Our Response to His Presence, Part 2: Our Change of Identity in His Presence

“Then Abram fell on his face. And God said to him, “Behold, my covenant is with you, and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations. No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham, for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations.”
– [Genesis 17:3-5 ESV]

Names don’t mean a lot in our society anymore. Many times the only two requirements are that the name rolls off the tongue and it doesn’t get the child’s butt kicked in middle school. Many times the first one isn’t even a requirement that’s how you end up with names like ‘Zulu’, ‘Malik’, ‘Inigo’, ‘Ivo’, and ‘Jago’ (I’m not joking, these are real names.) In light of the value of the names of our poor children, I believe that God’s intention was for names to have a significant meaning. In Proverbs 18:21 we read that life and death are in the power of the tongue. The word ‘power’, in this verse, in the Hebrew, can mean ‘a charging force’. This means that whatever comes out of your mouth has a charging force to affect your destiny. This is why speaking the name of Jesus when we pray carries so much weight because anything we could possibly ever need is found in Him.

With this information in mind, I believe that when you name a child you speak over them a trait of their identity they must live with unless there is another spoken word over them. A prime example of this is found in Genesis 35:16-18:

“Then they journeyed from Bethel. When they were still some distance from Ephrath, Rachel went into labor, and she had hard labor. And when her labor was at its hardest, the midwife said to her, “Do not fear, for you have another son.” And as her soul was departing (for she was dying), she called his name Ben-oni; but his father called him Benjamin.”
– [Genesis 35:16-18 ESV]

As Rachel was dying, in her final fleeting moments, she named her son Ben-oni, meaning ‘son of my sorrow’, and after she died Isaac renamed him Benjamin meaning, ‘son of my right or my blessing’. If Isaac had not renamed Benjamin, then he would have had to live with the sorrow of knowing that his life brought his mother’s death and Isaac did exactly what a father should’ve done in that situation and change his son’s identity so he wouldn’t have to live with that guilt and shame.

When we know that our identity is affected by our name, we’ve got to wonder what exactly happened to Abram when his named was changed to Abraham. The name Abram means ‘high father’. It’s strange enough that he was called a father before he even had children but God knew that that wasn’t good enough. When God showed up, he changed Abram’s name to Abraham, meaning ‘father of a multitude of nations’. In the presence of God Abraham’s identity changed. He could not remain the same in the sight of God. In 1 Corinthians 13 Paul makes an amazing statement:

“For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.”
– [1 Corinthians 13:12 KJV]

I look at this verse and I think, “What are we known by?” We are known by our character. Who knows us better than we know ourselves? Our Creator. As I process all of this I am reminded of the verse in Revelation that says:

“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.'”
– [Revelation 2:17 ESV]

We know that that new name will indicate an identity. I believe that it will reflect the potential that God saw in us while we here on earth. While we were down here struggling, toiling, and striving over temporal things that shrink in the light of the eternal weight of the glory of God, He saw in the power that He’d given us to overcome any circumstance.

“I can do everything through Christ who strengthens me.”
– [Philippians 4:13 GW]

I hope this has blessed and encouraged you in some way, shape, or form.

“The LORD bless thee, and keep thee: The LORD make his face to shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.”
– [Numbers 6:24-26 RV]

Our Response to His Presence, Part 1: Our Change of Posture in His Presence

“When Abram was ninety-nine years old the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless, that I may make my covenant between me and you, and may multiply you greatly.” Then Abram fell on his face…”
– [Genesis 17:1-3a ESV]

In this passage we read where God appeared to Abraham and gave him one of the most significant prophetic words of his life. This word that God gave Abraham changed every aspect of his life but two things specifically: 1. his posture in God’s presence and 2. his character in God’s presence. In verse 3 we read that when God appeared to Abraham and started speaking to him, it’s instant response was falling on his face. There were a couple of reasons Abraham responded the way did:
1. The Profoundness of the Presence of God
2. The Weight of the Word of God

1. The Profoundness of the Presence of God
I’ve been listening a lot to ‘O Holy Night’. It’s one the few songs, I believe, that capture the proper response to the holiness, as well as the presence of God. “Fall on your knees, O hear the angel voices.” What a beautiful line. What a profound reaction to the birth of our Lord.
There have been times where the presence of God has been so thick on me that I’ve laid on the floor in the middle of a worship service and done nothing short of weep and when it was possible for me to speak, the only thing that came out was my prayer language. In the words of Jason Upton, in his song ‘In the Silence’, “Sometimes there is no language, no language but a groan, sometimes there is no language, no language but a cry.” I have encountered the presence of God at times when I have been broken to a place where I can no longer do anything but worship. There was absolutely no choice anymore. I have learned that when God shows up He leaves you no options. There’s no other choice sometimes but to worship Him. That’s why God’s grace is irresistible.

2. The Weight of the Word of God
I think it’s interesting that God only shares with Abraham the introduction to full prophetic promise and the effect of that part of the promise alone made Abraham want to fall on his face. The weight of what that promise carried, I believe, humbled Abraham and left probably thinking thoughts like, “Who am I that my seed should multiply as the stars of the heavens?” The thought of that truly humbled him. After he had fallen on his face God continued speaking to him (v. 3b-14) because he responded correctly to the weight of the word. There are times in our lives where God speaks us and promises us something and the weight of the word leaves us with no choice but to be humbled by it.

I hope this has blessed you and encouraged you in some, way, shape, or form.

“The LORD bless thee, and keep thee: The LORD make his face to shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.”
– [Numbers 6:24-26 RV]

Of Pudding and Things Similar in Value

Whenever you say ‘Be thankful for the Little Things’ do we really know what we’re talking about or are we just spewing practical crap off the top of our heads to make ourselves seem morally superior? My fear is the latter. But I come to you tonight to tell you that I know what it’s like to be thankful for the little things. Oddly enough, I discovered this while eating pudding. Tonight, I had the choice to either partake of chocolate or vanilla pudding. Normally, I would’ve chosen chocolate but tonight I decided I would take vanilla. As I was eating it I thought to myself, “There’s something about this that’s familiar, almost nostalgic.” I thought about my grandmother, how she used to buy me pudding all the time at the local supermarket. Vanilla pudding is so simple. Just like the pudding, my childhood was also simple. My parents were divorced but it didn’t seem to bother me much. All I was worried about was whether or not I could get to spend the proper amount of time to spend with my grandmother or not. She was my best friend and she is my best friend. As I was pondering on the simplicity of the pudding and the simplicity of my childhood I became thankful for everything God has given me including her. There are so many times that I take everything for granted and I don’t say Thank you. Tonight, I will not forget to say Thank you. I will be grateful for everything I have and I will give God my praise for the little things.

“You say grace before meals. All right. But I say grace before the concert and the opera, and grace before the play and pantomime, and grace before I open a book, and grace before sketching, painting, swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing and grace before I dip the pen in the ink.”

~G.K. Chesterton