I Want To Trust And Obey

Bible Book: Matthew  1 : 18-25
Subject: Christmas; Trust and Obey; Birth of Christ; Joseph and Mary

Matthew 1:18-25

One of the greatest hymns of the Christian faith is “Trust and Obey,” by John H. Sammins. The first stanza says, “When we walk with the Lord in the light of His Word, What a glory He sheds on our way! While we do His good will, He abides with us still, And with all who will trust and obey. Trust and  obey, for there’s no other way, To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.”

Joseph, the earthly father of our Lord, was a man whose life exhibited great trust and obedience in the Lord. How can my life become one that is marked by courage and joyful obedience to the Lord? Because Joseph is such a positive example of what it means to follow God’s lead, what can we learn from his life that will also help us become people who “trust” and “obey” the Lord?

I. God Uses Clean Vessels in His Service

Purity is not an “in” word these days. If you were to talk to the average teenager or college student about their top goals in life, you may hear them say, “I want to manage my own business,” “I want to make a million dollars,” “I want to be the CEO of a major cooperation one day.” While there is nothing wrong with anyone having a big dream for their life, I wonder how many young people between the ages of 13-24 would say, “My number one goal in life is to be a man or woman of purity, a clean vessel in My Master’s Service!”

In 2004, Matthew Staver, of Liberty College, said, “the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network recently explained its goal: ‘If we do our jobs right, we're going to raise a generation of kids who don't believe the claims of the religious right.’ The reason? ‘Whoever captures the kids owns the future.’"

One of the main goals of MTV, Interent, Movies, TV shows is to capture the hearts of our young people, leading them to stray away from the clear teaching of the Word of God on important matters such as purity, having a clean heart, living a godly life in an ungodly world.

Sexual temptation is not new to us today. It has been around since the Garden of Eden! Yet it seems that daily there the world is doing all it can, especially toward our young people to pull them down  into believing deceptive lies. Their goal is to make our young people think, “anything goes,” “whatever feels right, is right,” “there is no absolute truth to govern our lives,” rather than focusing their attention on the Word of God to give them clear guidance and counsel enabling them to live a truly abundant life!

In Genesis 39, God’s word tells of another Joseph who was determined to honor God with a pure heart and a life of obedience before God. Genesis 39:6-10, “Now Joseph was handsome in form and appearance. And it came to pass after these things that his master’s wife cast longing eyes on Joseph, and she said, “Lie with me.” But he refused and said to his master’s wife, “Look, my master does not know what is with me in the house, and he has committed all that he has to my hand.

There is no one greater in this house than I, nor has he kept back anything from me but you, because you are his wife. How than can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” So it was, as she spoke to Joseph day by day, that he did not heed her, to lie with her or to be with her.”

This Joseph from the OLD TESTAMENT and Joseph from the NEW TESTAMENT have many things in common, but the main thing I want you to see is their heart to honor God. Both of these men of God were driven by a passion to honor their Lord and Master.

Matthew describes the NEW TESTAMENT Joseph as being a “just” man. This meant he was a fair and honest man. A man who had a tender conscience, wanting to do what is right. We know that he was this kind of man because of his actions toward Mary. Joseph knew he was not the father of this child that was in Mary’s womb. He believed that she had been unfaithful to him sexually with another man.

Instead of being overcome with anger, rage, bitterness, and disgracing her publicly, Joseph, “desired to put her away (divorce) secretly.”

Both Joseph’s teach me something about our God. He is looking for clean vessels in His service! If you were to come to our home and we offered you a wonderful dinner of your choice, with all the fixings, you would probably be pleased to accept the invitation. However, how would you feel about that dinner if we served you on plates that had not been washed in months? Silverware that was dirty and had left over food on it? Glasses that had filthy residue all over them?

Probably, you would say, “Oh my, something suddenly came up!” 2 Timothy 2:20-21, “But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor. Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work.”

If you want to obey God, your character is everything! He’s looking for clean vessels!

II. God Would Have You Listen Before Making Big Decisions

Bible teacher Donald Grey Barnhouse (1895-1960) told the following story: A young son of a missionary couple in Zaire was playing in the yard. Suddenly the voice of the boy's father rang out from the porch, "Philip, obey me instantly! Drop to your stomach!"

Immediately the youngster did as his father commanded. "Now crawl toward me as fast as you can!" The boy obeyed. "Stand up and run to me!" Philip responded unquestioningly and ran to his father's arms. As the youngster turned to look at the tree by which he had been playing, he saw a large deadly snake hanging from one of its branches!

At the first command of his father, Philip could have hesitated and asked, "Why do you want me to do that?" Or he could have casually replied, "In a minute." But his instant obedience without questioning saved his life! (www.pastorLife.com, Mike Minnix).

Just as this young man was smart to listen to his father, you and I are wise when we learn to listen to the wisdom of our Heavenly Father. One of the names of God we hear at Christmas comes from Isaiah 9:6, “Wonderful Counselor.” How we need Heavenly wisdom today if we are to live a life that truly matters!

On his own wisdom, Joseph was doing what he thought best concerning his relationship with Mary. Joseph loved and cared deeply for Mary, yet he could not follow through in marriage with her because of what he thought she had done to him.

It’s important to know that three steps were involved in a Jewish marriage. Step One: The Engagement, where the parents would normally determine at a very young age who their child was to marry. Step Two: The Betrothal, a period much like our engagement time, except it was a binding custom. Upon betrothal, the couple would be considered legally bound together till the day of their marriage. Also, during the betrothal, the bride and groom had little social contact with each other. Step Three: The Marriage, when the consummation of the couple would take place.

Joseph considered obtaining a legal divorce from Mary and would have done so outside of supernatural intervention. Matthew 1:20, “But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you  shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”

Before Amy and I were married, I seriously considered backing out! Not because of anything Amy had done, but because I was scared out of my wits! Honestly, I was a big chicken! My main fear was that of making the huge commitment to marriage. One weekend, Amy and I, along with her parents, had come to Shreveport, LA, for our Engagement Party. I began to tell my sister, Andria, how scared I was and how fearful I was of following through with marraige. Andria gave me a VERY strong lecture and told me Amy was the best person I could ever be with. Thankfully, I listened to this “Wonderful Counsel” from my sister! I cannot begin to imagine my life without Amy!

Even if it does not make sense to you. Even if you feel scared to follow through. Even when you think you know a better way, it is wise to listen to the voice of God! Proverbs 1:7, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”

How do you practice listening to the Lord? Could God send an angel to speak to you? Could God speak to you in a dream like he did Joseph? Could God write you a message in the clouds? God could do all this and beyond, because He is God! Eccelsiastes 5:1 says, “Walk prudently when you go to the house of God; and draw near to hear…” I am a beginner at learning to listen and obey God’s voice, but, I do know the more I listen to His word, the clearer His voice become to me!

III. God Never Forgets Those Who Honor Him

Obedience is not always easy. Sometimes, we sense the Lord has given us something very difficult to do. Sometimes, we begin to walk in obedience to the Lord, but we don’t see the results we’d like to see!

Locally, I think of two ministerial friends of mine. Both love the Lord, church, family, lost souls deeply. Both have proven over the years to have a vital relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ and their ministry has born much fruit. Yet, at the end of January 2008, both of these faithful men of God will find themselves out of a job, not because of their unfaithfulness to God, but primarily due to very tight financial conditions in their field of service. On top of this, they are both undergoing great family trials right now. It would be very difficult to be in their shoes, but they are both finding comfort in the God who never forgets those who honor Him!

Honoring the Lord continually in our daily life does not always seem to pay off immediately. How about parents who have earnestly sought to obey God and bring up mature Christian children, but those children do anything today but love and follow the Lord? How about a husband or wife who deeply loves God, but their spouse wants nothing to do with the Church, Bible, Jesus Christ? How about a Sunday School teacher who heard God inviting them to teach a class at church, but only two or three people show up, yet they continue to honor God’s will for their life? Joseph’s life teaches us that God never forgets those who honor Him!

God Himself makes this promise in 1 Samuel 2:30, “for those who honor Me I will honor, and those who despise Me shall be lightly esteemed.”

At Christmas time, we hear so much about Santa Claus, Rudolph, Frosty, etc. Biblically, we hear much about the Christ Child, Mary, The Shepherds, the Wise Men, but we don’t always hear much about Joseph. John Bisagno calls Joseph, “the forgotten man of Christian history.”

Maybe, at an especially difficult time in Joseph’s life, he thought, “God, have you have forgotten all about me. I have always tried to do what is right and fair. I have tried to live by your law with all my heart. I have continually worked hard to earn a living with my hands, doing carpentry in Nazareth and Galilee. I had even spent the last three years of my life building a home for Mary and now all this. God, where are you? Have you forgotten about me, Joseph?”

Hebrews 6:10 says, “For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have  shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints and do minister.” Friends may forget you! Family may forget you! Church members may forget you, but God never forgets those who honor Him!

In fact, God was at work bringing prophecy to fulfillment in Joseph’s life! Matthew 1:22-23, “So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name, Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.” Far from God forgetting Joseph, God’s plans were truly remarkable! Joseph was to fulfill a key role in the fulfillment of Biblical prophecy!

IV. God Richly Rewards Obedience While Disobedience Is Costly

Much of the news locally this week was centered on former Atlanta Falcon QB, Michael Vick. On Tuesday’s cover page of the AJC it gave the following detail about Vick’s financial losses.

$71 million: Salary in the final seven seasons of his Falcons contract.

$50 million: Endorsement income lost over the next decade.

$19.97 million: Bonuses that can be reclaimed from Vick.

$928,073: Money Vick put into an escrow account to care for 54 pit bulls on his property.

$5,100: Fine and assessment imposed on Monday’s sentencing.

$141,903,173: total

Disobedience is costly. I’m sure Vick never went into dog fighting thinking, “This is going to cost me my reputation, my fame, my NFL career, $142 million, but it’s worth it.” That is what sin does. It promises the best in life, but provides you the worst!

The sad truth is that many people in the church today, and in the world, are living in disobedience to God, thinking they are going to get away with it!

Not Joseph. He was a man of obedience to the Lord’s commands! Matthew 1:24, “Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him.”

In Matthew 1 & 2, on five different occasions, the Lord gives Joseph a command to follow and each time, Joseph arose and obeyed what he was told.

Think of the ways his obedience was rewarded by God! He married the woman the Lord had  planned for him to! God Almighty entrusted His one and only Son into the hands of Mary and Joseph. Even though they were poor financially, they had heavenly riches beyond measure. Beholding the Christ Child, they were able to daily celebrate what so many people celebrate once a year, the real meaning of Christmas, The Savior is born! His Name is Jesus! He is Immanuel, God with us!”


Instead of thinking about what you are getting this year for Christmas, would you start today to give God your trust and obedience? Christmas is only Christmas in your heart when you know Jesus Christ has forgiven you! Freed you from all your sins! When you know, as Joseph and Mary knew, that God is with you forever!