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Let's Witness a Troubled Romance in Nazareth, Part 3

Insight for Living / Chuck Swindoll
The Truth Network Radio
December 21, 2020 7:05 am

Let's Witness a Troubled Romance in Nazareth, Part 3

Insight for Living / Chuck Swindoll

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December 21, 2020 7:05 am

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We can only imagine what it was like for Joseph to hear the shocking news. His fiancé Mary, yet a teenaged woman, was expecting a child. In the Hebrew tradition, he was free to break his engagement and move on.

But that's not the way the story unfolded. Today on Insight for Living, Chuck Swindoll recreates the life-altering decisions facing both Mary and Joseph, and their implications for each of us today. Chuck is teaching from the first chapter in Matthew, and he titled today's message, Let's Witness a Troubled Romance in Nazareth.

When Joseph did not want to disgrace her publicly, he decided to break the engagement to divorce her quietly. And that night, wrestling over the issue, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. This, by the way, is the first time Joseph gets the information from anyone other than Mary, and it comes from an angel. He said to the son of David, Do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child within her was conceived. By the Holy Spirit, she will have a son. You are to name him Jesus. He will save his people from their sins.

Let's look at this response. Joseph woke up. He did as the angel of the Lord commanded.

He took Mary as his wife, and did not have sexual relations with her until the son was born, and he named him Jesus. I got to tell you something. Hats off to Joseph. The man who is virtually unknown by most turns out to be a hero in the story. He hears what he's to do.

It's clear to him that it's from an angel. There's no wrestling any further, no more tears, no more struggle. Soon as he can contact Mary, they make their way back to the synagogue. It's officially declared and put into the record that this betrothal was cut short. The couple Marys, and within a matter of a month or so, she's beginning to show how do you think the neighbors handled that? And then the next month, and the next month, and just before she reaches term, they leave Nazareth and they go to Bethlehem.

We know it was because of the census that had been taken and the new taxation that the Caesar required, and they had to go to Joseph's county seat, which is Bethlehem. Beautiful how the Lord works, but what did that say to the neighbors? They aren't even willing to have the baby among us. Can you imagine how tongues wagged? I'll tell you, I'm not familiar with many things, but I'm familiar with gossip. And it's amazing how what is not true begins as rumor, and before long the rumor sounds convincing, and then the convincing becomes, quote, the truth, when it's the farthest thing from the truth. Some even said she was pregnant from some Roman soldier. When Jesus is a man, he's still living with these ugly remarks regarding his being an illegitimate. The Pharisees said to him, we know who our father is, and when he says, I'm of God, I've come from heaven, they would take up stones to stone him for blasphemy. He came unto his own things, but his own ones did not receive him.

Not even fellow Jews believed his story. I'll tell you, the more you think about it, the more you realize Joseph comes out on top in this story. He never budges. He hears what he should do. He steps into it.

He does it against all odds and against the wagging tongues. And if I might add another dimension, I wonder what his parents said to him or her parents said to her. Now, there may have been wonderful people of God who had no struggle, and they loved it that their daughter was chosen by God for this.

On the other hand, they may not have been. What would you have done had it been your daughter or your son? And this is to be a miraculous conception. Let me say some things to all of us who are in this story. I thought about this, and I want to make this just as practical as I can.

I want to give several possibilities. It's possible, if we could leave the story till next time, we'll get to the baby and our next time together. But let's stay with today for right now. You may be facing a tough, life-altering decision. You, personally. It's one that calls for sacrifice, just like Joseph faced.

The details are different. Should you follow the Lord in doing this? Or should you hold back? I urge you to follow Joseph's model and do it. Do the hard thing. Life-altering, tough, regardless. Do it. It's a matter of obedience.

Here's another possibility. You may be right now running the risk of being the brunt of others' criticism, even though you are doing what is right, and you're unable to convince people that it's right, just like Joseph and Mary. I imagine there was a time when they finally said to one another in the prophecy of their home, we're no longer going to try to convince the neighbors. You may be running the risk of being the brunt of someone's criticism because you're doing what's right and pleasing to God. My answer to you is stay there. You owe no one else an explanation for obeying God. What others may call illogical, even foolish, as wrong as that statement is, God calls right. Go there, just like Joseph got up from his bed that next morning, couldn't get a hold of Mary fast enough.

He went there regardless of the criticism that would come. Here's a third. You may be forced to stand alone and to be virtually forgotten as another one is magnified.

And you are reduced in significance. Let's face it, having said all I've said, of the two, Mary is carrying the child. Joseph is a loyal onlooker. Don't mean to be putting him down, but he has had nothing to do with this conception. Our older daughter told me recently about a television series that she and her husband are watching about royalty. Happened in England when the prince and the queen were engaged and then married. They knew that one day would come when she would be the queen, but they had no way of knowing when that would happen. Interesting in truth, it happened quickly after they had married, rather quickly.

You know what? The prince took a back seat. Every time I look at royalty there in England and I see the queen, I watch him sort of a step or two behind.

Why? She's the queen. He's not almost the king.

He's not that at all. She's the queen. He's her husband. They're married.

They're in life together, but she's the one who is in the spotlight. Now back to my application. I don't know your situation, but God may have in his plan to reduce your significance from a role you once filled. I couldn't describe it here. You'll have to do that in your own mind. Maybe you were once a major player in this play, in this event. Maybe you were once the leader of that ministry or that organization. And by God's timing and because of God's planning, you've been reduced and another has that position. My answer to you is step aside. Obedience for you is to step away from that role and accept one that's less than what you had. The ideal example is the Lord Jesus himself, who was in the Godhead, did not cling to his role as a part of the Trinity, but willingly gave up the voluntary use of his divine attributes and willingly came to this earth, this earth of all places, and obeyed the Father and took upon himself the role of a servant. Put bluntly, you may be asked to be a servant.

That brings me to my fourth. Your new place of involvement may be caring for someone who is in need. Humble yourself. Step into that role. Accept it.

See it as a privilege that God would ask you to fill that place. I believe Joseph was an enormous emotional support for his dear wife. I believe his arm was often around her shoulders. I believe when she decided to go with him to Bethlehem, I believe he cared for her. She was almost to term with that pregnancy and how uncomfortable that long 90 mile journey must have felt like.

And there he was with her, being a helper to her and for her. Here's the way I put it. There are times in each of our lives when the Lord leads us to follow through on an assignment we would not have chosen. But he wants us to do it. Perhaps it's something others would not understand and in fact would not affirm.

They would say, oh, you're too important for that or your gifts are not being used as they could be. But this is God's will. It may defy logic, it may lack common sense in others opinion. But it's the right thing to do. And you know who I'm talking to? You.

You. You who know what God is leading you to do and you're wrestling with, can you do it? The answer is absolutely. Not only can you, you must. God is in it. There's no other answer. But I'm available.

I will do it. If Joseph teaches us nothing else, he teaches us the value of obedience. I say again, I said it earlier, I'm going to say it again. He bases all of this on one night's angelic visit. And his whole life changes. He's now a carpenter who will train this remarkable son God would give them in the trade. He is now the husband of the one who would bear the child.

What a privilege to have a hand in that role of mentoring and loving this young man into adulthood and letting him go to a life of service to the world. Few have ever said it better than John Oxenham in a piece I came across titled God's Handwriting. Listen to Oxenham's words. He writes in characters too grand for our short sight to understand. We catch but broken strokes and try to fathom all the mystery of withered hopes, of death, of life. The endless war, the useless strife, but there with larger, clearer sight, we shall see this.

His way was right. You and I are on this earth to fulfill his way, to go his direction, to obey his will. It isn't about us. If we learn that by the time we are placed in our burial site, we will have reached true adulthood.

And I'll have to say there are many who never get that message. It is not about you in this life. Not your script were to follow, nor are you to follow it. God is in charge and he's leading us to do his will, his way, in his time for his purpose.

End of story. And we have Joseph to thank for that reminder. Bow with me, will you? I'll not linger, I just have a few words to you who've never met the Savior. Difficult as it is for me to imagine, I know it's true, there are many who enter into the Christmas season not familiar with the one on whom the star shone, about whom all of this revolves.

His name is Jesus, the Messiah. I urge you to turn your life over to him. Your Christmas will never be the same if he is given first place, replacing you on your own throne of life and taking charge of your direction. Trust him now. Simple prayer, Lord, I acknowledge my distance from you, my selfishness, my sinfulness, I come before you and I believe in your son as my Savior.

I take him now. Thank you for giving me this gift this Christmas. We'd love to talk with you and we will happily do so. If you get a hold of us, that's why we are here, to help you in that journey from earth to heaven. Thank you, Father, for the things we have learned today. Thank you that some of them are so foreign to the way we have been taught, it requires faith to go there. It requires discipline to obey.

It requires a true vision from you to embrace a new way of life that doesn't revolve around ourselves. I pray for those who have never come to Christ, that they will this day trust him. And give them then a life of obedience as we've seen modeled in the life of Joseph. Thank you in advance for those who have come to Christ this day. In the name of the Savior, the Messiah, our Master and Lord, we pray. Everyone said, Amen.

Amen. You're listening to Insight for Living and the Bible teaching of pastor and author Chuck Swindoll. Chuck titled today's message, Let's Witness a Troubled Romance in Nazareth. And he's in the studio today with a prepared statement exclusively for our listening family. So please keep listening. To learn more about this ministry, visit us online at

Right now though, I'd like to give you a little sneak peek of what's ahead in the new year of 2021. Chuck has already mapped out his preaching schedule for the program. And I'm pleased to tell you that in January, we'll begin a brand new verse by verse study through the book of Matthew. Matthew, of course, is the first book in the New Testament. And it's a masterful record that begins with our king's arrival in Bethlehem and ends with his great commission. In addition to Chuck's teaching series, we're pleased to offer his brand new commentary. It's called Swindoll's Living Insights Commentary for Matthew. And because of its enormity, this commentary comes in two hardbound volumes. Both are ready right now, and we encourage you to purchase your copies in time to begin this study with us in January. To purchase Swindoll's Living Insights Commentary for Matthew, call us. If you're listening in the United States, dial 1-800-772-8888 or go to slash store. In these more than 40 years of ministry that Insight for Living has been teaching the Bible, I've never witnessed a year quite like 2020.

Chances are you haven't either. This was a year defined by ginormous disruptors. The disruptors are personal disasters that derailed our plans and stole any modicum of peace we'd come to enjoy. The number one disruptor, of course, was the unnerving coronavirus. But make no mistake, the chaos cannot be isolated to a contagious flu bug alone. In addition, COVID seemed to ignite a powder keg of emotions that exploded like bombshells in our political and civil discourse.

And the end result? Our world is embroiled in a diabolical war against itself. These are serious days. And now you're probably thinking, come on, Chuck, lighten up a little.

I know, I know. It's not like me to paint such a dark and hopeless picture, but I would deny the obvious if I didn't acknowledge the minefield of troubling issues that litter our path today. So here's where I turn the corner. Lest we think we're trekking through uncharted territory, let's pause to remember Jesus has been down this road before. In fact, when you think back, his times were rife with crisis.

Just as ours are. In fact, when the baby Jesus broke onto the human stage in Bethlehem, the political climate in Rome was deep and treacherous. Caesar Augustus was demanding a census. And Herod the Great was on a rampage of fury. And it was no accident that Jesus arrived when he did. Remember Paul's words? When the fullness of time came, God sent forth his son.

Galatians 4, 4. What he meant was Jesus arrived right on time. Ultimately, Jesus died on the cross right on time. And later walked out of the grave right on time. I believe that God has appointed Insight for Living Ministries to declare the truth about Jesus for such a time as this.

It is right on time. He is our only hope. Christ is still the one who is able to bring light when all around us is dark as night. God is still with us in this year of loss and violence, division, arguments, and pandemic. So now, as we turn the page and come to the end of this chapter called 2020, I'm asking you to join me in proclaiming the truth about Jesus with a world that's overcome with fear. Look, I'm keenly aware that many of our listening family have endured financial setbacks this year.

I realize that, and I stand with you. Some, however, are capable of giving on their behalf, above and beyond. In any case, I can assure you that your much-needed year-end gift will become a light to those who are walking in darkness. Any amount God places on your heart to give to Insight for Living Ministries will make all the difference you can imagine, and it will make a difference to those in need. Together, let's assure them of this.

You are not alone. God is still on the throne, and He's always right on time. Thanks, Chuck. Perhaps you're in a position to give on behalf of others who've come to rely on Insight for Living, just as someone once did for you.

Your generosity right now will arrive at just the right time. So here's how to connect. If you're listening in the United States, dial 1-800-772-8888. That's 1-800-772-8888.

Or go online to You can also give a year-end donation by going directly to our website at Now we know this is a busy holiday week for you, but we invite you to set aside a half hour this coming Friday when Chuck Swindoll presents a musical celebration on Christmas Day. I'm Dave Spiker. Tomorrow Chuck Swindoll begins another Christmas message titled, Let's Hear God's Voice in a Baby's Cry, right here on Insight for Living.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-01-13 13:15:06 / 2024-01-13 13:22:59 / 8

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