Tag Archives: Joseph

Today’s Scripture – June 18, 2017

Luke 2:1-7 (NIV) In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register.
So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

God continued to move the people into appropriate places through actions and events in order to make everything turn out just as He intended. He could have simply commanded Joseph to take Mary to Bethlehem for the birth of the baby, but He chose instead to put it into the mind of Caesar Augustus to hold a tax census, in order to demonstrate His ability to move the movers, even the great Caesar himself.

When the decree was issued, it caused quite a stir, as every male had to go to his ancestral inheritance to be registered. That meant the wholesale, albeit temporary, relocation of pretty much everyone in the north part of the country to the south, plus a more limited shuffling of the people who already lived in the south. The reason for this was that the vast majority of those whose ancestral holdings were in the north had been taken into captivity into Assyria more than 700 years before, and had never come back. During the tumultuous years after the southern tribes had come back from Babylon, some had chosen to vacate their more populated family properties in the south to settle in the largely vacated country around the Sea of Galilee, leaving alone a swath in the middle of the country inhabited by the pagan Samaritans.

Even though Joseph was a common man, a carpenter by trade, the blood of kings pulsed through his veins. In fact, he was a direct descendant of King David, so his ancestral inheritance lay to the south, in David’s hometown of Bethlehem. Of course, that was where God had predicted that the Messiah would be born (Micah 5:2). Even though Mary was getting close to her delivery date, Joseph took her along. Most of the people for their town of Nazareth were heading south, too. Plus, on trips like this opportunities for craftsmen like Joseph arose, making it advantageous to extend one’s stay, and it didn’t make sense to leave his wife behind if that were to happen.

As was noted, most of Nazareth was heading south at the same time, so Mary and Joseph didn’t have to make the trip alone, making the journey safe. And, despite popular imagery, Mary did not go into labor while they were still on the road. Luke carefully recorded Mary’s recollection that the time for the baby to be born came “while they were there.” The houses were crowded with all of the relocation, so in the house where Mary and Joseph were staying the guest rooms (the best translation of the Greek word often translated “inn,” and used also by Luke in 22:11) were full. So Mary gave birth in the regular living quarters of the house. The baby was snugly wrapped in swaddling cloths, and a manger was pressed into service as a makeshift cradle.

So was born the Son of God, right on time, and in exactly the place to which God had pointed in the Scriptures.

Father, sometimes we think that You just patiently sit and watch while we unfold our stories here on earth. But one thing that is clearly taught all through Scripture is that You are moving history somewhere, and You are continually at work moving people, events, whole societies to make sure it all happens just the way You planned. Help me, like Mary and Joseph, to fit myself into the flow of Your plan and flow along with it, instead of trying to fight it, and thus break myself on it. Amen.

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Today’s Scripture – July 23, 2016

Matthew 2:13-15 (NIV)

When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.”

So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.” 

Jesus, although God in the flesh, was completely helpless at this point in His life.  Later He would be able to silence His enemies, walk right out of hostile crowds, and know exactly where He should and shouldn’t be at any given moment.  But for now, He was a mere child who had no idea that death would soon be pursuing Him.

Jesus’ parents, Joseph and Mary, had been in the habit of hearing and obeying God’s voice for many years.  So it was a simple thing for God to send His messenger to speak to Joseph and give Him instructions that would save both them and the child.

As was their habit, they heard clearly and obeyed immediately, even in something as radical as pulling up stakes and leaving the country.  They knew God’s voice, so they didn’t argue or ask for clarification or signs that would validate the message.  They simply got up in the middle of the night and headed to Egypt, trusting that God would provide everything that they would need, and that He would give them additional instructions whenever it was appropriate.

Of course, God had known that this journey would be necessary long before the earth had been created.  He had even inspired Hosea to write it down as a prophecy.  But Joseph and Mary didn’t require God to tell them everything that He had planned before they were willing to participate in what He was doing.  They were humble and obedient in everything, and they were willing to rely on God to tell them what they needed to know when they needed to know it.  They were exactly the kind of people that God chooses to do extraordinary things!

Father, I don’t ask for great things.  I ask that You help me to be simply humble and obedient like Joseph and Mary, so that You can easily use Me to work Your plan.  Help my trust in You to be so thorough and complete, and my relationship with You so strong, that I know Your voice well, and obey immediately whenever You speak.  Amen.

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Today’s Scripture – October 21, 2013

Psalm 101:1-3a (NIV):  I will sing of your love and justice; to you, O Lord, I will sing praise.  I will be careful to lead a blameless life– when will you come to me? I will walk in my house with blameless heart.  I will set before my eyes no vile thing.

Many today consider a blameless life to be far beyond the reach of the ordinary person.  Perhaps “a real saint” (and many Christians seem to know at least one of these), maybe THEY could pull it off, but it’s a goal too high for an ordinary person like them.

But people who think this way have already defeated themselves before the battle has even begun!  They ignore the fact that even in the days before the Holy Spirit was sent to indwell God’s people there were many who led truly blameless.  As just a few examples, look at Zechariah and his wife, Elizabeth, who were “upright in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commandments and regulations blamelessly.”  (Luke 1:6 NIV)  There was not a trace of a legalistic patina covering a sinful heart in them; they were legitimately blameless before God.  And look at Simeon, a man who was waiting intently for the coming of the Messiah, and who was “righteous and devout.” (Luke 2:25 NIV)  That is GOD’s evaluation of his life.  And, of course, there was Anna, the widow who “never left the temple, but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying.” (Luke 2:37 NIV)  Even Joseph, the husband of Mary, is noted as “a righteous man.”  (Matthew 1:19 NIV)

Were all of these individuals, living at the same time, strange or unique?  Were they freaks whose example cannot be reasonably imitated by “normal people” today?  Hardly!  These were normal, ordinary people.  What set them apart was not some genetic “quirk,” but their extraordinary devotion to God; their extraordinary determination to “lead a blameless life;” to resist every temptation so that they could live consciously in God’s presence.  It was an immovable, unshakable, totally unsinkable determination in their own hearts, an unbendable act of the will to follow God and His commands 100% that made their lives blameless.  They were so focused on God and on being pleasing in His sight that the enemy could find no foothold in their lives; sin could find no resting place; temptation had no shadowy crevice in which it could fester.

It seems that many today who claim that they are unable to follow God wholeheartedly, who claim that living a blameless life is beyond the ability of the average person, really lack the single-hearted will to be righteous.  They seem to hope that such deep righteousness will be magically imposed upon them with no effort on their part; that God will somehow mystically remove the temptations of the world from them so that they can be holy with no effort on their part at all!  But without a solid commitment to walk before God every day in holiness and righteousness, without a willful focus on putting God and His agenda first in our lives every day, ahead of work, ahead of hobbies, ahead of favorite TV shows, ahead of friends, even ahead of spouses and children (cf. Luke 14:26), God has nothing He can work with.

Today, despite the prevalence of so many distractions and entertainments and temptations delivered right into houses via television and the internet, there should be multiplied millions more saints living blameless lives than there were in the days before Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension.  That is because God has sent the Holy Spirit to live in the hearts of all of those who receive Jesus as Lord and Savior, giving them infinitely more power to be blameless that Zechariah, Elizabeth, Simeon, Anna, or Joseph ever dreamed of having.  The reason that God’s people don’t experience that powerful blamelessness, righteousness, and holiness is not in their lack of ability, but their lack of will.

Father, forgive us for not passionately wanting to live our lives for You alone.  Forgive us for having our passion for You be so much less than our passion for the things of this world that sap our spiritual life and take our focus off of pleasing You.  Forgive us for living so far below our potential in You, in Your Holy Spirit.  Forgive us, Lord, and help us to turn around, to completely repent of all of this, and to receive fresh life from You, so that we can completely live for You from now on.  Amen.

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