Sometimes I tell God; “Lord, I love you,” and then I hear these words in my spirit; “I love you, Steve Simms.” Am I crazy? Not according to the Bible.
Four different people, in chapters 9 & 10 of the Book of Acts, hear God call them by name. It starts with an angry man who hates Christians and even has them killed. He is on his way to Damascus, Syria to persecute the believers there when suddenly he hears his name: “Saul, Saul why so you persecute Me?” Saul asks the voice, “Who are you, Lord?” and gets this reply. “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting.” Saul is transformed from persecuter to proclaimer of Jesus.
Three days later, a believer in Damascus hears his name. “Ananias! Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying. In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight.” Ananias, though fearful for his life, courageously obeys God and goes to see Saul the great persecuter finding him now to be a passionate believer in Christ.
Saul and Ananias were both Jewish. Next a non-Jewish, Roman hears his name. “Cornelius! Your prayers have gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God. Now send men to Joppa and bring back a man named Simon who is called Peter.”
God prepares the way for the messengers from Cornelius by giving Peter a vision of unclean animals and then speaking to him: “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat. Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.” Because of the voice of God, Peter breaks religious tradition and goes and eats with Cornelius and his family & friends. Suddenly the Holy Spirit falls on them in power and glory.
Here is one more example from the Bible. Mary Magdalene, a former prostitute, goes to Jesus’ tomb and finds it empty. She sees someone who she thinks is the gardener and asks: “Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have put Him and I will get Him.” The supposed gardener says: “Mary.” Suddenly Mary realizes that the Man talking to her is the resurrected Jesus!
Are you angry and hateful like Saul? Afraid like Ananias? Seeking God like Cornelius? Prejudice and religious like Peter? Or broken and confused like Mary?
God is calling you by name. Listen! He says: “Be still and know that I am God.”
Hear that one word — your name spoken by the living God!
Come hear! God is speaking to people in Nashville at The Salvation Army Berry Street Worship Center, 225 Berry St., 37207 — Sunday mornings @ 10:45 & Thursday nights @ 6:30.