Friday, December 6, 2013

December 7, 2013

"This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus." Matthew 1:18-25

This morning as I meditating on the Christmas story my thoughts were drawn toward Joseph, who drew the assignment of raising the Messiah. This obscure carpenter from Nazareth was called to step onto center stage in the marvelous mysterious drama of redemption that God orchestrated during the first Christmas.

Was he chosen merely because of his relationship with Mary, or did God nudge them together to accomplish His plan? We will never know for sure, but one thing that is sure is in addition to all of her other virtues, Mary had excellent taste in men!

I have commented on the sacrifices Mary made to obey God and become the mother of the Messiah. But Joseph did some hard things, too! I think his contributions sometimes get lost in the shadows. In short, this is what Joseph was called to do - "Joseph, I want you to believe some incredible things, put your life on hold, put your reputation at risk, nurture and protect the Son of God, and you won't get much credit for it."

Would you take that deal? Joseph did!

In an age where way too much of faith is about "what's in it for me?", it is worth stopping to consider the selfless sacrifice of Joseph.

His journey began with a broken heart. News reached him that his wife-to-be was pregnant and he knew it wasn't his. Could it be that this women he loved and trusted had been unfaithful to him? What would you think? What would you believe?

Next, he had to believe this incredible story, overcome the trust issues and bring her into his home as his wife. And, oh, he can't have sexual relations with her. How many teen guys could do that?

And that was just the beginning!

He would have to make a trip to Bethlehem with an extremely pregnant woman. Then he discovered that his reservations got cancelled and he would have to spend the night in a stable. And, during the night in that stable he had to deliver a baby! Not easy stuff!

But, it got harder! Joseph was told by an angel to take Mary and the infant in the middle of the night and escape to Egypt. So he did. And they stayed there awhile. Don't you think Joseph lost a few business accounts in those years that he was gone? I doubt if his customers were going to wait several years to get their yokes made.

Wow! What a guy! His sacrifice and obedience rivals that of Mary!

Let me ask you, are you willing to follow Christ if it costs you everything, gains you little, and gives you no credit?

That is the call to discipleship. It is not about you! The Kingdom of God is built and advanced by faithful followers who love God more than life and serve Him unto death. Can you follow in the foot steps of Mary and Joseph? Will you?

It begins today.

December 6, 2013

"All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus." Matthew 1:22-25

Unless you enjoy being lonely or ignored or insignificant and isolated, the message of Immanuel - "God with us" is a BIG deal!

In the past few posts I have been sharing three reasons why Immanuel matters so much:

It's God's Reminder 

After 400 years of silence, God spoke with a shout when He sent His Son into the world, born of a virgin in a stable. The birth of Jesus was an exclamation mark at the end of His declaration, "I AM is with you! I have never left you and I never will! Unless you leave Me, I will be with you always!

It's God's Revelation

When God came in the Person of Jesus we got to catch a glimpse of Who He is and what He is alike.

Jesus said, "If you have seen Me you have seen the Father."

It's God's Redemption

Joseph did as he and Mary were instructed by the angel and they gave this baby boy the name "Jesus".

"But, wait! I thought He was to be called Immannuel! So, why did they name the baby, Jesus? The short answer is they did it because the angel told them to. Are you going to argue with an angel?

The name "Jesus" is the New Testament rendering of Joshua. What did Joshua do?

Joshua led God's people into the Land of Promise! 

This "new Joshua" would open the gates of the eternal "Promised Land" for those who would believe in Him!

John the Baptist declared as he pointed to Jesus, "Behold the Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world."

Jesus came to redeem you and me! 

Redemption means to "buy back something that has been taken from you."

Sin had taken us captive and placed us in bondage to the enemy. 

The First Adam sold us into slavery and it would take the Second Adam to set us free. But like the First Adam, this Adam would have to be born without sin in order to become the sacrifice for our sin. This Second Adam would have to be a "God-man".

Who would fill that description?

Only the One named Jesus! This Jesus would be conceived by God and born of man - divine enough to live a sinless life and human enough to die on a cross for our sins!

He Is Immanuel - God with us!

That is BIG! Really BIG!