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Making Assumptions

Matthew 1:1-6a – “The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. Abraham begat Isaac; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat Judas (Judah) and his brethren; And Judas (Judah) begat Phares (Pharez) and Zara of Thamar (Tamar); and Phares (Pharez) begat Esrom; and Esrom begat Aram; And Aram begat Aminadab; and Aminadab begat Naasson; and Naasson begat Salmon; And Salmon begat Booz (Boaz) of Rachab (Rahab); and Booz (Boaz) begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse; And Jesse begat David the king…”

(Note: The names that are in parenthesis are the names found elsewhere in the Bible spelled differently. I didn’t want any confusion.)

I was reading in Genesis 38 today about Judah and Tamar. Judah had lost his two sons and his wife. He was sad. He had no grandchildren because two of his sons had died before having children. He had promised his daughter-in-law, Tamar, that she could marry his other son when he came of age. However, for whatever reason, that hadn’t happened yet when he saw Tamar on the side of the road and thought she was a harlot. 

Now, Tamar was dressed like a harlot when she is supposed to be waiting for the son to grow up. But you need to remember, dressing like a harlot in this time meant she had her head covered. Judah didn’t know it was his daughter-in-law. That doesn’t excuse the fact that Judah slept with someone who wasn’t his wife. 

Yet, God used this situation and onto the scene comes Pharez.

What I want to emphasize here is judging others. When you look at the shortened version of the lineage of Christ that I have posted here, you see Tamar and Rahab and Ruth. These three women each displayed different character traits but they all had this in common – they were outsiders. They were different. They each married a man from the tribe of Judah. But Tamar was a Canaanite woman. Rahab was a harlot living in Jericho. Ruth was a Moabite woman. None of these women were in a favorable situation. Tamar got pregnant by her father-in-law. Rahab, well, we don’t know how or why she became a harlot but that is how the Bible describes her. Ruth was childless and seemingly doomed to widowhood and living with her mother-in-law in a foreign country. Yet God used each woman in each situation to bring about His will.

We see people all the time at the stoplight, in the store and even at church. And we automatically make an assumption about them. We judge their clothing, their manorism, their speech and many other details about them. I know that I do it without even thinking about it. But that is wrong. I should not judge. 

I know that in my own life and situation, I don’t want people to look at me and judge me by what they see on the outside. I want people to know me. I want them to see God’s hand at work in my life. And you can’t necessarily see that from the outside all the time. 

I want to encourage you, and myself, not to make assumptions about people. I want us to be more open to what God can and will do in someone’s life. No one in Jericho would have ever guessed that Rahab would one day bear a child that would be found in the lineage of the Savior of the world. Tamar never would have thought that this child she was bearing through this circumstance would be in the lineage of the King. And Ruth probably never dreamed that her great-grandson would be the king of Israel. You see, we never know how God is going to work in our life or in the lives of the people around us. 

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Rest

Matthew 11:28-30 – “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

It’s finally Friday. Hallelujah! I got to do one of my most favorite activities of the week this morning – turn off the alarm for tomorrow. Now, I know that may sound trivial and small, but we haven’t had the opportunity to sleep-in in quite a while. I’m just hoping the sun cooperates and hides itself behind a cloud for a little while in the morning. 

We work and go all week. We are constantly moving and shaking. We need a time of rest. We need those moments to just breathe. We need those times to just sit and not really do a whole lot.

My kids are in desperate need of one of those weekends. They have been swamped by homework and projects and sports that they are about spent. I can see it in their eyes and hear it in their whining. But I don’t criticize them for it; I do the same thing.

In these verses in Matthew, Jesus reminds us that we have a place of rest. Now, does that mean we should just sit around when we accept Jesus as our Savior? No, but it does mean that our problems and challenges should not be what is weighing us down. Those things should be the very things that we are turning over to Him. We need to “yoke” ourself to Him. 

What does “yoke” mean? Well, you know the pictures you see of people plowing a field with an oxen of some sort and they have this double “u” looking thing draped over their necks? That “u” thing is a yoke. It brings two animals together to accomplish a common goal. One can’t do it effectively enough on their own. So two are brought in to ease the burden and complete the task. God wants us to “yoke” up with Him. He wants us to allow Him to share in the burden and get the task done. The sooner it’s done, the sooner you can rest. 

God knows that we need rest. He knows the pace we are trying to keep. He knows the obstacles we face in completing our to-do list. You know, I think that we have those obstacles in our path from time to time just to remind us to FROG – Fully Rely Upon God. When we do this, we find rest. We find rest for our soul. We find rest for our mind. We find rest for our body. 

So this weekend as you run and do and see how much you can get done in the span of 2 short days, rest. Rest in the Lord. Fully rely upon Him to give you what you need when you need it. Allow Him to guide your to-do list and find rest. 

In and Out

Matthew 12:34,35 – “O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things.”

Garbage in, garbage out. 

You are what you eat.

These are good sayings. They remind us that what we put inside us, whether physical or mental, will eventually make us into who we are. It touches all facets of our life – our physical health, our mental health and our spiritual health. 

If you go around putting candy and fast food and chips and fried food into your body on a consistent and daily basis, what is going to happen? You will, more than likely, end up with heart disease and, maybe even, diabetes. Instead of being able to live a life that is fulfilling and enjoyable, you will spend many hours at the doctor and/or in the hospital attending to the results of the choices that you made many moons ago to eat all that junk.

If you listen to the negativity of the society around us, it can bring you down. Bad news is all around us. The gloom and doom that fills our social media and books can quickly lead you down a path of perpetual sadness and, maybe even, depression. There is so much death and violence and cruelty that is portrayed in our music, our movies and our books. If we expose ourself to this on a regular basis, we begin to think that this is the norm, this is how life truly is. “Reality” shows become what we think should be our reality and who needs that?

Yet, if you make the choice to fuel your body with food that is healthy and limit those foods that are unhealthy, your opportunity for disease decreases tremendously. Notice that I didn’t promise you a life of full health and happiness. I know that our genetic makeup sometimes predisposes us to certain diseases. I know that sometimes you just end up with some strange illness. But does that mean that you must have put something improper into you body to cause this to happen? No, sometimes things just happen so that you draw closer to God because of it. 

When you focus your life on Jesus and choose to make Him the One that fills your heart completely, life will look differently. All the negativity and the bad news will still be there, but you see them through the Light of His Word. You know the end of the book. 

Walking with God and making good choices doesn’t necessarily mean a life full of gumdrops, rainbows and unicorns. But it does mean that when you choose Him and His will for your life, you are never walking through all of this alone. You put the Good One in, the results of the Good One will come out.

The never-ending sausage

Matthew 14:15-20 – “And when it was evening, his disciples came to him, saying, This is a desert place, and the time is now past; send the multitude away, that they may go into the villages, and buy themselves victuals. But Jesus said unto them, They need not depart; give ye them to eat. And they say unto him, We have here but five loaves, and two fishes. He said, Bring them hither to me. And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the grass, and took the five loaves, and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, he blessed, and brake, and gave the loaves to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude. And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the fragments that remained twelve baskets full.”

My niece (1st grade) and two nephews ( 3rd & 4th grade) were visiting us yesterday. And as we sat at the table having lunch, somehow the discussion turned to a never ending piece of sausage. Yes, I promise, we were talking about a never-ending sausage link. 

And that opened the door for me to say something about Jesus feeding the 5000 people with 5 loaves and 2 fishes. My one nephew said, “I always thought He just gave them a tiny little bite,” as he held his fingers super close together. And I reminded him, “Nope. The Bible tells us that they were all filled up AND had 12 baskets of food leftover!” He had never really stopped to think about that before. 

These are Bible stories that we have heard all of our life and sometimes we fail to appreciate the magnificence in them. Jesus showed Himself as God that day. Nothing could contain His power. Nothing could stop His provision in these people’s life. 

And the cool thing is, He is still wanting to do that very thing in our life – He wants to provide and love and care for us. We just have to let Him. 

So the next time the discussion at the dinner table turns to a never-ending piece of sausage, remember – there’s a Bible story for that too! Always look for any and all opportunities to teach someone about Who He is!

Words

James 5:12 – “But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation.”

Why do we feel that we need to use God’s name in vain? Are we trying to verify the intent of our words? Are we trying to confirm our words? Are we trying to sound important? What is it? Why do people think they sound intelligent when using it?

James is reminding us that we need to have honesty and integrity and truthfulness in our words. We shouldn’t have to verify or solidify what we are saying by invoking God’s holy name. No, our words should stand alone. 

But they don’t. Too often we tell that little white lie or stretch the truth just a bit or leave out a few of the details. In other words, we hide the truth and smother our honesty in hopes to make ourself look just a bit better. 

I think we all are guilty of this from time to time. And shame on us for that being the case.

I don’t have any profound advice or words of wisdom. Just this bit of info to offer you -watch your words. They mean something- to everyone, including, and especially, God. 

Matthew 12:36,37 – “But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.”

No

Matthew 7:11 – “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?”

It’s the most dreaded word I know – “No.” And what makes it even more unbearable is when there is no explanation. When my kids get told “no”, what is the next word that follows – “why?”  My, oh, my. How many times has that scenario played out in my life!

Sometimes we ask God for things. We ask with the right heart, with the right motive and even with the right attitude. And God still says “no”. The problem is, we don’t always audibly hear Him say “no”. We may not even hear it in our heart. It just feels like God is ignoring us, that He doesn’t care. 

Well, let me reassure you this – if you are a child of God, He NEVER ignores you. You may walk away and do your own thing and chose to ignore Him, but He will never ignore you when you make the choice to repent and turn back to Him. 

You see, some people treat Christ like a genie in a bottle. We rub that “magic lamp” with the bright hopes that we have played the game right to win His favor. People, it doesn’t work that way. You can’t just run to God when you have drama in your life. Relationships are not built on drama alone. 

I think that when I treat Christ like that (and face it, we all do sometimes) He is hurt. It hurts Him for us to mistreat Him. But God is not out to get us when we mistreat Him. He only desires repentance. 

But until we do repent, He may say “no” to some things in our life. And He does this for our good. He wants us back on track and sometimes that means saying “no”. 

I have teenagers. I love them to pieces. But sometimes I have to say “no” and sometimes the only explanation I have is “no”. My kids laugh at and respect what I call my mommy alarms. When those mommy alarms go off, the answer is definitely “no”. Mommy alarms mean that no explanation is needed or will be given because mommy has no idea why I’m saying “no” but the answer is definitely “no”.  

God knows far better than us what we need and when we need it. Sometimes the answer to our request is “no” with no further explanation given. And that’s that. 

We dislike very strongly (hate is such an ugly word) the word “no”. It means we don’t get our way. And we dislike very strongly the fact that we may not get an explanation for the “no”. But here is where trusting comes in – God loves you enough to not give you everything you want and give you only what you need. He did that with Jesus. He does that every moment of every day. 

So the next time “no” comes on your radar, don’t get all bent out of shape. Look at why God might say “no”. See it from different angles and then go with it. Remember this – Father always knows best. 

Bugs and honey

Matthew 3:1-4 – “In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. And the same John had his raiment of camel’s hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey.”

O, John the Baptist. Can you imagine for one minute what he looked like? I mean, I see someone with long hair, long beard that isn’t kept, skins draped around him and more than likely, a stickiness in his long beard. Not the most welcoming sight. 

We have this perception in our mind of what a proclaimer of the Word should look like. We see nice/clean clothes, kept hair and probably recently bathed. 

But is that what God wants? 

John the Baptist was available. He had a specific purpose in life and he chose to embrace it. I guess he could have walked away. I guess he could have chosen to be eating lamb and bread instead of locust and honey. But he probably would have ended up with something akin to the belly of a great fish (O, Jonah). 

The point is Jesus doesn’t necessarily want you to quit bathing and start eating bugs and honey in order to serve Him. But neither does He expect you to have nice clothes and kept hair. He wants you to be available. He wants me to be available. 

We need to be listening for His voice. We need to be ready to act when we do. We need to be prepared to share whatever the need requires. Just be available.