Have you ever thought your family was a little crazy?  Have you ever thought your story is little too colorful for the Bible?  Have you ever dreamed of a story that resembled more of a holiday movie than your real life?

If this is you, then let me assure you that the first Christmas story was a little more interesting than anything you will watch this season!  Over the next few weeks we are going to take a look at a few pieces of Jesus’s birth story & His family tree with the goal of seeing how our story compares to that of our Savior.

Today I want to take a few minutes to highlight a few of the gems found in hiding in Jesus’s family tree!  My goal is that when you see that Jesus’s family had the issues too, maybe you’ll be able to more easily embrace the story God wrote for you and your family.

But to start, I thought I’d share a picture of my family taken a few months ago!  We have a few gems in our family as well 🙂

family pic aug 2017 This was an impromptu picture after church over Labor Day..when my family was celebrating Christmas…yes we celebrate Christmas at Labor Day…we are “flexible” like that.

Today we are going to look at Matthew 1:1-3a (the “a” means the first half of the verse)…that’s it…just the first 2 1/2 verses in Matthew chapter one will give us plenty of opportunities to learn about Jesus’s family! So let’s jump in…

The record of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham:

Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers. Judah was the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar,

Now, if you have spent time in God’s Word or at church, Abraham, Isaac & Jacob’s names might be familiar.  But Judah and Tamar might not be as familiar.  You might even know their stories, but in case you don’t, I’m going to share some of the highlights with you!  I also have a family tree for those of you visual learners {like me} so that you can keep them all straight! {If you would like a printable version of this family tree, click here: Family Tree}

Matthew-1_1-3a.png

Before we jump into these family stories, let’s go back to our goal today.  My goal is that as you begin to see the stories of the men and women in Jesus’s family, you will be able to more easily embrace your own story that has ups and downs woven in.  So let’s begin at the top…

Abraham {Genesis 15, 16, 18, 21}:

You might be familiar with the name Abraham.  You might even know that he was married to Sarah, and they had a son in their old age.  But let me pull back the curtains a little.  Abraham and Sarah longed for a son for years!  And God promised them one.  But after waiting decades without God fulfilling their promise they got impatient. It was then, that Sarah had the idea to have Abraham marry Hagar (Sarah’s servant) and build their family through Hagar.  As usually happens when we take matters into our hands, things ended badly.  At one point, we find Hagar sitting in the desert with Ishmael, her son, both sitting under bushes literally waiting to die of hunger and dehydration.  God meets Hagar there as El Roi, the God Who Sees.  And even though God saved Hagar, the story ends with a broken and dysfunctional family.

Can you relate to a broken or dysfunctional family?

Eventually, Sarah and Abraham have a son according to God’s plan, and his name is:

Isaac {Genesis 24-25}

Isaac meets his wife in an unusual way.  One of Abraham’s servants goes on a quest to find a wife for Isaac.  The servant tells God that he will know who is supposed to be Isaac’s wife when the woman says, “Drink, and I’ll draw water for your camels too.”  Rebekah said exactly these words to Abraham’s servant, and they began moving forward towards the wedding day!  After the wedding Rebekah was barren.  Isaac prayed for his wife and later she became pregnant with twins.  Isaac favored Esau, while Rebekah favored Jacob.  Now Jacob’s name literally means, “grasps the heal,” but figuratively means “deceiver.” Now…if you are named deceiver, I’m pretty sure few are surprised when you live up to your name.  And Jacob did just that.  Jacob deceived Esau, the first born, out of his birthright and deceives Abraham, and Abraham gives Jacob the blessing that should have gone to Esau. Again the result is a broken and dysfunctional family.

Can you relate?

Jacob, Genesis 29-30:

Jacob, realizing that Esau may not want him hanging around after Abraham dies, flees for his life and ends up working for a man named Laban. And Laban cons the con-man.  If you are familiar with this story, you know that Jacob fell in love with Rachel early on after he began working for Laban.  He negotiates a deal.  Jacob agrees to work seven years for Laban in exchange for Rachel.  So seven years pass, and it is time to get married.  And Jacob marries Rachel…or so he thinks.  Only to wake up the morning after and realize that he actually married Leah.  The older daughter of Laban.  So, because of his great love for Rachel, he decides to negotiate with his Father-in-Law a second time and works another seven years so that he can marry Rachel. As you can imagine, sisters marrying the same guy provided yet another dysfunctional family setting.

Are you seeing a pattern?

This time the women engage in a baby war.  They have a contest to see who can birth the most sons to their husband. After all is said and done and the sisters are finished having babies and their maids that they have included in the contest and dysfunction are also finished having babies, Rachel lost and Leah won.  Rachel had only two sons…Joseph and Benjamin.  While Leah had six: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar and Zebulun.  Bilah, Rachel’s maidservant, had two sons: Dan and Naphtali.  And Zilpah, Leah’s maidservant had two sons: Gad and Asher.  Jacob had 12 sons in all, known as the Twelve Tribes of Israel.  Jacob’s name is changed to Israel and in the Old Testament it is used interchangeably.

Joseph’s story is so popular, you might be surprised that he is not the son God chooses to be a part of the heritage of Jesus. Instead, the son we see next in the line of Christ is Judah, one of Leah’s sons.  I love that the underdog wife…the “unloved” one wins here…she has the most sons and her son Judah is chosen to be in the line Christ.

So who is Judah?  When Joseph’s brothers wanted to kill Joseph in Genesis 37, it was Judah who saved Joseph’s life.  He was the one who suggested that the sell Joseph rather than kill him.  What a sweet brother, right? :/

But after this Judah’s story gets a little twisted…

Judah, Genesis 38:

Judah had three sons, Er, Onan ad Shelah.  Er married Tamar, but Er was “wicked in the Lord’s sight, so the Lord put him to death.” (Gen 38:6)

So according to the law, Onan married Tamar to fulfill the law.  But he was also wicked, so God put him to death also. (Gen 38:10)  Now Judah was afraid Shelah would die also if he married Tamar, so rather than do the right thing and have Shelah marry Tamar, Judah sent Tamar back to her father’s house to live.  Tamar was not happy about this.

So she tricked Judah.

{more deceit and dysfunction}

She dressed up as a prostitute, Judah slept with her and in a sneaky turn of events, she gets pregnant.  Judah finds out Tamar is pregnant out of prostitution {but not knowing it was his child}, he condemns her saying, “Bring her out and have her burned to death!” Nice, huh?

Tamar was smart, when she tricked Judah, she had him give her his seal, staff and cord.  So when he condemns her to die, she says, “I am pregnant by the man who owns these.  See if you recognize {them}.”  At this point Judah realizes it is his child, and he is humbled.  She ends up having twins…Perez and Zerah.  Perez is the next man in the line of Christ!

And we find yet, another dysfunctional family in the line of Christ.

And we are only four names down the list.

Do you relate to any of these stories?  Does your story feel a little less crazy when you read these stories?  As I’ve thought about these men and women and the struggles they had, and what brought them to the point of making some really questionable decisions, I am left with this truth: Everyone has a story.

You have a story that influences how you act and react to the world around you.  I have a story that influences my daily choices.

We each have a story.  When you try to run from our story or try to fix our story, you often end up outside of God’s Will.  Instead, when you embrace your story, you can accept the story God has written.  You can come to grips with the good, the bad and the ugly parts of your story.  And you can understand that God’s will can prevail even in the midst of your messy story.

For me, when I hit an unexpected and very difficult chapter in my own life, I really struggled with how this chapter fit into the story of my life.  I wrestled with God’s purpose and plan.  I was angry and hated the chapter, until I stopped and began asking God how He could use the unexpected chapter and the pain of my story to help others.  And that is why I am here today…

To help women like me, who have unexpected chapters in their own lives find hope and healing in Jesus.  To give you resources and tools that help you along the journey.

And I have one very special resource that I created about a year ago.  It is my 4-week devotional called Loving? My LifeIn this devotional, I share my step-by-step method of how I went from questioning God’s plan to embracing the story He wrote for my life.  This step-by-step method is straight from God’s Word…it’s not my own thoughts…it is God’s Word!

As we enter the holiday season, it is easy to believe that everyone else is having a perfect Christmas season and yours is the only story that is messed up. But the truth is: you are not alone.  I would love to come alongside you, and walk with you as you begin to embrace the story God wrote for you…the good, the bad, and the ugly.

If you are ready to begin the New Year with a new perspective on your story, then I invite you to begin the journey of embracing your new normal today. You can learn more and join the women already on the road to hope and healing here: Loving? My Life Study.

Why wait?  Find peace this holiday season, and join today!

 

 

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