Devotional

What did Joseph Know?

By Kathryn J. Hughes

This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream…When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus. (Matthew 1: 18, 19, 20a, 24 NIV)

In my last devotional I considered what Mary knew that convinced her to agree to become the mother of Jesus. Mary had great trust in God that led her to submit to the changes of her plans and to her willingness to face the problems she would encounter giving birth to God’s only Son.

What about Joseph? What did Joseph know that caused him believe this seemly outlandish claim that his virgin promised wife carried the Son of God in her womb? Joseph knew the baby was not his. Her pregnancy gave him reason to break their betrothal contract to get married. Even though the wedding had not yet occurred, it was binding as if married, and a betrothed couple was often referred to as husband and wife.

Photo by JINU JOSEPH on Pexels.com

We know from Scripture that Joseph did not believe Mary at first. Joseph was a just man, but also a compassionate one. Matthew chapter one tells us that Joseph being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. Mary could have been stoned for immorality. If Joseph wanted to maintain his own claim of moral purity, Mary’s punishment may have stopped people questioning his own actions.

Joseph received visits from the angel of the Lord. While he was thinking of breaking their betrothal, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call his name JESUS, for He will save his people from their sins.” So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken through the prophet, saying, “Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.” (Matthew 1:18-25 NKJV)

Joseph was obedient to God. He followed the angel’s instructions to take Mary as his wife. Obedience to the Lord God was more important to Joseph than his reputation or the fact that the Child was not his own and that he would have the responsibility for raising Jesus. He exhibited patience and self-control. He did not have marital relations with Mary until after Jesus was born. He followed whatever the Lord directed him to do.

Later, when an angel warned Joseph to flee from Bethlehem to Egypt because Herod sought to destroy the young child, Joseph immediately moved his small family to that foreign culture. His other angelic dreams told him to return to Israel after Herod’s death, and then to settle in the region of Galilee. Joseph could have argued that he had his carpentry trade established in the various places they lived. Instead, Joseph was quick to act as he is directed. Joseph couldn’t know everything the future held any better than any of us. He and Mary both marveled at the things that were spoken of Jesus by Simeon. (Luke 2:25-33) He obeyed anyway.

* * *

May we be like Joseph, righteous, just, and obedient to God. We may not have angelic instructions, but we have the Holy Spirit who guides us. What is He directing you to do? What are some steps you can follow so you will do it?

Dear Holy Spirit, Thank you that my righteousness comes from Jesus Christ because of His sacrifice for me. Please help me to hear your directions and to obey. Please help me to be just in my dealings with others. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Devotional

What Did Mary Know?

…the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph…The virgin’s name was Mary…. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son and shall call His name JESUS.” The Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.”  (Luke 1:26, 27, 30, 31, 38.)

“Mary, Did You Know” is a beautiful song originally by Mark Lowry (lyrics) and Buddy Greene (melody).  The song asks Mary, the mother of Jesus, if she knew her Baby Boy would walk on water, calm the storm, heal, save people, and one day rule the nations. It got me wondering, what did Mary know based on Scripture? What did she probably know about the Lord before she made her decision to obey what the angel Gabriel told her?

image by FSJ-FSP on Pixabay


 Historians think Mary was a young girl, probably around fourteen years old. Over 2,000 years ago women usually were not educated, so she probably didn’t study the Torah with a rabbi or prophets.  Her spiritual education was learned at the synagogue or at home.

Mary knew that God knew her, a girl from Nazareth. The angel called her by name and told her she had found favor with God.

Mary knew what the angel told her about the conception of her Baby, and that He would be holy.  “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born is to be called the Son of God.” (Luke 1:34-35) Just imagine being told you were going to raise the Son of God! What an overwhelming task.  

Mary knew part of this Holy One’s future. “He will be great, and will be called the son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of his father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.” (Luke 1:32, 33)

Did Mary know her Son would someday hang on a cross? Did she know He would be resurrected? I doubt it. The spiritual leaders of the day didn’t recognize that the Messiah would come as a humble servant and save them from their sins through His death and resurrection. They were looking for a political rescue from the Romans.

Mary’s words in Luke 1:46-55 tell us that she knew that God was her Savior. She knew the Lord was mighty; He scattered the proud and put down the mighty from their thrones. He exalted the lowly. “He has filled the hungry with good things.” Perhaps she knew the Lord provided from her own poor childhood experiences. Mary knew the Lord had come to Israel’s deliverance in the past, and would in the future, for she said “He has helped His servant Israel, in remembrance of His mercy, as He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his seed forever.”

Mary also knew her culture. She must have feared the gossip. How would she tell Joseph and family and friends that this Baby was conceived through the Holy Spirit? No one would believe her. She and Joseph would be judged as sinners, having conceived a child outside of marriage. Worse yet, Joseph knew the baby would not be his; he could have her stoned for immorality!

Yet Mary chose to submit to God. “Let it be to me according to your word.”

Mary trusted the Lord enough to overcome the fears and the shame her obedience would cost her. She rejoices! “Henceforth all generations will call me blessed.”

* * *

What do we know of the Lord, and does it lead to our obedience to Him? Do we willingly submit to God’s will and to what He asks us to do? Do we find favor with God? Do we rejoice? Are we following Jesus and becoming more like Him? What has God asked you to do?

Dear Lord, thank you for the best gift ever, my Savior, Jesus Christ. No gift is greater. Please forgive me for those times I do not obey. Please help me become more like You. Amen.

Devotional

Seek Refuge in the Storm

When Storm Clouds Gather series, Devotional # 6





My victory and honor come from God alone. He is my refuge, a rock where no enemy can reach me. (Psalm 62:7 NLT)

When storm clouds gather, we prepare for the coming tempest. We stay alert, watching for danger and the storm’s impact. We eliminate leaks and put on protective gear. We seek refuge in a safe shelter where tornadoes or other elements won’t harm us. Watching the storm outside the window from a warm room is much safer and more comfortable than standing in a storm, whipped by cold winds and rain or snow.


Preparation can help us with the upheaval in our lives as well.


King David had a stormy life. He stood up to Goliath and killed Israel’s enemy while the Israelite army trembled in fear. Jealous King Saul sought to kill David, and Saul and his army pursued David for years until Saul died. Wars continued in King David’s reign. David tried to cover-up his adultery with Bathsheba and had her husband killed in battle. David’s sin cut him from his relationship with God until he repented and sought the Lord’s forgiveness. Friends and family members died. Twice David’s sons usurped his power and set themselves up over the kingdom. It was enough to want to give up!


The Psalms are filled with David’s laments, his woes, his joy, and his praise to the Lord in Whom he sought refuge. Psalm 62 is an example of David waiting for God and finding rest in Him. David wrote, Truly my soul silently waits for God; from Him comes my salvation. He only is my rock and my salvation; ; He is my defense; I shall not be greatly moved. (Psalm 62:1,2 NKJV) Truly my souls finds rest in God…I will not be shaken (from verse 1, NIV).


David had a lot of waiting time! It was about fifteen years between the prophet Samuel’s anointing of young David as king and the day David was made king of Judah. Another seven years passed before he became king over Israel; a wait of twenty years! Yet David knew it was the Lord who defended him, and that God’s promises to him would come true. Though David often was in despair, he turned to the Lord. David’s advice? O my people, trust in Him at all times. Pour out your heart to Him, for God is our refuge. (Psalm 62:8 NLT)

Photo by Avery Nielsen-Webb on Pexels.com

I don’t always wait patiently or silently. Sometimes my waiting includes foot tapping and grumbling. It’s not restful when my attitude is in the way. God’s working on that with me. I’m much happier when I’m trusting God and relying on His timing.


How have you waited on the Lord?


Are we realizing the rest we have in God by faith in Christ Jesus? He is our peace. Our eternity is secure. Are we resting on the promises of our Savior? I confess that too often I am so busy “doing” things for God that I neglect to spend time with Him. My priorities shift to other things and I miss the rest God gives me when I read and apply God’s Word.


How have you experienced His rest?


God was David’s refuge. When we take refuge in a place such as a tornado shelter, we are trusting it to keep us from harm. When we take refuge in God, we can pour out our hearts to Him and trust Him to give us comfort, peace, and rest in the storms. Our security is only in Him. Everything else is temporary.


Where is your refuge? Is your comfort found in material goods, food, substances, or in your position? Or is your refuge in God and the promises and direction of His Word?

Dear Lord God, Thank you for being my refuge. You are my rock where no enemy can reach me. No storm can unsettle me as I wait and trust in You. May I be quick to seek You and the rest You give. Amen.

Devotional

“Prepare for Storms: Eliminate Leaks”

When Storm Clouds Gather  series devotional #3

By Kathryn Hughes

…clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for “God is opposed to the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.      (I Peter 5:5-7 NASB)

Leaks in our spiritual life are dangerous. Just as a leak in a boat can cause it to sink, leaks in our spiritual life will cause us damage. A leak may be sin in our life. It can be pride, or anything else that keeps us from following God wholeheartedly. One of my struggles is handling things on my own instead of giving them to God. I’ll make plans without even consulting Him, and then try to make my plans succeed. For instance, I realized part way in my planning of this devotional series that I was planning out what to say before asking the Lord what He wanted me to share. After I stopped to ask Him what to write, He sent me back to my Bible and computer-+.  Me, handle something better than God? That’s my foolish pride.

The Apostle Peter learned his lesson about pride. Jesus told His disciples on the night He was betrayed that they would all be made to stumble because of Him, but Peter was adamant that even if all the others stumbled, he would not. Even after Jesus told Peter he would deny Jesus three times, Peter said, “If I have to die with You, I will not deny You!” (Mark 14:27-31 NKJV) Peter was relying on himself. To his great sorrow, he learned that his pride and confidence were not enough.

Sometimes the leak in our boat may be fear, or a lack of faith. Matthew 14:22-33 describes Jesus walking across the water through the wave-tossed sea. The disciples saw Him from the boat and were afraid, but Jesus told them, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.” At that, Peter said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” Jesus told him to come, and Peter did. He walked on the water. What faith!

But Peter’s faith sprung a leak; seeing the wind, he became frightened and began to sink. Peter cried out, “Lord, save me!” Jesus cared for Peter. He caught him by the hand and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”

I can almost hear Jesus say the same thing to me. Can you? Why do we doubt? Why do we have little faith, when we have such a faithful God? Why do we allow sin to get in the way of our relationship with Him?

May we learn the lessons that Peter learned and shares with us. Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your cares upon Him, for He cares for you.  

Let’s plug our leaks before we sink. Let’s humble ourselves and really look at who we are and Who God is. May we carefully examine our motives, thoughts, and pride, and then confess our sin to the Lord. What fears and leaks in our faith need to be brought before Jesus? Let’s cast them on Jesus, for He cares for us.

Dear Lord Jesus, I confess my sin of pride. Please forgive me for doing things my way. Help me trust You and to hold on to faith when the waves are high. In Jesus’ powerful name, I pray. Amen.

Lighthouse in the storm image by mollyroselee from Pixabay https://pixabay.com/users/mollyroselee-9214707/

Boat in storm Photo by Myriam Zilles on Pixabay https://pixabay.com/users/myriams-fotos-1627417/