Without a doubt, when Mary discovered her untimely pregnancy, her fiancé Joseph had to be shaken.
How would this young Jewish couple explain their predicament to friends and family? Well, today on Insight for Living, Chuck Swindoll presents another message in a Christmas mini-series in which we're looking at the dramatic declaration brought by an angel of God. Though earth-shattering, the announcement brought a measure of relief and certainly joy. Chuck titled today's message when an angel spoke to Joseph. And before he begins, we step into the worship center to sing this medley of favorites. Joy to the world, our home is home, and heaven is safe and free. With every heart, with every heart, with every name we choose to be, with every name we choose to be, with every home we choose to be. And heaven, heaven, heaven, heaven, heaven, heaven, heaven, heaven, heaven, heaven, heaven, heaven. And the angels sing glory to every glory, whose Oh, say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave For the land of the free and the home of the brave, Christ is born in heaven. Hark! The herald angels sing, Alleluia! To the land of the free and the home of the brave. Father, thank you for the joys connected with music of the season.
No music like this Christmas music. Remind us again and again that it is a story that we never tire of hearing. That your son, Jesus, who came to set the people free, to pay the price for our sins, how grateful we are. Thank you for the genius plan of the virgin conception, the virgin birth, the cooperation of that first couple working together against ridicule, misunderstanding, misrepresentation. Thank you for the hope that comes in knowing Christ and him alone as Savior. Make that message clear and pure through the lips of these children as they sing and these instrumentalists as they play. We commit the morning to you now gratefully in the name of Jesus, our Savior.
And everyone said, amen. Jesus, joy of the highest heaven, born as a little baby under a wondrous star. Like us crying, he takes his first breath, held by his mother helpless, close to her beating heart. Jesus, laid in a lowly manger, a world of dangers, come to turn me a stranger into a child of God. Jesus, joy of the highest heaven, born as a little baby under a wondrous star.
Like us crying, he takes his first breath, held by his mother helpless, close to her beating heart. Jesus, laid in a lowly manger, a world of dangers, come to turn me a stranger into a child of God. . Jesus, king of the highest heaven, coming to take his first steps that he might bring us love. Like us knowing our souls and sorrows, he shall throw away to follow, a way that is true and right. Jesus, take away every darkness, steady my simple footsteps, that I might in your goodness live as a child of God. Jesus, take away every darkness, steady my simple footsteps, that I might in your goodness live as a child of God. We are so grateful to the Stonebriar Community Church Youth Choir and soloist Jane Parsley for this beautiful performance.
You're listening to a special edition of Insight for Living. And now, the message from Chuck Swindoll titled When an Angel Spoke to Joseph. Well, we're into angels this Christmas. Last week, we met Gabriel, who appeared to Mary, you remember. And as I looked at that nativity scene over here, I thought, had it not been for the work of angels, I'm not sure all of them would have come together like that in such a meaningful way.
All the transitions involved to make that come to pass. Angels fly their way through the Bible time and again. Did you know that? Seventeen books in the Old Testament mentioned angels 108 times. Interestingly, another 17 books in the New Testament mentioned angels 165 times. So for almost 275 times, they appear and reappear from Genesis to Revelation. And when they do, remember, they show up, they step up, they speak up, and then they scoot. It seemed like it's over before it starts, and yet, what a message they bring.
We're viewing three of them at Christmas time this year. Gabriel, who brought Mary a great revelation that she would have a child, though a virgin, the child conceived within her would be of the Holy Spirit. He would be the Son of God. The angel who appeared to Joseph brought relief and reassurance.
Remember how he struggled? We'll look closer at Joseph today. What a gift that angel brought Joseph.
What relief. And the angel who appeared to the shepherds brought great rejoicing. What messages they brought.
Revelation, relief, rejoicing. Speaking of Joseph, we really know very little about him. Oh, we know a lot about Mary. In fact, books have been written on Mary, but I don't know of one substantial work that's been written seriously on Joseph, because we have so little information in God's word about Joseph.
And songs. Mary, did you know? I've never heard Joseph, did you know?
I wonder why. What child is this who laid to rest on Mary's lap sleeping? Didn't the child lay on Joseph's lap also? It's almost as if he's forgotten. Matter of fact, that would happen if you went by what was recorded in the Bible, do you know that there is not one word Joseph spoke written in the Scriptures?
Not one word. Now, he had a lot to say, and certainly must have said a lot to Mary and to others, but nothing is recorded in all 66 books of the Bible that fell from the lips of Joseph. We don't know a lot about him. We don't know his age. We don't know how he and Mary met. We don't know about his personality. We don't know of his siblings, when he was growing up, anything about his family life.
We don't know how he wound up in Nazareth. But here he is. There's an old saying that's quaint and familiar to all of us.
Still waters run deep. Joseph could have set for a portrait of that piece, that line. Stable, solid as a stone, just, pure, a man of true integrity, diligent.
We know he worked in the carpenter's shop, but we know nothing of the carpentry business. But there he was, deeply in love with Mary. They were engaged. In those days, it was known as betrothed. The betrothal period was a year in length, and it was a formal engagement, unlike our engagement, which has to do with an engagement ring, and a few words spoken, and lots of romance. But in ancient days, the betrothal was a commitment that was legal.
The only way it would be broken is if one of them were unfaithful. And in ancient days, before the Romans came, the unfaithful person was stoned. Even though the act of fornication was done outside of marriage, it was done during the betrothal. And so all that to say that in order to break the betrothal, you needed to get a divorce. It was actually a certificate of divorce, where the man would say, he is not going to be my wife, I am not going to be her husband, and would sign it, and the rabbi would sign it, it would be posted in the synagogue.
It was a formal, serious event. But back to their tight relationship, it was wonderful. Until one day, Mary departed, never left a note. There's no conversation between Mary and Joseph, though they must have talked every day.
You know how it is when you're engaged. But he found out, probably through her parents, that she had gone almost 100 miles south to Judea, in the hill country, where her aging cousin lived. Her name was Elizabeth. Elizabeth would understand. Probably that's what drew Mary to her. I don't believe Joseph knew that Mary was pregnant when she left. I think she waited until she got back to tell him. And by then, she was three months alone.
He looked up one day, and the sun was at high noon, and he was busy in the carpenter's shop, and there stood Mary in the doorway, high. She had been crying. He walked over to her and embraced her and told her how much he had missed her. She pushed him back and said, Joseph, I'm pregnant. I'm going to have a baby.
In fact, I'm three months alone. At that moment, his mind began to spin, I'm sure. He stared at her and wanted to know who the man was, who the father was. Not some Roman soldier. Not that man that flirted with her when they were at the synagogue. Not somebody she met down there in Judea, was it? She said, no.
No, it wasn't any man. The Holy Spirit has caused my pregnancy, and though I'm a virgin, I have a baby in my womb. Well, we're so familiar with the story, the shock has left us, if you put yourself in Joseph's sandals, and you place yourself in front of Mary, and hear these things for the first time, and know that they won't soon be looking for a wedding dress, they'll be looking for maternity clothes, if they marry. But Joseph decides, being a just man, he can't marry one who has been unfaithful. He can't believe the story, and hangs a closed sign on the door of his shop, and Mary leaves to walk home alone, and he goes to his place, and drops in bed. By now, it's nightfall, and he's exhausted, confused, and somewhere between angry and bewildered. She wasn't the woman he thought she was. God, how could this be?
She's the one I love. And now this has happened. In his exhaustion, he fell asleep. Scripture tells us that he began to dream, and while dreaming, here we go, Angelos Kourios shows up, the angel of the Lord, and stands by him. He steps up.
He doesn't stand in the darkness of the room, he steps up. And then he speaks up, and he says, Joseph, don't be afraid to marry her. That which has happened is of the Holy Spirit. God is overwhelmed her.
He is having his way. She is the chosen one to bury the Christ child, and you will name him Jesus. He will save his people from their sins. The angel says, without stuttering, clearly declares it.
Joseph hears it. Oh, we're talking major relief. Relief. Let's pause there.
Great word, relief. I first began to think seriously about it when my sister and I had a meal together several years ago. We were at a little restaurant, and she paused and pushed her plate back, and she looked at me and said, what's your favorite feeling? I said, after thinking about it for a few seconds, accomplishment, I said. She said, I knew you'd say that. You're the most anal person I know.
You're so driven. I knew you'd say accomplishment. She said, I know one better than accomplishment. I said, what could be better than accomplishment? She said, relief. She was right.
Think about it. You're in a courtroom. You have been charged with a crime, and you're innocent. And you're there long enough to hear the judge say, not guilty, you can go free. Relief. Legal relief.
There's occupational relief. The phone rings on a Friday morning, and you hear a voice on the other line, and the other end of the line say, congratulations. You got the job. We think you're a perfect fit for it.
Can you come in on Monday? Relief. You got a job.
There are other reliefs. How about educational relief? You're a high school senior. You've wanted to go to this school for two years.
You've heard your mom and dad tell you about it, and it's your dream. But even though you've applied, you've heard nothing. You check the mail on Saturday afternoon, and there's that envelope.
The corner of the envelope is the name of the school, and inside you read the word accepted. That's academic relief, educational relief. But there's nothing better than personal relief, like Joseph felt. But Joseph knew because of a faithful angel who came just when he was needed and brought reassurance and relief.
Now let me make it personal. This story is about acceptance, obedience, and patience, isn't it? First, both Mary and Joseph accepted the message.
Isn't it interesting? When Gabriel spoke to Mary, she didn't fight the message. She believed it. She accepted it. When Joseph heard it from the angel, not one resistant, not one moment of hesitation. He accepted it. By the way, have you accepted the message that Christ was born to save people like us?
Have you accepted it, or are you still arguing with it, still fighting it, still resisting it? On our previous program, Chuck Swindoll described that surprising moment when an angel spoke to Mary. Today and again next time, he'll be turning our attention to Mary's fiancé. Chuck titled his message, When an Angel Spoke to Joseph. You're listening to a very special edition of Insight for Living. Please stay with us because Chuck is in the studio with some special comments he's prepared exclusively for our radio family.
But first, if you'd like to learn more about this ministry, visit us online at insightworld.org. Before we hear from Chuck, I thought you'd be encouraged to hear this letter from a friend in Missouri who said, Many years ago, I ordered your book called A Bethlehem Christmas. I always placed it alongside our Christmas decorations, but never read it to the boys. Well, I've been praying for God to help me understand the true meaning of Christmas. The Holy Spirit said, Pick up the book, and I couldn't put it down.
I woke up at midnight and was reading under a book light until I fell asleep. I finished this morning, weeping as I read, thanking God for answering my prayer. What a beautiful story from Mary to Joseph to Gabriel. This will be the most joyous Christmas because I understand with clarity our celebration of our Savior's birth, God's love for us, and so much more.
Thank you and Merry Christmas. Wow, that is such a great comment. Our God has not hidden himself from us. He's made himself fully known.
And now, here's Chuck. Winston Churchill, the venerable Prime Minister of Great Britain, was known to say this about the powerful Soviets to the north. He said, Their strategies are like a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.
Over the last few days, I've been reflecting on Churchill's masterful turn of a phrase. It reminds me of the way some in our generation view the living God. While longing to know Him, they are confounded by His ways. Yes, God's methods are sometimes mysterious. And there are times when we can't seem to figure Him out at all.
But let's be very clear. Our God is not deliberately hiding behind a barrier of mystery. Gratefully, God has made Himself known through His Word, the Bible, and through His Son, Jesus Christ. And at Insight for Living Ministries, we take great delight in revealing the character of our loving God, who came in human flesh to live right here on this earth among us.
We are living in chaotic times these days. Our world is filled with brokenhearted people who are burdened by guilt, confusion, and of course, shame. And I can't think of a better way to celebrate our Savior's birth than to give generously so that others might learn about God's amazing grace and run into His compassionate arms, which are always open and ready to receive Him. Would you join Cynthia and me in giving generously to Insight for Living Ministries? Your personal investment will be deployed to take the good news of Jesus Christ far and wide. Together, through our collective gifts, let's declare its joyful news to the world.
Remember the words? For a child is born to us. A son is given.
The government will rest on his shoulders, and he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. And here's how you can respond to Chuck Swindoll right now. Perhaps the quickest and most efficient way to give is by going to insight.org slash donate. And you can call us as well. If you're in the United States, you can reach out right now and speak to one of our friendly ministry reps by calling 800-772-8888. That's 800-772-8888. Or once again, give a donation online by going to insight.org slash donate. Thanks so much for remembering that you play an essential role in making this ministry possible. I'm Bill Meyer, inviting you to join us when Chuck Swindoll describes the moment an angel spoke to Joseph. That's Monday on Insight for Living. The preceding message, When an Angel Spoke to Joseph, was copyrighted in 2020 and 2021 and the sound recording was copyrighted in 2021 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights are reserved worldwide. Duplication of copyrighted material for commercial use is strictly prohibited.
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