Sunday December 18, 2005 | Greg Boyd
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. 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. 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, because he will save his people from their sins.”
When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife.
Are you willing to have your life interrupted by God? Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus, had his life turned upside-down as he said “yes” to God’s plan for his life. Joseph can be considered to us, as followers of Christ, a hero of the Kingdom of God. He is a model for what it means to live in the Kingdom. Joseph was a person, who without any consideration for his own personal gain, without any regard for how it would cost him, gave up his own plans and dreams and followed what God was calling him to.
Are you willing to have your life interrupted by God?
Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus, had his life turned upside-down as he said “yes” to God’s plan for his life. Much is mentioned about Mary’s faithfulness in hearing and listening to God, but little is usually mentioned about Joseph and his faithfulness. Joseph can be considered to us, as followers of Christ, a hero of the Kingdom of God. He is a model for what it means to live in the Kingdom. Joseph was a person, who without any consideration for his own personal gain, without any regard for how it would cost him, gave up his own plans and dreams and followed what God was calling him to.
There is not a whole lot that was written about Joseph. He was from a small town (Nazareth) and was following in his family’s trade as a carpenter. Joseph was pledged to be married to Mary. As was the Jewish custom during the betrothal period, Joseph was probably away building a home and preparing for his marriage to Mary. Joseph surely had plans and dreams about how his future would look like. However, God had other plans for Joseph.
Joseph’s life turned upside-down. Mary became pregnant. The child was conceived by the Holy Spirit, but Joseph did not believe this story. His future wife was pregnant and the child was not his. This was considered very scandalous, and his reputation within the community was probably at stake. Joseph first thought about divorcing Mary quietly, but then the Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and told him what to do. He could have not believed this, ignored the dream and said “no”. However, he listened and obeyed God, and the birth of the savior of the world, Jesus, took place.
Just like Joseph, God is still talking and speaking to us today. God wants to use us for His purposes. He is looking for those who will listen to His voice and follow Him, even if that means giving up our own plans and dreams. God used Joseph’s obedience to bring about the Kingdom of God into the world. God also desires to use us as a vehicle by which He can further His Kingdom.
However, He rarely forces himself or speaks to people by using obvious methods. Instead, He speaks in a still small voice, or by using inner words, visions and dreams. God gives enough revelation of Himself to us, so that we can see and hear Him if we want to, but also ignore Him if we want to (see John 12:25-26, 28-29). Ultimately, God desires a relationship with us that is conditioned by the state of our heart and our willingness to have faith in Him. God is always speaking; we just tend to not listen. God desires us to follow him, make Him the center of our lives and to listen to his voice (see John 10:2-4 and 2 Timothy 2:4). God wants a people who put His voice, will, plans, dreams, call, and allegiance before their own. He desires a people who are listening to His leading and bringing about His purposes.
So, how do you know if it’s God speaking to you? One simple criterion to remember is this: If Kingdom “fruit” (see Galatians 5:22-23) would likely result from your actions, and the only downside is that it inconveniences your life, or that it might look a little silly – go for it. As you focus more and more on Christ, and make Him the center of your life, you’ll begin to see and hear how God wants to use you!
If you are willing to hear God, he may alter your plans, goals and dreams. Like Joseph, cultivate a heart that says to God: “I’m open to whatever you are calling me to be and do.”
1. Put yourself in Joseph’s shoes. What would you be thinking in this process?
2. How would you describe the interruption of Joseph’s plans?
3. How does God use interruptions to change our lives and cause us to see His plans?
What can seem like a disappointment may be the very thing that God wants to use to bring about his plans for His Kingdom. Even bad interruptions, like sickness or death, while not the direct will of God, can be used by God for His glory and our good.
4. How do you know if you are willing to have your life interrupted by God?
There is not “right” answer here. Just watch for those “spiritual” answers where people give the impression that they have this one down. For one to be prepared to have his or her life open to interruption is a tricky thing. It is not something one looks for or even expects. Interruptions usually come with difficulty. The key is found in a dialogical relationship with God.
5. Why is listening to God crucial to understanding life’s interruptions?
If we don’t listen to God, we only have the facts of life. We don’t see what God is doing in the midst of the unexpected ups and downs. We miss out on his plans and desires for our lives.
6. What has God been speaking into your life that is causing interruption?