Wednesday, December 29, 2010


                                                 "What's In A Name?"

     The book of Ezra does not contain a "3:16", so I am write about the man, Ezra.  We don't hear dramatic stories about Ezra like we do about David and Goliath or Daniel in the lion's den.  But Ezra was a true hero of the Jewish faith... which, of course, makes him a hero of the Christian faith as well. Ezra dedicated his life to serving God.  He was a priest, and the sages state that his knowledge and wisdom was equal with Moses. He was a humble and obedient servant. He restored unity to the Israelites when they were in danger of fragmentation and self-destruction through intermarriage and its resulting pagan worship.
     " For Ezra had devoted himself to the study and observation of the law of the Lord, and to its decrees and laws in Israel."  (Ezra 7:10  NIV)

The name, Ezra, means "God's help".  And Ezra surely lived up to his name.  He had studied Torah and he knew right from wrong.  And he stood his ground whether it made him popular or not. This is a character trait we can see over and over throughout the scriptures.  Other examples are Amos, Jeremiah, and Jesus. We can continue to observe this today as well... a true prophet must often speak unpleasant truths.  A false prophet gives in to social  pressure.  The false prophet will soften or completely ignore the word of God;  he will try to make people feel good about themselves at all costs;  his goal is for everyone to like him...  But the true prophet, although not well-liked, speaks the Truth, and is the true helper.
    Ezra is a fairly unusual name. There are only three Ezras noted in the Bible.  I wonder how parents in those days came up with names for their children... The names all meant something.  In my studies I have discovered that the people had personalities to match their names.  For example, as we learned about a week ago, the name Ruth means "lovely friend", and Naomi means "pleasant".  The Hebrew name for Jesus (Yehoshua orYeshua) means "Savior".
     Well, this got me to thinking in terms like a which-came-first-the-chicken-or-the-egg-question.  Did the person become like their name?  Or, was the name divinely given with the knowledge of who the individual would become?  I think people, for the most part, turn out to be what they are told they canb e during their childhood.  So, if your folks named you "Wedon'twantcha", chances are you're gonna' have some problems with self-esteem...

 My name is Twyla.  My parents tell me I was named after an American Indian friend of theirs.  Several years ago, an American Indian lady told me that my name means "Tall Tree".  I laughed and immediately quipped that it should have been  whatever the word is for "short shrub". One of my favorite Psalms is the first Psalm.  It speaks of the blessed person, saying, " ...and he bee like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth fruit in his own season..." (KJV)  Well, I aspire to be a good tall tree, with deep roots fed on the Living Water... I hope to bring forth fruit in season.
     What's in a name?  How about the name "Christian".  Nowadays, it is so misused that one has to question the person who uses the name.  When someone says they come from a Christian family, it might mean that they go to a protestant church occasionally - and that's all.  The original meaning of "Christian" meant that Christ lived in the person. When you are truly a believer, you have Christ in you and Christ has you in Him.
He is not ashamed of you; are you ashamed of Him?
     I have to wonder about people who say, "Oh, I don't TELL anyone I'm a believer... I just let them see my actions."  Oh, really?  When you go in the bank, do you walk in and ACT like you need some cash?  Or, do you approach someone and tell them what you're there for? Do you not want to tell them what you need for fear that someone will be embarrassed?
     Are you softening the message? Yielding to social pressure? Making people comfortable with themselves - when they shouldn't be - so that they will like you?
     What's in a name?  Are you a false prophet, or are you an Ezra?

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