Page 351 was a Sunday so I was able to sleep in compared to my usual wake-up time. I did get up early and looked outside to see if it had snowed overnight, but with no fresh snow on the ground I went back to sleep. When we were all up and ready for the day we headed to Sunday School where our group is beginning a study in Titus. Today we began a journey through some background scriptures where we could see not only Paul’s influence on Titus, but the help and encouragement Titus was to Paul and to the believers he served. God’s desire is that each one of us would learn from those who are faithfully walking with Him and that our learning would equip us to teach others to grow in their faith. But none of these relationships are meant to be one-way. Those we learn from, we are also to encourage and strengthen when they are in need. Those we teach also have the responsibility to encourage and strengthen us when we are weak.
After Sunday School, our worship gathering included a message by David about “The Story behind ‘The Story'”. Much of the sermon was a look at the person of Joseph and his role in the Christmas Story. The point, however, wasn’t simply so we would know more about this man but that we would ask of ourselves the same questions we might ask about him. The questions we considered this morning were:
- Who was Joseph (Or, who am I)?: The scarcity of information in the Bible about Joseph would lead me to believe that he was a rather ordinary man. Yes, he could trace his lineage back to King David but for a nation living under the rule of Rome, a royal bloodline really didn’t mean a whole lot. Instead of living as royalty, Joseph worked as a carpenter. But what we do know about him is the description given by God that “Joseph was a righteous (or just) man.” In fact, it was this desire to do what was right according to God that led to the dilemma he faced about what to do when he found out Mary was pregnant. He wanted to do right by God above all else, but also wanted to treat Mary with as much dignity and compassion as he could. When we ask ourselves who we are, I’m not sure we could do better than to be known as a righteous and just person. An ordinary person who lives with God’s righteousness can accomplish more than we can think or imagine.
- What changed Joseph (Or, what changes me)?: Joseph’s initial plan was to quietly break off the marriage to Mary so that he could maintain his righteousness while protecting her as much as possible. It had to be a confusing time in the life of Joseph and we really don’t know who initially told him or how he found out about Mary’s pregnancy. He wanted to do the right thing, but in his mind there was only one right thing that could be done and that was to call off the marriage with a certificate of divorce. But if you know the Christmas story, you know that is not what happened. It was an angel delivering God’s word that changed Joseph’s mind and actions. The message from the angel actually makes it appear that Joseph’s initial decision was being driven by fear — “Do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife . . . “. When we ask ourselves, “What changes me?”, the answer ought to be the same as what changed Joseph — God’s Word. We’re not really that different from Joseph and often we need God’s Word to be present in our life to drive out the fear that keeps us from changing.
- Why did God do what He did in the way/time that He did (Or, why does God do what He does in my life in the way/time that He does)?: Probably even more common than the first two questions, is our constant desire to ask, “Why?”. The funny thing to me is that once Joseph accepts the word of God from the angel, he doesn’t seem to do a lot of questioning — he simply does what God commanded. Yet I would imagine that there were times from that point on that he had to wonder why him, why now, why this way, why, why, why. At least that’s what would have happened if I had been Joseph because that is what happens even now with my being a servant of God. The short answer, I suppose, is that we simply don’t know the things that God knows. The Bible says that Jesus came into the world at just the right time — or in the fullness of time. It doesn’t matter whether Joseph thought it was a good time, or Mary thought it was a good time, or the religious leaders thought it was a good time, or if anyone else agreed — God knew it was the best time! When we submit to God with who we are and with how He has changed us, we can be certain that His plans for our life are always the right ones. Each of us has work to do that God “created in advance for us to do”. God not only could see what needs done and when it needs to be done, He could see us as being the ones to do it.
After the church service, I had lunch with my family and then it has been a quiet afternoon as our daughter is not feeling well and continues to have varied seizure activity. As she has been resting, I spent some time on the computer sharing some photos and continuing through the ones I have taken this year. Today’s photo is one from earlier this year as we visited Bonneyville Mills County Park. When I shared the photo, I called it “Back to the Future” as windmills have made quite a comeback in some areas. Granted, they don’t often look much like this but there has been a resurgence in harnessing the power of the wind. I grew up with a windmill outside our front door. While the well was powered by electricity by the time I was born, the windmill set over the well pit because it used to be the power source. This picture reminds me that just because we quit doing things in a certain way, it doesn’t mean that the concept behind it has lost all value. Sometimes ideas and methods need updated in ways that maintain the original purpose rather than simply throwing out the entire thing because the “old way” isn’t working like it used to.
As I reflect on the day, here are some thoughts/lessons that stand out to me:
- Even when there is no snow in the forecast, this time of year I still have to get up and check — you just never know.
- All of us have someone that we ought to be teaching, training, and equipping in some way or another.
- All of us ought to have someone that is teaching, training, and equipping us in some way or another.
- Sometimes that “someone” is the same person.
- We classify people in a lot of different ways, but in reality all God has available to work with are ordinary people — at least until He gets a hold of them and works through them.
- We are best changed by God’s Word but we are not really changed until we choose to obey His Word.
- We can’t see the fullness of tomorrow — God can.
- Just because something isn’t working in a productive way today, doesn’t mean that it never can again.
- God’s the ultimate “recycle-er”. Even when we make a mess of our life, He can take all of the brokenness and worn out pieces that we give Him and make something brand new.