Join The Movement

When you think of “church” what do comes to mind? Do you think of the church as an organization or as an organism?
An organization is an organized body of people with a particular purpose. It’s about structure and order. An organism is a whole with interdependent parts, a living thing. Based on what the New Testament teaches and demonstrates concerning the church, you would definitely believe the church is an organism. The church is a living system.
The Apostles never viewed the church as an organization. Instead, they viewed it as an organism — a body of Christ. The church was intended to be the manifestation, extension, and representation of Jesus here on earth after His ascension into heaven. See 1 Corinthians 12:27-28; Ephesians 1:22-23; Colossians 1:18.
So if the church is “body of Christ” it should also be influential and irresistible like Jesus. So why is church so resistible in today’s culture? Why has the church seemingly lost its influence? The answer: the church has drifted from its intended identity.
Read: Matthew 16:13–18. What we find in this passage is the first time Jesus uses the word Church. Jesus predicted he would build it and that nothing, including death, would stand in his way. But something else of extraordinary significance was communicated during this exchange. Something that the English translation of the Bible misses. Specifically, the meaning of the term translated church.
Greek term: ekklesia means a gathering of people called out for a specific purpose. Ekklesia never referred to a specific place, only a specific gathering. See 1 Peter 2:4-5.
If the Greek word means gathering, why doesn’t our English Bibles just say ‘gathering’? Where did the word church come from?
“Church” Origins: Constantine, Roman religion, adoption of pagan worship themes, basilicas built in honor of martyrs, “kirche”
The German term kirche and the Greek term ekklesia refer to two very different ideas. A kirche is a location. An ekklesia is a purposeful gathering of people. You can lock the doors of a kirche. Not so with the ekklesia of Jesus.
This shift in vocabulary signaled a dramatic shift in emphasis and direction. The church was no longer a grassroots movement built upon the simple understanding of who Jesus is. The church became synonymous with a location.

Over the years people exchanged being the church with going to the church.

This transition in thinking proved dangerous to the effectiveness and health of the church. This shift also led to an era of church history that can only be described as horrific (crusades). While it’s amazing that the church survived the persecution of the first century, it may be more amazing that it survived the institutionalization and corruption of the centuries that followed.
But it did survive. Jesus promised it would. As it turned out, the kirche of man could not contain the ekklesia of Jesus. From the first century through the twenty-first century there has always been a remnant, a group who refused to substitute kirche for the ekklesia of Jesus. There have always been and will always be followers of Christ who refuse to define church in terms of location alone.
Why? The church is a movement with a divinely inspired mission. The church is not a monument to maintain history, it is a movement that multiplies hope. It is not an organization for Christ that dispenses information, instead it is an organism of Christ (body) which brings transformation to our world.
From the very beginning (Acts 2) the church was irresistible. See Acts 9:31.
What is church? It is a movement of people called out for a singular purpose: to know Christ and make him known. The goal of the church is to be irresistible and influential, just like Jesus.
The church is not a location, it is a vocation. Christ intended His church to be a movement engaging our culture with the hope of the gospel.

The church is not a place to escape the world, it is a movement through which we engage the world.



Find Your Place, Do Your Part

The Church grows healthy and effective when you find you place and do your part within its mission.

I will break this passage down into several short statements that reveal our responsibility before God on behalf of His church — it’s mission and health.

A position to assume — See Ephesians 4:1.

Paul was a prisoner because of his testimony of Christ as Savior and Lord. He gave his life to making Christ known. See 2 Timothy 1:8. We, like Paul, choose to place our lives under Christ’s command. Christ’s love, grace, and mercy has captured our hearts. It is from that position, His prisoner by choice, that we can rightly serve Him, His mission, and His church.

A way to live and serve — See Ephesians 4:1.

The Greek word for “worthy” refers to a balance, as on scales. Believers are to live “in balance” with their calling. How they act should match what they believe. The calling Paul speaks about is your salvation. See 1 Peter 2:9. If you are saved by Christ, you are called. All of us are called to live our lives in a manner worthy of our salvation. We don’t just give Jesus our heart, we give him our very lives. Paul now goes on to describe what the life “worthy of our calling” looks like.

An attitude to adopt —See Ephesians 4:2-3.

These are not different attitudes we try to adopt. All of these are a product of our new attitude in Christ. See Ephesians 4:20-24. God’s work in our lives by the Spirit is always an attack on the ego (self) to bring it into submission by choice to God and then to repurpose and redirect its interests.
Humility — focuses on one’s thinking; it means “lowliness of mind” as opposed to arrogance or conceit. Christ expected his followers to be humble not only before God but toward one another. Humility means putting Christ first, others second, and self last. See Philippians 2:3-5.
Gentleness — Humility is an attitude, and gentleness is the action it produces. Gentle people do not attempt to grab for positions of importance or assert authority over others.
Patience — the ability to handle one another’s faults and failures and refusing to avenge wrongs.
Tolerant Love — Bearing with one another in love is the action side of patience. It emphasizes the willingness to forgive and involves empathizing with the other person.
Unity — True unity among believers follows naturally from the characteristics described in verse 2. Such unity is only possible when the Holy Spirit acts in believers’ lives—the Spirit starts and sustains oneness among believers. See Ephesians 4:4-6. Paul uses the picture of the Trinity (Spirit, Son, Father) to exemplify the unity within God that God desires within His church.

An individual gift to exercise — See Ephesians 4:7.

All of Paul’s passages dealing with spiritual gifts and the body of Christ stress the diversity of the church in the midst of its unity as one body. The church holds a unique blend of unity AND individuality. Every believer has a gift; no one has all the gifts. In this way, believers need one another in the church as they seek to accomplish the work of the kingdom.
Next, Paul lists some of these “gifts” or “graces” that were given the Church. The list given here is by no means complete (for other types of gifts see Romans 12; 1 Corinthians 12).
See Ephesians 4:11-12. Christ gave leaders to the church for a very specific purpose — to equip Christ’s followers within that local community to exercise their individual gifts. One of the rallying cries of the Reformation was that every member of the Body of Christ is a minister. See 1 Peter 2:9; 4:10.
Do you know what the best spiritual gifts are? The best spiritual gifts are the ones you already have! But it’s more than just having gifts; we must find them and then use them! The ones you put to work in serving Christ’s mission.

A goal to achieve — See Ephesians 4:12-16.

The goal is that the body of Christ, His Church, may be built up, united in our faith, united in our understanding of Christ, maturing believers who are full of Christ and serving His mission in our individually assigned way.


Leave No Generation Out

All throughout Scripture, you see God’s desire that each generation would know Him, follow His principles, and serve His mission.

God’s covenant love and purposes are for each generation.

See Genesis 17:1–7.
God commands that older generations inform and influence the faith of the younger generations. See Deuteronomy 6:1–12.
There are personal and cultural consequences for failing to develop the faith of younger generations. See Judges 2:7–13.
Faith in God is meant to be embraced personally AND shared generationally. See Psalm 78:1–7.
The future of the church and the success of its mission is dependent on multi-generational discipleship. See Matthew 28:18–20; Acts 2:38–39; Ephesians 3:20–21.
The Bible reveals God’s desire for multi-generational faith development.
How many of you know someone between the ages of 18-35 who has dropped out of church? This is the generation — the Millennial generation — that we must not leave behind. But unless things change, we will continue to see them left out.

The ages 18-29 are the black hole of church attendance…missing in action from most congregations. — David Kinnaman, “You Lost Me”

More than two-thirds of young churchgoing adults in America drop out of church between the ages of eighteen and twenty-two! — Thom Rainer III, Sam S., Essential Church

The problem is not that this generation has been less churched than children and teens before them; the problem is that much spiritual energy fades away during a crucial decade of life—the twenties.
Millions of young adults leave active involvement in church as they exit their teen years. Some never return, while others live indefinitely at the margins of the faith community, attempting to define their own spirituality.
The dropout problem is, at its core, a faith-development problem…it’s a discipleship problem. The church is not adequately preparing the next generation to follow Christ faithfully in a rapidly changing culture. — David Kinnaman, “You Lost Me: Why Young Christians Are Leaving Church…and Rethinking Faith,” 2011
How can we follow Jesus—and help young people faithfully follow Jesus—in a dramatically changing culture? Recognize that we have both individual responsibility and institutional opportunity.
To respond effectively to the spiritual needs of the next generation, established institutions and communities must understand them, and change in appropriate, biblical ways.


Obey the Spirit

The last thing authentic, spirit-filled believers should be is bored in their faith. Are you tired of going through the motions? Tired of trying to work out your faith in your own strength?
See John 6:63. The Holy Spirit is not merely helpful. He is our only hope. Unfortunately for most Christians, there is a huge gap between what the Scriptures say about the Holy Spirit and how we actually live each and every day.
The degree to which you ignore the Spirit is directly related to the degree of dissatisfaction you feel with your Christian life. We are not all we were made to be when everything in our lives can be explained apart from the work and presence of the Spirit of God. See Galatians 3:2-3.
Because our salvation was a supernatural work of the Holy Spirit, so our spiritual living must also be a supernatural work of the Holy Spirit. 
When I read Scripture, I see the truth and necessity of a living a life of obedience to the Holy Spirit and a dependence upon Him. We don’t live to ourselves. As born-again, followers of Christ, the Holy Spirit fills our lives. See 1 Corinthians 6:19-20; John 14:15-17; John 16:7.
Take a moment and ask yourself this question: When was the last time I undeniably saw the Spirit of God at work in and around me? God the Holy Spirit wants to be vitally present in and through His people — but obedience is the key!

Resolution #6: This year, I will obey the Spirit and allow His power to fill my life and fuel my faith.

Being a Christian does not necessarily guarantee that a person lives a life controlled by the Spirit. Read: Galatians 5:16–25.
The truth is that you have been, are now, and will obey something. Obedience to the flesh leads to self-defeating behaviors that destroy your faith. Obedience to the Holy Spirit produces something entirely different. Rather than behaviors and attitudes that defeat us, obedience to the Spirit produces characteristics and attitudes that improve our life, our faith and our interaction with others.
The fact that Paul commands us to “walk by the Spirit” implies that many believers are not. It is not that they don’t have the Holy Spirit, but rather they are not choosing to obey, to walk by the Spirit.
The Spirit’s transforming work in us is not done apart from human cooperation. Sadly, there are too many believers today who profess faith in Christ but who haven’t surrendered themselves to the control of the Spirit. So how do we obey the Spirit?
The irony of Spirit-filled living is that we have to give up power in order to gain a greater power.

To walk in the Spirit means obeying His initial promptings.

You do it by going through each day aware of the Holy Spirit’s presence with you. You submit to Him as you feel Him pulling you in a certain direction or tugging at your heart to take a particular course of action, even if you don’t quite understand why.
Begin each day with a prayer: “Father, I want You to guide me and lead me today by Your Spirit. Speak to my heart. Keep me sensitive to Your promptings and to what is happening around me in the lives of those I meet. Use me today for Your purposes. Today, I choose to obey the Spirit.”
If you yield to and obey the Holy Spirit and depend on His ability rather than your own, He will enable you not only to live a life that is pleasing to Christ but also to experience God in ways you never thought possible.


Take A Risk

Life requires risk. We make relational risks, financial risks, physical risks, emotional risks, and social risks. But when was the last time you took a spiritual risk?
Choosing to take a risk is often the key to stepping into a new season of life, success, reward, maturity, etc. Generally speaking, there is no reward without risk. The same applies to your spiritual growth and development.
I believe that a lot of the frustration you feel concerning your faith is due to the fact that you have not taken a spiritual risk — a risk of faith.
This week as I was preparing for this message, I felt the Spirit speak to me saying, “Failure to take a risk of faith will put your faith at risk.”
“At-Risk Faith” is a state or condition of faith that is marked by a high level of vulnerability because it is not being exercised — it has not grown stronger through practice.
“Safe faith” is dangerous because it lulls your faith to sleep, it deprives you of faith-growing, faith-rewarding divine moments. Faith in Christ will involve risk. In nearly every aspect of your relationship with him, the Lord will bring you to the edge of a decision at which point you’ll have to decide whether to leap in the direction he’s calling you (risk) or pull back to a place that seems safe. Where there is no risk, there is no faith. See Hebrews 11:6.
The last thing authentic Christian faith should be is boring. I don’t see boredom falling upon Jesus, his disciples, or the Apostle Paul. Why? Because the risk of faith is a boredom buster.

Resolution #5: This year, I will take a risk of faith instead of submitting to the mundane life that places my faith at risk.

Though we tend to think the heroes of faith in the Bible were superstars with bold personalities, they usually were just like the rest of us who live life tentatively. They weren’t great because they were fearless but because they acted in faith and took a risk in spite of their fears (Examples: Abraham, Noah, Moses, David, Esther).
In order to reap a great reward of faith, there has to be a great risk of faith.
Read: Matthew 25:14-30
The identical statement of praise to both servants indicates that the point of the parable is not on the total amount they started with or the total amount earned but on their willingness to take a risk and demonstrate faithful responsibility.
We tend to avoid a risk of faith because we feel as though we are not great like other spiritual heroes that we have seen. But let me remind you, their greatness always began with risk.
Don’t let the reality of where you are now — and the comparison of yourself to others — keep you from acting in obedience and taking a risk with what you currently do have. You may only be a few risks of faith from where you are now to where you wish you could be as a Christ.
But please listen to me! We do not have the option of doing nothing with our faith. As I said earlier, if we do not take the risk of faith, we place our faith at risk. Notice what happened to the third servant. In reality, each of the servants decisions involved a risk. The first two took a risk of faith and were rewarded for it. The third servant was not willing to risk the master’s investment and because of it, he placed his life at risk.
If your faith in on life support, it’s time to take a risk of faith.
Note: risk of faith is not the same as being faithlessly risky. The risk of faith that honors God is first, and foremost, God-birthed and rooted in His Word.
What risk of faith do you need to take today? I challenge you to avoid the temptation to live risk-free, but instead become free take to risk of faith.


Forgive Freely

Read: Matthew 18:21-35.
What was wrong with this man? The same thing that is wrong with many professing Christians: They have received forgiveness, but they have not really experienced forgiveness deep in their hearts. Therefore, they are unable to share forgiveness with those who have wronged them. In other words, it is not enough to receive God’s forgiveness, or even the forgiveness of others. We must experience that forgiveness in our hearts so that it humbles us and makes us gentle and forgiving toward others. We are in very spiritually dangerous territory when we choose not to forgive others in the same manner as God has forgiven us.
See Matthew 6:12, 14-15; Colossians 3:13. The quality and quantity of the forgiveness that God freely gave us determines the quality and quantity of forgiveness that I should freely give to others.

Resolution #4: This year, I will forgive freely and not allow unforgiveness to poison and imprison my heart.

  So how to I resolve to forgive freely? What does it look like to forgive this way?

To forgive freely involves canceling a debt.

When you forgive someone, you also cancel a debt. But, more specifically, you make a conscious choice to absorb the cost yourself. You choose not to make the offender pay for the offense. By forfeiting your right to collect, you make at least three promises.

  1. You promise that you will not bring up the debt to use it as leverage.
  2. You promise that you will not bring up the offense to others and slander the person who sinned against you.
  3. You promise not to dwell on the offense yourself.

To forgive freely is costly, but withholding forgiveness is more costly.

No matter how you spin it, forgiveness is costly. But the parable shows us that not forgiving also has a price, and it is higher than the price forgiveness demands. In addition, holding onto an offense will make you a bitter and unloving person, and you will inevitably damage all your relationships. No matter which way you choose, you will pay a price. Which price are you willing to pay?

To forgive freely is an event and a process.

We’re tempted to think that once we have forgiven someone, we’re done. But forgiving someone is not just a past event. Even if you have forgiven someone for something they have done in the past, you need to be careful that you don’t slip into bitterness some time in the future. You need to keep practicing forgiveness every time you see them or think of them.

To forgive freely is not the same as forgetting.

Too often people say that the evidence of having truly forgiven someone is to forget what he has done to you. But our minds don’t function this way, and our ability to remember is powerful. Trying to forget a sin someone has committed against you will only encourage you to remember it.

To forgive freely means dealing with the sin in a redemptive way.

Does it seem as if forgiveness means you should just let people sin against you? The Bible never says, “Make it easy for others to sin against you.” Instead, it provides a way to deal with sin in redemptive ways.


Dream Again

When was the last time your were inspired by a dream? Do you have a dream or have you settled for your reality routine? It doesn’t matter what stage of life you are on right now, your heart should be captivated by a dream of how to serve God and accomplish something for his kingdom. Biblical Example: Jesus’ Disciples. Once the disciples learned that Jesus rose from the dead, the dream began to awake in their hearts. When your Lord does the impossible, it changes the boundaries of the possible. With this seemingly impossible resurrection fresh in their minds, Jesus commissions them to do something seemingly impossible. See Matthew 28:18-20. Within the first hundred years, the church nearly reached the goal of spreading the gospel in the known world. How? These 11 followers of Jesus became Holy Spirit empowered and mission-minded dreamers. Think about it! These men didn’t have to seize their God-given, Christ-commissioned dreams. But they chose to DREAM AGAIN.

Resolution #3: This year, I will learn to dream again, believing that God wants to do something great in me and through me.

See Ephesians 3:20–21.

To dream again, God must be the source of the origin and the fulfillment of your dream.

There have been many dreams pursued by people that do not even factor in God. Perhaps you have found yourself pursuing a dream that leaves you chasing after the wrong things. See Isaiah 65:2.
Dreams are not about your self-self-fulfillment or self-actualization. Biblical Example: Joseph (Genesis 37, 39-50). This story is a prime example of the fact that God is the source of the origin and the fulfillment of Joseph’s dream. I am sure we all have dreams we have pursued (graduation, marriage, career, house). While nothing is wrong with these dreams, I would consider these secondary dreams.
Our primary dream, as followers of Christ, should have something to do with Christ’s mission. Has God birthed a dream in your heart that is in line with His mission? By definition, a God-sized dream will be beyond your ability, beyond your resources. Unless God does it, it’s can’t be done. And that is precisely how God gets the glory.
See John 14:12. What would you do if Jesus came to you in a vision tomorrow morning, stood at the foot of your bed, and said:” “I will make available to you all the resources you need. Now dream a great dream that is worthy of my.” How would you respond to him?

To dream again, you must stop living as if the purpose of life is to arrive safely at death.

Most of us spend our lives running away from the things we’re afraid of. We forfeit our dreams on the altar of fear. At the end of our lives, our greatest regrets will be the God-ordained opportunities we left on the table, the God-given passions we didn’t pursue, and the God-sized dreams we didn’t go after because we let fear dictate our decisions.

To dream again, you must believe God is real and then live like it.

To dream big dreams again, we need to know where our security is. If we find security in the people we already know, the place we already live, or the position we’ve already grown comfortable in, we may never realize our dream. You are one dream away from a totally different year…and life. But, of course, you will have to pursue it.

To dream again, you must refuse the tendency to simply repeat history.

Without a dream, we will likely just repeat what we did last year. A dream has the power to disrupt the routine. Most of us stop living out of imagination and start living out of memory. Instead of creating the future, we start repeating the past.

To dream again, you must refuse the comfort of just breaking even.

There is a brand of religiosity that seems satisfied with breaking even — don’t do this, don’t do that, and you’ll be okay. The problem with that is this: you can do nothing wrong and still do nothing right.
What dream has God placed in your heart? If you don’t have one, take time this year to seek God and learn to dream again.


Pursue Healthy Relationships

We live in an age where we are more connected to people than ever before, while at the same time we are becoming an age where we are lonelier than we have ever been before. Loneliness is about the quality rather than the quantity of relationships that we have, so a person may have a lot of friends but still find that their needs for social contact are not met.
Biblical Example: Elijah and Elisha (2 Kings 2:1–14). This is a great picture of an important spiritual truth. Who we choose to follow will determine, to a large degree, who we become.
Show me your friends and I will show you your future. — Craig Groeschel See Proverbs 12:26.

Resolution #2: This year, I will pursue healthy relationships that inspire and influence me to become the best version of me.

We all need three types of friends in order to become the best version of you.

A friend to challenge you and call out your best.

Biblical Example: David and Samuel (1 Samuel 16). If you study David’s life, it becomes clear that the right people at the right time helped him to become the right man. David’s relationship with Samuel made David better. Do you have friends who make you better? People who call out your potential? Seek out friends who model something you don’t currently have but need in order to become a better version of you.

A friend to help you find strength in God and to grow in your faith.

Biblical Example: David and Jonathan (1 Samuel 18-23). Jonathan helped David find strength in God when he needed it most. See 1 Samuel 23:15–18. Jonathan helped him find strength in God. There may not be a more valuable gesture one friend can make to another than pointing them toward God, encouraging them to seek his power, loving them toward God’s unending strength. Who helps you find strength in God? God already has that person ready for you.

A friend to tell you the truth, especially when you don’t want to hear it.

This is the type of friend that is most needed but hardest to find. Biblical Example: David and Nathan (2 Samuel 12). Many people around us tell us the things we want to hear, rather than helping us to see the truth. It’s difficult to find people who have our best interests at heart when we make decisions that are not in our own best interest. See Proverbs 27:5-6.
Which kind of friend do you need most in your life right now? Sociologists say that you eventually become the average of your five closest friends. Do you like what you are becoming right now? If not, you need to take a look at the people that you give the most open access and influence in your life. See Proverbs 13:20.
You may be one friendship away from changing your destiny if you’ll just decide to reach out and connect with the right people.


Guard My Thoughts

See Proverbs 4:23; Proverbs 23:7 (NKJV). Whether we like it or not, what we think influences what we do. Beneath the emotions we want to improve and the behavior we want to correct is a pattern of thinking that needs to change.

Resolution #1: This year, I will guard my thoughts carefully knowing they influence my attitudes and actions.

If you want your life to dramatically change — to get out of a rut of destructive emotions or bad habits — it all begins with what goes into your mind.
See Philippians 4:8. This verse challenges us to consider the quality of our thoughts and take into account its character and realize its potential influence in your life.
This verse reminds us to get your thoughts right and the emotions, behaviors, and consequences of peace will follow. See Philippians 4:7.
Guard your thoughts about God. What are your thoughts when you think about God? Psalm 139 is a good place to start. What you think about God will certainly impact how you choose to believe and live for Him.
Guard your thoughts about yourself. It seems unspiritual to think about yourself at all, doesn’t it? But unless you understand something about yourself, you can’t really understand God’s love for you. You need to understand just how much you need his mercy, and you need to understand just how much of it he has given (Zephaniah 3:17).
Guard your thoughts about others. How does God look at people? See 1 Samuel 16:7. What do you think would happen to your relationships at home, work, school, community if you began to see people as God sees them?
Guard your thoughts about life. Life isn’t about acquiring, impression, using, hoarding or exploiting. It’s about discovering God’s purpose and plan. It’s about taking up your cross and following Jesus (Luke 9:23-25). You lose your life (as the world would define it) in the process but you gain the abundant life Christ promised.

Guard your thoughts about the future. Can you imagine living life without fear and anxiety, without worry about what tomorrow will bring? You can live that way if you believe what God has promised in Jeremiah 29:11; Matt 6:33. You have a promise that God is in control of today and tomorrow. This doesn’t mean your life will be problem-free, but it does mean that you don’t have to worry about whether those problems will overthrow God’s purpose for you.
Guard your thoughts about the past. For a lot of people, their past has hijacked their future. They have a hard time letting their mistakes, sins, and failures go. Paul encourages us to forget what lies behind and reach forward to what lies ahead — press on toward the goal (Phil. 3:13-14).
Guard your thoughts about challenges. Too often, we let adversity get us down, turn us into a victim, and make us angry at God. We have plenty of unhealthy ways to address the challenges of our lives. See James 1:2-4. That’s a very different way to think about our challenges. But if we let this passage guide us as we face a challenge, our emotions, behaviors, and consequences will look much different than if our minds follow their natural, unhealthy course.
This new, resolved way of thinking won’t happen overnight. It’s taken several years to develop your current thinking habits. But in the same way that you developed those unhealthy thought patterns (overtime and with consistency) that’s how your new thinking habits will occur.
Start each day with Scripture, focus on what is feeding your thought life, pay attention to your thoughts. What we think will determine the course of our life this year.


Costly News

Have you ever received news — good or bad — that was going to cost you something? The news of Mary’s pregnancy was costly news for Joseph. He was either going to lose the girl he loved (Mary) or he was going to lose his reputation.

Read Matthew 1:18-19. This passage in Matthew reveals something to us about Joseph. “Joseph…was faithful to the law”.  Which means that he lived in accordance with God’s compelling standards as outlined in the Mosaic law.

Because we live on the other side of Christmas, we want to rush to the end of the story where everything turns out okay. But if you do that, you miss the whole point of what Joseph is learning. You miss out on how God is already beginning to redefine what it means to be righteous.

The Torah has some clear instructions about what to do to somebody in Mary’s condition (Deuteronomy 22:21, 23-24). Joseph’s reputation was on the line. His fellow law abiding associates would have told him this sin must be publicly exposed and punished. But Joseph couldn’t bring himself to do this. So he decides to divorce her quietly. That way he could minimize her suffering but maintain his status as a righteous man.

Read Matthew 1:20-23. Why did God make Joseph wait till after he had to think and struggle with all this stuff? Is it possible that anxiety removal is not God’s number one goal for Joseph — or maybe for you and me? If you’re confused or uncertain about something, maybe it’s not because you’ve done something wrong. Maybe you’re about to grow. Maybe what you need to do is wait on God and trust God’s going to do something in your life you don’t even know about yet!

When we consider our circumstances only at face value, we risk “considering” God right out of our circumstance.


But an angel had spoken. Could it have been the same angel that gave God’s law to Moses (Galatians 3:19)?. Could this angel be revealing a new way truly living a righteous life?

Read Matthew 1:24–25. Embracing what God was doing through Mary and her expected child was going to be very costly for Joseph. It was a cost he would pay for the rest of his life.

Years later, when Jesus was an adult and his public ministry had began, he was teaching in the synagogue in Nazareth, his hometown — Joseph’s too. See Mark 6:1-3. This passage may reflect that decades late Joseph’s reputation still has not recovered from his marriage.

Since that time, millions of people have made sacrifices for the sake of this one called Jesus.

Many have given up status, possessions, convenience, freedoms, even their lives.

When Joseph looked into people’s eyes after he obeyed God, things were never the same. They never looked at him with the same respect and adoration. But when he looked into the eyes of that child, Jesus, he knew he had done the right thing.

I think of how Jesus, as he was growing up, must have admired his dad’s example of courage, sacrifice and true righteousness.

God still calls people to be willing to die to reputation, status and comfort for the sake of godly love.


When Joseph made the decision to wed Mary, he thought it was the end of his being known as a righteous man. He did not know fully that the child he would adopt would bring to the human race a new kind of righteousness.  A righteousness not based on the law, but on love for God and your neighbor. A righteousness our world desperately needs.

What has the Christ-initiated righteousness cost you?