By Joseph's way of thinking, Mary's pregnancy was nothing short of a scandal. Expecting a baby before their wedding day?
How could his fiancé have fallen into this shameful condition? Today on Insight for Living, Chuck Swindoll takes us back to the dramatic scene when Joseph struggled to comprehend. He'll recreate the emotional struggle that Joseph endured and the relief that followed when a messenger of God delivered the clarifying news. He titled his message, When an Angel Spoke to Joseph.
And we begin with this traditional favorite performed by the youth choir at Stonebriar Community Church. A king who came to us to scale up the Lord. A king who came to us to scale up the Lord. Join us, our great world.
Join us, our brothers, and live this world. A king who came to us to scale the world. A king who came to us to scale the world.
A king who came to us to scale the world. And heaven and earth will join this king. And the Lord you will see that he will keep. Then why should we on earth be sad, since our Redeemer made us glad? Then why should we on earth be sad, since our Redeemer made us glad, when from our sin he set us free? All for to gain our liberty. The angels sing, the angels sing, the angels sing, the angels sing, the angels sing, the angels sing.
Glory to God and peace to heaven and earth Who, evermore, are there to serve. This is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit. Joseph, to whom she was engaged, was a righteous man and did not want to disgrace her publicly.
So he decided to break the engagement quietly. As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. Joseph, son of David, the angel said, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. And she will give birth to a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins. All of this occurred to fulfill the Lord's message through his prophet. Look, the virgin will conceive a child. She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means God is with us.
That night, there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, watching their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord's glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them.
Don't be afraid, he said. I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior, yes, the Messiah, the Lord, has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David. And you will recognize him by this sign.
You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger. Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others, the armies of heaven, praising God and saying, glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased. For God, in all his fullness, was pleased to live in Christ. And through him, God reconciled everything to himself. He made peace with everything, in heaven and on earth, by means of Christ's blood on the cross.
You're listening to a special edition of Insight for Living, in which we're joining in a Christmas celebration conducted at Stonebriar Community Church. And now let's resume the message that Chuck started on our previous program, titled, When an Angel Spoke to Joseph. In his exhaustion, he fell asleep. Scripture tells us that he began to dream.
And while dreaming, here we go. Angelos Churios 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 has 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.
I felt it some time ago. Cynthia and I were expected to be at a place fairly soon. We hadn't done our grocery shopping. So I said, I'll tell you what. While you get dressed to go, let me run to the store, and I'll buy the things we need.
And I'll get back in time for us to leave. So I left in a hurry, and I sort of raced through the store and got the things we needed, a couple of bags of groceries. And I got the receipt.
I always put the receipt in my wallet. And I'm out in the car, and I'm shoving the bags in the car. And I laid my wallet on the little child's seat in the grocery cart, you know, right there. I'll remember to pick it up.
I'm a grown man. Well, this grown man didn't remember to pick it up. So I pushed the cart into the long line of other carts that were out there, and I left.
I got to the house, and I got the bags and got them all unpacked. And when I was looking for the receipt to put it in the place where we keep all of our receipts, I not only couldn't find the receipt, I couldn't find my wallet. And if you've ever lost your wallet, you know what I'm talking about. Well, I told her I can't find it, and I know where I left it.
And hopefully, it'll be there when I get back. On the way to the store, I prayed. Lord, I've served you for 60 years. I preached your word.
I've started translation stations in West Africa. Lord, I've made the gospel known to everybody in the sound of my voice. I've faithfully done this.
Lord, Lord, I'm your servant. It's your turn. Make sure that wallet is there. I pulled up, got to the store. Not only was the wallet not there, all the carts were gone.
They were all back inside in a longer line of carts. And as I'm searching for it, and panicked, and guys looking at me like, is everything OK? I said, no, I've lost my wallet. And so he tells me, and we pull all the carts out, and it's not there or nothing. Well, my last chance is to check at the little service desk and see if they've had a wallet turned in.
But nobody's going to turn in a wallet with all the credit cards and my vast amount of money in the pocket. And it must have been $3 at least in there. And I walk up, and I said, excuse me, did someone turn in a wallet? She said, you know, let me check. I think that happened.
She opens up this locked drawer and pulls it out. She said, is your name Swindle? I said, that's good enough.
That'll work right now. What's your first name? I said, absent-minded. She said, really?
No, no, I'm just teasing. And there it was, my wallet. All the money was there that I'd had in it. All the credit cards were there. Even the speeding ticket I hadn't paid.
No, no, I'm just teasing. Everything was there. And I said, thanks, Lord. But before I said that, you know what I felt?
Relief. But my relief finding a wallet was nothing compared to Joseph's. He found a wife. Scripture says that he took Mary as his wife. I have a feeling they didn't wait many days. Before they were there at the synagogue, they told the rabbi they wanted to go faster than that year, betrothal period. And the rabbi cooperated and performed the ceremony. Then they were off to search for maternity clothes.
He held her hand all the way through those embarrassing months as people noticed how soon she was pregnant. They came to all the wrong conclusions. They never did believe the truth. By the way, today, they still don't, most. Virgin birth, yeah, right. 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? The next step after acceptance is obedience. And that's exactly what happened. Mary and Joseph married. They obeyed the Lord, and they were faithful to one another regardless of the pressure, regardless of the sneers and snickers, regardless of those ugly comments that would be made by nosy people who didn't know what they were talking about, assuming the wrong thing. It didn't faze Joseph's obedience. He was true to her. Speaking of Joseph brings me to this patience matter.
I forgot to mention something very important. He not only married her, he kept her a virgin until she gave birth. Six months married, and he never touched her intimately. I think if we were to ask a just man like Joseph why he would be that patient, he would say, oh, out of respect. Not just respect for Mary, but for the Lord himself. If the Lord cares enough to make the conception a virgin conception, I care enough to make the birth a virgin birth. I honor that.
I think Mary respected him for that the rest of their marriage. Patience. Having accepted the message, are you obeying it? Are you following through in your walk with Christ? Or do you back off in places where there are crowds that are filled with those who don't believe? And you know, if you step out and make your faith known, there will be some ridicule. Does that stop you from making it known? Surely not. Or maybe it does. And how about patience these days?
The Christmas season is not known for making people patient. But this is a good time to put it into action. Acceptance, obedience, patience. I challenge you to be all three, to model all three. I love statements of commitment that make me drive that deeper in my own life, which has always made me appreciate the writings of Amy Carmichael, the little Welsh lass who began a home for women caught in human trafficking. Way back in Amy's day, she was committed with a life of acceptance of her calling, obedience against the forces of evil, and patience in dealing with disillusioned, broken lives.
She was qualified to write this kind of statement. From prayer that asks that I may be sheltered from winds that beat on thee when faltering when I should climb higher. From silken self, oh captain free, thy soldier who would follow thee. Give me the love that leads the way, the faith that nothing can dismay, the hope no disappointments tire, the passion that will burn like fire.
Let me not sink to be a clod. Make me thy fuel, like Mary, like Joseph, flame of God. My hope for you this Christmas season is that your commitment will go deeper, that your acceptance of God's message will ring true in your heart, that your obedience to follow him would be consistent and real, non-hypocritical, faithful, long lasting, and that your patience will only add reality to your words of faith.
Bow with me, will you please, just for a moment, eyes closed. Are you absolutely certain that Christ lives in your life? Not that you go to a church where Christ is preached, not that you've learned the songs, not that, or even that you have many Christian friends. Have you accepted the gift of Christ, God's gift to you?
If not, now's the time. Take that gift, and your Christmas will take on a dimension you've never known before. Thank you, Father, for recording for us this magnificent story of the birth of your son. Thank you for choosing one who would be, though young, willing to accept the message and selecting as her partner in life one who would be obedient to follow the direction, and for both of them, the patience to carry out, throughout their lives together, the message of your truth. Thank you for the Savior, who loved us and gave himself for us. In Jesus' name, we thank you.
Everyone said, amen. Into the dawn of love's light, sing, O light, sing, Alleluia. Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, let there be peace on earth. Christ is Lord, Lord, and child, God is King, Alleluia, sing, Alleluia, sing, Alleluia, Alleluia, all is well, all is well. Lift up your voices and sing, all is well, Alleluia, Alleluia, Lord is your Lord and Savior, sing, Alleluia, sing, Alleluia, all is well, all is well. Lord is our Emmanuel, Lord is our Lord and Savior, sing, Alleluia, sing, Alleluia, all is well, all is well. A magnificent performance of the Christmas favorite, All is Well, brought to you by the Stonebriar Community Church Choir and Orchestra, with soloist, Hannah Jones. You're listening to a very special edition of Insight for Living. Today's message was titled, When an Angel Spoke to Joseph, and a reminder that the services at Stonebriar Community Church are streamed live every Sunday morning, and this includes the worship music as well.
You'll find all the details online at insightworld.org slash Sundays. Before we hear from Chuck, let me extend a word of thanks to all those who support this program. You are truly making a difference with your year-end donations.
Insight for Living is heard in multiple languages and on more than 2,000 radio stations around the world. And with the advent of the mobile app and the internet, anyone with a cell phone can hear the practical Bible teaching of Chuck Swindoll. It's all made possible because loyal listeners step forward and give. So as we conclude another year of ministry together, we would appeal to your generosity. Thanks so much for doing your part in helping others come to terms with the true meaning of Christmas.
Here's Chuck. What could possibly be more breathtaking than witnessing the birth of your children? Oh, I'll never forget looking into the innocent faces of our four little ones. Such joy mixed with fear. And I'll never forget the first time I prayed with a new believer. It's an experience that, to this day, thrills me when men and women choose to walk in newness of life. At Insight for Living Ministries, we feel fortunate to witness new life on a regular basis, whether it's someone responding to the gospel in North America, or someone hearing the good news far beyond our borders in their own language. By God's grace, many people say yes to new life in Christ. And now we're calling on you to join us in what we're calling Vision 195. It's an invitation to make disciples in all 195 countries in the world. Your donation is applied directly to providing Insight for Living on your station, right here. But a portion allows us to share what you've enjoyed at home to people far beyond our borders.
Places like Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and on the other side of the world in mainland China and beyond. Paul wrote this, Anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone. A new life has begun. But before there's new life, before someone chooses to become a disciple, he must first hear the good news.
And the only thing that stands in the way of making disciples is the financial capacity to do so. Can I call on you today to give generously to Vision 195? Your gift is critically important as we conclude another year of ministry. God is revealing himself around the world.
Together, let's tell the world about Jesus, one new life at a time. And here's how to respond to Chuck Swindoll right now. First, you can call us.
If you're listening in the United States, call 800-772-8888. Or it might be quicker to go online to insight.org slash donate. Thanks so much for your generous support. And when you connect with us today, be sure to let us know how you're doing. And if you'd like to join us today, be sure to let us know how we can be praying for you and your family. I'm Bill Meyer. Join us when Chuck Swindoll describes the earth-shattering moment when an angel spoke to shepherds.
That's Tuesday 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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