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Joseph’s Christmas Story: Full-On Faith

Joseph shows us how to react to surprising and difficult circumstances.

Written by GodLife on 18/12/2018

Series: Weekly Devotional

Tags: ChristmasFaithGraceHumilityJesusJoseph


When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.

Matthew 1:24-25

Considering the birth of Jesus, it’s an interesting exercise to put yourself in Joseph’s shoes. Think about it. As he is making preparations to marry his fiance, Mary, he learns that she has become pregnant even though they have not been together as man and wife.

What would your first reaction be? Rage? Sorrow? Disappointment? Shame? Any of these emotions would be certainly understandable. However, Joseph didn’t react like this at all!

Let’s look into what Joseph’s reaction was and how God was present, helping him all the way through one of the most difficult times in his life.

Humility and grace

Purity was a huge deal in the Jewish culture of the day, so marrying a woman who had become pregnant out of wedlock was not something that was seen as acceptable. Because of this, when Joseph found out about Mary’s pregnancy, the Bible says he decided to quietly separate from her and move on with his life.

“And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly.” (Matthew 1:19)

This act of grace alone shows that Joseph is a man of great integrity, because many young men in that culture would have put her to shame.

The power of faith

As the story continues, we see that Joseph has remained with Mary through her pregnancy, all while he contemplates what his next steps should be. Then he gets a visit from an angel of the Lord who tells Him that the baby was conceived by the Holy Spirit and commands him to stay with Mary and name her baby Jesus.

If this happened to you, what would you think? Would you say ‘Yes Lord!’ or would you be scared and doubt that what you heard was actually from God? I think most of us would doubt, but here’s how Joseph responded:

“When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.” (Matthew 1:24-25)

Extreme faith. That’s what it took for Joseph to listen to the angel of the Lord and believe that God was watching over him and directing his steps. 

Joseph’s story shows us the power of faith and what can be accomplished if we simply believe. Will you believe what the Lord is telling you today about your difficult life circumstances?


Pray this week:

Lord, thank you for showing me what it means to have complete faith in you, no matter how crazy the circumstances are around me. Help me to trust you like Joseph did and believe that you have the best for me. Amen.


When have you had a hard time trusting the Lord with a difficult circumstance in your life?

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

Ways God Meets Your Needs

Jesus promises to meet your needs

Written by Ruth on 11/12/2018

Series: Weekly Devotional

Tags: NeedFaithContentmentFaithfulness


Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Matthew 6:33

Do you trust God to meet your needs and direct your life His way, or demand them your way?

Today, let’s talk about a Bible character named Elizabeth as an example of how God meets our needs. 

Elizabeth's circumstances

Luke 1:5 – In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, of the division of Abijah. And he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth.

Luke 1:7 – But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were advanced in years. 

Elizabeth had a need which had consequences for her marriage as well as for her connection with other people around her – she could not have children. She had probably given up on this dream since she was now old enough that having a child was no longer possible. Yet, her deep need remained in her heart. While the Bible does not tell us this, I am sure she wept with her husband many times over this lack in their family.

When you have a need, what do you do about it? What do you think would happen if you would ask and trust Jesus to know and solve your need His way?

Elizabeth’s Faith

Luke 1:13 – But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. 

Luke 1:24 – After these days his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she kept herself hidden…

When her husband returned home from his time of serving in the temple, Elizabeth must have been afraid because of the change in him – he could not speak. But he must have written God’s promise to him and her, because we know she knew all about what the angel had said to him.

Then it happened – she was pregnant! She was going to have a baby even when it was impossible because of her age. Did she hide herself because she did not want to be the subject of gossip in her town? How do you hide what Jesus is doing in your life?

Elizabeth’s Happiness

Luke 1:36 – And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. 

Luke 1:39-41 – In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah, and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, 

When Mary, a young woman who was also pregnant by a miracle, came to visit Elizabeth, however, Elizabeth began to rejoice in the miracle God had given her. But an interesting thing to see here is that Elizabeth was not jealous of Mary! Elizabeth did not want the honor Mary had received, she just remained glad of her own miracle.

When something good happens to you, and then you see something better happen to someone else, how do you respond to either God or the other person?

Elizabeth’s Faithfulness

Luke 1:57 – Now the time came for Elizabeth to give birth, and she bore a son. 

Luke 1:58-62 – And her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her. And on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child. And they would have called him Zechariah after his father, but [Elizabeth] answered, “No; he shall be called John.” And they said to her, “None of your relatives is called by this name.” 

Elizabeth followed God’s plan for her child even though everyone around her urged her to do what tradition expected. Naming the child should have followed their rules, but God had said they should follow His plan instead.


Pray this week:

Lord Jesus, help me to be faithful to Your will for my life, no matter how impossible it seems, or how much others urge me to follow a different path.


When God asks you to do something that does not follow the traditions or plans others around you expect, how do you choose?
 

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

How to Avoid Misusing the Bible

Go deeper in your walk with the Lord

Written by Dan Lee on 30/10/2018

Series: Weekly Devotional

Tags: BibleReadingVerseStudying


Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.

2 Timothy 2:15

Today, we start a two-part devotional on how to avoid misusing the Bible. But first, let’s start with a story about some blind men who encountered an elephant. One of the blind men wrapped his arms around the elephant’s leg and said, “An elephant is like a tree!” Another touched the elephant’s trunk and declared, “No, it’s like a large snake.” They touched the ear or the tail and said, “a fan” or, “a rope” – and so on. Each one came up with a different and incomplete conclusion about how the elephant looked like. 

It’s the same when we interpret the Bible. When we quote Bible verses without considering what the rest of the Bible says, we are just as foolish as those blind men. If we don’t consider verses in their context – at least the surrounding paragraph or chapter, we risk coming to completely wrong conclusions about what God’s word says. 

1. Be careful of taking the Bible out of context

That’s why Paul warns Timothy – and all who believe in Jesus and study His word – to “rightly handle the word of truth.”

Here are a couple verses that are often taken misused.

“By his wounds, you have been healed.” (1 Peter 2:24

Some people believe that Christians can claim physical healing because of this verse. But, if you read 1 Peter 2:24 in full, it reads, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds, you have been healed.” 

The first part of this verse tells us that it is our sins, our spiritual wounds, that have been healed by Jesus Christ. The verse refers to Isaiah 53:5:

“But he was pierced for our transgressions;
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
    and with his wounds, we are healed.”

This verse refers to our “transgressions” and “iniquities” – in other words, our sins. There are seven other references in Isaiah 53 to sin, guilt, or transgression, but physical healing is never mentioned in the chapter. 

So the next time you read, “By his wounds you have been healed,” thank the Lord that your most deadly wound – your sin and resulting separation from God – HAS been healed, for all eternity. But don’t use it to claim physical healing for yourself or others.

2. Meditate on the Word and apply it to your life 

Now, let’s look at Matthew 7:1, where it says, “Judge not, that you be not judged.”

Even people who don’t believe in Jesus love to quote this verse! They, and sadly many Christians, think it means we should leave others alone and let them do whatever sinful act they want.

But if you continue reading, you find out that the problem is not with pointing out the faults of others. It is looking at their faults without acknowledging our own sin. 

Verse two says, “For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.” and it continues to verse three by saying, “ Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:2-3

Sadly, we tend to see the sins of others as huge, and our own as tiny (or not to see them at all). Jesus is saying, in effect, “Look in the mirror – look into your own heart and deal with the wickedness there, before you stand in judgment of someone else!”

Several Bible passages instruct us, to help our Christian brothers and sisters by gently pointing out where they are going wrong, especially in matters of serious sin. Take these verses as an example:

“But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called ‘today,’ that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” (Hebrews 3:13)

“My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.” (James 5:19-20)

In conclusion, don’t just look at fragments of God’s holy Word. Look at ALL of it. Commit yourself to read the Bible, one book at a time. Don’t build your whole Christian walk around one or two isolated verses. Strive to find the meaning of every verse in the context of the paragraph or chapter around it. If you do this in the power and enlightenment of the Holy Spirit, you’ll be well on the way to becoming “. . . a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2: 15


Pray this week:

Lord, I ask you to give me understanding and wisdom as I study your Word so that I follow your instruction and not mine. Amen. 


Is there anything in the Bible you have a difficult time understanding? Talk to a caring Christian friend! 

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

Trusting God’s Wisdom

He is Infinitely Wise

Written by Dan Lee on 10/01/2017

Series: Weekly Devotional

Tags: WisdomHopeSovereignty


Who can measure the wealth and wisdom and knowledge of God? Who can understand his decisions or explain what he does? “Has anyone known the thoughts of the Lord or given him advice?

Romans 11:33-34 CEV

We as human beings are constantly faced with tough decisions, and situations. It’s the nature of living in a fallen world. However, through all of the turmoil, God is still sovereign and is truly wise.

If we doubt that God has infinite wisdom, we will be tempted to despair when things go wrong. On the other hand, understanding God’s wisdom helps us to trust Him and be secure in any situation.

Here are some areas we see God’s wisdom demonstrated, and why you should trust his Wisdom:

Creation – Past and Present

By wisdom the Lord founded the earth; by understanding he created the heavens. (Proverbs 3:19)

From the distant galaxies to the tiniest insect, everything we see is a product of God’s perfect design, not random chance. Every area of human knowledge, from mathematics to physics to biology, is just a tiny sliver of God’s great wisdom. All of our study in these and other fields, is an attempt to discover more of the wonders of His creation. “The heavens keep telling the wonders of God, and the skies declare what He has done.” (Psalm 19:1)

Some people believe that God created the world, then left us to fend for ourselves. But Colossians 1:17 says this about Jesus: “God’s Son was before all else, and by him everything is held together.” (Colossians 1:17)

Human History

If the presence of evil rulers bothers you, think of Pharaoh, who was cruel and oppressive to God’s people. Yet, “In the Scriptures the Lord says to Pharaoh of Egypt, 'I let you become Pharaoh, so that I could show you my power and be praised by all people on earth.'” (Romans 9:17). Yes, even Pharaoh, the wicked oppressor of Israel, was appointed by God to bring glory to Himself. And so it continues with today’s kings and kingdoms. God is still in control.

Our Relationship to God

One of the most “foolish” things to many people is the idea that God came to earth in human form, and then willingly allowed himself to be killed for the salvation of mankind. Yet 1 Corinthians 1:25 says that God’s “foolishness” is greater than human wisdom.

In His infinite wisdom, God sent Jesus to die for your sins. All God's children should take great comfort from this. Those who have not yet decided to follow Him should realize that His plan of salvation, strange or even foolish as it may seem, is true and is intended for you. Humbly accept that God is infinitely great and wise, and seek to follow Him.


Pray this week:

Lord, forgive me for thinking I know better than You. Even though I can barely see or understand Your greatness, by faith I submit to Your great wisdom and Your plan for my life. Teach me through Your word to understand more and more, and to walk in greater confidence every day.

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member