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"Journey into Christmas with Joseph, "Matthew 1: 18--25; Pastor Marvin G. Spence

When we think of Jesus' birth we often think only of Mary; Elizabeth (John the Baptist's mother); Gabriel, the angel; the Three Wise Men; Herod and even the shepherds. Scripturally it seems Joseph is only described as a good man who obeyed the angel and took an unwed mother as his wife with only a brief reference in Matthew 13: 55-56. When we reflect on Joseph's relationship with God and Joseph's understanding of Scripture, we find the following life-lessons, based on Joseph's life which relate to us today: 1. Strength to overcome emotionally damaging surprises. Mary was unwed and pregnant by the Holy Spirit which contradicts our wisdom. We need Holy Spirit empowerment to move forward rather than live in the past when life throws us a curve-ball. 2. Stretched beyond our comfort zone. Mary and Joseph scripturally knew the fatal consequences of a perceived adulterous relationship. There will be times when it will be hard to do the thing, such as forgive, but remember forgiveness is our statement to the world about who we represent. 3. See beyond life's horizon spiritually. Joseph died before Jesus' ministry began but he trusted that his life and Jesus' upbringing would bear spiritual fruit in the lives of others. We may not see the answer when we want but must trust the Lord's timing anyhow. 4. Submission to the Lord produces the best outcomes in our lives. Joseph neither worried about public opinion about marrying a pregnant, unwed mother nor disobeyed the angelic guidance. He was blessed with his own children--sons: James, Joseph, Jude, Simon and three sisters. When God's calling upon our lives makes no sense to us, lean not on our understanding but trust our righteous Lord who knows what is best for us. Our life lesson is to apply the Four "S"--Strength to Overcome; Stretched Beyond Our Comfort Zone; See Life's Horizon Spiritually; and Submission to the Lord is the Best Thing that Will Happen to Us.

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