A Royal Mess

matt 1 1

Day 1 of your new Bible reading. You are psyched! You are committed. You brew a cup of coffee, clean off the kitchen table, and pull out a new set of highlighters.   You grab your large-margined Bible and you open up to your first reading:  Matthew 1. This is it. Your moment of great revelation, and then…you are instantly deflated. Genealogy. Blah. Wait…No…You are committed to do your reading.  You have new highlighters after all! Okay. Here we go. A couple verses down, and…still nothing worth highlighting. “Maybe I will just skim this,” you say to yourself, feeling a compromise is essential to keep up your determination.  The sea of names continues. Sigh. “I think I got the gist, I’ll just go to the end.” Although you made it through Chapter 1, you feel a bit defeated. No highlights; no underlines. You have made a royal mess of your reading.

 

So what is the significance of Matthew 1 anyways? Why not just hop into the Christmas story?  The answer: context. This genealogy of Jesus through his earthly father, Joseph, is to establish the pedigree pointing to Jesus as a descendant of the ruling class of Israel.  God’s so purposely positioned Jesus that there should have been no doubt remaining that Jesus is the Messiah or “The Anointed One”, the one who would reestablish the throne of David.  A fact made instantly clear upon the arrival of the Magi and Herod’s petitioning to and response from the scribes (Matt 2:1-6). As much as God was at work in these plans, He did so in spite of many actions taken by those who make up the family tree.

 

How did the ancestors of Jesus depart from the ways of God? A few quick examples. Abraham laughed at God. Jacob, and subsequently his son, Judah, both betrayed a brother.  David, God’s chosen King, is mentioned alongside his mistress (later turned wife), Bathsheba, and the man he murdered, Uriah. Among the other names are hidden even more wayward actions (idolatry, stealing, lying, etc.), culminating in Jeconiah, who did evil in the sight of the Lord (2 Kings 24:9), which leads to a curse that cuts off the line of David, seemingly forever (Jer 22:30).

 

If you only looked at part of their story, collectively, it would seem like a pretty hopeless lot.  Thankfully, many of the these men and women wrestled with, fought for, and maintained their relationship with God.  In the midst of sin, reputation, or nurture, they connected, repented, and praised God. They were a royal mess, a line of sinners seeking God and putting their hope in his promise of redemption and restoration.  It is no surprise that we find many of their names in Hebrews 11, among those who are waiting to receive their promise (v. 39,40) of a hope and heritage found in Jesus Christ.

We are equally “messed-up” and have fallen short of the standards set by our King (Rom 3:23). When we struggle with sin, our history, or circumstance, it makes us feel unworthy of the faith and hope we have. Don’t give in.  Remain Psyched. Wrestle. Fight. Maintain. You may be a mess, but you are a royal mess, an heir according to the promise, directly tracing your spiritual heritage (the only one that matters) to Jesus Christ.(1 Pet 2:9; Amos 9:11) Having these roots means, we receive a special connection to God through His Holy Spirit (John 14:16,17) and are covered by grace when we miss the mark (Eph 2:8,9).  Today, spend some time examining the stories behind these names a bit more closely, but also look at your own faith story. Whether you relationship is God is slightly disharmonious, somewhat distant, or completely disconnected, you are not disowned; your heritage is Jesus Christ. He will restore the throne of David, and He will restore any mess appealed in His name.

-Aaron Winner

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God of Hope

Romans 15 13

One of my favorite sounds in life is that of rain. I love sitting under a metal roof or outside under a covering and just sit and listen to each individual raindrop. It brings a sense of peace to my mind. With this said I would like to say that God works in mysterious ways. I have been in situations where I was feeling stressed out and needed to calm down, but then all of the sudden it would start to rain. It was as if God was patting me on the back saying its okay, just calm down.

God will often intervene in our lives whether we see it or not. (Haha just caught myself making a pun on accident.) Romans 15:13 says that God fills us with joy and peace so we will hope. He knows we need him to fully be at peace regardless of our current situation. Good, bad or ugly, He is there for us trying to wave and say it’s going to be okay.

Look around in your everyday life for little things that seem to happen on accident, and you might find that God is right there with you. Have you ever seen God work in your life through something like the rain?

-Jesse Allen

The Rest of Ruth

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When Hope Seems Lost – Ruth 4
Naomi at the beginning of Ruth acts as if she has no hope. She knew she wouldn’t have more children and had nothing to offer Ruth. She was bitter and would rather go back to her homeland to live out her days as a jaded widow. However, this was not at all God’s plan and we can see God’s redemptive plan in 3 major areas. The first starts with Ruth. She is adamant in her conviction to stay with Naomi—God had captured her heart in Moab and he was able to work out his redeeming plan for Naomi’s family through her. Secondly the preserving of Boaz for Ruth shows God at work. In an online article on Ruth from desiringgod.org the author states, “But all the while God is preserving a wealthy and godly man named Boaz to do just that. The reason we know that this was God’s doing is that Naomi herself admits it in 2:20. She recognizes that behind the “accidental” meeting of Ruth and Boaz was the “kindness of God who has not forsaken the living or the dead.” Lastly, Ruth was previously married for 10 years and bore no children. In God’s redemptive work once Boaz and Ruth were married he opened Ruth’s barren womb and she bore a son. In some of the most hopeless situations God chooses to work mightily for his glory and to make himself known. So many pieces had to align in this account that we see God’s hand at work. Make sure to be fervent in prayer over hopeless situations. You never know how God is planning to work—His ways are higher than our ways!
Lineage of David – Covenant Blessing
Family is very near to God’s heart and has been an integral part of the Jewish culture since antiquity. In the earliest prophecies we see allusions to lineage such as “the seed of the woman” in the first messianic prophecy in Genesis. The Abrahamic covenant is a blessing pertaining to the descendants out numbering stars in the sky and sand in the sea shore. Then we see the importance of the birthright blessing between Jacob and Esau. God works through families and heritage and blessing being passed through the family line is a very important aspect to Jewish culture. For this reason Naomi thought her line had ended and that she also had no immediate hope of being cared for by her family. However, God blesses this faithful and righteous family by including them in the line of David. The last verses of Ruth 4 may seem like an after thought but it is a monumental indication of God’s favor. We find that the child of Ruth and Boaz is the grandfather to David, one of the greatest kings of Israel and ultimately in the line of Christ—the awaited Messiah and Savior of the world. What an honor to be included in the line God chose to keep his covenant with Israel and the world! We may not be part of the lineage of Christ but we can be part of the family of God. As we continue pursuing God we are co-heirs with Christ to the coming kingdom of God. This hope and blessing to come has the power to keep us rooted and grounded in love, steadfast in our perseverance as we await the return of our Lord Jesus Christ.
-Shelby Upton

The Underdogs

used by God

Moses is one of the most real people in the Bible. What I mean by this, is that in reading his interactions with God, often times, his responses are not ultra-spiritual, but rather down to earth and matter of fact. For example, when God tells him he has been chosen to free his people from Egypt, Moses tells God “nope, sorry! You’ve got the wrong guy! I don’t do public speaking, I’m shy…find someone else.” (paraphrasing Exodus 3). Moses does this time and time again throughout his story . What’s so great, is that God puts up with Moses. In fact, he made him one of the most famous people in scripture. That knowledge reassures me that God can handle whatever sass I may throw at him. That when I am angry and fed up with him, that I can be just as real as Moses was. That when I pray and talk to God, I don’t have to act like I’ve got it all together and sound super spiritual. I can just be me. God will not reject me when I doubt or complain. He may be a bit annoyed with me, but he won’t abandon me. I’ll never be too much for him. That’s the first lesson we can learn from Moses.

The second thing that Moses teaches us is that our weakness does not limit us in our ability to serve the LORD. Several years ago, a bunch of contemporary Christian artists got together to make an album called The Story with songs designated for each major Bible story. Bart Miller, the lead singer for MercyMe sings “It Must Be You” a song for Moses. Right now, go open up a new tab in your browser and type in “It Must Be You the story” click on the first video that pops up and listen to that song.

Moses’ life in itself is a miracle. He was supposed to die as a baby – murdered by the pharaoh, not taken in to be his ward. Moses was a stutterer and afraid. He wasn’t supposed to lead an entire nation – and yet, through God’s power, he did. God sees something in each and every one of us. Potential to do great things for him and through him.

I know this because I see God at work in my own life. You see the chorus to that song “It Must Be You” is my life’s anthem. I wasn’t supposed to succeed. In second grade I was diagnosed with ADHD and tourettes. In fifth grade, I was diagnosed with OCD. My OCD and tourettes were so bad, I was taken out of public school and homeschooled. I could hardly go into public places without freaking out. I was scared of germs and scared of soap. It was completely debilitating.

But somehow by the grace of God, I recovered. I defeated tourettes, I learned how not to let it control me. I graduated high school seventeenth in my class of 586. I went to college on a full tuition scholarship. I picked up a minor in speech communication and found how much I enjoy and how good I am at public speaking. I recently graduated with high honors. Now the little girl who would freak when a stranger touched her arm has plans to attend the Bible College this coming August.

The story of Moses teaches us that with God there are no limitations. In fact, we serve a God that invites the challenge. When we succeed, he wants to ensure that people know it was because of him. That’s why he picks the underdogs, the Moseses. It’s why he’s chosen you.

-Emilee Ross