The Christmas Story: Joseph
Yesterday I wrote about the life of Joseph in the Christmas story, and that obedience means love + trust + action. I know many of you want to live this life of obedience in your relationship with God because you know he loves you. You know that he has your best in mind. You know he understands things you don’t understand. And you want to live that kind of life. Joseph shows us how.
So we’re going to look at some meetings that Joseph had with some angels. In those meetings he got four different directions. He said yes to every one of them. In every yes of Joseph, we can learn something about what this genuine life of loving obedience is really all about.
The first thing he shows us...
1. I DO IT NOW!
Matthew 1:19-21, 24 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.” When Joseph woke up, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded and took Mary as his wife.
There is this refreshing immediacy to Joseph’s relationship with God. God said it, he did it! It’s the kind of life the Bible talks about in
Psalm 119:60 I will hurry, without delay, to obey your commands.
We do it quickly. If we’re going to do it, we may as well do it now. Because the longer we wait, the more difficult it is. No doubt about it. But Joseph had this immediacy in it, so that he kept on trusting.
1 John 5:3 Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome.
Many of us, we look at that and we think, “I agree with most of that. But not burdensome? God’s commands are burdensome to me sometimes.” God doesn’t mean for it to be burdensome. He means for them to be refreshing and life giving. So what makes them burdensome in our lives? What makes them burdensome is we do them because of guilt or fear. Or oftentimes in my life, a lot of you might relate to this – what makes God’s commands burdensome is me delaying doing it. The longer we wait the more difficult it gets.
The second thing I can learn about this obedient life of faith from the life of Joseph is…
2. I KEEP ON TRUSTING.
I obey immediately and then I obey consistently. I’ve noticed some people are really good at the immediate. They jump right into things. But they’re not very good at keeping on keeping on. Other people they’re very good at being very faithful and keeping on keeping on, but they have a hard time jumping into things. Joseph was good at both.
Matthew 1:25 But he did not have sexual relations with her until her son was born. And Joseph named him Jesus.
He obeyed consistently. Joseph kept on trusting even though life was not working out as he planned. This was not the wedding night that he planned. This was not the early marriage that he planned. But he kept on trusting. One of the big questions of life is, what are we going to do when life is not working out as we planned?
I think about some parents who I love, struggling with one of their kids. I look at them and think, they’re good parents a lot better than a lot of parents I know. hy do they have to go through that struggle? It doesn’t make sense. Or I think about my good friend whose life is slipping away because of cancer. It doesn’t make sense to me. There is so much they could have done in life. Why is this happening to them?
I don’t know why many things happen in life as they do. None of us do. We’re not God. There are things we don’t know. But I do know this: There is a God who loves us. I do know this: God has a plan for our lives that stretches all the way into eternity. It’s bigger and better and greater than any circumstance in this life that looks like it’s trying to take life away from us. I do know I can trust him. I have chosen. I have chosen that even when I don’t know why, I’m going to keep on trusting.
3. I’VE GOT TO LET IT GO.
There are some things we have to let go of if we’re going to live out this life of faith. Look at what happened after the baby was born.
Matthew 2:13-15 After the wise men were gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up! Flee to Egypt with the child and his mother,” the angel said. “Stay there until I tell you to return, because Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.” That night Joseph left for Egypt with the child and Mary, his mother, and they stayed there until Herod’s death.
They left everything that they knew. They sacrificed everything that they knew. They let it all go. At the deepest level, they sacrificed their comfort. God says, “You’ve got to face an unknown culture, foods that you may not know about, and a lot of things you may not be expecting. Move to Egypt.” And Joseph did it.
The truth of the matter is, if we’re going to follow God’s plan for our lives, we’re going to live this life of obedience, it is often uncomfortable to follow God’s plan. Why? Because when we stay comfortable, we don’t grow. When we stay comfortable, we stay where we are. It’s often uncomfortable to follow God’s plan. It’s often uncomfortable to live out a life of destiny & faith.
4. I TAKE A RISK.
We take a risk. We obey courageously. Look at what happened with Joseph.
Matthew 2:19-20 When Herod died, [the king who wanted to kill Jesus] an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt. “Get up!” the angel said. “Take the child and his mother back to the land of Israel, because those who were trying to kill the child are dead.”
And Joseph does it. Think about how scary this was for Joseph. All he has to trust is the word of an angel. He’s taking his family back into danger if that word is wrong. But he totally trusts it, and he takes a risk and he moves back into Israel. He obeyed courageously.
The question is this: When was the last time we took a risk because of our faith? When was the last time you can remember taking some kind of risk because of your faith? It could be a big risk, a little risk. It could be the big risk of moving to a new place, taking on a new job, or taking on a new ministry. Or forgiving somebody we’ve never forgiven.
It could be a little risk. A little risk of going across the street and inviting somebody to Christmas service. Or the little risk of picking up the phone and calling somebody that needs a call when God prompts us to do that. Or the little risk of deciding to change a habit in our lives. Do something different in our faith. When was the last time we did anything different and you took a risk?
When was the last time we took the risk to serve someone, to love someone who was pretty unlovable or forgive someone we didn’t feel like deserved forgiveness? None of us deserve forgiveness. It’s always a gift. When was the last time we took the risk even to do even some small kindness to someone that took a few minutes out of our day?
Matthew 7:24 (CEV) Anyone who hears and obeys these teachings of mine is like a wise person who built a house on solid rock.
You want a life that lasts? You want to build a legacy? We build it on God’s guidance and his Word.