Merry Christmas, Everybody!
It is that most wonderful time of the year – a time for family, parties, great food and a real need to shop. How much better can it get?
It has been great to hear from you this year – even better to see many of you. Every year our blessings seem to multiply exponentially; I don’t think our possessions change that much, but our focus changes toward things that matter, like, being with the people we love. We are trying to savor every good conversation, every story that makes us laugh ’til we cry, and every still, small voice that nudges us toward His plan for every tomorrow. Honestly, I don’t quite know how people who do not walk with the Lord survive; I fear making decisions for my own life without His guiding hand.
We pray for you a most wonderful Christmas, and for a special visitation from the One who came so long ago. We love you, and we appreciate you.
PS… John and I took a selfie with Santa a couple of nights ago…. See attached.
FOR GOD SO LOVED THAT HE GAVE by Janet Paschal
It is the city where Jacob buried his beloved Rachel; where Samuel anointed David to be Israel’s king. It is the hometown of David and his mighty men; the primary backdrop for the enchanting story of his great-grandmother, Ruth. By the time of Jesus’ birth, Bethlehem, the City of David, had declined into a small, mountainous village. It stood along an ancient caravan route, a melting pot of people and cultures.
The cool Mediterranean winter provided the perfect contrast for the appearance of the radiant angel to the nocturnal shepherds. Imagine their frightful joy as they witnessed a great company of heavenly beings praising God in the open pastureland; their curiosity as they hurried to find the manger, the newborn, the Messiah.
God’s gift to mankind was an offshoot of history’s most distinguished family tree. In the aftermath of Adam and Eve’s disobedience, God promised a kinsman-redeemer from Adam’s lineage.
Satan conspired repeatedly and creatively to eradicate the Messianic line. From the onset, he stirred murderous strife between Cain and Abel. Before the flood, the sons of god took for themselves wives, the daughters of men, and Nephilim giants filled the earth with violence. God’s gift eclipsed hatred.
God described a great, everlasting nation that would be borne of His friend, Abraham. Twenty-five years later, when he was 100 years old and Sarah 90, Isaac was born. God’s gift trumped physiology.
Pharaoh’s order to kill all of the male Hebrew newborns was in place when Moses was born. For three months, his mother hid him, then chose the perfect time and the perfect spot to place the tarred basket among the reeds. When Pharaoh’s daughter found him, his sister offered her brilliant input, and Moses was raised to learn the art of war from the very people he would later engage. God’s gift transcended man’s law.
When Judah failed to give his only surviving son to his daughter-in-law Tamar, she contrived an illegitimate son to continue the family lineage. Hebrew law states that ten generations must pass before an illegitimate child may enter into the assembly of the Lord. Guess how many generations passed between Tamar’s son, Perez, and the future king, David? Not one generation was wasted. God’s gift endured.
Boaz was a wealthy landowner when he noticed Ruth working in the fields. Newly widowed, Ruth abandoned her family to remain loyal to her mother-in-law, Naomi. When pressed, she vowed, “Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.” This unswerving dedication would lead Boaz to seek the hand of this woman of character. Boaz brought home a sandal, and Ruth gave birth to Obed, David’s grandfather. God’s gift outlived death.
Perhaps the most threatening breach to the divine lineage occurred closer to the birth of Christ. Chuck Missler called “dismal’ the succession of kings beginning with the tribe of Judah. Finally, God pronounces a “blood curse” on Jeconiah, declaring him childless, whose seed will not prosper or rule any more in Judah (Jeremiah 22:30).
Oops. The Messiah has to come from the royal line upon which God has pronounced a “blood curse.” Missler said, “I always visualize a celebration in the councils of Satan on that day. But then I imagine God turning to His angels saying, “Watch this one!”
Matthew traces the lineage of Christ beginning with Adam through David, then David through Solomon, finally arriving at Joseph, Jesus’ legal father. However, Luke, the physician, departs from Matthew’s path and traces the family tree of Nathan, Bathsheba’s second son. This takes him to Heli, the father of Mary, mother of Jesus. The precedent had long been established for a daughter to inherit if there were no sons and if the daughter married within her tribe (Numbers 27:8). Thus, Jesus was born to the virgin Mary, who carried legal title to the lineage of David, but without the blood curse of Jeconiah. God’s gift navigated the maze of man’s sin.
Finally, God’s early promise lights up a small, mountainous village. The Lion of Judah, the root of David, the “seed of the woman” culminates into the virgin-born child.
For God so loved that He gave.