GNB 168

December 8, 2022 (The fifth day of the second week of Advent 2022)

TODAY’S SCRIPTURE REFERENCE:

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure that has been buried in a field for safekeeping. After a time, when a man found it, he hid it again and in his joy went, sold all that he possessed and bought that field.’” (Matthew 13.44)

TODAY’S REFLECTION:

The God who dwells within us makes us His people!

The God who dwells within us reveals Himself in Word and Action!

Have you considered your worth measured by faith instead of wealth, opinion or resume’? The Spirit of God is the true riches of life. We must have faith in the One who has provided all that is needed to live in this world by the measure of “the kingdom of heaven.” The “kingdom of heaven” is the dwelling place of the spirit of God. The Apostle Paul found it in shipwrecks, courts of law, prison cells, riversides as well as palaces, synagogues and the Damascus Road. In the beloved hymn, “Great is Thy Faithfulness,” we are reminded in the lyrics, All I have needed Thy hand has provided. Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me. Having faith is one thing, as we have considered, and being faithful is another. When Mary was approached by the angel Gabriel and told “You will bear a child whom you shall name Jesus, God who saves us,” she responded with “May it be so according to the word.” As we remember from yesterday, prophecy does not speak out of time and context. Mary spoke out of which she already knew. What she knew aligned with the declaration of Gabriel who announced the fulfillment of the prophecy found in the book of Isaiah, chapter 7, verse 14, “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign: Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call His name Immanuel.” Her first question was of worth and value asking “How can this be since I am a virgin?” The answer was simply “Immanuel: God with you and God within you.” It was by the power of the Holy Spirit within her and from around her that would fulfill God’s word. Her worth and value was focused on her faith and faithfulness to the Word that had been hidden in her heart so that she would not wander far from it. Because of the congruity of the prophesied Word and the declared Word, Mary knew that this was the moment to act by faith. In that moment, she became rich beyond measure because she was blessed by the Word and in the Word of God.

There are times when I wonder about how Joseph felt being in a relationship with Mary. I am not speaking of the first time he heard Mary was with child. We know that initial response was “divorce her quietly and do all that is needed to provide for her but make sure she is in a place where no one knows his name.” Rather, I am speaking of after the validation he received from his own angelic visitation where everything was explained. In that culture and climate, the man was to be served by his wife. In today’s language that sounds sexist and male-dominated, I know. We know, of course, that God’s intention was for “man and woman” to be help-mates, co-workers in the mission and purpose of God for their lives. We are a bit out of balance today in that regard as a product of a broken world. In fact, I believe the pendulum has swung too far in the wrong direction and the covenant espoused by God is grossly violated. But, in the life of Joseph, the balance was restored by the word of Gabriel concerning the prophecy which Mary was now called to live out. In Mary, the Word became flesh just as in Jesus the Word became flesh. The faith they shared became faith in action prophetically. Their faith revealed the truth which God was speaking concerning the redemption and reconciliation of His people dating back as far as “the eighth day of creation.” So, what of Joseph? His life was no less an act of faith. What it must have been like to be the husband of the “mother of God’s son.” We know he had other children. Early Church tradition would even suggest that some of them, especially James, were born to Joseph from a previous marriage. The love story which exists between Joseph and God cannot be overlooked, God had to have found favor in Joseph’s nature and character to call him to be the “step-father” of Jesus. Joseph was given the duty of raising Jesus in the way that he should go so that he would not wander far from it. Joseph not only taught him the craft of artisanship to work with wood and stone but to walk by faith in the midst of God’s word of old. His sacrifice of home and business to accomplish what God was doing was significant. He not only left ties in Nazareth and Capernaum to lay dormant, he reestablished himself in Bethlehem for two years and then in Egypt for as long as ten years to continue to support his family “in exile.” He would do so without compromising his faith toward God and that of his fathers before him. His life was and is a prophetic utterance by faith at work that speaks of Immanuel, too. In some way, we can see the poetic justice of a man who found a treasure buried in a field being Joseph. He gave up all he had in order to have that treasure as if it was his very own. In order to do that, however, he had to “own” the entire field and all that went with it. This is a real Christmas, Christ serving or Christ worshipping, story. It should speak to all of us of the calling which Christmas and Immanuel can be in our own lives: to take in others who have needs they themselves cannot meet; to treat them as family when the world would more easily assign them into the care of others or none at all and to live in simple measure in order that one’s “wealth” of service and character could be invested as spirit and truth into those our lives will meet.

For me, this is an extension of what I called yesterday, “the forgotten treasure.” It is the true treasure that lies within us as those in whom the Spirit of God was breathed so that we who were lifeless might have life, have it abundantly and ultimately, have it eternally. It is the life for which Jesus came into the world to give us by sharing His very own. His purpose was to redeem and reconcile “His” father’s children making them His own family of brothers and sisters by faith. This is a valuable truth and one, I believe, that dare not be forgotten nor ignored in this or any other season of life as God’s mighty people.

TODAY’S PRAYER:

Father, You are Father of us all. That is not ever in question. But, what we lay claim to today is that we are Your children by faith. We give ourselves to You as our Father and as Your children we will live in this world to share the good news of such joy which comes only in believing in and living by this faith which makes us one in Jesus. AMEN.

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