The Road To Bethlehem: The Patriarchs

Matthew 1:1-1 1 The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. 2 Abraham begat Isaac; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat Judas and his brethren.

Genesis 12:1-3 1 Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: 2 And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: 3 And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.
In Matthew chapter 1 the Bible lists 42 of the ancestors of Jesus Christ – from Abraham to Joseph. Some of these are heroes of the faith who were used by God to do amazing things. Others not so much! You would think that the King of Kings and Lord of Lords would come from a distinguished line of faith and valor – those who set themselves apart from all others in their zeal for God! But what we find is a group of people not to much different from you and me. As we lead up to the day that we celebrate the birth of Christ let us consider some of these unlikely ancestors of Jesus.
In the first group that Matthew gives us we have the recipients of the Promises! First on this list is Abraham and his sons. This should not surprise us as God told Abraham that the world would be blessed through his offspring. (Genesis 12:1-3) Then later God confirmed this promise with Isaac (Genesis 26:3-5) and with Jacob (Genesis 28:13-15). These three men, who were separated from the world to bring about the line that would lead to Bethlehem, set the stage for what was to come. Abraham had some great victories in faith as he stepped out from his home in Ur at the command of God journeying through a strange land, taking his God at His Word. This is seen very clearly on the mountain top where Abraham stood over his bound promised son ready to act on the faith that God would honor His promises! But don’t forget that he also allowed fear to cause him to lie about his wife Sarah, putting her in a difficult position simply to keep himself safe. (Genesis 12:13). Isaac also had his flaws as he followed God, dividing his house by showing favoritism between his sons. Then Jacob supplanted his brother by taking both the birthright and the blessing from Esau.   This tells us that even though these men were used by God, they were still broken, sinful men. Dishonest, selfish and manipulative….not the traits that you and I would choose to show the world about our ancestors. However God shows us that if He can use these to bring about His plan of salvation for the world, then He can use us to proclaim the news of the Gospel and the grace and love of Christ to the world!
Today as we ReFocus our hearts and minds on Christ let us consider how God can use even broken people like us to glorify His name! This Christmas Season let us present our bodies a living sacrifice to our Lord, saying “I give You my life, flaws and all, and ask you to use it to proclaim the Good news of Jesus Christ to the World!”

Don’t Be A Clock Watcher!

And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. But ye shall receive ppower, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. 10 And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; 11 Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven. (Acts 1:7-11)
Have you ever found yourself watching the clock? It is easy to fall into the trap of simply waiting for quitting time, especially on a Friday afternoon after a long work-week. Watching that second hand as it moves slowly around the clock, just waiting for that 5:00 whistle so we can make a mad dash for the car and get home to enjoy a weekend at home with friends and family. Is there still work to do? Yes – but we would rather just go home! Of course, that is until the boss walks in…then everyone starts getting busy. After all, we don’t get paid to watch the clock!
When Jesus was about to ascend up to heaven He gave His disciples a job to do. They were to go and spread the Gospel throughout the world. Then after He gave them their assignment, Jesus was taken up into heaven as they watched…and watched…and watched. We don’t know how long they stood their, but they were so engrossed in looking up into heaven that they were surprised when two angels appeared amongst them. They were reminded of a very important fact – Jesus is coming back…and they had work to do.
This happened almost 2000 years ago, and the message is still the same. Jesus is coming back…and there is still work to do. I don’t know about you, but when Jesus comes back, I don’t want Him to find me watching the clock. I want Jesus to find me busy doing His will and spreading the Gospel! Yes we should look forward to heaven, and love the fact that He is coming back for us, but we aren’t saved just to sit and wait for heaven! There are still people who haven’t heard the Good News of Christ and we are to keep spreading that message until the day He Comes!
Today as we ReFocus our hearts and minds on Christ, lets get our eyes off the skies and onto the fields that are white unto harvest. May Christ return and find us working!

He Knows

14 Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. 15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:14-16)
In the Old Testament the High Priest had one of the most prominent roles in Jewish Society. It was the High Priest that would wear the breastplate with the Urim and the Thummin which were used to inquire of God concerning His will for His people. It was also the High Priest, and only the High Priest, who could enter into the Holy of Holies in the tabernacle and the temple to offer the blood sacrifice for the sin of Israel on the Day of Atonement. This person had an elevated status in the nation and was placed in a pedestal, far above the common people.
Ok, enough of a history lesson. What does all of this mean for us? In our text today we learn of Jesus’ role as the Great High Priest. A casual reading through the Gospel shows us that rather than spending a life of fame and fortune, He was despised and rejected. He didn’t come to be placed far above us, but to walk among us (Philippians 2). He felt the pain of rejection andthe loss of loved ones. He was “touched with the feeling of our infirmities”. It’s not that He is simply aware of our weakness, He has felt it! And now this same Jesus has entered into the Holy of Holies, offered his precious blood for the sin of all mankind, then removed the barrier that separated us from the presence of God, opening His very throne room to you and me!
Because of this, we can come boldly before God seeking His Grace and Mercy. It has nothing to do with our merits, our good works, our pedigree or the size of our bank account. We could never give enough! We could never do enough! A King stands beside a Beggar when in the presence of God! Why? Because it is not about us…It is all about HIM! Our boldness is found in the person and work of Jesus Christ, our Great High Priest, who totally and completely understands what you and I are going through!
Today as we ReFocus our hearts and minds on Christ let us come boldly before His throne! He knows we are weak! He knows our need! He knows that we will fail! That is why He says come! All you who are weak and heavy laden! He will give you rest! He will show you mercy! He will give you Grace!