When my wife Beth and I were married. She came as a package deal. Her son was six years old. They had lived with her parents as she finished high school and then graduated from college.
After the ring ceremony in our wedding, I gave Stephen a bracelet promising to love him and to become his dad. I also said that I was giving him the most precious gift I had to give and that was my name. Just as his mom became Elizabeth Ann Wright, he was becoming Stephen Roger Rigney Wright. I have never regretted that promise nor that gift. Today, I love him even more as my grown son.
The other day Stephen received some discouraging news. So, I made the drive to Indiana to spend the evening with him. During our time together, I shared something I had never told him before. His biological father had given me a gift, a special gift – his consent of adoption.
That gift was an anchor for me during the rough times as Stephen grew up. Without telling more of the story than is mine to tell. Stephen sought to build a relationship with his biological father. It was a difficult road to travel. But that gift made it easy for me to love and forgive the man through that season.
At Discover Point, the church we are planting, our Christmas series is entitled FEAR NOT. Let me share with you our description of it:
Has adulting robbed Christmas of its magic? Fear Not! God has Not Forgotten you. As a matter of fact, you are Loved. This Christmas brings Good News: you are Valued. Join us and discover Hope in the original Christmas story.
The first Sunday of Advent, Beth taught us from Zechariah and Elizabeth: Fear Not, we are not forgotten. The Second Sunday of Advent, we learned from Mary: Fear Not, we are loved. The third Sunday of Advent, we celebrated Christ in Christmas as the angel said, “Fear Not, I bring you Good News of great joy!” And the fourth Sunday of Advent, Joseph is teaching us: Fear Not, we are valued.
In Matthew 1:18-24, we find Joseph’s story. He was a righteous man. He loved God and his life was going well. He had arranged a marriage with a beautiful, godly young lady. He was the local handyman and his business was doing great.
He was living the Nazareth dream. But it all came crashing down. His beautiful, godly fiancé came up pregnant. And he knew it wasn’t his!
Angry, confused and heartbroken, Joseph began the process of divorcing Mary quietly. He thought he was living the dream but it had turned into a nightmare. One night while tossing and turning, the questions kept running through his mind. He couldn’t seem to let them go: How could she? Who had done this? Where are You, God?
Exhausted he closed his eyes to escape the living nightmare and only to slip into a fitful sleep. But it was there God showed up. Listen to Matthew 1:20.
“But after he had considered these things, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because what has been conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.'”
Prior to Zechariah’s vision there had not been any recorded fresh Words from God for some 400 years. It’s no wonder the angel started every message with FEAR NOT.
Let’s get back to the story…verse 21
“‘She will give birth to a son, and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.’”
Joseph has a role to play. He was to wed Mary and name the boy Jesus. By doing this he was accepting the responsibility to raise the boy to love God and love people.
Picking up at verse 22
“Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: See, the virgin will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and they will name him Immanuel, which is translated ‘God is with us.’”
Joseph had a valuable role to play. This was the fulfillment of prophecy. Prophecy about the Messiah!
Finishing up with verse 24
“When Joseph woke up, he did as the Lord’s angel had commanded him. He married her.”
Matthew could have concluded the section with, “He married her and became Jesus’ adoptive father.” Joseph was a great husband and father. He took his family to Egypt at the instruction of an angel to avoid an assignation attempt by King Herod. He eventually was able to return to Nazareth after Herod’s death.
Joseph’s life was turned upside down. His role in God’s plan greatly inconvenienced him. It brought many trials and much tribulation, not because God used him. But because God valued him and could trust him.
FEAR NOT, You Are Valued!
There is a saying out there. You may know it. “God will not let me go through anything I cannot handle.” Sounds good but it is not biblical. The closest thing to a promise like that is actually about temptations. And it is not that you can beat any temptation that comes at you, but that God will always provide a way of escape!
What that Bible actually teaches is in Romans 8:28, God promises to take anything evil throws at you and use it for your good and His glory. You are valued.
God is on a mission to eradicate evil from this world. He declared war on that first Christmas. Jesus said, “The gates of hell will not prevail” in this war. But God is measuring His advance. Peter says it this way, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient… not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).
Is adulting robing your Christmas of its magic? Fear Not! God has Not Forgotten you. As a matter of fact, you are Loved. This Christmas brings Good News: you are Valued. Discover Hope in the original Christmas story.
The most recognized verse from the Bible is John 3:16. Say as much of it as you can. “For God so loved the world, He sent His one and only Son. Whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”