April 22 – Jesse Tree – Joseph

Read Matthew 1:18-25

Joseph loved Mary very, very much. He had even asked her to marry him. And she had said yes. So they planned their wedding and looked forward to starting their life together as Mr. and Mrs. Joseph. They probably thought they would get married and have babies together and live happily ever after. Yes, they were very much in love.

But somewhere in the middle of all their planning, God told Mary she was going to have a baby, and He would be the dad. God told her that baby would be Jesus, the Son of God.

But God hadn’t filled Joseph in on the plan. Not yet, anyway. And so, because he loved Mary so much, Joseph decided he would call off the wedding. That’s when God sent an angel to him with a special message.

You see, God knew what Joseph was thinking. He knew that Joseph followed God and loved Mary. He wanted Joseph to adopt Jesus and be His dad while He lived on earth. God had chosen Joseph for this very task.

He was “Joseph son of David.” That meant that Joseph was related to King David. If Joseph ever had to make a family tree, King David would be his great, great, great, great, a whole bunch of more greats grandpa. And that means so would Jesse.

In other words, Joseph was part of Jesse’s Tree. And, since he was going to be Jesus’ dad here on earth, Jesus was on that tree, too. In fact, Jesus was the whole point of the Jesse Tree.

You see, God had planned out Joseph’s life way before he was born. Back before King David even came along. And that was a very, very long time ago. God knew that Joseph would be the man to marry Mary. The special one to raise Jesus as his own. So He planned out the Jesse Tree, and He put Joseph right on the branch where Jesus would come along.

Jesus, the Son of God who came to earth to wipe away our sins and save us from death.

April 21 – Jesse Tree – Wise Men

Read Matthew 2:1-12

“On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, and of incense and of myrrh.”  Matthew 2:10-11

We have all seen the Christmas pageants where little kids are dressed up in their dad’s bathrobes.  We have Mary and Joseph and a baby doll lying in a wooden manger surrounded by the shepherds and sheep.   The 3 wise men with fake beards come in carrying wrapped gifts that they lay down before the manger while the choir sings Silent Night.

But actually the wise men came much later. By then the little family was living in a house.   According to the decree of King Herod to have all baby boys 2 years old or younger killed, we could possibly assume that Jesus was as old as 2 by the time the wise men arrived.

But their arrival was significant in at least 2 ways.   First, they were not Jewish yet they came to worship Him.  They were astrologers from the  East.  Had Jesus come for ALL people not just the Jews?  “For God so loved the WORLD that he gave his only begotten son.”  God had guided them there… their arrival was not by accident.

The second important point is they gave of their treasures.  Not a few trinkets but expensive presents.  Do we give Jesus our best treasures of time, talents, and tithes or do we just give Him the leftovers…if there are any leftovers?

Wise men STILL seek Him….do you? What are some ways that you are going to continually seek Christ?

April 20 – Jesse Tree – Birthday!

Read Luke 2:1-20

“The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.” Luke 2:20

Through this series, we have learned about the time leading up to Jesus’ birth or the “Jesse Tree”. If you were the shepherds in Luke 2 and you just experienced the angels and Jesus in person, how would you react? Would you go back to your same old life, doing the same old things?

From our story we find that is not true of the shepherds. Sure they returned to their fields, but they were changed by the events of that night. They went away, glorifying and praising God! They had had a pretty spectacular night, being visited by angels and all, but it seems like it was more than that. They had heard all their lives of the coming of the Messiah. They knew the significance of that event. A savior was born one who would lead them back to a fellowship with God that had been missing ever since that fateful day in the Garden of Eden.

Without Christ there is no salvation. Without Christ there is no redemption. Without Christ there is no hope for eternal life. God in heaven, on that night, had reached down to us, to bring us back to fellowship with Him. He didn’t NEED to do that but ,because He loves us , He WANTED to. Now that is something to celebrate! Let’s join the shepherds glorifying and praising God for what He did for US that night…

April 19 – Jesse Tree – Repentance

Read Matthew 3:1-11

“I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful that I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.” Matthew 3:11

By all accounts to look at him, John was kind of a strange man. He lived by himself in the desert, wore strange clothes, ate odd foods, yet Jesus will later declare him the greatest man who ever lived.

According to John Mac Arthur in his book, Twelve Unlikely Heroes, “All of that was purposeful, a radical approach intended to awaken people from their spiritual slumber and to call them out of the dead legalism of their religious practices.”

What a sharp contrast to the religious leaders of the day who were making rules that were impossible to follow.

What was going on out there in the desert that so many people were talking about? John was the first prophet that God had sent in 400 years! Now there was a “voice in the wilderness” calling for them to repent of their sins. Curiosity as well as conviction drew the crowds to him.

Why did God send him? People needed to get ready for the coming Messiah. They needed to see through the rituals and not just depend on their ancestry to bring them salvation. They needed to take personal responsibility for their sins and repent. That way they would be ready to hear what Jesus was about to show them.

Are you ready to take personal responsibility for your actions? Wipe the slate clean and look to Jesus for your strength and salvation? Have you repented of your sins? The time is now!

April 18 – Jesse Tree – Joy and Celebration

Read Luke 1:39-56

“[Elizabeth] exclaimed: ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear!’” Luke 1:42

“And Mary said: ‘My soul glorifies the Lord.’” Luke 1:46

There were a few things that Elizabeth and Mary had in common. Both of them were going to have a baby. Both of them were going to give birth to a boy. Both of them were somehow from the same family tree.

In spite of their similarities, there were things that were much different between the two. Elizabeth was much older than Mary. Elizabeth was married, while Mary was engaged. Mary’s baby was the direct result of the Holy Spirit’s intervention, while Elizabeth’s was the result of her love for her husband. Mary’s baby was going to be more important as the Savior of the world, while Elizabeth’s baby would play a key role in pointing people towards Jesus.

It is that last difference of the future importance of their children that could have created feelings of jealousy for Elizabeth. She could have wished that her baby boy was more than a messenger. But instead, when she met together with Mary, she was able to celebrate with her. When you find yourself struggling with jealousy, you can overcome it by deciding to celebrate with the other person rather than wishing you had what they have!

But the fact that Jesus was going to be more important than John could have caused Mary to be prideful. After all, her baby boy was the long-awaited Savior of the world! Instead, Mary understood that God was the One who was great. He was the One who should be honored. When you find yourself starting to become prideful, remember that it is God who has provided you with abilities, opportunities, and resources!

Steve Kern

April 17 – Jesse Tree – Mary

Read Luke 1:26-38

You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end (Lk. 1:32-33).

You’ve probably heard of Mary. Maybe you even got to be her in a Christmas play once or twice. She was a young lady who looked forward to getting married to the man she loved. They were engaged and planning their wedding when the angel Gabriel showed up and changed the plans a little bit.

Gabriel told her she was going to have a baby. A son. And not just any son. He would be the Son of God. And His name, the angel said, would be Jesus. Can you imagine what that must have been like for Mary to hear that God’s own Son was going to call her Mommy? Do you think she felt afraid?

The Bible tells us that she did at first. That’s why Gabriel the angel told her not to be. Yep, at first, she was afraid. But then Mary said okay. After the angel told her the details, like how in the world she was going to have a baby even though she wasn’t married yet. And how her cousin who was too old to have babies was actually going to be a mommy, too.

After Gabriel told her these things, Mary agreed and obeyed God. She changed her own plans and went with God’s.

And because of her obedience, the Jesse Tree would be complete. The seed of Jesse, which we’ve been following through the whole entire Bible, had a new bud growing. Just like the trees grow buds in the springtime.

God used an ordinary young lady with a common name like Mary to birth the king of His forever kingdom. And life would be changed forever.

Bria Wasson

April 16 – Jesse Tree – Zechariah

Read: Luke 1:5-2457-80

“And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins.”  Luke 1: 76-77

Have you ever had a secret that you were not allowed to tell?  Maybe it was a secret about a surprise birthday party, or a special Christmas present for Grandma.  What if it was something that your friends or family had been waiting to do for a long time and you were the only one that knew about it? What if all of a sudden you COULDN’T tell them?

Maybe you totally lost your voice or the phone didn’t work, or they weren’t home for you to tell them.  Well that is what happened to Zechariah.  Israel had been waiting for hundreds of years for the Messiah to come to bring them salvation.  Zechariah was going about his business in the temple when all of a sudden an angel appears and tells him that the time of waiting was over!  But because of Zechariah’s disbelief, he was made literally speechless!  Can you imagine the anxiety in him?  Wanting to tell the good news to everyone but  he couldn’t.

He could write notes, but how many people can you tell at one time with a note written on a slate?  The whole nation of Israel was going to be affected by this news.  By the time the baby was born, Zechariah was probably bursting with excitement!

The long awaited Messiah was coming at last!  His son was going to prepare the way for the salvation for them all!

April 15 – Jesse Tree – God Uses Normal People

Read Nehemiah 1:1-2:9

“I answered the king, ‘If it pleases the king and if your servant has found favor in his sight, let him send me to the city in Judah where my fathers are buried so that I can rebuild it.’” Nehemiah 2:5

Remember, our Jesse Tree celebration and journey is helping us to identify some of the key people and events that lead up to the coming of Jesus. God had clearly indicated that Jesus would be part of the family tree of Jesse. Jesse was an Israelite descendant of Judah, Jacob, Isaac, and Abraham.

God’s plan was to allow Jesus to be born in the land He had promised His people. Unfortunately, God’s people didn’t always obey Him. As punishment, God allowed them to be taken as prisoners to another country for 70 years. Thankfully, they returned after those 70 years. But even though the people returned to their land and its capital city of Jerusalem, the city, its surrounding wall, and gates had been destroyed.

Nehemiah wasn’t a pastor or a professional servant of God, but he wanted to make sure that the walls were rebuilt. Rebuilding the walls was a way to protect the people and to demonstrate honor for God. God used Nehemiah to return to Jerusalem and lead the people in rebuilding. The Lord used Nehemiah to do something that was very important to Him.

Did you know that God can use you to do things that are very important to Him? Here is a quick list of things that He values:

  • Telling others about Jesus
  • Giving so that the needs of others are met
  • Praying for and encouraging someone who is down
  • Being happy with others who are happy
  • Worshiping Him

Steve Kern

April 14 – Jesse Tree – Waiting

Read Habakkuk 1:1-52:1-33:16-19

“I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts; I will look to see what he will say to me, and what answer I am to give to this complaint.” Hab 2:1

Christmas is coming! The gifts are bought, cards addressed and sent, decorations up, cookies baked. We are ready. Now the waiting begins. We wait …and wait …and wait. The days between December 1st and the 24th seem to last FOREVER! Then, when Christmas Eve arrives….time stands still! Will Christmas EVER come? Will you get what you wanted or will you receive socks and underwear?

That is kind of what Habakkuk is going through. He is seeing all the corruptness around him and is pleading with God as to when will He finally intervene on behalf of his people. He is waiting for God to wipe out his enemies. But God’s answer is like the sock and underwear present. It isn’t what Habakkuk wanted. God will do His will by raising up the ENEMY, of all people!

God makes it clear, however, that eventually the corrupt destroyer will itself be destroyed. Habakkuk will need to wait and see what happens. Habakkuk finally decides to make his wait time a time of rejoicing in the Lord. (See verses 3:17-18)

Today it seems that corruption is all around us. People cheat on taxes or steal from their employers, kids get bullied, and politicians lie. Sometimes we want to go to God and say like Habakkuk, “What’s going on? Where are you?”

Yet God’s answer is, “Be patient. I know what you are going through. I am still in control. Trust me! WAIT AND SEE WHAT HAPPENS!”

April 13 – Jesse Tree – Sadness

Read Jeremiah 1:1-198:22-9:11

“Oh, that my head were a spring of water and my eyes a fountain of tears! I would weep day and night for the slain of my people.” Jeremiah 9:1

What are some of the reasons people cry? They cry when they are hurt physically. Maybe you have seen people cry when they are extremely happy. And then, there are people like Jeremiah who cry in disappointment. Jeremiah is so well known for his tears that he is sometimes called “the weeping prophet.” He cried tears of disappointment.

Let’s get to know Jeremiah…and the reason for his tears.

God had selected and called Jeremiah even while he was a young boy. He wanted Jeremiah to serve Him as a prophet. He was going to speak words from God to God’s people, Israel. Even though Jeremiah couldn’t believe that God wanted to use him, the Lord really did! Hopefully, you realize as Jeremiah came to learn: No matter what your age is, God can and wants to use you!

The message that God wanted to communicate to His people through Jeremiah was not one that caused him to smile. Jeremiah reminded the people that they had wandered from God. Instead of worshiping the Lord, they were disobeying Him and following other gods. The one true God was not happy.

As a result, Jeremiah told them that God was going to bring punishment on His beloved people. You have probably experienced that with your parents. Out of love, they disciplined you. Sometimes God does the same. He was going to bring the Babylonians to them. Through the Babylonians, God’s people would suffer and even be carried off. Even though it was Jeremiah’s job to warn the people, that message made him sad.

But God was using even these events to lead up to the coming of Jesus!

Steve Kern