I honestly can’t believe Christmas Eve is tomorrow! Ready or not, right? Today, let’s move to Matthew 1:18-25 and unwrap the rest of the gifts God has for us under our truth tree. By no means has this been an exhaustive catalog of every possible gift of truth in the scriptures we’ve visited. Just like we sometimes have to narrow down a loved one’s gift list and pick our favorites to give, so these have been the ones that spoke most personally to my heart in a way I hope and pray speaks to your heart too. My greatest desire is that you encounter the faithfulness of God in a way that grows your love for Him and belief in Him.
Ready to pull out some more presents?
Gift One – Now 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 (verse 18).
TRUTH: Being found with Jesus is purely the work of the Holy Spirit.
Only Mary ever has or ever will carry the human Jesus in her womb; however, every believer will be found with the Holy Spirit. Every believer will be found with His fruit and His gifts placed within. While we are responsible for what we do with what the Holy Spirit puts in us, being found with the Spirit is completely His work. There’s no involvement from us: we are simply a vessel.
Jesus conceived in Mary was only the work of the Holy Spirit. In the same way, when the Holy Spirit births new life in us, when we are born again in the Spirit and into the family of God as His child, it is entirely the work of the Holy Spirit. We don’t invite this initial work of the Holy Spirit in our heart. We don’t choose it. We don’t even participate. He does it, and the evidence of His conceiving new life in us is the faith to respond to His grace by believing in Jesus! The Holy Spirit conceives and belief is birthed out of that conception. Just as Mary’s job was to carry the life of Jesus, we are to “carry” the Holy Spirit as He grows us in spiritual maturity and brings forth Jesus in and through us!
QUESTION: What do I see as my part in my salvation and relationship with Jesus?
Gift Two – Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly (verse 19).
TRUTH: Love covers a multitude of sins.
Scripture doesn’t say how Joseph found out; we just see that he knows and considers what to do. He hasn’t encountered the angel of the Lord yet, so how does he know? Has Mary started to show and her physical condition tells it all? Did she tell him? What was that conversation like? If it were me, I imagine it going down something like this:
Um, Joseph, I have some news that isn’t going to make any sense to you. It’s completely unbelievable and I’m not sure how you’re going to react, but really, there’s not another man. Let me just say that right up front! You see…well…gosh, I guess best way to say it is to just say it: God’s angel told me the Holy Spirit would overshadow me and I’d get pregnant, and…well…as you can see, I’m pregnant. I know it’s unbelievable, but it’s the truth!
Then I would have begged!!!
Joseph, I know you can have me stoned, but please, you have to believe me! This baby is the Son of God! I haven’t been unfaithful. The Holy Spirit is the dad!!! If you don’t believe me, then just don’t kill me. Send me away quietly. I’ll go and I won’t bring any attention to myself or you…
From the image scripture paints of Mary, though, she probably said something like:
Joseph, there’s no way I can make you believe the unbelievable truth. The angel of the Lord did appear to me and tell me I would be pregnant with the Son of God by the Holy Spirit. I trust the Lord with my life, and I understand if you don’t believe me. Do with me as you see fit; my life is in the Lord’s hands. I have said to Him to let it me to me according to His word, and so it will be.
What scripture does tell us is that Joseph is just. In the Greek, he is “upright, righteous, virtuous, keeping the commands of God; used of him whose way of thinking, feeling, and acting is wholly conformed to the will of God, and who therefore needs no rectification in the heart or life; in a narrower sense, rendering to each his due and that in a judicial sense, passing just judgment on others, whether expressed in words or shown by the manner of dealing with them.”[i]
Joseph’s way of thinking, feeling and acting was wholly conformed to the will of God! He was a follower of God’s law, and he had every right to pass judgment on Mary. But He was also a follower of God, and God’s will was at work in him as he minds to put her away secretly versus exercising his full rights to have her stoned under the law.
I love that he doesn’t want to make a public example of Mary – to expose her to public disgrace. Proverbs 10:12 tells us, “Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all sins.”
This is Joseph’s betrothed. He probably loves her a lot, and he’s mindful to cover her sin, not stir up strife because he hates what she’s done and what it’s doing to him and them. Regardless of his motive, I love that he doesn’t act rashly. He’s mindful. In the Greek, it means he desires to put her away secretly because of his affection for her. He sets aside his hurt and disappointment and considers his response based on his affection for her.
Let’s learn from him. What do we do when events in someone else’s life radically affect us, our dreams, our future and our reputation? When someone does something that threatens us and we want to deal with it to the full extent of our rights? Are we thoughtful? Do we want to make a public example of them or are we willing to mindfully consider ways to address things privately because of our affection for them? Do we choose to cover sin with love? (Note: This DOES NOT mean we cover crimes with love or unacceptable behavior that’s harmful to us or others. If you or someone you know is in danger, get to safety and alert the proper authorities.)
In God there is no injustice. Isn’t this how He deals with us, slow to anger, quick to forgive and abounding in love? Will we do the same for others?
QUESTION: When I am disappointed and hurt by another’s choices or circumstances, am I willing to carefully choose my response based on love not hatred?
Gift Three – 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 (verse 20).
TRUTH: Being mindful makes room for God.
Joseph was a thoughtful man. It is in this thoughtful, compassionate place that the angel of the Lord appears to Joseph and gives him the information he needs to make a just decision – a decision wholly conformed to the will of God! He thought about what he was doing, and as he did, the Lord directed him in a dream. We too need to be thoughtful before reacting to circumstances, especially when the Lord alone knows the whole story, including the motives of our flawed hearts. And as we are thoughtful, we are in a position or place to hear from the Lord and receive His revelation and direction.
Being mindful makes room for God. Pausing gives us a chance to hear from God and please Him instead reacting to satisfy our flesh or seek control.
Notice also that in order for Joseph to be dreaming, he must have been sleeping, which indicates he was trusting and resting in God. Even when we face difficult decisions with serious consequences, we can rest in the Lord’s goodness and faithfulness. We can sleep. The Lord says not to worry, and if we’re losing sleep because of mental wrestling over fears and scenarios, we may be standing in the way of the very peace and direction we desperately need from the Lord!
The other thing we see in this verse is that GOD revealed the truth to Joseph. Again, scripture doesn’t relay the conversations Mary and Joseph may or may not have had. What we do see is that the Lord Himself made sure the person who needed to know the truth knew the truth. We don’t see Mary desperately trying to convince Joseph of the truth. The Lord made the truth known to Joseph so he could honor and stand by Mary through it all. The Lord will make the truth known to those He deems necessary; He will reveal His truth to those He calls to stand with us in knowing His will and walking with us in it. Like Mary, we have to trust God and be willing that it be to us according to His word; like Joseph, we have to get out of the way and be careful not to react rashly in hurt and anger.
QUESTION: Where do I need to pause, trust God and rest?
Gift Four – also from verse 20…
TRUTH: Don’t be afraid to continue in God’s plan even when the Holy Spirit does something inexplicable.
The Lord essentially tells Joseph to carry on because what’s happening is of Him.
When the Holy Spirit conceives something unexpected in you or your spouse or another loved one and does something that interrupts and disrupts our otherwise perfect plans, don’t be afraid to take whatever next step the Lord directs. Don’t be afraid to move forward as planned.
Just as the Lord let Joseph know what was happening and what to do, so He will for us as we wait on Him and listen for His voice. The Lord will confirm to us what is His work. However the Lord may speak, He does speak to us. He does instruct and answer us. Many times universally through His word; other times specifically to us through a scripture, another person, a whisper to our heart, a dream, and always in line with His written word.
Joseph knew scripture. He would have known of the prophecies pointing to the coming Messiah. God’s word was being fulfilled before him. If we perceive the Holy Spirit is conceiving something and it’s confirmed by His word, we can have faith and move forward with the next step before us, trusting a God to redirect us if we are off course. The point isn’t to live haphazardly, but to live with risky faith. I am so preaching to myself right now about an area of my life where I’m allowing fear to hinder me! Sometimes we have to risk being wrong to learn how to walk with the faith God’s plans demand! God’s desire is to see you end up where He wants you. If you are moving forward in humble, yielded faith and make a wrong move, He will redirect you.
Sometimes we’re Mary – God is birthing something new in us that is inexplicably, controversial and impossible, and sometimes we’re Joseph – we’re asked to have faith in the inexplicably, controversial and impossible thing God is doing in another person. Either way, the Lord is saying: Do not fear when what is happening is conceived of the Holy Spirit.
QUESTION: Am I willing to risk faith in God that He will be with me in the next step He’s put before me?
Let’s stop here for today. Tomorrow we’ll unwrap our last three gifts, one of which is the greatest gift of all! Don’t miss it! Check back here on the blog, or enter your email in the upper right corner where it says “Sign Up!” and tomorrow’s post will come straight to your inbox.
May you know Peace Himself and the peace He gives as you go about your activities these next few days. I pray we will all pause from cultural practices and intentionally seek the Savior for whom all the activity is meant to celebrate.
[i] “G2147 – heuriskō – Strong’s Greek Lexicon (NKJV).” Blue Letter Bible. Web. 21 Dec, 2016. <https://www.blueletterbible.org//lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G2147&t=NKJV>