Christmas Week – The Cast: Joseph

We were pledged to one other,

Mary and I

 

and we longed for the day

when we would be man and wife

 

I loved her,

this young girl with dark eyes

 

and a heart full of God

 

Mary was my faithful betrothed,

she was the one I could trust

 

until one day…

 

She came to me

and, with trembling voice,

told me she was with child

 

and my heart broke in two

 

It was beyond my comprehension

that she would make this choice

 

this choice with so many consequences…

 

but my love for her

eclipsed my anger and disappointment

 

I planned to break our engagement,

a divorce of sorts,

 

so as not to embarrass

or shame the woman I loved

 

But God has a way

of stopping us just in time,

sometimes

 

and I heard from Him

in an unimaginable way!

 

One of God’s magnificent angels

visited me in a dream!

 

He told me not to be afraid

to take Mary as my wife

 

and that the baby growing in her

was placed there by the Holy Spirit!

 

The angel said that it would be a boy

and that I was to name Him Jesus!

 

because He would save His people

from their sins

 

As soon as I awoke

I was on my way

 

I ran immediately to my betrothed

and shared with her my love

 

and the beautiful message

she already knew in her heart

 

We would endure

the ridicule

the scorn

the gossip

the accusations

 

TOGETHER

 

for we knew that no matter what,

God was for us

 

I committed to her, and to God,

that we would not truly become husband and wife

 

in every sense of the word

until our son was born

 

But to everyone else

she became my wife

 

We traveled from Nazareth to Bethlehem,

for I was of the house of David

 

and there our son was born,

ours and God’s

 

I wanted so much more for my small family

but because of the census, so many people flocked to this town

 

and my precious son was born

and laid in an animal’s trough

 

for there was no space for us

in a decent room

 

Surroundings aside,

I could not take my eyes off of this miracle child

 

and I could not have been more joyful

or more proud of this boy

 

who was not of my seed,

for God was with us

 

And I would dedicate myself

to raise this Divine Son along with His siblings

 

in a way honoring

the deity He was

and is

and is to come

 

– Susie Stewart

 

 

This is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit. Joseph, to whom she was engaged, was a righteous man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement  quietly.

As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

All of this occurred to fulfill the Lord’s message through His prophet:

“Look! The virgin will conceive a child!
    She will give birth to a son,
and they will call him Immanuel,
    which means ‘God is with us.’”

 

When Joseph woke up, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded and took Mary as his wife. But he did not have sexual relations with her until her son was born. And Joseph named him Jesus.

 
– Matthew 1:18-25 (NLT)

At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire.  (This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.) All returned to their own ancestral towns to register for this census. And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. He took with him Mary, to whom he was engaged, who was now expecting a child.

And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.

– Luke 2:1-7 (NLT)

 

 

More and More and More…

The MORE of You

is beyond

and infinitely above

my grasp

 

The MORE of what You can

and will do

is immeasurable

and unimaginable

 

The MORE of what I

don’t expect

or don’t ask

of You

is unbelievable

 

To YOU

my unfathomable

beyond

and more

God,

 

I commit myself

to imagine

and ask

and believe

MORE

 

even though it is not

a speck

of enough vision

of You

and Your ways

 

I lean in to witness

the power of You

in me

and outside of me

for Your Divine glory

 

and MORE

 

– Susie Stewart

 

Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

– Ephesians 3:20,21 (NIV)

 

God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, His Spirit deeply and gently within us.

Glory to God in the church!
Glory to God in the Messiah, in Jesus!
Glory down all the generations!
Glory through all millennia! Oh, yes!

– Ephesians 3:20,21 (MSG)

 

Now to Him who is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly more than all that we dare ask or think [infinitely beyond our greatest prayers, hopes, or dreams], according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations forever and ever. Amen.

– Ephesians 3:20,21 (AMP)

 

Photo by Susie Stewart

Creation Speaks

The morning sings joy

and mercy

 

Do you hear it?

 

The noonday sun radiates righteousness

and truth

 

Do you see it?

 

The moon and stars whisper peace

and wisdom

 

Do you perceive it?

 

The whole earth

and all of creation

speak of Divinity

 

Listen well

and walk

in the morning joy,

the noonday truth,

and the nighttime peace

 

with your Creator

 

– Susie Stewart

 

 

The whole earth is filled with awe at Your wonders;
    where morning dawns, where evening fades,
    You call forth songs of joy.

– Psalm 65:8 (NIV)

 

He will spread out righteousness for you as a sunrise spreads radiance over the land; He will deliver justice for you into the light of the high sun.

– Psalm 37:6 (VOICE)

 

The way of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn,
    which shines ever brighter until the full light of day.

– Proverbs 4:18 (NLT)

 

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!
His faithful love endures forever.

Give thanks to the God of gods.
His faithful love endures forever.

Give thanks to the Lord of lords.
His faithful love endures forever.

Give thanks to Him who alone does mighty miracles.

His faithful love endures forever.

Give thanks to Him who made the heavens so skillfully.
His faithful love endures forever.

Give thanks to Him who placed the earth among the waters.
His faithful love endures forever.

Give thanks to Him who made the heavenly lights—
His faithful love endures forever.

the sun to rule the day,
His faithful love endures forever.

and the moon and stars to rule the night.
His faithful love endures forever.

– Psalm 136:1-9 (NLT)

 

The faithful love of the Lord never ends!
    His mercies never cease.
Great is His faithfulness;
    His mercies begin afresh each morning.

– Lamentations 3:22, 23 (NIV)

 

At every time and in every place— from the moment the sun rises to the moment the sun sets— may the name of the Eternal be high in the hearts of His people.

– Psalm 113:3 (VOICE)

 

Photo by Susie Stewart

 

Relationship Over Religion

Religious people talk to God

out of obligation,

in memorized words,

focused on what they can get out of Him

 

Lovers of God bask in His beauty,

seek Him wholeheartedly,

walk with Him,

and love Him with their words

 

Religion is man-made

Relationship is His Divine plan

 

– Susie Stewart

 

The God who made the world and everything in it, this Master of sky and land, doesn’t live in custom-made shrines or need the human race to run errands for Him, as if He couldn’t take care of Himself. He makes the creatures; the creatures don’t make Him. Starting from scratch, He made the entire human race and made the earth hospitable, with plenty of time and space for living so we could seek after God, and not just grope around in the dark but actually find Him. He doesn’t play hide-and-seek with us. He’s not remote; He’s near. We live and move in Him, can’t get away from Him! One of your poets said it well: ‘We’re the God-created.’ Well, if we are the God-created, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to think we could hire a sculptor to chisel a god out of stone for us, does it?

– Acts 17:26-29 (MSG)

 

Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.

– Galatians 5:25 (NLT)

 

And I will be your Father,
and you will be my sons and daughters,
says the Lord Almighty.

– 2 Corinthians 6:18  (NLT)

 

Photo by Susie Stewart

Gracious

Divine Graciousness

is what I desire

 

A gracious attitude

of the heart

 

showing

in the most difficult

of circumstances

 

showing

with the most difficult

of people

 

showing

so that the world knows

it’s not me

 

But YOU

 

for You are gracious

humble of heart

slow to anger

abounding in love

 

Gracious to those

who don’t deserve it

 

Grace personified to me

showing through to them

 

 

– Susie Stewart

 

Let your speech at all times be gracious and pleasant, seasoned with salt, so that you will know how to answer each one [who questions you].

– Colossians 4:6 (AMP)

 

A Christian must always be kind, gracious, and wise in order to conquer evil by good.

– John of Kronstadt

 

Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore He will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for Him!

– Isaiah 30:18 (NIV)

 

But the Eternal One was gracious and compassionate toward them. He was good and turned His face to them because of the covenant He had made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The Eternal, true to His promise, had protected them and remained near them until now.

– 2 Kings 13:23 (VOICE)

 

And you know, when you’ve experienced grace and you feel like you’ve been forgiven, you’re a lot more forgiving of other people. You’re a lot more gracious to others.

– Rick Warren

 

Don’t tear your clothing in your grief, but tear your hearts instead.” Return to the Lord your God, for He is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. He is eager to relent and not punish.

– Joel 2:13 (NLT)

 

Photo by Susie Stewart