Sunday January 8, 2012 | Steve Wiens
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 a righteous man and 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.”
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 had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.
Life can throw difficult situations our way. Marriage struggles, road rage, or in Mary's case, being an unmarried virgin pregnant with the Savior of the world. How do we handle those situations? Our guest speaker, Steve Wiens, talks about how God always wants to bring his wholeness (Shalom) into every situation and that we, like Mary, have the opportunity to partner with God in that.
Life throws us many difficult situations. Whether it’s marriage struggles, road rage, or unplanned pregnancies, it can be easy to think we’re alone in our struggles with no hope for the future. Mary and Joseph were in a similar situation. They were dealt a supposed disadvantage in an unwed mother and a future marriage that was put in doubt. It would be very easy to give up and get mad from that perspective.
When Joseph found out that his fiancée was pregnant, he was faced with a difficult situation. He knew that he hadn’t had sex with Mary, and yet, here she was pregnant. Joseph saw tragedy in his life. He planned to divorce her quietly. But God stepped in and showed that he was a God that worked good in every situation, even when Joseph couldn’t see it.
God told Joseph to not be afraid and take Mary home as his wife. Joseph means Yahweh adds; even more. So every time that Joseph heard his name, he was reminded that God will add to what he has, and even give more than he could know. It just may not come in what Joseph was seeing right away.
Whenever we are confronted with a difficult situation and we start to lose hope, we need to ask ourselves three questions: what can’t I see, what don’t I know, and where might God be in this? When we ask these questions, we begin to gain a new perspective on our situations, and we can see where God adds even more to our lives.
When we look at the Old Testament, we see the story of a different Joseph in Genesis 37. This is another story of God adding even more to someone’s story. Joseph was sent by his father to check on his brothers. His brothers, jealous of him, beat him up and sold him into slavery. He eventually ended up in Egypt, where God created bigger and better things for him. After some time, he was noticed by the Pharaoh and given a position of great power. One day, during a great famine, Joseph was given the opportunity to gain revenge on his brothers. His brothers came to Egypt and begged him for food, not knowing he was their brother. Joseph, however, helps his family and says it was God working good in the situation.
This Joseph in the Old Testament saw that God was doing something more. Where his brothers had intended ill, Joseph saw God working good. Instead of caving to the instinct for vengeance, Joseph saw that God was preparing him for this moment in time to help his family. He said that God intended this for the saving of many lives.
When you can see the “even more” that God is doing, you are invited to do something so that the plans that God has conceived can be born. After Joseph, Mary’s husband, talked to the angel, he saw that God was doing even more. He stayed with Mary, and he took care of Jesus as his own son. He knew that Jesus was intended to save many lives.
It can be difficult in the tough moments of our lives, and we become blind to what God is doing. By stopping and asking ourselves some basic questions, we can begin to see what God might be up to in any situation. By seeing the “even more” in our lives, we can join God in his plans for this world. We don’t have to do large things—sometimes it is simply being patient or being a good parent. But even the small things, when combined, create huge plans.