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Summary: We want to talk about a step-dad who was given the tremendous responsibility of raising God's Son. His name was Joseph, the husband of Mary, the mother of Jesus. (PowerPoint available - #192)

MELVIN M. NEWLAND, MINISTER

RIDGE CHAPEL, KANSAS, OK

(PowerPoints used with this message are available for free. Just email me at mnewland@sstelco.com and request #192.)

Today is known as Father's Day, & the commemoration of this special day began back in 1910 in Spokane, WA. Necktie & shirt manufacturers have rejoiced ever since.

ILL. Then a few years later, as the celebration began to catch on, a group in Wilkinsburg, PA, declared the dandelion the official Father's Day flower because, they said, "The more it is trampled on, the better it grows."

ILL. Something that Erma Bombeck wrote seems to express the sentiments of Father's Day better than most. Here is an excerpt:

"When I was a little girl, a father was like the light in the refrigerator every house had one, but no one really knew what either one of them did once the door was shut.

"My dad left the house every morning & always seemed glad to see everyone again at night. He opened the jar of pickles when no one else could. He was the only one in the house who wasn't afraid to go into the basement alone.

"He kept busy enough. He set mousetraps. He oiled my roller skates & they went faster. When I got my bike he ran along side me for at least a thousand miles until I got the hang of it. He signed all my report cards. He took a lot of pictures, but was never in them.

"I was afraid of everyone else's father, but not my own. Once I made him some tea. It was only sugar water, but he sat in a small chair & said that it was delicious. He looked very uncomfortable.

"Once I went fishing with him. I threw rocks into the water & he threatened to throw me in after them. I wasn't sure he wouldn't so I looked him in the eye for a long time. I finally decided that he was bluffing, so I threw in one more. He wouldn't have been a very good poker player.

"Whenever I played house the mother doll had a lot to do. But I never knew what to do with the father doll, so I had him say, 'I'm going off to work now,' & threw him under the bed.

"When I was 9 years old my father didn't get up one morning & go to work. He went to the hospital & died the next day. A lot of people came, bringing all kinds of good food & cakes. We had never had so much company at one time before.

"I went to my room & felt under the bed for the father doll. When I found it I dusted him off & put him on my bed. I never knew that his leaving would hurt so much. It still does."

Today we are taking the father doll out from under the bed, & honoring the dandelions & refrigerator lights of society.

PROP. And in doing that, we want to talk about a step-dad who was given the tremendous responsibility of raising God's Son. His name was Joseph, the husband of Mary, the mother of Jesus.

So go with me back in time as we consider his commitment, his concern, & his faithfulness.

I. JOSEPH WAS COMMITTED

The first part of Joseph's story is one of commitment & happy expectations. Matthew 1:18 begins with these words, "This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph . . ."

A. Now we need to understand that a Jewish marriage consisted of 3 stages. The first stage is the engagement. Usually that was arranged by their parents. Parents would arrange the engagement without the young people even being involved.

ILL. One example of that in the O.T. was when Abraham sent his servant back to his home country to find a wife for his son, Isaac. The servant found Rebekah & brought her back. Isaac had never seen her before. Then she became his wife.

B. The second stage of a Jewish marriage was the betrothal. During this time the young couple agreed to the marriage, the groom signed a document declaring his responsibilities to her, & they were considered "husband & wife." But they didn't live together yet.

Betrothal usually lasted about one year. It was a time for the groom to prepare the place where they would live. It was a time of building a relationship, of coming to know one another, of planning & dreaming & happy expectations.

However, all of this suddenly ended in shock & disappointment for Joseph for vs. 18 goes on to say, "But before they came together, she was found to be with child..."

The Bible doesn't tell us when Joseph was told, or who told him. Maybe Mary told him. Maybe she said something like, "Joseph, I have the most wonderful news. I'm going to have a baby, & not just any baby. This is the Messiah, the one our people have been waiting for & praying about for so many years. An angel told me."

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