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A Family Tree

A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham.
Matthew 1:1


Do you know who your ancestors are? Has your family kept records through the years? The search for a family’s genealogy often becomes a hobby, even a passion.

The Old Testament provides many detailed family histories. Family heritage was the key to leadership as God spoke to many regarding babies to be born. Can we ever forget Abraham and Sarah? Well past normal child bearing years, Sarah gave birth to Isaac. God had told Abraham that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars (Genesis 15:5).

A tax collector before Matthew became a follower of Jesus, his birth name was Levi. It was to be expected the he would begin writing one of the four gospels with a detailed family tree to validate the ancestors of Jesus.

Matthew writes to show Jesus as the promised Messiah. Some Jews rejected Jesus as the Messiah, so Matthew wrote to tell that Jesus’ birth, life, and death on the cross were the fulfillment of the Old Testament promises.

As you read the first chapter of Matthew, are you tempted to just skip over the names of Jesus’ family tree? Yes, there are forty-six names, all ancestors of Jesus. Note that they were a very diverse group. Some were staunch pillars of faith, like Abraham. Some had shady reputations like Rahab and Tamar. Others were very ordinary, names we find unfamiliar. Manasseh and Abijah were actually mean and evil. 

Does any of this sound like it could have been your family tree? You may have what we may be tempted to identify some of our ancestors as skeletons in the closet.

Be encouraged to read again and again that God uses all types of people to accomplish His plan. A great song Ordinary People tells this story well. So where are you? With our bumps and faulty decisions, He can and will use us.


Lynda

Peace

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.
Luke 2:14


Presents wrapped? Check. Stockings filled? Check. Children sleeping? Check. Food cooked? Check. Cookies baked? Check. Peace? Uh............check???

If your house is like mine, the last few days and weeks have been full. Full of parties. Full of shopping. Full of stuff. And, in many moments, I've been overcome by a brigade of emotions, but peace has not often been one of them. 

Today, as I was reading back through Luke 2, the words of the heavenly hosts rang out for me, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men!" Now, this is as pure and accurate a heavenly perspective of Christmas that we can possible acquire, this side of heaven. 

As I pondered their worship, I was immediately convicted to set my sights on the glory of God, which brings about peace. As soon as I had exhaled a prayer for God to grant me true peace, serenity immediately washed over me. 

Folks, my prayer for us is that we would all just chill. More than ever, I am confident that Christmas is about Christ and the peace that living a life centered on Him can bring. 

So, maybe I did forget a gift or two, perhaps I burned a batch of cookies, and it just so happens that my house isn't as spotless as I'd planned, but the peace of Christ is resting on me. Check!

Lindsey Pond

No Room!

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 2:7


We've all heard the story of how there was no room in the inn for Mary to give birth to Jesus, and that's why Jesus was born in a stable and laid in a manger. As an adult, I'm always surprised to find how many details of the story have been added along the way, as it is repeated again and again. Growing up, I always thought the story included an elaborate account of Joseph and Mary traveling from inn to inn and asking for lodging. As it turns out, the text doesn't include many details, at all. 

However, it does state, She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

From Jesus' very earliest days, people lacked room for Him. In a literal sense, the innkeeper didn't have a place for Him. But, if we spin this scenario into our world today, I wonder how many of us lack room for Jesus in our lives? I would be curious to know how many of us have spent as much time preparing our hearts for Christmas as we've spent preparing our homes. 

The last thing I want in my life is to compartmentalize Jesus in me.

God, allow me to erupt with your story and your glory. May my life have intentional space carved out just for you

Lindsey Pond

The Reality of Christmas

And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross!    
Philippians 2:8


You probably are in the midst of your Christmas shopping now. I find shopping stressful, do you?  The crowds, the decisions, and the costs are overwhelming. Why have we allowed commercialism to take over this special celebration?

We should be focused on the greatest gift we can receive—eternal life through Jesus Christ. You are probably wondering: a Christmas verse from Philippians? In Philippians 2:6-11 Paul describes features of Christmas, the reason for the Season. Jesus Christ abandoned a sovereign position. He humbled Himself and became our servant.

Jesus also gave up His riches and His authority. He went from majesty to a servant. He lived among sinful people and took our sins upon Himself.

After completing His role as our servant, God exalted Jesus to the highest place and gave Him a name above every name.

Many of us don’t like the stress Christmas brings upon us. I am finally learning that I bring much of my holiday stress on myself. Actually, our family has changed some of our traditions. We don’t give as many gifts, we don’t do as much cooking, and we don’t decorate as much. It works! Our holiday time is more enjoyable.

God is still on the fringes of most of our lives. We fit Him into our lives when it is convenient. Yet, we become irritated when things don’t go as we think they should. It is sad that we leave Jesus out of our Christmas when He came to earth so we could have eternal life.

Think of the fretting that you spend on things that have no eternal value. Material things should not be the goal of our life. Maybe this is the year for you to reduce your holiday stress and focus on the reality of Christmas.

Georgia Andrus

Nothing Is Impossible With God

For nothing is impossible with God.
Luke 1:37


Sitting on my dressing table is a small stone plaque that reads, “Nothing is impossible with God.” I look at this plaque several times a day. It serves as a constant reminder to me that I serve a powerful God. 

An angel visited Mary and made a special announcement. He told Mary that she had found favor with God and that she would give birth to a son and was to name Him Jesus. 

Of course, Mary was perplexed. She wondered how she could give birth when she had not been with Joseph, to whom she was engaged. The angel explained that this would happen because the Holy Spirit had come upon her. 

The angel also announced to Mary that her cousin Elizabeth, who was old and barren, was also going to have a son, John the Baptist. The angel ended these announcements by saying, “For nothing is impossible with God.” He was going to perform two “impossibilities.” 

This is a statement we should hold on to these days. Our society leads us to believe that we can handle every situation in life. Some say that we don’t need God; we have our own power within. However, quoting this verse gives me strength. It increases my faith in Almighty God. 

Some people have taken this statement and twisted and distorted its meaning. There is nothing impossible with God when He has determined to do it. He will not necessarily do the impossible we ask of Him.

Anything God determines to do He can accomplish, because there is nothing impossible with God. 

In Matthew 19, Jesus is teaching about salvation. The disciples are wondering about who can be saved. Jesus tells them, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26). Only God can save us. It is impossible for man to save himself.
Remember, God can change a life that needs to be changed. He can give us eternal life. He can and will take care of all our needs if we will depend on Him. 

Georgia Andrus