He Knows My Name by Rev. Shine P. Thomas
He Knows My Name, He is all Knowing
Letter to Rome
It was a Sunday morning in the city of Rome in the AD 50’s. Rome was the great metropolis of the world. In this great city where all the highways of the world led; God’s people were gathered together. I think that the several congregations that existed in Rome by that time had gotten together in one location on this Sunday morning, because that week a letter had arrived for the believers at Rome from Apostle Paul. Some of them had been led to Jesus Christ by Paul, Some had worked alongside him, in other cities in the Roman Empire and Some of those in that congregation had never met him before, but they had heard his teaching, read his letters and their lives were impacted for Jesus Christ.
People came from all parts of that city of Rome, parked their cars, meet with one another and there was a festive atmosphere around. As the meeting began with worship, one of the pastors went to the front of that congregation with a letter from Apostle Paul. You did not get a letter from Paul every day. So as he opened this letter and he began to read, all eyes and ears were turned toward him.
We have that letter in the first chapter of the book of Romans.
1Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God—2the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures 3regarding his Son, who as to his earthly life was a descendant of David, 4and who through the Spirit of holiness was appointed the Son of God in power by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord.
He continued to read:
7 To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be his holy people: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
(I can almost see the smiles come across the faces of the members of that congregation when it was read.)
What great words for them. They lived in the Roman Empire. Those were not the days of peace and grace. They knew firsthand the hard hand of Rome on them as Christians already. When they heard about God, grace and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ they would have been so happy and joyful. Do you know that God’s grace and peace is there for us even today in our circumstances?
So the preacher continued to read and we come to
16For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. 17For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”
I can see as the words flow from this letter into their hearts. I can see some shedding some tears, as people thought back on what God had done for them.
Apostle began to talk about what they had once been.
23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
I can see people nodding their head for it was their past.
Then it was heard from the letter.
23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in[a] Christ Jesus our Lord.
They would have said, “Oh how I thank you Jesus for who you are.” Then they heard
13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”[a]
Then it was read about victory in the Christian life. Paul spoke of his own experiences and told there were times in his life that he was not doing the things he was supposed to do and he did some things that he did not want to do.
24What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! And the smile came back into Paul’s writings and their faces.
Then Paul continued and they heard these words.
1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship
It was a world of sin, darkness, immorality, injustice and God spoke to them through these words:
2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Then it was read they heard words that told them how to live in a hostile world according to the word of God. They found words that told them how to live properly under the governmental requirements of their day.
Some people of that congregation were employees under the Roman government and some were slaves of the government officials also some of the believers had been persecuted by the Romans; Pricilla and Aquila were there, now they all heard how a Christian ought to live in a good relationship to the government, obey the law, pay the taxes, also have a right attitude.
So on this Sunday morning, as these believers listened to these great words written by Apostle Paul, they came to the end of the letter. He came to Romans 16.
Apostle Paul began to extend greetings to his personal friends here in the city of Rome.
I commend to you Phoebe our sister, (I think all eyes turned towards Phoebe in the congregation). I commend to you Phoebe, our sister, who is a servant of the church in Cenchreae.
Phoebe was a resident of Cenchreae in the city of Corinth, 1200 KM away from Rome. It was a port city. She was a believer in the church there in Cenchreae. He commends Phoebe to the saints at Rome who do not know her, So in her journey to Rome Paul had given her this letter to take and she had delivered it to the church.
I ask you to receive her in the Lord in a way worthy of his people and to give her any help she may need from you, for she has been the benefactor (Helper) of many people, including me.
NIV says she is a servant, other translation says she is a deacon of the church which is at Cenchreae. So Phoebe was a woman in the church who served the church as a deacon, department head.
Here is a lady who did a significant ministry in the church, Perhaps she was a pastor, or she was in the choir, or in the reception team, or prayer team, or Sunday School ministry. She definitely did a great work in the church, a servant, a volunteer, not a paid staff, therefore the Bible commends her.
Let me ask you. I am speaking to a number of sisters today. Are you a servant of God in your church? God has kept a great role for women in the church. I know many of you are. Paul takes note of that. May I repeat myself, God takes note of that.
God Takes Note, He Knows Your Name
Here is a lady, phoebe whose name is not mentioned anywhere else in the Bible. We know nothing about her besides what we find in these 2 verses. She is not one of the famous names of the Bible, but this lady was a servant in the church and was faithful to God. Whether she was a widow or never married. It was because she loved Jesus so much that she served Him in the church and God takes note of this.
Sisters, maybe you think nobody knows about you. Maybe no one knows beyond your immediate family circle, perhaps a few friends that you have in your neighbourhood or in your church but dear sister, if you know Jesus, if you love him, if you serve him in whatever small way that may be right where you are, if you are doing what he has given you to do in your place, you are not forgotten. God knows your name and he approves your life and work.
3Greet Priscilla and Aquila my helpers in Christ Jesus: 4Who have for my life laid down their own necks: unto whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles.
We all know the names of Priscilla and Aquila better than Phoebe because their names are mentioned 6 times in the NT. They were Jews and the residents of this great city of Rome. When the Roman emperor Claudius was persecuting the Jews, Priscilla and Aquila left their home and the city of Rome and went to Corinth. They were having a business of tent making.
Here is a husband and wife who worked together in partnership. That says something special about them. Not every husband and wife can work together like that but they did work together. I enjoy working together with Glory. It’s been a great partnership by God’s grace.
Paul was at Corinth at the same time and he also knew the craft of tent making. Paul had to support himself by working and ministering for the Lord. I can imagine Apostle Paul going through the yellow pages for a list of tentmakers in that city and probably he came across this couple. Paul immediately called up and went up to look at their business. That is just my imagination but somehow they came to know each other.
I can see Paul as he meets them, both Jews, their hearts kind of warm together. Somewhere along the way as Paul began to talk to them about Jesus, Priscilla and Aquila trusted Jesus Christ as saviour. Paul was in that city of Corinth at that time for 18 months. He finally lived with Priscilla and Aquila and they ministered together as he took the gospel to the people in Corinth and surrounding areas.
Priscilla and Aquila were Noticed
So I can see Priscilla and Aquila as they went to the church services and sat and listened to the apostle preach, week after week and oh they grew in the word of God. They grew in ministering and helping the local church.
Well the time came when Paul left Corinth and Priscilla and Aquila went with him as far as Ephesus. After some time Paul had to leave, but Priscilla and Aquila stayed there some time.
Somewhere along the way in the in the city of Ephesus a preacher by the name of Apollos came. He was a great preacher, He knew the OT scriptures and was quite an orator. God used him to move crowds of people. He preached the OT scriptures of Jesus and preached the baptism of John but he seemed to know nothing of Jesus beyond John’s introduction of him.
I can see Priscilla and Aquila, husband quietly talked it over among themselves and on an occasion they approached Apollos. I think they invited him home perhaps for a meal and they sat and talked about Jesus. They spoke about Calvary and how Jesus Christ had died and how he had risen again from the grave and how on the day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit had come to indwell the body of believers as the temple of God. Oh this was good news to Apollos because he believed in Jesus.
So this wonderful married couple, in their quite life, displaced from their home Rome, moving around from city to city, still faithful to God, and teaching people about God, standing for the right doctrine and God used them wonderfully in his hands. Finally, Priscilla and Aquila were able to go back to Rome as Claudis had died and a new emperor had come.
Now Paul knows they are at Rome and when he writes this letter to the church at Rome. He says:
3 Greet Priscilla[c] and Aquila, my co-workers in Christ Jesus.
Have you ever noticed that verse lists the wife before the husband? Even today in our culture, usually, it is Mr and Mrs instead of Mrs and Mr.
Of these 6 times that Aquila and Priscilla are mentioned in the Bible, 4 times out of the 6 times, two thirds of the times, Priscilla, the wife is mentioned first, this is one of those times.
I wonder why that is. God wants us to learn something here. You know it is difficult for a husband to work in the shadow of his wife, and yet sometimes we husbands (I did not say you husbands, I said we husbands. I put myself in the same boat.) sometimes or in some areas are weaker than our wives.
We marry a woman and sometimes the wife is more intelligent than you. Maybe she has a higher position at workplace, earning higher. Sometimes she has gifts and abilities in the areas he does not have. Sometimes God calls a couple to work in ministry and sometimes it is the wife who seems to be out-front with special gifts.
He Knows your Name, He Knows Everyone
It takes special grace on the part of a man to see God’s hand in that and stay in the place God has put him. As God knows your name He knows your Wife’s name too, He can use anyone.It is not that the wife has become the head of the marriage, that is not the point, but it is to let her and encourage her to serve God with those abilities God has given to her.
Such were Priscilla and Aquila, they were a couple. They were a team. Neither one of them was looking out for themselves. Priscilla was not exerting herself beyond the setup that God had made in the home where the husband is the head of the wife. But Oh! He saw her as a woman with God’s hand on her with great abilities and he encouraged that and so sometimes they are known as Priscilla and Aquila. God knew their names.
We have many couples here in this ministry who serve God together, even if you are not in a so called full-time Christian ministry. You serve God in the place he has put you with the special abilities that God has given you.
Dear husbands and wives, you may think that no one knows your effort and time you take at City Harvest ministries, you wonder does anybody know my sacrifice, my time frame, our difficulties for our areas of ministry, God knows. God knew the names Priscilla and Aquila. He honoured them working together for his Kingdom. Let me tell you today: Are faithfully serving him as a couple? God smiles every time he thinks of you with your name.
6 Greet Mary, who worked very hard for you.
Greet Mary, who bestowed much labour on us. We do not know who Mary is. This is not Mary, the mother of Jesus. We do not even know what Mary did except that she bestowed much labour in the church.
Maybe she was a woman who never married. Maybe there were times she became discouraged and wondered if God had forgotten her because of that. Perhaps Mary was a widow, perhaps her husband had died early in their marriage relationship. Perhaps there were times when Mary wondered if God even knew she was there. But Mary was faithful, she served the Lord, and God knew her name.
Mary did not stand in the pulpit and preach. She did not meet with the pastors. She did not do a big on-stage ministry, but she served the saints of God in that church in whichever small ways she could and God honoured that. Dear sister, if you are faithful to God, God knows your name.
Down through this list of names, you find the name Ampliatus.
8 Greet Ampliatus, my dear friend in the Lord.
Ampliatus is a name very, very common among the slaves of that day. Surely the slaves were tempted that sometimes God did not know about them and had forgotten of them, but this Ampliatus is beloved in the Lord. God knew his name.
Perhaps you are part of a group that feels downtrodden sometimes. I know some of you are doing a lot of hard work, you are not seeing any progress. No promotion, no change, I want to encourage you, your time is coming. Dear friend God knows you. He knows your struggles.
10 Greet Apelles, whose fidelity to Christ has stood the test. Greet those who belong to the household of Aristobulus.
Scholars note that Aristobulus’ was the grandson of Herod the great. Now the Herod family was a wicked, cruel family. Here is a grandson living there in the city of Rome. People had every reason to think that he is as cruel as his family name. But here are believers who are in his household, probably servants and they are faithful to God in the midst under a heavy hand. God knew his name.
There is the mention of those in
11 Greet Herodion, my fellow Jew. Greet those in the household of Narcissus who are in the Lord.
You know the word Narcissism today. It is not a good word. It comes from a name in Greek which speaks of a person who is so much in love with himself that he becomes almost detestable to almost everyone around him. Now he is a believer. The people must have been looking at Narcissus as a bad man, but God knew his change. God loved him and commended him.
God Knows Your Name, Are You Ready to Discover?
Child of God: Do you feel that you are forgotten? Do you feel that people are looking down on you? Do you feel that there is no society and respect for you? And do you feel pressed by the pressure at your job? However, in the presence of God there is value for you. You are accepted and loved. Certainly, here is a place we all can be one and be free from our burden.
Today God is calling you to come and commit yourself to feel at home in his church, grow, labour and minister in His church which is City Harvest for all of us and also wherever you are are serving.
So when you feel sometimes that life is not worthwhile, Oh dear believer, you need to remember that God knows your name, You are accepted and God is commending you, also Someday you are going to discover that it is going to be worth it all. So, take heart and have joy in your heart. Amen!