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AUDIO-VIDEO DEC 20: Trusting the Promise.  Joseph and Mary on way to Bethlehem.

 

Merry Christmas!  It’s hard to believe that this Friday we will Celebrate Christmas!   And we look forward to our…LifePoint’s Special Christmas Eve Candlelight Service at 6:00 …With Singing, Fellowship and Message and a special gift for the kids…This service will not be streamed, so I hope you can Join us.

 

Unbelievable Story of Trust:  In July of 2016, Luke Aikins jumped out of a plane flying at 25,000 feet. What made the jump newsworthy was that Luke was attempting to be the first person in history to jump from a plane and successfully land in a net on the ground below….WITHOUT A PARACHUTE! When he jumped out of the plane he could not even see the landing net. It wasn’t until he was considerably lower that he could find it. But, he adjusted once he saw it…maneuvered into position and at 5 seconds before impact guess what he does…he flips over and looks up at the sky. Hoping he lands where he was aiming. That was the scariest part to me. Well, he the stuck the landing. But When asked on the Today Show, “Why he did it?” He said “Well, I Just thought it’d be Cool to Do.”

 

In Today’s Passage, Joseph is Asked by God to Do Something that Seems at the Outset to be a Pretty Extreme Degree of Trust…Like jumping out of the plane without a parachute unable to Clearly See.

  • Hoping the guy who asked you to jump really did put that Net Where You are to Land!

 

Joseph is Put in a Position where he has to Go All-In With God or Not. He’s Gotta either Jump Out of the Plane TRUSTING that God Catches Him OR…He’s Got to Say NO to God.

  • Just Like Joseph’s Dilemma…We are going to See that Real Christianity Separates Itself from the Easy Believism that is Running Rampant in Our Culture.

 

A lot of Christians will Throw in with Jesus when its…EASY…Friends are All doing it…The General Public Nods Approvingly…At this Point most people will Follow Jesus because it Easily Fits into their Lifestyle.

 

When the Situation Changes and Following Jesus Means Going Against the Flow and Going the Opposite Direction of Your Feelings…When it’s About A Trusting Obedience to God…That’s When Many Fall Away.

 

Many Want to follow Jesus…But Turn Away Because they Think…It’s Just Too Hard.

  • They like hearing about an abundant life like in John 10:10 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

 

But When it comes to Sacrificing their Time, their Money, their Preferences, their Desires…They Think. Man that Sounds Extreme.  Too Often…Their Response is I’ll take the Abundant Life Stuff Only Please.

 

We’ll See That’s NOT How it Works….God’s Word Makes it Clear that You Either Jump out of the Plane Trusting that God Will Protect You…Trusting that Gods Plan is For Your BestOR…You Choose to Stay In the Plane and Do It Your Way!

  • Today in the birth story of Jesus we are going to see the Unfiltered Truth about what it Costs to Follow Jesus and then Where the Strength to Follow Jesus Comes From.

 

Matt 1:18-25: Conception and Birth of Jesus  “Now the birth of Jesus Christ 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. 19 And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly. 20 But when he had considered this, behold, 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 has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21 “She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” 22 Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: 23 “Behold, The Virgin Shall Be With Child and Shall Bear A Son, And They Shall Call His Name  Immanuel,” which translated means, “GOD WITH US.” 24 And Joseph awoke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took Mary as his wife, 25 but kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus. Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way.

 

Betrothal, then was much more serious than our idea of engagement is today.

  • In Joseph’s day, parents usually chose the spouse you would marry. And once the spouse was chosen then the families entered this betrothal stage.
  • This stage was about a year and it was to ensure that the woman was sexually pure.
  • Now Lo and Behold Joseph learns his Wife is Pregnant. And Joseph Believed that there is Only One way she could Get Pregnant…She Must have Had an Affair.
  • Imagine how Joseph was feeling…The Humiliation & Embarrassment.
  • The girl he’s betrothed to but isn’t allowed to sleep with…telling him she’s pregnant… And then she tries to lie about it saying, “The Holy Spirit” did it. What Audacity.

 

Deut. 22: 23-24 which lays out the Jewish law that Mary could be stoned to death for this act. But Joseph being what Matthew calls a “just man” wants to figure a way out of this that doesn’t shame Mary.

  • Now, any quiet way out of this will result in Joseph taking a real hit on his reputation. If he doesn’t tell everybody she’s had an affair, well then, they will all assume he’s the daddy and he’s hanging her out to dry?  Not a great situation but Joseph wants to protect her…HOWEVER

 

God Has A Different Plan for Joseph>>>VS 20-21: 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. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

  • Josephs’s Dilemma…Follow My Plan, to Put Mary away Quietly or Gods Plan…Marry Her?

 

How Would You Respond in Your Situation?  God says, I want You to Do this or that…Don’t Be Afraid…I told You I would Be With You…Would You TRUST HIM for the IMPOSSIBLE?    Well Let’s Continue.

 

And Matthew drops in a little editorial to show us the story behind the story…VS 22-23 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (means God with us).

  • Matthew cites Isaiah 7:14. Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
  • Emmanuel is the transliteration of the Hebrew word meaning “God With Us.” As far as We Know, Nobody ever called Jesus Immanuel. But Here…God Wants to Relay to US Exactly “Who” Jesus Is!

 

In Matthew’s Gospel…Jesus Enters and Exits under this Title Immanuel“God With Us.”

  • As Jesus is ascending into heaven Matt 28:20 “And teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
  • The last words in Matthew’s Gospel includes God is With Us…
  • KEY THOT: Immanuel is Much More than a Name…IT’S A PROMISE.

 

Today, some of You May Need to be Reassured that God Is With You! Some of You May Need to Fully Understand the Power of God Being With You. The Power to Walk through Life with Hope, with Peace, and with Joy.  This Power Isn’t something You Conjure UpIt Isn’t Something Where You Can Fake It Until You Make It…It’s The Power of God Himself Residing Within You.

  • Trusting this Truth that Christ is With You Always…Will Change Your Life!

 

Matthew 1: 24-25 And Joseph awoke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took Mary as his wife, 25 but kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus. Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way.

The Giant Take-a-Way is that Joseph Trusted the Angel and Obeyed God. When faced with an Impossible Situation, when Asked to Jump Out of the Plane Without a Parachute…Joseph Trusted and Obeyed God. Think about It…Why did God Do it this Way? He could have sent a legion of angels to make a public announcement to the whole World, Mary is the Chosen Virgin Woman to Carry the Boy who will be the Savior of the World! She is Still Pure and Joseph is a Great Guy! Go Buy things from his Carpentry Business Over on Elm Street.”

BUT…That’s Not What Happened…Instead Both of Their Reputations Get Ruined.

  • Joseph is seen as the moral deviant who got his betrothed wife pregnant.
  • Instead of a Storybook Wedding, Mary got lots of condescending looks and rumors.
  • In fact, these two would have to flee from Bethlehem, from their home, shortly because of Jesus. So the question remains why do it this way God?
  • Why Ruin these Two People’s lives to bring Jesus into the world!?

 

For the Answer, Let’s take a Closer Look at Joseph’s dilemma…There is so much more than You See at First Glance. I want Us to See 2 things from Observing Joseph in Our Text:

  • What it means to follow Jesus & 2. Where the Power to Follow Him Comes From.

 

1) Josephs Decision shows Us that Following Jesus means Total Trust and Obedience.

 

Remember Joseph’s Safe, Good-Guy Play was to Divorce Mary Quietly. But God’s call to Joseph is to Marry Her…“Don’t Fear Joseph.”

  • Joseph Had His Plan – But Then God Spoke and Everything Changed for Joseph.
  • KEY for US: Total Trust in God Changes the Way You Would Otherwise Respond to the Circumstances of Your Life. You are Either…All In…Or…You Are Out. If you Hedge Your BetIf You put Yourself Half-way in with God, it Won’t Work.
  • You Cannot Respond to God’s All-or-Nothing Call with a Half-way Response.

 

Let’s Be Honest…Our down Deep Question usually is “What if this Doesn’t Work?” Which is really “What if God Doesn’t Come Through?”  A LACK OF TRUST!

  • Will you Trust that the God who says “how beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news” will Bless and Use You if You Make Time to Share the Good News?
  • Maybe You are Struggling with a Relationship…Will You Trust that if You Surrender that relationship to the Lord and Follow His Principles that He Will Work it Out?
  • Will You Trust God that if You Tithe 10% of Your Earnings…When it Seems Impossible…That He Will Bless You with an Overabundance?

 

**True Christianity is Trusting, Without Reservation, the God Who You Cannot See.

  • Everything’s on the line for Joseph. His Relationships with his family, his Reputation, his Financial Future. From a Human Perspective…It All Goes Bad if he Weds Mary.
  • To Fully Follow God…Both Joseph and Mary had to Die to Some Dreams.
  • In 16:24 Jesus says,Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me”.
  • The Key We learn from Joseph and Mary is…To Deny Ourselves.

 

We See that Before Jesus is even out of the womb his first two followers (Mary & Joseph) are already having to “deny themselves” if they are going to follow Jesus. I can assure You that the Most Difficult Part of Following Jesus is To Deny What We Want to Do and Surrender to Investing Our Lives for His Kingdom.

 

I See this Battle Waging in Many Believers…God calls Us to take a Genuine Step of Faith…Yet…Too Often We Try to figure out some kind of Middle-of-the-Road Way Where Everybody Kind of Wins and…We Don’t Have to Deny Ourself!

  • Maybe God Wants You to Cut Off that Relationship that is Not Honoring to Him.
  • Maybe God is Speaking to You about Giving a Year-End Gift to Help a Mission…But You Know If You Do…it’s going to Cost You and You are Struggling.
  • Maybe there’s co-worker with whom you want to share the gospel but you know it could be embarrassing and even Change Your Relationship with the person.

 

The Only way You can Follow Jesus is to Surrender Everything to Him. Your Time, Abilities, Reputation and Your Treasure! Compromising or Putting God Second Place Just Does Not Work!

The Final Fulfillment is about Salvation from Our Ultimate Enemy: Satan, Sin and Death.

  • Here’s why this matters. Joseph hears that God is keeping a really old promise and This Reminds him that God is Faithful to Keep His Promise. God is reminding Joseph that Just like he kept All His Promises to this Point, he will keep His Promise to Joseph and for all Future Promises.
  • This Gave Joseph the Strength to Obey God’s Life Altering Call…
  • Joseph Trusted God…Even When he Didn’t Understand Him.

 

As We Look Back and see God’s Faithfulness that He always does what He says He will doIt Gives Us the Power to Trust Him Going Forward. Baby Steps lead to Giant Steps

  • For Example…One week you pass an exam, get a promotion, and find out you are getting more money than expected back on your taxes. You Say…God is Good!
  • But…Then the Next Week you find out your Health Insurance Premium went up and then Your Car Breaks Down…And You Say…Where’s God?
  • Or maybe on a more serious note You discover the Cancer is Back. Or a loved one Dies Unexpectedly. Where does the Power to follow God come in Hard Times?

 

Listen…Your Trust in God Doesn’t Come from how Comfortable Your Circumstances areBut Trusting God Because His Past Promises In Your Life have All Been Fulfilled!

  • The Angel gave Jesus two names…These 2 Names Represent how God Relates to Us and Where Our Power to Trust Him Comes from.
  • Vs 21 says, “You shall call his name Jesus for he will save his people from their sins.” The name Jesus in Hebrew means “God Saves.” This is “WHAT” JESUS DOES.
  • And The name Immanuel means “God With Us.” This is “WHO” JESUS IS.
  • This is what makes Christmas so remarkable for ChristiansWe celebrate one of the most foundational Doctrines to Our Faith: Jesus was Born Both 100% Man and 100% God.

 

This is Why the Virgin Birth is Central to the Christian Faith: He had to be 100% man to be an acceptable Sacrifice for mankind on the Cross. Our sin had to be paid for in human blood because the wages of sin is death. So, Jesus had to be human to get up on the Cross as a Substitute for Our Sin

  • But at the same time He had to be Fully God Because Only God Can Save.

 

In the Virgin Birth God Came to Be With Us to Save Us. Then He Promised to remain with us always. And he gave us the Holy Spirit to remain Not just With Us…But Live In Us.

 

This is I Believe the Part so many Christians Don’t Fully Experience…God has Come Down and He Desires to Walk With You Each Day Until You are With Him in Heaven!

  • Joseph Could take A Radical Step of Obedience…Because he knew God was faithful and that He was WITH him…And that He would do what He Promised.
  • The faithfulness and the Nearness of God Overcame the Doubt Joseph Faced.

 

Do You See what Joseph Saw? He saw that the Only way he any of Us will be able to Sacrifice Everything for Jesus is…If He Is Our Source Of Joy.

  • If You are on the Fence, Kind of Half-Way In with Jesus…Trying harder to Follow Jesus is Not enough…You have to Dive Deeper into the Joy of the Gospel.
  • Consider this…Joseph could have chosen to walk away from what God was asking him to do. But What would have happened?  He probably would have gotten that nice wedding with some other girl. Maybe have a good carpentry business. Maybe even land an HGTV show one day.But the Problem is…he Would Have Missed Out On JESUS!
  • You Can Choose to Do things Your Way. God says forgive and you can say…NO.  God says give your time to serve others and you can say…NO. God says sacrifice this or that and you say…NO. The Problem is in Doing so You may Just Miss Out on Jesus!

 

POINT: True Christianity is Trusting, Without Reservation, the God Who You Cannot See.