This post title been the series topic at Spotswood Baptist Church, Fredericksburg, Virginia this December. It is our third December to be here and enjoy this amazing Pastor. He just knows how to get the message across in a Biblical and relevant way!
We actually missed the first sermon because we were taking care of our youngest grandson who was sick (and we each caught that nasty stomach virus that has been around the country). We had our oldest grandson with us for the second sermon, he’s pictured here on his way there. Having him snuggled up against me, prevented me from taking notes or even downloading the sermon outline. Otherwise, I would have written that sermon us as well!
Today (December 18, 2016), I was able to take notes, download the outline and write in my Bible! And so funny, I know we were here in this church the last three years (and he preached from these same scriptures) because I noted it in the margins of my Bible. I usually write in the date of the sermon, if we are visiting a church, write its name. I guess that is why the Bible is referred to as God’s LIVING Word. It is alive and speaks to you in a different way each time you read it.
So what is Christmas? And who could miss it? The previous sermon messages talked about how we can get so caught up in the shopping, parties, dealing with life issues (such as the flu or colds) and sadly, so many people are also grieving over the loss of loved ones, or are watching loved ones struggle with life-threatening health issues. It’s very easy to miss Christmas. In fact, today’s sermon was about one such man who almost missed it!
Christmas is about the Birth of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and my personal Savior. Here is the story of His birth, Matthew 1:18-25:
Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:
“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.
The sermon outline will be in bold, below, with my notes and comments based upon what I was learning:
“A Plan Without Knowing the Plans of God is Always a Bad Plan.” What a great premise to start the sermon with. And Joseph was one such man. Notice when he discovered his beloved Mary was with child, he didn’t go to the Lord and pray, “Lord, what should I do?” No, he only had his own plan, he’d just resolved to divorce her quietly (he was technically betrothed to her as were the customs of the day.) So his plan was bad, but as God is able, He helped convince Joseph He had another plan, a better one! How many of us are like Joseph?
“LIFE WILL INVITE YOU TO LIVE IN CRISIS MODE.” Oh my, Bill keeps asking me to say this again as we go about our day. Aren’t we all in some sort of crisis mode? I know we have had more Decembers with major crisis than not….And then we hear about Joseph. Wasn’t he in some sort of crisis mode when he learned his beloved was pregnant? But he like so many of us, didn’t go to the Lord for HIS help!
“Don’t be afraid to listen to God.” Deep down, we all know what we are supposed to do, but the crisis of life tends to keep us from using our common sense, or from seeking the Lord – just as Joseph didn’t! Where can we hear from God? Daily Bible reading, attending church, Bible studies, surrounding yourself with other believers, people who will support and encourage you.
“Trust God.” Wow, don’t you think Joseph had to wonder how could this turn out to be a positive event? But for those of us who believe in God, we have to trust Him that he does have things under control. Even when they seem so out of control. God proved this to me over and over. While my dad lay dying of undiagnosed cancer, God seemed to send the right person at the right time to encourage us and to show us He care about us. Sadly, dad didn’t survive but we felt God’s arms around us every step of the way.
“God may be doing something bigger than you ever considered.” Oh yes, He does have a master plan. We can’t see the forest for the trees, but God is there. Little did Joseph know the role the baby he named Jesus, in obedience to God, would be his earthly son, but his Heavenly Father would guide His life!
“CHRISTMAS IS ABOUT FAITH.” Oh yes, what faith we must have to believe in this Christmas story. But God proves Himself to me every day so my faith comes easy. But there was a time when I didn’t have that faith. My mother-in-law used to say that Christmas was every day year around! I loved her faith, but she was talking more about how people buy themselves whatever they need year around. It’s not about the presents, about what He presented to us!
“God didn’t tell Joseph everything.” And He doesn’t tell us either. Joseph had to just walk his faith and we need to do the same thing. I couldn’t help but think about how I lost faith and hope in our marriage. But God made it clear to me, that once I divorced Bill (my plan without God), I was going to have to reconcile with him. Just think, had we not remarried, we never would have shared the JOY we have with our grandsons!
“God made his love for Joseph clear.” God was taking care of Joseph in ways he couldn’t imagine! And He provided a way for him to keep following God’s directions. Let’s continue with how God would provide:
.…After the Wise Men had listened to the king, they went on their way. The star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them. It finally stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were filled with joy. The Wise Men went to the house. There they saw the child with his mother Mary. They bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures. They gave him gold, frankincense and myrrh. (Matthew 2:9-10)
….When the Wise Men had left, Joseph had a dream. In the dream an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph. “Get up!” the angel said. “Take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you to come back. Herod is going to search for the child. He wants to kill him.”
So Joseph got up. During the night, he left for Egypt with the child and his mother Mary. They stayed there until King Herod died. So the words the Lord had spoken through the prophet came true. He had said, “I brought my son out of Egypt.” (Matthew 2:13-15)
“Faith is the Biblical Response to God’s Love.” Joseph obeyed what seemed like a crazy request from God, but God had provided a means for him to travel and to support his family until Herod would die and it would be safe for them to return home. And somehow, God provided for us when we restored our marriage and our family!
“Joseph obeyed.” If Joseph hadn’t obeyed, he would have missed Christmas! Isn’t it amazing to think about the faith that Joseph had to have to remain with Mary? And then to take on such a big trip with a new born and to a strange land?
“Joseph Learned Things About God He Would Have Never Learned if He Disobeyed God Instead of Obeying.” What about us? I know I have learned more about God when I have obeyed Him. But even in my disobedience, by my faith, He has been there for me and for my family.
We’ve been asked each Sunday, “What do you really want for Christmas?” Bill and I both have the same desire. We are praying together and are having faith, God is at work! Have you thought about what you REALLY want?
May you have a very Merry Christmas! You don’t want to miss it!
If you would like to hear this and the other sermons, click here.