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Dec 19 04

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December 19, 2004

The Past Doesn’t Dictate the Future

Matthew 1:1-17

The first thing that hits a reader of the New Testament is a genealogy.  Today we have many people who are into genealogy as a hobby and a way to understand their family roots.  It is interesting to find out who your family is.  But, sometimes we find ourselves related to someone whose reputation is less than desirable.  I recently found out that I am related, by marriage only, to a certain Civil War General that I wish I wasn’t.

Why start out the New Testament with a genealogy?  What good does it do us centuries later?

I.                   Jesus had to be able to prove that he was in fact from David’s line.  For Jews of that time, it was very important to show their family line.  Only someone from David’s line had legitimate claim to the throne of Israel.  They were waiting for the descendent of David to come and claim his rightful place.  Not only was that true on the temporal plane of life, it was also true on the eternal plane of life because God had promised a descendent would reign forever.  For him to claim to be not only a Son of David, but the son of David, he had to prove his lineage.

II.                Jesus had some savory characters in his family, too.  Look at his list.  He had Judah who treated his daughter-in-law as a prostitute.  He had Rahab, the prostitute of Jericho.  His greatest ancestor was King David, who committed both murder and adultery.  His most infamous ancestor was Manasseh, probably the most evil king Israel ever had.  2 Kings 21 tells us about Manasseh and how he practiced human sacrifice and many other things.  He was horrible.  Yet, through the infamous and the ordinary, God brought to our world, our messiah and savior.

 

III.             Finally, his genealogy shows that our past doesn’t dictate our future.  As bad as Manasseh was, 2 Chronicles 33:13 tells us that he prayed and God heard him and restored him.  We no longer have to be slaves to our past.  God has always provided a way to shed the mistakes and sins of the past.  Real change is possible.  It possible because God can make it so.  We do not have to slaves to the genealogy, to the genes, to the past.  Jesus’ ancestors can show us that the past doesn’t dictate the future.

 

David, though flawed, knew how to pray.  Read Psalms 51, the greatest prayer of repentance ever written.  Jesus came to free us from our past mistakes and sins and makes new life possible.  That is what we are celebrating this time each year, the possibility of a clean start and new life.

 

 

 

Monday, December 20, 2004

Matthew 1:1-17.  What do you know about your family tree?  Are there less than savory characters in it?  I think most of us have relativities we don’t talk about.  How has your family tree shaped your life?  What family dynamics are there (both good and bad dynamics) that have molded your hopes for your own family?  Do you feel that you have perpetuated those dynamics or have you broken out of that?  How does the genealogy of Jesus give you hope?

Tuesday, December 21, 2004.  Matthew 1:18-25.  Joseph was caught on the horns of a dilemma.  Should he marry Mary, or divorce her?  The tongues were about to start wagging and his and Mary’s reputation was about to take a big hit.  If he was going to divorce her, he was going to do it as quietly as possible; obviously, he still cared for her deeply.  But an angel intervened and told him to go ahead with his plans to marry.  Have you noticed how obedient both he and Mary were to the word of the Lord through the angel?  Would we be as willing to take the hard path?

Wednesday, December 22, 2004.  Matthew 2:1-12.  We have no idea, really who these people were.  Astrologers, magicians, kings, etc. All these ideas have been given.  They all maybe right, or not.  How many were there?  The text doesn’t say.  We get the idea of three because of the number of gifts that were brought.  There could have been 3 or 30 for all we know.  What we do know is that they came for one purpose: To worship.  Whatever led them, they came to see and to worship.  We don’t know what happened to them.  Were their lives changed by seeing this infant?  We do know that they were the first Gentiles to see Jesus.  Their act tells us from the beginning, that his birth was for the whole world and not just for the selected few.

Thursday, December 23, 2004.  Matthew 2:16-18.  The slaughter of the Innocents is not a happy thought this close to Christmas, but it does teach us something.  When word got out that a new king had been born, Herod was livid!  So, while some were in wonder about the birth of a new king, Herod was protecting power by killing the infants two years and under.  He did that because it probably took the wise men a while to get to Jerusalem.  The lesson here is that while we are busy celebrating, there are those for whom the holiday is a source of pain.  Economic problems, the death of a loved at the holidays, the stress that the holidays bring are sources of pain for some. Amazingly, even the divorce rate goes up during Christmas!  How can we, in the midst of celebration, be mindful of those who are sad and lonely in this time?

Friday, December 24, 2004The anticipation is almost over.  The children and grandchildren are at a fevered pitch.  Some families open presents, not those from Santa, on Christmas Eve, and some do the whole thing on Christmas Day.  Whatever your tradition, take a moment in the celebration and hear with the family gathered the Christmas story in Luke 2:1-20.  Remember that this child, who was born, grew into the man who gave himself for us and for the world that we all might have freedom from sin and live with God for all eternity.

Merry Christmas

from your parsonage family

Ron and Deb Newberry

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