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Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Andrew and Stephanie Onguka (with Brad in the center) 4/15/18
Andrew and Stephanie Onguka (with our friend Brad in the center)

"My Father Knows My Name!

Message summary: Thank God today I can declare, "My Father knows my name". And so can each of you!

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"Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine! (Isaiah 43:1). "The Lord knows those who are His" (2 Timothy 2:19).

I have a Maker
He formed my heart
Before even time began
My life was in His hands

On Sunday we heard an interesting missions presentation in our church from Andrew and Stephanie Onguka, a couple serving in Kenya, Africa. They work with young people and one of their challenges is dealing with those who, due to their background, have an overwhelming sense of unworthiness which gets in the way of their acceptance of a loving, heavenly Father.

One young man in Kenya, whom they spoke of has 22 siblings. His biological dad fathered numerous children from several different women, which sadly is not unusual. The young man told the missionary couple of his painful remembrance when his father greeted him by saying, "Now, tell me what is your name."

His concept of "father" is so warped that it can be difficult for him to conceive of a personal loving, heavenly Father.

And yet, given the moral decline and breakdown in families, we realize there are many, many children and adults here in the US and all around the world living with a similar loss. A sad term among this broken culture is the term "baby mama", used to describe the mother of a man's out-of-wedlock children. Jim, a friend who served in prison ministries for many years in New Jersey, told us about a prisoner who bragged regarding his 45 "baby mama" children.

Those of us blessed to come from families with committed, loving parents cannot hardly imagine this. Although in our case both sets of our parents have been with the Lord for many years, as we reflect on our remembrances of them we both miss hearing their distinct voice calling us by our name.

But we all have a loving heavenly Father who knows our name.

The Holy Spirit will use many different means to bring hope and strength to His children in time of need. It may be a special insight He gives us regarding a particular Scripture.  It may be a call from a friend or prayer offered by a pastor, Christian brother or sister. The list goes on and on. God often uses the text of a song along with the musical accompaniment to speak to our hearts. I find particular encouragement in the words of a song titled, "He knows my name." 

I have a Father
He calls me His own
He'll never leave me
No matter where I go

Today let us consider a short verse in Isaiah that is easily memorized and packed with assurance for the follower of Christ.

"Do not fear, for I have redeemed you." Store His reassuring words in your heart today. We have a command, "Do not fear" followed by an ever present reality, "for I have redeemed you." 

"Do not fear" ("fear not" in the King James Version) is a common phrase found all through the Bible. In fact it is found 62 times from Genesis to Revelation!

"For I have redeemed you." The greatest gift in life is to be redeemed by God. Fanny Crosby wrote, "Redeemed, how I love to proclaim it! Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb; Redeemed through His infinite mercy, His child and forever I am." The redemption for our sins was paid once for all, fully paying the debt of our sins for all eternity!

"I have called you by name; You are mine." I belong to Jesus today and indeed He knows my name! Today, in the midst of any frustrations, disappointments, fears, discouragement or doubts you may entertain, I urge you to focus on the One who truly knows your name, who loves and cares for you.

Regarding this passage Pastor David Guzik observes: "God twice owns His people. He has right of ownership both as Creator and Redeemer. His ownership is personal, because He says "I have called you by your name." His ownership is certain, because He seals it by saying "You are mine." Knowing we belong to the LORD is a wonderful answer to fear. We can know that He holds us, protects us, guards us, and cares for us. We can know that He would not have created, redeemed, and called us unless He intended to complete the work He began in us. How can we be afraid when we know our God is for us, that He is looking out for our interests?"

Thank God today I can declare, "My Father knows my name". And so can each of you!

He knows my name
He knows my every thought
He sees each tear that falls
And He hears me when I call

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, how special it is to know that I will not appear as a stranger before You in heaven, but You will call me to Yourself by name for You are thoroughly acquainted with me. As a loving father cares for his child so You care for me, your child bought by the blood of Jesus. You place me securely in the palm of Your hand so that no enemy can snatch me from Your protective and loving care. What a tremendous feeling of stability and peace this brings to my heart in a world that is becoming more impersonal, chaotic, and unhinged from the firm foundations established by Your excellent Word. My soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose You will not, You will not desert to my foes; my soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake, You'll never, no never, no never forsake!"* Amen.

* Adaptation of "How Firm A Foundation")

Note 1: Jesus gave a wonderful teaching recorded in John 10 where He declares: "I am the Good Shepherd." Many of us have memorized that statement since it's one of the seven ego eimi "I am" statements of Christ recorded in John's gospel. But the teaching goes on to declare that this caring shepherd "calls His own sheep by name". What a blessed assurance to know that our Good Shepherd calls each of us by name!

Note 2: The increase in the "baby mama" phenomenon will have horrific consequences which we are already seeing
. So many raise a fist of defiance against God but His Word says, "Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life" (Galatians 6:7,8).

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

Mission presentation by
Andrew and Stephanie Onguka  Video

"He Knows My Name!"  Video  McRaes

"He Knows My Name!"  Video  Maranatha Singers

"He Knows My Name"  Video   Francesca Battistelli

There's A New Name Written Down In Glory"  Video  Greater Vision

"Redeemed"  Video  Big Daddy Weave

"Redeemed How I Love To Proclaim It"  Video  Gospel Vocal Band

"Overwhelmed"  Video 
Big Daddy Weave   With beautiful scenes from Africa

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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