the secret and with that we receive a big reward from God in the open (Matthew 6:6).

Jesus modelled prayer. The bible says he prayed all night (Luke 6:12), he also prayed early in the morning (Mark 1:35), he prayed when he was baptised by John. Jesus offered up prayer and supplication, to the one who is able to save him from death (Hebrews 5:7).

He sought the help of the Lord and he received it in abundance. And his mission on earth was successful. With prayer, light is released on our path, we are given special insight into the word of God, and we get to gain God’s interpretation of situations so that we can take the right step.