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It seems every culture has a unique way of giving names to their children. Traditionally in the United States women legally change their maiden name and use the family name of their husband. Children also take the family name of their father. The given name is considered the first name and the family name is the last name. Most people following this practice also have a middle name. Family names of European immigrants were often based on the occupation of the “father” of the family. Being a largely Christian nation, Americans have often used Bible names (which are actually Jewish names for the most part). Another common source of names has been from the home country of immigrants and has richly diversified the mix of names found in America. Most names have some historical meaning attached to them but are not often thought about in Western culture.

Bible Reading

Exodus 1-3:15
What is God’s name?  The Bible tells us in Exodus 3.
God appeared to Moses on a mountain. God told Moses to go back to Egypt to lead the Jewish people from bondage to slavery. Moses was afraid to do this.  He asked God, “Whom shall I say sent me?” God answered, “I AM.”

In English, different words are used to express past, present and future tenses. Here God uses “I AM” in a way that encompasses past, present and future. God was telling Moses that He has existed since before time began. He has no beginning and no end and that He never changes.

John 8:58

In the Gospel of John (the New Testament), John records Jesus having a discussion with the Jewish religious leaders. They were discussing Abraham. He was the father of the Jewish faith, who lived 2,000 years before these events. Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, before Abraham was, I Am!” (John 8:58). The Jewish leaders understood immediately that Jesus was proclaiming Himself to be God. They could not accept this teaching and were very angry with Jesus. Later, in John 10:30, Jesus said, “I and the Father are one”. Jesus made it very clear that He was God. See a discussion of the Trinity: link.
Also in the Gospel of John, Jesus tells His followers to “ask in my name” when praying to God (John 14:13). See a discussion of what this means: link.

Discussion

  1. How are names given in your culture? Do you know what your name means? Are there other differences how names are used in your culture versus America?
  2. What is God’s name and what does it mean?
  3. How does Jesus using this name show His equality with God?
  4. What are your beliefs/thoughts about this?

To read more:

Hebrews 13:8
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.

John 14:13
Whatever you ask in my name I will do. 
What does it mean when a person adds the words “in Jesus name” at the end of their prayer?  Read more > > >

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