Posted in advent, Advent devotions, Devotions

2020 Advent devotion: Not your average Joe

Photo by Annie Gray on Unsplash

“Live and in person” Advent devotion for December 22, 2020. Read Matthew 1:18-25 and Psalm 116.

“When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.” (Matthew 1:24-25)

I’m sure Joseph never imagined his life would take a turn in this direction. An angel in a dream? A pregnant fiancee (and it’s not your baby!)? Marry that woman and trust that God has a hand in this? Raise a child spoken of in prophecy? Suddenly, you have a part to play in God’s plan of salvation for the world. I imagine it would be a bit overwhelming.

The part of Joseph isn’t much in a typical Christmas play. He’s not much compared to angels, shepherds, or even the innkeeper (who isn’t even in the biblical account of Jesus’ birth!). He’s an innocent bystander. Collateral damage. A descendant of David, and therefore the connection with Bethlehem.

But Joseph is the one who has the dreams. He’s the one who hears from the Lord. He’s the one who shuttles the Christ around in accordance with the prophecies. He’s the “carpenter” associated with Jesus. He’s the one who will fade into the sunset by the time Jesus begins his public ministry. After he and Mary find Jesus in the temple at age twelve, we never hear from him again.

But he makes into the pages of scripture. Luke tells us that he carefully compiled his account of Jesus’ life. Do you think he talked to Joseph?

I think that would have been a great conversation. “You heard from God in a dream? What was that like?” “How did you feel when you learned that Mary was pregnant?” “What was it like being the dad of the Messiah?” It would be amazing to spend a day with Joseph!

No one plays a minor part in God’s plan. Each of us is an important brick in the temple built upon the prophets and apostles, with Christ as the cornerstone, where God dwells in His spirit (Eph. 2:19-22).

Joseph got to teach Jesus how to work with wood. I loved learning a craft from my father. I loved teaching my children, too. I’ll bet he loved every minute he got to spend with his son! And I’ll bet his son loved every minute he got to spend with his dad. Parents: never forget how much your kids love spending time with you!

Heavenly Father, thank you for sending your son to spend time with me. Amen.

Posted in Advent devotions

The Cast of Advent: December 12 – the angel who came to Joseph

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

“An angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”  (Matthew 1:20,21)

We aren’t told the name of this angel. It may have been Gabriel, messenger to Zechariah and Mary. Or it may have been another. Another who got the short straw. 

How would like to take this message to Joseph? It’s out there to say the least. Even though it goes against every nuance of the law, go ahead and marry Mary. Even though this isn’t your son, he will save his people from their sins. 

I can imagine Joseph waking up the next morning breathing heavy, covered in sweat, thankful that it was just a dream!  Or was it? Was this one of those dreams where God is actually communicating with you? Or your worst nightmare?

The other angel got to announce an answered prayer to Zechariah and God’s favor to Mary. This angel comes to Joseph looking for a favor. “Can you just go ahead and marry her? She’s going to need a husband and he’s going to need a dad.” And that’s exactly what Joseph does. 

I wonder if the angel was relieved that Joseph responded in this way? Imagine if you had to go back to God and report, “He won’t do it.” 

Thanks, Lord, for Joseph’s positive response to an unusual dream and an angel’s words. Amen.  

Posted in Advent devotions

The Cast of Advent – December 11: Joseph

“When Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly” (Matthew 1:18,19).

Social media has become a place to shame people (and pets!) for their appearance, beliefs or actions. In a twisted way, we feel better about ourselves if we have put someone else to shame.

On the other hand, you’ve got Joseph. As a “just man,” he knew what he had to do when his fiancé Mary is pregnant and he’s not the father. Old Testament law was clear about how to handle unfaithfulness. He was also a compassionate man, for he decided to divorce her quietly, without any publicity or shame. And he was also a man of faith. Most likely Joseph would endure some shame when people noticed Mary was pregnant. But he knew it was worth it, for he believed this child was from the Holy Spirit, and would save his people from their sins (Matthew 1:20,21). 

We may endure shame for our faith, too. There are those who will talk down to you because you believe in God, trust in Jesus, and seek to walk in his ways. We quietly endure that shame, for we know what he comes to do and how he can change lives. 

Thank you, Lord, for Joseph’s obedience, compassion and faith that inspires my walk with you. Amen.