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Restoration Christmas

November 28, 2012 Larry J. Grainger 0

Included in the Christmas story is the story of redemption and restoration. In the lineage of Joseph, there was an ancestor named Jeconiah, who was the king of Judah. He reigned three months, and the Scripture tells us “he did evil in the sight of the Lord.” Exactly what his sin was is not specified, but it attracted the wrath of God. He was disqualified from sitting on the throne of David and his line of ancestors would be included in this curse as well. Jeremiah 22:30 says “…none of his offspring shall succeed in sitting on the throne of David and ruling again in Judah.” Zedekiah, Jeconiah’s uncle, was the last king of Judah, but Jeconiah was the last legitimate king to occupy the throne of Judah. Zedekiah’s son’s all died, and there was no one left to assume the role of kingship since Jeconiah’s entire lineage had been disqualified, along with him.

Imagine what it must have been like to live with this your whole life. Your family history is recorded in the sacred scrolls and every time they are read, you are reminded that you are part of a cursed family. Could you enjoy gathering in the synagogue or temple, knowing that at some point great(X9)-grandfather Jeconiah’s name would be mentioned as the one who caused the whole family to be disregarded and disqualified from occupying the throne of David? Maybe this is why Joseph was so sensitive about not causing shame to be cast upon Mary when he learned of her pregnancy. Perhaps he had sworn his entire life that he would not be responsible for the disparaging of another family or family name. How many times he must have thought or even cried out, “How might this be corrected?” Albert Barnes in his commentary on Matthew makes this statement – “From a family so utterly fallen, that spiritual King came forth whose name is ‘Yahweh is righteousness (Jeremiah 23:6).” Consider the irony that born into the household of this representative of a cursed family line is God Himself! This is a large statement by the Lord as to redemption and restoration. Here is this man who thought he would certainly die with a cursed genealogy in his wake. But God in His marvelous mercy had other plans.

Having become a legal member of the household of Joseph, Jesus was now a part of the lineage of Jeconiah; although not by birth. The Jamieson, Fausset, & Brown Commentary says it this way. “Though Messiah, the heir of David’s throne, was lineally descended from Jeconiah, it was only through Joseph, who, though his legal, was not his real (biological) father. Matthew gives the legal pedigree through Solomon down to Joseph; Luke gives the real pedigree, from Mary, the real parent, through Nathan, the brother of Solomon, upwards.”

Here are the facts. Jesus had to be a LINEAL descendant of David, in order to fulfill God’s promise to David – that his seed would sit upon his throne. He also had to be the LEGAL son of Joseph in order to inherit the right to sit upon the throne of David. Yet, He could not be the PHYSICAL son of Joseph without coming under God’s curse on Jeconiah. Honor was thus restored to Joseph’s lineage through God’s favor in giving him the stewardship as Jesus’ earthly father. Isn’t God smart? Understanding this makes the virgin birth a necessary part of the Christmas story. This is ultimate restoration and redemption in its purest form. Merry Christmas to you and yours!


Weakness or Meekness?

October 31, 2012 Larry J. Grainger 0

It is possible that often the Christian has been portrayed as a weakened and emaciated person, which translates the Christian faith into a crutch. Jesus said “Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth.” Meekness, rather than being defined as weakness, is the result of God’s working in us to cause us to accept His dealings with us as good, without disputing or resisting. Meekness echoes an old television show entitled “Father Knows Best.”

The meaning of “meekness” is not readily expressed in the English language, because when we see the words meekness, mildness, etc., weakness is usually what we envision. This may be why Christians are often described as weak and feeble and in need of a God because we are useless and helpless. Well, there is some truth to the fact that all mankind is in need of a Savior and without Him we are helpless. But, often what happens is that after we have been born again and empowered by God’s Spirit, we are still viewed as weak and feeble.

The common assumption is that when a person is meek it is because they cannot help themselves; but the Lord Jesus was “meek” because He had the infinite resources of God the Father at His command. Jesus was anything but weak.

The word picture for “meekness” is a word that is used in ancient Greek to refer to a medicine that calmed and soothed the spirit. It also spoke of a gentle breeze and a colt that had been broken and tamed–whose power and energy could now be channeled for useful purposes

We see the same concept in the aforementioned usage of the word in reference to a horse. As long as the colt runs wild and free, its power is out of control and it serves no useful purpose to man. But when its power is brought under control, it can be used for helpful purposes.

This is the accurate picture of meekness…God reins in our strength which is now submitted to His will and purpose, and we become useful citizens of His kingdom. Our real strength comes from the grace that God works in our soul. And maybe we can communicate that rather than Christians being weak and feeble, we are actually people who have taken our strength and laid it at the feet of Jesus to be used by Him, rather than resisting Him.

In summation, to properly understand meekness – the following statement will help us have a proper view of the subject. Meekness is strength under discipline.


Looking Unto Jesus

October 3, 2012 Larry J. Grainger 0

Hebrews chapter 12 gives us the encouragement to lay aside the thing that weights us down and causes us to stray from a life of holiness and purity in Christ. It continues by admonishing us to “run this race” with the endurance that finishes well. The writer of the letter then makes this statement – “…looking unto Jesus, the author of our faith…” One translator renders this “gaze upon Jesus…”

It is true, as Christians we are daily faced with temptations and pressures to compromise our values and principles. Whether it be in the print or electronic media, influences in the workplace, or maybe in our place of recreation or exercise, the opportunity is there to sacrifice our integrity. Our integrity is that which enables us to properly integrate with the Lord Jesus.

If that is violated, we dilute our fellowship with Him and the result is a reduced quality of life (hopefully only temporarily).

The word in this passage for “looking unto” in the original text really means “looking away from something in order to fix one’s gaze on one object.”

The assumed posture is important for us to grasp if we are to lead a successful Christian life. Not only do we turn our gaze upon the Messiah and view Him in all His majesty; we make a conscience decision to look away from all the voices and allurements that would cause us to do those things we might regret later.

I think it is important for us to remember Who it was that actually made us and gave us life. The creator of something is most likely the best party to consult when that “something” is malfunctioning. The one that made it has the best insight as to how it will operate at an optimum and how to correct the course when departed from. It is no different with us. Our Creator fashioned us and gave us instructions as to how can live the optimal life as His children. He knows what it best for us and He knows the lifestyles that will cause us heartache, and sometimes, even ill health. He doesn’t instruct us to avoid adultery, drunkenness, etc., because He is a grumpy God and never wants us to have any fun. It is because He understands better than we do the detriment these modes of behavior will have on our lives.

So, what is it that might be your Achilles heel? Is there some issue that you struggle with in your daily walk with Christ? Examine your gaze. Turn your focus and gaze away from the sin that might easily entangle you and fix it upon the Author of your faith.


The Value of Gratitude

September 5, 2012 Larry J. Grainger 0

Are we a spoiled generation of people? I know when I travel outside of the states I am often struck by what we fail to be grateful for while others would consider the poorest in our country to be wealthy. Gratitude is a virtue that will keep our locomotive life in proper perspective and help us to maintain a balanced life. The psalmist proclaims simply “It is good to give thanks to the Lord.” I echo that statement and add the good produced by our thankfulness certainly makes us better people all around. I submit to you a few reasons it is good to give thanks to the Lord and therefore realize the value of gratitude.


The Value of Humanity

August 1, 2012 Larry J. Grainger 0

He was minding his own business, meandering down the road between Jerusalem and Samaria. When he got as far as Jericho, he discovered a man who had been beaten, stripped, robbed, and left for dead by thieves. He had noticed two men of the clergy pass the man by on their journey as he approached. The first one moved over to the other side of the road. The second actually looked at the man; maybe a quasi inspection. But then he likewise made haste to get to the other side.


Knowing or Following Jesus

June 27, 2012 Larry J. Grainger 0

One day Jesus was walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee when He came upon two brothers, Peter and Andrew, who were fishermen, casting their nets into the water. He issued a call to them that if they would leave their nets and follow Him, He would teach them how to become fishers of men. Nearby, He saw James and John, with their father Zebedee, mending their nets. He issued the same call to them as He had Peter and Andrew. All four immediately left their nets behind (and in the case of James and John, their father as well) and began to follow Jesus.

While it might appear so upon first examination, this was not their first encounter with this amazing man. Approximately one year earlier, these gentlemen had met the Savior. When John the Baptist identified Jesus as the Lamb of God, Andrew, Peter, and John followed Jesus home and spent the day with Him. We are not told how much time the brothers spent with our Lord, but it was significant enough for them to have an immediate response to His call. One would not expect a man to immediately, without warning or explanation, leave everything behind and follow someone, unless they already knew something about that someone.

I recall this story to make this point. There is a difference between knowing and following Jesus. These men had known Him for approximately a year, and yet it wasn’t until the moment Jesus issued the call by the sea that they actually began to follow Him. It is good to know Jesus…it is better to follow Him. Following the Messiah meant they would need to leave that which was familiar and comfortable to them. They had to leave behind what had worked for them in the past and what they had grown up with. We do the same thing when we choose to follow Jesus in total discipleship and give our lives to serve Him and His kingdom.

I ask you, are you following Jesus, or are you satisfied with simply knowing Him or knowing about Him? Is God an important part of your life? Then you know Him, but you are most likely not following Him. God can’t be an important part of your life – He must be all of your life. Another sign of knowing but not following is when you are satisfied with just attending church, but not being the church in the earth. Jesus identified the conditions of following Him when He said, “deny yourself and follow Me.” Give yourself totally to Him today, leave your nets behind, and your great adventure will be underway.


Religion or relationship

June 13, 2012 Larry J. Grainger 0

Someone has defined religion as man’s attempt to reach God. This is exampled in the story of the Tower of Babel. The endeavor by mankind to build a tower to reach into the heavens was met with resistance by God. Our attempts to use some physical means to reach or satisfy God are also met with resistance and leave us empty and unfulfilled.

Contrasted with this, the good news about Jesus Christ is that God became a human being and came to live among us so we could eventually live where He lives. He did this by reuniting mankind and Himself through His Son, Jesus. There may be numerous “religions” available to us, but there is only one Jesus the Son of God. And as we approach the Easter season, it is incumbent to observe that Jesus is the only leader of a “religion” who actually walked out of His grave, having come back to life after being certified as dead. Therefore we have a living hope.

The question we have to ask ourselves is, are we practicing religion or are we seeking a relationship with the living God in the form of Jesus the Son? It is an easy thing for us to get so involved in the things and works of God, that we lose sight of the God of the things and works. Jesus seeks a relationship with each and every one of us. He used the metaphor of a vine to describe to His disciples that true life comes when we reside in a communicating, personal relationship with the True Vine. And of course, He said, “I am the Vine and you are the branches.”

It is possible to get consumed with doing religious things and participating in religious activities as an attempt to legitimize ourselves to God. This was the issue with the older brother in the story Jesus told of the prodigal son. He was so occupied with trying to please his father with all the good things he was doing, he lost sight of the fact he had an inheritance from his father simply because of his relationship with him. As Johnny Lee sang many years ago, we might just be “looking for love in all the wrong places.”

So I ask you, are you hiding in the midst of your religious works, or do you have a personal relationship with Jesus Himself? Obviously, if we have a true relationship with Jesus, good works will follow. Remember we are not Christians because we do good works; we do good works because we are Christians.

Religion or relationship? Choose relationship with Jesus!