God Writes Straight With Crooked Lives

“The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham:” (Matthew 1:1)

I don’t remember the first time I heard someone say, “God writes straight with crooked lives,” but over the years I’ve come to learn the truth of that statement. Nowhere is this seen more clearly than in the first chapter of Matthew as he shows us how the Promise was handed down and made its way through some rough people.

As you study the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew’s Gospel, you find that God’s Son came to us in all-too-human hands. Those hands were not immune to the terror and trauma of everyday life. As you read the names, you see people who are sinful and unworthy of grace…just like you and me.

What a gang of folks is this list of those who bear the message of Christmas to fulfillment. From reading Jesus’ family tree, I learn that no matter what kind of background we come from, no mater how insignificant we feel, no matter how inadequate we, God can, and God wants to use us to hand His promise of salvation to the next generation. God wants you and me to carry the promise of Christmas to somebody else. If people like those in Matthew can make it on the list…I think God can certainly use you and me to pass the faith on from one generation to the next.

Let me mention the last group in Matthew’s crowd that I find truly incredible. It’s Abi’ud, Eliakim, Azor, Zadok, Achim, Eliud, Eleazar, Mattan, and Jacob, the father of Mary’s husband Joseph. Do you know why I think that’s such an incredible list? Pick up a Bible concordance and you’ll find out why. Every other name Matthew gives us in the genealogy can be found somewhere else in the Old Testament, somewhere else in Israel’s history. But the names in the last group don’t appear anywhere. They are anonymous. They are nobodies. They simply make a cameo appearance in Matthew 1, and then they are gone.

Dalphon Thompson, Cornelia Sumner, Mildred Jenkins, John Galloway. Have you ever heard their names? Probably not. Why? They were my pastor when I got saved, my preschool Sunday school teacher, my high school Sunday school teacher, and the man who taught me how to whistle. They are anonymous bearers of the Christmas message. And you have a list of names like this too. You have an Abi’ud, an Eliakim, an Azor, a Zadok and an Eleazar. The ones who told you the Christmas story — the ones who bore the promise.

Anonymous…yet remembered. Insignificant, yet instrumental. Each one of us heard the Gospel from someone who got it from someone who experienced it through someone long gone. But they are there.

As you celebrate Christmas this week, I simply ask you this. Where does this wonderful Gospel story go from here? You’ve heard the Gospel, you have been embraced by the grace of God…and now…who will you share the Promise with? Are you ready? Carry this wonderful Christmas Gospel to the world!

Edna and I are thankful for all of you who faithfully read this little blog. I’m humbled that anybody would care a bit about the things I have to say, so your friendship through this medium is very special to me. May God richly bless you and your family this Christmas season.

Make the Gospel Attractive

“Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.” (I Peter 2:11-12)

As we approach Christmas Day this week, I have been thinking about my testimony. My life (and yours) is a living testimony of the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. A sinful lifestyle, words spoken in haste, unpleasant attitudes and behaviors can bring shame and discredit the cause of Christ. But Christlike living demonstrates the power of Christ to change lives and make the Gospel appealing to others.

In the summer of 1805, a number of Indian chiefs and warriors met in council at Buffalo Creek, New York, to hear a presentation of the Christian message by a Mr. Cram from the Boston Missionary Society. After the sermon, a response was giving by Red Jacket, one of the leading chiefs. Among other things, the chief said:

“Brother, you say that there is but one way to worship and serve the Great Spirit. If there is but one religion, why do you white people differ so much about it? Why not all agree, as you can all read the same Book? Brother, we are told that you have been preaching to the white people in this place. These people are our neighbors. We are acquainted with them. We will wait a little while and see what effect your preaching has upon them. If we find it does them good, makes them honest and less disposed to cheat Indians, we will then consider again what you have said.” (From the book Be Hopeful by Warren Wiersbe)

As you are out and about these last few days before Christmas, your life is being examined. People who need Jesus Christ as their Savior are watching. When they look at Christ through your life, will they be willing to consider the message of the Gospel? Will they see the pure, clean Water of Life or will they see impurities and uncleanness that cause them to turn away from Christ?

Dear Lord…in the way I talk and live, I pray that I will make the Gospel attractive to those people I meet today. Amen.