Are you like Joseph?

josephs-dilemma-22-dec16-6-638We have spent the last 11 days looking at Mary and her relatives Elizabeth and Zechariah.  Today let’s look at Joseph and his attitudes and character. Matthew 1:18-25 gives the account of Joseph’s learning the news of his betrothed wife’s condition and what he thought and planned to do about it.

18 This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit.19 Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.  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.”  22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).  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 did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.  (NIV)

Scripture describes Joseph as a man who was faithful to the law, other translations use the word righteous or just.  Being a religious and faithful Jew, Joseph tried to follow the Law and he knew that a public announcement of Mary’s condition would bring upon her the penalty for infidelity which was death by stoning. Deuteronomy 22:23-24  He also knew he could quietly divorce her and save her shame and death.    He was compassionate, merciful or gracious towards Mary and decided to divorce her without announcing it publicly.  However, an angel of the Lord came to him in a dream and told him how Mary got pregnant and that her child would be the Messiah, the one who would save them from their sins.  Joseph knew the Old Testament prophecies about the coming Messiah and that he was to be born of a virgin.  Joseph believed the angel without question and awoke to follow his instructions with genuine obedience.

Like Mary, Joseph immediately set out to follow the Lord’s commands and took Mary as his wife.  By being obedient to the Lord, he opened himself to criticism and ridicule from friends and neighbors that he had caused her condition.  By being obedient to the Lord, he put himself in a position to receive abundant blessings from God.  He was to be the earthly father of Jesus, the one God was sending to save them.  He was to have the privilege to raise God’s Son in his house, live with him day to day, teach him how to work with wood as a carpenter, to guide and love him.  Just like Mary, Joseph considered following God and being obedient to the Lord of utmost importance.  Luke 11:28   Jesus said,  “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”  Joseph heard from the angel what God desired and he immediately followed the Lord.

What about you?  Are you willing to risk your reputation for the Lord?  Will you speak out and proclaim Him as Lord even when it might be unpopular?  Examine your heart today and seek to follow Jesus with faith and obedience, trusting Him in all things.  You will find blessing just as Jesus promises.

Striving to be a faithful obedient follower of Jesus,

Linda

Shout it out, Jesus is coming!

advent prepareZechariah’s Song has a second part.  Zechariah started in yesterday’s scripture, Luke 1:68-75, with praise to God for who He is and what He has done then continued in Luke 1:76-79 prophesying about his little son they had just circumcised.

 

And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High;    (prophet of God)
    for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him,   (be a preparer)
   to give his people the knowledge of salvation            (preach the need for repentance)
    through the forgiveness of their sins,
   because of the tender mercy of our God,           (why Jesus came- to show God’s mercy)
    by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven
   to shine on those living in darkness            (bring light into dark world)
    and in the shadow of death,                  (bring life not death)
  to guide our feet into the path of peace.”           (be our guide and bring peace)

Zechariah’s Song reveals the place his John would have in preparing the way for Messiah, Jesus.  Isaiah had also foretold the message of one to come who we know to be Zechariah’s John.  Isaiah 40:3-5 was written centuries before John’s birth.                              A voice of one calling:             (a pro-claimer of coming Messiah)  
“In the wilderness prepare       (a wilderness dweller)
    the way for the Lord;
make straight in the desert          (preparing hearts with repentance)
    a highway for our God.Isaiah40
 Every valley shall be raised up,
    every mountain and hill made low;
the rough ground shall become level,
    the rugged places a plain.
And the glory of the Lord will be revealed,  (Jesus will reveal God’s glory)
    and all people will see it together.”            (everyone will see Jesus)

This prophesy was made famous as sung in Handel’s Messiah describing the one who was to come and prepare the way for the Lord Jesus’ ministry.  He was to proclaim that Jesus was coming and the need to prepare their hearts by repentance and openness towards God’s coming revelation.  The last line of Luke 1:80 tells us “And the child grew and became strong in spirit; and he lived in the wilderness until he appeared publicly to Israel.”    John was literally one from the wilderness calling the Jews to repent and be ready for Messiah to come.

What part of John’s character does Jesus want us to emulate?  John was a herald in the ancient world that proclaimed the arrival of a coming king.  Do you take opportunities to testify about Jesus and why He came?  Christmas season is a perfect time to proclaim His coming.  Our message to the world is the same as John’s -repent, turn to Jesus and see the glory of God revealed.  Jesus saves and we need to proclaim it.

Be a voice today.  Psalm 107:2 Let the redeemed of the Lord say so,
    whom he has redeemed from trouble”    

say soBe bold and speak out about Jesus!

Linda

Do you have a ‘Song’ of Hope?

In today’s scripture we see and hear Zechariah being filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesying about Jesus.  This is often called ‘Zechariah’s Song’.  After being mute for 9+months, seeing and hearing from the angel Gabriel, realizing his own fears and doubts, seeing his Lord and God perform a great miracle in his life by giving him a child in his old age to raise and knowing he and Elizabeth were part of God’s merciful plan to bring redemption to mankind, Zechariah was overwhelmed by God.  The Lord used him to proclaim about His coming son and what He would accomplish.                                             savior to come“Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel,
    because he has come to his people and redeemed them.
 He has raised up a horn of salvation for us
    in the house of his servant David
 (as he said through his holy prophets of long ago),
 salvation from our enemies
    and from the hand of all who hate us—
 to show mercy to our ancestors
    and to remember his holy covenant,
  the oath he swore to our father Abraham:
to rescue us from the hand of our enemies,
    and to enable us to serve him without fear
   in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.  Luke 1:68-75

Jesus, this savior to come, would redeem His people.  He would be a strong king and save us from our enemies.  He would be merciful and keep the promises made by God the Father.  Jesus would rescue us and enable us to serve Him in holiness and righteousness.  What a wonderful Savior Zechariah was proclaiming.  Jesus fulfilled all these prophesies and more.  Today as you go about your day meditate on Jesus and what He means to you.  What would your own song look and sound like to Jesus?   1 Peter 3:15 ” But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,”   Jesus wants us prepared to tell about Him and the hope He gives.  May you find someone to share this Hope with today in a gentle and respectful way.   Just speak kindly from your heart and let the Holy Spirit do His work in their hearts.  Be a pro-claimer of HOPE  just like Zechariah.

Hope-Verse-7Looking to share about Jesus,

Linda

Zechariah speaks!

If you had been unable to speak for 9+ months, what would be the first words you would utter?  Zechariah’s first words were praise to God.  His disbelief in God’s power to give him a son in his old age brought judgement from the angel Gabriel.  Luke 1:18-20.  Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.”   The angel said to him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news.  And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their appointed time.”

In today’s passage, Elizabeth’s baby boy is 8 days old and was ready to be circumcised.  This would begin his entrance into God’s family and the Old Testament Covenant with God.    Luke-1_63On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him after his father Zechariah,  but his mother spoke up and said, “No! He is to be called John.”  They said to her, “There is no one among your relatives who has that name.”   Then they made signs to his father, to find out what he would like to name the child.  He asked for a writing tablet, and to everyone’s astonishment he wrote, “His name is John.”  Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue set free, and he began to speak, praising God.    Zechariah had learned his lesson and knew to follow exactly what the angel had told him to do.  They were to name the child John.   Immediately upon making this declaration, Zechariah was able to speak.  He had waited 9 long months to profess his faith and trust in God.  Scripture tells us Zechariah’s speaking got the whole neighborhood talking about Zechariah, Elizabeth and who this child will turn out to be!

What lesson has God taught you that brought you into and through a time of silence?   Did you emerge victorious and praising God like Zechariah?   We learned earlier from Mary and Elizabeth that obedience brings blessing.  Zechariah learned this too as he came out of his time of testing to blessings.  He had a new son to raise, knew that his son was favored by God and would accomplish great things for God.  His faith was renewed and confirmed as he knew who God was and what He could do in his life.  Ask God to show you His direction and step out in obedience.  You will be blessed.

Looking to Jesus for victory in my life,

Linda

 

Friendship=love and support

Eliz and MaryOur focus today is one small verse, Luke 1:56  “Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home.”  Since John and Jesus were cousins, Elizabeth and Zachariah must have been Mary’s Aunt and Uncle.  They were older and earlier in the chapter Luke described them,  “Elizabeth was not able to conceive, and they were both very old.”  Mary was a young virgin probably about the age of 16.  Zachariah had been struck mute for his disbelief at the news of their coming child so this was a quiet household.  We were told in verse 26  “In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy,” the angel came and gave the news to Mary that she was to be the mother of the long awaited Messiah.  A few days after receiving the news Mary went to see Elizabeth. 39 “At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, 40 where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth.”  Mary would have stayed with Elizabeth until she was about ready to deliver and then returned home.

What does this tell us about these women?  Elizabeth was Mary’s confidant.  They shared the joy and expectations for their coming children as to what life would be like for them, their families and what the children would accomplish for God.  These were things that they could not share with anyone else.  They comforted one another as Mary helped Elizabeth in her last months of pregnancy and talked with her as Zachariah was mute.  They enjoyed a friendship and companionship as women.  Elizabeth was undoubtedly a mentor, a wise adviser, teacher and coach.  Mary had gone to Elizabeth for comfort and understanding and she gave support and love in return.

What about you?  Do you have friends that you confide in?  Do you seek their comfort and help in times of stress or confusion?  How do you support one another?  God calls us to be in relationships with others just as He desires we are in relationship with Him.  There are many places in scripture where we are commanded to love and support one another as friends.  In John 13:34-35 Jesus said, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”  Who do you have in your life that you call friend that you can share your hopes, dreams, problems, confusions and faith in God?  Mary had Elizabeth to turn to at this time in her life, what about you?

i-didnt-find-my-friends-the-good-lord-gave-them-to-me-quote-1Friends are a true gift from God.  I have a dear friend, Joan, who God brought into my life when we were young married women.  We have worshiped, studied, prayed, played and enjoyed one another’s company over the years.  When hard times came, we supported one another, stood by each other’s side as we cried and shared a hope found only in Christ.  I know that no matter what,  I can call on her and seek her help, comfort and support.  I think this is the kind of love and support Elizabeth and Mary gave to each other as ‘sister’ in Christ.   If you have a supportive sister or brother in Christ, let them know how much they mean to you today.  Give them a call, send them a note or have a cup of coffee with them and share.  God has given them to you just as He gave Elizabeth and Mary each other.

Praising God for His provision of friends,

Linda 

 

Gratitude and Honor

pearl harborToday is the anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor – December 7, 1941.  It began 76 years ago at 7:55 am.  If you have visited the Memorial over the sunken Arizona where the sailors are still entombed, you are sobered by their sacrifice.  War is a terrible thing yet through it men rise to honor and sacrifice for their fellow men.   Over 2,400 were killed and 1,000 wounded that day.  The most causalities occurred on the USS Arizona as it was hit 4 times by Japanese bombers.  A piece of trivia- 37 confirmed pairs or trios of brothers were assigned to the Arizona and this battle cost 62 of these 77 men their lives and 23 sets of brothers died.  I can’t imagine the grief those families suffered all in one day.   President Franklin D. Roosevelt described it as “a date that will live in infamy.”  Just like September 11, 2001 will live on in our minds so should December 7th.

05 Duty, Honor, SacrificeSay a prayer of gratitude today for the sacrifices these men and other brave men who continue to sacrifice their lives, time, talents and family time for our freedom.

Seeking to honor their sacrifice and service.

Linda

Mary’s praise- can you?

mary's greatnessLuke 1:46-55 is called the Magnificat and is Mary’s confession of praise to God.  Think of this young girl,  chosen to be the mother of Jesus, and her amazing faith in God.  She knew who God was and what He can do.  She knew the character of God and trusted it completely.

46 And Mary said:

“My soul glorifies the Lord                     I am here to serve and honor God.
47     and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has been mindful                                            God is omniscient.
    of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
49     for the Mighty One has done great things for me—    
    holy is his name.                                                          God is holy.
50 His mercy extends to those who fear him,          God is merciful.
    from generation to generation.
51 He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;    God is powerful.
    he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
52 He has brought down rulers from their thrones    God is sovereign.
    but has lifted up the humble.
53 He has filled the hungry with good things           God is our preserver.
    but has sent the rich away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,                       God is forgiving.
    remembering to be merciful                 
55 to Abraham and his descendants forever,      God is eternal.
    just as he promised our ancestors.”

What would your song of praise look and sound like?  What part of His character fills you with such awe and wonder that you can’t do anything but praise Him?  Ponder who God is, what He has done and promises to do for you in the future and let Him hear you praise.

Prayer:  Lord, thank you that I can come to you and raise my voice in praise. You are indeed worthy and I am humbled that You love and care for me.  You are………………. (you fill in the blank with your words of praise and adoration)     Amen.

Desiring to raise my voice in praise today,

Linda

Expectation, a good thing to have

The angel Gabriel told Mary in Luke 1:36 that her cousin Elizabeth was pregnant in her old age- an impossible miracle of God.  A few days after hearing what God had planned for her future, Mary went to see Elizabeth.  “When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.  In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear!   But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?   As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.   Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”  Luke 1:41-45

faith expectationElizabeth greets Mary with a sense of wonder and awe that she was blessed to be chosen of God to bear the Messiah.  She proclaims her faith in God and revels in the expectation of what God will do within Mary.    Her expectation is affirmed by her own baby leaping within her.

When was the last time you were filled with expectation for God?  Do you pray expecting God to answer?  Do you anticipate with joy the things God will do?  Hebrews 11:1 tells us “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”   prayer expectationElizabeth was sure that God could and would accomplish His purpose and that Mary would be blessed for her obedience.  Seek to capture some of Elizabeth’s joy and conviction in your life today.  Know that God’s will will be accomplished in your life and that He cares for you.  Cling to Jeremiah 29:11  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.   God has good things, a purpose and plan for you just as He did for Mary and Elizabeth.  With faith, Trust Him in expectation today.

Seeking to walk with expectation and hope,

Linda

Mary’s Blessings

I wanted to take another look at Mary’s Obedience today.  We saw from scripture yesterday that Mary’s response to Gabriel’s message was one of wonder, submission and obedience, however, scripture also teaches that God’s response to obedience is blessing.  How was Mary blessed?   Gabriel spoke to Mary and elaborated on her mission.   Luke 1:30-33 “And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.  And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.  He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David,  and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”     She was to be the mother of the long awaited Messiah, the Son of God,  whose kingdom will be forever.  After Mary asked her question as to how this was possible, Gabriel graciously gave her more information to reassure her.  And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born  will be called holy—the Son of God.   And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren.   For nothing will be impossible with God.”  And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. (verses 35-38)   She was to be visited by the Holy Spirit,  her child would be the Son of God and her cousin Elizabeth was going to bear a child a child in her old age.  All of these things are impossible for man but possible with God.  

step to obedienceMary was open to God’s will in her life and willing to trust God with her future.  Her willingness to follow where God was leading caused her to be mightily blessed.  She is revered as the Mother of our Lord and Savior, had the joy of raising Jesus and teaching him in their family, watching him grow and develop into a man of purpose and direction fully obedient to God.    Jesus spoke to his disciples about love and obedience in John 15: 10-11 “If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.  These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.  Obedience or doing as God directs  brings fullness of joy into our lives and brings joy to the Lord.  Mary experienced this love and joy in her life because she was obedient to God. 

Can you remember a time when obedience brought blessing into your life?  God wants to shower us with blessing and the fullness of His joy.  It is a promised result of obedience to Him.  Seek God and ask Him what He would have you do, then move forward with an obedient heart.  Watch out!  You will be showered with blessings and great joy!

obedience blessingStriving to walk in obedience to Him,

Linda 

 

 

Mary’s Obedience

10-crossroads-faith-doubtMary’s lesson to us for today is to choose obedience when confronted with confusion, worry or fear not doubt.  Mary faced the crossroad where doubt and faith meet. The angel Gabriel appeared to Mary about 5 months after appearing to Zechariah. She was a young virgin engaged to marry Joseph.

The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”   Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.  But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God.  You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus.  He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David,  and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”  Luke 1:29-33  After receiving this troubling message, here is her response, verse 38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” 

Mary could have responded to this troubling news, a reputation killer, with anger, disbelief, worry, criticism of the Lord’s plan or doubt in God’s ability to bring this about.  Zechariah questioned God’s ability in Luke 1:18  “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.”  He doubted God and wanted assurance.   Look at Mary’s question to Gabriel in verse 34,  “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”   She knew God was able and just wanted to know how this miracle would be accomplished.  Her answer shows faith in God that seeks to understand God’s way.

faithMary shows us how we can question God in faith.  Having doubts or fears is not a problem for God and He will reveal to us His truth.  We may have trouble understanding it with our finite human minds but He will tenderly explain when we show faith and obedience.  Gabriel did explain the situation and God’s power personally to Mary after her question in verses 35-37.  And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born[d] will be called holy—the Son of God.  And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren.  For nothing will be impossible with God.” Mary showed her love and obedience for God in her response to Gabriel’s explanation.  Let us seek to be obedient and accepting of God’s work in our lives- embrace it, love it and walk trusting Him for the results.

servantSeeking to live like I believe in Him,

Linda