Keepin’ Things Real: Responding to Christmas - JosephDecember 15, 2010
Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly. But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. "She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins." (Matt. 1:18-21 NASB)
Can you imagine what Joseph must be thinking, feeling, wondering? Mary, what happened? What are you talkiing about? This makes no sense? How can this be? He must have had hundreds of questions? We are so there aren't we? We have questions every day, just like these, just like Joseph. Yet in the midst of this Christmas story and Joseph being confronted by mounds of confusion, we find some secrets and how we can respond to life this Christmas.
Ultimately, Joseph shows us that we must respond to Christmas with a commitment to righteousness. The scripture describes Joseph as a righteous man. That word righteous is the Greek word "dikaios" and describes a Christ follower whose thinking, feeling and acting is wholly conformed to the will and Word of God. The life of Joseph reminds us that we must respond to all of life's challenges through the Word of God in fulfilling the will of God. So as you go through life, put on your spiritual lenses and ask yourself questions like: "How is God trying to teach me, grow me and change me?" "What promises from God's Word can I stand upon?" "What commitments do I need to make?" One thing is for sure, God is after so much more than resolving our circumstances, he is first and foremost after the recreating of HIS Son, Jesus Christ in our lives. He uses life, our questions, our circumstances and mostly our struggles to do so. For it is here and only here where we can answer the call and respond to life with a lifestye of righteousness.
So let's get specific. Through the life of Joseph, we find four ways he responded to Christmas.
1. Joseph obeyed regardless of the consequences. We've heard it said - just do the right thing, even if it turns our wrong! What a great call...what a great challenge to obedience...no matter what!
2. Joseph prefered God's honor over personal preservation. If you are a born-again, Christ follower then remember, your life is not your own, you were bought with a price so represent the Lord Jesus Christ and honor Him with your life by bringing him honor ahead of your own
3. Joseph displayed self-control through self-denial. Joseph's response to Christmans so shows us this. Joseph definately denied himself. Remember, Christ too showed us this with His life and in turns calls us all to deny ourselves, take up our cross daily and follow Him.
4. Joseph went against the culture for Christ. If Joseph took Mary as his wife, he would be publically admitting guilt. The entire neighborhood would have considered them liars. Failing to divorce her would violate all the laws and customs and bring disgrace upon his family for choosing such a poor mate for a wife. There was so much at stake with Joseph, his reputation, his family, his friends. Yet in the midst of it all...he decided to go against the culture, against the outside influences and against popular opinion...all for Christ!
Clearly these are the reasons that scripture says "Joseph was a righteous man!"
But what about you? How would scripture describe you? Where is God calling you to radical obedience? How are you honoring Christ? Where do you need to display self-control and self-denial? What do you need to do to go against the culture and maintain your righteousness. IN OTHER WORDS...HOW WILL YOU RESPOND TO CHISTMAS?
Dale and Jena
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