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Sin: An Enemy Worthy of A Savior

Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” which means, God with us). When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.  Matthew 1:18-25 (ESV)

When God first promised Ahaz that he would give him a sign that his enemies would no longer threaten him, the sign came through a baby whose name would be Immanuel. God’s answer for Ahaz’s enemies wasn’t a military attack or even a military leader. His plan was the promise of His presence.

When God told Joseph to marry Mary, God informed Joseph of his tactical assault on sin: “She will bear a son, and they shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” The first immanuel was born to remind Ahaz that God could handle his most dreaded enemies; the second Immanuel was born to show Joseph (and us) that God can handle our most threatening enemy–sin.

How does God do it? Immanuel. God could have blown sin off the map from His vantage point in Heaven. Rather, he came down and became one of us, walked among us, and now lives in us to daily eradicate sin in our lives. He is Immanuel.

What is your most significant sin struggle today? If you’ve trusted Jesus Christ as your Savior, He’s Immanuel. He is with you and He is for you. Turn to Him today. When sin comes knocking at the door of your heart, send Jesus to answer the door!

A Good Night’s Sleep

Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” which means, God with us). When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.  Matthew 1:18-25 (ESV)

Joseph went to sleep with a plan: a quiet divorce. Mary was out of her mind to blame her pregnancy on God. He loved her but couldn’t buy her story. Then God showed up in a dream. Mary was pregnant and God had done it. It was no ordinary baby. Jesus would be his name. Joseph, as the dad, normally had the right and privilege of naming his child, especially a firstborn son. But this wasn’t Joseph’s boy. God was Jesus’ Father, Joseph an earthly surrogate! Joseph was an integral part in Isaiah’s prophecy: God was visiting earth through the birth of a baby boy called Immanuel.

Joseph woke up and did what God told him to do. He obeyed immediately by marrying Mary. He obeyed later by naming their boy Jesus.

What is God asking (no telling) you to do today? Don’t hesitate. Obey him.

Joseph Could Have Divorced Her!

Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” which means, God with us). When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.  Matthew 1:18-25 (ESV)

Things could have turned out so differently. Joseph had options. After all, Mary, his fiancé was pregnant. Joseph was a good man, described by Matthew as just and unwilling to embarrass Mary. He thought he knew her until she showed up one day with the off the wall explanation for her unexpected pregnancy: God did it! She had to be out of her mind! Joseph was stuck between a rock and hard place. The love of his life was pregnant and blaming God. He loved God (and her) enough not to want to embarrass her. A quiet divorce was the answer–until God showed up.

But as he considered these things. Aren’t you glad God invades our space “as we are considering things.” Our “considering” is so limited. God knows what we don’t know, sees what we don’t see, and can handle what we can’t handle.  Joseph woke up with a new vision.  We’ll see exactly what that entails tomorrow!

What are you “considering” today that God wants to weigh in on?

God is With Us

Again the Lord spoke to Ahaz, “Ask a sign of the Lord your God; let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven.” But Ahaz said, “I will not ask, and I will not put the Lord to the test.” And he said, “Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary men, that you weary my God also? Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.  Isaiah 7:10-14

Ahaz was king of Judah and found himself in a difficult spot. He was threatened by Israel and Syria to the north. Their kings threatened to join forces and invade Judah to the south. God wanted to speak to Ahaz regarding this but Ahaz was afraid to ask for a sign from God. God gave Ahaz infinite parameters: the sign could be as high as heaven and deep as hell! Ahaz saw asking God for a sign as putting God to the test.

God ignored Ahaz’s hesitancy and answered him anyway! As a matter of fact, the language suggests that God was wearied by Ahaz’s refusal to ask for what he needed. So God answered the question Ahaz never asked! His answer: I will be with you. The sign was both for Ahaz and for us.

For before the boy knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land whose two kings you dread will be deserted. Isaiah 7:16

In Ahaz’s day, a woman conceived and gave birth to a boy and named him Immanuel. By the time the boy was weaned Israel and Syria had fallen and were no longer a threat to Judah. God made a promise and kept it.  Tomorrow we will see how Joseph struggled just like Ahaz…and again God showed up and answered.

What do you need to ask God for today? What are you afraid to mention? Embarrassed? Shy? Hesitant? Don’t weary Him…ask!