Chair Time Reflections - December 24, 2018
Obedience Opens the Heart to Peace
Posted by: Kim Stiver
Focus Verse: Matthew 1:24 "When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife."
Once Mary announced her news from the angel, Joseph was immediately hurled into the middle of an overwhelming storm. In a split second, he went from an ordinary, predictable life to complete and baffling chaos. To say that Joseph’s whole world changed is an understatement. I can’t even fathom what went through his mind. Mary’s story would be the equivalent of today’s science fiction or religious fantasy. Everyone in Nazareth probably knew each other, which meant hiding anything would be next to impossible. At first it would have appeared that the sweet, seemingly innocent girl he had fallen in love with, had concocted some crazy story to cover up a grave sin punishable by death. As his mind flew between the hurt of utter betrayal and all-consuming anger toward the man who violated his bride, it is a wonder that he was able to sleep at all following the angel’s news.
At the end of Matthew 1 we read about God appearing to Joseph in a dream, followed by his immediate and remarkable obedience to the God he loved. Somehow I think many of us read that passage and think, “If an angel appeared to me in a dream and spoke that clearly, of course I would obey, just as Joseph did. Oh, if only God would be so clear with me, I could go through anything if I knew all the details.” But I think most of us make a mistake with that assumption for two reasons. First, I think we erroneously believe that it was easy for Joseph after the dream and that he became miraculously comfortable with the whole outlandish scenario playing out before him. We must remember that he was just as ordinary… just as human as you and me. And secondly, we always underestimate what we think we need to feel comfortable or at peace. No reasons, explanations, or revealed plans will ever satisfy like we believe they will. That’s because our desire to know something is driven by our need for self-preservation and self-protection, both of which are the antithesis to trusting and loving God without reservation or dependence on self in any way. In his classic book Trusting God, Jerry Bridges says, “Trust is not a passive state of mind. It is a vigorous act of the soul by which we choose to lay hold of the promises of God and cling to them despite the adversity that at times seeks to overwhelm us.” It comes down to this: if we love God, then we will trust God, and in order to trust, we must continually choose to obey. Joseph loved God enough to obey Him without question.
The storms of your life are no less important to our loving Father, and He faithfully sends you messages of direction, hope, and peace if you are open to receiving His often unexpected words. Joseph needed an angel to appear in a dream because he didn’t have the Holy Spirit residing within him. For those who have invited the Messiah into their hearts, we have the Spirit of the living God whispering to us, singing over us, and comforting us 24 hours a day. The problem is we’re often blinded to God’s messages because we’re looking for angels. Maybe not literally, but in a way, we childishly want God to make us the exception to the rule. We want Him to give us the immediate solution. We want Him to appear or talk in such an obvious way, that we miss His whispers from the Word on a daily basis. But the Christmas season reminds us that practicing a habit of prayer, meditation, and stillness before His throne will prepare our hearts to anticipate a coming King and to receive the Word made flesh. By learning to abide in Him we can have a heart like Joseph’s that perseveres even among the unknowns, does anything it takes to serve God, and loves others even when it’s uncomfortable. With an obedient heart like Joseph’s, God enables us to walk through darkness for the sake of the light that is to come.
Scripture Meditations for this week:
Tuesday: James 1:2-5,22
Wednesday: John 14:23
Thursday: Hebrews 12:11
Friday: 2 John 1:6
Want to grow more? Check out the additional resources below:
- “Lessons from a Bed of Straw Part 2: Obedience (Joseph)” — Available as a podcast or blog (it’s a longer version of this same message), by Kim Stiver
- Trusting God, by Jerry Bridges
- Believing God, by Beth Moore
- Ruthless Trust, by Brennan Manning