The Weight of Sorrow

Matthew 11

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There is a destiny that makes us brothers:

None goes his way alone;

All that we send into the lives of others

Comes back into our own. —Markham

 

Today’s chapter is a solemn one for me. Jesus just finished the send-off of the 12 disciples out into the proving grounds and I imagine was watchful about the results. As word of the disciples broaden, John the Baptist hears about the Messiah’s latest turn of events and sends a question to Jesus in (verse 3): “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?”

 

This question intrigues me because of what it doesn’t ask. “Why won’t you help me? Do you not care that I sit suffering in this prison cell?” John the Baptist was the cousin, a dear friend, and a mentor of sorts who baptized Christ himself. He knew Jesus and Jesus knew John. They most likely grew up together. Jesus simply replied, (verse 4-6)  “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.

 

While this is a message of good report for the current gospel cause, what strikes me is what isn’t said to his friend. John would surely have known by this response that Jesus was referring to Old Testament prophecies like Isaiah 29:18-19, 35:5-6, or 61. These were the credentials of sorts that the coming Messiah would fulfill. Isaiah 61 is one of the most famous passages using phrases of comfort  like “ bind up the brokenhearted,” “proclaim freedom for captives,” and “release prisoners from darkness.” Yet, Jesus doesn’t convey any of THOSE phrases in the reply to John because he knew they couldn’t be upheld. Silence often speaks louder than words.

 

Have you ever had a friend or family member truly in sorrow and are unable to comfort them due in part to the schedule you must maintain? Maybe they were grieving a death, consequence, job loss, betrayal, or abandonment. You want nothing more than to stop everything and sit with them in their sorrow and to share the load. I have to believe this is what Christ wanted more than anything with John the Baptist, but his circumstances made this impossible and he ultimately knew that freeing John from prison was not the will of the Father. John was soon to die. Jesus sent a loving message of “omittance,” perhaps suggesting that he had not forgotten John, nor his sufferings. The tribute upon which Jesus bestows upon John in the next 14 verses following this makes me believe he was hurting for his brother. He wanted nothing more than to comfort, but his schedule and AGENDA would not allow.    

 

Jesus models a very important lesson here and later in Matthew 14 upon reaction to the terrible death of John the Baptist. SOMEtimes the best way to ease heartache is by getting back to work. Use your grief to empower your ministry. Rather than turning in on yourself and thinking “woe is me,” turn outward to serve and to love the crowds. It is ok to cry. It is ok to mourn for lost people or situations, but we must not let our emotions turn inward for long, lest it becomes pity. In our brokenness God is able to use us mightily. In desperation our dependence on Him will serve as a powerful testimony to a lost and dying world.

 

Is your heart broken today? Does life seem empty? Do you feel like giving up? Take hope in the example of Jesus. Take up whatever duties lie before you and dedicate them to God. Refuse the luxury of self-pity. Do something to lift the burdens of others and Jesus will strengthen you.

The final verses (28 – 30) of Matthew 11 confirm this truth. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

 

When you serve others you will find yourself.

 

-Julie Driskill

 

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The 5 W’s of Coaching the Dream Team

Matthew 10

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WHO will go?

Peter

Andrew

James

John

Philip

Bartholomew

Thomas

Matthew

The other James

Thaddaeus

Simon

Judas

 

In today’s reading we observe Jesus delivering the ultimate pep talk to the “Dream Team” – excluding one. (Spoiler alert: by the end of the Book of Matthew it will be abundantly clear that one of these gentleman will be ejected from the team.) This pre-game speech comes on the heels of Jesus overwhelmed with the needs of the people he’s encountered in the past few weeks. He needs help, so he enlists these 12 with quite a rallying cry. They will soon be experiencing “on the job training” and his instructions are enduring.

 

WHERE will they travel?

Jesus makes it explicitly clear just where the “Dream Team” is to deliver his message: the lost sheep of Israel. (verse 5) “Don’t go to the Gentiles or any Samaritan village.” It was not quite time to take this radical message to the other communities. Perhaps Jesus thought the message would be better received first within Jewish circles since prophecies had been foretold for HUNDREDS of years regarding his coming? (Or not.) Doesn’t take long before the hometown crowd turns from cheers to jeers as the game progresses and one of those “Dream Team” players plots to sabotage the whole tournament.

 

WHAT will they say?

“The Kingdom of Heaven is near.” (verse 7) This is the message the disciples are to deliver. They will proclaim this message of power and authority given to them by Christ himself when they demonstrate these actions: 1) Heal the sick. 2) Raise the dead. 3) Cleanse those who have leprosy. 4) Drive out demons.

 

Sure Jesus… Need anything else?

 

As you might imagine, this is quite a directive, and he wasn’t quite done instructing. “Travel light” was just the tip of the iceberg. For the rest of the chapter Jesus spells out what to keep an eye out for. He tells you not to get discouraged even though you should expect to be unwelcomed, flogged, arrested, hated, persecuted, abandoned and lied about by your family, and most likely, killed. Where can I sign up?

 

WHY & WHEN will this occur?

My favorite verses of why this is all to occur shoots from verses 16 & 17. “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” Beth Moore, a renowned Bible teacher recently tweeted it best,

“What I think has happened here is that in our discipleship, we are not teaching what is normative in the believing life. When we carry our cross and we follow Jesus, we are walking into a storm. We were told that in Matthew 10 we will be ‘sheep among wolves,’ not wolves among sheep.”

Beth goes on to further tweet that “sheep among wolves” means Christians will be “persecuted,” “criticized,” “imprisoned” and even killed for speaking the truth.

“We have been very proud of the fact that we have not subscribed to a prosperity gospel. But what we have subscribed to is a pampered gospel where we are so afraid of suffering and we are so afraid someone is going to criticize us and hurt our feelings.”

 

Hello. That sounds just like January 15, 2019, and speaks to WHEN. Once again we see that God’s word is timeless and a double-edged sword for all generations cutting to the heart of the problem. Whatever it takes, no matter how unpopular, we must contend for the gospel. Just like Jesus called the disciples to move out of their “comfort zones,” we too must grow a thicker skin. Beth’s final tweet about this subject sums it up:

“All that stands between us & an astonishing work of the Holy Spirit is repentance. Quit being scared of rocking a boat that has run aground on an island of compromise. Walk on water.”  

 

What would our lives and our futures look like if we invested our earthly time and resources into eternal values?  How would you live if you were completely confident that every act of love, service, or unselfishness would carry reward where it mattered (and lasted) most – even if nobody in your neighborhood, church, or community ever noticed? “And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward” (Verse 42).

 

We are now mid-January. How many of us have long forgotten our resolutions for the New Year? Jesus was trying to teach his “Dream Team” to not focus on the here-and now. Instead of looking for New Year’s resolutions we can keep, what if we tried finding some that could actually keep us.

Sign me up. Lord, please teach me to play on your team!

-Julie Driskill

His Compassion

MATTHEW 9

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In this chapter we see that Jesus and the disciples are continuing an active pace proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. This lively passage not only records 6 healing incidents, but also shows 3 incidents where the teachers of the law are becoming rattled by the actions and rising popularity of Jesus.

Ready for anything and everything, the action rolls out as follows for Jesus and the disciples: 1) heals a paralyzed man, 2) calls Matthew the tax collector, 3) stops a hemorrhage in a woman, 4) raises a dead girl, 5) gives sight to 2 blind men, 6) and loosens the tongue of a mute man

Not only was Christ seemingly running a mobile emergency room, he was “hiring” new workers, contending with naysayers, and stopping to notice the big picture of the work ahead.

Verse 36 takes my breath away. “He saw the crowds and had compassion on them.” We are not lost in a crowd to Him. He knows our name and our needs. There is no end to His goodness. No bottom to the well. You can’t wear Jesus out. He’s not running on low. He’s not in a bad mood because it’s you again. “For from His fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.” John 1:16

then he said to his disciples, “the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.

The biggest problem in these 38 verses is that Jesus needed assistance to support the needs of the “harassed & helpless.” Nothing’s changed. May God stir your heart and mine this day to be a worker fit and ready to support the hurting. Let God’s “grace upon grace” compel us to action to not overthink but DO!

-Julie Driskill

Overthink & Under-do

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Day One of Ramblings on Matthew 8-14

 (I promise that Day Two will NOT be this long.)

Matthew 8 – 14 are interesting and BUSY chapters. When asked to write a devotion on these passages I considered many responses to the behaviors, wisdom, and wanderings of a few weeks of action from the life and times of my fascinating, jaw-dropping Jesus. Which therein lies the problem or the solution, I guess it all depends on how you want to look at it. “Overthink and Under-do”- a reoccurring, self-inflicting disorder that tends to roost, set up shop in my head, and consistently sabotage my intentions of greater good and productivity. When I cannot deliver on my promises, it literally turns me into the mother of all Grumpy Cats. Meow.

 

So, for the love and spirit of a new year’s endeavor, I have decided to take a stab at defeating this affliction that I’ve affectionally deemed, Thought Diarrhea, and use a different approach this week for the FUEL devotion writing campaign that might trick me into greater productivity and bundles of happiness. Consider yourself warned. I will simply be drafting thoughts over the next week regarding the chapters of Matthew 8 -14 that would be worthy of a daily Facebook post.

 

I am not a scholar, nor ever professed to be. I promise to be real and I’ll try to be interesting. I might be occasionally witty with undertones of sarcasm, but no promises. Would I love to spend several hours daily pouring over commentaries and exploring other viewpoints from most-worthy authors, 100% YES! Do I have the time, energy, or mental focus to pull that off this week or any week for that matter in the next projected 15 years of my life, 500% NO!!

Hence, proceed with viewer discretion.

 

****Disclaimer****

While I often enjoy kind-hearted (if spirited) debates, please be advised that Senora Grumpy Cat transforms into Mrs. Malevolent Raging Lioness who hasn’t eaten in a “month of Sundays” when smart people start stupid arguments, especially when others are disrespected. Disagree with me all you want, but please don’t intimidate others into submission if you choose to sound in on what I have intentionally or unintentionally implied. Everyone deserves an opinion- a voice. I will defend it with wild abandon. Roar.

 

And now, without any further ado, Matthew 8:

 

Jesus is literally coming down from the mountain when he steps into the saga of Matthew 8.

The mountainside where he delivered the longest, most radical speech and teaching of his life. A speech that the last two verses of Chapter 7 says “astonished the crowds.” They were lit. (That means “beside themselves with amazement and wonder” for all those over 25 reading this post.) And who could blame them? They had never heard anyone speak or teach with his manner or authority. After delivering this brilliant, thought-provoking discourse he is besieged with the needs and requests of his ever-growing crowd of fans. This is the backdrop for the action of the next 34 verses of chapter 8.

 

Buckle up. In the first seventeen verses we find these healing ventures: 1) a leper who didn’t follow directions, 2) the paralysis of a servant for a non-Jew (a Roman centurion, no less) that rendered him nearly speechless, 3) a fever in a woman who jumped from the bed and then finished cooking dinner and tending to their needs, 4) a crowd of demon-possessed people who forced Jesus and his disciples to catch a boat to the other side of the lake in order to find some peace and quiet. And I thought I was busy.

 

Amid the next 5 verses is an interesting piece of dialogue that transpires. Perhaps my favorite. No one would deny it is tough to follow Jesus, but the cost sometimes is unimaginable, inconceivable, and quite frankly, a little harebrained. This crowd that had formed wanted more and more of Jesus. One of the groupies told him he would “follow him wherever he would go,” (verse 19), but Jesus saw through his zeal and delivered a mic drop response. “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” (verse 20) No home. No RV. No tent or park bench. Not even a stinkin’ memory foam pillow. Just a ticket to ride that consisted of hundreds of miles by foot and an occasional boat or donkey if they were lucky. All, or any aboard? (Funny, we never hear about that man again.)

 

If this isn’t hard enough, one of the disciples sensing the tone of Jesus then turns to him and asks that he might be excused to return and bury his father before continuing. Jesus’ response; “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.” (verse 22)

 

Whoah, kinda harsh. “Uh Jesus, take two? Sure you don’t need a little caffeine, or how about a short nap before the next swarm of people arrive?”

 

Many traditions and duties were followed at this time that could have possibly waylaid this man’s service with Christ, especially when it came to burial. Jesus was most likely stressed from all the latest activity and found it as another teachable moment with an exclamation mark at the end! He let the disciples know in no uncertain terms that following him meant putting your own desires second to his. Jesus is to come first. It is an extraordinary sacrifice to show a sincere attachment to Jesus. Jesus wants followers, not part-time workers or even managers. He wants those who are spiritually alive to be instruments of the gospel preaching and reaching the people of the world. Nothing is more important, and nothing ever will be.  Step up and strap on if you are serious about this Jesus thing. Son of God don’t play, especially after a day like this one.

 

We find at verse 23 that they are finally on the boat crossing the lake. Jesus gets to take that long-deserved nap and suddenly, the plot thickens. A “furious storm” sweeps waves over the boat, terrifying even the most seasoned fishermen among them. Jesus is snoring. Horrified, they wake Jesus hoping he will save them before they all drown. He turns to them and pans, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” (verse 26) He casually turns to the wind and waves, ushering them to “cut it out.” All is well.  I assume this is where he resumed his nap. Disciples are picking their jaws up off the bottom of the boat and they arrive on the other side of the lake.

 

As if the past 27 verses aren’t packed with enough action and wonder, we round out this chapter with the last bizarre 7. Two freakishly violent demon possessed men run from a cave to “welcome” Jesus and the crew. The demons in the men beg Jesus not to torture them and instead ask, “Drive us out by sending us into those nearby grazing herd of pigs.” (verse 31) The rest is history. The poor disturbed pigs become so frightened they charge down the steep embankment and drown their sorrows and themselves in the same lake. This has been an exchange of odd proportions, but we’re not done yet. Verse 34 remarks that the townspeople were so outraged by the events and Jesus that they PLED for him to leave their region. I have experienced “hangry” before, but these people leave me scratching my head. I guess they preferred to live with the two violent demon-possessed cave dwellers and needed Jesus to get out of the way before he cursed any of their other livestock?

 

In conclusion, Matthew chapter 8 is remarkable and perplexing. It leaves me with more questions than answers. The certainty with how Jesus governs and the lengths he endures to seek and save the lost inspires me to keep pressing, even when it gets weird. Not everyone is going to understand. Some people will walk away from you and others will ask you to leave. I can guarantee a life of service to Christ will often be supernatural, strange, swarming, and yet, eventually sure. Following Christ is the best thing I have ever done. The uncertainty and risk pales in comparison to the joy set before us. Thank you for reading my ramblings. Tallyho!

 

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lost heart. Hebrews 12:1-3

 

-Julie Driskill

Let Your Light Shine Before Men

Matthew 5

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Clemson University is less than 30 miles away from my house.  The people I go to church with are Clemson fans. The people I work with are Clemson graduates.  On any given day at school, half of my students could be wearing Clemson hoodies, shirts, or lanyards.  For the most part, the people of Upstate South Carolina bleed orange, accessorize in purple, and decorate with tiger print.  I know no matter where you live, there is a similar pride for a local college too, BUT your college wasn’t in the NCAA Football National Championship game (well, unless it’s Bama).

Now, it seems like I’m rubbing it in.  I’m not. My loyalties lie elsewhere, to the rival and unfortunate underdog, South Carolina; however, I do admire the fandom of many of the people I call my friends.  It did not surprise me on Monday night when I logged onto social media that orange was the color of the evening. I saw post after post after post about Clemson’s domination and victory in the National Championship game (sorry, Bama fans).  These people simply could not help themselves because there was something praiseworthy to talk about and they felt like they HAD to share. Although the rivalry and redundancy made me slightly disturbed, there was saving grace in many of these posts.  So many of my friends not only shared news about the victory, but also shared the words of wisdom and faith given by Dabo Swinney, the coach of Clemson, and the players from both sides, who used this moment as an opportunity to let Jesus Christ shine before men, sharing their faith with the cameras rolling.

In today’s reading, Matthew Chapter 5, there is an overwhelming amount of wisdom to take in as we begin the Sermon on the Mount which spans three chapters.  You could easily spend weeks studying the dissertation of Jesus in these chapters alone. To help give focus to this rich reading, so many of Jesus’ words today focus on changing the source of our actions, moving from a mindset that focuses on religious practice to a mind-changing Kingdom of God focus that infects our thoughts.  Harbored hate (5:22), disharmony with a brother or sister in Christ (5:24), looking lustfully (5:28), emphatic swearing (5:34), and even unwillful giving (5:40) become explicitly stated intentions of God’s Law. Jesus painstakingly picks at the heart because fulfillment of Law (5:17) is not in empty legalistic work, but in the motive that navigates these actions.  When the cameras of life are rolling, people will hear our words and see our actions, so intention and motive are not enough, BUT it is the Shining Light, the treasure hidden within the jars of clay, that will ultimately show the surpassing power, hope, and beauty that comes from God’s desire in our hearts (2 Cor 4:7). If we can simply love God and love others (Matt 22:36-40) every Law and moment becomes an opportunity to let our light shine, showcasing works of love and the plans of our Heavenly Father for all men to see.

Sometimes there’s trouble in this execution. It is a lot easier to share a video, applaud someone else’s effort for Christ, and feel like we have done our duty. That is simply not enough.  This is in NO WAY to slight Clemson fans. Or Bama fans. Or football fans. As a South Carolina fan, I am no fan’s judge, and as a sinner, I am no man’s judge. This is simply to mindfully consider the way we “share” our Christian faith in our time and culture.  How are we showing Jesus Christ in our lives to shine before mankind? Are we constantly placing our light on a lampstand where it fills and consumes our actions and the people around us? Or are we conveniently hiding our light under a basket until it becomes easier, safer, or more opportunistic to share? I applaud Dabo, and Trevor, and Tua for sharing their faith, and it inspires me to do the same, but there must be a light shining in OUR hearts that is driving OUR actions.  We are called to reach the dark corners of our place and time, where the voice of Jesus and Dabo do not reach (Acts 1:8) or where they are simply treated as white noise until the fulfillment of the Law is felt with all-consuming actions by us who carry the same message of hope.

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We must stop being complacent “sharers” of our faith.  It is time to get out your light and dust it off; to become deliberate and vulnerable with your faith, transforming your mind (Rom 12:1,2); to place it where any man, woman, or child who crosses your path will see your actions; and then watch the glory of God as it fills up your life and the lives of those around you.

-Aaron Winner

When Temptation Comes

Matthew 4

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More than we would like to admit, we struggle with temptation.  No matter how great our will or sense of purpose in our life, it always seems to find a way to slither into our lives and rear its ugly head.  Ironically, we are caught most off guard and unaware, not when we are in the midst of a struggle with sin or a desperate time, but when things are at their best.  One minute we are walking close to God, doing his will, connected to His Spirit, loving His word, sharing his Gospel, and the next we are faced with an idea (James 1:13-14).  An awful idea. A wonderfully awful idea that will feed our selfishness, our human condition.

In Matthew 4, today’s reading, Jesus is led by the Spirit to the desert.  God, being the great storyteller he is, takes Jesus to the ultimate contrast of Eden, where the groans of nature longing for restoration can be most heard (Rom 8:22).  A setting that is far away from paradise, an allegory of the state of mankind, filled with the different, yet same challenge – temptation. Now, there are theological hairs you can split as you read this message today. Don’t do that. Fix your eyes on Jesus.

Jesus’s  triumph begs the question, “How did He overcome temptation?”  Well, He was the Son of God, right? This is true, but an error in our thinking if we think this is the sole reason that Jesus wins the days.  He is the Son of God, but he faced temptation, “just as we are”, and did not sin (Heb 4:15). You might say, “He obviously had a special ability to resist.”  You are right. It is the same special ability we have access to: The Holy Spirit. God may take us to the desert to see what our faith is made of, but He will not give us something we can’t handle, and will actually empower us if we seek Him in that moment (1 Cor 10:13).

But careful. Careful we must be because when we are in the desert it is easy to see what is coming.   We might feel as though we have plunged a dagger into the heart of temptation, but we have not put it to rest.  We must remember, we are human. No matter how willing our spirit is to continue on day after day in the will of God, our flesh is weak (Matt 26:40-43).  We crave food. We seek power. We want to be known. Our eyes, the lamp into our soul (Matt 6:22-24), see a way we can instantly fulfill the desires that will be made complete by God and chases after them in selfish, fleeting moments.  Unfortunately, this often comes on the day we leave our armor at home, catching us off guard, not ready to do spiritual battle.

Deut 8 3Looking to Jesus, how can we be ready to do battle with temptation?  First, he knew the word of God. It is how He responds not only to the temptation, but even when the word of God is seemingly being used against Him.  How can you know the will of God? It is as ironically simple as losing weight: diet and exercise. Consume the right thing, His word, and practice it daily, so you will be spiritual healthy.  Next, do God’s business. Know that temptation can come at any moment, but comes easier when we are idle (Prov 16:27-29). Keep your eyes on God and your hands and feet busy to his work. Like the old adage, “if you’re going through hell, just keep going,”  Jesus faced the temptation, but immediately moves onto His ministry. Temptation IS NOT sin. No guilt required; pick up and move on. Finally, be on guard. Relapse can setback or even kill your spiritual life. Removing unnecessary temptation from our lives is a must.  Even if we are in the word every day, engaging in spiritual disciplines, or deeply involved in a ministry, at the very height of our endeavors, it only takes a moment to go back to sin and fall harder and faster than we ever did (the very nature of relapse). If you can’t hang out with your friends without getting drunk, then don’t hang out with them.  If you can’t be on the internet without looking at inappropriate sites, then don’t get on it. If you can’t use social media without bridling your tongue and speaking in love, then stop. Jesus uses hyperbole to illustrate the practical advice when he states, “it is better to cut your hand off” or “pluck your eye out” (Matt 5:29, 30) than to be lost to sin, and ultimately the kingdom of God.

It is imperative you know there is a way to overcome temptation, no matter how great.  We have access to the Father, power through His Holy Spirit, and our eyes on Jesus Christ not only as our example, but our mediator when we fall short. He speaks to the Father because Jesus knows what it is like, and encourages us to not give in or give up.  Study. Do. Guard. Repeat. Temptation may come, but sin will no longer find a foothold in you.

-Aaron Winner

What’s in a Name?

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MATTHEW 2

 

In the Bible, there is be a great deal of naming done for the sake of conveying a purpose or message.  It could tell the story of a birth (Samuel: God has Heard), a unique physical trait (Esau: Covered- with hair), to make a theological point (Abraham: Father of Many), or a prophecy (Yeshua: Saving One); nonetheless, these men and women (Ruth; Companion) are born-to or given to testify of the the glorious God we serve.

 

In the first two chapters of Matthew, a name that appears in equal amounts to the name of Jesus is Joseph.  As discussed yesterday, Matthew 1 is the genealogy of the line of Joseph, but equally important to note is Joseph’s role in the early part of Christ’s story – the announcement, advent, and escape.  This man entrusted with the care of Jesus was named, whether coincidentally or purposefully, for his famous great (great, great, great…) uncle Joseph, who was the famous dreamer and interpreter. It is then fitting that Joseph is given the word of God, not by messengers or a family member as we see with Mary (Luke 1), but in a dream.

 

Between Matthew 1:18 and Matthew 2:23, or a span of a couple of years, Joseph is recorded as spoken to by God in a dream on four different occasions. He is told not to be afraid to take Mary as a wife (1:20), move to Egypt (2:13), move to Israel (2:19-20), and finally, specific guidance to stay away from Judea, and go to Nazareth (2:22). Joseph, who may have initially been filled with doubt, becomes incredibly faithful to the will of God.  Just like his liked-name predecessor, He goes hither and yon to follow the will of God. At times, he looks incredibly foolish. He goes from the comforts of home to the foreign land of Egypt, yet ultimately, he brings glory to his father, for OT Joseph, Jacob, and for NT Joseph, YHWH.  In so doing this, he lives up to his name – not Joseph – but the one carried by his Son he so carefully protected.

 

While our name is not Joseph, (well, most of us), each one of us also have a calling on our name too (Rom 8:28).  We are not all named for the same reason – some have the name of a biblical figure (like me), and others are named for a special relative, and even a few are named for a Fleetwood Mac song, but God has purposed and fashioned us all (Psalm 139:13-17) to be faithful to him.  Joseph played his part in making sure there is one name that supersedes them all. We might seem foolish to some, we may be called to go hither and yon, leaving behind the comforts of this life, but ultimately we are bringing glory, not to our name, but to our Father in heaven. Does it matter what others call us? Or even what we think of ourselves? In the words of Shakespeare, “What’s in a name? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” How much more does your Father in heaven know this? He has a plan for you. He wants a relationship with you, and truly, it began long before you were ever named. No matter the expectation, or lack thereof, attached to our name, there is truly only one name that matters under heaven: The name of Jesus Christ (Acts 4:10-12) because it is the only name by which we are saved. Like Joseph, it is now our time to play our part, hold onto Jesus, and carry the Son wherever we’re called to go.

-Aaron Winner

 

Aaron Winner is a worship leader and a middle school teacher in Upstate South Carolina.  He has been married to his wife Jennifer for 13 years today – yay!  Aaron is also a songwriter, currently working on his fourth album, “Wonderful”.  Additionally, he hosts his own blog at elattruthfillintheblank.weebly.com, which combines thoughts from his work at school and church; however, he is happy to write for us this week at the start of our 2019 Bible study!