Great job ladies. Thank you.
This morning's full of all kinds of surprises, isn't it?
I want to start off this morning's message with a question.
Have you ever had any deep thoughts about rubber bands?
rubber bands for those who didn't hear For you think that I've lost my mind which may have happened a long time ago and will let me explain what I mean by that question band is made for only one purpose. Right? I mean the purpose is to be stretched out so that it can hold something together. If it's not stretched. It's not fulfilling its purpose at all. Is it when we have several of those right now that are just sitting in the drawer at home and they're just laying there. They're not doing what they're meant to do. As Christians we can be like rubber bands. We are put on this Earth to be doers of God's word, right and to do that. We must be stretched out of our Everlasting Comfort zones so that we can become more and more effective. And one of the hardest things for us to do is to get out of our comfort zone to be effective for God. We have to be stretched today as we stand here on the cusp of Christmas Christmas. I want us to consider a character in The Christmas Story who doesn't always get that much attention. That's a Joseph. Imagine for a moment that young man who is very much stretched out of his comfort zone and it's will see in a moment. He was considered to be a righteous man. And then just maybe that's why God has chosen to be the Earthly father of his son. He knew that when stretched that Joseph would respond with love with Grace and was self-sacrifice. I do this was the man to raise his son. You see the first point of the Joseph was a righteous man, which meant that he kept the law on police ought to obey God above all else. That's what was most important to him. We see this in Matthew 1 verses 18 and 19. Now, the birth of Jesus 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 Des Grace her planned to send her away secretly. I'd like to just say that there's a difference between being righteous and being just plain devout. God knew Joseph Hart, his desire was to be obedient to God which meant following God's law God's law would have indicated for Joseph that he was completely in the right to divorce Mary not just a divorce Mary but to take her before the elders at the gate and to have her stoned to death for her parents in. Sometimes the desire to be righteous ends up blinding us to the hardness of our own hearts. Maybe in our effort to be righteous. We can become the very opposite in our Zeal to represent. God. Maybe we push others away. Remind me to Jesus's response to the Pharisees in Matthew 12, when is disciples pick grain and ate it on the Sabbath? It says in chapter 12 at that time. Jesus went through the grain fields on the Sabbath and his disciples become became hungry and they began to pick the heads of brain and to eat. But when the Pharisee saw this they said your disciples do what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath, but he said to them have you not read that David? What David did when he became hungry he and his companions how he entered the house of God and they ate the consecrated bread, which was not lawful for him to eat more for those with him. But only for the priests or have you not read in the law, but on the Sabbath the priests in the temple break the Sabbath and are innocent. But I say to you that someone something greater than the temple is here. But if you had known what this means I desire compassion and not a sacrifice you would not have condemned the innocent. The righteousness righteousness of the Pharisees kept them so focused on themselves. They missed what God was doing and they're very missed. They working so consumed by their own actions and the actions of the people around them and they missed the very presence of God with them. As Jesus said something greater than the temple is here for a drew that was just outright blasphemy. He was speaking of course of himself. The temple represented God's presence in the Forgiveness of their sins atonement through the shedding of innocent blood. Jesus was pointing to who he was as the coming savior. Go back to Joseph Joseph was a righteous man is we will see because his heart was filled with the love the compassion of God. We're eating first John chapter 4 beloved. Let us love one another should we sing it instead for love is from God and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God the one who does not love does not know God for God is love.
Joseph understood this in the next Point Joseph being a righteous man was able to see beyond the letter of the law. Which for him? Was very costly.
Let's look at what happens in Matthew chapter 1 verses 20 and 21. But we had but when he had considered this, what did he consider Marius come to him and said Joseph I'm with child Joseph knows that he has not been with Mary and so now he's got to figure out what to do. What does the law say to do? I need to be in being a righteous man. That's the first place that I go. I look to the Lord. I look to the law. What does the law say to do? The law says to divorce you and being a righteous man said he was going to do it quietly. But 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's been conceived in her. Is that the Holy Spirit she will bear a son and you shall call his name Jesus. He will save his people from their sins.
Mary's pregnancy can only be concealed for so long, right everyone in the community would know for Joseph to obey the angel of the Lord who mind you instructed Joseph not to adhere the law but to have compassion because God was doing or going to do something great. men shame and ridicule and being ostracized from the community. We see the depth of this later in Jesus's life when he begins his public Ministry and returns to Nazareth what happens he came to his hometown and began teaching them in their synagogues so that they were astonished and said where did this man get wisdom in and he's Miracle miraculous Powers is this not The Carpenter's son and they're still speaking. This way of Joseph is not his mother Mary and his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas.
Sometimes responding and love can be very very costly. But again is we read in first John chapter 4 this is the heart of God in the gospel the angel instructs Joseph to not fear. To take Mary as his wife. No, I think it's important to note here that Joseph already knew that Mary was pregnant before the angel of the Lord came how Mary would have told him. So can you imagine? Again, Joseph being a righteous man. And his wife who was supposed to be a virgin comes in and says Joseph you're not going to believe this, but I'm pregnant. Oh, and it's God's son.
Can you imagine the confusion? Can you imagine the pain that hurt the trail that he must have felt? Not only was his wife lying to him, but she was implicating God is the reason for her unfaithfulness Again more of a reason for him to fall back on to the law and to demand Justice. More of a reason to prosecute to the letter of the law. Shirley Joseph's heart was broken. And yet, how does he respond? with God's righteousness You know, it's often fear that that stops us from loving like God loves that friends is where faith comes into play. Do we trust God enough to step out in faith when he calls us children often have that faith and trust maybe to a fault but could that be why Jesus specifically notes this and Matthew 19 left a little children, do not hinder them from coming to me for the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these Is adults we're conditioned to count the cost. That's the first thing we do. What is it going to cost me? I just financially but what is it going to cost me in the context of others think about it. I mean, we've had conversations like this when it comes to sharing the gospel. What's the biggest hindrance for people to share the gospel? What will other people think of me? You're counting the cost. Important thing but when we allow the cost its 52 deter us from faithful obedience to God's love then we miss out on what God will do and can do through us again in this context. Joseph follow the letter of the law. He would have at the least left Mary destitute alone and ostracize were at worst. He would have had her stoned to death. But God chose Joseph for a reason get something greater in mine and Joseph was a part of that plan. And that's the next Point God's righteousness was a made available to you and I not through Joseph keeping the law re the law itself. But through the coming of Jesus God's only son. What are we reading verses 22 and 23 now all of this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord to the prophet behold the Virgin shall be with child and shall bear a son and they shall call his name Emmanuel which translated means god with us.
God's plan to show us the fullness of his love even in God's sovereignty and God's power. He chose these weak vessels Joseph and Mary to bring into the world the savior. The Savior doesn't ride in with a chariot of fire and blazing swords. He comes in and embodies love. He was born an innocent needy cuddly baby who needed an Earthly father to nurture and guide him into manhood. Joseph mentioned hear it at the beginning right in reference to just in passing later, but he was instrumental in raising Jesus. He was Jesus's Earthly father teaching him what it meant to become a man. God needed a truly righteous man of Faith who was able to see God's heart in order to raise his son for God's plan. What was that plan? It was centered on sacrificial love. Of bearing very sacrifice himself for the sake of those. He created in Loft. You know the scripture we shared part of it this morning, didn't we forgot so loved the world? That he gave his only begotten son that whoever believeth in him shall not perish but have everlasting life for God did not send the son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through him. He who believes in Him is not judged he who does not believe has been judged already because he is not believed in the name of the only begotten son of God.
That brings us to the final point. Love love is what compelled Joseph to sacrifice so much. Love is the result of his obedience to God's plan. Love is our righteousness made possible through the greatest sacrifice ever. Jesus verses 24 and 25 Joseph awoke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took Mary as his wife, but kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a son. He called his name Jesus.
Joseph dizzy Angel commanded he married Mary Jane. Why is it such a big deal? Culturally to do so Joseph is a righteous man was violating the Torah and assured that he lose his reputation in the community people would soon see that Mary was pregnant. They would know that the two of them had come together before the time was appropriate before the their marriage was Final before the angel appeared Joseph didn't believe Mary why would others believe them? Not only with their social life be affected. But what about business?
But here's Joseph committing himself to this little baby at Great cost before I even met him. This is truly a sacrifice again in 1st John 4 verses 9 and 10 by this the love of God was manifested in us that God has sent his only begotten son into the world so that we might live through him. In this is love not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his son to be the propitiation for our sins.
What did the angel tell Joseph? He said Joseph. Don't be afraid. Don't be afraid of all these reasons to not do what God has told you to do. Love Mary love that child. And in so doing you are literally loving God and went to look into the eyes of that baby Jesus. He knew he knew that he done the right thing. Later, when Jesus was a grown man, he taught in Matthew 5:20, unless your righteousness passes that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law the old system. You will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven. Jesus must have been thinking inside. I've seen the better kind of righteousness firsthand Joseph my father. My Earthly father was an example righteousness is not about following the letter of the law for righteousness is about loving God and loving your neighbor just as Jesus taught it is about dying to self self-righteousness and living a life of Mercy life of Grace a Life of forgiveness. It's about being real in our own Humanity in Brokenness accepting the reality of it and giving everything to God. It's about loving others who are just as broken as we are. Joseph was willing to give up his Earthly reputation of being a righteous man. In order to live a life that was truly righteous. That was true. That was real and in so doing he found real life.
this Christmas season
I wonder what are you willing to give up in order to Love Like Jesus loved what are you willing to sacrifice for the sake of showing Christ's love to others. How is God calling you to become that instruments of love in the world. Let's pray for the guide. Apart from you we recognize that there is no love. Apart from you we recognize that there is nothing that we can do to satisfy our heavenly father. There's nothing that we can do to make us right enough.
It's a father the starting point for each and every one of us. Is to reach out to you and to confess this great need.
The Lord is the scriptures make clear.
Jesus become all that we need.
in your death and in your Resurrection
you have overcome death.
You have given us the gift of eternal life. Help us to live that eternal life now in ways that compel others to see in to know the fullness of Your Love. Not because we speak it.
but because it is Who We Are being filled with your very presence the fire of the Holy Spirit.
Lord help us to be agents of Your Love in This Dark World in Jesus name. Amen.