This Sunday we’re going to be considering the account of Jesus’ birth. I’ve been thinking about the faith of Joseph this week. Russell Moore, in his book, Adopted for Life, makes the point that we tend to give Joseph supporting actor status in the drama that’s unfolding at the beginning of the gospel. But think about Joseph. While it’s impossible to know exactly how old he was we can say that he was definitely young. Prior to Mary’s unexpected pregnancy he was traveling the path of normal life. He had a job. He was about to be married. Things were progressing according to plan.
Then Mary turns up pregnant with an explanation that was as hard to believe then as it would be today. Believing God’s Word to him in a dream Joseph accepts by faith the task set before him. Moore states the consequences like this:
“In believing God, Joseph probably walks away from his reputation. The wags in his hometown would probably always whisper about how ‘poor Joseph was hoodwinked by that girl’ or how ‘Joseph got himself in trouble with that girl.’ Joseph certainly walks away from economic security. Joseph surrenders a household economy, a vocation probably built up over generations and handed down to him by his father.”
Put yourself at 17 or 18 years old in Joseph’s shoes. How would you or I have responded to such a dramatic change in our life plans? How would you have felt sitting in a smelly cave filled with animals while your brand new wife was in labor with a child you didn’t help conceive? What about when you were fleeing to Egypt because a crazy king wanted to kill that baby?
To me, Joseph is an excellent example of Jesus’ words in Mark 8:35, “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.” Joseph quite literally lost his life, the life he had planned, for the sake of Jesus. Joseph’s life is a stunning example of faith and an illustration that God is and is a rewarder of those who seek Him.
We’ve been working hard to get the media section of the website up and running. As of last night we have the last 3 sermons available. We didn’t get the first one because of “technical difficulties.” You can go check it out here.
I’ll give a word of explanation. Circumstances led us to start our church a little sooner than we had originally planned. What would have originally been core group meetings have turned into Sunday morning worship services. I chose to study I Timothy first because Paul tells Timothy in 3:15 that he hopes to come to visit shortly, but in the meantime he is writing “so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth.” Obviouslythis information is valuable to a brand new church. Hopefully, as you listen you can get a feel for the type of church we hope to become.
Even better, come join us on Sunday and check us out in person.
This is a pretty good summary of what I was trying to communicate on Sunday. Are you a person who demonstrates with your daily life that it is a privilege and not a bondage to be a Christian?
“Happiness is the gift of God—but that there is the closest connection between full following of God and full happiness, let no person for an instant doubt. A hopeful growing believer has the witness within himself. He walks in the full light of the sun, and therefore he generally feels bright and warm. He does not quench the Spirit by continual inconsistencies, and so the fire within him seldom burns low. He has great peace, because he really loves God’s law, and all who see him are obliged to allow that it is a privilege—and not a bondage—to be a Christian. Oh the comfort of a tender conscience, a godly jealousy, a close walk with God—a heavenly frame of mind! The Lord make us all of such a spirit.” ~ J.C. Ryle
From: J.C. Ryle Quotes
Thanksgiving week was a little rough in the Cleland household. Over a five day stretch we had a near tragedy in swimming pool and our car was broken into. Now I’d like to think we work hard to keep ourselves and our things safe. We put locks on our doors. We wash our hands. We teach our children to stay out of the street. But in spite of our best efforts to stay safe healthy people get sick and things get stolen. I simply can’t build a house secure enough to protect from every natural disaster. There are things in this world I can’t control.
In I Timothy 1:19 Paul instructs Timothy to keep faith and a good conscience lest he suffer shipwreck in regard to his faith. There is real spiritual danger lurking around every corner. Only with the eyes of faith do I even know that I have real spiritual enemies. The great danger of the Christian life is doctrinal or moral failure.
Here’s what strikes me: we work hard and expend our resources to protect our loved ones and things from the dangers we CAN see with no real assurances that we’ll ever be safe. Shouldn’t we work even harder and expend more resources to protect ourselves and our loved ones from spiritual dangers? At the very least I can know that by keeping faith and a good conscience I will be truly safe.
If I let myself, I can imagine some truly terrifying scenarios in this world. But all of them should pale in comparison to the prospect of finding my faith shipwrecked. To fail to lock my house carefully or invest my money wisely may cause me to lose my money and things. An intruder may even be found in my house waiting to make my life. But contrast that scenario with the consequences of failing to guard my faith or my conscience before God. From an eternal perspective this would be infinitely more disastrous.
Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. (Matthew 10:28)