When I was a pretty little guy, my dad thought I should meet Paul Bunyan. He's that legendary giant lumberjack. Well, we were vacationing in Minnesota and there's this tourist attraction there, in Brainerd, Minnesota. Inside was this huge animated figure of Paul Bunyan, I mean, massive! He's sitting down with his giant ax and his giant ox next to him, and a little log cabin at his feet. My dad paid for our tickets and I walked in unsuspectingly, and suddenly Paul's voice boomed out across the park, "Hellooo, Ronnie!" As the kids say, "Freak me out!" This guy knows my name. It took me a lot more birthdays to figure out that the man at the ticket booth had quietly gotten my name from my dad and then relayed it to Paul's voice, who was hiding in that little log cabin. I was totally amazed that he knew my name!
Well, I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Summoned By Name."
Our word for today, from the Word Of God, comes from Luke 19, beginning at verse 1. "Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zaccheus. He was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but being a short man he could not because of the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore fig tree to see Him once Jesus was coming that way. When Jesus reached the spot, He looked up and said to him, "Zaccheus, come down immediately! I must stay at your house today." So he came down at once and welcomed Him gladly.
Well, this turned out to be the most life-changing day Zaccheus ever lived. He not only invited Jesus into his house, but ultimately into his life that day! A man who had felt small his whole life, and as a greedy tax collector had treated other people as if they were small, suddenly became a "big" man. In verse 8, he says, "Look, Lord, here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I've cheated anybody out of anything I will pay back four times the amount."
A changed life! But it all began when Jesus called Zaccheus by name. They'd never met (like a certain lumberjack and me), but although Zaccheus didn't know Jesus, Jesus knew Zaccheus. And He knows you! In fact, Jesus has been lovingly pursuing a relationship with you for a long time. 1 John 4:19 in the Bible says, "We love Him because He first loved us." He knows much more than your name. He knows your pain, your dreams, all the details of your life. He knows your failures and your sins. He has seen and felt them all. You say, "Well, He wouldn't be interested in a relationship with me." Don't underestimate His love! Romans 5:8 says God demonstrated His love for us in this way: "While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Because of His deep, deep love for you, God's Son gave His life as the payment for the death penalty that you and I deserve, and for quite awhile now He's been trying to get your attention.
Today, even as you're listening to my voice, you may be hearing His voice in your heart, and He's calling you by name. He's inviting you to respond to His love, to put all your trust in Him, to have yours sins erased from God's Book and to receive eternal life in heaven. Hasn't it been one-way love long enough? In your heart, can you sense Jesus almost calling you by name, as He did "Zaccheus" that day? He says your name, and that this is your day to finally come to Me. I want you to belong to Me! The Savior is coming, one on one, to you. The day when He calls your name can be your "God" day, the one when you open your life to the greatest love a man or woman can know. The bible gives this sobering advice, "today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your heart." If Jesus is calling, answer Him. You can't afford to miss His call!