Are you fascinated by your heritage?
I have always loved finding out about some of those in my family tree who have gone before me, but not all of my ancestors were known for their upstanding character, like my great-great-great (not sure if that is enough greats) uncle, James Briton Bailey (Brit), born in 1779. Years ago, Brit’s story was featured on the old television show, “Death Valley Days.” Bailey was a former U.S. Representative for Kentucky, but left in disgrace because of a forgery charge. He moved to Texas and bought land from the Spanish government, but that purchase wasn’t recognized when Mexico won its independence from Spain. After Stephen F. Austin’s Texas colony moved to Texas, he was asked by Austin to vacate the property where he and his family settled in Brazoria County, Texas. He refused, and although he was eventually awarded “Squatter’s rights,” he was a constant thorn in Austin’s side because he was repeatedly causing trouble and involved in barroom brawls. Before Brit Bailey died from cholera, he demanded that he be buried standing up because he didn’t want to look up to any man, and also instructed relatives to place a jug of whiskey at his feet. Family members honored half of his wishes. They buried Bailey standing up, but didn’t throw the cocktail in, so later, when people witnessed a glow coming off his grave, “Bailey’s light,” they thought his resting place was haunted, and deduced it was Brit’s payback for not honoring his wishes. As it turned out, there was a good explanation for the eerie glow. It was caused by the moon’s reflection hitting an oil slick on Bailey’s grave.
Like it or not, Brit Bailey is part of my heritage, but I tell you this story to encourage you that your heritage doesn’t have to define you.
This week, I’ve been looking at the circumstances leading up to Jesus’ birth in both Matthew and Luke and have asked the Lord to show me something new. As I studied the lineage of Jesus, I realized his ancestry includes several things that are not necessarily fitting of a King. One was the Babylonian captivity of the Jews: “Josiah begot Jeconiah and his brothers about the time they were carried away to Babylon” (Matthew 1:11). His lineage also includes a harlot, Rahab, and a Moabite turned Jew, Ruth. So His ancestry is not purely “Jewish,’ and not perfect, but God brought forth His perfect Son and our King of Kings out of this bloodline.
Maybe your heritage is not something you’re proud of. Perhaps you feel the odds are against you because of an alcoholic parent or an incarcerated relative. Were you abandoned by a parent or even worse, abused? God can redeem any life or family history if you just release it to His Son.
He can break generational curses.
Through His strength and direction, you can leave a different legacy.
Because of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, we can be cleansed by His blood and become a new creation. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Your past does not have to define you.
As we prepare to celebrate Jesus’ birth, let’s thank God for the Savior of the World. He not only paved the way for salvation and eternal life with God, but he adopted us into a new family and our heritage no longer has control over us. It’s a beautiful gift that is available for all to open this Christmas.
Categories: Devotion of the Week