Evergreen | Week 1: Splintered

Day 1: Jesus' splintered family tree.

Matthew 1:1-2
This is a record of the ancestors of Jesus the Messiah, a descendant of David and of Abraham: Abraham was the father of Isaac. Isaac was the father of Jacob. Jacob was the father of Judah and his brothers.

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A lot of times, especially around the holidays, we are reminded that our family, no matter how much we love them, is less than perfect. We all want our family tree to be something we can be proud of because like it or not, we are connected to them. Yet, for many of us, we look at our family tree and wince a little.


If this is how you feel, be encouraged! Jesus’ own family tree contained some heroes, but it also included men and women who were liars, cheats, manipulators, murderers, adulterers and prostitutes. Jesus is well aware of what it feels like to have a splintered family tree. You can go to him when you’re feeling defeated by (or even proud of!) your own family.

Day 2: Finding lasting peace.

Genesis 25:26
Then the other twin was born with his hand grasping Esau’s heel. So they named him Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when the twins were born.

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Jacob came from a dysfunctional family, and as a result, he became a manipulative person. Jacob means “deceiver,” “manipulator,” or “control freak.” One time, his deception was so bad, it splintered his family.

Yet, he never learned his lesson. The more out of control things got, the more Jacob trying to control and manipulate.

When life feels out of control, how do you tend to react? Instead of worrying, stressing, lashing out, shutting down or taking control, go immediately to God and ask him for help. By continually releasing what you can’t control to him, you can find lasting peace.

Day 3: Rest in him.

Matthew 11:28-29
Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls."

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Rest is not inactivity. It’s a condition of your soul. Self-reliance will wear you out, but trusting God with your circumstances will give you lasting peace.

Today and all week, go to Jesus with your burdens and just rest in him.

Day 4: God's power in our weakness.

Genesis 32:22-28
During the night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two servant wives, and his eleven sons and crossed the Jabbok River with them. After taking them to the other side, he sent over all his possessions.

This left Jacob all alone in the camp, and a man came and wrestled with him until the dawn began to break. When the man saw that he would not win the match, he touched Jacob’s hip and wrenched it out of its socket. Then the man said, “Let me go, for the dawn is breaking!”

But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”

“What is your name?” the man asked.

He replied, “Jacob.”

“Your name will no longer be Jacob,” the man told him. “From now on you will be called Israel, because you have fought with God and with men and have won.”

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Instead of trying to control and manage your problems and circumstances, start awkwardly taking them to God. All it requires is for you to be real. You can do that. Just let your guard down. Wrestle with him if you have to. Jacob did.

Day 5: A broken and repentant heart.

Psalm 51:16-17
You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one.
   You do not want a burnt offering.
The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit.
   You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.

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The details of the Christmas story found in Jesus’ family tree is a message that says: God will not bless who you pretend to be. Thankfully, God does not see you and me as we are, but as we could be!

But to get there, we’ve got to be real with God, resist the urge to control everything and find rest in Jesus. Are you willing to do that today?

evergreen | WEEK 2: STUMP

Day 1: Out of hopelessness came hope.

Isaiah 11:1
Out of the stump of David’s family will grow a shoot—yes, a new Branch bearing fruit from the old root.

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When you see a stump, you don’t think, “That tree has a bright future!” or “Oh, I wonder what’s going to grow there?” Nothing grows from a stump. A stump is an indication that it’s over.

A stump was once something but is no longer.

Isaiah 11:1 says: Don’t give up hope! Your story isn’t over! Out of challenging, messy relationships, unmet expectations and the hopelessness of sinful men came a Savior. Jesus came from imperfect people, for imperfect people, so that he might work through imperfect people!

Day 2: Jesus’ messy family tree.

Matthew 1:3-6
Judah was the father of Perez and Zerah (whose mother was Tamar).
Perez was the father of Hezron.
Hezron was the father of Ram.
Ram was the father of Amminadab.
Amminadab was the father of Nahshon.
Nahshon was the father of Salmon.
Salmon was the father of Boaz (whose mother was Rahab).
Boaz was the father of Obed (whose mother was Ruth).
Obed was the father of Jesse.
Jesse was the father of King David.
David was the father of Solomon (whose mother was Bathsheba, the widow of Uriah).

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Matthew was writing to a Jewish crowd of people who would have known the stories associated with each person in this list. When we read the stories behind the names, we see that there were challenges to the relationships, threats of unmet expectations, and feelings of hopelessness.

Two of Jesus’ great grandmothers were associated with prostitution. Several women in Jesus’ family tree struggled with infertility. David was a king who was far from kingly at times.

If you are facing a personal struggle or hard situation in your family, be encouraged to know that Jesus had the same in his family—and there is hope, yet!

Day 3: God is doing the unexpected.

Isaiah 9:6-7
For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His government and its peace
will never end. He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity. The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will make this happen!

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Christmas is all about light invading the darkness, and hope invading the space of hopelessness. Christmas is all about God doing unexpected things at unexpected times through unexpected people.

This all comes from God’s power, not ours. If God could do this for and through imperfect people then, he can do it again today! He can do it for you. Are you willing to put all your trust and hope in him?

Day 4: Comfort in all troubles.

Psalm 119:49-50
Remember your promise to me; it is my only hope.
Your promise revives me; it comforts me in all my troubles.

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God is not shocked by your sin. He saw it ahead of time and made provision for it.

God isn’t stumped by your situation. He anticipated it and made a way.
God isn’t stupefied by that relational challenge in your life right now. He’s seen it all.

He saw it all coming and has provided an answer. His name is Jesus!

You can trust him with your troubles today—and for all of eternity. Go to him in prayer, turn your troubles over to him and find comfort.

Day 5: Hope for today and eternity.

Isaiah 11:1
Out of the stump of David’s family will grow a shoot—yes, a new Branch bearing fruit from the old root.

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When we look closely at Jesus’ family tree and the stories behind the names, there isn’t a lot of hope. The big question would have been “What good can come from these stories? What hope can be found here?”

If you’re facing a hard situation today, personally or in your family, you might be asking the same thing.

If God can send his own son, a child born in Bethlehem—the Savior of the world—out of a broken family tree, he can use your situation in incredible and miraculous ways. God’s power is made perfect in weakness! Jesus came to offer hope, for your situation today and for your eternity. You can trust him!

Evergreen | Week 3: Withered

Day 1: Courageous faith and a prostitute.

Joshua 2:1-15
Then Joshua secretly sent out two spies from the Israelite camp at Acacia Grove. He instructed them, “Scout out the land on the other side of the Jordan River, especially around Jericho.” So the two men set out and came to the house of a prostitute named Rahab and stayed there that night.

But someone told the king of Jericho, “Some Israelites have come here tonight to spy out the land.” So the king of Jericho sent orders to Rahab: “Bring out the men who have come into your house, for they have come here to spy out the whole land.”

Rahab had hidden the two men, but she replied, “Yes, the men were here earlier, but I didn’t know where they were from. They left the town at dusk, as the gates were about to close. I don’t know where they went. If you hurry, you can probably catch up with them.” (Actually, she had taken them up to the roof and hidden them beneath bundles of flax she had laid out.) So the king’s men went looking for the spies along the road leading to the shallow crossings of the Jordan River. And as soon as the king’s men had left, the gate of Jericho was shut.

Before the spies went to sleep that night, Rahab went up on the roof to talk with them. “I know the Lord has given you this land,” she told them. “We are all afraid of you. Everyone in the land is living in terror. For we have heard how the Lord made a dry path for you through the Red Sea when you left Egypt. And we know what you did to Sihon and Og, the two Amorite kings east of the Jordan River, whose people you completely destroyed. No wonder our hearts have melted in fear! No one has the courage to fight after hearing such things. For the Lord your God is the supreme God of the heavens above and the earth below.

“Now swear to me by the Lord that you will be kind to me and my family since I have helped you. Give me some guarantee that when Jericho is conquered, you will let me live, along with my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all their families.”

“We offer our own lives as a guarantee for your safety,” the men agreed. “If you don’t betray us, we will keep our promise and be kind to you when the Lord gives us the land.”

Then, since Rahab’s house was built into the town wall, she let them down by a rope through the window.

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The leader of the Israelites sent two spies into the land they were about to enter. These two men entered the city called Jericho, but were found out. They had to hide, so they went into the home of a prostitute named Rahab. Because she had heard about their God and believed he was the one true God who would give them victory, she hid them. She risked her own life to save theirs.

We often read Rahab’s name in the bible and think she’s just included as a symbol that God can use anyone, no matter what they’ve done. Although that’s true, Rahab is included in the bible because she displayed courageous faith—the very quality God wants from us today! Rahab’s big belief in who God is caused her to act boldly.

Today, if your faith feels small, or if you have little faith, ask God to help you truly see who he is. When you have a bigger view of who he is, courageous faith can grow—courageous faith that takes bold action for him.

Day 2: Courageous action, powerful results.

Joshua 6:25
So Joshua spared Rahab the prostitute and her relatives who were with her in the house, because she had hidden the spies Joshua sent to Jericho. And she lives among the Israelites to this day.

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Because Rahab showed her courageous faith in God by saving the lives of the two Israelite spies, when Jericho was conquered, Rahab and her family were spared. Rahab believed big things about God, which compelled her to take big actions. Her faith caused her to take a huge risk, but she reaped a great reward—she became part of the Israelite community and eventually one of Jesus’ ancestors.

When was the last time you stepped into a situation that was risky, but you knew God wanted you to be an ambassador of his love and hope? Share with your group this week.

Today, ask God to help you believe big things about him. He just might be asking you to take some big actions as a result of your faith!

Day 3: Part of the family.

Matthew 1:5
Salmon was the father of Boaz (whose mother was Rahab). Boaz was the father of Obed (whose mother was Ruth). Obed was the father of Jesse.

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Even though Rahab had been a prostitute, God did not see her as such. As she became part of the Israelite community, she married and had a son named Boaz, who was the grandfather of King David and an ancestor of Jesus.

Rahab’s previous occupation says less about God’s view of morality and more about God’s view of status. You see, worldly status means absolutely nothing to God! You can be a nobody in the eyes of the world, yet somebody in God’s eyes. Rahab was somebody to God because she had what God wants: courageous faith in him.

This week, ask God to help you see your status from his perspective—to show you that no matter what the world thinks of you, you are somebody in his eyes!

Day 4: What God wants.

Hebrews 11:1
Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.

Hebrews 11:6
And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.

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The author of Hebrews writes that faith pleases God. Faith proves that you trust God, that what you believe about God isn’t just lofty dreams and aspirations or empty promises, but that he is real—the evidence of things we cannot see. And we make decisions and take risks based on faith.

As followers of Jesus, our faith was never meant to be separated from our actions. Our beliefs should inform our actions. This kind of faith is what makes God light up!

Rahab is included in the bible because she displayed courageous faith—exactly what God wants from each of us. He can use anyone with faith like that to do bold things.

Today, ask God to give you courageous faith!

Day 5: What God gives.

John 10:10
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

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Daily life has a way of stealing our courage. Yet God wants to give each of us ‘life to the full.’ Jesus’ definition of a full life goes beyond our false belief that he simply wants to turn bad people into good people. In fact, Jesus actually came to turn dead people into alive people!

We can see this in Rahab’s story. Because she had courageous faith in God, Rahab experienced life to the fullest. She went from being a woman spiritually dead, separated from God, to a woman fully alive and in a living, bold relationship with her creator. It may be uncomfortable and scary at times, but if we follow her example of faith, we can have this full life, too.

Today, ask God to make your faith courageous so that you can experience life to the fullest. Ask him to help you pay attention to and boldly obey when he nudges you to act in faith.

Evergreen | Week 4: Reclaimed

Day 1: The style of the Christmas story.

Luke 2:8-20
That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”

Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying, “Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”

When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them.

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Luke’s description of that first Christmas is so seemingly perfect and picturesque. Luke contains all the style of Christmas. From reading Luke, we know what happened in the Christmas story.

Reflect on Luke’s beautiful Christmas story. Just as the angels and shepherds did then, praise God for sending hope into the world!

Day 2: The substance of the Christmas story.

Matthew 1:18-25
This is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit. Joseph, to whom she was engaged, was a righteous man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly.

As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

All of this occurred to fulfill the Lord’s message through his prophet:

“Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’”

When Joseph woke up, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded and took Mary as his wife. But he did not have sexual relations with her until her son was born. And Joseph named him Jesus.

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Matthew gets right to the substance of the Christmas story. As we look at the names in Jesus’ family tree in Matthew 1, we see the mess Jesus was born into, and we see that every name has a story.

The people in Jesus’ family tree were not so different from us today—their lives were messy, broken, and imperfect. They made massive mistakes and displayed incredible grit. They had a lot of substance underneath, and substance is the byproduct of adversity.

Today, as you reflect on the birth of our Savior, let this incredible story give you hope. This hope is for all of us, including whatever you’re going through today. Hope has a name, and his name is Jesus!

Day 3: Three questions.

Matthew 1:16
Jacob was the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary. Mary gave birth to Jesus, who is called the Messiah.

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Jesus’ family tree culminates with a teenage girl who lives in Nazareth. Mary is engaged, but not married; sweet, but untested; smart, but largely naïve. Yet, she was charged with raising the son of God. Mary likely wondered: Why is this happening? What am I supposed to do? Am I enough?

Similar to how Mary probably felt, when have you asked yourself: Why is this happening? What am I supposed to do? Am I enough? Share in your group this week.

Today, remember the substance of Christmas, that God chose to send his son into the world in and through a very messy and imperfect group of people. Jesus means, “God saves.” Christ means, “Set apart for a task.” Immanuel means, “God with us.”

Jesus alone can satisfy those three questions that reside in all of us!

Day 4: God's intentions toward you.

John 3:17
God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.

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The way you interpret the nativity scene will influence the way you see God.

If you see this picture as outdated and out of touch, you will probably see God as outdated and out of touch. If you see this picture as nice but irrelevant to your current situation, then you’ll see God as nice but irrelevant to your current situation. If you see this picture and don’t really understand the significance of what’s going on, then you will struggle to understand God’s intentions for you and the gift of grace he wants to give you.

Know today that the birth of Jesus is God’s statement of how much he loves you. God is genuinely interested in your life, and he has the best of intentions for you!

Day 5: God is with us.

Matthew 1:18-25
This is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit. Joseph, to whom she was engaged, was a righteous man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly.

As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

All of this occurred to fulfill the Lord’s message through his prophet:

“Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’”

When Joseph woke up, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded and took Mary as his wife. But he did not have sexual relations with her until her son was born. And Joseph named him Jesus.

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The Christmas story shows us that Jesus came to provide the substance of life: hope, meaning, purpose, fulfillment. As we heard last week, God isn’t interested in making bad people good—He wants to bring dead people to life!

Today, as we wrap up our series called Evergreen, reflect on Jesus’ messy family tree and why he came into the world. What is God saying to you? How will you respond?