Monday, July 1, 2019
Twenty-six years ago, I received a call from a member of the church I was pastoring at the time. He told me to come out to his house because 4 weeks earlier his registered Yellow Lab had puppies and he wanted me to see them. I grabbed the kids and we headed out to his house. When we arrived, there was a flurry of activity as 8 rambunctious puppies all tried to get our attention at the same time. Then the owner of the dogs turned to me and said, “Which one do you want when they are ready?” I was overwhelmed. He was allowing me to have the pick of the litter and he was giving me this very well-bred and expensive hunting dog absolutely free.
The kids and I starting watching each puppy carefully, looking for the best blend of strength, form, hunting instinct and personality that we could find. When we found him, we told the owner which puppy it would be, and he put a mark on him, sealing him as our dog until the day we would come back and pick him up. He had some growing up to do, and we had some preparations to make at his new home. We quickly got to work to make sure everything was ready for the day we would get the call and be able to go get our dog. We made sure that everything from food to play area to sleep area was going to be perfect for him. But most importantly we chose a name for him – a name that described him and fit him – a name that became his identity.
This event in our lives serves as an analogy of the story of our salvation in Jesus Christ.
Ephesians 1:13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.
We are like that nameless puppy, seeking to befriend and please any visitor so that they might accept us. One day we are visited by Jesus Christ and He chooses us to be His. When we believe the gospel of truth, we are marked as His permanent possession with the seal of the Holy Spirit, guaranteeing that we will receive our inheritance, which is to live in the place He has prepared for us for all eternity. Then we are given a new name – a heavenly name – that becomes our identity.
Jesus says this in Revelation 2:17. I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it.
In Revelation 3:12 Jesus says, Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it. I will write on him 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 him my new name.
God Himself gives us our identity. How special is this identity? Look at Revelation 22:4 – They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads.
We are identified as God’s forever. Hallelujah!
The world is filled with unselected puppies with no identity. They are seeking to please anyone who will pay attention to them. The challenge for us as we wait for our Master to come and take us home is to visit as many of those puppies as possible and tell them the Good News that Jesus Christ has redeemed them, and they can have a new and meaningful identity in a permanent home where every need is supplied.
I’m sure you know a couple of puppies who need to hear that. Go visit them.