Today’s Texts and Thoughts of Encouragement:
“And the King shall answer and say unto them, ‘Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”
“Christmas should teach us to be Christ to others all about us, that from our very garments may flow the virtue that shall heal and bless all who touch us. There are few people whom God calls to do great things for Him, but the best thing most of us can do in this world is to live out a real, simple, beautiful, strong Christian life in our allotted place. Thus in our little measure we shall reap the life of the Master Himself, showing others some feeble reflection of His sweet and loving face, and doing in our imperfect way a few of the lovely things He would do if He were here Himself in our place.”
J. R. Miller
In Green Pastures
Today’s Study Text:
“Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place under these circumstances: when His mother Mary had been promised in marriage to Joseph, before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit. And (Mary’s) promised husband Joseph, being a just and upright man and not willing to expose (Mary) publicly and to shame and disgrace her, decided to repudiate and dismiss divorce her secretly. But as he was thinking this over, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, descendant of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. She will bear a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, the Greek form of the Hebrew Joshua, which means Saviour, for He shall save His people from their sins…Then Joseph, being aroused from his sleep, did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him; he took her (Mary) to his side as his wife. But he had no union with her as her husband until she had borne her first born Son, and he called His name Jesus.”
“He Came to Them First” Part 3
Joseph, The Unsung Hero
“We can never afford to forget that we teach our children to call God Father, and the only conception of fatherhood that they can have is the conception which we give them. Human fatherhood should be molded and modeled on the pattern of the fatherhood of God.”
As I read about Joseph, Jesus’ earthly father, what lessons can I learn?
How did Joseph’s faithful life affect Jesus, especially during the first 30 years of his life?
“There is something ultimate in a father’s love, something that cannot fail, something to be believed against the whole world. We almost attribute practical omnipotence to our father in the days of our childhood.”
Frederick William Faber
“It is the thoughtful, not the unthinking, whom God will guide.”
If we will take a few moments this Christmas to read the Advent story along with the lineage of Jesus Christ spelled out by the disciple Matthew in the first chapter of the first book in the New Testament, we’ll find that it was through the bloodline of Joseph, Jesus’ earthly father, that Jesus was linked to Abraham, to Ruth, to David the King of Israel, and finally this chapter of the begats ends with these words: “Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ” (Matthew 1: 16, K.J.V.).
Carrying such a legacy, in my mind, would make Joseph a “star” in the Bible story. One would expect many fine words written about Christ’s earthly father. And yet, as I researched volume after volume, to my utter shock, few words are penned about this “unsung hero” as I like to call Joseph.
It was author Meray Oduyoye whose words about Joseph caught my attention for she expresses the same thoughts which went through my mind:
“A young woman preparing herself for marriage is confronted with a most unwelcome message. She is to become pregnant before she begins her married life. It is totally unexpected and deeply embarrassing. The shame of it will be enough to kill her. She is being asked to do what is wholly against her religious tradition and social upbringing. She is to sacrifice her social standing and expose herself to society’s disapproval. She is being asked to put the plan of God above her social and religious expectations. Who will believe that what she is carrying it of the Holy Spirit and that her act of obedience will profoundly affect the history of all humanity? Against all conventional wisdom she says, “Yes!” to this plan of God for her. That young woman, Mary of Nazareth, has gone down in history as the Mother of God.”
“What about the man who is to marry her? He stood by Mary because he too has heard the voice of God and he too believes that Mary’s submission to God’s purposes will bring new life to the whole human community. Joseph too is going against custom and tradition when he takes a pregnant woman for wife. We never stop to think how embarrassing his own position is. What will his parents say? What will his friends say? Here is a man who stood in solidarity with a woman he loved and trusted. A man who had an ear turned to what God is saying to him and to the world.”
What profound thoughts to consider this Christmas Day. Do we, female and male, have our ears tuned to hear the heavenly message that God is sending us today? Do we in quietness listen for the call to serve God, no matter the personal cost?
While we frequently shine the light on Mary’s spirit of obedience in following God’s call to be God’s handmaid, we need to also turn our focus on Joseph who chose to be obedient to the angel messenger who also visited him. In the words of Peter Armstrong, “Joseph could not have known where his trust was leading him: We pray for his patience.” What a shock awaited the faithful Joseph.
In examining the words penned by the disciple Matthew regarding Joseph, Bible commentator Matthew Henry points out that this “righteous” man could have, according to the law, been completely “in the right” if he had chosen to walk-off and leave Mary in the situation she found herself – pregnant and unmarried. But as the Bible tells us: “While Joseph thought on these things” he was sent a heavenly messenger. As Henry observes: “God graciously directed him what he should do. Note, those who would have direction from God must think…When (Joseph) was at a loss, and had carried the matter as far as he could in his own thoughts, then God came in with advice. Note, God’s time to come in with instruction to His people is when they are nonplussed and at a standstill. God’s comforts most delight the soul in the multitude of its perplexed thoughts.”
It was in a dream – in quietness and peace – that God sent a message to Joseph. And interestingly, the angel called Joseph, “thou son of David.” As Matthew Henry further points out, “the angel puts (Joseph) in the mind of his relation to King David, that he might be prepared to receive the surprising intelligence of his relationship to the Messiah, who everyone knew, was to be a descendant of David…It was a requirement that this poor carpenter keep in mind his own high birth.” “Value yourself,” was what the angel said to the humble Joseph. “The Line of the Messiah is going to be drawn from you.”
In the closing thoughts expressed by Matthew Henry, he carries a tremendous message for you and me today – Christmas, 2015:
“God may thus say to every true believer: ‘Fear not, thou son or daughter of Abraham, thou child of God; forget not the dignity of thy birth, thy new birth’…for it is a great mercy to be delivered from our fears, and to have our doubts resolved.”
This is my prayer for you today.
O Little Town of Bethlehem
“O little town of Bethlehem,
How still we see thee lie!
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
The silent stars go by,
Yet in thy dark streets shineth
The everlasting light;
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee tonight.
How silently, how silently
The wondrous gift is given!
So God imparts to human hearts
The blessings of His heaven
No ear may hear His coming
But in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive Him still,
The dear Christ enters in.”
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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