Diligent Resolve

by Carolyn Hope

Now Joseph was well-built and handsome, and after a while his master’s wife took notice of Joseph and said, “Come to bed with me!” But he refused. “With me in charge,” he told her, “my master does not concern himself with anything in the house; everything he owns he has entrusted to my care. No one is greater in this house than I am. My master has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?” And though she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her or even be with her. One day he went into the house to attend to his duties, and none of the household servants was inside. She caught him by his cloak and said, “Come to bed with me!” But he left his cloak in her hand and ran out of the house. (Genesis 39:6-12)

Most of us are familiar with the life of Joseph. He was a dreamer, gifted and called to more than he knew. He was a leader, a good manager, and greatly blessed by God’s hand on his life. He was also handsome. The wife of Joseph’s master took notice of him and soon pressured him to do things with her that he should not do.

Joseph not only refused her advances, but he also avoided her completely. He was resolved to keep his purity, and he guarded his heart well. When Potiphar’s wife confronted him with sexual temptation, he ran away. He was diligent in staying pure and honoring God with not only his life but with his body as well. On the surface, it seems that his resolve backfired. He was unjustly sent to prison, punished for a crime he did not commit. This downhill turn, however, was actually part of the path God used to elevate him to the highest position he could possibly attain. Man may not have honored Joseph for his resolve to purity, but God did.

Resolve requires diligence. Every day you must be faithful to guard your heart. Be alert; pay attention. Sometimes being resolved means getting out of a place you shouldn’t be in. Others may not appreciate the stands you take or the commitments you keep. Know that your Father will honor your choice to remain true to who you are and who He made you to be. People may not see the sacrifices you make to maintain your resolve, but He sees, and He is pleased when you choose diligent resolve.

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Supporting Actress: Mary

by Carolyn Hope

“You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.” (Luke 1:31-33)

And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me – holy is his name. His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation.” (Luke 1:46-50)

Mary was an ordinary girl who found herself in an unexplainable position. One day she was engaged to be married and the next day she was told she would be the mother of the long-awaited Messiah.

When Gabriel came as the mouthpiece to a divine message, he did not ask Mary to be the mother of God’s son; he decreed it as though it would be. “You WILL be with child … He WILL be great … his kingdom WILL never end.” Just as certain and sure God was of Jesus’ future greatness and kingdom, He was certain and sure that Mary would be his mother. It’s almost like Mary didn’t even have an option. There was no, ‘If you don’t want to do this, I can find someone else.’ Gabriel didn’t say, ‘Are you okay with this?’ God didn’t seek Mary’s approval of His plan; He simply decreed and declared what would be. Mary could have said no, but that was very clearly not what the Lord planned or desired. He wanted Mary, and He was so convinced that He didn’t even speak of the situation as though it was optional.

Mary believed this message and submitted to the dangerous call. Thus began her plight … or so we often think.

Mary said that all generations to come would call her blessed. While much of the church honors and respects Mary, we often view her predicament as a burden, not a blessing. We treat her pregnancy as a task, and not a gift. She seemed to believe that it was an honor and a joy to be the chosen mother of the Christ. We tend to focus on the negatives. ‘There was risk involved. She could have been killed. She was scarred with supposed scandal for the rest of her life. She almost lost Joseph.’ We forget all the joys and blessings that came with this divine and beautifully orchestrated call. Mary had a miraculous pregnancy and birth! She had a perfect son (I feel bad for Jesus’ siblings), who came to save all of humanity. Every parent has at least some bias toward their children, but with Jesus, no bias would be too much. His destiny, his call, his purpose was greater than any other human has ever known. Mary got to see what God looked like in human flesh. She was the first voice Jesus heard, the first to feed him, the first to be intimately close with him. She watched her God, her Lord and King, grow up in her own home. How special. How incredible. How beautiful.

Sometimes we view Gabriel’s visit to Mary as the great interruption; her life was flipped upside down (and maybe even ruined) from that point forward. Actually, it was probably one of the greatest days of her life! That was the day that she was chosen for something greater than herself. That was the day that God brought his dream for her and turned it into a reality.

I wonder if Mary had always felt different. If she had sensed that she was made for more than a normal life. Then one day here comes an angel, and suddenly all the strange longings in her heart made sense. What if, instead of totally freaked out and stressed and afraid, Mary was excited to give birth to Jesus? What if instead of being something to put up with, Mary’s call brought her exuberant happiness? What if this was everything she was waiting for? Yes, there was risk. Yes, there was danger. Yes, she could have lost everything. But think of all she gained! Think of all the blessings bestowed on her!

God has a call on your life, and it’s not meant to be a heavy burden that crushes your heart. No, it won’t be easy. Yes, there will be trials and danger. Don’t let that deter you. Far greater than the reality of the risk involved in your destiny is the reality of joy and peace. The life God has for you is the best that could ever be. When you follow after Him with all your heart, you will walk into the fullness of His goodness and mercy.

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The Humility of a Visionary: Honor

by Carolyn Hope

“The king asked Daniel (also called Belteshazzar), ‘Are you able to tell me what I saw in my dream and interpret it?’ Daniel replied, ‘No wise man, enchanter, magician or diviner can explain to the king the mystery he has asked about, but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries … The king said to Daniel, ‘Surely your God is the God of gods and the Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries, for you were able to reveal this mystery.’ Then the king placed Daniel in a high position and lavished many gifts on him. He made him ruler over the entire province of Babylon and placed him in charge of all its wise men.” (Daniel 2:26-28, 47-48)

Daniel is known as a man who was both wise and prophetic. He served under several kings and was one of their top advisors and most trusted counselors. Daniel was a governor, a supporter, and a ruler; he was also a man of humility.

In Daniel chapter 2, King Nebuchadnezzar had a dream, and he demanded that his wise men tell him what the dream was, and then interpret it. He put an impossible task on these men, and when they could not fulfill it, he decided to kill all of them. Daniel heard about this situation, and he asked for time. When his request was granted, he sought the Lord for revelation, urging his friends to do the same. God faithfully answered their prayers, and Daniel went to the king and gave him the dream and interpretation. Throughout the whole process, Daniel showed himself humble through the honor he gave to the Lord (and to the king). He never once took any credit for what God had done but made it very clear that only He could reveal mysteries. Daniel’s strong honor for the Lord led the king to also show God honor.

Humility always honors others. To honor is to elevate someone and put him in his rightful place. Humility lifts others up to where they should be. One of the ways you can be humble is by honoring those around you. Instead of taking the best seat at the dinner table or movie theater, give that spot to someone else. Hold the door for the person behind you. Do small things to show others that you value them. The best way to honor others is to first honor the Lord. Keep Jesus on the throne of your heart, and you’ll be better able to honor people.

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