Summary: There is arguably no more comforting to the Christian than the fact that God is sovereign. Joseph, although a supporting actor in the nativity narrative, gives an incredible performance.

Go Joe! (Sermonette)

Matt. 1.18-24

December 8, 2013

Chester, IL Chester FBC Dr. Mike Fogerson, Speaker

A There is arguably no more comforting to the Christian than the fact that God is sovereign.

1 Sovereignty is the supremacy of authority/rule.

a Christians believe that their Master is Lord of all creation—the Kingship of God over all the works of His own hands—the Throne of God and His right to sit upon that throne...for it is God upon the Throne whom we trust.

b Christians know that under the most adverse circumstances, in the most severe trials, they believe that sovereignty has ordained their afflictions, that sovereignty overrules them, and that sovereignty will sanctify them all.

2 For the believer, there are no such things as accidents, coincidences, or random events.

a We believe . . .

aa Psalm 103:19 (NASB) The LORD has established His throne in the heavens, And His sovereignty rules over all.

bb Psalm 115:3 (NASB) But our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases.

cc Psalm 100:3 (NASB) Know that the LORD Himself is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.

dd Job 42:2 (NASB) "I know that You can do all things, And that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted.

b We believe that everything that is done or will be done is controlled by the sovereign hand, authority, rule of our God.

B Everything about the Christmas Story was planned, predestined, foreordained before God said, “Let there be light.”

1 He promised to send a Savior/Messiah who would save His people from their sins.

Matthew 1:21 (NASB) 21 "She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins."

a He promised the Savior would be a human & not an angel

Genesis 3:15 (NASB) 15 And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel."

Hebrews 2:16 (NASB) 16 For assuredly He does not give help to angels, but He gives help to the descendant of Abraham.

aa He promised the Savior would be a Jew & not a Gentile

Genesis 12:1-3 (NASB)1 Now the LORD said to Abram, "Go forth from your country, And from your relatives And from your father's house, To the land which I will show you; 2 And I will make you a great nation, And I will bless you, And make your name great; And so you shall be a blessing; 3 And I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed."

Numbers 24:17 (NASB) 17 "I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near; A star shall come forth from Jacob, A scepter shall rise from Israel, And shall crush through the forehead of Moab, And tear down all the sons of Sheth.

bb From the tribe of Judah

Genesis 49:10 (NASB) 10 "The scepter shall not depart from Judah, Nor the ruler's staff from between his feet, Until Shiloh comes, And to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.

cc From the family of David (2 Sam. 1.1-17.)

dd Born of a virgin (Is. 7.14) in Bethlehem (Micah 5.2.)

Isaiah 7:14 (NASB) 14 "Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.

Micah 5:2 (NASB) 2 "But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Too little to be among the clans of Judah, From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, From the days of eternity."

b A.T. Pierson said, “History is His Story.”

aa President James Garfield said, “History is the unrolled Scripture of prophesy.”

bb In God’s sovereignty He controls the events of history to fulfill His purposes.

2 In the Lukian account of the birth of Christ we find Caesar Augustus calling for a census requiring families to return to their hometown to be counted

Luke 2:1-4 (NASB) 1 Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth. 2 This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 And everyone was on his way to register for the census, each to his own city. 4 Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David,

a This census was done every 14 years (Done for military/tax reasons.)

aa It was not accident that the census fell when/where it did.

bb Caesar didn’t know it, but he played important part in fulfilling Scriptures.

b Jeremiah 1:12 (NASB) “ . . .I am watching over My word to perform it."

C Within the framework of God’s sovereignty we also find our free will. (We are not spiritual robots)

1 IL. If we got aboard a cruise ship leaving Miami to Jamaica, we know that the Captain of the ship is taking to a destination.

a When we leave port to reach our destination we can chose do lots of things (shop, eat, swim, eat, dance, eat, play shuffleboard, eat, lounge by the pool, eat . . .) all the while progressing towards our predetermined port of destination.

b Both freedom and sovereignty are present here, and they do not contradict.

aa So it is, I believe, with man’s freedom and the sovereignty of God.

bb The mighty liner of God’s sovereign design keeps its steady course over the sea of history."

2 In the birth narratives in Scripture we see God’s sovereign ship sailing through the whole story.

I The first port of call was to Mary.

A Jesus was born to an earthly mom w/o the need of an earthly daddy (Doctrine of Virgin Birth.)

1 Every baby born into this world is a totally new creation (No reincarnation, past lives, not lived before.)

a John 1:1-2 (NASB) 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God.

b Jesus, being co-eternal with the Father/Holy Spirit, existed before Adam, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David . . . everybody.

2 If Jesus was conceived/born like any other baby, then He would not be God.

a It was necessary for Jesus to be born/enter this world through an earthly mother, but it was not necessary for Him to come by an earthly father.

b By a miracle of the Holy Spirit, Jesus was conceived in the womb of Mary, a virgin. (BTW, “virgin” in the nativity narratives ALWAYS means “virgin” and not “a young woman.”

B Mary was engaged to a “just (Matt. 1.19, KJV),” “righteous (Matt. 1.19, NASB)” man named Joseph.

Matthew 1:19 (NASB) 19 And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly.

Matthew 1:19 (KJV) 19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privately.

1 Early Jewish custom concerning engagement was very different from how modern culture sees engagement.

a The couple was “engaged/betrothed” before their marriage.

aa They were legally considered husband & wife but they didn’t leave together, no consummation of the relationship until after the wedding.

bb To break-off the engagement was a lot more involved than just “calling things off,” it required a divorce.

b According to Luke 1.26-38, the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary in Nazareth.

Luke 1:26-38 (NASB) 26 Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin's name was Mary.28 And coming in, he said to her, "Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you." 29 But she was very perplexed at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was. 30 The angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. 31 "And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus.32 "He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; 33 and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end." 34 Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I am a virgin?" 35 The angel answered and said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God. 36 "And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month. 37 "For nothing will be impossible with God." 38 And Mary said, "Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word." And the angel departed from her.

aa Gabriel is asking Mary’s permission before becoming pregnant. (v.38.)

bb I believe she could have refused, declined the “favored” status of carrying the Son of God. . . but she didn’t.

2 She understood that God was in control, sovereign, in authority. . . so she said, “Whatever I can do for YHWH, I’ll do.” (The rest is “History.”)

II The second port of destination was Joseph.

A Joseph, although a supporting actor in the nativity narrative, gives an incredible performance.

1 Mary was given a choice about carrying the Christ child, Joseph was told what to do.

a Joseph’s character was that of a simple, honest, hard-working, God fearing, warm hearted guy.

aa Observed Jewish Laws/customs, yet when the occasion arose he would follow the Spirit over the Law.

bb When he discovers Mary is pregnant he knows he’s not the daddy.

b It’s interesting how he “found” Mary was with child (Matthew 1:18, NASB) “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.”

aa “found” means she began to show.

bb Mary didn’t tell Joseph she was with child by the Holy Spirit. (How would you tell this news to your fiancĂ©? She was young, scared, still coming to grasp, trepidation.)

c The appearance of the angel (and subsequent explanation, Matt. 1.20, to Joseph about Mary’s condition) lends some weight to the idea that Joseph didn’t know “how” Mary got pregnant.

Matthew 1:20 (NASB) 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.

aa Mary got a choice about her role in story, Joseph was not given a choice (Matt. 1.24.)

bb Matthew 1:24 (NASB) And Joseph awoke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took Mary as his wife,”

2 Joseph, up until his heavenly vision, didn’t understand, realize, grasp everything that was going on.

a He was ready to walk away from the whole story in

Matthew 1:19 (NASB) 19 And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly.

aa We see no evidence of anger, resentment, bitterness.

bb Was he hurt? Wouldn’t you be?

b A hot headed man would have embarrassed her publically with a humiliating divorce at best or had her stoned at worst.

Leviticus 20:10 (NASB) 10 'If there is a man who commits adultery with another man's wife, one who commits adultery with his friend's wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.

aa Although he felt she had been unfaithful to him, he had no desire to hurt her in any way.

bb He couldn’t in good conscience marry Mary . . . & marrying her would be admission of his own guilt.

cc Divorcing her privately would leave his compassion/righteousness in tact.

c I believe God chose the right mom for Jesus & the right dad for Him too.

B Sometimes we are given a choice, like Mary; sometimes we’re given a command, like Joseph.

1 Whether we’re given a choice or a command we must always remember that God is in control.

a We may not understand the “why” of the things that happen to us but we can always know “who” is calling the shots.

aa Joseph wasn’t given an option, drafted into the role of Jesus’ earthly father.

bb How many of us would have just stuck to our plan of walking away?

b Taken individually, the events and circumstances God allows to happen in our lives may not, in and of themselves, appear to be of any value or good to the Christian.

aa Romans 8:28 (NASB) And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

bb But Paul does not say that each event is good or even that each incident will produce that which is good. He informs us that all of the events, working together, produce what is good.

2 To illustrate, the ingredients which go into a cake are not very tasty when eaten individually.

a Flour, sugar, shortening, eggs, salt, baking powder, and spices are not something we want to eat one ingredient at a time.

aa But mix all of these together in just the right proportions, and then bake the combined mixture, and you have a delicious treat.

bb Each event in our life is like one ingredient in a cake. It may not seem good, by itself, but when mixed by God with other correct events, it will surely produce what is good.”

b We may not understand why God does what He does when He does it . . . but we can know He’s sovereign, authority, ruling and He knows the predetermined port of destination.


A Many churches (& Christians) have either forgotten or failed to embrace God’s sovereignty.

1 The appeal to God’s sovereignty is not to foster hope that we will be spared all difficulty, but to foster confidence that when those difficulties come we are not abandoned.

a Things have not fallen out of hand.

b We can still rely on the God who has permitted us to face these things to supply us with the grace and help we need to be faithful under such circumstances.

2 When we realize that everything that happens does so for His purposes . . . we can do great things & cope with grievous times.

a The sovereign will of God is Holy & perfect.

b IL. My wife & my youngest son share a character distinction . . . they both insist on having the final word.

aa The church in recent times has been depressed, oppressed, nervous, harassed, & anxious.

bb Brethren, if we truly understood the sovereignty of God we would feel none of these things.

B He’s still on board, charted the course, He knows where He’s going and how to get there . . . AND HE GETS THE LAST WORD!!!

1 Today, will you trust him like Joseph.

a We don’t have to understand anything but the fact that God is in authority.

b What blessings/joy have we missed because we’ve failed to live/believe this simple fact?

2 Today, would you acknowledge He’s control?

a Eternity? Yes. Also, right now.

b Pray

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Mike Fogerson