Advent – When Things Go Bad
Luke 2:1 Now it came about in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth.
Luke 2:2 This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria.
Luke 2:3 And all were proceeding to register for the census, everyone to his own city.
Luke 2:4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David,
Luke 2:5 in order to register, along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child.
Luke 2:6 And it came about that while they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth.
Luke 2:7 And she gave birth to her first-born son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
The Christmas story has become cute; wiped clean of human experience
Name it – it went wrong
went wrong for Mary – 15 years old probably, first response – how am I going to explain this;
married in a maternity dress, not the dream she had had, ultimate in unplanned pregnancy
just when things were most uncomfortable, she had to travel
birth in a stall, a long way from mom and dad, only had an unproven husband (not known
each other long enough) à no crib; no celebration, just curious strangers
went wrong for Joseph – Joseph was a guy, worked with wood; manly stuff; neither his wedding
day or wedding night worked out like he envisioned
resentment toward Mary & God, something taken that can’t get back (Put her away)
didn’t get to do what he wanted; dream of quiet life in Nazareth married to his high school
sweetheart refused to happen; and a child right out of the gate
Satan would want a real shot at Joseph – what better way to deal with God’s Son than to
give Him an abusive, cynical, bitter father to raise him; ruined plenty before and after
what did Joseph get out of this – first action figure of all time (nativity scenes)
went wrong for both of them – census meant taxes meant new expenses for a new family (not
planned); had to travel; Joseph spent a lot of time muttering underneath his breath
(”I can’t believe this is happening to me” “Why me”); no room in the inn
a non-adventurer on the adventure of his life – looked around the stable and
thought – “I can’t believe I’m in this place”; same sort of feeling as he looked around Egypt
I wonder how many unanswered prayers they had in the first three years of their marriage
What do we make of things when they go bad:
- God becomes very active
- ever seen God micro-manage a situation like Christmas?
dreams, special messages, visions, angels, signs, prophecies – these are not for good copy, but because things were going badly for Mary and Joseph
- things are going poorly, dreams not coming true; open your eyes and ears, God is close
doing everything He can to keep you alive, to enable you to enjoy God and life
God loves us more than we can imagine, God is more active than we can imagine
- chance to see God work, want to see God work, open to see God work; God responds in our time of questioning
Rom 8:32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?
Rom 8:33 Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies;
Rom 8:34 who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.
Rom 8:35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
Rom 8:36 Just as it is written, “FOR THY SAKE WE ARE BEING PUT TO DEATH ALL DAY LONG; WE WERE CONSIDERED AS SHEEP TO BE SLAUGHTERED.”
Rom 8:37 But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.
Rom 8:38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers,
Rom 8:39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
- Time to repent
- Joseph fully intended to put all of this behind him
Mat 1:19 And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man, and not wanting to disgrace her, desired to put her away secretly.
Mat 1:20 But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for that which has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.
remove the religious speak
“righteous man” – still a virgin himself; “disgrace her” – have her stoned
“afraid” – loss of life, hopes, dreams, love;
things had just started; when things were stressed, he would look back to this moment with longing; Joseph’s “what might have been” if he had not changed his mind
- oppressed by fear, overcome by it à fear of the future, fear of what others say or think,
fear of rejection à fear paralyzes our faith, our voice, our convictions, our
generosity; but God is our strength, our companion, our source
repent of fear – I will be afraid, but I will trust
God will take of us; God may not take care of our stuff
Fear – loss of our stuff
Christmas has become a season of stuff collecting and giving
III. Need to Let Go
Holy family – makes me laugh; two kids caught in a tornado that connected heaven and earth, the creation and the destruction; Satan and God; angels and demons
two teenagers with a child just ahead of the law, their families, and every demon with free time on his hands
Holy – set apart by their hardships, dangers
Let go of the idea that events, relationships have to be like we planned to be good
God will break us of this early in our relationship with him – so we can be more aware of God’s presence with us; Immanuel because things go bad
Let go of resentment – People feel resentment when they feel driven – by others,
circumstances, even God’s will, Mary and Joseph had a boat load of all of this
anger at what is impossible to change; just take it out on others and
Let go of naiveté – tough world; not always black and white, rules don’t always work; most things out of our control; strong, vital God that can be trusted in all circumstances
the struggle is spiritual; our souls are at stake, not everyone makes it
These are the things that weigh us down in life
Understood well, Christmas is the greatest pressure release valve God has ever given us
Christmas is about inconvenience, hardship, difficulty
More like the real life we have come to know and love
people were riding rollercoasters long before there were county fairs
see how God works and can work with you and for you; next year will be different because God is with us when things go bad