Posts Tagged ‘Joseph’

Joshua 11:16-12:24

Summary of Conquests

 

Last night, I watched a movie that I had last seen in the movie theatre. Now, last night it was on TBS. It was the movie, Interstellar, starring Matthew McConoughey and Anne Hathaway. It is one of those movies that messes with your head. It is well-written but it deals with some heady scientific concepts. The theory of relativity plays a front and center role in the movie. That is a pretty high-brow concept to be the star concept of a movie. The movie does not dumb down the science and the theory and it challenges you to consider the concepts of their being different dimensions of life that we are not aware of outside of time, spatial relationships, and motion.

 

The story centers on Matthew McConaughey’s Cooper, a former NASA pilot turned farmer, who discovers mysterious coordinates to a top-secret government project. He is recruited by his old colleague Professor Brand (Michael Caine) to lead a journey into the nether regions of space to, essentially, find a new home for humanity. While it’s somewhat glossed over in the film, the reason for this mission is because the Earth’s resources are dwindling rapidly, with the “blight” rendering the planet incapable of yielding any crops except for corn, although that will be over soon as well.

 

At any rate, despite the protests of his young daughter Murph (Mackenzie Foy), Cooper joins this all-important mission aboard the Endurance spacecraft alongside Brand’s daughter and biologist Amelia (Anne Hathaway), physicist Romily (David Gyasi), geographer Doyle (Wes Bentley) and two androids known as TARS (voiced by Bill Irwin) and CASE (voiced by Josh Stewart). Their mission is to enter a wormhole and explore the three planets orbiting the black hole Gargantua, which are named Miller, Mann and Edmunds, after the astronauts who explored them in the previous Lazarus missions. In Interstellar, Cooper wrestles with the decision to join the Endurance, since he knows he will be separated from his young daughter Murph (Mackenzie Foy) and son Tom (Timothée Chalamet) for an unknown amount of time. He doesn’t know then that years upon years will pass, with Murph (Jessica Chastain) and Tom (Casey Affleck) growing up never knowing if and/or when their father will come back. It’s Murph’s undying faith that Coop will return that provides a heart-wrenching payoff.

 

What a quandry this film proposes, saving humanity (where through the vagaries of the relativity you only age a few years) at the expense of spending time with your family over a period of sixty or so years on earth. Which would you do? Do something that no one on earth will possibly remember that will save their lives or stay on earth, not take the risk and suffer and die with your family as the planet wastes away. Would you rather take the risk of failing in an effort to save humanity for which you may never get credit for and risk alienating and destroying family relationships to save something greater, humanity?

 

Sometimes, we have choices like that to make. We can take the easy way out or we can do the hard work whose fruit might not been seen in this lifetime or, at least, not for many years. We may choose comfort over doing hard work that may take many years to realize. We see this in this passage. Remember, back in the first approach to the Promised Land, the Israelites did not want to do the hard work of conquering the Promised Land. Wandering in the wilderness for 40 years was preferable to having to fight and claw and scratch out the conquest of the Promised Land. Remember, God promised them the Promised Land, a land flowing with milk and honey, but they did not want to do the work that was necessary to obtain it. Here in this passage, we see just how hard that work was. Let’s read it together now:

 

 

 

16 So Joshua took this entire land: the hill country, all the Negev, the whole region of Goshen, the western foothills, the Arabah and the mountains of Israel with their foothills, 17 from Mount Halak, which rises toward Seir, to Baal Gad in the Valley of Lebanon below Mount Hermon. He captured all their kings and put them to death. 18 Joshua waged war against all these kings for a long time. 19 Except for the Hivites living in Gibeon, not one city made a treaty of peace with the Israelites, who took them all in battle. 20 For it was the Lord himself who hardened their hearts to wage war against Israel, so that he might destroy them totally, exterminating them without mercy, as the Lord had commanded Moses.

 

21 At that time Joshua went and destroyed the Anakites from the hill country: from Hebron, Debir and Anab, from all the hill country of Judah, and from all the hill country of Israel. Joshua totally destroyed them and their towns. 22 No Anakites were left in Israelite territory; only in Gaza, Gath and Ashdod did any survive.

 

23 So Joshua took the entire land, just as the Lord had directed Moses, and he gave it as an inheritance to Israel according to their tribal divisions. Then the land had rest from war.

List of Defeated Kings

 

12 These are the kings of the land whom the Israelites had defeated and whose territory they took over east of the Jordan, from the Arnon Gorge to Mount Hermon, including all the eastern side of the Arabah:

 

2 Sihon king of the Amorites, who reigned in Heshbon.

 

He ruled from Aroer on the rim of the Arnon Gorge—from the middle of the gorge—to the Jabbok River, which is the border of the Ammonites. This included half of Gilead. 3 He also ruled over the eastern Arabah from the Sea of Galilee[a] to the Sea of the Arabah (that is, the Dead Sea), to Beth Jeshimoth, and then southward below the slopes of Pisgah.

 

4 And the territory of Og king of Bashan, one of the last of the Rephaites, who reigned in Ashtaroth and Edrei.

 

5 He ruled over Mount Hermon, Salekah, all of Bashan to the border of the people of Geshur and Maakah, and half of Gilead to the border of Sihon king of Heshbon.

 

6 Moses, the servant of the Lord, and the Israelites conquered them. And Moses the servant of the Lord gave their land to the Reubenites, the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh to be their possession.

 

7 Here is a list of the kings of the land that Joshua and the Israelites conquered on the west side of the Jordan, from Baal Gad in the Valley of Lebanon to Mount Halak, which rises toward Seir. Joshua gave their lands as an inheritance to the tribes of Israel according to their tribal divisions. 8 The lands included the hill country, the western foothills, the Arabah, the mountain slopes, the wilderness and the Negev. These were the lands of the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. These were the kings:

9 the king of Jericho       one

the king of Ai (near Bethel)         one

10 the king of Jerusalem              one

the king of Hebron          one

11 the king of Jarmuth  one

the king of Lachish          one

12 the king of Eglon       one

the king of Gezer             one

13 the king of Debir        one

the king of Geder             one

14 the king of Hormah  one

the king of Arad               one

15 the king of Libnah     one

the king of Adullam       one

16 the king of Makkedah             one

the king of Bethel            one

17 the king of Tappuah one

the king of Hepher          one

18 the king of Aphek      one

the king of Lasharon      one

19 the king of Madon    one

the king of Hazor             one

20 the king of Shimron Meron   one

the king of Akshaph       one

21 the king of Taanach one

the king of Megiddo      one

22 the king of Kedesh    one

the king of Jokneam in Carmel  one

23 the king of Dor (in Naphoth Dor)        one

the king of Goyim in Gilgal         one

24 the king of Tirzah      one

thirty-one kings in all.

 

In this passage, we see that much of the conquest of the land of Canaan seems to have happened quickly (we can read about it in just a few pages), but it actually took seven (7) years. We often expect quick changes in our lives and quick victories over sin, over circumstances that oppress us, over obstacles to our successful enjoyment of life. However, our journey with God is a lifelong process and any changes in our lives or victories over that which we want to conquer may take time. It is easy to grow impatient with God and feel like giving up hope because things are moving too slowly, according to our standards. When we are too close to a situation, it is difficult to see progress. But when we get a chance to reflect, we can see that God never stopped working. In this passage, we see that this information is a summary of the first half of the book of Joshua. It lists kings and nations conquered by Joshua both east and west of the Jordan River. The accumulation of evidence here suggests that, even though it takes time sometimes, obedience to the Lord will result in victory and not just some quick fix.

 

That’s the thing that we must grapple with in our relationship with the Lord. If we are to grow in our relationship with Him sometimes we have to put in the work that we may not see immediate results from it. We want quick answers to our prayers. We want a “if I do this Lord, you will do that immediately” relationship with the Lord. Just think of how long Moses had to work in Midian before God called him to lead His people. Just think of Moses leading Israel in the desert for 40 years and not getting to even go into the Promised Land. He never got to see the fruition of the conquest, but without Moses’ efforts Israel would have never made it back to the Promised Land. Just think of Joseph toiling away in prison, falsely convicted of a crime he did not commit, mind you, for 12 years. Twelve years in prison for a crime he did not commit, but he continued being faithful to God (even when there was not immediate results). Jesus lived for 30 years in the flesh before He began His ministry. Was it wasted time? No. It was necessary for Jesus, the God in the flesh component of the Trinity, to know the feel, the touch, the everything of our merely mortal existence. He knows what it is like to cry over loved ones who have passed. He knows the joy of life’s great events in our lives. He knows pain of hitting his thumb with a hammer. He knows the pain of being beaten within an inch of His mortal existence. He knows it all from the human point of view. It took thirty years. Also, think of Jesus from His humanity’s perspective knowing that His death on the cross would give us a way to be reconciled forever with God but He had to endure real human suffering and a gruesome death for that to happen. He even asked the Father to take that cup from Him. What a choice that would be do something that will matter for eternity but you gotta put in the work on the cross that nobody will notice until they understand that you were not just human but you were the fully divine presence of God. Millions of people will ignore what you did. Millions more won’t even recognize that you even existed. But in order for everyone to have access to the Father through your payment on the cross, you must do this.

 

Sometimes, we must do the hard things to grow in Christ. We must do more than just what’s easy. We may suffer hardships as a result of our faith but the rewards go far beyond the here and now. Is God asking you to do something hard that will take a long time to see any benefits of. Sometimes being a Christ follower involves obedience without any tangible earthly results. But we must do them any way because God has directed us to do it. We may have a cushy life and a comfortable life now but God may be calling us to do something that is really hard? Are you willing to trade the here and now benefits of this life but miss out on God’s eternal blessings? What is God calling you to do that is hard and you are shying away from it? What if you miss the real eternal blessing that God has in store because what lies ahead seems to hard? The safety of here and now pales in comparison to the blessings that come from obedience.

 

Amen and Amen.

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Numbers 12:1-16 (Part 1 of 2)

The Complaints of Miriam and Aaron Against Moses

 

Have you looked at the on-stage members of your church staff and became jealous because they get to be on-stage and you’re not. Have you ever wondered why your talents are not being recognized at church? You say to yourself, I feel called to be a preacher and you go to seminary but yet you never get to preach? Have you ever felt pigeon-holed into certain tasks at your church simply because that is what you have done for a living for all of your adult life? You think to yourself, I have been in my profession for all these years because that’s just how life worked out and it was the easiest path using one of the talents that God has given you. You think that God has given you the skill of writing and He has given you great passion for God’s Word but yet He is providing you no outlet to pursue and use those passions. No churches are calling you to be their preacher and there seems to be no outlet it for it for you at your present church, your home church. Jealousy is divisive emotion. It can cause bitterness and disillusionment. Jealousies are not of God and they are the division-building sins that Satan whispers in our ear.

 

During the past year, I have struggled with this very sin. Jealousy is really a sign of something deeper. It is really about pride and often hides the real issue. Those Lord has dealt with me on this issue and humbled me on it and I now realize that the real issue was that I was angry at Him for not letting me have my heart’s desire. Often we are jealous of others and the positions that they hold because we want what they have for the wrong reasons. Do you think that maybe God was dealing with pride on my part? Did I really want to be a preacher who preaches every Sunday because of some amount of fame that it might bring me? Was I really wanting to be a public preacher without going through the planned process that God has for me in this? Are there things that God is working on in me that need to be worked on before I can hold the position of on-stage preacher at our church or as the solo preacher at a smaller church? Could it be that there are still things I need to learn before I take the next step? Even worse in my prideful heart, could it be that I am not meant to be that public face of my church or any other and that God has me exactly where He wants me? That was a crushing thought to my pride. Maybe, you are already in your ministry. Maybe, the reason that you, as you see it Mark, feel into your accounting career and have excel reasonably well in it is because that is what your God-given talent is. Yes, He has talented you to be a writer, and a prolific one through this blog at that. Yes, He has given you great passion for God’s Word. Yes, this passion is such that you rarely read any other books than books that give you greater insight into God’s Word. It is so obvious to others and to God but it was not to me. Pride simply is a lack of trust in the Lord. Pride can lead you to be angry at God for not giving you, like a two year old child, the toy that you wanted. It is only through painful self-examination in prayer that I have come to realize that I have not been trusting the Lord with my pastoral future. I must realize that God is in control.

 

I liken myself to Joseph and Moses in coming to realize that I must serve the Lord in the capacity that He has me in at the moment and do it with fervor, passion, and with great love for my Lord. I must do what He has in front of me and trust Him with the rest. What if Moses had complained about living in Midian for forty years before he was called to come free his people from Egypt. What if he had whined during those forty years and complained and didn’t see that his time as a herdsmen was necessary for the last forty years of his life where he was the leader of a nomadic people in the Sinai peninsula. What if Joseph, falsely accused of having inappropriate sexual relations with an Egyptian governor’s wife, had whined and complained about being falsely accused and just sat in prison in brooding anger. Instead he became a trusted servant of his jailors which led him to be in a position to become the second most powerful man in Egypt. Each of these men faithfully went about what God had placed in front of them and served in that capacity to the best of their ability for as long as was necessary. They trusted God with the rest. They did not really have much concern about what was next because they knew that God had their back and would open doors as He saw fit. In them, I see men who maybe thought to themselves that this is it. God has me where He wants me and maybe this is where He wants me for the rest of my life and be good with that. How much do we trust the Lord is the ultimate issue or how much will be let our pride take over and destroy what God has planned for us? Some might say that this is a defeatist attitude. But it is more of a trusting attitude and a giving-God-control attitude.

 

I have had to learn to trust God in that way myself. I have had to learn that maybe this is exactly what God intended all along. That struggle in my own heart is what I thought of when I read today’s passage, Numbers 12:1-16:

 

12 Miriam and Aaron began to talk against Moses because of his Cushite wife, for he had married a Cushite. 2 “Has the Lord spoken only through Moses?” they asked. “Hasn’t he also spoken through us?” And the Lord heard this.

 

3 (Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.)

 

4 At once the Lord said to Moses, Aaron and Miriam, “Come out to the tent of meeting, all three of you.” So the three of them went out. 5 Then the Lord came down in a pillar of cloud; he stood at the entrance to the tent and summoned Aaron and Miriam. When the two of them stepped forward, 6 he said, “Listen to my words:

 

“When there is a prophet among you,

    I, the Lord, reveal myself to them in visions,

    I speak to them in dreams.

7

But this is not true of my servant Moses;

    he is faithful in all my house.

8

With him I speak face to face,

    clearly and not in riddles;

    he sees the form of the Lord.

Why then were you not afraid

    to speak against my servant Moses?”

 

9 The anger of the Lord burned against them, and he left them.

 

10 When the cloud lifted from above the tent, Miriam’s skin was leprous[a]—it became as white as snow. Aaron turned toward her and saw that she had a defiling skin disease, 11 and he said to Moses, “Please, my lord, I ask you not to hold against us the sin we have so foolishly committed. 12 Do not let her be like a stillborn infant coming from its mother’s womb with its flesh half eaten away.”

 

13 So Moses cried out to the Lord, “Please, God, heal her!”

 

14 The Lord replied to Moses, “If her father had spit in her face, would she not have been in disgrace for seven days? Confine her outside the camp for seven days; after that she can be brought back.” 15 So Miriam was confined outside the camp for seven days, and the people did not move on till she was brought back.

 

16 After that, the people left Hazeroth and encamped in the Desert of Paran.

 

People often argue over minor disagreements, leaving the real issue untouched. Such was the case with Miriam and Aaron. They represented the priests (Aaron) and the prophets (Miriam), the two most powerful groups of the Israelites, next to Moses. The real issue was their growing jealousy of Moses and their own anger at God caused by their pride. Since could not find fault with Moses’ leadership, they chose to criticize his wife. Rather than face the problem squarely by dealing with their envy and pride, they chose to create a diversion from the real issue. Miriam was punished by God and not Aaron not because she was a woman and Aaron was a man but rather because, based on the Hebrew grammar of the sentence, she was the one who started the whole jealousy conversation with Miriam. It has been amply proven in Exodus that Aaron was not strong-willed when it came to resisting public opinion even when he knew it was wrong. Miriam was the instigator here.

 

Miriam held an important position in the people of Israel. God had given her great talent of prophecy and of song. She was important among the Israelite people and that is why her story is included here. It shows how jealousy caused by pride can take our eyes of the gifts that God has given us. It can take our eye of serving the Lord in the capacity that He has us. It gets our eyes of the fact that God has us where He wants us at the moment, and maybe even forever, because that is where He needs us to be. It takes our eyes off the good that we are doing in the capacities that we are in. We must learn to trust the Lord that He has us where He wants us and that it is HE that will make it abundantly clear to us (with no sense of dissension but rather a sense of peace) when it is time to take the next step. Joseph was a servant in a jail for 12 years, but He trusted God and served there to the best of his ability. Where would the people of Israel have been without Joseph having served to the best of his ability in that jail. They would be dead due to famine. There would have been no Moses, no Exodus, no Promised Land. What if Moses had not dutifully served his father-in-law in Midian for 40 years. The Israelites may well have not survived in the wilderness without Moses’ experience living the nomadic lifestyle. Without that, there would be no people Israel. No promised land. No people from which Jesus Christ would come.

 

Let us begin to trust God with place that He has us right now and serve Him in that capacity to the best of our ability for as long as God would have us do that. No, that’s not some defeatist, status-quo attitude. That is trusting God with our future. That is trusting that He will make a path for us. That is trusting that He will make our way clear. That is trusting that He will let us plainly see and feel that is time for the next thing. In the meantime, we shout the gospel through our trust in Him to serve Him in the capacity that He has us right as if this is the final thing, as if we are in our sweet spot, as if we are preaching to the world by the way we serve the Lord in the place that He has us. That’s trust. That’s humility. That is putting our pride in its place.

 

Amen and Amen.

Luke 2:21-24 — In reading this passage, the first thing that comes to mind is obedience. How do we as parents raise our children—in obedience to God’s Word. It is Proverbs 22:6 that says, “Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.” Here we see how Mary and Joseph were determined to raise their child according to Scripture even if that child was the Son of God Himself.

It says in Leviticus 12:3 that all Jewish males are to be circumcised on the eighth day after their birth.This was a very important ritual in a Jewish family, because the circumcision of the males was a sign that they were a people set apart unto God. It was the sign and seal of the Abrahamic Covenant (Gen 17). Every good Jewish family would have this done to their son, but it was especially important for Mary and Joseph to make sure Jesus went through the ceremony, because He was definitely set apart for God’s service. The question for us as parents today is that are we, from birth, teaching our children about the Bible or are we saying, “oh that can wait, he/she is just a baby.” Are we setting our children apart for God’s service. Do we raise them steeped in Scripture? They say that by the age of 2, children have already mastered a sufficient amount of our language to be able to communicate effectively in that language. Yet, do we, as Christian parents, begin early teaching them the Bible. Do we raise them from the Bible? If they can master the language in 2 years, then teaching them about God at very young age does not seem like such a stretch does it? Mary and Joseph began setting the example to their son immediately. They were obedient to God’s Word in their parenting of their son – The Son.

They were obedient to God in naming Jesus. Not only do we see them being obedient to God’s Written Word but they were also being obedient to God’s Spoken Word.Remember in Luke 1, Mary was visited by Gabriel, and he told her to name her son Jesus (1:36)? Mary has remembered that, and has certainly told Joseph of it also, and so at the circumcision ceremony, they name Him Jesus. Joseph, lifting up Jesus in his arms and praying, “Our God and the God of our fathers, raise up this child to his father and mother, and let his name in Israel be called Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins” (Matt 1:21). Jesus is the Greek translation of His Hebrew name, Yeshua, which means “the Lord saves.” Our Savior could be named nothing else. He must be named Jesus. Mary and Joseph were obedient in this naming. They were told by Gabriel that this name would be His name. Are we being obedient to God’s Word that comes to us through Scripture and through prayer (or vision in Mary’s case) in raising our children? When people see us, and the way we live according to the Word of God, do they see Christ shining through? We people see our children do they see Christ shining through? If we raise our children in obedience to God’s Word, if we teach them God’s Word in obedience, people will see integrity in us and in our children. People will see love in us and in our children. Don’t wait to teach your children about God and His Word. The horse leaves the barn pretty quickly on the setting of behavior patterns in children. Teach them obedience to God’s Word from birth.

the command in Leviticus 12 is that a woman who bears a son must wait 40 days before she is considered pure and 80 days after bearing a daughter. At the end of her 40 days of purification, Leviticus 12 instructed Mary to bring a sacrifice to the temple of one lamb, and one turtledove or one pigeon. For families that were extremely poor, they could offer two turtledoves or two pigeons instead. Notice that Mary and Joseph offered the poor family’s offering. They were not a rich family. They were poor. But they did not let their social status get in the way of being obedient to God. Even though Mary brought the Sinless One into the world, they were fiercely obedient to God’s Word even about Mary’s purification. She knew that Jesus was the Son of God but yet they were here at the temple obeying God’s Word. They did not obey out of repetition or lukewarm allegiance. They loved God and His Word. It was at the core of their lives. Jesus saw from them human examples of being obedient to the Lord. We have to give Mary and Joseph some credit. Knowing that Jesus was the Son of God and really didn’t have to go through all these things but they did. They were obedient. They were honoring God and His requirements for His people not just going through the motions. Jesus saw this growing up. He was God but He was also fully human. He saw parents who followed God’s Word. Let us as parents not be stumbling blocks for our children’s walk with Jesus. Let them see that we seek to honor God in all things. Are you walking the walk in front of your children? They capture everything we do in their minds. Their minds are like sponges. Do you want them to absorb you being obedient to God in the way you carry yourself and in the way you raise them?

It was an old Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young song that said “Teach your children well”. We must as the song later says, “feed them on your dreams” Our dream should be that they will be raised up in righteousness so that will not depart from it. Start them young. Give them a head’s up in this race to eternity. My prayer is that our children not have to go the long route to a life in Jesus like we did. May that not make the mistakes that we did. May they not live the ways of the world for years. If you have a baby right now or with one on the way. Start ’em young, I beg of you. Wouldn’t you rather their life be filled with obedience to the Lord rather than spending a lifetime trying to find some empty temporal pleasures instead of filling their lives with Godly obedience. Jesus was the Son of God but Mary and Joseph still raised Him up under the influence of the Word of God from birth. Don’t wait. Trust your baby to God from the beginning. Read God’s Word to them from the beginning. Teach them God’s Word from the beginning. Their route to eternity is at stake.

Luke 2:1-17 — This passage is powerful in its straighforward simplicity. On the surface, it speaks no powerful theological message directly, but when you take this passage apart it speaks loudly.

First, as we have discussed before, Jesus broke into the world in a real way. He is not some mythical figure. The Roman emperor was a real person at the head of a real empire. There had been some belief that Luke messed up the dates about when the census was taken but it has sense be proven true. Every couple of years there is a new discovery that verifies a fact in the Bible that had been previously held to be untrue. I read recently that oceanic archaeologists have found the remains of Egyptian armor at the bottom of the Red Sea that date to the time of the Exodus in the Bible. So, these facts add fire to my faith. The Bible is not just some fantasy, it is couched in history. The Jesus I believe in is a real man who actually existed. The fact that He is the Son of God is where my faith has to take me the last mile but the Christian faith is historical and based in real facts and events. You don’t have to lose your mind to be a Christ follower. There is a reasonableness to the faith. There comes faith to believe that Jesus was God in the flesh and that He willingly died on the cross for my sins. However, this faith of ours is so reasonable, there is not one person on earth that doubts Jesus’ existence – even atheists.

Second, we notice that Joseph and Mary did not have an easy road here. It seems that their life got harder with the need to return to their ancestral home. Slow arduous travel with a pregnant, tender teenage girl was not Joseph’s idea of a good time. They would have traveled slowly. It was not hopping in the car for them. This was a considerable task that some of us forget when we read the Christmas stories in the Bible. Although today, by modern roads, it about 70 miles from Nazareth to Jerusalem. But back in the day without modern roads and accounting for the terrain between the two towns, it may have taken the up to 100 miles. Think about making that trip on foot or on a donkey with a pregnant teen almost at full-term. Sometimes we like to sanitize this story and make it seem that bam they got up made the journey. No sweat. I bet this was a considerable decision for the two. Even though they were bearing the Christ Child and both had displayed great faith in accepting their roles, their life did not necessarily get easier. In fact there life was pretty rough there at the beginning. They had to go to Bethlehem, a long arduous journey. They had to give birth in a cave meant for keeping animals at night. They had to escape to Egypt when Jesus was very young. They had to live their for several years. Not exactly what seems like our life getting better as a result of our acts of obedience to the Father. This reminds us that sometimes we will face hardship as believers even when we step out in faith. We must remember that God will allow events to happen to us to determine how dedicated we are to Him. Are you willing to do whatever it takes to do God’s will are will you wimp out when it is no longer convenient? Joseph would chuckle at our lack of faith. He became a world traveler because of his acts of obedience. Do you have the resolve to follow wherever Christ leads? Do I have what it takes when it comes down to it? Do I push through adversity or do I wimp out. If God can’t trust us with a little, He will not trust us with much.

The final thing that you see here is the contrasts between human authority and God’s authority. Jesus came into the world as a mere baby. He seems awful weak compared the human authority of the mighty Roman Empire. The Romans were in control of much of the known world at the time. Joseph and Mary controlled little. Jesus was a mere baby. Augustus Caesar was the ruler of much of the world. The contrast makes Jesus and Mary and Joseph seem like a speck on a flea on the biggest dog. However, Jesus changed the world. He changed the Roman Empire. How many people remember that Augustus Caesar was the first emperor of Rome – when Rome converted from a republic to an empire. How many people remember what Augustus said, thought, and felt. 2,000 years later people know what Jesus said felt and did. The number of people’s lives that Jesus has touched in the last 2,000 years is astounding. Augustus Caesar sounds kind of puny in comparison. The church lives on today. The Roman Empire is gone. The Roman emperors after Augustus tried to do things that assured their remembrance for generations. Do you remember any Roman emperor with the same emotion as you do when you remember Jesus. The humble baby is exalted. The proud empire is brought low. How this gives us hope. When we are down and out and thinking the world has crapped on us, we know that our faith is eternal, our circumstances are temporary. Things of this earth pass away, but Jesus is forever.

Father, Father, thank you for the obedience the faith of Joseph and Mary. They are inspirations to my faith. They were obedient to you in all circumstances. They suffered great hardships in making sure that the Christ Child was born where He was supposed to be born, that He survived into adulthood and began His ministry that changed the world forever. Help me to remember that doing your will is not always easy and convenient. Help me to remember that it may downright hard and excruciatingly difficult to do your will. Help me to remember that things of this life are temporary and that doing your will is of eternal benefit. Help me to know that choosing earthly convenience over doing your will is so very short sighted. Help me to remember that you offer eternity with you to those who are submitted to you and strive to do your will no matter the circumstance. Amen.