As we approach our celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, I would like to encourage men today with this message from the Christmas account.
Men today have multiple challenges of all kinds. For example, their visual instincts are exploited by every medium known to the human race, enticing them into sexually sinful thoughts and/or ways. Books such as Everyman’s Battle break it all down for them in a working and understandable way, but many Christian men won’t read the book(s) identifying the problems of their gender, some because they’re unwilling to face their weaknesses and be required to do something about them, some because they think their reactions are all just part of being a man, and some because they feel hopeless and just can’t take one more jab of criticism from the holier than thou set.
The requirements are stiff for a man in this world. Especially in Christianity. Because Christianity requires a guy to be a man about everything. To step up. To take responsibility for himself, his wife, his family, his place in the body of Christ. It’s a tall order, and it can be daunting.
The Bible tells us in more ways than one, and history bears it out as well, “There is nothing new under the sun.” The only new things are the advanced technological ways to present and exploit the same old problems.
Well, men, if you want to usher in the new year with some fresh resolve, take a look at the earthly father of Jesus Christ, a carpenter by trade, not wealthy, a man of faith, placed in the middle of a difficult dilemma with the young woman he was pledged to marry. (If you’re some wayward wanderer in the blog kingdom, landing upon my title of this entry and certainly not expecting to find anything biblical of all things, I urge you to complete your reading anyway—you just might learn something.) As most of you know, you can find the account in the following places in the New Testament: Matthew 1:18-25; 2:1-23; Luke 1:26-56; 2:1-51.
Joseph had dreams and visions of angels which both challenged and amplified his faith. In the process of receiving life changing instructions through these supernatural encounters, he became an amazing man who is only discussed in these few places in the Bible. When he anticipated having to divorce his pregnant (not by him) fiancée, he thought of her, not wanting to “expose her to public disgrace”. It was after his practical consideration that the impractical took place: specific instruction of the how and who of this anointed child to come. What did Joseph do? “When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name of Jesus.”
Through the course of time, Joseph was required by the Roman government to leave his home with his very pregnant bride and travel a considerable distance to Bethlehem for a census where this unusual child was born nearly upon arrival there, started a new life in that town, sometime later was told to leave in the night for an immediate escape to Egypt, travel back to Israel and eventually settle in a not so desirable town known as Nazareth where the family started over once again.
Each decision that Joseph made had to be a difficult one: uprooting his family because of dreams and visions. The consummate man of faith with the family who trusted his ability to hear and obey God’s leading. This was the man God hand-picked to be the earthly father of the Lord Jesus Christ. No one has ever held a more difficult role in humanity. So much weighed upon each decision he had to make. Yet God sent messengers, dreams, and visions to guide him from his simple life as a man pledged to be married to the awesome task of being the husband to the woman who carried the Christ or Messiah.
Never again. Once for all. But, men, I urge you to consider the depth of faith of the man Joseph. Are you willing to listen, dream, endure visions to hear from the living God? And then are you willing to obey? Single, married, divorced—are you willing to make a new commitment to the supernatural God who desires to find men who are anxious to upgrade their spiritual lives instead of just their computers or sound systems or football channels? Are you a real man of God who knows there is so much more available to you, and you want it? Regardless of what’s required of you? Are you willing to hear and obey?
Look at Joseph, an ordinary man of faith, selected to be an extraordinary man because of that faith and willingness to obey the God who asked him to do what some would have considered out of the question, not in their house, huh-uh, no way. What kind of man are you?
Father, your love is endless, your desires often plainly expressed, but you also use unpredictable means to communicate at times. You are the one true God. You make ordinary things extraordinary when you enter into them and participate actively. I am so in awe of you. Help me to listen and always obey. I want all that you have for me. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.