Who is Semein?

Who is Semein?

Luke 3: 26 “the son of Semein”

In brief it means to hear or obey.

The mark of discipleship are these 2 traits. Hearing and obeying.

Autobiography in 5 short chapters by Portia Nelson

Chapter 1: I walk down the street. There is a deep hole in the pavement. I fall in. I am lost. I am helpless. It isn’t my fault. It takes forever to find a way out.

Chapter 2: I walk down the street. There is a deep hole in the pavement. I pretend I don’t see it. I fall in again. I can’t believe I am in the same place, but it isn’t my fault. It still takes a long time to get out.

Chapter 3: I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the pavement. I see it is there. I still fall in. It’s a habit. My eyes are open. I know where I am. It is my fault. I get out immediately.

Chapter 4: I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the pavement. I walk around it.

Chapter 5: I walk down another street.


In Hebrews 5 the writer tells us that Jesus struggled in prayer and cried out with tears to the One who could save him from death. In this place of prayer where he was heard but where he also heard he learnt obedience. The writer more than anyone else is the one who declares time and again that Jesus is perfect. So what is learnt obedience? It is tested obedience. Every response to every test was perfection.


It isn’t until you sit with someone starting out in ministry with all their youthful energy and passion to change the world that you realise hearing and obeying is something that isn’t high on the agenda. It is to be heard and to be obeyed which is the loudest voice. Similarly, it isn’t until you stand with someone at the end of their ministry, retired even, (though in some places I find that strangely the word ‘retired’ has become slanderous) that you realise hearing and obeying has been replaced by many experiences often hurtful ones and that the spiritual deaf aid went in ages ago and the self-preservation wall was erected soon after.


Hearing and obeying is a journey of discipleship till we die isn’t it?

If it was good enough for Jesus then surely …?!


Today be Semein. Hear through opening your eyes, slowing your life down, in prayer, meditation of the Bible, reading this blog (!), listening to others. Some have already decided they will not hear through certain perfectly good channels. Why? Why block out what could be God speaking?

Obey through change, through the difficult day of testing, it may not be the devil having a go, it may just be the testing and perfecting of your obedience by God. So don’t run ahead thinking that hearing and obeying doesn’t apply and it is too slow a process for you and don’t become embittered by your life like one man who recently boasted, “No man can take me on, I win every argument.”


Hear or obey. Let’s do both.

Mattathias, again?!

Mattathias, again?!

Luke 3: 26 “the son of Mattathias”

In the UK we have a TV show called ‘Who do you think you are?’ where celebrities trace their ancestral roots. It is fascinating to watch them discover where they came from, who they were connected to. Some of them are shocked they came from royalty and others are equally stunned to realise they have a villain in their family!

Patsy Kensit, the ‘Eastenders’ actress knew that her late father was a villain who was deeply involved in the Krays’ criminal empire in 1960s London. But she discovered that her grandfather was also a prolific criminal – while another ancestor had been a vicar who dedicated his life to helping the urban poor.


Jeremy Irons learned that family folklore about a rebellious great-great-grandfather who rode to Westminster on a donkey to present a petition was true. Thomas Irons was one of London’s first ‘Peelers’, but was dismissed from the Metropolitan Police for deserting his post and being drunk. He helped deliver the Chartist petition, demanding a universal franchise, to Parliament in 1848. After the peaceful campaign failed, he was arrested with 13 others, accused of planning a militant insurrection and sentenced to 18 months in Newgate prison.


Why am I spending so much time thinking through Luke’s ancestry of Jesus? Especially when we have little references to many of the names. Why am I thinking again about another Mattathias? Here is the reason why:

Mattathias was a human being, a real person, who lived on this earth.

He was the 6th line generation down from his namesake.

This Mattathias was the 14th line generation down from Jesus according to Luke’s list.

Jesus and Mattathias are connected in a human story.

Jesus was really human, he didn’t just appear to be like us. (This was a heresy at the time of Theophilus who Luke was writing to. Luke was saying ‘Theophilus do not listen to the Docetics’).

Jesus had a Jewish heritage and Christianity can trace its lineage to Judaism. (This was also a heresy at the time and again Luke writes to Theophilus, ‘Don’t listen to those Gnostics’)

Jesus, fully human, a Jewish man, veiled in our flesh, knows what we are going through today, he has been in our place. We never pray to someone who doesn’t know how we feel.

Mattathias as we have already seen means ‘gift from God’ came before Jesus who truly was the gift from God. For God so loved the world that He gave …

Who is Maath?

Who is Maath?


Luke 3: 26 “the son of Maath”

Maath was the 7th generation after Zerubbabel who had led the people from Babylonian exile and the 12th generation before Joseph. There is plenty in the Bible about Zerubbabel, he achieved so much. There is plenty in the Bible about Joseph! But for Maath, nothing. He is what his name means, “to be or become small.”


Many are on a mission today. A mission of wanting to become someone, trying to make a name for themselves.

Ever heard something like this being announced? “The greatest, the most amazing, the most influential, decisive, the best anointed, the fabulous, the charismatic, life-changing servant of God is in the house today!”

“It is common for those that are farthest from God, to boast themselves most of their being near to the Church.” Matthew Henry


“No athlete was ever victorious because he did his boasting in advance.” —Roy L. Smith, Tampa Morning Tribune, Tampa, Fla., Feb. 1, 1940.


Joseph Smith boasted that he did more than Jesus to keep a church together.
“God is in the still small voice. In all these affidavits, indictments, it is all of the devil–all corruption. Come on! ye prosecutors! ye false swearers! All hell, boil over! Ye burning mountains, roll down your lava! for I will come out on the top at last. I have more to boast of than ever any man had. I am the only man that has ever been able to keep a whole church together since the days of Adam. A large majority of the whole have stood by me. Neither Paul, John, Peter, nor Jesus ever did it. I boast that no man ever did such a work as I. The followers of Jesus ran away from Him; but the Latter-day Saints never ran away from me yet . . . ” (History of the Church, vol. 6, p. 408-409).


“Boasting is the outward form of the inner condition of pride.” John Piper


Social media has many statuses of ‘humble boasting’. See how many you can spot today!


The desire to get attention for how small we are proves we are in fact not small enough.

When you become small, you choose to become hidden, you decide to promote others and you take your name off things so that it looks like you were not there.

Influence is small for it to be influence. The influencer is not seen, only the one that has been influenced. If God exalts you to a higher platform then the battle is how to become small when more people can see you. It is easier to become small when you haven’t ever done anything. Trying to become small after achievement is another thing. The task is to become small with a big God in your life who does big things through small seeds of faith.

Who is Naggai?

Who is Naggai?

Luke 3: 25 “the son of Naggai”

The name means illuminating, brightness and splendour.

Are you like me today, longing for illumination?

Here is my prayer:

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, Ephesians 1:18.

Illuminating God, give me a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the full knowledge of You (Eph 1:17).

Within me lies the potential to know you more. Outside of me lies the potential for a new illumination in my life.

I need to know your ways. I need to know what is from you and what is from man. I need to know the counterfeit. I need discernment.

I desire wisdom in dealing with people. In my listening and in my speaking I need to not fail. I don’t search for wisdom of my mind only, I do need to grow there in my intellect. But this is a wisdom of my spirit that I seek.

There are days when I walk with what seems to be a flickering candle. Today I ask for more than a candle. I ask for divine beams of revelation so that I may know you more in all that I do. Lead me from the shallow end where the deep calls to deep. Let my words become far more significant. Words are just words. Yet words that are illuminated, that come from the place of wisdom and revelation carry so much more weight. I want my spirit, soul, mind and strength to be in my words. I want my words to move people.

Break me so that I no longer love the dark or the candle. Break into me so that the shekinah fills every part of me. I seek no idolatrous God-shaped substitutes. I seek the glory of Yourself that cuts and burns and melts and removes all strange fire within me. I was made for your glory and your glory I desire.

So I draw near to the light, to the illumination, to You.


Who is Esli?

Who is Esli?

Luke 3: 25 “the son of Esli”

Esli means ‘reserved by Jehovah’.

God has set you apart. This is how important you are to Him.

In my younger days my relationship with God was quite insecure. I would often worry that I wasn’t in His will, that I wasn’t doing what He wanted me to do. Every end-time film of His return meant I would make a decision of conversion all over again simply because I didn’t think I would make it.

In the ancestry of Jesus there is a name which means that God wants His people to be profoundly secure in Him. The name means that God has done the work needed for a relationship with Him and a guaranteed eternity with Him. You are reserved by God. You belong to Him.

For those of us who know we are still works of His grace: Esli.

For those of us who know we need protection way beyond what we can provide ourselves: Esli.

For those of us who are wounded from the battle and we need someone to fight for us: Esli.

For those of us who are tired from the sicknesses of this world and the shadow of death: Esli.

For those of us who need our faith to be strengthened: Esli.


Let us live as Esli people today.

Who is Nahum?

Who is Nahum?

Luke 3: 25 “the son of Nahum”

His name means ‘the God who comforts’.

The original meaning of this word we translate comfort literally means “to come alongside and help.”

Wherever you are today, there are people needing comfort.

Even the great people of God needed comforting. Moses wanted God to kill him. Jonah wanted to curl up and die. Elijah went into a cave of self-pity.

Charles Spurgeon, the great 19th c. preacher wrote about himself and his colleagues, “Fits of depression come over the most of us … The strong are not always vigorous, the wise not always ready, the brave not always courageous, and the joyous not always happy …”

“We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed in our hearts we felt the sentence of death.”  2 Corinthians 1: 8-9

Jesus lost His father, Joseph, sometime before His ministry began. Jesus lost His friend, cousin and partner in ministry, John the Baptist. Jesus also lost His close personal friend, Lazarus and Jesus wept.

But here is the thing. We can be a Nahum today. Look what Paul says, “For when we came into Macedonia, we had no rest, but we were harassed at every turn—conflicts on the outside, fears within.  But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus.” (2 Corinthians 7:5-6)

Paul doesn’t say “Titus comforted us”? No – it’s God who comforted us by the coming of Titus. God brought someone. God provided the comfort. Titus was a Nahum to Paul.

Today we can be that Nahum for someone.

Who is Amos?

Who is Amos?


Luke 3: 25 “the son of Amos”


He is not one of the 12 Minor Prophets who lived in Tekoa and who prophesied in the days of Uzziah the King. Though he is unknown to us he does share the same name as the prophet. The name is a beautiful one. It means ‘burden bearer’.

Immediately our mind is drawn perhaps to the challenge of being weighed down by such negative situations of our life. We think of what Jesus said, “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.”

But there is a burden not to be lifted by Jesus nor is it to be carried by a friend. It is a burden we need to bear ourselves.

The Church is a local gathering of believers who carry His Name.

We are the Ark of the Covenant in the world today. (What I write can be found in 1 Chronicles 13 and 2 Samuel 6 and 7).

David consulted with his key people, “Where is the ark?” It was situated on a hill. The Message says that the ark was “out of sight out of mind.” How could the Presence be separated from His People? It was and it still can be.

David went to fetch the Presence from the hill and he used songs, harps, lyres, tambourines, sistrums + cymbals.

But the finest musicians, the top quality sound and all the equipment will not advance us to where we want to go.

David built a new cart. 100 years previously the Philistines had done the same thing. In many places there are new programmes and systems making a church effective by copying the schemes of the world.

Uzzah’s name means strength. He drove the new cart. Strength/money, more this and more that, know-how, business people will not take the church to where it should be.

Ahio is Proud. He is walking in front of it. There is no room for egotistical agendas.

The oxen stumbled. No one can drag the church. The weight of the church is too much. The burden is too great.

The Presence must be carried.

David became angry. Amplified says he became grieved and offended.

Christians are stuck in a moment of time when frustration came upon them. What they had expected to happen didn’t. What they didn’t expect did.

David asks: “How can the ark of the Lord ever come to me?”

He learnt about the ark and how it was made and how it was designed to be carried by the Levites, the priests.

He began to seek the Lord, he made a promise to prepare a place for the ark. Psalm 132:2-5.

The word ‘presence’ or ‘glory’ comes from the word Chabod meaning weight or burden. We are carriers of the presence of God. It is a burden we should be carrying, but many do not.

To carry the presence is to desire Jesus more and more. To be like David who wrote, “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?” (Psalm 42:1-2).

To carry the presence is to keep in step with the Spirit, to walk with Him, “So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16)

To carry His presence is also to love others, “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you…If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love…My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” (John 15:7, 10, 12).

Who is Mattathias?

Who is Mattathias?

Luke 3: 25 “the son of Mattathias”

Matthan meant ‘gift’ as we have already seen. Whereas Mattathias means ‘gift of Yawheh’.

It sounds like Matthew and there are several derivatives of that name in the genealogy. One of the most famous is Mattathias. When Antiochus Epiphanes (a wicked Syrian king) invaded Israel in 168-165 BC, Mattathias was one of the priests serving just outside Jerusalem but who became a cult-hero at that time. The actions of this evil king knew no end:

  • He ordered a pig to be sacrificed on the altar in the Jerusalem temple.
  • Pig broth was poured over the Scriptures and then burned.
  • A statue of Zeus with the face of Epiphanes was erected in the grounds.
  • He ordered the killing of Jewish male babies.
  • Slaughter was everywhere.

Epiphanes sent soldiers to the village of Mattathias and again erected a Zeus altar. Mattathias was ordered to sacrifice a pig in honour of Epiphanes, but he refused. Another priest stepped forward to do the act which was an abomination to the Jew. Mattathias grabbed the sword from the soldier and killed him and then killed the apostate priest before fleeing with his sons into the desert. They formed a band of brothers and became known as the Maccabees who would fight against the Syrian occupation for years to come.

It is difficult to be accurately suggesting that the Mattathias mentioned in this genealogy is this one told in the story. However, it would seem that this popular name with various derivatives was used by families to commemorate the heroism of this individual. Carrying such a name would definitely mean you and your family knew the heroic story.

Anyone of us can be a Mattathias.

There are many who are a ‘gift from Yahweh’ today, who become heroes to others. They are often unknown but who give themselves to fundraising, helping with food, clothes and all kinds of need. They passionately live to help others. They campaign, raise awareness of things we wouldn’t think about, they find solutions and become the solution to someone. They hold the hands of the dying, they risk their own lives for the rescue, they speak to those who are ignored and speak for the voiceless. They cross the road and nations, leaving comfort for chaos and realise they have been put here in this world to change it for someone. They stand against injustice and will not let evil win. Love is their motivation and fairness their scale. The poor, the widow, the sick and the marginalised become the central focus. It is their face we see not the face of the hero. They have become a gift from God.

May we live our lives in this way.

Who is Joseph?

Who is Joseph?

You are a Joseph if you have learnt contentment.

Luke 3: 24 “the son of Joseph”

In brief it means ‘may God add’.

This is not Joseph, the 11th of Jacob’s 12 sons.

This is not the husband of Mary.

Nor is he one of the other 5 well-known Old Testament Joseph’s and 5 other New Testament Joseph’s.

Like many of the names in this Luke’s genealogy of Jesus, they don’t seem to have any story that is known.

So who is this man named ‘may God add’?

How would you feel if your name means ‘may God add’ but others with that same name seem to have had far more than you? How would you feel if what ‘God added’ was so small there wasn’t anything to write about?

What if others of your equal have far more exciting facebook statuses than you?

How do you respond?

The moment we think the race is about competing with others is the moment we lose.

This race is about you and your own walk with God.

A leader once told me that I had “nearly made it, I was in his top 12 for the job, but though I wasn’t chosen I should be pleased I nearly was.” How ridiculous! I quickly brushed it aside knowing that it could be really damaging to me.

Never compete with others for the story of God in your life.

This Joseph made it to the Bible.

This Joseph was in the genealogy of Jesus.

That alone shows that God had indeed added to his life.

Hold on to your story and do not compete for someone else’s.

Who is Jannai?

Who is Jannai?

Luke 3: 24 “the son of Jannai”

In brief it is a derivative name of Janai which means ‘He answers’.

What a brilliant name?!

The silence of God.
The loudness of man.
The still small voice of God.
The shouting of man.
Heroic figures displaying their celebrity statuses.
This is the world we have come to know so well.
But the world of God is at times so much different.
Ask the Persecuted what God is like and they will say ‘He is quiet’.
There are many unknowns today, in prison, tortured, deprived of their human rights,. Many unknowns facing shame and lifelong battles with their families for becoming Christian. The unknown knows all too well unanswered prayers, the fear of worsening danger and the absence of courage.
What is God like?
He is quiet.
But he is still there!
Like a shimmering heat or a morning cloud of dew God can be seen even in the most strangest of ways.
Just because God is quiet today is no indicator He is not there.

He is watching you.

He is sat with you.

And this is His answer.