One of my favorite stories from American history is about a family who, at the end of tumultuous and difficult times, named their newborn son, INCREASE. This was a reminder of Gods providential protection over the Colonies. What a wonderful faith statement it became...the never-to-be-forgotten increase of every sort wherewith God favored the country about the time of his birth. The name "Increase" is a literal translation of the Hebrew "Yosëf" or Joseph.
The story gives the reason they named him INCREASE. INCREASE entered Harvard at the age of 12 and received a Bachelor’s Degree at 17. At graduation, his attack on the philosophies of Aristotle, which was the basic of the Harvard curriculum, shocked the faculty and nearly resulted in his dismissal. On his 18th birthday he preached his first sermon in a village near his home, and his second in his father’s church in Dorchester. Soon after, he left for Dublin, where he entered Trinity College and received a master’s degree the following June. At his commencement, he refused to wear a cap and gown, but the assembled scholars were so impressed with him that they hummed their approval of him. His forward thinking parents knew that his name would always be a conversation piece, and they were so right. So much so that I am still writing about it today.
When you look at this name in the Bible you will find several characters whose name was “Yoseph” and each one of them have a story of increase connected to them. Joseph, who prophesied Increase to Egypt and he became the salvation of his family.
You remember, of course, the story of the birth of Jesus and the conflict that Mary’s fiancé had in his mind to put her away privately because she was with child. Joseph made the right decision, but it took a visiting angel to convince him. As a result, the whole world has experienced the Increase because of Him.
Isaiah prophesied this in chapter 9, verse 7: “Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the Throne of David and upon His Kingdom, to order it and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of Host shall perform this.” Isaiah loved the word increase.
Isaiah 29:19: “The meek also shall increase their joy in the Lord, and the poor among men shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.” Isaiah 40:29: “He gives power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increases strength?”
Dr. Luke speaks of another Joseph. “There was a man named Joseph, a counselor who was a good man and just. He took down the body of Jesus and wrapped it and laid it in a sepulcher that was hewn in stone, wherein never a man was laid.” Luke 23:50
One Sunday several years ago, I felt a need to speak about the power of our names. There was a brother in the crowd that morning who was concerned about his name. I told the story of Increase Mather. He came to me later that week and told me that God had used the message to help him deal with the issue of his name recognition in regard to his business. What happened was that the issue was resolved, and his business began to thrive.
Can you imagine that every time that someone calls your name, it has a positive effect on those who hear it? Solomon made a very wise statement when he wrote, “A good name is rather to be desired that great riches.” He went on to say, “a good name is better than precious ointment.” Ointment and sweet perfume are just superficial, but a good name comes from great character.
My greatest joy is knowing that one day a new name was written down in glory, and it was mine. Oh, yes it’s mine, and the white robed angels sing the story, a sinner has come home.
Keep looking up, God is looking down!!!
Pastor Cleddie Keith