The Road to Bethlehem: Of Shepherds and Kings

Matthew 1:6
And Jesse begat David the king; and David the king begat Solomon of her that had been the wife of Urias; 
 
It must have been a proud moment, watching his sons lined up before the prophet Samuel. God had chosen the next king and it would be one of them (1 Samuel 16)! Which one would it be? Maybe Eliab? Abinadab? Shammah? He had seven to choose from! Then in confusion he watched as the prophet shook his head before each one. Sure there was one more…but it was just David! Out of all the sons of Jesse, it couldn’t be him! He was just a shepherd…
 
But that is who God used, not because he was mighty specimen of manhood…but because he had a heart for God! The shepherd who became a king! He wasn’t perfect of course…none of us are. He committed adultery, betrayal and murder. But when confronted with his sin by the prophet Nathan his responce was repentance. Rather than lifting up in pride, he bowed down in brokenness. A responce worthy of the God of the universe.
 
If we fast forward around 1000 years to the small town in Bethlehem we see these events coming full circle. A shepherd who became a king to a King who became a Shepherd. Jesus Christ, King of Kings and Lord of Lords, laying in a manger full of hay, surrounded by the sounds of animals and the soft cooing of a loving mother and awestruck father. David was found in the field tending the sheep, then anointed and crowed king. Jesus left the glories of heaven to go to the field to find the sheep who desperately needed a Shepherd. 
 
“The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want” (Psalm 23:1). Can you say that today? Maybe you are like me and at times find yourselves wandering the fields having lost your way. Can I encourage you this morning? When the shepherd who became king lost his way he fell at the feet of his King who was also his Shepherd. You don’t have to wander. You don’t have to live in fear of the wolves. Jesus, your Shepherd is there. He said “I have come to seek and to save that which is lost” (Luke 19:10)!
 
Today as we ReFocus our hearts and minds on Christ let us turn to the Shepherd of our hearts! The King who took off His crown to find you, save you and transform you. And by the way, He did not take off His crown forever (Hebrews 2:7)! There is coming a day when all of creation will bow at his feet and proclaim the King who came to be our Shepherd as Lord of all (Philippians 2:9-11)!


The Road to Bethlehem: Redeemed with a Purpose!

Matthew 1:5 And Salmon begat Booz of Rachab; and Booz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse

 
I love listening to other peoples testimonies; how they came to know Christ as their personal Savior. Many of them will tell me how they were saved at an early age, maybe during a Sunday school class, and cannot remember a time when they were not in church. In some ways it is hard not to be jealous of these people. What about those who were saved later in life as a late teen or adult? A life of sin is evident in the scars that they carry as they try to move past the life they lived in the flesh and begin to walk in the newness of life in Christ. Have you ever felt this way? Whether you were saved early or late in life we all struggle, we all have scars, we all need a fresh look at what it means to be redeemed! Enter Ruth…
 
The daughter of the Moabites, a people began by an incestuous relationship between Lot and his daughters (Genesis 19:36-37). They were an idolatrous people who were a thorn in the side of the children of Israel and even excluded from worshipping in the temple of God (Deuteronomy 23:3-6). Ruth was a Moabite who became the wife of the son of Elimelech and Naomi and traveled back to Israel with her Mother-in-Law after the death of all of their husbands, perhaps knowing that she would live out her days ostracized from normal society. But God had a different plan.
 
God led her to the field of Boaz to pick up the scraps of what the field hands left behind. Boaz just happened to be a near kinsman of Ruth’s late husband and had the opportunity to show God’s Love and Mercy to these ladies through becoming their “Kinsmen Redeemer” by marrying Ruth. A women, born into a despised people, widowed by the tragedies of life, living as an outsider among the people of God…Redeemed! And more than this…was the great grandmother of the King of Israel, David. Redeemed with a purpose – to be a part of the road that led to Bethlehem.
 
Redeemed with a purpose…have you ever though of that? Whether you were saved at the age of 2 or 92. Whether you carry the scars of a lifetime of sin of one born as an outsider from the church or have grown up in church since the day your were born. If you have asked Christ to save you, to Redeem you, then you have a purpose: To be used to tell the world of your great Kinsman Redeemer, Jesus Christ! Just as God can use someone like a Moabite widow in His great Plan of Salvation, He can use us, scars and all, to proclaim this Good News!
 
Today as we ReFocus our hearts and minds on Christ let us praise God for our Kinsman Redeemer, Jesus, who paid the price so that you and I could be brought into the family of God! Praise Him for His salvation and Proclaim the Good News to the World! That is being Redeemed With A Purpose!!


The Road to Bethlehem: Follow Me

Matthew 1:5

And Salmon begat Booz of Rachab; and Booz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse.

 

As we continue our road to Bethlehem we find our selves at our next stop: The wife of Salmon, mother of Boaz and one of the most unlikely ancestors of Jesus…Rahab. We first meet Rahab in Jericho as the children of Israel began their conquest of the promised land (Joshua 2). She protected the spies that Joshua had sent being convinced that the God of Israel would keep His promise and lead them to possess the land. Her faith in God’s promises even landed her in the Hall of Faith in Hebrews 11! (Hebrews 11:31)
 
Why do you think Matthew included her in this list? After all, the focus was on the father by whom the line of kings would come so why would he even bother mentioning Rahab among the 4 women included in the genealogies? To answer this, I think we need to remember who Matthew was before he became a disciple…
 
There he was at his desk doing his job…collecting the taxes from the Jews to give to the Romans. He wasn’t the most popular of people in town, but a man had to make a living right? He was a publican, a sell out to the Romans, a thief who padded the numbers to fill his pockets. A man on the same level as the sinners who the Jews despised. Then a man walked up to the table and said two words that would change his life forever…”Follow Me!” (Matthew 9:9) In faith he did just that and in the end was used by God to write the Gospel that begins the New Testament! 
 
Maybe this is why he mentions Rahab. They had a lot in common. They both were sell-outs…rejects of society… using questionable and sinful methods to feed their families…until they were confronted with the God of the universe! From that point on their lives would never be the same! They would follow their God and be used of Him…one to help in the coming of the Savior and one to Proclaim it to the world! A Harlot and a Publican…not the ones most of us would choose to be associated with but in the Hands of the Living God they were transformed to live as illustrations of His Grace.
 
Maybe you are thinking, “If God can do this with someone like Rahab and Matthew, can He use me?” The answer is “Yes”! I can’t shout this loud enough! So far we have seen Him use liars, cheaters, prideful, sinful sell-outs to proclaim His love and grace to the world. As you will see as we continue this journey it doesn’t stop there. If God can uses these questionable characters to paint a beautiful portrait of Grace and Mercy then he can use each of us. The question is are we willing to step out in faith, take God at His word, Follow Him and let Him transform our lives!
 
Today as we ReFocus our hearts and mind on Christ let us find encouragement in the Grace of God. The One who can take the dregs of society and use them to proclaim to the world the King of Kings and Lord of Lord’s! Let me challenge you today…Christ is standing before you as you sit consumed with what this world has to offer…with two words, “Follow Me”. What will you do?