Good morning again! So it is the day after…Christmas. The time where obviously some of us have been sick couldn’t make it to church today but we’re here. We woke up from the excitement. And Christmas is over, all that holiday shopping, all that racing to the stores to make sure you get your gifts and make sure everything is perfect. You can take a deep breath! Ahhhhhh! It’s over, right? All that cooking is over. Well but praise God we continue on with life, don’t we?
Let’s pray. Father Lord, thank you so much for today. Thank you for the Sabbath, the blessing of again of being in your presence. We pray, Father that you guide us right now as we open your word that your spirit leads us. Teach us what we need to hear today. Father, thank you for the blessings that you continue to give us, the gifts we all received gifts from our friends and family. But, Father, the greatest gift, of course, is your son coming on this earth and we’re so grateful for that. We pray these things in the precious name of Jesus. Amen
All right so the focus of this story, of today’s sermon, is on the story of Joseph, the Joseph in the Bible. I heard this funny story of a mom who had a son who’s going to play Joseph in a play, pageant. Her son was getting ready to play Joseph in the pageant and he got sick. He got the flu the day before the pageant was going to start. And so he’s sick and they’re wrestling what are we going to do? It’s too late to get another person to play Joseph and they’re all struggling. What are we going to do? And the son said, “Don’t worry. You’ll hardly notice Joseph is missing. You don’t even know about him in the story he looks like he just blends in with the shepherds any ways.”
So we have this Christmas story. It reminds me of when I was a kid. We had this beautiful nativity scene. It was beautiful. It was in this nice A-frame wooden box, if you will. It has this beautiful that we presented in our family every year. And then one year, every year something comes missing because there are six of us crazy boys, 4 crazy boys and we’re always messing with things and soon like a shepherds head would be gone and the next year something else like one of the wise men, one of the wise men would be gone. And then on year Jesus was gone. What do we do with this? We can’t have Christmas without Jesus! So that was the end of the nativity scene.
But anyway, Joseph here he’s kind of like a person in the story but we don’t think a whole lot. Mary’s a big part of the story. We know the shepherds and the wise men but Joseph? Then when we read the story in the Bible we remember how important Joseph is in the story.
So let us turn to Matthew 1:18-24. It says this - 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 yetdid not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.
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. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus,[f] because he will save his people from their sins.”
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).
When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.
Think of the story. Who did the angel speak to? Joseph, right? Look at the story and pretty much everything who named Jesus? Joseph did! So everything you wee he is really the action of the Christmas story so it’s kind of sad that he’s left out in the pageant. He’s a big picture of the story of Christmas. Continue on in the next chapter. It continues in Matthew 2:13. It says - When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.” That’s a strong story but again, the angel, who does the angel speak to? Joseph! Boy, Joseph should have a bigger part in our nativity scene. Because there is so much that he does in the story so we learn a lot from him. But first all we also learn that while he has this big part of the Christmas story while we all when Christmas is over what do we do? We give a sigh. Ahh- it’s over. But for him it wasn’t over. He still had to protect Jesus. First lesson we learn from this is that Christmas wasn’t the end of the story, it was the beginning. And that’s just in our own lives, we celebrate the birth of Jesus and we’re so grateful that God came on this earth but it’s just the beginning of the story.
We, as Christians like some people they come to church once a year during Christmas and celebrate Christmas. And the rest of the world that are really church goers, they celebrate Christmas and they celebrate and they remember this beautiful event and they put up their trees and their lights and they give out presents and everything. As Christmas is the climax of the Christian experience but it’s not. It’s just the beginning, it’s just the beginning. There’s still so much more to learn and so much more that Jesus has done for us
Let’s focus on Joseph here. Joseph was even at the inn when Jesus was born still had more to do. He had a dream that said you need to take them away because King Herod will kill your son, will kill Jesus if you don’t. Then we continue on in Matthew 2:14-15. It says - So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.” When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi.
After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the child’s life are dead.” You know imagine yourself as Joseph. You are Joseph. We are all Josephs here. Put yourself in your situation where you have these dreams. You have this life. You’re a carpenter. You meet this beautiful woman and you’re going to go marry this beautiful woman. You have your life all planned out. You’re going to go and live in Nazareth and you’re going to have your nice wood shop and you’re going to be with this nice wife and all of a sudden the wife says that she’s pregnant. Or not wife she’s not wife yet, soon to be. And your whole life is changed. But you’re getting dreams that God is telling you that you need to stay faithful to this situation because this is something special, something very important. Then all of a sudden, oh no, here is my wife and her child and I’m getting dreams that I need to leave my whole life situation and go take them to Egypt to make sure that they’re safe. Oh, man! I just wanted a nice little shop in Nazareth and build some chairs and tables for some people. Now it’s all over.
I feel like I don’t have control over my life. It’s all just been turned upside down, my dreams, my expectations of what life should be has been turned upside down. But I’m getting messages from God. Go here. Go there. Go do this. And he’s faithful. So Joseph is a very important part of this story and he teaches us a lot. He teaches us a lot in how we live a Christian life. One of the things is that Joseph showed that he lived a Christ-centered life. It is evident who is Christ. He’s right there. He’s a little baby. He made the center of his life Jesus to protect Jesus, to make sure that he’s able to grow up and become the person - God with us, right? He lived a Christ centered life. It’s funny we say the word let’s be Christ centered and we have a connotation. But Christ is right there physically and his life is centered to protect and to make sure Jesus is safe.
But it’s a message for all of us. We need to live a Christ centered life. There is a book Seven Habits of Highly Effective People ,something like that. Anybody read that book? Anybody heard of that book? Well, it’s a book; it’s a very interesting book about people habits that effective people, successful people have. One of the parts of it is how are they driven, what are they centered? It says they are centered in certain ways. Like some people are emotionally centered like if something makes you angry, they get up and start fighting. I’m a bit emotionally centered not that I like to fight. But I watch a movie and I’ll be crying by my wife just sits there like nothing is phasing her, right? I can cry about anything. But also in a sense emotionally centered is like you’re just following your passions. You’re following whatever your emotion is telling you to do. You’re hungry, you go eat. You’re still hungry, I don’t care maybe the quantity is not very good to you but you’re still hungry, you still eat. You’re emotionally driven. So that’s one way of life.
Some people are family centered. They’re always around their parents during their free time. Whatever their life is they’re centered around whatever is going on with their family. That’s a good thing. And there are some others. One the most successful person is principal driven. Whatever the emotions are they’re able to not react to their emotions. They are basically driven by what is right or wrong. My wife is very good at this. She wakes up in the morning, thinks about what she has to do and she does things and she does things that seemingly are the best thing for you. I’m not so much the case in that sense. Sometimes I just do things that are fun and crazy whatever but that’s the most successful person is the person who is principal centered. If you’re college students, when you get up you start on your homework, you don’t procrastinate. That’s principal centered. You go to work you get your job done. You try to reach and fulfill the goal s that you have that’s principal centered. That’s how you become successful in life.
But I’m going to take this one step further - be Christ centered. Live your life like Joseph did. God is speaking to us. I don’t know how many of you have these angels come to you and appear to you in your dreams, if you will, but do you believe God speaks to you? Do you believe God communicates to you? Do you? Joseph reacted and did what God told him to do. If there is ever a time where God is telling you to do something and it seems to be a little bit more than you’re ready to do? You’re not really ready to handle what God is telling you to do. Joseph lived a Christ centered life which makes him the reason why we’re talking about him now. 2,000 years ago he lived a Christ centered life and created the way, paved the way for Jesus to be alive. So praise God for that
The other aspect is Joseph showed his obedience in God by what he was willing to give up. Like I said he had this dream, a dream about a nice shop building tables and chairs. You know, Nazareth is a very interesting town. Nazareth was next to a large city during that time you know how they say there is no good in Nazareth. Nothing good can come out of Nazareth, remember that? It’s not that it’s a wicked town so much, I’m sure it was. But it’s like a migrant town during that time. It’s like basically such a small nonexistent place. I’ve lived in towns of 300 people in my life …twice. I’ve lived in two towns. It’s such a small community. It’s like most people don’t even know it exists. I’ve had those opportunities. Nazareth is kind of like that. No has really heard of it in that time period. But there was this large city and what he was he was a carpenter who had the access of this large city that wanted tables. It was this fast growing city demand for furniture.
So he was in a place for great success but he had to leave all of that because he was Christ centered. God told him you must go. And that is something very important in our lives. We need to protect what God is telling us to do. A lot of times we live our lives kind of reckless and we live our lives as what we do doesn’t really matter. But being what Joseph did he guarded his walk with the Lord and he didn’t let anything separate him from what God told him to do and he gave up, he gave up his dream or his shop or whatever to go on, let go of his idea of having this beautiful wife that would have a baby of his own, his first baby with Mary. He gave it all up. So that’s it. What is God telling us? What is God having you and me o give up? How can we not live so recklessly? How do we guard our walk with the Lord? We learn that from Joseph.
Another aspect of this is that (the grammar is kind of wrong. It’s Christmas but forgive me.) It says - God often will call us to do more than we think we can do, but he never will call us to do more than he can do. Did I say that right? He will never call us to do more than we think we can do, but he never will call us to do more than he can do. What it’s basically saying is that this unbelievable thing you are telling me to do here. You need to give up everything. You are the stepfather, the father of the Son of God. That’s a pretty big role, isn’t it? And you might, he might have said many times, Lord this is too much you are asking too much from me. I remember the first sermon I ever gave in church. Did I ever tell you this story? You’ll figure it out. I’ve been here long enough that I might be repeating stories here but the first sermon I ever gave I didn’t know I was going to preach it until Friday night. This was at a big church in Florida. Friday night and I had basically a couple of hours to prepare my very first sermon ever given. The reason why is because I had this really cool experience during the week and it seemed like the Lord wanted the people to know that. My friend who was supposed to preach said, “Hey, you know what? You need to share this message with the people of this church.” So I said Okay.
And I remember I woke up in the morning and I was going to practice my sermon and I didn’t even. I was going to get all ready and go, “Hello my name is Cary.” And I was slaughtering that. I didn’t even know how I was going to say my name. Then after I went there, I preached the sermon. I hope they burnt the taped to it. Thank goodness it’s not on the web. But I know when I was preaching I was looking at people’s eyes and they seemingly needed to hear that message. And I remember after that sermon I was taking a walk behind the church and I was thinking, “Man, Lord you really put me through stressful situations. But I was willing to do what you asked me to do. And I remember and at one point I just fell on the ground and said, “Lord you ask too much from me.” And this was thinking this is too much. But then it was clear to me. I had this impression that the Lord was saying all I ask from you is just to follow me and I will do the rest. So God is calling us to do something, do something big, something great. God is calling us to do something with purpose and life. But sometimes we shrink and we this is too much to do. But he’ll never ask you to do more than he thinks you can do. He knows you can do it. And the reality is we don’t do it ourselves. It’s him doing it through us and al we have to do is open our hearts and say “Lord, I am your vessel do as you will please for me in my life.”
And the other one is this, it says - Just because we are not the center of the story doesn’t mean God will not use you for an incredible purpose. Here is Joseph. You know we live in a world where it’s kind of the Me. You know we want to be the super hero. It’s the Me time period. The individual let’s build ourselves me, I want to be the superhero. Growing up I wanted to be Luke Skywalker. Growing up I wanted to be Superman or Batman. I wanted to be the hero. So we put our focus on our lives and we grow up and try to build our kingdom. We want to get ourselves, of course, that nice house. We build ourselves our lives, get that nice job or have that really nice family. So we look really good in our family photos and all these different things. How can we, our lives be built up better and bigger and more important? But something we learned from Joseph he gave up his life to follow Jesus. He became Christ centered. He was willing to do whatever God had asked him to do. He’s not the center of the story.
In fact in some ways he seems to be the forgotten part of the story that we don’t talk about very much. But he is a part of something so big as bringing -God with Us- into the world. That’s pretty amazing to be a part of. He’s part of this team. You can just see it. You can just imagine the Magi right here and the shepherds over here and him right here and Mary who he loves looking at the baby Jesus who was God. And looking at them is like this is happening and I am part of this. What an incredible and amazing role. We’re still here today. The story, remember, is not the end of the story it’s just the beginning. We are all part of the story as if we were there with Jesus, right at that time. We are all part of that story and when we give up ourselves and join in with -God with us incredible things can happen. Maybe you and I, maybe we spend too much trying to build our own kingdom. Maybe we need to stop and say Lord instead of what I want, what I want for Christmas? What do I want what do you want? What do you want for my life what is your will for my life? Live for that and yeah if you don’t you can build your kingdom here on this earth and then you die and it’s all gone. Live for that, your building up something that will last for eternity. God has tremendous purpose, a plan for this world and it’s going to happen, you know prophecy. We know what’s going to happen. And whether we are part of it or not is up to us and remember there’s something bigger that is going on besides our self.
Let us pray. Father Lord, Thank you so much for the message of Joseph. Thank you for teaching us that through his life, his example, we realize that his willingness to do whatever that you asked him to do even if it means giving up some of his dreams, Lord. We all in our own lives, we have our ideas, our own dreams, our own wants, but maybe they’re not your wants. Maybe it’s not your want for us in our lives. Lord, help us to let go and Father, we pray, Lord, that you give us the courage. Help us to remember that you don’t ask us to do anything that we can’t handle. As we take our steps in following you, Lord. Help us to remember that while we may not be the center of the story, it’s not all about us; it’s not all about me. It’s about you, Lord. It’s about lifting you. It’s about giving you the glory for our lives, truly making you our purpose. In that, knowing that, while we may give up our wants the Lord doesn’t mean we give up greatness doesn’t mean we give up what is most important. Doesn’t mean don’t we give up purpose in fact we gain the true purpose of why we are put on this earth in the first place. Thank you, Lord. We pray these things in the precious name of Jesus. Amen