“To Be Known by Name- Hallowed Be Thy Name” Mt. 6:9; Acts 4:12; Rom 10:13; Col. 3:17; Ex. 20:7; Jn 14:13,14 8/19/12 Dr. j. Ben Sloan at LMPC
There once was a Sunday School teacher who asked her class, “What do we call God?” A little boy in the back raised his hand. “I know what to call God- I call Him Harold.” “Why do you say that?” The teacher asked. “Because”, said the little boy, every week we say, “Our Father who art in heaven, Harold be thy name.”
We don’t use the term “hallow” much today which may be why the boy was confused. However, the movie “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” last year- that spoke of a special wand, stone, cloak as three holy objects that could give someone immortality, brought the word “hallow” back into the spotlight. “Hallow” means to make holy, special, and different. So in some ways this first petition is a call to differentiate God, our Father in heaven, from all the rest. So today I want us to look first at the importance of God’s name and then how we might live this prayer out- making the name of God hallowed.
I. THE FIRST NAME There are 461 titles and names of God in the Bible. Any one of these should be treated with respect and reverence. The most commonly used titles are God (elohim) and Lord (adonai). But generally the church summarizes the names of God by calling Him “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” We baptize and bless in these names. We could summarize God’s name further by using the name “Jesus” which means “the Lord saves” and “Christ” which means “anointed one or Messiah.” Jesus is the divine defined in human flesh.
The scriptures we read today tell us that salvation is found in the name of Jesus; that we are to live our lives in a way that glorifies His name; that we should not misuse His name; and that prayer should be made in His name in order to be assured that God hears us. These are really bold and powerful claims having to do with the name Jesus.
Being able to label something of someone is of prime importance to understanding, and it is something we take for granted. Usually before a baby is ever brought home from the hospital, that baby has a name. When they call your name to be honored or call your name to be brought before a judge, your name is the way we know who you are. Having a name is like having a handle on a suitcase. In fact, the old trucker CB operators used to call your name your “handle.” You can pick up a suitcase without a handle but it is not easy. You can remember someone without remembering their name- but you are missing something if you don’t remember someone’s name. In fact, some people would say if you don’t remember my name, then I am not important to you.
How many times will somebody walk up to you at a high school reunion or a party and say, “You don’t remember my name, do you?” Please don’t ask me that.
Names are very important in our society. In order to sign a deed we have to sign our name. In order to write a check or sign a credit card, we have to sign our name. If someone forges your name, they can go to jail. People still say, “He or she has a good name.” You name often represented you in the Bible too, and were a symbol of who you are and it symbolized your presence, your permission, your character.
The Bible says that God gave Jesus the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow in heaven on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.” The name of Jesus is important and is to be hallowed. We do not hallow the name of Jesus by being ashamed of using it in prayer; we do not hallow the name of Jesus by being afraid of being labeled as a Christian. The name of Jesus- when we call on it- invoking Him- brings Jesus into the equation and into the situation with all His power and help.
When Jesus said to pray at the very beginning “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name” He was placing God’s name at the very beginning ahead of our needs, ahead of us. Prayer is directed not to an empty space but to a person who listens and is known and called on by name. In some ways, God’s name is holy whether we recognize it or do anything about it or not. But there are ways to hallow God’s name. So then, how DO we hallow this name?
II. BY SPREADING OF THE NAME- The Psalmist said “I will praise God’s name and glorify Him. (Ps. 69:30) “ and “I will glorify your name forever.” Jesus said Father, “Glorify your name.” In some ways, hallowing the name of God is glorifying the name of God. We make God’s name holy when we make Him and His ways known. About five times in the Psalms (8, 20, 72, 96, 105) there is a link between God’s name and the knowledge of God being spread throughout all the earth. In the missionary movement that we are still apart of, there has been a great concern that everyone be able to know who Jesus is and that everyone be able to at least hear that name. In Isaac Watt’s hymn, “Jesus Shall Reign Where’ere the Sun” (a paraphrase of Psalm 72) he gave the vision of “People and realms of every tongue dwell on his love with sweetest song: and infant voices shall proclaim the early blessings of his name.” “O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing” has a last line that says, “To spread through all the earth abroad the honors of thy name.”
How do you handle an immoral culture? You don’t just bemoan it, but you bring in the One who can change people and the name that can make a difference. Hallowed be thy name means may you glorify your name through me in the earth as your name is glorified in heaven.
III. BY RESPECTING THE POWER OF THE NAME- Acts 19 tells an interesting story illustrating the power of the name of Jesus. Let me just read this short passage: 13 Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, “In the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out.” 14 Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. 15 One day the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and I know about Paul, but who are you?” 16 Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding. 17 When this became known to the Jews and Greeks living in Ephesus, they were all seized with fear, and the name of the Lord Jesus was held in high honor.
Several times in scripture it speaks of driving out demons in His name (Mt. 7:22; Mk. 9:38, 16:17; Lk. 8:30; 9:49; 10:17). What this tells us is that evil cannot stay in the same place as the Presence/ name of Jesus- just as darkness flees in the face of light, so evil flees when the name of the Holy One is invoked. Our world will tell us that there is no such thing as evil, but there is- and it cannot abide the name of Jesus.
We also see the power of Jesus name in prayer. He says, “Hitherto have you asked nothing in my name. Ask and you will receive that your joy may be made full.” (Jn. 16:24). Also Jesus said, and we read- “And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” Do not be ashamed or afraid to bring God’s powerful name into your prayers.
If you had no money in your checking account, it would be nice to draw on funds in a larger account. When my son applied for a student loan, he had no credit and I had to cosign for him, signing my name. Jesus is like the person who lends His name to us. In school terms- since school is starting this week it might work like this. If you are out in the hall and the bell rings you need to be in class. But if you have a signed permission slip with the principal’s name on it, you will not get in trouble at all. You would have freedom to go where you wish. Having Jesus’ name with you gives you freedom, courage, and hope.
IV. BY BEARING OF THE NAME IN A HOLY WAY- We hope that God will help us live in such a way that we hallow His name. As people who come to worship Him, and believe in Him- we bear the name of Christ. The word “Christian” means “Little Christ.” People see Jesus through us. If we are living lives of debauchery and are enslaved to sin, we are dishonoring to the name of Jesus. The good news is that the name of Jesus is powerful enough so in using His name we may live to honor His name. If we are talking about the Christian life half-heartedly, people will think, “Maybe this Christ isn’t so important after all!” .” I remember my mother would tell me, “You’ve got a good name and a good heritage, we expect you to live up to that name.” I have always taken that to heart. If you go far enough back in every family tree you will find some people who do outstanding things, some rulers and kings, and you will also find some horse thieves and crooks. But the name of Christ, though it has been defiled by many a Christian is still a pure name. My prayer is that people would look at each one of us in Lake Murray Presbyterian Church and say, “I want to be like him or her.” I pray that people would look at us and say, “There goes a good Christian.” We are unique, we have different and weakness, but I pray that we will hallow the name of Christ here and make this ground, this place, this time, as holy as we can possibly make it.
Yesterday at the prayer walk a principal said that Chapin is an oasis in a desert of education. We can focus on the desert or we can focus on making the oasis bigger. I might say that the church is an oasis in the desert of our culture; and even say that LMPC is an oasis in the desert of the church. We are blessed as a growing church in a world where 80% are not growing; The average PCUSA member is 62 whereas ours is 20 years younger. The denominations around us are crumbling- but there are individual churches- like ours who are growing. We are an oasis in the desert. We need to do all we can to not give up-or be paralyzed by the desert of wrong around us. We need to be an oasis- providing the water of life for others as we seek to hallow His name together.