Another Hero Of Christmas

Joseph Mary Christmas
Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. —Matthew 1:19

For most of my life, I missed the importance of Joseph in the Christmas story. But after I became a husband and father myself, I had a greater appreciation for Joseph’s tender character. Even before he knew how Mary had become pregnant, he decided that he wasn’t going to embarrass or punish her for what seemed to be infidelity (Matt. 1:19).

I marvel at his obedience and humility, as he not only did what the angel told him (v.24) but also refrained from physical intimacy with Mary until after Jesus was born (v.25). Later we learn that Joseph was willing to flee his home to protect Jesus (2:13-23).

Imagine the pressure Joseph and Mary must have felt when they learned that Jesus would be theirs to raise and nurture! Imagine the complexity and pressure of having the Son of God living with you every moment of every day; a constant call to holiness by His very presence. What a man Joseph must have been to be trusted by God for this task! What a wonderful example for us to follow, whether we’re raising our own children or those born to others who are now entrusted to us. By Randy Kilgore

May God grant us the strength to be faithful like Joseph, even if we don’t fully understand God’s plan.

We know, Father, that Your wisdom is far above our
limited understanding. We thank You that we can
rely on You to carry out Your good plans
for us. You are worthy of our faithfulness.

The secret of true service is absolute faithfulness wherever God places you.

Lessons From a Life Well Lived

2 Timothy 4:6-8

Paul’s second letter to Timothy was written from prison. This time the apostle felt certain that the emperor would have him executed. But God’s faithful servant was ready to take the next step of faith.

We shouldn’t be surprised that Paul met death with calm acceptance. He lived every day—from his conversion on the Damascus Road to his final moments—in service to God, which meant consenting to whatever hardship he was asked to bear in Jesus’ name. “I have fought the good fight,” he reported to Timothy. From his letters, we know that Paul battled the same enemies we face—the flesh, the world, and Satan (Rom. 7:14-25; 1 Cor. 4:11-13; Eph. 6:12). When you’re tempted to think that he was somehow more holy than you, meditate on these passages. Paul persevered by faith, just as we must.

Even with his profound wisdom and skill as an apostle, missionary, and statesman, Paul wasn’t so different from you and me. He was not perfect, and he had spiritual defeats. But he didn’t stay down. He got back into the fight. For this and for the life he lived, Paul anticipated the rich rewards of eternity. And he pointed out that heaven’s treasures were “not only to [him], but also to all who have longed for [Jesus’] appearing” (2 Tim. 4:8 NIV).

Paul struggled as believers often do. But he kept the faith, and you can, too. Fight the good fight, friend. Battle your enemies by choosing to trust, obey, and rely upon the Lord. You will bring honor to Him and store up treasures in heaven for yourself.

Zechariah’s Visions: Horns and Carpenters

“Then lifted I up mine eyes, and saw, and behold four horns. And I said unto the angel that talked with me, What be these? And he answered me, These are the horns which have scattered Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem.” (Zechariah 1:18-19)

Immediately after seeing the horsemen that were sent to determine the state of the earth, Zechariah observes four “horns” amid the myrtle trees. Zechariah is told that they represent the authorities responsible for scattering the people of the two nations of Judah and Israel, destroying Jerusalem in the process as well.

The image of horns usually refers to empires in other passages of Scripture. The horns of the goats in Daniel 7 and 8 and the horns of the seven-headed dragon used in Revelation 13 and 17 are good examples. Zechariah may have understood this specific vision as a reference to Nebuchadnezzar’s dream image recorded in Daniel 2. We would identify those horns as Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome. It is possible that the previous empires of Egypt and Assyria would have been included, but the context does not specify.

The purpose of this vision seems to lie in the task of the four carpenters that appear following the horns (Zechariah 1:20). The Hebrew could be better undersood by our words “craftsmen” or “artisans” since they were assigned the task to “fray [terrify] them, to cast out the horns of the Gentiles, which lifted up their horn over the land of Judah to scatter it” (Zechariah 1:21).

Even though human history seems to creep by, God will execute His plans for all nations. God’s sovereignty has “determined the times before appointed” (Acts 17:26) and He has often assured us that His Word “shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11). HMM III

When the enemy shall come in like a food, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him

When the enemy shall come in like a food, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him.—Isaiah 59:19.

STILL more and more do Thou my soul redeem,
From every bondage set me wholly free,
Though Evil oft the mightiest power may seem,
Still make me more than conqueror, Lord, in Thee.

WAIT on the Lord in humility of heart, that thou mayest daily feel the change which is wrought in the heart and conscience by the holy, eternal, ever-living Power; and so thou mayest witness, “that which is born of the Spirit, is spirit.” And then thou wilt feel that this birth of the Spirit cannot fulfill the lusts of the flesh, but will be warring and fighting the good fight against them, and thus, in faithfulness to the truth, and waiting upon the Lord, thou shalt witness an overcoming, in His due time. Oh, the conquering faith, the overcoming life and power of the Spirit! We cannot but speak of those things; and cry up the perfect gift, and the power of Him, who is not only able to perfect His work in the heart, but delights so to do; and even to tread down Satan under the feet of those that wait in patience for the perfect conquest. ISAAC PENINGTON.

Thou renderest to every man according to his work

Thou renderest to every man according to his work. Psalm 62:12

Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire. — We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.

When thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: that thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly. — After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them.

Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God. — LORD, thou wilt ordain peace for us: for thou also hast wrought all our works in us.

1 Corinthians 3:11,14,15. 2 Corinthians 5:10. Matthew 6:3,4. Matthew 25:19. 2 Corinthians 3:5. Isaiah 26:12.

Stay strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus

Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2 Timothy 2:1

Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power. — As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving. — Trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified. — Built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; in whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto a holy temple in the Lord: in whom ye also are builded together for a habitation of God through the Spirit.

I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified. — Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.

Fight the good fight of faith. — In nothing terrified by your adversaries.

Colossians 1:11. Colossians 2:6,7. Isaiah 61:3. Ephesians 2:20,22. Acts 20:32. Philippians 1:11. 1 Timothy 6:12. Philippians 1:28.