Summary: The second part of an Advent series. As we follow Joseph’s example, we can unwrap God’s gift of peace.
Matthew 1:18-25 December 4, 2005
ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS...Serenity
- ILLUSTRATION: A little boy and girl were singing their favourite Christmas carol in church the Sunday before Christmas. The boy concluded "Silent Night" with the words, "Sleep in heavenly beans." "No," his sister corrected, "not beans, peas."
(Michael P. Green, Illustrations for Biblical Preaching, Grand Rapids: Baker, 1993, p. 57.)
- Though this story makes us chuckle, it illustrates how easily we can miss the peace (or more specifically, the “serenity of the soul”) that the birth of Jesus brought to us.
- Interesting, isn’t it? The time that is to be one of most joyful times of the year is often the most stressful for so many.
- Stressful would be a good term to describe Joseph’s situation leading up to what we could call the “first Christmas” (pregnant fiance -- profoundly condemned by Jewish law, etc.)
- Joseph set out to do what any peace-loving individual would do -- resolve it privately and discreetly as opposed to publicly in the Jewish courts
- While Joseph pursued a plan to calm the storms around him, God was offering Joseph a plan that would calm the storm within him.
- Joseph’s response to his circumstances and God’s unsettling plan for his life led him to unwrap God’s perfect gift of serenity
- And by following his example, Joseph shows us how we can unwrap this great gift of God-given SERENITY...
1. By pursuing RIGHTEOUSNESS. v.19
- Joseph wanted to do the “right thing”. So he set out to do just that
- However, as the story unfolds we see the evidence of Joseph’s true righteousness as he listens to God’s voice and responds accordingly.
- Had Joseph followed his own path of reason and presumed “righteousness” he would have gone against God’s will
- If there’s one thing we learn from history and our own experience, following the path of reason and “people pleasing” instead of righteousness only increases our anxieties and that is where real troubles begin.
-Ultimately , Joseph’s pursuit of righteousness brought him in tune with the heart of God. He found peace in that pursuit and so will we
- QUOTE: “In doing that which is just and right, we are like one walking upon a rock, for we have confidence that every step we take is upon solid and safe ground.” -- Charles Spurgeon
2. By taking RESPONSIBILITY. v. 24
- Once Joseph knew what God’s plan of righteousness was, Joseph took responsibility -- the responsibility of following God’s plan, of taking care of Mary, and of raising the Son of God (so much so Jesus was known as “the carpenter’s son” --Matthew 13:55).
- Many times we may be tempted to flee from responsibility because it demands too much -- it causes too much pressure
- However, we will discover it only increases pressure and minimizes our level of serenity because when we shy away from what God may ask of us we never will discover where we fit into God’s design -- where there is no sense of purpose, there is no sense of peace
3. By exercising RESTRAINT. v. 25
- Even though the marriage had been made legal, the marriage was not consummated until after Jesus was born
- No clear reason was given for this except that perhaps it was Joseph’s way of stepping back and allowing God to fulfill his perfect plan.
- This may be hard to believe, but sometimes we have a tendency to run ahead of God!
- When we do that, we often times run into problems and the flow of serenity in our lives comes to a screeching halt.
- Isaiah 26:3 “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, whose thoughts are fixed on you” -- keeping our minds, hearts, and bodies focused upon God’s plan and refusing to run ahead of God is what will unwrap that wonderful gift of serenity God offers to us.