For those that have been following along, I am posting a couple of times per week some of my devotional reflections on the names of God. It is a practice that helps me keep my primary focus where it needs to be, which is on the one who is thoroughly equipped and ready to engage with us in the of any situation, including the one we are in now. Each name of God gives us a different view into the amazing, grand and complex nature of God. There are over 1000 names for God given throughout the bible, so obviously we are only scratching the surface, but the one I chose today is one I reflected on very early in the year.
ADVOCATE: This is a word we perhaps don’t use often, but it is a powerful one. The apostle John wrote about Jesus saying: “My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father – Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.” (1 John 2:1)
The word used is parakletos, which embodies the idea of someone who is called to your side to help you by pleading your case or interceding for you with another person. Most often, an advocate is used in a legal setting where another person helps state and opinion to try and win a verdict. They are necessary because they have expertise, understanding and qualifications that we don’t have. What does it mean that Jesus is our advocates? It means we never stand alone. He represents us before God the Father. Jesus knows deeply who I am and what I am going through more than I do. He is an expert in what needs to be said and how, especially when I am not even sure how to verbalize it. My advocate is on my side. He is committed to my good. He has no divided loyalty. He is utterly and completely for me. This is a huge encouragement for me.
When my heart is heavy, he knows how to express this best.
When I sin, he intercedes before God on my behalf, pleading for grace and mercy based on his own sacrifice.
When I praise, he turns my praises into amazing expressions of joy.
He is always there, always interested, always invested in me. It means that I am never alone. I never have to defend myself.
Thank you Jesus for being our excellent and perfect advocate. As you advocate for us, continue to convict, lead and show us yourself more clearly, so that we can approach you even more humbly and confidently.
When it comes to God, if we ask the question “what’s in a name?” the answer is simply, “Everything.”
This is my second in a series of posts that is a reflection of something I have been practicing personally that has been helpful for me. Each day I look at a name of God and what it means, the implications for life and for me, and letting it lead me to worship. It helps me to focus on the one who is bigger than me and is worthy of my trust. Last time I looked at what it meant that Jesus is by comforter. There is another name that is interesting and one that probably does not get enough attention in today’s environment.
CORNERSTONE: In the ancient world, any building that was constructed using stone had a cornerstone. This stone was absolutely crucial to the structure. It was the first stone. Every other block was set in reference to this stone. This stone determined the position of the entire structure and brought stability to the building. Ancient people began a practice of putting key treasures or good luck charms in or under that all-important cornerstone. Even though actual cornerstones are largely symbolic in modern construction, we still speak of people as cornerstones. They are key, important, critical to an organization or group of people.
When I think of Jesus as our cornerstone, it means that he must come first. It means that Jesus is the reference point to which we need to set all the other blocks of our life. If we don’t, the structure of our life gets all wonky and off-kilter. It means if Jesus is our reference point then he is the one on which we should base decisions, actions and beliefs. When we do, he will make our lives into the structure he designed. He will give stability. He will be one who anchors everything in place and keeps our lives from crumbling.
It also means that working at odds with Jesus is counterproductive. The decisions and actions of my life are best when they are based on Jesus and his ways.
Jesus, thank you for being our cornerstone. The cornerstone of our church. The cornerstone of each of our lives. Thank you for being the solid, stabilizing presence that we need. Help us to base our life on you as the cornerstone and trust that you can support the weight of our fears, worries and problems.
There is so much being written about the COVID-19 virus and how to cope. There are blogs, news articles and general advice about which shows to watch (although, interestingly, not as much on which books to read), how to deal with boredom, how to stay safe, how to engage with your kids, etc. In Christian circles, people are writing about how to care for others, to not live fearfully, to trust God and more. All of this, or at least a lot of it, are good things and I have no desire to simply add my two cents to the situation.
So instead, I thought I would share with you something I have been doing since the start of the year in my own personal reflections that has been quite helpful for me. At the beginning of this year I felt like I need to change my focus a little bit and spend a little more intentional time thinking about and reflecting on who God is and why it matters. The idea comes from Psalms. Many times, a psalm writer would use this phrase: “I lift my eyes . . .” These statements usually reflect a desire to take the focus off the daily mundane and overwhelming needs of what’s right in front of us and put it instead on something bigger and higher. So most days I begin by looking at a different name of God that is used in Scripture and then digging into the meaning and implication of that name in life. I find it uplifting, encouraging and sometimes quite challenging. After all, when it comes to God, if we ask the question “what’s in a name?” the answer is simply, “Everything.”
COMFORTER: God is referred to as the Comforter (ex: 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, John 14:26). The word that is translated into English as comforter is the Greek word paraclete which can also be translated as advocate. Without going too deep, the word carries with it the idea of coming alongside, walking with and of speaking on behalf. So why does it matter that God is my comforter? It means that God is close by. He is not distant. He is walking alongside me through all things. When my expectations are unmet, he is there with me. When I need to confess and repent, he helps me and speaks for me. When I face the deep problems of life, he sits with me, sometimes not saying anything but just being there. When I celebrate, he is excited right along with me. He comforts by feeling what I feel, by reminding me I am accepted in his family, significant in purpose and secure in his care. He is never indifferent to my suffering and he does not minimize, ignore or dismiss my pain by telling me to simply “suck it up.” When I speak, he listens with full attention. He knows what words to say and when to say them. He knows when to confront and when to hold back. He reminds me how the story of this life ends and how I am a part of something great and amazing.
Thank you, Jesus, that you are the comforter. I choose to embrace that comfort today!
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