November 28, 2022
Read: Matthew 1:1-18
The Space in Between
“Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin”… Zechariah 4:10
This is a record of the ancestors of Jesus the Messiah…Ram was the father of Amminadab, Amminadab was the father of Nahshon, Nahshon was the father of Salmon…..Matthew 1:1,4
If you are looking to connect with scripture and discover where you fit, look no further than Matthew’s genealogy! Really? A genealogy?
Our expectations in the digital age are honed to expect same day delivery and immediate replies to our messages. But, 400 years lie between the last verses of the Old Testament and the first verses of the Gospels. In Malachi, God promises a prophet who will come to restore God’s people yet many generations pass before it is fulfilled. If we based our expectations on biographies, tv, movies, we’d only expect God to work in remarkable people who constantly have powerful encounters with God. All the ordinary moments are left out.
But, Matthew’s genealogy declares: God uses ordinary moments, the spaces in between, to do extraordinary things in us. Each person listed went to work each day and slept each night, cooked and ate meals, struggled, laughed, pondered - lived. Most of their moments are forgotten. In fact, many of these people are forgotten (to be honest, I often skim this section - what do they have to do with me?)
That’s the point. God was working in each of these moments, to shape, lead and draw each person into what He was doing. And, right now, like then, God is working in the midst of each of our ordinary moments. In the genealogy, each comma, each space between words, represents the finger of God touching that family’s lives and shaping something extraordinary.
Have you been skimming the ordinary moments of your day, only looking for God in the big moments? Have your expectations of how God is working caused you to overlook or miss him meeting you?
Mary and Joseph did not seem extraordinary and much of their story is lost to history. But each of those days mattered to God. Each day, as they sought to pray and to love God, prepared them for those key moments: “Mary, you have found favour with God”. Mary found favour with God! She reached out to God in all of her ordinary moments. As a result, those moments lead up to her encounter with the angel.
Similarly, the angel appears to Joseph while he’s sleeping - can you get more every day than that? “Joseph, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife”… “she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” Hebrews 11 captures a similar list of heroes of the faith whose everyday moments paved the way for extraordinary moments when God worked through them.
Ordinary moments include the boring moments we choose to be faithful; when we work through conflict and seek God’s help; when we seek God for strength to press on after disappointment. When we keep reading, praying, serving even though we don’t feel or experience much. Here is where we find hope as we press on, as we encounter challenges and struggles: God is working, even in this, to do remarkable things.
Like the angel says to the prophet Zechariah, “Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin”…
Matthew’s genealogy declares that God is stepping into our lives and shaping something greater than ourselves, even greater than our limited time on earth. And, his work in us now is essential for what he will do in the next generation.
Our ordinary matters. Our prayers and learning to listen to God today and learning to say yes prepare us and place us in the middle of God’s redemptive work in history. God steps in. God is working to save us. God hears each prayer. God is looking to bless us, favour us, redeem us, work through us, lead us.
“Ram was the father of Amminadab, Amminadab was the father of Nahshon, Nahshon was the father of Salmon” is the perfect way for us to begin advent. Throughout advent, we will hear ordinary person after ordinary person arriving at the moment when God steps into and makes something extraordinary. In the Christmas story. In these devotionals. And, as we offer each day to God, as we invite him to work in us each moment: God will step in: He is shaping something extraordinary for you and for those who come after you.
Examine how you expect God to work in you. Invite him to prepare you through every day moments.
Ask God for dreams, favour, nudges and leadings so you can let Him put his finger upon your life. (Practise being honest about the longings and frustrations that you have - those are all parts of the everyday he is working in to prepare our hearts)
Ask God to encourage and speak to you through how he works in others: both what you read in scripture and the everyday experiences of our Calvary family in our advent devotionals.
Jesus, would you work in my every day moments to shape me to know you, love you and see my life shaped by you? For all you want to do in me, for all you want to do through me, keep me seeking you in each moment. I’m sorry for the times I’ve thought my every day isn’t important. And I’m so grateful that no moment is lost to you. This advent, help me see your hand at work in scripture and in the reflections of our church family. Move powerfully in us and through us.
Written by: Drew Maxwell