A SERMON BY: ANYANYA BASSEY                                     DATE: SUNDAY, 11TH NOVEMBER 2018

TOPIC: NEW LABEL                                                               TEXTS: Rev. 2:17, 3:12

 

INTRODUCTION

My name is Anyanya. I love my name so much so that I’d rarely agree to a change, translation or deviation. May be when I was much younger, I had allowed school or its environs to sway me to say, oh that’s my nick name or whatever.

Honestly, there are moments that we desire new names, especially if we feel that the present circumstances are due to the meaning of our names. At such point, A new name will offer renewed hope! Consider the case of Abram and Sarai. Or the new name could proclaim the present situation, cases of Jabez, Naomi to Mara.

Are you like me, comfortable with your name and your situation? Or are you restless, looking for a change of name and consequently a change of circumstance? Then this message is for you. It does not matter how old you’ve become, if a name-change is what will fix the problem in your life, then, getYOUR name changed.You cannot also be too young to desire a name-change, get it and watch how everything becomes settled in your life.

BUT WHY DO WE HAVE NAMES?

Names are a form or means of identity. God gave a name to Adam, Adam gave a name to Eve and to the other creations. God related to the people because they had an identity. Often, these names came as a result of the circumstances of birth.  Jacob (heel catcher), because he held the heel of Esau at birth, Jabez (Born in sorrow 1Chron 4:9), Naomi (beautiful Ruth 1:20). We can always ask God for something and present ourselves with names.

WHY NAMES CHANGE!

As a marketing strategy, companies often rebrand. They may have to improve on their logo, or colours or outrightly get a new name. you will realise that for some, the goods or services they render may be improved upon to be in line with the rebranding. In the same vein, the names of some bible characters were changed to suit their new status; Names change to reflect new purpose, new course of action, new life etc

Abram (exalted father) to Abraham (father of multitude)          Gen. 17:1-5

Sarai (quarrelsome/argumentative) to Sarah (mother of nations) Gen. 17:15-16

Jacob (heel catcher) to Israel (one who prevailed with God, a man seeing God) Gen.32:24-28, 35:10-11

It is to be observed that with each new label came a new purpose, a new destiny, a new character, a new phase of life.

It is also to be observed that the most important name changes were the ones made by God himself/or his angels and not by humans.

 

IMPACT OF A NEW LABEL

God’s promises never fail. They may be delayed as in the case of Abraham/Sarah, but they certainly come to fulfilment. Man may continue changing his name at every point in time, say, from Ndarake to Mmedara or from Unanaowo to Edinieowo and so on, but only a name given by God or changed by Him can create the desired impact in our lives. Only a name approved by Jehovah can cause a change, a shift in the present undesirable circumstances in our lives.

Jacob did not remain Jacob after an encounter with the angel. He became Israel – God’s nation.  Abram did not remain Abram after an encounter with God, he became Abraham – Father of Nations and same for Sarah.Naomi wanted to be called Mara “because the almighty had dealt bitterly with her”.

A new label is a declaration of new frontiers, new beginnings. It is by extension a declaration of faith and hope! It is a measure of conviction, like, I am happy; my new name is ‘Joy’ so I’ve got to be joyous. How can you, my brethren, remain same as of old after an encounter with Christ through the water of baptism?

The bible already provides a variety of names for God’s children – Brothers and sisters, conquerors, overcomers, ambassadors of Christ, son’s and daughters, heirs of the kingdom, fellow servants, fishers of men and so on. These names are consequent upon the relationship between God and mankind. Depending on the stage of the relationship, God gives us a label – for those who are yet to tap into his grace through Christ, He calls them aliensto the commonwealth (Eph. 2:12) while those who have tapped into that grace are referred to as joint heirs with Jesus (Rom. 8:16-17) – He gave them power to be called sons and Daughters (John 1:12-13). God calls us something new to reflect his purpose and promise.

THE LABEL ‘CHRISTIAN’

For everyone that got a name change, a new label, God saw a potential in that person, calls him to obedience to his task, and in that moment of obedience, God changes his/her name to match his/her new destiny/purpose/promise/task. The disciples were first called Christians because of the way they behaved – like Christ. Acts 11:26

Unfortunately, the only time some people accept the label Christian is only when they want to be separated on religious grounds. So, when filling forms, they fill Christianity because that is the readily available religious identity/affiliation. Some others are only receptive of the label because they were born in the part of the world where Christianity is in vogue. But there are others who have consciously chosen to bear the label “Christian” inspite of the odds, these ones have deliberately accepted Christ as the Lord of their hearts and saviour of their souls, hence, by virtue of their acceptance been rebranded (Gal 3;27), their content is improved upon, their label changed positively, their purpose redefined and their destiny clear.

Therefore, God has made a way for anyone who wishes to obtain this desirable change of name, the coveted new label “Christian” through Christ. One needs to hear the gospel, believe the gospel, repent of his wrong deeds, confess Christ and be baptized and then he is renamed for the purpose of redemption and reign with Christ. In that moment of obedience through baptism, the new creature receives a new label, a new position, better than whatever name he bears here on earth and the promise of a much better and unique name in the later life. What more could we ask for? See Prov. 22:1, Eccl. 7:1a

 

CONCLUSION

The promise of a new name is for those who will overcome. It therefore means that those who fall along the way will not receive the new name, nor taste of the hidden manna, nor be transformed in his likeness.

Rev 2:17 reads “Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it.”

Rev 3:12reads “The one who is victorious I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will they leave it. I will write on them the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on them my new name.”

May God help us realise the need for a positive change of name in line with a positive change of attitude in order to secure a better place in God’s kingdom by reigning as joint heirs with Christ, and may this desire be in us to acquire new names as approved by God and be identified with such throughout our sojourn here on earth in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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