I love the Christmas season...I love carols...I love lights...I love trees...and I love nativities.  I love the images of what the season is really all about.  I love the word becoming flesh and dwelling among us.  I love the sacrifices of Mary and her simple child-like faith.  I love the dedication of Joseph, a "righteous man."  Max Lucado in his book God Came Near (His best work in my opinion) gives a great word on Joseph....Thought I'd share:

 Joseph was perched firmly on his branch in the tree.  It was thick, reliable, and perfect for sitting.  It was so strong that he didn’t tremble when the storms came, nor did he shake when the winds blew.  No, this branch was predictable and solid and Joseph had no intention of leaving it.
 That is, until he was told to go out on a limb.
 As he sat securely on his branch, he looked up at the limb God wanted him to climb.  He’d never seen one so thin!  “That’s no place for a man to go!” he said to himself.  “There’s no place to sit.  There’s no protection from the weather.  And how could you sleep dangling from that quivering twig?”  He inched back a bit, leaned against the trunk, and pondered the situation.
 Common sense told him not to go out on a limb.  “Conceived by the Holy Spirit? Come on!”
 Self-defense told him not to do it.  “Who will believe me?  What will our families think?”
 Convenience told him not to do it.  “Just when I was hoping to settle down and raise a family.”
 Pride told him not to do it.  “If she expects me to buy a tale like that…”
 But God told him to do it.  And that’s what bothered him.
 It bothered him because he was happy where he was.  Life next to the trunk was good.  His branch was big enough to allow him to sit in comfort.  He was near scores of other branch-sitters and had made some valid contributions to the tree community.  After all, didn’t he make regular visits to the sick at the North Branch Medical Center?  And wasn’t he the best tenor in the Treedom Singers Chorale?  And what about the class he taught on religious heritage, appropriately entitled “Our Family Tree”?  Surely God wouldn’t want him to leave.  He had…well, you could say that he had roots here.
 Besides, he knew the kind of fellow who goes out on a limb.  Radical.  Extremist.  Liberal.  Always going overboard.  Always stirring the leaves. Guys with their heads full of strange ideas in search of foreign fruit.  Why, the stable ones are the ones who know how to stay close to home and leave well enough alone.
 I have a feeling some of you can relate to Joseph.  You know how he feels, don’t you?  You’ve been there.  You’re smiling because you, too, have been called to go out on a limb a time or two.  You know the imbalance that comes from having one foot in your will and one foot in His.  You, too, have sunk your fingernails into the bark to get a better grip.  You know too well the butterflies that swarm in the pit of your stomach when you realize changes are in the air.
 Perhaps changes are in the right now.  Maybe your in the midst of a decision.  It’s disgusting, isn’t it?  You like your branch.  You’ve grown accustomed to it and it to you.  And like Joseph, you’ve been a pretty good branch-sitter.  And then you hear the call.  “I need you to go out on a limb and
 …take a stand.  Some of the local churches are organizing an anti-pornography campaign.  They need some volunteers.”
 … move.  Take your family and move overseas;  I have a special work for you.”
 … forgive.  It doesn’t matter who hurt who first.  What matters is that you go and build the bridge.”
 …evangelize.  That new family down the block?  They don’t know anyone in town.  Go meet them.”
 … sacrifice.  The orphanage has a mortgage payment due this month.  They can’t meet it.  Remember the bonus you received last week?”
 Regardless of the nature of the call, the consequences are the same:  civil war.  Though your heart may say yes, your feet say no.  Excuses blow as numerously as golden leaves in the autumn wind.  “That’s not my talent.”  “It’s time for someone else to take charge.”  “Not now.  I’ll get to it tomorrow.”
 But eventually you’re left staring at a bare tree and a hard choice:  His will or yours?
 Joseph chose his.  After all, it was really the only option.  Joseph knew that the only thing worse than a venture into the unknown was the though of denying his Master.  So, resolute, he grasped the smaller limb.  With tight lips and a determined glint in his eye, he placed one hand in front of the other until he dangled in the air with only his faith in God as a safety net.
 As things turned out, Joseph’s fears were justified.  Life wasn’t as comfortable as it had been.  The limb he grasped was, indeed, a slender one:  The Messiah was to be born to Mary and raised in his home.  He took cold showers for nine months so the baby could be born of a virgin.  He had to push away the sheep and clear out the cow patties so his wife could have a place to give birth.  He became a fugitive of the law.  He spent two years trying to understand Egyptian.
 At times that limb must have bounced furiously in the wind.  But Joseph just shut his eyes and held on.  But you can be sure of one thing.  He never regretted it.  Sweet was the reward of that heavenly toddler and he knew he would do it again in a heartbeat. 
 Have you been called to go out on a limb for God?  You can bet it won’t be easy.  Limb-climbing has never been easy.  Ask Joseph.  Or, better yet, ask Jesus.
 He knows better than anyone the cost of hanging on a tree.

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Let the one who serves serve in the strength which God supplies that in everything God may get the glory through Jesus Christ.

1 Peter 4:11