Matt 26 

Who influences you? Does their influence come from God? Mary, sister of Martha and Lazarus, anointed Jesus‘s body with an ointment worth a year‘s wages for an average worker. She obviously did not care what others thought, she just cared about worshiping God. That’s a strong influence to follow. John 12:4 tells us it was Judas who openly criticized Mary and influenced other disciples who also criticized her, suggesting the oil should have been sold and the money given to the poor. That sounds honorable, but as we know, Judas was a thief. He held the money purse of the donations given for Jesus‘s ministry. The proceeds of the oil would have given him more money to steal. He was able to deceive and influence the disciples in what seemed like a positive way but wasn’t.

One negative or positive attitude can influence many. Sometimes a negative attitude sounds positive or even noble. Which attitude do I influence others with? Who am I being influenced by? Knowing God‘s word/truth helps me to identify the true influence of others, does it honor God or their own selfish agenda?

Jesus predicts his betrayal and death to his disciples who don’t want to hear His truth. Jesus let them know that they will all abandon him, Peter immediately professes he will never leave Jesus even if he must die with Jesus. In Luke 22:31-32 Jesus says to Peter that he has prayed for Peter, that his faith would not fail, he knew Peter would stumble and fall but Peter’s faith would not fail. When we stumble and fall, we must stay strong in our faith, get back up and encourage others around us to stay strong in their faith in all circumstances.

V41 Jesus says, “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak”. Jesus is praying for us as we read in Hebrews 7:25, He is aware of our humanness and knows we need His intercession.

Peter professed that he would never leave Jesus despite what the others may do, there was a tint of arrogance but also true sincerity. After hearing Peter‘s profession, the other disciples also said they would do the same. Peters’ faith influenced the other disciples in a way that would not honor what Jesus’s mission was, even though it seemed noble. Peter failed to stay awake in the garden and pray with Jesus. When Peter drew his sword to defend Jesus, he was showing great courage proving the sincerity in the words he spoke when he professed, he would even die with Jesus. Jesus admonished him for his actions and Peter ran away like the others. What were his feelings at this point?

Peter kept stumbling yet he continued getting up and staying strong in his faith. He was the only disciple who had the courage to follow the guards and Jesus. After denying that he knew Jesus 3 times, even cursing in his 3rd denial, Peter remembered Jesus‘s words and he went outside and wept bitterly. We see Peter in his humanness fail, fail, fail and yet we continue to see his true sincerity. His sincere faith continues to strengthen him  to get up and encourage others to stay strong in their faith as his influence helped build Christ’s church.

Unfortunately, fear dictates what I do or do not do in my life. Fear often keeps me from doing the things that I should. I pray every morning that God gives me sincere courage to do the things I am supposed to do today. I stumble often, I do not always get back up as quickly as I should. My faith is strong, but is it as strong as Peter’s?

Sometimes I feel like a baseball, I am knocked around, thrown in the dirt, the weight of others falls on me and occasionally I am hit out of play. But I continue to get back in the game because the game is not over yet. I am grateful God has placed Peters in my life who influence and encourage me, helping me find God’s strength. I am also thankful there are younger men who turn to me to find God’s strength. As badly as I need Peters in my life, it is my responsibility to be a Peter to others. Encouraging, strengthening, and sometimes admonishing other men to seek, know and follow God’s truth.

You’re invited…what are you wearing?

Today’s Reading: Matthew 22

v 1-14 The Kingdom of heaven is like…

The more I’ve reflected on our wedding, the more memories jog my mind.  The details that were put into everything.  From invitations selection to music played to the food and cake served.  What an amazing day.  This summer Jennifer and I celebrated our 12th anniversary.  I know I don’t say it or recognize enough the masterpiece our Lord created in my wife and our three wonderful children Jackson, Marshall, and Gianna, but I know they truly are.

The parable that Jesus shares in Matthew 22 talks about a wedding that various groups are invited to. Everyone in town was invited to, yet people refused and paid no attention to the invite for one reason or another.  For those who finally came, some didn’t come dressed for such an occasion.   There is always some thought that gets put into your outfit when attending a wedding.  For me, this parable makes me reflect on what I’m wearing.  What d do I put on each day in the presence of the Lord? What are my actions as a preparation for a wedding feast in Heaven? People like to pretend that our choices or actions don’t matter much in our modern-day world, but this parable shows that it isn’t true.

God’s invitation from Him is not a light matter. We are accepting or rejecting this once-in-a-lifetime invite. Our answer matters.  Our actions matter. Our dress matters.

What are you wearing?

Ephesians 4:20- 24  20 That, however, is not the way of life you learned 21 when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

Every morning we all wake up and get dressed for the day. Am I clothed in Humility?

1 Peter 5:5 and be clothed in humility…

I’m grateful for His mercies He has shown me for the moments when my character lacks, and actions don’t represent Him. Lamentations 3:22-23 says Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.

You are invited.  Do you accept? As we prepare now for His Kingdom, are there any garments that you are missing? Am I truly dressed and ready, or do I think I am?

Psalm 139:23 Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.

Lord,  I pray that my actions and words represent godliness in all I do.  In my sinful human moments, help me to repent and seek you.  Father, I know the Kingdom you have invited us to is bigger and better than anything the world has to offer.  Help me each day to know this truth and share it with others.  Amen

LIGHT or darkness

Matthew 12 starts out by Jesus confronting the Pharisees about the way they changed the meaning of God‘s word, spreading satan’s darkness. Couldn’t they see the darkness they were spreading?

The Pharisees accused the disciples of meeting their selfish desires of hunger and breaking the Sabbath. They go on to persecute Jesus for healing a man’s paralyzed hand on the Sabbath. The Pharisees lived in darkness, but Jesus clarified God’s word, pushed their darkness back and spread His truth, His light.

I cannot begin to imagine the exhaustion Jesus felt at times. He would often retreat to be by himself with God, however, how many times when Jesus tried to retreat to a quiet place, He was followed by the crowds not giving him a moments rest or quiet time with God.

When I first came to know Christ, my pastor encouraged me to spend time alone with God every day, even 15 minutes. At that time, I had 3 small children and there was always activity in my house. It seemed impossible for me to spend quiet time with God because the world crowded my time with good and negative things.

I realized that if I wanted to spend quiet time with God, I would have to get up early before anyone else. At first it was easy to get up before everyone and do a 15-minute devotion. But 15 minutes turned into 30, 45, 60, 90 minutes.

I’m thankful I started that discipline then and continue it today, I need to start my day with quiet time alone with God, however, the world tries to follow me. My mind is often bombarded with thoughts of problems, worries and desires I have. I often have to pray for God’s help to block those thoughts so I can worship Him which prepares me to live each day in His truth. It is my responsibility to push back the darkness and allow more of His light, His truth, His forgiveness and His love into this world.

satan’s darkness is not always as easy to identify as we might think, satan is a master deceiver and hides his evil incredibly well. Can you recognize the darkness in your life?

  • In the world
  • In government
  • In your workplace
  • In your schools
  • In your churches
  • In your home?

3 times in chapter 12 Jesus confronted the Pharisees of twisting God’s word to something dark and confining. God’s truth is light and liberating, yet darkness has filtered into our churches. Loving everyone and allowing them to worship at our church is very important to help everyone find God‘s light, we are all sinners.

However, darkness has plunged its way into our churches creating division. Matt 12:25 Jesus says, “every kingdom divided against itself is headed for destruction”. People are changing the meaning of God’s word and the darkness is now overwhelming God’s house of worship where we come together to push back the darkness.

My quiet time every morning studying God’s word is vital:

  • Read God’s word and be able to discern what is or is not God’s truth in the world.
  • Pray, ask for God’s help to go into the darkness and love, not condemn or criticize

Enter His Gate

When Jesus finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching. 

As we read Matthew 6-7 for today, I pray you will pause and see where God wants you to reflect and seek what God wants you to make clear to you on your journey closer to Him.  Jesus provides so much wisdom in these chapters that leave me thinking and praying for continued transformation.  Topics in these chapters include:

  • Giving
  • Prayer
  • Treasures
  • Worrying
  • Judging

These topics are all sections in my Bible underlined, highlighted, and have notes in the margins.  In prayer for open eyes and ears for today, I landed on a few verses that, for some reason, there was nothing.

Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate, and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate, and narrow is the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.  Matthew 7:13-14

In the middle of one of the storms we had recently, it took my wife forty-five minutes to make a five drive.  As Jennifer drove back and forth, she ran into roadblocks and flooded streets that lead to some tears and fear.  Eventually, they made it home safely down a side street that led to home.  (prayers for everyone impacted by these recent storms)

What road or path are you on?  There are times when  I think I’m going in the direction, and I need to stop.  It seemed safe, and it wasn’t.  I follow the crowd and realize I’ve gone the wrong way.  God has a path laid out for you.

  • Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways, submit to him, and He will make your paths straight.  Proverbs 3:5-6
  • The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.  Proverbs 16:9 
  • The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in His way. Psalm 37:23 

The road seemed wide and perfect, but it led to a dead-end, just like Jennifer the other day.  God provides the perfect directions. The road that leads directly to Him.  Will you seek His path today? This world offers a path that can lead you in many directions.  Our Lord offers us one way.  I pray we are all seeking the narrow road that leads to Him.

Matthew 6:10 Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.


Picture Source: St. Mary Magdalene Orthodox Church

The Final Mercy : Joseph of Arimathea

Today’s Reading

Matthew 27: 32-61

The story of the passion has been told countless times.  Sometimes when we hear the same story and recounting of the facts we can become complacent and not taking the full experience as it was originally felt. Over the last several weeks while preparing for the person of the week, I have had the chance to really meditate and revive the passion and the full breath of Joseph of Arimathea.

In today’s passage, the first person that we are introduced to is Simon of Cyrene.   This is a man from the Northern part of Africa who has come to Jerusalem for the Holy Feast of Passover.  He and his family are casually walking in the streets or marketplace and he is forced to take Christ’s cross.  Let this sink in for a minute.  This man was celebrating the highest of holy days with his family, then the armed guards takes him away from his family.  He is probably dressed well and ready for celebrations.  He is then taken and forces to carry a “criminal’s cross”. At this point Christ has carried the cross for some time and his blood has soaked into the wood.  By Simon being forced into the role of cross-carrier, he grants Jesus the first Mercy.  He has helped in a visceral way to complete the Passion of Christ.  What if he had not obliged and granted the request?  Who would have been the cross-carrier?  Who would have given Christ some rest before his final hours?

The next several events are show the true sacrifice and pain that Christ endured

  • Verse 34 : they offered him wine to drink, mixed with gall, but when he tasted it, he would not drink it.
    • This was a typical antiseptic – to help easy the pain of the Crucifixion
  • Verse 3 : And when they had crucified him, they divided his garments among them by casting lots.3
  • Verse 37: Then they sat down and kept watch over him there. 37 And over his head they put the charge against him, which read, “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.
  • Verse 38: Then two robbers were crucified with him, one on the right and one on the left.
  • Verse 39 :  And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads 40 and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.”
  • Verse 40: 41 So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying,42 “He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. 43 He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him. For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’
  • Verse 44: 44 And the robbers who were crucified with him also reviled him in the same way.


After Simon has given Jesus a piece of grace, Jesus is being assaulted with some of the most vile and cruel items that would have broken many of us.  This is the price that he cared for us.  Then the Joseph gives Jesus his final earthly Mercy: Joseph took the body, prepared the body, and placed the body.

When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who also was a disciple of Jesus. 58 He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. 59 And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud 60 and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had cut in the rock. And he rolled a great stone to the entrance of the tomb and went away. – Matt 27:57-60 

Joseph took the body:

  • Joseph breaks an important rule of Jewish law: he physically touched a dead person on the Sabbath, but prevents the curse of a dead man on the tree. Number 19:11-13 and Deuteronomy 21:22 -23
  • Being a Pharisees, Joseph knew the letter and expanse of the law, but he knew the person of Jesus and understood the reward for his discipleship is greater than the punishment of man.


Joseph prepares the body:

  • Joseph is the only that is mentioned in the gospels to have direct contact with body of the dead Christ. The other disciples were not at the crucifixion and the women were not allowed to be close to the body.  Joseph was the last person to clean the wounds of Christ.  He is the last one to apply balm and ointments to the body.  He is the last one to wrap the body in clean swaddling linens.  This preparation is one of the most intimate and profound responsibilities that one can have.  Christ made the ultimate sacrifice by giving his life, Joseph had given Christ the best response by gently and compassionately preparing his body for the next phase of the Passion.


Joseph places the body:

  • The final act of Mercy is that Joseph placed Christ in his tomb. This was a very powerful and meaningful gesture and example of his love.  In the earlier centuries, there were not a lot of tombs for common people or people without means.  Joseph had enough wealth, that he had this tomb prepared for himself many years of his expected death.  Many times people would use tombs of their ancestors, similar to catacombs. But this tomb was fresh cut and had not had any pervious occupants.  This was Jesus place of peace for three days.


Joseph, who shares the name of the step-father of Jesus, gives Jesus the same compassion and gentleness that Joseph did when he came into the world.


God has reveal many things in this passage:

  1. We may experience someone taking our cross when we are in the weakest parts of our journey
  2. While we are going through the midst of our hardest days the onslaught of worries, pain, defeat, criticisms, & meanness God has relief for us
  3. When we have finally gotten to the end of our journey: Christ will take our body, prepare our body, and place our body in a beautiful place where no one has been before.

Be Blessed

Sunday Love Letter

Today’s Reading: Matthew 25

Recently I started receiving these random emails with the subject line: Your Sunday Love Letter. I didn’t sign up for them and I don’t know the person or should I say personality that is sending them. I haven’t unsubscribed because honestly, I sort of look forward to reading them! The email addresses me by name and proceeds with an inspirational note and is signed, “Carley.” Today my email said: “Hey Jillian…What a beautiful like it would be if we learned to treat ourselveswith the love, kindness and patience we so freely give to others.”

As I sat down to write to you this week, I started thinking about Matthew 25 as a love letter from Jesus. So often we feel a little lost in our own circumstance. Prayer and obedience can feel like a one-way street as we wait for His response in one form or another. But when we go to God’s word we don’t have to wait. His response is right there on the printed page. Since it is Sunday, and I have my Bible open to Matthew 25, I’ve decided to write you a love letter from Jesus (Carley style!). I don’t have the magic algorithm to populate your name into the subject line so I’m going to need you to fill it in.

Dear _________________,

I hope you are not growing tired of waiting for my return. When I am away from you, I long for the sound of your singing and praise. It is so important to me that you remain vigilant in your anticipation of my return. For when that day comes the moment of my arrival will be sudden and unexpected. Do not give in to the temptation to become lazy in your faith. I am your bridegroom, you will find your salvation in me if you can be a true disciple.

I delight in giving you gifts so that you may prosper. I love to see you use those gifts to bless others. Please know that the more you share your riches and talents the more I will bestow upon you. Do not be afraid to generous, I will fill your cup. Be humble and compassionate. If your neighbor is hungry, give him food to eat. If she is homeless and alone, let her in. Visit the ones that are imprisoned, they are my disciples.

I know that the journey is long, dear one. I know that so often the spinning of the earth roars loud in your ears and drowns out my voice. But I assure you that what you do for the least of my people, you are doing for me. I am with you always. You have freedom and rest in me.






Humble Hearts Kingdom

One statistic that I often share when talking about the Front Porch Initiative is the statistic that self-centeredness has increased 30% in the past 30 years among college students according to a study conducted by San Diego State University.   This narcissism has impacted our ability to show empathy and will continue to have an impact on our communities. That’s why deepening our relationships and getting to know others is so important.

Today in Matthew 20 we read about a mother putting her own desires first for her children above God.

Jesus had just got done telling his disciples on their journey to Jerusalem that he would be leaving them soon. That He would be mocked, flogged, and crucified.  Still, just like we can do, just like I can do, we think of ourselves and what’s in it for us.  Not what is eternally most important. Sadly, the next story shared in Matthew 20 after Jesus foretelling His death is the request of power/position in Heaven and being able to sit on the right and left of Jesus.

But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 26 It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, 28 even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Jesus gave his life for us.  Every way He physically lived  was for us.  Every living word written is for us.  In a world and time where being great is about self promotion or pride.  Jesus has been saying to be great in His kingdom we must be least.  Reflecting personally easily brings tears to my eyes.  Even in this day as I on reflected Matthew 20 I made so much of this day about me.  I focus on things I may have to do for work, whether or not my favorite team will win, how my children are behaving.  Not really thinking about what is truly important. In listening to Grace To You by John McArthur on this chapter I think about the question John Mcarthur was asked many times, ” Who will be those who receive the greatest reward in Heaven?’ He will say, ” Those who suffered the most in life for the cause of Jesus Christ.”

I can only repent and pray for Jesus to work on my selfishness. To grab hold of my heart and mind as I look not to myself or this world, but to Him.  Put my pride in check.  Here are a few reminder verses that can remind me God’s view on pride.

Proverbs 21:4 Haughty eyes and a proud heart, the lamp of the wicked, are sin.

Proverbs 16:5 Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the Lord;
    be assured, he will not go unpunished.

That in Psalm 31:23 it says He recompenses the proud or in Psalm 18:27 the proud will be brought low.

So instead of a prideful heart, I know I need to be more humble. Micah 6:8 says He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth Jehovah require of thee, but to do justly, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with thy God?

Proverbs 15:33 says The fear of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom; and before honor is humility.

Colossians 3:12 says, ” So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience;”

So here are a few verses to help us put our pride in check.  That or worldly desires will mean nothing next to our place in Heaven.  I pray to always be a servant leader without asking… what’s in it for me? I pray for us to live with humility and selflessness knowing and trusting that God has a perfect plan for all of us. Our greatest plans won’t ever compare to the reward in Heaven through a selfless, humble, and faithful life.

God told us it wouldn’t be easy.  We need to continue to trust and have faith in His plans for us!  What do you need to let go of? To humbly ask Him to work on your heart. To put away our earthly desires and spread His good news!

Have a blessed Tuesday in all you do.

Seeing, Hearing and Understanding

“Then the disciples came and said to him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” And he answered them, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.” Matthew 13:10-13

Good morning friends! I had a last minute opportunity to take the McGriff Party of 5 camping this weekend so I’m writing to you from my chair in the woods. If this post smells like a campfire, please grab a marshmallow and enjoy! There is just so much for us to soak up in Matthew 13 but I wanted to write to you today about verses 10-13. When I first read this part of scripture, when I was new to Bible reading I interpreted Jesus’ words differently than I do now. At first I thought Jesus was telling his disciples that not all people are chosen that there are only a few “lucky” ones. Now that I am reading through a different lens, I see that it is usthat must choose Him.

Recently I suffered a great disappointment. And by suffered, I mean suffered. It was the kind thing where I was left feeling singled out, rejected and just plain not worthy. To make things worse, many of my friends were selected to do the thing, the thing that I thought I wanted so badly. When the judgment came down I felt the feels. I cried the tears and mourned the loss. I told myself a story about the loser I am and I believed it. Have you ever told yourself that story? Have you ever thought of yourself as not as good as other Christians? Have you compared yourself to others and thought, I’ll never be as close to God as they are? After losing the thing a few good people in my life talked with me about who I really am. They reminded me that I am a child of God, that I am surrounded by abundance. I prayed and prayed for things to go my way but I wasn’t truly seeing. All of us who give our lives to Jesus have also been given the secret to the kingdom. It isn’t that the disciples were perfect people hand-picked by Jesus to be the perfect Christians. On the contrary, they were imperfect people that gave their life to Christ in an extraordinary, all-in kind of way. They committed despite having to live the everyday reality that we can’t see or hear God’s plan.

When it comes to my big disappointment, what I was lacking is understanding. Ok, maybe I’m still lacking it. Although I can see many great opportunities to be the hands and feet of Jesus in my future, I can’t really understand why God would skip over this one. And although I can hear the encouragement of Christian elders in my life that say, “wait for it, this plan will be revealed it’s just not time yet.” It’s still really hard to understand. What I can take away from our scripture today is that if I make that commitment to follow Him, I will have and experience more abundance in my life. If I choose to turn away, more could be taken from me. The disciples asked Jesus, why he speaks in parables. I think maybe as broken, fallen people we relate more to the story than we do the harsh words of truth. The truth is, I wasn’t chosen this time but I’m always chosen by God. You will always be His child no matter what hurt, sadness, loss or pain you’re experiencing. Jesus still talks with us in parables or stories. When we are willing to share those stories with one another I think we get closer to Him. So, I hope you’ll share your personal parable this week with someone that needs to hear it. I pray that God blesses you with abundance and then more. Have a great (holiday) Monday!



By Him, For Him

And behold, a leper came to him and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” 3 And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.”

Why do I forget about the simplicity of God’s love for me? God is omnipresent and wondering why our conversations with Him are not always present.  I reflect on times when I feel like I have situation in control, or frustrated when the plans I have don’t go the way they were suppose to. My lack of faith, loses sight of His authority over all, including me.  After all, we were made By Him, For Him! The words Jesus speaks in Matthew 8 are simple and a timely reminder for our lives today.

If I were to wake up every day saying, Lord if you will, make me clean.  Jesus would say He is willing, every time.  See it’s never His willingness, it’s mine.  My assumption (or honest realization) is there isn’t a day where I can’t go without asking Jesus to wash me of sin.  Just like the leper who knelt down and simply asked, and just like Jesus, He says He will.  Jesus is willing today at any moment to say the same things to us. What do you need cleaned? What is lingering over you that can be washed away, setting you free from guilt or pain?

Romans 15:13 says, May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus wants us to have “great faith” v. 10 like the centurion, when we ask for healing.  If we are truly asking Jesus to perform miracles we need to believe that it can be done. Jesus said to him, Let it be done just as you believed it would. v. 13.  It’s not about how many things we do, how much we give, how much we read.  It’s about us believing, having great faith.

As I read through the words of Jesus found in Matthew 8 I finish on ” You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” v. 26

No matter your circumstance, no matter the size of the waves crashing into your boat.  Jesus is there.  Have great faith, our God is willing and always here for us if we ask and believe that all things are possible through Him.

Have a great Tuesday everyone, take time right now to talk with Jesus.   Deepen your relationship with God using the points made by Lynden yesterday. Go back if you need to remember.  Jesus is waiting and He is always willing.  Just ask and believe!


Ordinary Descendants

Today’s Reading: Matthew Chapter 1

Good morning friends. I’m excited to begin a new series with you all today on the words of Jesus. For the next several weeks we’ll study the actual words of Jesus Christ as they appear in the gospels. Today, we’re going to begin at the beginning; the genealogy and birth of Jesus. In the first seventeen verses of Mathew 1, we are presented with three sets of fourteen descendants of Jesus beginning with Abraham and ending with King David. The list of 46 people spans more than two thousand years and includes both icons of faith and some shady characters! We hear about the lineage of Abraham, Isaac, Ruth and David which connect the Old Testament prophecies of the coming of the Messiah to Jesus’ birth. We also hear of Tamar and Rahab as part of Jesus’ birth line. We know from Genesis 38 and Joshua 6 that both women have a reputation for prostitution. Matthew isn’t just ticking off a list of descendants in verses 1-17, he is showing us that God’s work is not limited by human sin. Matthew reveals to us in his very first lines that our heavenly Father uses all of us for His glory. Of course, this genealogy offers proof that Jesus is the Messiah but it also shows that God uses ordinary people to establish His kingdom.


Perhaps one of the best examples of an ordinary man making extraordinary history is Joseph. Beginning in verse 18, Matthew describes Joseph’s dilemma. After discovering that Mary is pregnant he finds himself with two choices: divorce her quietly or expose her apparent unfaithfulness and have her stoned by the Jewish authorities.

“And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly.But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.” Matthew 1:19-20

Joseph could only see two ways out of his situation but God showed him another solution. So often God shows us that there are more options available if we are just willing to trust in Him. I think there is so much encouragement in today’s Jesus story that is right here waiting for us. According to Jewish law, Joseph had every right to divorce Mary when he discovered her pregnancy. He faced significant social stigma for staying with her as her husband. How often do we face social stigma at work or school when our beliefs about Jesus are challenged. Joseph may have been an ordinary man, but he made an extraordinary choice in the name of his faith in God.

Today’s words of Jesus show us that although he was born of a woman, Jesus was both fully human and fully divine. Jesus’ lineage is full of faith filled prophets and ordinary sinners. As Christians, we are now the descendants of Jesus. As we move about our modern world we have the opportunity to make extraordinary choices in the name of Jesus. I pray that you will take that encouragement to work, school, the grocery store or the doctor’s office today. I pray that you will be strengthened by His grace to be a witness of His love.

Have a great Monday!