God Speaks While Joseph Sleeps

It is amazing to me that God can often work in such profound ways while people are doing simple things… like sleeping. I look at the life of Joseph and see that God was working in a BIG way while he was snoring away. I know it doesn’t ALWAYS work out like this, but I imagine that there were a few years when Joseph (Jesus’ ‘adoptive dad’), would have been excited and scared when he crawled into bed. It seemed like God told Joseph some very BIG news while he was sleeping.

I imagine the first time was pretty stressful. Joseph had recently found out that his wife was pregnant… even though they had never been together sexually. He cared for her, but knew that he had to do something, so he decided to divorce her quietly. (I talked a little about this situation in this blog post).

So, he curls up in his footie pajamas and nods off into dreamland… knowing that he was about to quietly ‘divorce’ this woman that he loves. And, in between counting sheep and the rooster crowing, an angel shows up.

Angel Shows up to Joseph - Matthew.png

This was a pretty big moment for him. This would change everything. There were only two answers to Mary’s premature pregnancy. Either (1), the baby was Joseph’s and they had slept with one another before their official marriage was official. [This was a pretty grievous sin during this time and would carry with it much shame brought upon the family]. Or, (2) she had been with another man and the baby Mary was carrying was the product of infidelity. This, also, would bring incredible shame on both Mary and Joseph… but mostly on Joseph’s family which would be an incredible dishonor in a culture where integrity and honor were tantamount.

But, God spoke and Joseph was obedient. This is always my favorite part. He could have just ignored the dream and blamed it on some bad tamales that he bought at the local Quickie Mart. He could have come up with some excuse on why it didn’t make sense and followed his own will… but, he didn’t. The Bible tells us that he takes Mary to be his wife.

I wonder if God was proud of Joseph. I wonder if He smiled at His obedience. One thing is for sure… God used the ‘angel in the dream’ thing a few more times. I imagine He thought to Himself… ‘that Joseph sure listened to me when I sent the angel. We have a few more messages for Him. Keep that angel on speed dial. We are going to be needing him again’.

And God did… three more times recorded in Scripture.

There was the time that the death squad was coming to kill the babies in Bethlehem. The angel shows up and the angel tells Joseph to get the heck out of Dodge…

Matthew 2

Then, after a time in Egypt, Joseph is curling up in bed after reading the final chapter of Arabian Nights and, as he is drifting away, an angel comes and tells them that it is safe to head back to the homeland of Israel…

Matthew 2(2)

But, that wasn’t enough. Yes… Joseph was headed back to Israel, but God wanted to be a little more specific about where they were going to go. So, in the final recorded dream of Joseph, an angel shows back up and tells him what neighborhood and subdivision that He was supposed to move in to.

Matthew 2(3)

And, he did.

I am encouraged by this. I am encouraged by Joseph’s obedience, but I am also encouraged by God’s love and grace in His communication. I love how He knew to reach into Joseph. I love how He knew how to get His attention. I love how He knew what would work.

I know that this same BIG God, knows me as well as He knew Joseph. I know that He created Joseph and He created me with purpose. And, I know that He knows what to do in order to get my attention and to speak and guide and direct my life too. I trust Him and trust that He is actively working in my life today. And… as He works… He will be pointing some things out along the journey of life.

Feel free to say this prayer and spend some time listening to God today:

“God, show up in my life. Help me pay attention and see your fingerprints all over my life. Help me live a life of obedience to You and Your Word. When I see You moving in my life, help me to focus and pay attention with a humble and obedient heart. Thank You for all that You have done in my life and all that You will do. I am grateful.” 

GP

 

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A King, a Priest and a Dead Man Walk Into A Barn

A gift is a blessing… but a perfectly timed gift is a miracle. 

I can imagine how humbled Mary and Joseph were when the ‘wise men’ astrologers followed a star to their front door. I can imagine their joy to see these learned men who had traveled (maybe 1,000 miles) to bow before their son. But when they opened the treasure boxes… I am sure their hearts melted.

Some gifts may seem strange to us today and some we would welcome gladly.

GOLD. For sure, no problem with this. If you want to bring a bucket full of gold to my kid’s birthday party… I will not complain. With a current value of $1,272 per ounce, you can fill every bucket in the house with it! Of course, it was also a gift fit for a king. And then there was the incense.

FRANKINCENSE to be specific. This was used in priestly functions as incense was burned before God as a picture of prayers going up before the Lord. Some today, however, believe that the wise men’s gift of frankincense was practical for the medicinal nature. Either way, it was also a gift for a priest. And then there was the myrrh.

MYRRH was an embalming agent. Yes, it was valuable, but it also carried with it a very ominous picture into the future of Jesus and the core reason on why He was on earth. He was there on purpose… and that purpose was death. It was a good gift for a dead man.

These gifts were normal gifts to give a king. In fact, these same three items were apparently among the gifts, recorded in ancient inscriptions, that King Seleucus II Callinicus offered to the god Apollo at the temple in Miletus in 243 B.C.E.

There is also a prophetic word from the prophet Isaiah about the response of people to God in the sixtieth chapter of Isaiah:

Isaiah 60-6.png

For us today, there is a lot to see about these incredible gifts given to this young child. It is a testimony of God’s care and provision for the future that was unknown by Joseph and Mary at this time. Because… in the next few verses we are going to find a raging king Herod, a death squad march into Bethlehem and an all expense paid trip to Egypt. Paid for through a miracle.

A miracle that involved a star that defied the laws of nature and a group that traveled over 1,000 miles with a message of honor.

God knew the future of Joseph and Mary… and He provided for them. He made a way. He opened a door. He cared for their needs. He worked a miracle and did that which ONLY He could have done. 

The same is true in your life.

The same God who worked a miracle in Bethlehem can work a miracle in your life today. The same God who provided for Mary and Joseph can provide for you. The same God who created the universe has a perfect plan for your life. 

Our role is to humbly trust and respond to His grace and love with open hands and a grateful heart. To thank Him for His provision today and trust that He knows ALL the difficulties we will face tomorrow and trust that He is providing for those tomorrows today.

Say this simple prayer:

“God, help me trust you more. Help me to believe that You do care and You do provide for ALL of my needs. Help me turn to You when things don’t make sense and to look for your fingerprints all over my life. I want to give all of my ‘todays’ to you and trust that you are actively at work in all of my ‘tomorrows’. Help me live out that trust. Amen.”

GP

A Star Defies Nature For Jesus

In the Bible there is a story about ‘wise men’ who were traveling to see a newborn King. They were following a star along their journey and this star made some incredibly unnatural moves along it’s journey.

It started in ‘the East’ with a group of people known as ‘magi’. Magi actually first entered the scene around the 7th century BC in the Median empire, but at the time of Jesus they were a priestly caste dwelling within the Parthian empire (a large area to the east of the eastern frontier of the Roman Empire). They were known for interpreting dreams and practiced a hybrid of astronomy and astrology. They were ‘star people’.

So, they see ‘the‘ star. This is not just any star, but the star that was a big deal because it was the star that marked a king being born. If they were in Persia when they saw the star (although the Bible is silent on the exact point of origin), they would have traveled 1,000 miles to Bethlehem as they followed that star! (Their feet must’ve been like stone after walking all that way… all calloused and blistered by the time they made it into Jerusalem. Either that or some sore butts from the camels. Either way, they were feeling it. )

Now, this is where it gets strange.

They start getting close to this baby named Jesus and we read:

“…the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was.” Matthew 2:9b

Now stars travel in a certain trajectory. If you were to sit and watch the stars through a telescope, you would occasionally have to move the telescope. Because… these stars are not static… they move. They move from the east to the west. But Bethlehem in 5 miles south of Jerusalem.

Did you hear that? The star moved south.

In order for this star to lead these ‘wise guys’ from Jerusalem to Bethlehem it would have taken them on a five mile southward journey. It would have done the impossible to bear witness to the King of all kings… Jesus. 

This is just another one of those facts that I quickly read over and don’t pay any attention to. However, I can imagine the awe of these ‘astronomers’ who spent their entire lives with their eyes to the sky. They knew how stars were supposed to react. They knew what was ‘supposed’ to happen. But, when nature moved to bow before the child named Jesus… they noticed… and so should we. 

We should read God’s Word with fresh eyes to see the miracles in the simple moments. To watch the impossible become possible as the fingerprints of God show up all over the situations relating to Jesus. Because, those fingerprints don’t simply stop around the life of Jesus and the first disciples, but they can be found all around you… also.

God is still at work and He is moving around your life. Sometimes, like when we read the Bible, we skip over those ‘small verses’ that don’t stick out. We just look at the ‘big things’ that are going on around us. But, it is in those small details that the real miracles are taking place. 

If you are frustrated or wondering where God is, I want to reassure you that He IS here and He IS active and He DOES care so much about you. Maybe start by saying a simple prayer like this to Him today:

“God, help me see your fingerprints in my life. Help me see that you are here in the little details of my life. Help me see that You do care and that You are actively at work all around me. Help me see that You will never leave me and that You are fighting on my behalf. Open my eyes to your work today.”

GP