Last week I spent Tuesday through Friday with my wife because last Wednesday was our 20th wedding anniversary and it was absolutely fantastic time that I will always cherish. We drove to just outside of Charleston South Carolina to a place called the Middleton Inn and I owe a debt of thanks to Dusty Rayburn for the suggestion of staying on the Middleton plantation. It was an absolutely gorgeous place! We got to take a carriage ride around the plantation, walk through the gardens, sit and reflect over our years together on the grounds and at the lodge. We also spent time in Charleston walking through the market, taking a carriage ride, and just spending time together in the city. We ate at the Middleton Inn Restaurant which was a lot of fun because it is such a beautiful place and it is also an expensive type place that we normally do not eat in. We simply had an awesome time together!
I have been blessed with a wonderful and godly wife. In reality we were young and immature kids when we got married. I have been blessed to watch my wife grow into a beautiful and godly woman. She has honestly got more beautiful over the years! She has grown so much over the years in her relationship with Jesus and truly is one of the godliest women I know. She has a heart for others and desires to see them grow in their relationship with Jesus. She has a deep love for her family and is a great mother! She is honestly a fantastic Pastor’s wife! I am blessed to have married her!
In the past twenty years we have had many great times and a few rough times but through it all God has been so very good to us! We have been blessed with two great kids and we have great family and friends. We live in a culture where when things get rough we just throw in the towel and to honest when we got married we made the commitment that divorce was not an option and because of that we have forced ourselves to work through the hard times. While we were on this trip and we would tell people that we were celebrating 20 years and they would respond by how amazing it was to be married that long. A number of times we heard – “You do not see that too much these days”. How sad this is because just a generation or so ago it was not uncommon at all.
I love my wife and my life.
When I counsel couples getting married I always tell them to never make divorce an option and work through whatever the issues are and keep Christ in the center of their marriage. I want young couples to be forced to work out their problems and to do it with Christ.
What advice would you give to a young couple getting married?
We have been discussing Mary and her character in the Christmas story and with that let us today consider her quality of faithfulness. She is as we can see in the story of Christmas is a faithful woman. She is faithful to God and she is faithful to Joseph even when it does not appear as though she was faithful to him. Let me challenge you and your faithfulness this morning.
When things get tough in life, do you remain faithful? Think about all the marriages that end in divorce. I am too often stuck counseling one person of a marriage that is failing because when things got tough, one part of the couple decided that it was too tough and they decided to leave and not remain faithful and not even try to make it work. They make that choice and then do not want any counsel as to how they can get back together. It is a sad thing and my heart breaks for that those in a marriage who want to make things right and work but the other does not.
You do not only see it in marriages but you see it at times with God. You see people that find themselves in tough spots and so they walk away from God. They blame God for the choices that they have made and they get angry at God and become in a sense unfaithful to Him. They walk from Him and choose other things over Him. So let me ask you, how faithful are you to God? When things do not go as planned for you do you get angry and become unfaithful to him? I challenge you today to begin to look to God even in those times when you do not understand why things are happening. Remain faithful to Him and you will not be disappointed in the end.
It is amazing to think of the faithfulness of Mary and the desire of my heart is to remain faithful like her but I have to admit: I have my days and times when I choose other things over God.
What about you? What do you think about this?
Matthew 1:19 – And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly.
Verse 19 refers to Joseph as a righteous man. “Righteous” here means that Joseph was one who carefully observed the law and valued his own reputation. According to the customs of that time, adultery would made Mary unmarriageable and by marrying her, Joseph would have comprised himself in the eyes of the law. But his righteousness went deeper than a mere external righteousness before Jewish law. He was honorable and wanted to do the right thing.
Yet Joseph could have profited by divorcing Mary publicly. By taking her to court, Joseph could have impounded her dowry-the total assets she brought into the marriage-and perhaps recouped the bride price if he had paid one at betrothal. By simply providing her a certificate of divorce in front of two or three witnesses, he would forfeit this economic reimbursement-simply to minimize her public dishonor. Even though Jewish tradition ruled that a wife could lose her dowry for infidelity or for as little as scolding her husband, in normal divorces where the wife was not charged she kept her dowry. Joseph would have to enlist the help of a village scribe or elders to get the money, and this would increase Mary’s public shame and in that creating and maintaining the scandal.
I have known of some churches that publicly shamed a young woman who became pregnant, usually leaving the less obvious father of the child concealed from public reproach. Joseph’s “justness” or “righteousness” reminds us that justice is not merely a matter of punishment and shame but also a matter of mercy. Joseph was going to divorce Mary, but wounded though he felt, he would do everything in his power to minimize her shame.
Do you see it here? Do you see that he had mercy on Mary. Mercy always triumphs. Joseph could have acted severely toward Mary’s apparent indiscretion, but he chose to offer love and mercy, even when he thought he had been wronged. How often do we do that? Just listen today to people who are divorced talk about the one they divorced. Often times we do not hear mercy but we hear judgment and criticism.
What about you today? Do you search out what the right and honorable thing is to do or do you just take the easy way? Do you in life or business try to profit off of others misfortune? Do you show Mercy and love or do you show judgment or criticism?
I am guilty for sure of not always doing these things, how about you?