Matthew 1:18-24 (NIV)

18 This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit.1

19 Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce2 her quietly. 
20 But after he had considered this, an angel3 of the Lord appeared to him in a dream4 and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.
21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus,a5 because he will save his people from their sins.”6
22 All this took place to fulfill7 what the Lord had said through the prophet: 
23 “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”b8–which means, “God with us.”
24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel9 of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife.

Ephesians 6:4 (NIV)

4 Fathers, do not exasperate your children;1 instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.2                            

DEVOTION – Wayne W. Greenawalt (Illinois)

Watching the church youth reenact the Nativity story, I developed a deeper appreciation for Joseph.  As I viewed the scene where the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph, instructing him to take Mary as his wife and name her son Jesus, I was struck by this thought:  Jesus not only needed a mother, he needed an earthly father, I had always regarded Joseph as a minor influence in the birth and life of our Lord.  Not so!  God’s infinite wisdom ordained that Joseph serve as Jesus’ earthly father.  What a significant role and an awesome responsibility!

I volunteer at a Christian ministry that serves men who are homeless and addicted.  Their past lives often reveal a common denominator; they were raised in homes where their father was either absent or abusive.  Their lives are in disarray, in part because their fathers failed them.  One of the key courses in the men’s recovery program teaches them the biblical principles of fatherhood.  The objective is that those who have children will become the fathers that God intends them to be.

Every child deserves a godly father.  If Jesus, God’s son, needed an earthly father to provide nurture and give guidance, how much more so we?

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: Today I will give thanks for the godly father figures in my life.

PRAYER: Compassionate God, we pray for fathers everywhere.  Help them to see the importance of setting a godly example for their children to follow.  Amen.