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Monday, December 7, 2015

Monday, the second week of Advent

My wife and I had a very exciting weekend… well, I am not sure exciting is the right word, but it definitely was a couple of long days!  We spent the majority of Saturday and Sunday afternoons in the emergency room at the Central Harnett (county) Hospital in the community of Lillington, North Carolina.  Piper must have caught my cold and by Saturday morning her sinuses were overflowing, she was congested and coughing and then started gasping for breath.
So without much hesitation I helped her into the Mustang and off to the hospital we went.  Once there, I was amazed… While we were signing in the nurse from the triage room came out to greet us and escort us into the room.  She had barely begun to ask me some questions when the doctor came in.  When was the last time you went to emergency and didn’t have to wait, sometimes for hours, until you saw a doctor?
Well, to make a long story short, they took x-rays and drew blood on Saturday and diagnosed her as having an upper respiratory infection.  They prescribed an inhaler and off we went.  Piper was better for a while but when we started to bed she began slipping back again.  I was up with her throughout the night and by morning she and the bed were soaked in sweat.  Once up she was clammy and not swallowing anything.  And when her hands started turning blue I knew it was time for a return visit to the ER!  They repeated the chest x-ray (looking for pneumonia) and took some cultures.  This time they diagnosed her as having acute Bronchitis and prescribed antibiotics and a steroid to help reduce inflammation in her lungs.  And I am glad to report that she had a sound night’s sleep last night and is much better today!
For me, the hardest part was sitting in the treatment room waiting for the results of all the tests.  I was on extra alert as Piper’s Neurologists had warned me of Pneumonia and what it can lead to… On Saturday I overheard the doctor talking to the x-ray tech as they viewed the raw footage of the image she had just taken.  The alarms went off when the doctor pointed to one area and quietly said, “There’s an area to be concerned about” and then they left the room.
As I sat there in the room alone with my wife and held her hand, I quickly realized that I had a decision to make right then and there.  I could either give up my stand of faith on the infallible, unshakable Word of God or yield to the fear of the potential negative report that we could soon be receiving.  So with that, I shook off the tears and thoughts of any other alternative and squeezed Piper’s hand while verbally declaring in no uncertain terms that we would continue to believe His Word on her healing for “with a long life is he satisfying us” (Psalm 91:16)
In our Advent story today, Joseph also had a tough decision to make concerning his wife as well as for their future.  He could go with God’s Word spoken to him by the angel or give into what the customs of the day dictated he do in such a situation.  Have you ever faced a decision like that?  What would you do?  Which word would you listen to and follow?  Consider all that today as you meditate on our Monday, the second week of Advent reading.

 “##!!XX the Torpedoes, Full Speed Ahead!”

Monday, the second week of Advent

Today’s Reading:  Isaiah 9:6-7 / Matthew 1:18-25 / Ephesians 2:1-6

In a pamphlet entitled: “Preparing To Celebrate Christ’s Birth, ARRIVAL” by Billy Graham, the word Advent is described as meaning “Arrival” and states that it refers to the arrival of Jesus Christ into the world.  Over the past week and continuing through the next two, we are taking a daily look into the major events that occurred at the first Christmas as foretold by the Old Testament Prophets and then recalled by the New Testament writers.  It is all about the story of the arrival of God into the lives of mankind.  It is the drama that began the physical incarnation of God’s plan of salvation.
Today we are looking at the potentially unnerving set of events that began to unfold in the life of a “righteous man” (Matthew 1:19 ASV) named Joseph.  Everything in his life was great.  He had a successful carpentry business, a nice house and most importantly, a beautiful young upstanding fiancée whom he would soon be bringing into his home as his bride.  Then everything seemed to turn upside down!  Unexpectedly he comes to find out that his fiancée is pregnant with a child that is not his. 
In Matthew 1:19-20 we observe that Joseph’s first thoughts are for the well-being of the women he loves.  Under the dictates of Jewish law, his fiancée found to be with child before the wedding could be put to death.  As he agonized over the situation he also experiences a heavenly visitation in a dream.  Once more we see the hand of God interceding into the midst of the upheaval, in order to assure that His plans go forth without a hitch!
Notice the first words that come forth from the angel to Joseph.  He said: “Joseph, son of David…”  Just as his whole world began to spin around him, God’s messenger arrives on the scene and immediately “puts this carpenter in mind of his high birth.” (Matthew Henry)  Joseph was a direct descendant of King David from whose lineage was prophesied the coming Messiah.  The angel, who most scholars assume was the same Gabriel who had brought God’s messages to Zechariah and to his fiancée Mary, knew the importance of quickly diverting Joseph’s attention from the natural order of things to the supernatural purpose and power of God.   And from the looks of things, it worked!
Gabriel then proceeded to tell the plan of the coming of Immanuel to Joseph, who from that point never flinched but was “aroused from sleep, (and) did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife.”  (Matthew 1:24 NKJV)  Now, don’t ask me why, but as I read this the other day, I was immediately reminded of the famous saying of Admiral David Glasgow Farragut as he stood lashed to the rigging of his flagship, the USS Hartford at the all-important battle of Mobil Bay during the waning days of the American Civil War.  As his naval fleet began to charge the bay, which was the Confederacy’s last major port open on the Gulf of Mexico, one of his ships, the monitor USS Tecumseh hit a mine and sank.  When that occurred the other ships began to pull back.
Upon the observation of this turn of events, it is reported that the Admiral shouted through a trumpet to another one of his ships, the USS Brooklyn, asking “What’s wrong?”  Upon hearing the reply of “Torpedoes,” Farragut declared the words that have been etched in infamy shouting: “##!!XX the torpedoes, full speed ahead!”  After that, the bulk of his fleet succeeded in entering the bay and Farragut triumphed over the opposition of heavy batteries in Fort Morgan and Fort Gaines to defeat the squadron of the Confederate Admiral Franklin Buchanon.*
It is evident that Admiral Farragut was not moved by the force of the opposition.  He was given a task to complete that would advance the end of the war, and he pushed on no matter the depth of the powers that he faced.  To me, Farragut was like Joseph who was given a fantastic, almost unconceivable task that most of the powers to be would have thought to be improbable if not impossible.  But he quickly thrust aside the doubts and the thoughts of what the people might say and pursued the task given to him by God with earnestness and vigor!
From Mary’s point of view, she must have been greatly relieved and at awe as her husband to be stood by her side, became her protector and led her through the path ahead.  Jamieson, Fausset and Brown comment “with what deep and reverential joy would this now be done on his part, and what balm would this minister to his betrothed one, who had til now lain under suspicions of all others…”
Once Joseph was reminded of his legal position as a member of the royal family of David, he brushed aside any questions and set his mind to be the master of his calling.  As Christians we should be reminded to do the same in our lives.  Ephesians 2:6 gives us the legal right to claim and move on in the special blessings of our heavenly Father.  People may criticize, the enemy of our souls may try to condemn us, but as we turn aside from the natural order of things as Joseph did, and focus upon the truth of where we stand in Christ Jesus, we will be able to face the torpedoes of the opposition and triumph for the glory of God! 
Are there any obstacles in your life that have caused you to retreat from being the master of your calling?  I might suggest that you write these down on small individual pieces of paper, pray over them and release them to God.  Then hang these listings of your former obstacles on your Christmas tree among the other ornaments as a reminder of the new life that Jesus has given you, as your pursue His callings in view of your place in Christ Jesus!  Have a great day.  Stay in tune to His Word, and keep asking yourself… “What battles am I expecting victory over today?”

 *  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Farragut

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