AND not OR

 

Often we hear the question, “Are you a Mary or a Martha?” However, scripture refers to Mary and Martha – not Mary or Martha. We are not required to live exclusively like Mary or Martha. We are given the privilege of exemplifying character traits of both women.

Mary and Martha were sisters. Although closely related, they had very different personalities. If I were to choose a scripture to describe Mary, I would quote Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God.” For Martha, I would select Mark 16:15, “Go into all the world….”

Martha was frequently looked down upon because of a conversation she had with Jesus in Luke 10. Jesus had come to the home of Mary, Martha and Lazarus for a visit. Martha was frustrated because Mary exclusively spent time with Jesus while she had to prepare the whole meal by herself. In Luke 10:40, Martha asked, Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her to help me!Jesus’ responded in verses 41-42, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things. But only one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, and it will not be taken away from her.

When Jesus came to their home, each woman chose how she would honor their guest. Mary chose to sit with Jesus and listen to His wisdom. She wanted to learn everything possible from the man who was her Savior and Lord. According to Romans 11:6, we are saved by grace, not by works. She was hungry for spiritual nourishment. Martha chose to prepare a meal for Jesus and His disciples. She wanted to nourish their physical hunger.

Jesus complimented Mary for making a good choice. Today, a person with a Mary personality would desire to spend time with Jesus through praise and prayer. According to Psalm 22:3, the Lord inhabits the praises of His people. Psalm 100:2 tells us to “Serve the LORD with gladness; come into His presence with joyful songs. Verse 4 goes on to say, “Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and bless His name.

Martha’s actions concerned Jesus only because she allowed responsibility to take priority over relationship. Serving is not a bad option. An individual with Martha traits today might remember James 2:26, “As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead.” Paul exhorts in I Thessalonians 5:13-14, “Now, we ask you, brothers, to respect these who work hard among you,… Hold them in highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other.

Like Mary and Martha, we have a choice. Jesus says in Revelation 3:20, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with Me.How will we choose to honor Jesus when we answer His knock on our heart’s door?

Will we want to spend One on one time with Him? If so, we may make our choice based upon Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:6, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.We may also validate our choice according to Jesus’ words in John 6:35. “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to Me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in Me will never be thirsty.


Our other option would be to express our love for Jesus by satisfying and gratifying physical needs of others. This decision may be based upon Isaiah 58:10. If you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.We might also remember the conversation in Matthew 25:37-40. “Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’”


It is good for us to begin our day sitting at Jesus’ feet and studying the Word. Then we will be ready to put feet to our faith while fulfilling our responsibilities. Works are not the reason for salvation. Works are the evidence of salvation. James 2:17 NLT points out, “So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.

We are not required to just make a one-time choice of being a Martha or a Mary. God created each of us to be a mixture of Martha and Mary. Does your character better exemplify one woman over another? God has placed within you specific gifts and talents. Embrace who God created you to be. Do not be jealous of a Mary if you are more of a Martha. Do not look down upon a Martha if you have more of a Mary personality. Some say we need to have a Mary heart in a Martha world. We each must discern what is required of us in a particular situation. Sometimes we need to strengthen our spiritual heart like Mary. Other times we need to manifest our servant heart like Martha.

Matthew 6:33 NLT is a good scripture for us to remember. “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously.Our life’s goal should be I Corinthians 16:14. “Do everything in love.

 

 

 

 

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God’s Got It!

Fact #1 – I’ve got a problem.
Fact #2 – God’s got it.

Which fact is more powerful? Which fact is foremost in your mind?

Personally, I know God’s got it, but often my mind meditates more upon the specific problem I am facing. I will pray, “God, help me as I encounter this current challenge.” Then my mind meanders to the details of the sticky situation. I end up trying to tell God how to resolve this negative issue. I’ve got the problem in my hands rather than placing the problem in God’s hands!

My Reader, does this scenario sound familiar to you? Most of us will have to admit we can identify with this train of thought.

If you know how to worry, you know how to meditate…” These words were part of a post by Pure Glory 8/7/19 entitled Meditation from Your Heart.  Since most of us have the tendency to worry, we should redirect our focus. May we say with David in Psalm 19:14, “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.Don’t worry – God’s got it.

When facing a conflict, our human tendency is to focus upon our problem rather than upon God’s nature. What happens in the natural realm can overpower what we believe spiritually. We must choose carefully what we allow to dominate our thinking. We do well when we remember such promises as Lamentations 3:22-23, “The LORD’S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease,  For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.

We would be wise to replace our worries with worship. Then we will remember God’s got it.

David spent more time worshiping than worrying. He encountered many difficult times while fleeing from King Saul. Yet, he focused upon God and His faithfulness. Let’s look at Psalm 31. I encourage you to read the entire Psalm but I will highlight a few verses. David begins by crying out to the Lord.  Verses 1-2, “In You, O LORD, I take refuge; let me never be put to shame; save me by Your righteousness. Incline Your ear to me; come quickly to my rescue. Be my rock of refuge, the stronghold of my deliverance.In verse 7 he continues to praise the Lord while admitting he is in trouble. “I will be glad and rejoice in Your loving devotion, for You have seen my affliction; You have known the anguish of my soul.In verse 10 David admits, “my life is consumed with grief and my years with groaning; my iniquity has drained my strength, and my bones are wasting away.However, by verses 14-15 he declares, “But I trust in You, O LORD; I say, ‘You are my God.’ My times are in Your hands; deliver me from my enemies and from those who pursue me.David concludes with verses 22-24, In my alarm I said, ‘I am cut off from Your sight!’ But You heard my plea for mercy when I called to You for help. Love the LORD, all His saints. The LORD preserves the faithful, but fully repays the arrogant. Be strong and courageous, all you who hope in the LORD.We find both worry and worship in David’s words. However, worship overpowers worry.

James and Paul wrote New Testament letters. Both encountered adversities. However, they were able to find positive results from negative circumstances. They were speaking from experience when they wrote the following verses.

James 1:2-4 tells us, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:12 goes on to say, “Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.

Paul writes in Romans 5:3-5, “we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

In Qualities of a Spiritual Warrior, Graham Cooke says that with every new situation there is a fresh provision. However, while taking on new responsibilities, we tend to not raise our faith to the new available level. Spiritual worship helps to overcome natural worries.

Cooke writes, “God knows our journey better than we do, and He has strategically placed a provision next to every problem, obstacle and opposition.” God’s got it! He also stresses that our confidence must be in God’s nature, not just His power.

I like Cooke’s phrases that we are to be “patiently confident and confidently patient.” May we remember Philippians 1:6, “being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

We will have problems. God has solutions. Our responsibility is to “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.according to Proverbs 3:5-6. God’s got it!

 

 

God of All

Do you realize that God wants to be as intimately involved in your life as He was in the lives of those recorded in scripture? A friend recently pointed out how reassuring it was knowing that we serve the same God whom Abraham, Isaac and Jacob served. This knowledge can be a validation for who God is. It may even give you a reason to trust God.

While thinking about some of these men and women of faith, we will highlight how God intervened in their lives. Then we will think about how we can relate to these individuals.

Abraham, Isaac and Jacob
These men are often referred to as the patriarchs of our faith. God cares about families and lineage and heritage. God first revealed Himself as the God of these three men when He spoke to Moses through a burning bush. God said in Exodus 3:6, I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.
God cares about your family. Do you have grandparents and parents who set a Christian example for you? Thank God for them! Maybe you are the first one in your ancestry to become a believer. Blaze the trail for future generations.

Moses and Joshua
God called Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egyptian slavery. Joshua was their leader when they entered the Promised Land.
Who has God used to lead you to Jesus and out of sin’s bondage? Who may become a believer in the promises of God because of your influence?

Ruth
Ruth was a Moabite. She did not believe in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Because of the influence of her mother-in-law, Naomi, Ruth became a believer. She says in Ruth 1:16, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.
As a believer, you are a witness for Christ. You may be unaware of your influence upon those around you. Is there someone specific to whom you are called to be a witness?

Isaiah and Jeremiah
These two men are examples of the Old Testament prophets. Prophets foretell and forth tell words of the Lord.
Prophecy is one of the nine gifts of the Spirit listed in I Corinthians 12:8-11. Do you have the gift of prophecy? If so, use it according to Romans 12:6. Paul says in Ephesians 4:1, “I urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling you have received.

Sarah, Hannah and Elizabeth
T
hese women had trouble conceiving a child. However, over time, God was faithful to answer their prayers.
Conception problems can be either physical or spiritual. Is there an area in your life where you are struggling to give birth to something new? Be encouraged by how God intervened in these women’s lives.

Mary the Mother of Jesus
An angel appeared to Mary and told her that she would give birth to a son named Jesus. Although Mary did not completely understand all that was happening or the significance of it, she carried Jesus within her body for nine months.
Have you asked Jesus into your heart but still have things of faith you do not understand? Just as Jesus grew in Mary’s body, your faith will also grow with time.

Matthew, Mark, Luke and John
These men are the authors of the four gospels. They wrote about the stories of Jesus’ earthly life. Their messages tell a spiritual history.
Your story, your testimony, tells His story in your life. It is your spiritual history. Your story becomes HIStory. Revelation 12:11 says, “They (believers) triumphed over him (satan) by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony.

Saul/Paul
This man’s story begins in the book of Acts. He was first named Saul, but later was known as Paul. Both his nature and name were changed when he encountered Jesus on his way to Damascus. He went from persecuting Christians to proclaiming Christ.
May you never quit praying for family and friends to personally encounter the Lord. Lives can be changed. Jeremiah 32:17 says, “Ah, Sovereign LORD, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for You.

Ephesians 4:4-5 says, “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” God is God and Father of us all! Just as God was God of each of these Biblical people, He wants to be Lord of your life. With which individual do you most identity? Which person gives you the hope that God is with you and understands your situation?

According to Hebrews 13:8, “Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever.” God wants to minister to you. He is alive. God knows everything – He is omniscient. God is in everything – He is omnipresent. God is working – He is omnipotent. All fo us learn of His faithfulness through stories recorded in His written word. What He has done in the past, He will continue to do.

May your faith and your confidence in God grow as you meditate upon what He has done for those who have gone before us. Hebrews 12:1 encourages us, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.

Gates: In and Out

I paused when I read Jesus’ words in John 10:9. “I am the gate.While I meditated upon these words, I also reflected upon my childhood experiences with a gate. Two gates. Did the gate have a similar function in both instances?

A gate allows for entrances and exits.

While growing up, we lived on a farm. Our home and surrounding yard were enclosed by a fence. The fence had a gate. The purpose of the gate was to keep children in and chickens out. Children benefited from the safety of a smaller space on a big farm. While chickens needed to roam freely, we did not want them destroyubg flowerbeds near the house.

Children in and chickens out. How does this apply to Jesus?

To fully understand the function of Jesus as a gate, we need to continue reading Jesus’ words in John 10:9. “I am the gate; whoever enters through Me will be saved.

I John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, He (Jesus) is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” When we are purified of unrighteousness, sin is out! In addition to forgiving our sins, Jesus also functions as a gate keeping sin out. Sin and chickens out!

Ephesians 1:13 says, “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit.Ephesians 5:18 goes on to say, “Be filled with the Spirit.” The Holy Spirit lives within us when we enter through the gate of Christ. Holy Spirit and children in!

Let’s think about what we want to keep within our lives and what we want to throw out when Jesus is the gate to our hearts.

Out with religion and in with relationship. We experience more intimacy with Jesus when we allow Him to be the gate of our heart. Our faith is no longer simply based upon obeying religious laws.

Our soul is composed of mind, will and emotions. All three are affected when Jesus is our gate.

According to I Corinthians 2:16, we can have the mind of Christ. This is possible when Jesus is the gate protecting our minds. I Corinthians 2:14 KNJV tells us “the natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him.However, verse 10 says that God reveals things to us by His Spirit. So, out with the natural mind and in with the spiritual mind.

Our will undergoes a change from “mine” to “Thine” when Jesus is our gate. Jesus taught us to pray to our Heavenly Father in Matthew 6:10, “Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.We must let go of our selfish desires and yield to the leading of the Holy Spirit.  This requires humility. Philippians 2:3 says, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or empty pride, but in humility consider others more important than yourselves.Romans 12:16 simply warns, “Do not be proud.” Ephesians 4:2 exhorts us, “Be completely humble and gentle.Out with pride and in with humility.

Our emotions are also affected when we allow Jesus to be our gate. Negative emotions must be replaced with positive ones. We want to kick out worry and fear. Philippians 4:6-7 NLT says, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.. . . Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.Jesus says in John 14:27 NLT, I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. . . . So don’t be troubled or afraid.Then I John 4:18 says, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear.Worry out and peace in. Fear out and love in.

As a child, I thought it was fun to swing back and forth on our farm gate. This activity defeated the gate’s purpose. Proverbs 4:23 NLT says, “Guard your heart above all else.Make sure Jesus, the gate, is in control of what enters and exists your heart. What we allow to enter our mind, will and emotions affects our spiritual life. Let us keep Jesus in our heart and listen to the leading of the Holy Spirit. The Bible warns us about vacillating (swinging back and forth) in our faith. Mark 11:23 encourages us not to doubt in our heart but believe.

Whether thinking about physical or spiritual structures, we always enter and exit through gates. Physical gates remind me that Jesus is our spiritual gate. A physical gate provides for children in and chickens out. A spiritual gate keeps sin out and allows the Holy Spirit in. Let’s keep our gates in place.

Seedlings

Our daughter loves gardening. While looking through seed catalogs, she decides what she wants to grow in her garden. Then she purchases the seeds. Zucchini – tomatoes – peppers – cucumbers.

Since warm weather is slow to arrive in New York state, she gets an early start by planting seeds indoors. Her seeds have become seedlings by the time she transplants them outdoors. I think the seedlings appreciate her TLC.

We can follow her example with spiritual seeds we plant in our hearts. Instead of looking through seed catalogs, we can look through our Bibles and find what seeds we most want to grow during the upcoming months. We, too, can give our spiritual seeds a head start by digging deeply into what scripture tells us about specific seeds.

Here are a few options of the spiritual seeds we can plant.

Faith
Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.Hebrews 11:1 NLT

Hope
For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.Romans 8:24-25
Hope is confident expectation.

Love
Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.I Corinthians 13:4-7

Forgiveness
Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.Colossians 3:13 NLT

Joy
This is the day the LORD has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.Psalm 118:24

Although Jill gives her plant babies proper attention and extra nutrients, her seedlings are still delicate. However, they are one step ahead of seeds planted directly into the ground. The seedlings must be handled with care.

We will be wise to give our spiritual seedlings a little extra TLC before we transplant them into the world around us. The sprouts of our spiritual seedlings are fragile. They need our attention. They cry out for nourishment and water. Revelation 22:17 says, “Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.II Corinthians 9:10 says, “Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness.

Once planted in the garden, our daughter’s vegetable seedlings grow rapidly with abundant sunshine and rain. However, weeds also grow. Jill now has a new project – pulling weeds. This is a continual part of gardening throughout the season.

Our spiritual seedlings also like Sonshine and heavenly rain. Ezekiel 36:25 promises. “I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols.” We will encounter weeds when are in the world. Ephesians 4:31-32 says, “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” In these verses we not only discover weeds that need to be uprooted but we also learn how to get rid of them. Acts 3:19 tells us, “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.” Yes! Let’s wipe out all the weeds that want to crop up in our hearts.

From one little zucchini seedling, Jill gets enough zucchini to make multiple loaves of zucchini bread, to serve many dinners that include some kind of zucchini dish, to eat it raw with humus, and still share some of her vegetable produce with us. One zucchini seed or seedling can grow into a plant that yields many zucchini.

Our harvest from a spiritual seedling has the same potential. For instance, let us take a little seedling of love that is allowed to grow to maturity. Ephesians 3:17-19 says, “so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. The amazing thing is that a spiritual seed or seedling grows best when shared with others. We want the fruit of our labor to be more than seedlings. We want fruitfulness!

Just as vegetable seedlings grow in fertile, watered and cared for ground, spiritual seedlings will sprout, grow and flourish in our hearts. I want to restate the last part of Ephesians 3:17 Living Letters,May your roots go down deep into the soil of God’s marvelous love.Let us nurture and care for these tender sprouts. However, may we not be content with just seedlings. May our plantings produce godly growth we can share with those around us.

Fear Not, Shepherds

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid;
for behold, I bring you good news of great joy
which will be for all the people;
Luke 2:10

Fear not! Fear not! Fear not! Fear not! This is the fourth week we have heard these words. We need to be reminded to not be afraid numerous times throughout our lives. It is easy for us to be overcome by fear. However, God wants us to replace fear with faith. Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” In the natural, we tend to become fearful of something we cannot see or understand. We feel anxious and uneasy. However, God wants us to trust Him regarding unseen things. He desires our respect and reverence.

Over the past few weeks, we have observed the evidence of God’s faithfulness to Zechariah, Mary and Joseph. They did not need to fear. Today we will study our final example – the shepherds.

It was dark. It was night. Shepherds were taking care of their sheep. Suddenly, the light of the glory of the Lord shone around them. Darkness disappeared and angels appeared. An angel spoke, “Do not be afraid.” The angel continued to tell the shepherds good news – the Savior of the world had been born.

So much for the shepherds to think about! I would like to have heard their conversation after encountering the angel. We only know that they decided to go see this newborn baby. (see Luke 2:16) Upon their arrival, the shepherds discovered that the prophecy of Isaiah 9:6 was fulfilled before their eyes, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” What a wonderful experience they encountered because they were not afraid!

The shepherds did not let fear prevent them from going to see Jesus. Neither should we allow fear to hinder us from developing a personal relationship with Jesus. Deuteronomy 31:8 tells us, “The LORD Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”

During the time the shepherds traveled from their flocks to Jesus, they exchanged scared fear for sacred fear. We, too, must let go of our terrifying fear and grasp hold of reverential fear. Proverbs 3:7 warns, “Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD.” Psalm 34:9 exhorts us, “Fear the LORD, you His holy people, for those who fear Him lack nothing.

Psalm 103:11 says, “For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who fear Him.” The heavens reveal the vastness of God love. While watching their sheep this particular night, the shepherds saw angels in addition to stars in the sky. The angels may have caused them to be fearful but God’s love helped them overcome their anxiety. Sacred fear is more powerful than scared fear. Psalm 103:17 gives us an awesome promise, “But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear Him, and His righteousness with their children’s children.

John Bevere explains that moving from fear to faith (reverential fear) involves an inner transformation of the heart. He goes on to say, “Holy fear gives God the place of glory, honor, reverence, thanksgiving, praise, and preeminence He deserves.” David asks in Psalm 56:1 NLT,I trust in God, so why should I be afraid? What can mere mortals do to me?We will deny God what He deserves if we focus upon being afraid of what mankind can do.

After seeing baby Jesus, Luke 2:20 NLT says, “The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen.” Their joy overflowed. When the shepherds refused to yield to emotional fear, they experienced reverential fear. Psalm 128:1 NLT declares, How joyful are those who fear the LORD–all who follow his ways! Now it is our turn to decide whether we will act out of fear or in faith. Psalm 145:3 NLT says, “Great is the LORD! He is most worthy of praise! No one can measure his greatness.”

In just a few days we will celebrate Christmas. Let us exchange fear for fear. Celebrate the birth of our Savior and Lord with reverential awe and adoration. He is Emmanuel – God with us! Psalm 147:11 says, “The LORD delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in His unfailing love.”

Fear Not, Joseph

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.
Matthew 1:20

 

We are now in our third week of Advent – preparing our hearts and homes for the celebration of Jesus’ birth. Joseph is the next Christmas character we will consider who faced fear.

Mary had broken the news to Joseph that she was pregnant by the Holy Spirit. He had to decide what he was going to do. Being a righteous man, he considered quietly divorcing Mary as his way of getting out of this predicament. God had other plans and He needed to get Joseph’s attention.

God spoke to Joseph a dream.

Let’s think a little more about dreams. The Lord says in Joel 2:28-29, I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; and your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on the male and female servants I will pour out My Spirit in those days.Chronologically, Joseph was a young man. However, I believe his spiritual maturity qualified him as an older man. Joseph’s dream was a fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy. This prophecy was also fulfilled at Pentecost. (See Acts 2:17.) The Holy Spirit still speaks through dreams. Be alert. The Lord may choose to help you overcome fear through a dream.

God gave Joseph instructions through a dream – and he obeyed. Joseph’s obedience is a good example for us. Jesus says in Luke 11:28, “Blessed are those who hear the word of God and obey it.”

Since God could trust Joseph to hear and obey, He spoke to him three more times through dreams. Each time the Lord gave Joseph further guidance. There accounts are found in Matthew 2:1-12, Matthew 2:16-18 and Matthew 2:22. Joseph’s encounter with the Spirit of God was not a one time experience. The Holy Spirit also came upon the disciples more than once. Acts 13:62 NASB says, “And the disciples were continually filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.” The Holy Spirit wants to speak to us as well. And, He will speak to us numerous times!

Last week we emphasized that Mary became pregnant by the Holy Spirit. This week we find Joseph was guided and instructed by the Holy Spirit. Both of them listened to the Spirit. Joseph was not fearful because he was not afraid of what God was doing.

Joseph entrusted Mary’s life as well as his own into the hands of God. Joseph felt no reason to fear the Spirit’s work – neither should we. Hebrews 13:5 NLT declares, “So we can say with confidence, ‘The LORD is my helper, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?’”

Jesus tells us in John 14:16, “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.Different translations use different words to describe the Holy Spirit – Advocate, Counselor, Comforter, Helper. All these terms help us understand the role of the Holy Spirit.

God had a plan for Joseph. Joseph was an integral part of the birth of Jesus. God also has a plan for each of us. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” With this promise, we need not be afraid. We are simply to be open to the leading of the Holy Spirit. Georgio A. Dano has said, “Fear ends where faith begins.”