Most people who know me would probably agree that I am a pretty “Up” person. But I must confess that I do have my moments where I could enjoy a good old pity party! Especially over the last few years as we have stood for my wife’s health. I must also admit that although many opportunities have presented themselves to feel sorry for my current predicament in life, I have not yielded to them! It is almost like something inside of me just won’t let it happen. I suppose it is the effects of the Word of God that He has had me to speak over my wife over these last years… It hasn’t just been for her benefit!
I have had to learn during this time, sometimes in painful experiences, that I am either going to trust in Papa God and His Word or I’m not! I think that this is the same conclusion that Mary and Joseph had to come to as they were faced with another obstacle as they pursued the plan that God had laid upon them. I would imagine that they came to the place where they declared that they were going to trust God no matter what they faced!
I have had a family friend and a close relative of Piper’s both try to persuade me in my stand of faith by their own experiences. One experienced personally by the individual and the other by a close life-long friend of theirs. Both of their stories ended with negative results. I finally had to tell them both that I could not live my life or base my faith on their experiences. My wife and I had decided early on that we were going to trust God for this battle and nothing else! I will not give up on Him, nor on Piper!
In His prayer to Papa God in John 17:17 Jesus asked Him to: “Sanctify then (believers) them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” (KJV) The word “sanctify” means to set apart or “to separate from profane things and dedicate to God.” (Thayer’s) When we wholly trust in God’s Word we have to separate ourselves from what we see or hear that is contrary to what His Word declares. I’ve come to learn that there is no gray area here! We either believe Him or we don’t!
As you read today’s Wednesday – The Third Week of Advent story, I would encourage you to take personal stock in where you stand concerning the truth and separation of God’s Word. You might want to check and see if you see any shades of gray…
Wednesday, the third week of Advent
Today’s Readings: Jeremiah 31:15 / Hosea 11:1 / Matthew 2:13-18 / John 10:10
Have you ever found yourself in the place where everything seems to be going very well when something happens that totally rearranges your life? That is the spot that Joseph, Mary and their child found themselves, in today’s section of the story of the first Christmas.
After the rocky start of having to travel to Bethlehem with a baby due at any moment and then being forced to stay in a stable because the local Inn was full, things had finally settled down into a normal routine for Joseph, Mary and the baby Jesus. In fact things were looking up. Following the birth of the special child they had received confirmation of the calling that was thrust upon them, by the visit of the Shepherds, the words of Simeon and Anna in the temple and more recently by the unexpected arrival of the Wise Men who had travelled a far distance from the East in order to see the One called “The King of the Jews.” The Wise Men had brought gifts befitting a King and left with them treasures of frankincense, myrrh and gold.
I would think that Joseph and Mary were just beginning to enjoy a sense of calm and stability when the angel of the Lord suddenly appeared to Joseph in a dream and told him that they had to take the baby Jesus and quickly flee to Egypt as Herod was out “to destroy Him.” (Matthew 2:13 NKJV) With that urgent notice, there was no time to think but just react by quickly packing what essentials they needed and then head off to a distant land with nothing to go by except the words of God sent through the angel.
From there, all personal plans, hopes and desires where thrown out the window as Joseph, like Abraham his great ancestor, had to “trust God with an implicit dependence upon God, not knowing whiter he went.” (Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the whole Bible – See also Hebrews 1:8) The angel told Joseph when and where he needed to take his family, and also left him with the assurance that he would come again and tell them when it was safe to return to their former lives.
That is a similar assurance that we can hold close to our hearts when the circumstances of life interrupt our well laid plans. It may seem like the rug has been pulled from under us, but we are never left alone! God is always faithful to His Word. (I Thessalonians 5:24) A turn of events may look to have rerouted the course of your life, but if the original direction that you were heading was led of the Lord, He will eventually return you to the right path. In other words, never give up! Even if what has happened to you or to those around you is cataclysmic in nature, remember that “Greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.” (John 4:4 KJV)
The fallout from Herod’s fear and hatred of Jesus and what he thought that He stood for was horrendous as the king had the boys two years and younger killed. When He began His public ministry many years later, Jesus named the devil as the perpetrator of the unthinkable atrocities like Herod’s act that we see around us in this world when He stated that “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that that you may have life, and that you may have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10 NKJV)
But in the end, did this stop Joseph, Mary and Jesus? Well, as we know, the answer is NO! They made their way through the detours in their life (without any written evidence of complaining, I might add!) and successfully accomplished the plan that God had for them.
What about you and me? Can we do the same? I think that the answer to that question is also quite easy… YES! God’s Word gives us the directions, the hope, the strength, the comfort and all the love that we need to look beyond the temporary detours and live a happy and successful life. Don’t ever give up. Joseph and Mary didn’t and either does our loving and faithful heavenly Father! Take a moment and think about the detours that you may currently be walking in your life. Then hand them, one by one, to God and allow Him to redirect your steps in 2015. Have a good day. Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What or Who’s STEPS am I expecting today?”