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The Call of God to New Testament Characters

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Title: The Call of God to New Testament Characters


1
The Call of God to New Testament Characters
2
Lesson 3
3
Lesson TextLuke 130-33
Luke 130-33 30 And the angel said unto her, Fear
not, Mary for thou hast found favour with
God. 31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy
womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his
name JESUS.
4
Lesson TextLuke 130-33
32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son
of the Highest and the Lord God shall give unto
him the throne of his father David 33 And he
shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever and
of his kingdom there shall be no end.
5
Lesson TextLuke 134-36
Luke 134-36 34 Then said Mary unto the angel,
How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? 35
And the angel answered and said unto her, The
Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of
the Highest shall overshadow thee
6
Lesson TextLuke 134-36
therefore also that holy thing which shall be
born of thee shall be called the Son of God. 36
And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also
conceived a son in her old age and this is the
sixth month with her, who was called barren.
7
Lesson TextLuke 137-38
Luke 137-38 37 For with God nothing shall be
impossible. 38 And Mary said, Behold the handmaid
of the Lord be it unto me according to thy word.
And the angel departed from her.
8
Focus VerseMark 1029-30
Mark 1029-30 And Jesus answered and said, Verily
I say unto you, There is no man that hath left
house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or
mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my
sake, and the gospels, but he shall receive an
hundredfold now in this time, houses, and
brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children,
and lands, with persecutions and in the world to
come eternal life.
9
Focus Thought
The call to extreme dedication in unusual times
is predicated upon the disciplines of faith in
ordinary times.
10
I. The Call to Dedication
Culture Connection Divinely Chosen for a Divine
Assignment
The legal and historical rights of Jewish
heritage are important even today. People who
want to immigrate and assume Israeli citizenship
bear the burden of establishing their Jewish
bloodline. Modern Jews, serious about their role
in society, still defer to their tribal heritage
for privilege and status.
11
I. The Call to Dedication
It is difficult for some global cultures,
especially in a modern democratic community, to
value such insights. Individualism,
self-determinism, and personal ambition work to
remove the umbrage of family heritage and
ancestral rank. At the same time, they take away
the rights and blessings of these ancient
privileges. Perhaps it is most visible to us
in trying to understand modern monarchs, such as
Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip.
12
I. The Call to Dedication
Some individuals ask why Philip is only a prince
if his wife is a queen. The simple answer is that
in the British Empire, sovereignty of the Crown
is passed to the nearest blood relative not to
binding legal associations. Dynasties and
families are committed to a blood heir not a
legal claim. There are historical examples of
royal consorts who took advantage of their legal
relationship to usurp the historical family
heritage.
13
I. The Call to Dedication
These events often led to corrupt and failed
monarchies that abandoned blood lineages and
destroyed royal rights. The marriage of Joseph
and Mary was more than an awkward social
arrangement, and more than an angelic visitation
to two committed people. Here was a made in
heaven display of history, destiny, and
privilege coming together in a divine event.
14
I. The Call to Dedication
Bible writers were very thorough in identifying
and tracing the historical lineage of both Mary
(Luke 3) and Joseph (Matthew 1), but most
significant was their involvement in Gods divine
assignment.
15
I. The Call to Dedication
Contemplating the Topic
Todays society suffers from a lack of
dedication and self-sacrifice. An inward focus
causes people to forget or ignore
responsibilities for debts, marital vows, family,
and friends. On the other hand, it is refreshing
to find an example of true dedication, especially
in godly character.
16
I. The Call to Dedication
The Bible contains examples of both of these
character types individuals who failed to
maintain their dedication and individuals who
succeeded in meeting their moral obligations.
Today we will focus on two prime examples of
individuals who were completely dedicated to God
Mary and Joseph. It is difficult to imagine the
dilemma Mary faced after the angel appeared to
her and announced that she would bear the Son of
God.
17
I. The Call to Dedication
In her astonishment she asked, How shall this
be, seeing I know not a man? Further, how would
she explain this to her familyand worse, to
Joseph her betrothed? The angel assured Mary,
With God nothing shall be impossible. When
Joseph learned of Marys pregnancy, he worried
about the scandal that would shock the people of
Nazareth. He decided to put his beloved away in
private to save her from further public
humiliation.
18
I. The Call to Dedication
But an angel appeared to him in a dream, calmed
his fears, and told him to proceed with the
marriage. Mary and Joseph were ordinary people
who played key roles in this extraordinary story,
along with other ordinary characters Zacharias
and Elisabeth, the shepherds, Simeon and Anna,
and the wise men. All of these experienced
supernatural visitations and other phenomena.
19
I. The Call to Dedication
Ever since the downfall in the Garden, God had
worked to unfold His plan of redemption, and
throughout the centuries He used ordinary people
to accomplish it. In the fullness of time He
chose to use Mary and Joseph, ordinary people
with extraordinary dedication, to manifest
Himself in the world He had created.
20
A. Ordinary Times Call for Ordinary Service
Searching the Scriptures
The Call to Dedication
  1. Ordinary Times Call for Ordinary Service

Biblical genealogies are not the most inspiring
passages in the Bible. We trip over the
unfamiliar names and get lost in a sea of
begats. However, a reader can discover at least
one nugget of truth by reading through these
laborious lists God is faithful.
21
I. The Call to Dedication
In fact, the Bible says He is faithful to a
thousand generations. (See Psalm 1058 11990.)
Matthew began his gospel with a genealogy in
which Josephs name appears in the final group of
fourteen generations. A carpenter by trade,
Joseph had a strong Hebrew heritage, and he
faithfully and consistently followed the Lord.
Joseph surely looked forward to his imminent
marriage to Mary, whom he had chosen above all
the other young maidens.
22
I. The Call to Dedication
Perhaps he selected her because of her purity and
love for God. However, something was about to
occur that would test the mettle of both his and
Marys dedication and faith. Eight centuries
earlier Isaiah had prophesied of this unusual
aspect of Gods plan to introduce the Messiah A
virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall
call his name Immanuel (Isaiah 714). This
prophecy pointed to a divinely designed birth
that would fulfill Gods promise made in Genesis
315.
23
Transparency 1
24
I. The Call to Dedication
The young virgin of whom Isaiah prophesied was
Mary, upon whom Gods blessing and favor
descended. God valued Mary not for her meager
possessions but for her virtuous dedication.
The nation of Israel sat on a strategic, albeit
tiny, piece of real estate when compared to the
rest of the vast Roman Empire. It occurred to
Emperor Caesar Augustus that he should order a
mass census to confirm the greatness of his
empire.
25
I. The Call to Dedication
It fell upon the shoulders of Cyrenius, the
governor of Syria, to administer the census
within his jurisdiction, and he decreed that
every person, small or great, must travel to the
city of his birth to pay a tax and be counted.
Centrally located at the intersection of two
trade routes in the province of Galilee, Nazareth
may have had a questionable reputation, for
Nathanael asked, Can any good thing come out of
Nazareth?
26
I. The Call to Dedication
But another reason for Nathanaels question could
be that he knew the birthplace of the Messiah
should be Bethlehem, as foretold by the prophet
Micah. Why then did Philip claim this man from
Nazareth was the Messiah? (John 145). But such a
thing was indeed possible. Jesus of Nazareth was
born in Bethlehem, the city of David, because
Mary and Joseph obeyed the decree of Cyrenius to
travel to their ancestral city. Several years
passed before they returned to Nazareth.
27
I. The Call to Dedication
Jesus of Nazareth came from common stock. In the
words of Max Lucado, Mary and Joseph were common
people who served an uncommon God (Cast of
Characters). We know little about Mary and
Joseph prior to their call to serve as earthly
parents of the Christ child. However, Scripture
provides evidence of their character. Joseph
was a just man (Matthew 119). He did not want to
subject Mary to shame and scandal due to her
pregnancy.
28
I. The Call to Dedication
His kindness and consideration of his betrothed
and his submission to Gods will exemplify his
admirable character. Gabriels announcement to
Mary provided a threefold endorsement of her
godly character she was highly favored, the Lord
was with her, and He had singled her out from
among all other women to bless her (Luke 128).
29
B. Extraordinary Times Call for Extraordinary
Service
  1. Extraordinary Times Call for Extraordinary
    Service

Roman rule was the harsh reality at the time of
the angelic visitations to Mary and Joseph. Roman
decree precipitated their journey to Bethlehem
(Luke 21-5). God chose this way to fulfill the
prophecy that the Messiah would be born in
Bethlehem as foretold in Micah 52.
30
I. The Call to Dedication
They faced a grueling journey, especially
considering Mary was close to the time of
delivery, but sometimes Gods plan for ones life
requires great sacrifice. However, their roles in
the plan of God were destined to impact all the
world. The scope of the angels announcement
impacted not only the families of Mary and Joseph
but all of the Jews as well, for Matthew 121
states that the babe would bring salvation to
his people.
31
I. The Call to Dedication
Gods plan also impacted the lives of Zacharias
and Elisabeth, a couple of advanced years who
probably lived in the hill country of Judah.
While Zacharias performed his priestly duties in
the Temple, an angel appeared and announced that
this couple would have a son, a promise the aging
priest could not help but doubt. So the angel
gave him a sign Zacharias would not be able to
speak until the fulfillment of the promise.
32
I. The Call to Dedication
The angelic visit to Zacharias occurred about six
months before Mary learned of her own conception
of the Christ child. When Elisabeths baby boy
was born, their family and friends wanted to name
him after his father. But Elisabeth remembered
the angels words and insisted that the baby be
named John.
33
I. The Call to Dedication
When they kept urging her, she appealed to
Zacharias, who wrote on a tablet, His name is
John. Everyone gasped in astonishment as
Zachariass tongue was loosed, and he broke into
praise and prophecy.
34
Luke 174-77
Blessed be the Lord God is Israel for he hath
visited and redeemed his people . . . That . . .
we might serve him without fear, in holiness
and righteousness before him, all the days of our
life. And thou, John, shalt be called the
prophet of the Highest for thou shalt go before
the face of the Lord to prepare his ways to give
knowledge of salvation unto his people by the
remission of their sins (Luke 174-77).
35
A. Understanding the Call
The Willingness to Answer the Call to a Life of
Dedicated Service
  1. Understanding the Call

Both Mary and Joseph experienced angelic
visitations. Although supernatural encounters
such as these would frighten most people, the
spiritual awareness of Mary and Joseph enabled
them to receive and obey the messages brought by
the angels.
36
I. The Call to Dedication
The angel assured them they had no reason to
fear, and he gave the same assurance to Zacharias
and to the shepherds. It is remarkable that
Mary did not ask for time to think about the
consequences of this prodigious responsibility
she accepted almost immediately. Once informed,
Joseph shouldered his responsibilities as well.
In spite of the scandal and skepticism they would
encounter, they considered it an honor to
faithfully fulfill their part in the plan of
redemption.
37
B. Accepting the Call
  1. Accepting the Call

Mary wondered how she as a chaste young woman
could conceive a child. The angel Gabriel
answered, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee,
and the power of the Highest shall overshadow
thee therefore also that holy thing which shall
be born of thee shall be called the Son of God
(Luke 135). Gabriel told Mary that her aged
cousins, Elisabeth and Zacharias, had also
conceived a child about sixth months earlier.
38
I. The Call to Dedication
While the supernatural happenings had thrilled
her, Mary probably felt a chill when she thought
about explaining all of this to Joseph.
Nevertheless, when the angel finished telling her
what would happen she responded, Behold the
handmaid of the Lord be it unto me according to
thy word (Luke 138). Joseph also accepted
Gods call for his life and he obeyed the angels
instruction.
39
Matthew 124
Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the
angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto
him his wife (Matthew 124).
40
I. The Call to Dedication
As Mary grew great with child, she and Joseph
pondered the awesome responsibility and privilege
of serving the Lord in fulfilling His plan. As
with most parents, they understood that this
responsibility would sit heavily on their
shoulders for the rest of their lives.
41
A. The Impossibility of the Task
The Ability to Perform the Task
  1. The Impossibility of the Task

Mary asked the inevitable question any chaste
virgin would ask if she were told she would
conceive and bear a child. How shall this be?
It seemed to be impossible. There is no record in
Scripture that she expressed doubt God could
perform such a strange pronouncement, though she
clearly did not understand how it would
occur.
42
I. The Call to Dedication
Zacharias, on the other hand, expressed doubt at
the news he and his wife were to have a son. He
did not experience immediately the joy and
gladness promised in Luke 114 rather, he was
shocked. However, immediately after the birth of
John, the promised joy and gladness erupted in
shouts of praise to God. In the same sense that
the conceptions of Jesus and John seemed humanly
impossible, the tasks the Lord plans for us
sometimes seem impossible to accomplish.
43
I. The Call to Dedication
We would rather do something easier. But we must
recognize our need for divine empowerment to
perform the tasks God assigns us. Whatever the
tasks to which God may call us, even those that
may seem utterly impossible, we must summon the
courage and faith to step forward willingly to
perform His will. Against seemingly
insurmountable circumstances, Mary believed the
angels declaration and believed God would cause
it to come to pass.
44
Luke 137
For with God nothing shall be impossible (Luke
137).
45
Transparency 2
Our sufficiency is of God who also hath made
us able ministers of the new testament (II
Corinthians 35-6).
46
I. The Call to Dedication
With our limited resources and abilities, we
often fall short of the task. But with God,
nothing is impossible and a positive completion
is certain. God increases our efforts, making us
able ministers (II Corinthians 36) and He
Himself becomes our sufficiency (II Corinthians
35). As He did in the beginning, He can create
something out of nothing. He demonstrates this
when He makes us into a new creation (II
Corinthians 517, NKJV).
47
B. The Divine Empowerment
  1. The Divine Empowerment

To achieve the expectations of God, humans need
divine assistance and empowerment. Therefore His
Spirit helpeth our infirmities for we know not
what we should pray for as we ought but the
Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with
groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that
searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of
the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for
the saints according to the will of God
(Romans 826-27).
48
I. The Call to Dedication
He sends angels to minister unto us, the heirs of
salvation (Hebrews 114). The Scriptures recount
numerous angelic instructions and interventions
for example, the patriarchs, Joshua, Samsons
mother, Elijah, Daniel, the three young Hebrews,
Jesus, and Peter. The angel Gabriel appeared to
Zacharias and to Mary, and an angel appeared to
the shepherds, to Joseph, and to the wise men.
Supernatural empowerment by the Spirit of God
enabled Mary to conceive miraculously and give
birth to Jesus.
49
Luke 135
And the angel answered and said unto her, The
Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of
the Highest shall overshadow thee therefore also
that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall
be called the Son of God (Luke 135).
50
I. The Call to Dedication
Author Chuck Swindoll likened this overshadowing
to the display of divine presence depicted by the
cloud and fire that hovered over the Tabernacle
in Exodus 4038. Swindoll stated, The angel used
this imagery . . . to explain that Gods
spiritual presence would miraculously conceive a
male child in her womb. While the child would be
human in every respect, He would not have a human
father. His father would be, quite literally, the
almighty God (Jesus The Greatest Life of All).
51
I. The Call to Dedication
Some time after the birth of Jesus, wise men
came from the east, seeking the newborn King of
the Jews. News of this reached King Herod, and,
agitated and aggravated, he called for the chief
priests and scribes to inquire about the place
where it had been prophesied the Christ child
would be born. They answered, Bethlehem, and
quoted Micah 52.
52
I. The Call to Dedication
Herod told the wise men to search diligently,
and when they found the child to return and tell
him where to find Him so he could worship Him
also. Herod refrained from saying he planned to
destroy this new threat to his throne.
53
I. The Call to Dedication
Before Herod could carry out his devious plan,
an angel appeared to the wise men and told them
to return home another way. Then an angel warned
Joseph to take his family and flee to Egypt until
after the death of Herod. They bided their time
in a foreign land until the angel reappeared and
told Joseph it was safe to move his family back
to their homeland. Then they settled in Nazareth.
54
C. The Human Support Factors Needed to
Sustain Dedication
  1. The Human Support Factors Needed to Sustain
    Dedication

Not only does a person need divine empowerment
to perform Gods will, but he also needs human
support. Soon after the angels visitation, Mary
went to see her cousin Elisabeth, who was already
six months along in her pregnancy with her son,
John.
55
I. The Call to Dedication
Immediately after Marys greeting, Elisabeth
declared, Blessed art thou among women. She
assured Mary that what had been promised to her
would surely be performed.
56
Luke 145
And blessed is she that believed for there
shall be a performance of those things which were
told her from the Lord (Luke 145).
57
I. The Call to Dedication
Elisabeths prophetic declaration, along with
the fact of her own pregnancy, must have
increased Marys faith. Zacharias still could not
speak, but Elisabeth probably recounted his
amazing experience in the Temple. Mary had much
to ponder concerning all these amazing turns of
events. When the time finally came for Jesus to
be born, Mary and Joseph received further
confirmation that strengthened their faith in the
midst of many unusual circumstances surrounding
the birth.
58
I. The Call to Dedication
For instance, while shepherds watched their
flocks, the heavens opened and they saw a
heavenly host and heard their glorious praises to
God. As soon as the angels finished their
announcement, the shepherds ran immediately into
Bethlehem to find the newborn babe. Their praises
and tale of the angelic visit confirmed to Mary
and Joseph that Jesus birth truly was a
miraculous work of God.
59
I. The Call to Dedication
Forty days later Joseph took Mary to the Temple
to perform her rite of purification. (See
Leviticus 122-4.) The couple offered a sacrifice
of a pair of turtledoves in keeping with the Law.
At that time they presented their firstborn male
child to the Lord, also according to the Law
(Exodus 138). Before they left the Temple,
they met an elder in Israel named Simeon, a
devout man who had waited many years for the
Messiahs birth.
60
I. The Call to Dedication
God had promised him that he would not die until
he had seen the Lords Christ. Led by the Spirit,
Simeon came to the Temple that day and approached
Mary and Joseph. Marveling that his eyes had
finally seen the Lords salvation, he took the
babe in his arms and blessed Him. Immediately
afterward, Anna, an elderly prophetess who fasted
and prayed in the Temple, approached Mary and
Joseph and confirmed what Simeon had said. She
gave thanks to the Lord for the redemption He had
provided.
61
I. The Call to Dedication
The visit of the wise men occurred a period of
time after the shepherds visit to the stable.
They traveled from the east, searching for the
newborn King of the Jews. The miraculous star led
them to the house where Mary and Joseph resided
with the child. They worshiped the babe and
presented their gifts. Contrary to Herods
command, they returned home another way.
62
I. The Call to Dedication
It is possible that Jesus was more than a year
old at the time of their arrival. (Hence, Herods
command later to kill all male babies under the
age of two.) The appearance of the star, the
extended journey, the costly gifts, and the
worship of these men from the east reaffirmed to
Mary and Joseph what a precious treasure they
protected the Christ who would bring salvation
to the world.
63
A. Mary Delivered Jesus Physically
Jesus, the Ultimate Gift to the World
  1. Mary Delivered Jesus Physically

A gospel song says, Mary was the first one to
carry the gospel. Indeed, she carried the baby
for nine months and then cared for Him until He
grew to be a young man.
64
I. The Call to Dedication
Mary was present for the first miracle of Jesus
at the wedding in Cana. She instructed the
servants, Whatsoever, he saith unto you, do it.
This provides a prime example of how to receive
power and provision from the Lordthrough
willingness and obedience. Years later Mary
obeyed the command of her Son to join the 120 who
gathered in an upper room in Jerusalem to wait
for the promise of the Father.
65
I. The Call to Dedication
After His resurrection, Jesus referred at least
three times to receiving the Spirit (Luke 2449
John 2022 Acts 14, 8). Shortly before He
ascended, He told His disciples to wait in
Jerusalem, for they would be baptized with the
Holy Ghost not many days hence (Acts 15). Mary,
along with the others, received the Spirit and
the power to witness of Jesus in a greater way
than ever before. What an incredible road she had
traveled!
66
I. The Call to Dedication
She delivered the Christ child in a stable in
Bethlehem, and over thirty years later was
delivered in an upper room in Jerusalem by Jesus
Christ through the new birth.
67
B. The Church Delivers Jesus to the World
Today
  1. The Church Delivers Jesus to the World Today

The revival that exploded from the upper room in
Jerusalem focused on Jesus. The crowd gathered to
discover the reason for the noise and heard the
disciples speak of the wonderful works of God
(Acts 211). Peter stood with the other disciples
and preached about Jesus from the psalms and the
prophets.
68
I. The Call to Dedication
When he proclaimed the message of Acts 238,
Peter began to fulfill the Great Commission of
Jesus. The Lord had said that repentance and
remission of sins should be preached in His name.
As He said, it began at Jerusalem and quickly
spread from there. Gods Spirit still enables
His bride, the church, to give birth to spiritual
children. Just as God caused both a young virgin
and a barren elderly woman to give birth, so he
can cause the church to increase and multiply
today.
69
I. The Call to Dedication
Strongs Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible
defines overshadow as to envelop in a haze of
brilliancy, to invest with preternatural
influence. This occurrence goes beyond ordinary
means and involves supernatural power. The Spirit
of God imparts power for believers to witness to
others both through their words and through their
sin-conquering life in Christ Jesus.
70
I. The Call to Dedication
Satan succeeds in blinding the minds of many
through unbelief, but God uses the church to
light the way for the lost to find this glorious
gospel. As the church fulfills the Great
Commission through the empowerment of the Spirit,
believers will reap a great spiritual harvest.
71
II Corinthians 43-4
But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that
are lost in whom the god of this world hath
blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest
the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who
is the image of God, should shine unto them (II
Corinthians 43-4).
72
Matthew 937
The harvest truly is plenteous (Matthew 937).
73
I. The Call to Dedication
Internalizing the Message
The story of Jesus birth still amazes believers
today. It was not just a make do emergency of a
young couple searching for lodging in a crowded
city. It was a carefully orchestrated drama based
on ancient prophecies and involving angelic
messages, celestial signs, and the leading of the
Spirit. The synergy created by supernatural
intervention and human response is most
interesting.
74
I. The Call to Dedication
The characters in this divine drama were
ordinary people with extraordinary dedication.
Yet they were frightened when confronted by
angelic beings. Thus the admonition to fear not
prefaced each message of the angels to Zacharias,
Mary, Joseph, and the shepherds. Not only should
they not fear the angels, but they also should
not fear accepting the responsibilities God had
designed for them.
75
I. The Call to Dedication
The church hears the same message today Fear
not. Jesus loving presence dispels fear,
enabling the church to share the glorious gospel
with the world in the face of both demonic and
human foes. Gods supernatural power works in and
through ordinary individuals who will yield to
His will and obey. He engineers ordinary
circumstances and events to further accomplish
His purpose.
76
I. The Call to Dedication
Just as He used shepherds, a young virgin engaged
to a carpenter, kings from the east, and faithful
followers in His Temple, He can use anybody who
is yielded to Him and willing to embrace His
will. These ordinary people, through spiritual
and human empowerment, can accomplish
extraordinary things.
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