We rarely think of Joseph when we speak of Mary and her son, Jesus. But Joseph was a very special individual as well.
In describing him, Matthew says that he was a “just” or “righteous” man. And because of that, he was a “decent,” “fair” and “righteous” man. When he was faced with an incredibly difficult decision – whether or not he should abandon Mary – an angel appeared and advised him to “go ahead with your marriage to Mary.”
Initially, Scripture informs us, “that not wanting to disgrace her, he planned to send her away.” He was well aware of the fact that stoning was the legal prescription for what people would think of Mary’s being pregnant without being married. If he took Mary to be his wife he could be humiliated or ridiculed by those around him. But he chose to obey the command of the angel to marry her. As a “righteous” man he was also a “merciful” man, a man willing to listen to, hear and obey God. Joseph was a man of great character.
But there is more. Not only was he righteous, merciful and obedient to the voice of God, but he was a man who was sensitive and discrete. Joseph was open to the voice of God and responded immediately when God spoke to him and protected the reputation and honor of Mary – thereby revealing he was a man of integrity.
Prayer: Lord, we pray for fathers everywhere who will strive to be like the earthly father of Your Son. We ask that You will raise up men of integrity to honor You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Matthew 1:18-25 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly.
Competent! Outstanding! Careful! Friendly! Supportive! Bright! Cheerful! Caring! Gracious! And the list of words to describe Beth, the secretary to the president of the company, could go on and on. She was loved by everyone in the company.
When it came time for her birthday one year, her co-workers decided to honor her with a lavish party. They rented a beautiful ballroom, hired the best caterer, designed a special cake, had special napkins with her name on them and collected money to buy a gift.
All went well. The tables were beautifully set, the caterer was on time, the guests arrived and there was excitement in the room. Everyone kept looking at the entrance awaiting the arrival of Beth. After waiting for fifteen minutes the co-worker who organized the event said to Beth’s best friend, “Where is she?”
“I’m not sure,” she replied. “I’ll phone her.”
She did – and discovered that she was at her favorite sandwich shop enjoying her lunch alone. No one thought to invite Beth to her celebration!
There will be many parties this Christmas. And as usual, the Guest, Whose birthday we celebrate, will not be invited. Tables will be set, lights will blink, guests will arrive, laughter will ring out, gifts will be exchanged, everyone will have fun – but Jesus will not be present. No one will think to invite Him – the One who should be the main attraction.
Prayer: Lord of the season, may we place Your Son, our Savior, at the center of everything we do this Christmas. May we never forget, “It’s all about Him.” In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Matthew 2:11 And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
Timothy had done very well in his first semester at college. Excitement was building in the family as the day approached when he would be home for Christmas. His mother wanted to make it a special event, one he would remember for years to come.
“Let’s give Timothy a wristwatch for Christmas,” she said. “He’s done so well and I want him to know how much we appreciate all of his hard work.”
“But,” protested his father, “what happened to that crush proof, waterproof, shock proof, scratch proof watch we gave him when he left for college?”
“He can’t find it,” said his mother.
In giving us the gift of His Son, God gave us Someone Who will be with us forever. A Gift that will be with us until the end of our lives and throughout eternity. An indestructible, ever-present Presence.
Jesus promised us to “be sure of this – I am with you always and everywhere, even to the end of the age.”
Some would ask, “What does it mean that He will be with us? Did he not leave His disciples when He ascended into heaven?” No, He didn't.
When He left them physically He sent the Holy Spirit to be His presence with them personally. We know He was called “Immanuel – God with us” when He was born. We know He is with us now through the Holy Spirit.
Prayer: It’s easy, Father, for us to lose sight of You and Your messages at this time of the year. But help us to pause, pray frequently and sense Your presence within us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Matthew 28:20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.
Two merchants in a small community were fierce competitors. Their stores faced each other on opposite sides of the street. Drake’s Store was much larger than Albert’s Merchandise Mart. Each fought for the same customers.
One day Drake put up a sign in his store that read, “If you want it, we’ve got it!” Not to be out done, Albert hung a larger sign across the entrance to his store that read, “If we don’t have it, you don’t need it!”
There is a vast difference between “a need” and “a want.” A “need” refers to the essentials in life, the things that we cannot do without. A “want” is something quite different. It is something that is not really essential. Think of the importance of water and the pleasure of a soft-drink. We can do without soft-drinks, but water is essential.
Jesus said, “Your Father knows what you need and He will give you what you need if you live for Him and make the Kingdom of God your primary concern.” When we make the Kingdom of God our primary concern, it means that God is first and foremost in our lives and that He is at the center of all that we do.
If we make His thoughts our thoughts, His desires our desires, His priorities our priorities and His ways our ways, He will meet our every need every day!
Prayer: Our Father, may we give You the place of honor that You deserve in our lives. May we always place You first in our lives and honor You in all that we do. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Matthew 6:31-34 …Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Dr. A.B. Simpson was one of God’s greatest missionaries and Biblical scholars. His passion for those who were unsaved was legendary and he devoted his life to winning them to Christ.
Early one morning, a guest who had spent the night in his humble home was quietly walking down the hallway. As he passed the study of Dr. Simpson, he noticed a light coming from the partially opened door. Out of curiosity he peeked into the room and there he saw him praying and heard him sobbing loudly. The arms of Dr. Simpson were wrapped around a globe and the visitor heard him pleading with God to bless every missionary on every continent. He listened as he asked the Lord to provide for the needs of those who were serving Him around the world. He wanted God to bless them and care for them and to work through them to win many for His Kingdom.
The Psalmist encourages us to “plant in tears.” He assures us that when we plant in tears and ask the Lord of the harvest to bring the lost into His Kingdom, He will. Then there will be a great “harvest with shouts of joy.”
We must also remember what Jesus said: “The harvest is so great, but the workers are so few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask Him to send out more workers for His fields.”
Let’s pray earnestly for the harvest and the harvesters.
Prayer: We pray, Heavenly Father, that You will bless those who are doing Your work in Your fields today. We also pray for more who are willing to work with You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Matthew 9:37-38 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.  Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”
The citizens of a small community were overwhelmed with discouragement. The drought had destroyed the crops of the farmers and they were facing bankruptcy. The merchants were unable to purchase inventory for their stores because their customers could not pay their bills. Unfortunately things went downhill from there.
Everyone was heartbroken and depressed except one elderly man of God. He invited the leaders of the community to his home for a meeting to see if he could encourage them to continue a little longer.
His friends came to his home and sat around his kitchen table. Standing before them he hung a large piece of white paper on a wall and asked them to turn and look at it. As they did, he placed a black dot in the center. He then asked, “Gentlemen, what do you see?”
In unison they said, “A black dot.” Not one of them mentioned the white paper that surrounded the one small black dot.
“Gentlemen,” he asked, “are there some blessings in your life that we can place around the black dot that might make it not so obvious?” One by one they thought of some of the good things that they had been overlooking in their time of loss and grief.
God’s goodness sometimes disappears from our horizon. When days are difficult and nights are long, it is easy to see the dot and not the One who can remove it.
Prayer: Help us, Heavenly Father, to be aware of all that we have because of Your grace. Give us faith to proceed through difficulties of life through Your strength. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Matthew 19:26 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
A flight attendant noticed an elderly lady having a difficult time buckling her seat belt. Recognizing her anxiety and obvious fear, the flight attendant went to the captain and explained what she had seen. Graciously, he accompanied the attendant to the lady and he asked, “May I help you, Ma’am?”
“Oh yes,” she replied. “This is my first flight. I must admit that I am rather frightened. Tell me, Sir, will you bring me back down safely?”
As he fastened her seat belt, he smiled politely and said, “Yes, Ma’am. I’ve flown hundreds of thousands of miles and never left anyone up there.”
In the closing verse of Matthew, Jesus promised His disciples, “And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
What a precious promise: “I am with you always.” But what does it mean? His memories would be with us? His teachings would be with us? His imprint on history would be with us? Of course. But that is only the beginning.
“I am with you” leaves no doubt that after Jesus ascended into heaven He would be with us through the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. The Holy Spirit would be Jesus’ presence that was with them then and is with us now and will never leave us. Ever.
Jesus said, “I am going away, but I will come back to you again!” Jesus continues to be with us today.
Prayer: Thank You, Father, for the assurance of Your presence in our lives. We are comforted to know that whatever comes into our life, You are there to protect us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Matthew 28:20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.
It was the new pastor’s first opportunity to visit the sixth grade boys’ Sunday school class. He knew the lesson they were about to study was on forgiveness. He looked around the class and recognized Danny from his neighborhood.
“Danny,” he said, looking at him and smiling, “do you think you could forgive a boy if he hit you?”
“Oh, yes Sir,” he said proudly, “I know I could – especially if he was bigger than me.”
It’s interesting to think about whom we are willing to forgive or not forgive. Perhaps we even have a criterion. It seems as though there are some individuals whom we forgive easily and quickly – no matter what they have said or done to us. Then, there are some we do not want to forgive – some we enjoy holding a grudge against – savoring or waiting patiently for that magical moment when we can “get even.”
How unlike Jesus. When He was teaching His disciples to pray He said, “...forgive us our sins just as we have forgiven those who have sinned against us.”
Jesus offered no criteria when it comes to forgiving. Forgiving others is the sign of a heart that understands, accepts and appreciates the forgiveness of God. If we are slow or refuse to forgive others, we do not know the true meaning of forgiveness and do not realize all that God has done for us.
Prayer: We know, Father, that when we forgive others we have an understanding of Your forgiveness and mercy. May we forgive others as You have forgiven us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Matthew 6:12 And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
…Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit. Joseph, her fiancé, was a good man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly.
As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
All of this occurred to fulfill the Lord’s message through his prophet:
“Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’”
When Joseph woke up, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded and took Mary as his wife.
Prayer: May we, Heavenly Father, do as Joseph did: do whatever it is that You ask of us. May our faith be so strong that we will be obedient, faithful and trusting. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Scripture: Read Matthew 1:18-24
It only lasted fifteen seconds.
But the 1906 earthquake that leveled most of San Francisco caused 375 deaths and left over 300,000 people homeless. Death, destruction and devastation were everywhere.
Tragedies occur every day – some much more significant and severe than others. But the significance of any tragedy is always personal – What impact does it have on me, my family or friends.
God is so good to us that we rarely prepare for the unwelcomed, unwanted or unanticipated events in our lives. They usually come unannounced or when we least expect them. When we awaken to a beautiful sunrise or go to bed following a glowing sunset, it always brings a contentment with life.
In times of prosperity there are many who want our friendship or our presence. It is good to laugh and be happy. But what happens when life falls apart? What do we do or where can we turn?
For the Christian there is always the Lord.
Jesus said, “Come unto me all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens and I will give you rest!” He offers us His unconditional love when we feel abandoned, His strength when we are weak, His peace when we are troubled and His grace when we sin.
Prayer: How marvelous are Your gifts, our Father. To know that we can come to You whenever any need arises is beyond reason but not beyond Your compassion. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Matthew 11:28 ”Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
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