According to TV and the tabloids, we are entering "Awards Season."
That time of year when various awards are bestowed upon individuals in the entertainment industry.
(By the way, is it just me, or does it seem like new award shows are being added like new Bowl games? How many are there now, like 100???)
I occasionally like to watch the Academy Awards.
I find it enjoyable, and I really like looking at what people wear.
Honestly, sometimes it's glamour, sometimes it's glitz, and sometimes it's just downright gaudy or gross. (But, it is kinda fun…)
One thing I've noticed, though, is that it's usually the *best* award-winners that get all the attention and press.
Whatever happened to the best supporting role players?
They are also deserving of attention. Their portrayal of character enables the plot to move forward, and adds shades of nuance to the storyline.
And often, a background player makes the stars shine, because the role that they play enhances the performance of the main actor/actress.
Today I would like to take a look at a *Best Supporting Actor* in the New Testament –
This year I have decided to just start reading the New Testament. I'm not going to follow any plan, but intend to just read and let it all soak in.
So, I've been reading in Matthew.
And, I have been newly fascinated by the person of Joseph.
The Bible doesn't say much about Joseph, and the last time we hear about him is in Luke, chapter 2, when Jesus is found in the Temple.
But, in Matthew, I think we can glean quite a lot about him.
First of all, just as God chose Mary to be the mother of Jesus, one would have to assume that He also intentionally chose Joseph to be Jesus' stepfather.
Joseph must have possessed the character traits that God wanted to be taught to Jesus as He grew from a baby into a child and young man.
Thinking back to that scene in the Temple (Luke 2:51-52, AMP):
"[Jesus] went down to Nazareth with them [Mary and Joseph], and was continually submissive and obedient to them…And Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and in stature, and in favor with God and men."
I believe two things can be inferred about Joseph from these verses.
One, that Joseph was a strong father, and maintained proper control over his household. Jesus was obedient and submissive to him, and obedience always follows respect.
Secondly, Jesus grew in stature and favor. Again, Joseph must have set a good example of a good man, a faithful man, a man to be followed and emulated.
Yes, of course, Jesus' true Father was God, and He experienced the close presence of the Holy Spirit.
But He was also human.
And I am quite sure that His earthly father, Joseph, was a man of great character, instilling values and godly principles in the son that God had entrusted to his care.
I am sure Joseph loved Jesus, and Jesus loved him back.
But, I am going to go back to the book of Matthew, and it is here, in the very beginning, that I see something quite special about Joseph.
He was a man of obedience.
Three separate times, God sent a messenger to speak to Joseph. Three separate times, Joseph was given a mission.
Three times obedience asked something terribly difficult, terribly demanding.
And each and every time, Joseph obeyed.
I'd like to look at those incidences more closely…
1) Take Mary as your wife
So, Joseph finds out that Mary is pregnant. And they are not yet married, and he knows that he is not the father of the baby.
Well, in a kindly way, Joseph decided to handle the situation quietly. Joseph must have loved Mary, for he did not want to bring her shame.
"And Joseph her [promised] husband, being a just and righteous man and not wanting to expose her publicly to shame, planned to send her away and divorce her quietly." (Matthew 1:19, AMP)
Did you notice?
Joseph, a just and righteous man – clues to his character.
But then…Someone intervened:
"But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying…" (vs. 20)
Yes, the angel came with instructions.
"Then Joseph awoke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him…" (vs. 24)
What does Joseph do?
Joseph obeyed, even when it went against social standards, even when it wasn't popular, even when obedience might bring judgment, gossiping tongues, and maybe even ostracization from family, friends, and neighbors.
Lesson One: OBEDIENCE MIGHT BE UNPOPULAR, AND MAY LEAD TO OPPOSITION AND PERSECUTION
2) Flee to Egypt
So, after the visit of the Magi, there are more instructions for Joseph.
"Now when they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, ‘Get up! Take the Child and His mother and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod intends to search for the Child in order to destroy Him.'" (Matthew 2:13, AMP)
What does Joseph do?
But get this, he does it immediately!
"So Joseph got up and took the Child and His mother while it was still night, and left for Egypt." (vs. 14)
The Bible is not clear on how old Jesus was when this trip took place. But, he was still quite young.
Have you ever tried to travel with a very young child?
It is NOT. EASY. AT. ALL.
Can you picture the scene?
Joseph awakened in the middle of the night, woke up Mary, bundled up his precious family, and began the trek to a foreign country.
Check out a map – Israel to Egypt is a looong trip.
(It took Moses and the Israelites forever to get there – of course, they did have that 40-year sidetrack thing…)
And this journey did not have the luxury of planes, trains, or automobiles.
Joseph obeyed, immediately and without question, even when it was troublesome, time-consuming, difficult, and treacherous.
Lesson Two: OBEDIENCE MIGHT BE INCONVENIENT AND DEMANDING, PERHAPS EVEN DANGEROUS
3) Return to Israel
Joseph, Mary, and Jesus went to Egypt.
And they stayed there, just as Joseph had been told to do, until further instructions arrived.
"But when Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, and said, 'Get up! Take the Child and His mother, and go to the land of Israel…'" (Matthew 2:19-20, AMP)
What does Joseph do?
They make the long trip from Egypt to Israel once again.
And here, we read another clue about Joseph's character:
"But when he heard that Archelaus was ruling over Judea in place of his father Herod [the Great], he was afraid to go there." (vs. 22)
Joseph listened to the news!
He was aware, and pondered wisely what he heard.
And because of what he heard, this father was concerned about protecting his young family. Joseph took care to shield and shelter his family, to watch over them, to offer them security and safety.
Joseph went on guard, and waited to hear from the Lord.
One more time, instructions came:
"Then being warned by God in a dream, he left for the region of Galilee, and went and settled in a city called Nazareth." (vs. 22-23)
Again, instructions – again, Joseph obeyed.
Joseph returned to his home country, yes, but he arrived to an unknown destiny.
Did he know everything that the future held?
Most likely not, but he did know that this child entrusted to him was special.
So he came back home and waited for God to reveal the plan as it unfolded.
Lesson Three: OBEDIENCE MIGHT LEAD TO AN UNCERTAIN FUTURE, AND PATIENT WAITING FOR GOD TO REVEAL HIS PLANS
In all three glimpses into the character of Joseph, we are taught much about him, the man of God, and about his character, and his unquestioning obedience to the call and will of God.
Let's picture a theater marquee in shining lights…
***THE BIRTH OF CHRIST!!***
Starring: The Child, Jesus, and The Virgin Mary!
Also co-starring: Joseph
One might be tempted to consider Joseph a bit player, a sidenote, an incidental character in the great epic film about the birth of the Messiah – an "oh-yeah-him-too" kind of thing.
He is the Best Supporting Actor in the whole drama!!
A man of righteousness, an honest and honorable man, a most faithful and godly man, whose obedience to God made the stars shine…
It is not without a chuckle that I read my daily devotional this morning from "Daily with the King" by W. Glyn Evans.
It was all about obedience – (well of course it was!)
Not "I will obey if…"
"I will obey regardless…"
Not a matter of feeling, but of faith.
Not a matter of convenience, but of commitment.
Not a matter of desire, but of devotion.
Not a matter of my will, but of His.
I desire to do Your will, my God.
Your law is within my heart.
I press on toward the goal
to win the prize
God has called me
"I find the doing of the will of God leaves me no time for disputing about His plans." ~ George Macdonald
"Beware of reasoning about God's Word – obey It." ~ Oswald Chambers
"Just as a servant knows that he must first obey his master in all things, so the surrender to an implicit and unquestionable obedience must become the essential characteristic of our lives." ~ Andrew Murray
***(Be sure to check out my DAILY GRATEFUL WORDS on the sidebar, and further thoughts on those words on my new page DAILY GRATEFUL THOUGHTS found here! The updated A WORD FROM THE WORD, A "MESSAGE" FROM GOD, and FOOD FOR THOUGHT are also found on the sidebar.)***
"…'What is more pleasing to the LORD: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams.'" (1 Samuel 15:22, NLT)
"When all has been heard, the end of the matter is: fear God [worship Him with awe-filled reverence, knowing that He is almighty God] and keep His commandments…" (Ecclesiastes 12:13, AMP)
"'And now…listen to the statutes and the rules that I am teaching you, and do them, that you may live…'" (Deuteronomy 4:1, ESV)
"'Listen to and obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be My people; and you will walk in all the way which I command you, so that it may be well with you.'" (Jeremiah 7:23, AMP)
"'…we are witnesses of these things; and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has bestowed on those who obey Him.'" (Acts 5:32, AMP)
"Even though Jesus was God's Son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered. In this way, God qualified him as a perfect High Priest, and he became the source of eternal salvation for all those who obey him."
(Hebrews 5:8-9, NLT)
"'You are my friends if you do what I command you.'" (John 15:14, ESV)
"'Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.'" (John 14:23, NIV)
"And this is love: that we walk in accordance with His commandments and are guided continually by His precepts." (2 John 1:6, AMP)
"'Why do you call me 'Lord, Lord,' and not do what I tell you? Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built.'" (Luke 6:46-48, ESV)
"'We must obey God rather than any human authority.'" (Acts 5:29, NLT)
"I have chosen to be faithful; I have determined to live by your regulations." (Psalm 119:30, NLT)
"Whether we like it or not, we will obey the LORD our God…For if we obey him, everything will turn out well for us." (Jeremiah 42:6, NLT)
"Praise the LORD! How joyful are those who fear the LORD and delight in obeying his commands." (Psalm 112:1, NLT)
"'If you obey the commandments of the LORD your God…by loving the LORD your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and his statutes and his rules, then you shall live…'" (Deuteronomy 30:16, ESV)
"The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever." (1 John 2:17, NIV)
In what areas do you find it especially difficult to be obedient?
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