Titus Connection December 2020

Greetings.  For this Titus Connection and the next two, we will be discussing the concept of resilience.  This first article is a little different than normal as it is a bit more of what possibly transpired during the time of Mary and Joseph; and what they faced.  When God picked them to carry out their earthly purpose, God did not make them super human nor wore Teflon, the material that causes nothing to stick on a surface of whatever the Teflon is put on.  Mary and Joseph were human and had real feelings and life issues.  The advantage we have is we do know the end of the story.  In real life we do not know the end of the story until we literally get to the end of the story being lived out.  May your family and you have a blessed Christmas and New Year!  Blessings,  Mike


Life for many has been turned upside down in 2020 just like it was in the First  Century for Mary and Joseph.  You have your wedding plans.  Joseph was preparing the house or adding on to his parents’ home.  Mary was dreaming about getting married and making a home.  Then BAM!  An angel showed up and changes everything. 
Mary had to tell her parents.  “ Mom, Dad.  I am pregnant.  For Joseph, Mary set him down and told him she’s pregnant, But it wasn’t a guy.  As a guy, what would you be thinking?
Through God’s leading, they accept their fate.  They see the looks from the people around town and hear comments.  Being a smaller community, word spread.  Other guys are telling Joseph to drop her like a rock.  “No quality girl would do that when you are technically married”.  Did Mary lose her friends because of “the type of girl she was”?
Dealing with their parents, we don’t know what the parents were thinking and how they are handling things with the townspeople.  We Christians can be cruel to one another.  “Hey I have this prayer request for so and so…..”.   Or “What kind of upbringing did these young people receive growing up, there must have been issues in their home?”  Or  “Mary should have known better.  She has her whole life in front of her with a decent reputable man in Joseph.”  Or “What is Joseph doing?  There are better young women out there than that that ill-minded girl, Mary?”
With God’s help, through the angels and putting what faith they had in God’s direction for life, they pressed on.  Then on top of everything, Luke 2:1-7 hits.  Joseph was called to Bethlehem to be counted in the census.  They traveled 150 kilometers to the city of Joseph’s ancestors: south along the flatlands of the Jordan River, then west over the hills surrounding Jerusalem, and on into Bethlehem, a fairly grueling trip.
          Oh, by the way Mary was 9 months pregnant.  Are there any lady willing to mount a donkey anytime between 6 and 9 months pregnant?     By the way, when Jesus walked that route years later, the geography and distances caused a person to walk it in about four days, with each day’s hike being between 13 and 19 km in length.  Plus, it seems like they were on their own.  No one with them.  Did that make Joseph nervous, Mary too???
They got to Bethlehem and there is no where decent to stay.  Mary is very uncomfortable.   And they are finally offered a smelly, unclean stable.  How close were they to water and food?  How cold was it?  In normal birthing situations, there would be
family around to assist but no help here.  Could they have thought, “Is this the way God would have His Son come into the world?”  Then remember who showed up, shepherds.  No town’s people but there had to have been a buzz around Bethlehem, at least at the Inn about a pregnant girl. 
Mary and Joseph lived in crisis mode for 9 months.  They had to go back to Nazarath, where people were talking?  Did people help them?  Was Mary ever given a traditional bridal (or kitchen) shower?  Did the new couple receive baby gifts?  Rumors flew for years to come.  Check out Mark 6:1-4; as only illegitimate children were addressed as by their mother.  Years later people still felt that Mary obtained Jesus illegitimately, possibly being fathered by a Roman soldier.
What crisis Mary dealt with did not end when Mary and Joseph came home with Jesus.  I am guessing things only got worse.  Could you hear what people would be saying around town?  What names were thrown at Jesus while He played on the playground?   How do we Christians handle people who have sinned in the past – do we ever let them move on?
I am guessing life was not easy for the Joseph/Mary household!   Life is not easy when you are looked down upon, your reputation is in the gutter.           ALL BECAUSE MARY AND JOSEPH WERE OBEDIENT TO GOD!  Are you and I willing to be that obedient to the Lord’s leading?  Am I willing to be resilient for Jesus not matter what?  Over the next two months we will explore what it means to be a resilient leader for the Lord.
What is “attitude”?   The dictionary says it is an expression of favor or disfavor toward a person, place, thing or event.  One’s attitude typically comes out in a person’s behavior.  How does a person’s attitude affect or impact life? 
If we have a poor attitude or a grumpy demeanor, we will treat people that way.  People will not want to be around us nor allow us to influence them.  Jesus easily could have had a poor attitude toward people as we were and are the ones He had to die on the cross for.  None of us are the exemption of that statement.  Rather, Jesus was always inviting and showed love to all He came in contact with.
It is true He became very upset and angry with the religious people of His day but He was angry with the way they treated others.  Jesus still loved them as He also died on the cross for those religious people.  Jesus was a people magnate; He invited people into His world.  If there was ever opposites as far as people go, it was Jesus and the rest of us.  Perfect versus totally imperfect.  But He drew people to Himself.
If any year would make people upset, grumpy and lose hope, it has been 2020. This world has never experienced a full-fledged worldwide pandemic where so many things in life has been turned upside down.  For some additionally, we have dealt with loss of family and friends to death, loss of income and/or home, feeling that God is far away, inability to establish deeper relationships or our health has deteriorated.  It is hard to keep smiling when hit with very tough issues in life or maintain a positive attitude.
These then are times to be honest with Jesus and say emphatically to Him that you do not like what is happening to you and you need help.  Will help come immediately and obviously?  Often times no and sometimes yes.  How He responds does not necessarily indicate your level of spiritual growth or maturity.  Life is life.  Being on this side of heaven means we who are believers in Jesus will very likely go through some very difficult and excruciating life experiences.  It does not mean you are less spiritual than another person if God does not take away what you painstakingly dealing with.  This we know.  He is in control of the everything and longs to growing loving relationship with each one of us. 
If you and I can be content in any situation, we are working out our spiritual life (our salvation) and learning what it means to be a disciple of Jesus.  Contentment allows a person to celebrate what is good in your life and at the same time, you are able to work through what is bad.  You appreciate life rather than wishing life away every time something difficult comes in.  You do not like what bad is happening but you know that God is in control of your life and is with you no matter what.
If we can praise the Lord and keep our focus on Him no matter what, you are pursuing contentment.  Studying Philippians 4:4-13 gives great insight on pursuing an attitude that honors Jesus and speaks volumes to people observing us.  Remember the very special representative of Jesus, Paul, prayed several times asking God to remove something very difficult in his life (2 Corinthians 12:7-12).  God never took it away, but he was able to be content and know that God’s grace in his life would get him through. 
Being a follower of Jesus means we are a sacrifice before Him to be used how He sees fit.  Jesus involves us to draw people to Himself.  He has the right to use us as He made us and sees fit.  Accepting that truth is a contentment attitude.  Am I willing to be used as a sacrifice in whatever way He chooses?  How I answer that question will go a long way in developing my attitude toward myself and others.  That is the same truth for you.