January 1, 2011 - Matthew 1:1-2:12 - The Ragged Path to Glory

I wonder if God's last name is actually 'Mulligan.' He's just so gracious at letting us have another chance. And another. And another. He is the Lord of the Do-over. He has no problem letting us start again. And as each year gives way to a new one, I find myself reflecting on the mercy of God. He grants me fresh beginnings. Thanks to Him, what I was unable to achieve in the past, I may yet accomplish.

And thank you, to all who have followed this blogger through five months of writing, not quite meeting my goal of daily entries. I have been especially spotty this last month of 2010, but perhaps you will forgive me. To those who were looking forward to commentary on Revelation - you will have to be the most gracious of all. I feel that I should begin the new year at the beginning, and so will jump to Matthew and a true January correspondence with the One Year Bible. (Revelation in summation - Jesus and His team win! Completely and forever!)

The gospel of Matthew starts with a genealogy; a means for looking backward (as we often do at the turn of a new year.) Genealogies help us remember how we got to where we are. They remind us of whose shoulders we stand on. And they encourage us, as ones who may not assess ourselves too highly in light of last year's failures; some of our forebears were as flawed and wounded as we are.

Jesus' family tree was a flawed and wounded bunch, too. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob fathered dysfunctional families, Tamar was raped by a relative, David was an adulterer and murderer, Solomon, insatiably lustful, Manasseh, a wicked idolatrous ruler. And yet, God never gave up on His plan to bring a Redeemer to the world through this line.

We mess up, but God never gives up. Diseased trees produce amazing fruit under the careful cultivation of Christ. Have  faith! Is your family dysfunctional? God is not done with you. Have faith! Have you done shameful things? God can transform you, redeem you, give you another chance. Have faith! Have you been wounded and scarred? So was Jesus. He will heal you; make your scars badges of courage and victory. Have faith!

In Matthew 2, a virgin teenage bride is given a shot at glory. An unremarkable carpenter is given a shot at glory. A Jewish King and Persian astrologers are given a shot at glory. The ones who had faith would persevere and behold His glory! You and I -- we have a shot at glory. Doesn't matter who you come from. Doesn't matter what you've done. Doesn't matter how you've suffered. Have faith! Persevere! And you will behold His glory.

Pray: Lord, you are so good to us. Your mercies are new every morning. You know where I've been, how I've failed, and yet you never have given up on me. You still have a plan where I get to experience your glory. Help me to grab hold of that by faith. Thanks for all I learned in 2010. Thanks for all you have in store for me in 2011. Thanks for another new beginning!

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