• Pastor Steve VanAmburg

Overcoming and Enjoying Challenges

Matthew 1: 18 This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. 19 Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

As we approach the Christmas season, I am reminded of the challenges that awaited God’s people.

Character #1 – Joseph. Joseph loved Mary, was engaged to her but he felt that she had been unfaithful when he realized that she was pregnant. Do you really want to marry someone you don’t trust?

Character #2 – Mary. This young teenager finds herself pregnant and she’s not married. If Joseph doesn’t believe her, her future looks bleak. She will be forced to be a single parent in a culture where she will be viewed as promiscuous and could even be stoned to death at the most, and ostracized at the least.

Characters #3 - The Magi. These wisemen were watching the stars. They decided to go on this long trip, finance it themselves, face a sinister king that they would have to defy by not reporting back to him.

In life, we can face many challenges. They can come at work with seemingly impossible tasks and assignments. They can come at home when we deal with difficult spouses, children, family and friends. We may also have the challenge of finances of fixing a car, home or paying a medical bill. We wonder how can we survive these challenges and then . . . . . . . . God shows up.

Joseph got the OK to marry Mary through a dream; Mary had an angel show up and gave her the sign of Elizabeth’s pregnancy. The wisemen were led by a FANTASTIC star (see the video “Bethlehem Star” if you want to see something special) and made a long journey to see the King of the Jews. At God’s instruction through a dream they defied the king and returned home without obeying his instructions.

Sometimes life can be challenging. We get pushed to the limit. We don’t know how to respond in certain situations. And then God shows up, guiding us and directing us. We don’t have to be smart, we just need to listen to Him and respond promptly when He tells us to do something. In Matthew 1:24 it says “When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife.” Mary said in Luke 1:38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Because these people obeyed, they were able to see Jesus and they got to play a part in God’s plan. What a privilege! What an honor!

So remember you and I are not in this alone. God is with us and He will give us the direction and answers that we need. God doesn’t hide His will from us, nor does He leave us stranded. Our job is to just say yes to Jesus and obey Him. When we do this, we get some great blessings. God turns these challenges of life into opportunities to be used by Him. Embrace the challenge, let God direct you through it, and you will receive some great blessings!

Have a Blessed day, week, season, and life. Merry Christmas!

Pastor Steve

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