Page 344 began early as more snow had fallen overnight and the walks needed cleared before Sunday School and Church. As long as I’m dressed appropriately, I enjoy the snow and even clearing sidewalks — for a while. The freshness that is brought by the snow and the clear lines of contrast between the snow-covered ground and the clean sidewalks is a thing of beauty to me. As I worked early, the soundtrack in my mind was the words from the old hymn, “Now wash me and I shall be whiter than snow. Whiter than snow, yes, whiter than snow! Now wash me and I shall be whiter than snow.” I am thankful for Jesus who doesn’t just provide a layer of beauty to cover the ugliness of sin, but He cleanses me from all unrighteousness and makes me clean from the inside out.
Once the walks were clean and the building ready for the day, I headed home to change clothes and pick up my family for church. During our worship gathering, David brought a message from the first 17 verses of Matthew (yes, the genealogy section!) that he titled, “The Truth About God”. Here are some of the highlights and/or main points from my perspective. 🙂
- God Always Keeps His Word: It is difficult for most people to think long term and even when we do, our idea of long term is usually much shorter than God’s. Through the genealogy of Jesus we see that though mankind may have given up on God, God never gave up on mankind and never gave up on His promises. God made a promise to Abraham that had to sound absolutely ridiculous considering the age of he and his wife, Sarah, but scripture says that “Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness.” The promise to a childless Abraham was that through him a nation of innumerable people would be born and that all the nations of the world would be blessed. The list of names recorded for us by Matthew shows a direct line from God’s promise to Abraham to the fulfillment of it in the birth of Jesus who came as a blessing to all people from every nation that would put their trust in Him. Many times we know things that God has promised through His Word yet we find ourselves living in the slavery of Egypt or the captivity of Babylon and we start to wonder, or even question, if God meant what He said. Though His timing is often vastly different than ours, something not happening when we think it should have doesn’t mean that God has forgotten — no, His perspective is eternal rather than temporal and completely right rather than “close enough”.
- God Empowers His People in Unexpected Ways: Even a casual glance at this list of names by a person with some familiarity of Old Testament history should confirm the conclusion that Peter came to when he said, “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts those from every nation who fear Him and do what is right.” Not only does God empower His people in unexpected ways, He often chooses unexpected people to do the unexpected things! From prostitutes to royalty, from young to old, and from the nation’s favorite sons to foreigners; the list in Matthew is full of names that have one thing in common — God doing His work through them. The moment in which you think you are ready to give up because you just can’t do it is often the moment that God decides you are ready for Him to step in and do the unexpected. It is a good lesson to keep in mind not only for yourself when you are ready to give up, but also when you start looking at others and mentally write them off — God doesn’t look at you, or them, in the same way that people do.
- God Always Finishes What He Starts: While they likely didn’t understand it, the plan to send Jesus was announced to Adam and Eve in the garden long before God called Abram and chose to feature him in the role of “father of many nations” — a name given while a 99 year old Abram was only the father of a child of the flesh (Ishmael) and the child of promise (Isaac) had not yet been born. This promise continued throughout generations, including the promise to King David that his descendants would be enthroned over Israel forever. Because our perspective of time is very limited, we often think God has given up when in fact He is working according to His own timing which is both good and perfect. The Bible says that Jesus came “in the fullness of time” or “when the time was just right”. While many who knew of the promised Messiah had given up their expectation that they would ever see such a thing, God completed that task at just the right time. While the work Jesus came to do on earth was completed by His death, burial, and resurrection, God still has work for Jesus to do both in preparing a place for us and in returning for those who are His. Even in the first century there were people questioning whether God would finish what was begun and send Jesus back for those who are His. God’s response is that He is not slack in keeping His promises as some count slow, but rather He is patient (or long-suffering) not wanting any to perish but all to come to repentance.
After the church service, we went to lunch then decided to make use of the beautiful, sunny day to go out looking for snowy owls to photograph. By the time we all got bundled up for the cold weather, the clouds had overtaken the blue sky but we went out looking anyhow. While it felt every bit like winter, the sky and water had a tropical look to them as the sun gave a faint rose-colored glow to the clouds and the water sparkled in various shades of blue. We never did see any owls, but had a great time as a family out driving around looking for them. Our final stop was around sunset time at the lighthouses of St Joseph, Michigan. Today’s photo from atop one of the dunes and ended up with a “wave” of grass blowing in front of the lens as I took the photo.
As I reflect on the day, here are some thoughts/lessons that stand out to me:
- A fresh-fallen snow can cover up the ugliness of decay but the cleansing power of the blood of Jesus removes the death and decay of sin and replaces it with life.
- When we know what to expect, it is our choice to prepare or not — that is true with the weather and with eternity.
- God says all scripture is God-breathed and is profitable or useful, including the parts that we may be tempted to overlook.
- God always keeps His word . . . all the time.
- God’s work is often done in unexpected ways through the people we would least expect.
- He who began a good work in you (and me), is faithful to complete it.
- There can be joy in the search for something even if you don’t find what you’re looking for. The secret is in who you are searching with.