Saturday, December 30, 2017

December 31, 2017

"For with God nothing shall be impossible." Luke 1:37

On this final day of 2017 I want to remind you that not only does God have a plan and a purpose for your life but He has the power to make it happen. Christmas proves it!

There was no way Christmas could happen. Nothing had ever happened like it before or since. Mary's question was quite legitimate, "How can a virgin conceive a child?" It just doesn't happen - unless God wants it to. And He did.

When Mary heard the explanation from the angel, "And the angel answered and said unto her, 'The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God'", she needed no further explanation. Mary knew that God had power to fulfill His purpose.

For God's plan and purpose to be fulfilled, it would be necessary for a "Second Adam" to be born, one without a sin nature. The only way that could happen was for a virgin to become pregnant without the seed of a human. How could such a thing happen?

Only through the power of God and only through the purpose of the Holy Spirit. It was an ingenious plan - and an impossible one! Except "nothing is impossible with God"!

It is possible that someone might conjure up the idea that a Savior would have to be born of a virgin conceived by the Holy Spirit. The prophets had foretold it, so it was information that was available. But discovering the plan and executing it are two very different things! Only God could do it!

So, the good news heading into 2018 is that God has a plan and a purpose for your life. It will be something so big and wonderful that you will not have the power to make it happen. But God does! And He delights in the miraculous! He brought new life from a dead womb and John the Baptist blessed the world. And He created life in a virgin womb and the Savior was born!

God has everything He needs to bring His plan to fruition in your life to enable you to fulfill His purpose. You don't have to know how it will happen, just know Who will make it happen. And celebrate the God of possibilities Who is your God!

You may be facing some daunting circumstances right now! Perhaps life has ganged up on you and you feel weak and powerless. Maybe you have tried for years to make God's plan happen for you only to be disappointed.

The good news of Christmas is that God has a plan, He has a purpose AND He has the power to pull it off! 2018 will be a year of possibilities!

Friday, December 29, 2017

December 30, 2017

"For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord." Romans 5:19-21

Christmas wasn't an accident but the fulfillment of a glorious plan that God had envisioned from the beginning of time. His plan was to redeem the human race from the judgment of its sins. Jesus - the God/man came to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.

That is only the beginning of the good news about Christmas!

Christmas also proves that God had a purpose! What an exciting purpose it is!

God's Word makes it clear from the moment God created man that He desired to enjoy fellowship with him. A paradise called Eden was created for them to spend time together. How many amazing walks they had winding their way through the incredible beauty of that garden. To make Adam's experience even more complete, God created a human partner for him. God was totally committed to the joy of this crown jewel of His creation.

Unfortunately, even tragically, this paradise was lost when the creatures betrayed their Creator. They exercised their will against their Holy Father and sinned. With the loss of their holiness their fellowship with God was broken. That was very disappointing to God and extremely devastating to man.

So, the plan of a loving God to lavish His love on His creation was interrupted and frustrated. How could a God Who is perfect and holy fellowship with a sinful race of human beings? There was no way His nature would allow Him to become sinful and there was no way that Adam could redeem himself. This was the seemingly hopeless dilemma that gripped the world as the sun rose on that first Christmas day.

Only God knew the promise that day held as He anxiously awaited the birth of His Son, the Child of Purpose.

In a humble stable in lowly Bethlehem under the supervision of two teen-agers, God's Son came, born sinless as a man conceived by the Holy Spirit so He could offer Himself as a sacrifice for the sins of the world. This "second Adam" would restore the fellowship that was broken by the failure of the first Adam.

Christmas proves that God is seriously committed to His purpose. He desires fellowship with us so badly that He gave up His Son to redeem us. God, Who is love, needs an object for His love and through the grace of Jesus He can once more lavish His love on us.

Christmas was God's plan to fulfill His purpose. It happened on purpose and demonstrates how far God will go to know you and to be known by you!

If God is that determined to know you, how will you respond? 

What will you live for? 

Who will you live for? 

Will you purpose to know Him and receive His lavish love? 

Why not begin today?

Thursday, December 28, 2017

December 29, 2017

"But God commended his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."Romans 5:8

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." John 3:16

The messages of Christmas are the essence of the "good news of great joy" which is to all the people.

God's message to the world is that He has a plan, He has a purpose, and He has the power to pull them off!

What was His plan?

His plan was to undo what Adam did. He wanted to restore the Paradise that was lost when Adam surrendered to sin. That plan was announced to the serpent in the garden.

"And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel." Genesis 3:14-15

In fact, God had a plan for redemption even BEFORE Adam fell!

"but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God." I Peter 1:19-21

Abraham was a huge part of God's plan because through Him, God established a race of people through whom He could send a redeemer.

Moses was a huge part of God's plan to deliver His people, to receive the Law and to follow God to the Promised Land.

The priests and the sacrificial system was part of the plan to foreshadow the coming of One Who would do away with sins.

God even used the Greeks and the Romans to set up the structure and the mindset that set the stage for Christ to come.

When you study history you cannot miss HIS STORY - His plan is evident in every development of mankind!

GOD HAS ALWAYS HAD A PLAN! Jesus was at the center of it! His coming at Christmas proved that God had a plan and He is serious about its execution!

You are part of God's plan! 

Do you know how you fit in? What will you do today to find God's plan?

December 28, 2017

"In everything you do, stay away from complaining and arguing so that no one can speak a word of blame against you. You are to live clean, innocent lives as children of God in a dark world full of people who are crooked and stubborn. Shine out among them like beacon lights, holding out to them the Word of Life." Philippians 2:14-16

Certainly there is nothing funny about terrorism. Terrorist acts and the fear of more have dramatically changed our world.

The news has been preoccupied this year with a succession of tragic events at the hands of terrorists.

But in light of those realities, a friend sent me this:

Beware of Terrorist Groups in Church

Latest news reports are that five terrorist groups have been operating in many of our churches.

They have been identified as:

Bin Sleepin'
Bin Arguin'
Bin Fightin'
Bin Complainin'
Bin Missin'

Their leader, Lucifer Bin Workin', trained these groups to destroy the Body of Christ. The plan is to come into the church disguised as Christians and to work in the church to discourage, disrupt and destroy.However, there have been reports of a sixth group. A tiny cell known by the name Bin Prayin' is actually the only effective counter terrorism force in the church. Unlike other terrorist cells, the Bin Prayin' team does not blend in with whoever and whatever comes along.Bin Prayin' does whatever is needed to uplift and encourage the Body of Christ. We have noticed that the Bin Prayin' cell group has different characteristics than the others.

They have:
Bin Watching
Bin Waiting
Bin Fasting

Bin Longing for their Master, Jesus Christ, to return.


(However, you can spot them if you bin looking and bin going)

Satan is the original terrorist. He had the audacity to make a terror attempt against Heaven! After that failed he corrupted Paradise with his insidious notions and when Adam fell, he planted within us a rebellious nature that terrorizes us and those around us. This is humorously illustrated by the "bins", but it is serious business.

Jesus was born on Christmas Day to defeat Satan and destroy the terrorist within us so that we, the Church, can rescue the world. He is the Prince of Peace, but it happens one victory at a time. Victory comes through surrender. Surrender means we free God's Spirit to come against every thought, act or attitude that allows the enemy to terrorize us or causes us to terrorize others.

Will you join the war against terror?

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

December 27, 2017

"So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David." Luke 2:4

There were many great cities in the ancient world at the time of Jesus' birth. Until recent times the world has not known cities like those in all of history. But Bethlehem was not one of those. Not even close.

I have some understanding about small rural towns since I grew up in one. The town of my childhood is named Claypool, Indiana. That just sounds like a small town, doesn't it? It was out of the way - a mile or so off of Indiana Route 15 on County Road 700. Not many came to Claypool.

One huge difference in this small town of Bethlehem, however, is that a couple of world-changers were born there. The first was the great king of Israel, King David. And because it was the place of his birth, it set the stage for Jesus to be born there since his earthly father Joseph was a decendant of David.

That answered part of the question. Plus, it fulfilled the prophecy of Micah 5:2 - "But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times."

So, Bethlehem was the birthplace of David and the prophecied place. Those are significant. But, still, why Bethlehem?

Bethlehem means "house of bread". What better place for the Bread of Life to be born than in the "house of bread"!

"Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty. But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day." John 6:35-40

Jesus, the Bread of Life, came to us in the "house of bread" so that we can feed on Him and live!

December 26, 2017

"But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord." Luke 2:9-11

It is the day after THE day! Now there are just 364 shopping days until Christmas!

With all the plans, all the traditions, all the shopping and wrapping, and all emotional investment that go into executing the "perfect" Holiday, how can there not be a little bit of an after-Christmas letdown?

Today the malls will be packed with people making returns and exchanges. Trash bags are piled at the curbs filled with mutilated wrapping paper, crushed boxes and discarded bows. Those "must have" gifts have already lost some of their luster. Everywhere you look are vivid reminders that the long anticipated Holiday has come and gone!

The people have left, the presents opened and the party pooped. So, how do you cope? What can you do to avoid the post-Christmas blues or, at least reduce it's emotional impact? Consider the angel's announcement:

"I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord."

It comes down to a matter of focus. Is your celebration about the stuff or is it about the Savior?

If it is about all the stuff, you will inevitably be letdown when the calendar changes. If you choose to focus on the temporary then your enjoyment will be limited. When the day ends the fun ends.

But, if you focus on the "good news of great joy" your Holiday will just be another day of celebration. Rather than celebrating one day in 365, you can rejoice everyday because the good news never ends! Every day can be filled with joy when every day is filled with Jesus. When you receive the Christ Who came at Christmas and if your friends and family find Jesus as Savior, Christmas Day is a preview of coming attractions! The fun, the fellowship, and the feasting are what Heaven will be like - except we will be doing it in the presence of God!

This life is characterized by emotional high and lows. Precious moments are lived and lost, no matter how hard we try to capture them. But because of that one day that Jesus came to the manger in Bethlehem, that all changed.

So, here's hoping that your Christmas was all you expected - and more! But don't look back in longing, look forward to what God has for you because the Christ of Christmas came!

December 25, 2017

"Zechariah asked the angel, "How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years." The angel answered, "I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news." Luke 1:18-19

"How will this be," Mary asked the angel, "since I am a virgin?" The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God." Luke 1:34-37

"This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins."Matthew 1:18-21

We live in an age of "reality" TV shows, virtual reality devices and a 24/7 media that seeks to shape your sense of reality.

No wonder people are questioning, "What is real?"

Christmas give us the answer. Christmas clearly proves that God is real and faith in Him defines, yes, redefines our reality.

The events of that first Christmas challenged how Zechariah and Elizabeth and Mary and Joseph defined their reality.

For Zechariah and Elizabeth, in their "real" world, old barren people didn't have babies. They had long since cashed in their dream of being parents. They had done all the right things and lives served the Lord. But He had not honored them with a child. Disappointing as that was, they chose to remain faithful to God. They had adjusted to a world of barreness. And then one day, an angel showed up with a word news from God that challenged their reality.

When the angel asked them to believe the unbelievable they had to decide which reality would define their belief.

Mary and Joseph were both the kind of young people you would love to claim. They were faithful to God and lived with integrity. Their wedding was fast approaching and they looked forward to completing their love and being man and wife. Honoring God in their relationship wasn't easy, but it was right and they had done so.

Then the angel confronted Mary with a word from God that challenged her reality. How can a virgin conceive? She had saved herself for Joseph and now her first child would not be his. She had to decide which reality she wanted to live in? Did she want to please God and risk her relationship with Joseph, or disappoint God to protect her marriage plans?

Would she believe what made sense or would she believe the unbelievable and trust God - and Joseph? She had never heard of anything like this before. Could she trust God to do the impossible or remain in the world she knew?

We are not sure how the news came to Joseph that his fiance' was pregnant. Did Mary tell him or did the rumor mill get to him first? If she told him then she surely told of the angel and the plan of God. I am sure he wanted to believe her but it was an unreal story. Virgins don't get pregnant. He thought he knew Mary, but her story didn't square with the reality he knew. What would he believe?

And then the angel came to him in a dream and confirmed Mary's story. Now he would have to be open to a new reality.

Each of these principles in the Christmas story were asked to believe the unbelievable. They were asked to shift from a reality of limited possibilities to a new reality where "nothing is impossible with God"! Everyone of them took the leap of faith. And through their altered reality, God changed reality forever!

So, on this Christmas Day 2017, we find ourselves in the very same place they were. Christmas challenges our reality. Are we going to believe what we know and what we see? Are we going to live in the limited world of sight and sound and senses and previous experiences, or are we going to believe God?

Christmas was impossible - but now it is real! Before Christmas, salvation was impossible, but now it can be real! Before Christmas we were limited to a world of human possibilities, now we can step into a new reality of infinite power, presence, and peace.

Christmas is the ultimate reality show! Which reality will you show?

Saturday, December 23, 2017

December 24, 2017

"In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. The Shepherds and the Angels And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests." When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about." So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told." Luke 2:1-20

Here is your Christmas Eve eve assignment. I want you to take a couple of minutes and come up with a plan to save the world from its moral degradation. Your plan must provide a way to satisfy the penalty for all the sins of the world. Your plan must have a universal means of restoring fellowship with God. When this plan is appropriated by an sinful individual, it must be about to instantly bring life to their spirit and transform the way they think about God, their self and others. This salvation scheme of yours must assure people of eternal life and remove the guilt and shame of their sinful past. Finally, this plan must provide an inner moral strength that will allow those who claim it to resist the power of sin.

Okay, time is up! What is your plan?

That's what I thought. I don't have one either.

Thankfully, the "good news of great joy" that is Christmas unfolded God's remarkable plan!

I would have never thought of it. Neither would you!

In fact, amazing as it it, God's plan is a strange way to save the world.

Who would give the best they have to save the worst they have - at their worst?

Who would allow a holy and innocent person to assume the penalty, guilt, sin, shame and sickness of every other degenerate person is the world?

Who would put the only hope of redemption for the world in the hands of two teen-aged peasants?

Who would reduce the most powerful Child in the universe to a helpless infant? What all-powerful, all-knowing, all-wise sovereign would dare to make himself that vulnerable?

Who would trust the proclamation of this incredible message into the hands of eleven weak, timid, uneducated, and unproven men?

Who, having absolute power, would choose to save the world through weakness rather than by wielding his power?

What a strange way to save the world! Who would come up with a plan like this?

I wouldn't!

Neither would you!

God did! Only He could! Only He is holy enough, wise enough, powerful enough, committed enough, and loving enough to conceive and execute such a strange AND wonderful plan!

I am SO thankful He did! This strange plan has transformed my life!

Friday, December 22, 2017

December 23, 2017

“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14

Given that I am a rebellious sinner at my core, I really need God’s grace. What great news to hear that Jesus came from God “FULL OF GRACE”!

Grace is such a wonderful concept! Someone expressed it this way – GRACE = God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense! Grace means that when you and I deserved judgment and justice from God instead He gave us mercy! When He should have sent the Sheriff He sent His Son! And His Son didn’t come as a social worker He came to be a sacrifice for my sins!

God’s grace means I have a choice! I don’t have to live in guilt and bondage to sin!

God’s grace means I have a chance! I get a “do over”! I get a “mulligan” in life! If I receive God’s grace by accepting the Gift of His Son as our Savior, I can live in relationship with God!

God’s grace means that if I make my choice and take the chance and I can have a change! I can change from a sinner to a son of God! I can change from an enemy of God to an ambassador for Him! I can change from death to life! I can change from being full of guilt to filled with grace!

Christmas celebrates the greatest gift ever given – the gift of grace!

Another wonderful fact about His grace is that He is “FULL OF GRACE” and yet when He offered His grace to all the world He had no less grace to give! You can receive His grace and I can receive His grace and He is still “FULL OF GRACE”!

However, just like any gift you will give this Christmas, it must be received! God was so very gracious to give this amazing gift, you must be humble enough to receive it! What a shame to let grace be given in vain.

Do you need a new choice?

Could you use another chance?

Are you ready for a change?

Take the gift!

Thursday, December 21, 2017

December 22, 2017

"While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn." Luke 2:6-7

Sadly, for some ChristMAS becomes ChristMISS.

In the Christmas story that truth is illustrated by the innkeeper and his wife.

With all the people who were in Bethlehem that day, the innkeeper hit the jackpot! He was able to rent every room and do it at a premium price. That is a small-businessman's dream!

But, when Joseph and Mary showed up, there was no room left for them. Because they couldn't make room for the birth of the Christ, they missed a once in an eternity opportunity. They could have partaken in the single most important event ever! But they had no room for Jesus. For them, the first ChristMAS was a ChristMISS. They hit the jackpot, but missed the joy.

Unfortunately, there have been contemporary examples of this same sad situation.

One is Tiger Woods. Tiger is the first sports personality to earn a billion dollars. He is healthy, good-looking, charming, has an incredible golf game, a mansion on the water, and a 160 foot yacht,. He has hit the jackpot! He has earned it. It just seems that he has missed the joy.

That was betrayed by his infidelity which shattered his marriage. He lost his beautiful bride and two adorable children. It seems he lost the jackpot trying to find some joy. I pray that he will understand his need to make room for Jesus. Jesus IS the joy!

Brittany Murphy was a beautiful young actress with a successful career, a Hollywood Hills home, and a husband. It appeared she had hit the jackpot. Then, several years ago she was found dead in her bathroom. While the cause of death was determined to be pneumonia complicated by severe anemia. It is tragic and highly unusual for a healthy 32 year-old to die of pneumonia.

It appears to be another incident of someone who hit the jackpot but missed the joy. She made room for everything - except Jesus.

For the innkeeper and his wife it was ChristMISS. The same for Tiger. And for Brittany.

How about you? Have you made room for Jesus? 

Will you make room for Him at the center of your being?

If you do you will discover that the joy IS the jackpot!

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

December 21, 2017

"In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!" Philippians 2:5-8

Christmas was driven by love.

In these three incredible verses Paul reveals the motive of why Jesus gave up His exalted position and all the privileges of being God and did some serious down-sizing to become flesh and blood. He stepped out of eternity and into time. He came from a serene and secure paradise to a sinful, selfish and savage world.

What would possess Him to do such a thing?

LOVE! No other explanation makes sense.

Not only was Christmas driven by love but it defines love.

Love begins with an attitude - "have the same mindset as Christ". No one loves accidentally. No one loves naturally. Love is a decision. You and I love because we choose to love. Even Jesus, Who was God - and God IS love - had to set His mind on leaving Heaven.

Love becomes an action - "He made Himself nothing". Love has to be more than a thought or a feeling. Love has to be demonstrated with corresponding actions. Love seeks! Love serves! Love sacrifices! The Bible says that God loves us BUT Christmas showed it!

Love bought atonement - "He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to death - even death on a cross"

Love properly expressed results in life-change. Real love is transformational! It changes the heart, it changes the head and it changes the habits. Loving like Jesus loved changed the world! When you receive His love it changes you - it helps you love yourself. Loving yourself enables you to live for God and love others. Paul begins this portion of Scripture by commanding us to love like this in ALL of our relationships!

What drives your life? 

What defines your life? 

What difference does your life make?

Christmas demands an answer! 

Christmas holds you accountable to love! 

Christ took away all the excuses!

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Family Legacy

"A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham: Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar, Perez the father of HezronHezron the father of Ram, Ram the father of AmminadabAmminadab the father of NahshonNahshon the father of Salmon, Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was RahabBoaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth, Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of King David. David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah's wife, Solomon the father of RehoboamRehoboam the father of AbijahAbijah the father of Asa, Asa the father of Jehoshaphat, Jehoshaphat the father of JehoramJehoram the father of UzziahUzziah the father of JothamJotham the father of AhazAhaz the father of Hezekiah, Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, Manasseh the father of AmonAmon the father of Josiah, and Josiah the father of Jeconiah and his brothers at the time of the exile to Babylon. After the exile to Babylon: Jeconiah was the father of ShealtielShealtiel the father of ZerubbabelZerubbabel the father of AbiudAbiud the father of EliakimEliakim the father of AzorAzor the father of ZadokZadok the father of Akim, Akim the father of EliudEliud the father of Eleazar, Eleazar the father of MatthanMatthan the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ. Thus there were fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the exile to Babylon, and fourteen from the exile to the Christ. The Birth of Jesus Christ." Matthew 1:1-17

Over the past decade or so there has been an increasing interest in tracing family trees. Websites like have sprung up to respond to this trend.

Do you know your family history? 

How far back can you go in your know of relatives?

I would like to have a better grasp of my family lineage. It is interesting to know about your heritage.

While this is interesting information for us, it was essential information to the Jewish people to whom the Gospel of Matthew is addressed. That explains why it was tucked in at the beginning of the Gospel record. You and I tend to skip over this portion of the Gospel when we do our Bible reading. It holds little interest to us. But the Hebrews were big on family pedigrees. For them to accept the story of Jesus, His ancestry had to be established beyond question.

In my next couple of posts I want to share why this rather obscure group of verses should matter to you and me.

As you look through these names, there are a few celebrity names that are easily recognizable. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and King David are "superstars" who jump off this page. I'm sure we all have a few ancestors we point to proudly, while ignoring the weird uncles, etc.

But again, the strong message of Christmas is clear - God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things! The fact that you are familiar with most of the names should be an encouragement to you!

I am one of those ordinary people who no one has heard of. So are you! Sometimes we wonder if it is worth the sacrifices we make or the struggles we endure trying to be obedient to God and true to the faith. What difference will it make! How can I be sure it matters? No one will ever hear of me. No one will care about what it took for me to remain faithful.

This genealogy testifies that it DOES matter. You have no idea who may come along in a generation or two in your family line. If you compromise your faith or sell out to selfishness, you can be sure that the blessings will cease. I would venture to guess that every person listed in this genealogy had decision points where they wondered if it was worth it. They became discouraged. They struggled with faith. They knew the loneliness of being misunderstood because of your values. BUT they remained faithful! And it mattered! Through them came a Savior!

From the Christmas Story comes the great news that faithfulness matters! It matters for individuals. It matters in families. It matters to God. He notices. He blesses. He moves in and through those people. Ordinary people in ordinary families who commit to exceptional faith make and extraordinary difference under the Hand of God.

We all know that Christmas is a family Holiday. Now you know that it REALLY is! In more ways than you imagined. God emphasized that at the very beginning of the story! Before He told the amazing story of Christmas, He told the story that made it possible!

Will you embrace that truth? 

Will you take encouragement from it? 

Will you recommit to creating a legacy of faithfulness in your family?

Monday, December 18, 2017

December 19, 2017

"Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him! For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation." Romans 5:1-11

So, what have you done for me lately?

That's the world we live in, isn't it?

How often do you hear someone cry out to God in a desperate moment, "God, why don't you do something?" Maybe you have uttered that question before.

Christmas shouts back the answer, "God did something!"

In fact, God did everything! There is nothing more that He can do that He hasn't already done! He sent His ONLY Son to become a man, born as a baby of a virgin, to become the atoning sin sacrifice for your sins. That is all He CAN do. That is all He needs to do. He undid what the first Adam did. He redeemed us from the sins of our first parents. Through His death and resurrection He made it possible for us to be forgiven from our sins and cleansed from our sin nature. By ascending to His Father and sending the Holy Spirit He made it possible for us to live in spiritual power and purity. And, by fulfilling all these prophecies, He proved that the Word of God is true and reliable for you to live by. It is a life-giving Word.

So, on this week before Christmas God wants to ask, "What have YOU done for me lately?"