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I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me… - John 10:14 (NLT)
Sometimes it tickles and surprises me. Sometimes it’s irritating and sad. Americans are obsessed with celebrities. We don’t know the names of our country’s top leaders, but we can name the actors on our favorite shows and recount their exploits from memory. Masters of the trivial, we are. Impressed with fame and its oft-paired partner, fortune. We don’t have to look much further back than the events of the summer of 2009 for a reminder. For two solid weeks, all news and media focused on one thing and one thing only: the death of pop singer Michael Jackson. Arguably, he was one of the most famous people of our time. But admit it, the abundance of coverage bordered on, um, crazy.
So it begs the question: What would happen if you and I became equally obsessed with the most famous person in all of human history—Jesus Christ? What if we focused on and put our energy toward making Him famous? I have a funny feeling our homes, communities, nation, and world would begin to look dramatically different.
These are weird days, friends. Those of us who call ourselves Christ-followers have a mission. And it’s urgent. Go after those lost sheep. Look so much like the Good Shepherd that they can’t wait to follow you home.
As you might have guessed, “famous” is a very different idea in Scripture. Sometimes we have to prepare ourselves to be on the receiving end of God’s movement in our lives, so today I’m challenging you to do something for one week. Turn off the television. Outside of work-related duties, turn off the Internet. Turn off the devices. Now, don’t go getting the “shakes.” It’s only a week. No one has ever died from not watching TV for a week. Really.
Whatever time you normally spend in these pursuits, spend with God. Open the Bible or your Bible app (a valid exception to the no-device rule). Pray. Listen to worship music. Seek an encounter with the most famous person of ALL time. I promise you, He WILL be found!
Praise be to the Lord, who this day has not left you without a guardian-redeemer. May he become famous throughout Israel! He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age. - Ruth 4:14-15a (NLT)
How’s it going? One day and no television. You’re still breathing in and out, right?
Fame is a highly sought after commodity in our culture. The assumption is that fame is accompanied by fortune. If people know your name, you’re famous. As with so many of God’s gifts, fame has been counterfeited in unbelievable ways, so let’s get to its REAL meaning.
A couple of words are used for the concept of fame in the Bible. One is a Hebrew word found in verses such as Ruth 4:14–15 (above) to honor the birth of her son, Obed. Obed was going to be a very special person in the unfolding of God’s plan for mankind—not just for his time, but for ALL time.
This special word for “famous” means “called out,” and relays the idea of crying out in a loud voice, as to God. To be famous biblically is to be commissioned, appointed, endowed, chosen. Are you making a connection yet? If we are His people, and if we are called by His name, then we are commissioned to make Him famous. We are appointed to carry His praises and message, the remedy for a lost and dying culture, and to serve them in supernatural ways. We are endowed with all the rights and authority of Christ himself. And we are carefully and specifically chosen for this mission.
Yes, Obed became famous. Not because he was a Hebrew rock star. But because he was God’s person, fulfilling God’s mission, not his own. Who was he? Only great-grandfather to a VERY famous person: David. The man after God’s own heart. Forefather of Jesus Christ. Oh, and before I forget…
Obed? It means “serving.” Is it possible, friends, that a pathway to fulfilling the mission of Christ is through our own “obed,” or service? Things that make you go hmmmm….
And David became famous after he returned from striking down the eighteen thousand Edomites in the Valley of Salt. - 2 Samuel 8:13 (NLT)
Two days and counting. By now, you are getting TV-detoxed and have maybe even noticed a change in some patterns of thinking. I hope so. Because I really miss watching news shows. Hi, my name is Rebecca, and I’m a political junkie….
We talked yesterday about fame being a calling out from God, a mission. Today, we’ll learn another aspect of biblical fame. Interestingly, it is associated with Obed’s great-grandson, David.
2 Samuel 8:13 tells us, “And David became famous after he returned from striking down the eighteen thousand Edomites in the Valley of Salt.” The word for “famous” here is the Hebrew word “shem” and means “name or renown.” It carries with it the concept of having a reputation that reaches others before they actually meet you.
That can be an unnerving thought. What’s your reputation? If your reputation precedes you, what impression do folks have of you? Is it a good impression? Is it even known? How “famous” are you for following God?
Now, here’s an interesting sidebar. The eighth chapter of 2 Samuel chronicles the victories David achieved in battle. First he subdued the Philistines; then he whipped the Moabites; then he schooled the Arameans just for coming to the aid of his enemy—even hamstrung their horses! Y’all, David wasn’t playin’. The Bible tells us he became famous AFTER defeating the Edomites. So who were all these people? The enemies of God, that’s who.
David took seriously the enemies of his God. Do you?
And along the way, David reaped lots of loot. Did he use it to add to his own fortune? Nope. He took what he won in battle and dedicated it to the Lord.
Are you listening, brothers and sisters? What David won wasn’t for his own name or renown. His desire was to make the name of the Lord famous.
You and I are in a battle; every day, God’s Word declares that our enemy has a plan against us. Sometimes, we lose a skirmish… or twenty. But when we win, let’s not break our arms patting ourselves on the back. Let’s point to the source of the victory and make His name famous.
At that time people began to call on the name of the Lord. - Genesis 4:26b (NLT)
Almost there, friends. You’re into your fourth day of no distractions. Remember, God speaks in the whisper, not the whirlwind.
Our famous God chose us, commissioned and appointed us, and endowed us to bear His name. You and I are from a culture that often takes God quite casually. In an effort to make Him seem approachable, we’ve maybe gone too far in the direction of treating Him like a buddy instead of a Father.
We’ve seen and heard the name of our God used in abominable ways. Maybe we’ve even done it ourselves. Maybe we don’t even know it’s wrong. But the next time you get ready to say, “Oh my G—,” remember our time together today.
Perhaps we need to view things more like the ancient Hebrews. All those names of God we read in Scripture—Jehovah, Yahweh, Elohim—would never have been uttered by a good Hebrew. God was called in Hebrew “Ha Shem”—The Name. I can almost hear them whispering it with wonder and admiration.
And not just The Name. The one Name. This particular phrasing has the connotation of a name above all names. A name so perfect, so transcendent of human understanding, that it stands alone as a receiver of fame.
The reverence here is astounding. The patriarchs considered God so wholly holy that by comparison, they were unworthy to even speak His name. Yet so needed was He, that they called upon “Ha Shem” every minute of every day.
It began early in human history. Adam and Eve barely got their fig leaves sewn together after the Fall, before Genesis 4:26 tells us, “At that time men began to call on the name (the Ha Shem) of the Lord.”
And so it will be even to the end of human history. It comes back to The Name. The Name above all names. The Name of Yeshua Ha Meschiach—Messiah, Jesus Christ. And we’re told He’s going to have another name—a name written on his thigh that only He knows (Revelation 19:12). A name that has never been defamed or used as a curse word. Oh, blessed be The Name!
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” - Matthew 28:18-20 (NLT)
Hallelujah! You made it! Day five. Do the “I didn’t watch TV all week” dance! I’m laughing just imagining it! I pray God has spoken to you in ways you never imagined this week through His Word, prayer, and worship.
Fame is a calling, a mission. Our mission as Christ followers is simple: Make Jesus famous!
In fact, they are the “famous last words” of Christ. Matthew 28 describes a moment that changed the world. Jesus has risen from the dead. He has gathered His remaining 11 disciples to a mountain. He is about to ascend to heaven, and He has something to say to those He chose to begin the mission.
I’ve often thought about this. What will my last words be to my sweet husband? To my precious children and grandchildren? Certainly “I love you” will be in the mix. I know one thing. I will never forget the words my sweet Little Mama spoke to me in the waning days of her life. She spoke of her hopes and dreams for me, that above all she wanted me to know and be known by my Savior, and to long to be with Him the way she would be shortly. The very last sound I heard her make was her humming “Amazing Grace.” Last words are important.
The last words of Jesus Christ are no less so. What did he say? Was it “I love you”? Was it “Hey, in your holy little huddles, keep the faith”? None of that. It’s known as The Great Commission. Read it again, above.
Our calling is high, friends. Our calling is sure. To our family and friends, neighbors and co-workers: Make Jesus famous. It starts with you. It always ends with Him. Praise His holy name! Leave the 99. Go after the one lost sheep. Jesus will show you who and how. Trust Him, precious friend. The days are short. Go!