Summary: 1. Be sure to listen to the Lord (vs. 18-20). 2. Rest in your relationship with Christ (vs. 21). 3. Always remember that Christ is close (vs. 22-23). 4. Commit yourself to live for Christ (vs. 24-25).
Wisdom for Worrying Times
Sermon by Rick Crandall
Grayson Baptist Church - Dec. 12, 2012
*Joseph was surely worried in the opening verses of this Scripture. Mary had been "betrothed" to Joseph. The KJV says "espoused" in vs. 18. We get engaged before we get married. But this was much more than that.
*Hebrew marriages had two stages. In the first stage of betrothal, the couple was considered to be legally married, even though they did not live together as man and wife. This period of being separate, but legally married could last as long as a year. And it was far more binding than modern engagement. Only divorce could break it apart. And if they had been unfaithful to each other, it would have been counted as adultery punishable by death. (1)
*Joseph was truly troubled in these verses, and we live in troubled times today. The influence of ungodly people seems to get stronger every day. God's church appears to be in decline, certainly in Europe and even here in the United States. Bible-believing Christianity faces growing opposition on every front. Government corruption goes largely unchecked. And family life has significantly disintegrated. We can see the decline most everywhere we look. On top of that is the trouble we face in our own health, our homes and our hearts.
*What should we do in troubled times? -- Let's look at Joseph and see.
1. First of all, Listen to the Lord.
*Starting In vs. 18 we find Joseph worried, but willing to listen to the Lord. These verses tell us that:
18. The birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit.
19. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly.
20. But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit."
*Try to imagine how worried Joseph was in vs. 18. Because of his Godly lifestyle, he had to assume that Mary had been unfaithful. There was no other earthly explanation. So Joseph was devastated. And in vs. 19-20, he didn't know what to do.
*Have you ever been there? We all have. The great news is that God spoke to Joseph in these verses. And He wants to speak to us too. How does He do it? Well, here God spoke through an angel and a dream. But that's a pretty rare thing.
 God can also speak to us through wise friends and acquaintances.
*James Wilson gives a good example from his friend, Dan Rhodes. At the time, Dan was the pastor of two rural churches in Colorado, so, he was unusually busy:
-Twice the number of meetings.
-And twice the number of worship services.
*One day, his daughter's third grade teacher requested a parent-teacher conference with Dan. Dan's wife usually took care of those conferences. But the teacher insisted on seeing Dan.
*When he got there, she said: "I wanted you to see this drawing your daughter made of your family." Dan looked at the drawing and asked, "Where am I?"
*"That's why I called you here today," the teacher replied. "I asked your daughter the same question and she said you're never home. So she left you out of the picture." (2)
*What a wake-up call from above! God can speak to us through an angel or a dream. He can speak to us through wise friends.
 But the best way by far to listen to the Lord is through His Word.
*You may never get a special dream from the Lord. But you can always look into His Word, and find the message you need to hear.
*In vs. 22&23, Matthew reminds us that we can always trust God to keep His Word. Here Matthew summed-up this miraculous story by saying:
22. Now all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying:
23. "Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,'' which is translated, "God with us.''
*Over 700 years had gone by since God made that prophecy in Isaiah 7:14. But God kept His Word. And He always will. All of the prophecies in this Book are going to be fulfilled! And we can count on everything it says!
*What should we do in troubled times? -- Be sure to listen to the Lord.
2. And rest in your relationship with Jesus Christ.