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  • Nov26Mon

    The Grace of Obedience!

    November 26, 2018

    I introduce to you today “Christmas Through The Eyes Of Joseph”  - the grace of obedience

    Matt. 1:18-25

    There are certain sayings we associate with our fathers. Here are some typical Dad quotes:

    “Ask your mother.”

     

    ”Don’t worry; it’s only blood.”

     

    ”Do I look like I’m made of money?”

     

    “I’m not sleeping; I was watching that show.”

     

    ”I’m not just talking to hear my voice.” ”A little dirt never hurt anyone; just wipe it off.”

     

    ”We’re not lost!”

     

    ”No, we’re not there yet.”

     

    ”Don’t make me stop this car!”

     

    However, when we look at the life of Joseph, father of Jesus, there are no quotes, no words.  By the time Jesus begins his public ministry, it appears that Mary is alone at this point

     

    We are going to read from the Amplified Bible.

     

    18 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 power of] the Holy Spirit. 19 And Joseph her [promised] husband, being a just and righteous man and not wanting to expose her publicly to shame, planned to send her away and divorce her quietly. 20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, descendant 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. 21 She will give birth to a Son, and you shall name Him Jesus (The Lord is salvation), for He will save His people from their sins.” 22 All this happened in order to fulfill what the Lord had spoken through the prophet [Isaiah]: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall be with child and give birth to a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel”—which, when translated, means, “God with us.” 24 Then Joseph awoke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him, and he took Mary [to his home] as his wife, 25 but he kept her a virgin until she had given birth to a Son [her firstborn child]; and he named Him Jesus (The Lord is salvation).

    The family line God chose to raise His Son

    Jesus hails from an impressive family lineup with men of faith like Abraham, Issac, Jacob, King David, Hezekiah and Josiah, but it is interesting to note that in Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus that he includes women, something that very uncommon and there were both men and women who didn’t have the greatest backgrounds like Tamar, a Gentile, who seduced her own father in law, Rahab, who was a prostitute and Bathsheba who committed adultery with David.  Sometimes we fly through the ‘uninteresting’ genealogies in the Bible only to discover that there are significant lessons we can learn there

    1.      Being obedient means being a person of grace  v18

    What stands out to me is that we have a God of grace who works through us many times in spite of ourselves.  We also see that failure in our past does not mean that we are unusable to the Lord.  We serve a God of grace who wants us to live in light of how God sees us and not how we see ourselves.

    There are some people listed here that were far from perfect, but God used them all to bring in line to Jesus.  Matthew, himself was a tax collector.  He was not very popular by any stretch of the imagination with the Jewish people so if anyone knew that God could save sinners and transform them, Matthew did. 

     

    Isn’t it incredible that God used some pretty ordinary, everyday people to be chosen to give birth to His Son. 

    How particular do you suppose God was when He was choosing the family that would raise Jesus? I think that God would want to find a family that would treat the child good, that would train Him up in the way of the Lord, to lead by example to  Jesus

    More often than not, the emphasis is placed on Mary and her choice to become the mother of Jesus. Yes, she deserves to be thanked and held in great respect, but too often, we forget about Joseph. His example and lifestyle were very influential in the life of the Lord Jesus.

    Grace is the unmerited favor of God…but it’s also the power of God to obey!

    2.       Being obedient means  being a person of righteousness v19

     

    In v18-19, Joseph is confronted with a dilemma.  He was pledged to be married and when a situation arose with Mary, he could have easily cried foul, but the way Joseph handled himself revealed a lot about his true character, he was an upright man who was focused on doing the right thing.  To use righteousness as a word to describe him was no small statement for Matthew who spoke of those who hunger after righteousness and seek first his righteousness = dikaioma – the concrete expression of righteousness, conduct in agreement with His will.  It should be noted that this ‘situation’ during the betrothal or engagement period was a serious offense.  The Betrothal period was considered as binding as a marriage. How respond in a time of crisis reveals our true nature! When things are going smoothly, we are able to hide a lot that becomes clear in a crisis! Joseph’s reaction reveals a man under control! Jesus was always in control of Himself and God knew this trait in Joseph

    The decision to divorce her quietly was uncharacteristic. Most men would have divorced Mary and this would have left her poverty stricken and because of the baby, no other man would have dared marry her. Joseph was "Just" – Righteous! He wanted to do the right thing by Mary! Joseph displayed his patience, calmness and wisdom in the situation.

    He made an uncommon decision as by right, he could have invoked the death penalty – Deut. 22:13-21. He could have Mary stoned to death publicly. However, he chose to spare her the shame. Again, this reveals compassion on the part of Joseph.

    Scripture has left us with the most important knowledge: who he was: "a righteous man" (Mt 1:18). Joseph may have thought that being righteous involved doing the proper thing; he found out that it is also about being the right person. Robert Lero

    3.       Being obedient means  being a person of revelation v. 20-23

    The Lord spoke to Joseph in a dream

    Joseph is confronted with 3 truths as God speaks to him

    1.  The Truth Of The Pregnancy Is Revealed – Joseph discovers who the real Father is. Joseph realizes that he has been chosen to be part of a glorious plan.

    2.  The Child’s Title Is Revealed – Joseph is commanded to name the child "Jesus" – Jehovah Is Salvation! The Lord Saves

    3. Joseph’s Task Is Revealed – Joseph would have to live with the shame that would be placed upon Him by others through rumours and disbelief.   It is all and well for us to say Jesus was God’s son and what is the problem with everybody. Other than schooling the religious leaders in the temple, Jesus lived a very common life, the son of a carpenter and didn’t begin his public ministry till He was 30.

     But right at that time, know that for the most part that everybody could do the math and know that according to their thinking this was an illegitimate child.  This isn’t the case so much today, but in that culture and during that time, it was deeply frowned upon and seen as a disgrace.   Realize that there were several traditions surrounding the birth of Jesus. 1.) He was indeed Joseph’s son; 2.) Mary had a secret lover; 3.) A Roman soldier raped Mary.

    Again, this speaks well of Joseph, he was willing to bear this cross for the glory of God. Certainly, Jesus learned much from watching his father suffer in silence!

    Joseph’s love for Mary was an example of Paul’s definition: "Love is patient and kind. Love does not envy or boast; it is not proud or rude. Love is not self-seeking or easily angered. It keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil, but it rejoices in the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres" (I Cor 13).

    How does God speak to us today? How has God spoke to you? 

    The fact is that God still speaks and we need to be ready to hear his voice.  For some it is clear as an audible one, for others, it is a strong impression.  The Lord uses us to speak into other’s lives to confirm where He is leading.  It is also through events and circumstances.  He also clearly speaks to us through His Word and brings conviction.  2 Timothy 3:16,17 

    All Scripture is God breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

    4.      Being obedient means being a person of  Integrity v. 24-25

    1. He Obeyed The Lord’s Commands – Obedience reveals the heart of man like nothing else!  John 14:15; 1 Sam. 15:22. When we obey the Lord’s command, even when they are unpleasant or hard, it proves our love for Him and reveals where our loyalty truly is. Joseph listened and he followed through

    In Luke 1:56  Mary disappears for 3 months to the hill country and stays with Elizabeth after she discovers the news that she will give birth to Jesus and now she comes back from being away, she showing and the people are talking.  And now, here we are in V24 and it says… He took her home to be his wife.  There is no mention of a wedding, no mention of a celebration, all we know is that he took her home and honored her purity. Mary and Joseph never came together physically until after Jesus was born, thus fulfilling the Scripture – v. 23. This is another indication of the man’s moral standing. 

    Following the Lord isn’t about the glamour, one day it will be when we stand as the pure spotless bride of Christ, but until then, there will be many acts of obedience, sacrifice and humility that will mark our path.

          2. He Obediently Named The Child – The right of naming the child was in the hand of the Father. Joseph knew that the child’s true Father wanted the child called Jesus. Therefore, Joseph named the child Jesus.

     Joseph was chosen to be the surrogate father of Jesus because he was pure of life and pure of heart. He was the kind of man God could use, because God didn’t have to worry about Joseph getting in the way. In other words, he was yielded to the will of the Lord. We ought to look at our own lives tonight and ask ourselves, "Are we the kind of person that God could use in a big way?" If not, then what do we need to do to get there? God will never call another man to do what Joseph did. But, God has plenty of big jobs left to do, He just needs the people who are willing and qualified to do them

     To Joseph was given the unique task of being guardian and protector of the infant Jesus and His mother Mary. He provided security by becoming the legal husband of Mary and father of Jesus, and thus he protected her from shame and accusation that otherwise would have continued to follow her.

    Being used by God, being a person of integrity does not come without a struggle.

    Joseph did not embrace the will of God without a struggle. The fact that he wanted to put Mary away quietly indicates that there was a reluctance to fully endorse the will of God. Again it required the verification of an angel who came to him in a dream before he could find himself at peace with the way that God wanted him to go. Yet the truth is that he did come to the truth and he did actually embrace the way and the will of God. Each of us can struggle with God’s will as it is revealed through His providence. We do not always understand, and we come slowly to the place where we can accept what God wants us to learn and to do.

    However as we started this message it is the grace of God, that is, in fact, the power and ability of God to obey & to live the Christian life!

     God’s grace enables us to stand strong in afflictions/sickness/persecution/disasters – 2Cor.12:9-10 – “But he said to me, “My grace is enough for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” So then, I will boast most gladly about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may reside in me. Therefore I am content with weaknesses, with insults, with troubles, with persecutions and difficulties for the sake of Christ, for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.”

    Grace helps us serve God acceptably – Heb.12:28 – “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.”

    Romans 1:5 – “Through him we have received grace…to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles on behalf of his name.”

    GRACE: the power to obey!

     

    John Piper said: “Grace is God’s free gift before we do anything good and His enabling of us to do anything good!”

    Grace is therefore, the pathway to both our empowerment!

    2 Thess. 1:11-12 - So we keep on praying for you, asking our God to enable you to live a life worthy of his call. May he give you the power to accomplish all the good things your faith prompts you to do. Then the name of our Lord Jesus will be honored because of the way you live, and you will be honored along with him. This is all made possible because of the grace of our God and Lord, Jesus Christ.”

     The obedience that glorifies God is produced by the power of God’s grace through faith!

    Joseph, in our story today—received that grace and it moved him to obey!

    Complete/whole-hearted/immediate—grace-empowered obedience!

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