Pastor Mark E. Whitlock, Jr. (Courtesy photo)

Scripture: Matthew 1:18-25

God takes you through mess to reveal a miracle. 2021 has been a mess of epic proportions. The insurrection, oil spill, economic set back, supply chain debacle, vaccine fears, the Omicron variant, and fear of another national shut down. If we ever needed God to turn a mess into a miracle, it’s right now.

The content and context of the text is a messy story. Mary and Joseph are betrothed for marriage, but Mary is with a child [that is] not of Joseph – a mess. Joseph wants to end the marriage – a mess.

Not only did Mary say it was God’s baby, but God had not performed a miracle in 400 years – a mess!   Why has God created a mess for good people? A relevant question to consider – what do you do when God creates a mess?

  1. God Causes Mess for People to Progress!

The Bible says, “Now the birth of Jesus Christ was like this; for after his mother, Mary, was engaged to Joseph, before they came together, she was found pregnant by the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 1:18).

The wedding had been planned, cake ordered; the bride and grown had refrained from sex, but God started some mess.

God causes mess for us to unlearn old ways of behaving. God causes mess to stretch us, break us, and remake us. God’s mess causes believers to run to God to progress.

The mess in 2021 has caused some to pray more. The mess in 2021 has caused some to call on the name of God more. The mess in 2121 has caused some to depend on God more. The mess in 2021 has caused some read the Word more.  God created mess for Joseph to progress.


  1. Don’t Be a Hypocrite!

The Bible says, “Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly” (Matthew1:19).

God created mess to uncover Joseph’s hypocrisy – a pretense of having a virtuous character, moral or religious beliefs or principles one does not really have. Joseph practiced a form of righteous, but had self-righteous tendencies.

The self-righteous man is judgmental, but the righteousness man loves unconditionally. A righteous man does not divorce his wife. A righteous man does not shun the woman that God has chosen for him. God caused Joseph to face his hypocrisy because God needed Joseph.

The Bible says, “If a man says, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen” (1 John 4:20)?

III. Faith Over Fear!

Pastor Mark Whitlock and his wife, Rev. Dr. Mia Shegog-Whitlock, are the spiritual leaders at Reid Temple AME Church in Maryland. (Courtesy photo)

The Bible says, “But when he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, don’t be afraid to take to yourself Mary, your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit’” (Matthew 1:20).

After Joseph thought about these things, God sent Word for him to have faith over fear.

As painful, as depressing, and fearful as the mess Joseph was in, we should consider just what causes fear.

Fear occurs when you stop reading and believing God’s eternal Word. Fear occurs when you stop meditating and praying unto the Lord.

Fear occurs when you stop hungering and thirsting after true righteousness.  Fear occurs when you believe the naysayers, gossipers, and haters more than God’s Word. When we decide to have faith over fear, true progress starts.

Some of us are living in fear of the pandemic. Some of us are living in the fear of death.

I stopped by to remind you that God says, So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7).  It’s time to have faith over fear!

  1. God turns Mess into Miracles!

“Joseph arose from his sleep, and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took his wife to himself; and didn’t know her sexually until she had brought forth her firstborn son. He named him Jesus” (Matthew 1: 24-25).

But when Joseph woke up, he realized God had turn a mess into miracle.  When Joseph woke up, he realized God created a mess for Joseph to accept God’s baby as his own. God turned mess into a miracle to bring salvation into the world.

Who am I preaching to? Did you experience mess in 2021? Wake up! God is turning your mess into a miracle. Wake up! What the enemy meant for evil, God will use for good.  Wake up! God can turn a messy pandemic into a miracle healing.

God can turn a messy police department into a miracle police reform. God can turn a messy politician into a miracle community leader.  God can turn messy homelessness into prosperous homeowners.

God can turn messy heartaches into a miracle of hallelujahs. God can turn a messy man into miracle Holy Ghost believer. God can turn mess into a miracle.

The Rev. Dr. Mark E. Whitlock Jr., is the senior pastor of Reid Temple AME Church in Glenn Dale, Marylan