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Experience the Nativity Story: The Courage of Joseph

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Experience the Nativity Story

The Courage of Joseph

Matthew 1:18-25

 

Living a Life of Courage…

 

1. Cultivate a Heart of Compassion

 

This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

Matt 1:18-19 NIV

 

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged.  It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

1 Cor 13:4-7 NLT

 

2. Listen for God’s Voice

 

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."

Matt 1:20-21 NIV

 

Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track.

Proverbs 3:5-6 MSG

3. Follow God’s Lead

 

When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.

Matt 1:24-25 NIV

 

Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you are a listener when you are anything but, letting the Word go in one ear and out the other. Act on what you hear!

James 1:22 MSG

 

 

 

How many of you saw the movie the Nativity Story this weekend?

Wasn’t it great?

I was especially moved by the way Joseph was portrayed…and what it must have been like to be Joseph.

I heard about a small boy who was bitterly disappointed at not being cast as Joseph in the school Christmas play.

He was given the role of the innkeeper instead.

So throughout the weeks of rehearsal he pouted and plotted about how he could get back at the boy who got the part of Joseph.

On the day of the performance Joseph and Mary made their entrance and knocked on the door of the Inn.

The Innkeeper opened it a fraction and eyed them coldly.

“Can you give us lodging for the night?” pleaded Joseph, who then stood back awaiting the expected refusal.

But the Innkeeper had not pondered all those weeks for nothing…He flung open the door and smiled and said, “Come in, come in, You shall have the best room in the hotel.”

 

There was a pause, then with great presence of mind, the youthful Joseph said to Mary, “Hold on, I’ll take a look inside first.”

He looked past the Innkeeper, shook his head firmly and announced, “I’m not taking my wife into a place like this. Come on Mary, we’ll sleep in the stable!!”

The little boy who played the role of Joseph was able to get the plot back on course.

As we think about the first Christmas…what was it like to be Joseph?

Do you ever wonder what it would have been like to play the role of Joseph?

He is often described as the forgotten man of Christmas.

Today we want to put the spotlight on Joseph and learn from him.

Someone once asked Leonard Bernstein, famed conductor of the New York Philharmonic, which instrument was the most difficult to play.

His immediate response was, “the second fiddle.”

Joseph as second fiddle, played an essential part in the Nativity Story…and he played it well.

His is a story of courage…courage on display.

Joseph was the man to whom God entrusted the task of protecting the mother and her child from the time she conceived Jesus.

He was the rugged and brave man who led Mary safely along the dangerous roads to Bethlehem, to Egypt and eventually back home to northern Israel.

God selected this man to protect the infant Jesus in the dangerous first years of his life.

As we look over the span of his life we see that Joseph had the courage to:

• Live a morally upright life in an immoral world

• marry a pregnant girl who was not carrying his child

• protect his wife and son in their flight to Egypt and then again upon their return to Nazareth

God the Spirit has included the story of Joseph to encourage each one of us to live courageously, even if it means living dangerously, in doing God’s will.

Before we study his courage, we must remember that Joseph was not some kind of super being.

He was an ordinary, flesh and blood man….like us.

Life isn’t easy…it requires courage.

What can we learn from Joseph about living a life of courage?

His story unfolds in three parts

Part one: Joseph’s dilemma

Matt 1:18 -19 records Joseph’s Dilemma:

18 This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. 19 Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

Have you ever been at a place in your life where you asked the question: God what is going on? What are you doing to me?

Who hasn’t felt that way?

We have all been there where it seems like everything we had ever hoped for has suddenly disappeared…and you can’t make sense out of your circumstances.

You feel like your dreams and hopes for life just came crashing down.

Well that is where Joseph was…obviously confused and no doubt crushed by what was happening to him.

When Joseph learned that Mary was pregnant…the news floored him.

Why?

Because he was engaged to her…and he knew that he had not been with her…that he couldn’t possibly be the father.

There was only one logical conclusion…Mary had been unfaithful to him.

Though they were not married yet, so sacred was the period of engagement that they were by custom considered as if married.

According to the law Joseph had two options:

1. He could divorce her publicly and shame her in a court of justice, or

2. He could put her away secretly by means of a private divorce.

What would he do?

Verse19 says because he “did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.”

 

Do you see Joseph’s dilemma?

His world has just been rocked…the woman he loves and is engaged to, is pregnant and he is not the father.

 

That my friend qualifies as a dilemma.

A scene from the movie “The Nativity Story” shows how Joseph must have agonized over what to do about Mary…watch it…

Film Clip: “Honor” The Nativity Story

Joseph agonizes over what he should do

Any man would respond under such circumstances with:

· Shock.

Joseph thought that Mary was a pure and chaste girl…He must have been shocked to the core.

 
· Deep sorrow.

His dreams of marriage to this young girl now seemed to be forever shattered.


· Anger.

Joseph must have felt betrayed. His manly pride would have made him want to punish somebody!

No one would have blamed him if he had caused a terrible scene in the village.

But Joseph’s godly character enabled him to rein in his anger.

His love for Mary, even under these circumstances, compelled him to seek for a way to protect her.

Joseph teaches us by example how to live a life of courage:

Living a Life of Courage

 

1. Cultivate a Heart of Compassion

I love verse 19,

19 Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

The reason Joseph had such courage was because of his relationship with God:

Joseph was known as a righteous man…holy and upright…keeping the commands of God.

This means that he had such a strong relationship with God that he became like God in character.

This means that Joseph was courageous enough to stand up against his own sin nature.

He had disciplined himself to live the way God wanted him to do, not out of duty but because it was what he wanted to do.

What a great picture of love….even though his heart ached, even though he had been humiliated…he didn’t want to expose her to public disgrace.

He had developed a heart of compassion.

JOSEPH COURAGEOUSLY RESTRAINED HIS ANGER AND CHOSE TO TREAT MARY WITH LOVE

Joseph personified 1 Cor 13:4-7,

 

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged.  It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

1 Cor 13:4-7 NLT

Joseph faced down his own emotions and courageously chose to forgive Mary.

Joseph loved Mary devoutly because he loved God even more.

Some of you may be facing a dilemma today…

 

What do you do?

 

You do what Joseph did…you be a person of character…you remain faithful to God and extend compassion to others.

 

We can learn from Joseph the importance of cultivating and showing compassion even in difficult times.

Give God access to your heart…

Cultivate a heart of compassion…

There is a second important truth we learn from Joseph about Living a Life of Courage

 

2. Listen for God’s Voice

Part 1 of Joseph’s story is: Joseph’s dilemma

Now we see part 2:

Joseph’s dream…Matt 1:20-21

20 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. 21 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."

Matt 1:20-21

I like the way the Message paraphrase v.20,

While he was trying to figure a way out, he had a dream. God's angel spoke in the dream: "Joseph, son of David, don't hesitate to get married. Mary's pregnancy is Spirit-conceived. God's Holy Spirit has made her pregnant.

Matthew 1:20 (Msg)

Have you ever been there…trying to figure a way out of your dilemma?

Here is something we can learn from this passage…God replaces our dilemmas with His dreams.

Some of you came this morning trying to figure a way out…you’ve got a dilemma.

Good news…God wants to intervene...but you need to listen for His message.

God used an angel to speak to Joseph in a dream about His miraculous plan.

That Mary’s condition was not caused by man…but through the Holy Spirit of God.

And that he should call him Jesus…because He will be the Savior!!!

What a dream…what a message!

God wants to speak to you this morning…not through a dream…but through His Word, through other people, through circumstance, and through prayer.

Often times when faced with a dilemma…like Joseph, we only see the solution from a human perspective…and we forget the God factor.

What is the dilemma you are facing today?

As you have been trying to figure a way out of it…what solution did you come up with?

You see, that is our pattern for problem solving.

The Nativity story reminds us there is a better way…God’s way.

We can experience the miracle of God’s plan…if we will listen for his voice and guidance.

But you’ve got to listen carefully or you might get the message mixed up…like the little 5 year old…

…who was showing his little brother around the Christmas display at the church.

“Here are the shepherds,” he explained knowledgeably, “and there are the sheep and the cows and the wise men.”

He continued by saying, “And here is Mary, she Jesus’ mother. And that’s Mary’s husband, Virg.”

A teacher who was nearby, overheard and offered a correction.

“Mary’s husband was named Joseph, dear,” she said, “not Virg.”

The 5 year old wrinkled his brow, “Then how come the preacher always talk about Virg and Mary?”

 

It’s important to get the story straight!

Whose voice are you listening to today when it comes to your future?

Joseph listened to God’s message and followed God’s plan.

What about you?

You need to be listening for God’s message and following God’s plan for your life.

I love Proverbs 3:5-6 in the Message:

Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track.

Proverbs 3:5-6 MSG

 

Joseph no doubt was trying to figure everything out on his own!

He needed to listen for God’s voice to make sense of what was happening!

 We need to be listening for God’s voice…He will speak to us through His word.

How can you know it is God?

It will be God-sized.

Throughout Scripture we see this pattern:

God always calls His people to join Him in doing what the world sees as impossible:

·    He told Noah to build an Ark!

·    He told Abram to build a nation!

·    He told Moses to deliver the Hebrew children form Pharoah!

·    He told David to defeat a giant!

·    And He told Joseph take Mary as his wife who was pregnant with the Son of God!

In Jeremiah 33:3 God says,

 “Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.”

Jer 33:3 (NKJV)

God is a God of miracles…and he will show you His plan for your life… where to go and what to do.

Will you call out to Him today…and ask Him to speak to you…and lead you and guide you through your difficulty today?

When you do, you can begin to experience and celebrate the miracle of God’s plan for your life.


There is a third important truth we learn from Joseph about Living a Life of Courage

3. Follow God’s Lead

 

Part 1 of Joseph’s story is: Joseph’s dilemma

 

Part 2: Joseph’s dream.

Now we come to the third part of Joseph’s story: Joseph’s decision

Matt 1:24-25 says…

24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. 25 But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.

Matt 1:24-25

Here we find Joseph putting feet to his faith.

Look at the action words in vv. 24-25:

24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. 25 But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.

Matt 1:24-25

Joseph had the courage to act on what God told him.

Here is what we need to learn from Joseph…courageous obedience.

If we say we believe in God and yet our behavior says something else…we are not living by faith.

I love the way the Nativity Story Movie captures Joseph’s obedience to God.

Watch this…

Video: Believe You

Joseph had to make a courageous decision.

He had to take for his wife a woman who was not bearing his child and, in so doing, share in the unjust shame that was heaped upon her.

He would be also undertaking to provide for the child and function in a fatherly role as he raised him.

But Joseph did what the angel commanded him.

Joseph’s courageous faith in God was what enabled him to overcome the stigma of becoming the husband of Mary and to accept the responsibility of the child.


The writer of Scripture adds a comment that displays the integrity of this man.

Although he had the legitimate right to it, he did not have sexual relations with Mary until after Jesus was born.

And this simple fact underscores the truth of the virgin birth of Jesus!

Joseph’s courage was tested again after the child was about two years of age.

Wise men from the East had visited the family and had worshipped Jesus!

The night after their visit, Joseph was again visited by an angel who commanded him to take the child and flee to Egypt for Herod was seeking to kill him.


JOSEPH COURAGEOUSLY PROTECTED THE CHILD WHENEVER HIS LIFE WAS IN DANGER

Having heard from the wise men that they were seeking for the one who had been born to be king of the Jews, Herod commanded that all boys under the age of two were to be killed.
An angel of the Lord commanded Joseph to take the child and his mother first to Egypt and then later back to northern Israel.

This meant months of dangerous travel over hostile terrain. Joseph probably walked most of the way!

But Joseph followed God’s lead…

We need to follow God.

James puts it this way…

Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you are a listener when you are anything but, letting the Word go in one ear and out the other. Act on what you hear!

James 1:22 MSG

Joseph will always be remembered as a man of courage because he was willing to act on what he heard God telling him to do.

Concl:

Next time you look at a Nativity Scene and see Joseph standing in the background, think of the courage of this man….who was willing to walk with God….on a journey of faith….hundreds of miles in the desert.

God calls each of to take a journey of faith…that will require courage.

The courage of one person can make all the difference in the world.

We’ve all heard about the courage of Todd Beemer who led the passengers of Flight 93 to resist the terrorists and they prevented the plane from crashing into a national monument. 

Newsweek taking all of the air phone recordings pieced together the story of faith behind that courageous event and put it out in one of their articles called “The Real Story of Flight 93”. 

It says this:  “More than once Todd Beemer cried out to his savior, ‘Jesus!  We’re going down,’ he said, his voice rising steadily. 

He told the air phone operator, ‘I don’t think we’re going to get out of this.  I’m going to have to go out on faith.’ 

He then asked the air phone operator to pray for him and he began to recite the Lord’s prayer ‘Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name.  Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.’ 

The operator began to join him in the Lord’s Prayer on the phone. 

Then Beemer said, ‘Jesus, help me.’ 

And he recited the 23rd Psalm from memory.  ‘The Lord is my shepherd.  I shall not want…Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil for You are with me.’ 

After that Beemer’s last words were, ‘Are you ready guys?  Let’s roll.’ 

And they went out in a fight and by doing so saved countless others and spared a symbol of democracy and freedom from destruction.”

Where do you get that kind of courage?

When you have faith in God and follow Him!

Like Joseph and Todd Beamer…

You can make a difference for God if you will take a step of faith.

Will you take the next step…today?

It will take courage…

Step of Salvation

Step of Service

Step of Sharing with others




We have learned that:

Joseph was a courageous man because of his belief in God.

The story is told of a father and son climbing…

God is calling us to courage and action….



 

Sermon Ideas for Joseph

 

2.  The second thing you can expect is you’ll:

 

Come home to God’s peace and strength

When you come home to God you can expect to receive His peace and strength. 

Peace, when things get chaotic in your life…And strength, when you feel like you don’t have the energy to go on. 

If ever there’s been a time that we feel like we need God’s peace and strength it’s now – It’s been a tough couple of years. 

US News and World Report said it like this: 

“We’ve discovered that our nation isn’t terror proof, our mail isn’t germ proof, our economy isn’t recession proof.  We discovered that our job isn’t lay off proof and our investments aren’t fool proof.  After a decade of confidence and rising fortunes we face an uncertain future.”

How do you handle situations like that? 

When you face an uncertain future, which by the way is your future, when you face tough times which inevitably you’re going to face in life, life is not all good times, where do you go for strength? 

Where do you get the reservoir of power, of peace that gives you the ability to keep on going in the middle of a chaos or a crisis or a tragedy or something that saps every bit of energy in your life.

Back to the example of Joseph…his world was falling apart…the woman he loved was pregnant…and he knew he wasn’t the father.

What would he do?

Look at Matt. 1:24-25,

When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife.  But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.

Matt 1:24-25 (NIV)

 When your future looks bleak and uncertain…you trust God…you follow His lead.

When you follow God’s plan for your life you can be assured of His peace and strength despite your circumstances.

We’ve all heard about the courage of Todd Beemer who led the passengers of Flight 93 to resist the terrorists and they prevented the plane from crashing into a national monument. 

Newsweek taking all of the air phone recordings pieced together the story of faith behind that courageous event and put it out in one of their articles called “The Real Story of Flight 93”. 

It says this:  “More than once Todd Beemer cried out to his savior, ‘Jesus!  We’re going down,’ he said, his voice rising steadily. 

He told the air phone operator, ‘I don’t think we’re going to get out of this.  I’m going to have to go out on faith.’ 

He then asked the air phone operator to pray for him and he began to recite the Lord’s prayer ‘Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name.  Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.’ 

The operator began to join him in the Lord’s Prayer on the phone. 

Then Beemer said, ‘Jesus, help me.’ 

And he recited the 23rd Psalm from memory.  ‘The Lord is my shepherd.  I shall not want.  Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil for You are with me.’ 

After that Beemer’s last words were, ‘Are you ready guys?  Let’s roll.’ 

And they went out in a fight and by doing so saved countless others and spared a symbol of democracy and freedom from destruction.”

Where do you get that kind of strength if you’re not connected to God? 

You might think “I just depend on my own energy.” 

You’re going to run out.  Because human energy always runs out.  But God’s doesn’t.

Where do you go for peace?  Where do you go for strength if you don’t have God in your life, if you’re not connected on a moment by moment basis.

Jesus Christ has an incredible offer for you.  Jesus said this in Matt. 11:28-30, 

“If you are tired from carrying heavy burdens come to Me and I will give you rest for your soul.”

 

 I like that verse because it says the exact opposite of what most people think God will say to them. 

They think that if God want me to come home He’s going to say:

 “Come home to Me and I will give you rules.  Come home to Me and I will give you regulations.  Come home to Me and I will give you restrictions.  Come home to Me and I will give you religion.  Come home to Me and I will give you rituals.” 

But God doesn’t say any of those things.  He says, “Come home to Me and I will give you rest.”  That sounds like a good deal – rest.

How can God give me rest?  Soul rest.  Because you relax when you stop depending on your own energy and start depending on God to help you out.

  All of a sudden you get plugged into the power source and you’re not on your own any more. 

The reason why you’re so tired all the time, fatigued all the time, why you get stressed out is because you’re trying to live your life on your own power and you were never meant to do that. 

God never meant for you to live life on your own power.  He says, “I want us to be in relationship.  I made you.  I want My power to flow through you on a regular basis.”

If you come home to God at Christmas, you can expect to come home to His love and forgiveness and to His peace and His strength.


 

It is easy to lose sight of him with all the magi, shepherds, and angelic choirs.

But there he was, chosen by God to live as though he were the biological father of the Savior.

Joseph forgotten man of Christmas…

See other comments…Bisagno

We can learn a lot from his silence…

There is a story of courage that is told every Christmas season.

But it is a story we often miss because the hero of the story is usually in the background.

In nativity scenes he stands silently next to the manger in which the baby Jesus is laid.

His name is Joseph and he seems to play a secondary role in the nativity story.

He is not even given a single line to speak!

Then he disappears completely from history after the teenage years of Jesus.

And yet the courage of Joseph was what made it possible for the child to be born in Bethlehem and to survive the life-threatening early years of his life.

In Matt 1:18-25 we find some miracles of Christmas…that God wants you to experience and celebrate.

What are they?

1. You can experience the miracle of God’s plan for your life

That is the first miracle I want you to see…the miracle of God’s plan.

That is what we see when we turn to the familiar story in Matt. 1:18-25.

Notice Matt 1:18-21,

This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit.  Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and 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."

Matt 1:18-21 (NIV)

No doubt you’ve heard the story many times.

When Joseph learned that Mary was pregnant…the news floored him.

Why?

Because he was engaged to her…and he knew that he had not been with her…that he couldn’t possibly be the father.

There was only one logical conclusion…Mary had been unfaithful to him.

Though they were not married yet, so sacred was the period of engagement that they were by custom considered as if married.

According to the law Joseph had two options:

1. He could divorce her publicly and shame her in a court of justice, or

2. He could put her away secretly by means of a private divorce.

What would he do?

Verse19 says because he “did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.”

 

Do you see Joseph’s dilemma?

His world has just been rocked…the woman he loves and is engaged to, is pregnant and he is not the father.

 

That my friend qualifies as a dilemma.

We all have experienced dilemmas in our lives when we just don’t know what to do…it may be family problems, financial problems, faith problems.

And like Joseph, we are left scratching our head wondering, what am I going to do?

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