Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Let's Start at the Very Beginning

The beginning of the Gospels (well, Matthew and Luke, anyway) are widely-excepted as “Christmas” passages. I recently felt challenged by the Lord to read through the entire New Testament, but I had resisted a bit. I mean, I know the Gospels. I know the life of Jesus. I was raised in church, I know the stories. Most of them I could tell you backwards and forwards. Couldn’t we just skip ahead to like Acts and all those Pauline Epistles? That’s the good stuff. The practical stuff that I like and feel challenged by. Yes, let’s do that - and anyway, that’s practically the whole New Testament. Right?

But, in my innermost being, I felt like I was supposed to begin with the book of Matthew and read all the way through. I know there will be many things that God will reveal to me in the coming days about the life of Jesus, places in my life that do not line up with His, places where I need to let the miraculous Jesus in to do his thing.

Today, I began with Matthew 1. This chapter is honestly just a list of who begat who. I mean, really. What spiritual significance is there to that? Verse 17 says there were 14 generations between Abraham and David, 14 generations between David to captivity, and 14 generations from captivity to the birth of Christ. That’s 42 generations. Forty-two who-begat-whos. That’s a lot of names.
But, it’s verse 6 that stuck out to me:
v6. and to Jesse was born David the king. And to David was born Solomon by her who had been the wife of Uriah.

We all know the story of King David. He went up on to the roof (where he wasn’t supposed to be at that time of day) and saw Bathsheba bathing. He thought she was pretty. He summoned her. And, any person who is summoned by the king goes. He takes her to his bed and he gets her pregnant. He calls her husband home from the battlefield so that he will sleep with his wife and he will think that the child is his. Uriah, being the man of honor that he is, will not go home. He won’t sleep with his wife. He sleeps in the doorway. He will not go “off-duty.” His men are out there fighting and he is itching to get back out there with his men. David finally accepts that Uriah will not do what he wants, so he sends him out to battle and sets him up to lose his life in battle. Uriah dies. The child of adultery is born and he dies. David’s house is in tumult. Discord. Rebellion. Betrayal. Jealousy. Rape. Murder. The life of the God-chosen king becomes the stuff that soap-operas are made of.
Yet, even in all this God gave David an heir through this marriage through which He would send His precious son to save our unworthy souls. Does that not just blow your mind? In the first chapter of Matthew we are reminded that God has not forgotten that Bathsheba was the wife of Uriah. But, He had also not forgotten His promise to David.

There is such redemption in Jesus. Our very worst moments. Those moments that we just die if anyone really knew about. Those moments that have caused us the greatest regrets, the most tears, the most shame - there is redemption even in those moments. Because of He great love for me, God is taking my very worst moments and He is redeeming them to be my greatest. There is no doubt that David, and his whole household, paid greatly for His sin. My mama used to write in every Bible that she gave me, “Sin will take you further that you want to go. Keep you longer that you want to stay. And cost you more that you want to pay.” How true that is. Sin is costly - in every way. It robs our peace and our joy. It robs us of our souls. But when we give those things be they actions or thoughts - be they well-known or secretive, when we humble ourselves, when we give them to Jesus, Jesus can redeem even those things.

Jesus doesn’t leave us where we are. That’s what Satan does. He leads us to that sin let’s us have our fun and then lets us wallow in our guilt and shame. He is our greatest taunter. But, Jesus…..Jesus, says, “Where are your accusers? Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.” Jesus says, “I have plans to prosper you and not to harm you.” Jesus always trades up. For your tumult He will give peace. For your guilt He will give redemption. For your sorrow He will give joy.

Whatever we are holding on to, it’s momentary pleasure is just not worth the damage to our souls. It’s just not. Depriving yourself of whatever it is may be difficult for a season. Satan will tempt you to return to it often and with his own brand of justification. But, we have a choice. Jesus and the future or Satan and the here and now. It’s really that easy - and that hard. And you cannot win the war today. But today, you can win the battle. Tomorrow will be another battle that Jesus will give you the strength to overcome. Today you just have to overcome today. That’s it. And, that’s possible. Right?

Here’s to overcoming. And to our worst moments being redeemed into something beautiful. I can follow a God like that anywhere.