The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the son of Abraham. Matthew 1:1
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14
You can learn a lot about a family just by reading its genealogy. A quick reading of the family history of Jesus is very insightful and helpful to understand who He is and who we are in Him. There are a lot of great names and heroes of the faith in Jesus' family tree. Names like Abraham and David, Isaac and Jacob, Solomon, Uzziah, and Hezekiah. These are the names of great kings and mighty warriors. Not perfect people by any stretch of the imagination, but people who achieved a level of greatness in their lives.
But there are also some gnarled branches in Jesus' family tree. Judah, who fathered Perez and Zerah by his daughter-in-law Tamar, whom he thought was a prostitute when he slept with her (see Genesis 38). Mentioned also in Jesus' genealogy is Rahab, a Canaanite prostitute living in Jericho, whose life was spared because she lied to protect the Israelite spies who came to check-out the great walled city (see Joshua 2). Then there is Bathsheba, who is not mentioned by name, but whose story with David is well known.
Perhaps my favorite is Manasseh who became the King of Judah after his father Hezekiah had led the people in a time of spiritual renewal and revival. Manasseh rebelled against the ways of his father and became one of Judah's most vicious, blood-thirsty and power hungry kings. According to 2 Kings 21, Manasseh also murdered many innocent people until Jerusalem was filled from one end to the other with innocent blood. This was in addition to the sin that he caused the people of Judah to commit, leading them to do evil in the Lord’s sight. (2 Kings 21:16 NLT). Manasseh's evil was so great the Lord removed him from the throne by having him captured by the Assyrians.
At first thought, one may wonder why you would put the names of such notorious people in the genealogy of the Savior of the world. Wouldn't you want to focus on His godly heritage to enhance His hero status? Why include these nefarious sinners? The simple answer is two words: GRACE and TRUTH. Each of these stories reflects the truth of Scripture and the amazing grace of God overcoming the sinful failures of man to the glory of God.
Manasseh's story is a supreme example of God's grace. While in prison in Assyria, Manasseh experienced the grace of the Lord and a transformation of life. He prayed to the Lord in repentance and the Lord restored him to the throne and he worked, in the latter years of his life, to overcome all the wrong he had done(see 2 Chronicles 33).
The Bible says that Jesus came in to the world "full of grace and truth" (John 1:14). We see His nature and character reflected in His family tree - in the stories of the heroes and villains of the faith, we see God's grace and truth. And the good news is, His story is our story. Jesus is still growing the family tree, and all who come to Him know His grace and truth. We are in the family tree because of God's grace and the truth of His Word.
Thursday, April 26, 2012
Am I a stumbling block or a stepping stone? Do I make it easier for people to know to Jesus, or do I create obstacles that make it harder for people to come to Jesus?
1. Stepping stones are people of grace. They are not shocked by the sins of others. They understand that people do what they do because they are what they are; they know that sinners sin. Stepping stones are not shocked when people fail. Stumbling blocks act as if other people's sins are worse than their own, and condemn others for their sins and failures. Stepping stones offer grace and point the way to forgiveness in Christ. Stepping stones live in grace, knowing that it is only by grace that anyone can be saved.
2. Stepping stones introduce people to Jesus. Stumbling blocks offer rules to be followed, a list of "do's and don't's" for people to live by. Stepping stones introduce people to Jesus and let Him write His commands on their hearts.
3. Stepping stones love unconditionally. Stumbling blocks put conditions on their love and acceptance. They say things like, "I will love you as long as you love me." Or, "We can have a relationship as long as you live up to my expectations and standards." Stepping stones love without conditions, not condoning the sins of sinners, but loving them in spite of their sins.
4. Stepping stones love Jesus with all of their heart, soul, mind and strength, making it easier for others to fall in love with Jesus as well. They love others to Jesus through their life of loving Him.
Am I a stumbling block or a stepping stone? Are others coming to Christ because of you?
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Love God, Love Others, Reach the World
I want to encourage everyone to come out Friday night for our Messiah in the Passover event. Boris Goldin of Chosen People Ministries based in New York will be with us to share the Gospel through a Jewish Passover Seder. Chosen People Ministries is one of the leading ministries reaching out to evangelize the Jewish people, with ministry centers in 13 nations including multiple ministries in Israel. You can learn more about Chosen People Ministries at their website, www.chosenpeople.com.
Friday night we will begin at 6 pm with a covered-dish fellowship meal. Toward the end of the meal, Mr. Goldin will share the various elements of the Passover Seder and explain how each one points to Christ and is fulfilled by Him. If you've never before seen the connection between the Old Testament Passover and the life, death and resurrection of Jesus in the New Testament, you are in for a real blessing. In presenting Messiah in the Passover, Mr. Goldin will also be presenting the Gospel of Christ, so if you have friends who are lost, please bring them with you.
The Messiah in the Passover event is free, but we will receive a love offering for Chosen People Ministries during the evening. Child-care will be provided. Be sure to bring a friend or family member and food for the covered-dish meal. If you have any questions, give me a call. I look forward to seeing you Friday night at 6:00 pm.
Thursday, April 5, 2012
Love God, Love Others, Reach the World
Cannot wait for this weekend! It actually started tonight with a great time of worship, prayer and fellowship. We prayed over all the pews in the sanctuary, prayed for friends and family who are far from God, and nailed them to the cross (actually just papers with their names on them, lol).
Tomorrow night is Secret Church. I still have a few study guides if you are available to come. The simulcast starts at 7 pm.
Sunday morning is going to be unbelievable! We'll kick-off the service by baptizing three followers of Christ. We will have some wonderful special music, and our choir and newly formed drama team have an amazing presentation that will blow you away. We'll be bringing our Annie Armstrong Easter Offering to the cross during Pastor's Pals, so come prepared to give. I will be giving a clear presentation of the Gospel in the message and then we're going to end the service in a way that we've never ended it before! I can't wait to see what the Lord is going to do.
After the service we will have our annual Children's Easter Egg Hunt. We've got prize eggs for each age group and lots of candy for everyone. Invite your family and friends to bring their kids and their Easter baskets and come on out!
Here is our Volunteer Ministry Team* for Easter Sunday:
- Ushers: *Bernard Bull, Jim Ellis, Scott Hickey, Brandon Wilmoth, Shawn Wilmoth, & Harold McCarter
- Greeters: Stacy Self, Winston Large, Carmen Hall, Ryan Rice
- Counters: Mike Heffner and Karen Rice
- Audio/Visual: Andrew Wilmoth & David Hegel
*If you aren't able to keep your commitment, please contact your Team Leader.
There will not be any small groups this Sunday night, so you can enjoy the rest of the "Holy-Day" with your family.
Our family will be on vacation April 9-23. If you have ministry needs while I am away, please call on one of the staff members or deacons.
Thank you for your service to the Lord. I'm praying for you, that you would experience God in a powerful, life-changing way this Easter!
Remember: God is able to do EXCEEDINGLY, ABUNDANTLY above all that we ask, or even think!