Lessons For Men from the Christmas Story: The Boldness of Joseph

Joseph of Bethlehem“Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife.”  – Matthew 1:18-24

Culturally, Joseph did not have to take Mary as his wife after he discovered she was pregnant.  In fact, the scriptures tell us he was a just man and was thinking of divorcing her quietly.  However, an angel of the Lord met him in his dreams and told him what was happening and instructed him not to be afraid to take Mary as his wife.  Joseph did what the Lord directed him to do.

How many of us are afraid and neglect to do what God is instructing us to do?  As we approach the day we celebrate the birth of Christ, think about the boldness Joseph displayed in his culture.  He didn’t have to take Mary according to his culture – but he did.  How many of us men will have the boldness of Joseph to do what God is instructing us to do in His Word regardless of what our culture says.?

Together in the challenge and adventure to disciple men – Mike

Are Your Eyes Dry?

This week I am studying Psalm 51 in preparation for the class I teach on SundayPsalm 51 mornings.  If you read your Bible you will recognize this is a prayer for restoration.  A prayer that King David uttered to God after the prophet Nathan confronted him with his adulterous sin with Bathsheba and his murderous plot regarding her husband Uriah.

Though we may not have committed adultery or murdered someone, we all can say at some point in our lives we have had lustful thoughts and thoughts of anger.  Jesus told us that if we have lust in our hearts then it was as good as adultery (Matt. 5:27-28) and if we spoke and acted in anger toward someone, we have as good as murdered them (Matt. 5: 21-22).

This psalm should be a reminder to all of us that we need to  pray the prayer of Psalm 51 from time to time.  Asking God to have abundant compassion on us.  To blot out our rebellion and completely wash our guilt away and cleanse us from our sin.  Though those of us who have placed our faith in Jesus Christ who gave himself to die on the cross for our sins; who rose on the third day and has now ascended into the heavens and is sitting on the right hand of God; have been washed in the blood of the lamb and He, God the Father, will remember our sins not more; we still need to remind ourselves of our wickedness and that we need God to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

For as the scripture teach us, none of us is good nor are we righteous (Rom. 3:10).  We need God to wash us clean, whiter than snow, to create in us a clean heart and renew a steadfast spirit.  For no matter who we are we will from time to time lose our way and need to be drawn back into the presence of our God.  We need to have the joy of our salvation restored.

This week I did something I have not done in many years.

Keith Green
Click on the picture to listen to My Eyes Are Dry

I pulled out my guitar to fiddle with a little and I came across a song I use to sing when I was younger.  It was written by Keith Green, considered one of the early founders of the contemporary Christian music movement.  The song’s title is My Eyes Are Dry.  The lyrics to the song is written below and you can click on his picture to listen to the song on YouTube.

It is a song of restoration and a song that has ministered to me many times when I was younger and did today has I remembered the song and sung it.

Sometimes my eyes become dry as I lose my compassion for people who are hurting.  My heart becomes hard and I need it to be softened.  Sometimes my prayers become cold as we go though the motions and repeat the same old prayer day in and day out and we do not allow God to speak directly into our lives.  We need the Word of God and the Holy Spirit as God speaks to us through His Word.  Our eyes need to be wet from the tears as we feel compassion to those who are suffering.  We need our hearts to be soften.  We need are prayers to become alive in conversation to the Father.  We need to be washed anew in the wine of the blood of Christ.  We need God to create in us a clean heart, a steadfast spirit, restoring the joy of our salvation.  We need God to open our mouths so we can declare his praise, to sacrifice to Him a broken spirit for He will not despise a broken and humbled heart.

I ask you to examine yourself.  This is biblical as Lamentations 3:40 tell us;

Examine and probe our ways, and turn back to the Lord.

You may find yourself in a place that you need to say this prayer of Psalm 51, sing this song My Eyes Are Dry as you worship and praise God.  I pray that God will capture your heart once again if you have allowed your eyes to become dry, your faith to become old, your heart to become hard, or if your prayers have become cold.  Let yourself be washed anew in the wine of His blood.

Together in the challenge and adventure to disciple men – Mike

Lyrics to My Eyes Are Dry.

My eyes are dry
My faith is old
My heart is hard
My prayers are cold
And I know how I ought to be
Alive to you and dead to me
But what can be done for an old heart like mine
Soften it up with oil and wine
The oil is You
Your Spirit of love
Please wash me anew in the wine of your blood.

 

 

Stop Signs in Life

It was about a three and half hour trip home and I was ready to get home after being in a meeting most of the day.  After I had been traveling about an hour the female voice on my GPS, my wife in a box as my wife calls her, informed me there was an accident on I-40.  This would cause me to be delayed about 20 minutes if I stayed on the current route.  However, there was another route found that would route me around the accident, if I wanted to take it press Accept.  Well, I wanted to get home as quickly as possible so I pressed Accept.

After traveling the new route a little way the lady on the GPS stated she had found a faster route, did I want to accept.  Well, what do you think!  I want to get home, so why wouldn’t I take a route that is faster, so once again I pressed Accept for the faster route.

The GPS lady then proceeded to instruct me to turn down a road that went into the country in areas I probably have never been in the state – beautiful farm country.  Then she wanted me to turn on anotherstop-sign country road.  Then another.  Then another.  After several miles of turning down these country roads I started to get a little frustrated and I said aloud, “Where are you taking me!”  It was then I notice this big red octagonal sign that said STOP! that seemed to popped up out of the ground like in one of those video games.  I was so close I didn’t have time to react.  I did one of those quick left-to-right looks to see if another car was coming as I blew right through the stop sign at about 55 miles per hour.  As I Looked in the review mirror to see if the local Deputy Sheriff was watching, I thanked God that He had not allowed someone to be coming through the intersection at the same time.

That’s when God reminded me He puts Stop Signs in our lives from time to time.  A familiar passage to many of us came to mind, Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God.”  Sometimes in life when we are on a path that may seem strange and uncertain maybe that is a warning to us that we need to slow down and possibly even stop and listen to God.  I was recently reminded that God is constantly changing our visions and direction in the different seasons of our lives.  Sometimes we are in such a rush to get to the next adventure, like I was to get home that day, we fail to see the warnings signs that God is giving us to STOP, “Be still and know that I am God.”

If we rush through those spiritual stop signs it could led to disastrous consequences, just like that physical stop sign I ran on that country road.  Fortunately, the only consequence for me was the quickening of the pitter-patter of my heartbeat for a few moments.  But it could have been much worse.  Not only for myself, but for my family and the individual and their family if I had hit someone.  When we run through God’s spiritual stop signs the consequences could also affect those around us, not just us.

If you feel uncertain or flustered with events ingod-stop-sign your life maybe God is holding up a spiritual Stop Sign.  If decisions are hard and you cannot get a sense of direction maybe God is holding up a spiritual Stop Sign.  Maybe there has been a change in life, loss of a job, new job, sickness, death of a love one, even retirement, maybe God is holding up a spiritual Stop Sign.

God desires for us to sometimes STOP so we can reflect on where he has taken us, review what He has taught us, what we have learned while on that path, and hear clearly what God has for us as we continue in His will.  So, beware of the spiritual Stop Signs in life where you may need to be still and know that God is God.  Don’t blow past them in your haste to get something accomplished like I did on that country road that day.  The consequences could be disastrous.