The Names of Christmas: Joseph and Mary

18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. 19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. 20 But while he thought about these things, behold, 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. 21 And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.”

Luke 2: 18-21

Joseph, a just man

In verse 19, we find out why God chose Joseph to be Jesus’ earthly father. He was a just man. He was just the man God had in mind to raise his Son. So God tells Joseph, “Do not be afraid to take Mary to be your wife.” What does Joseph fear? For his reputation? For his business? For his personal relationships?

I wonder: How did Joseph find out? Was it a friend? Was it an enemy who came to him with the the news? Whether friend of foe,

Someone delivers the bad news.

Mary is with child.

Joseph can’t believe it. How could this happen? Everyone knew Mary’s reputation. She’s a woman of integrity and great character. But she is with child.

God delivers the good news.

And Joseph listens. The child is not his, but His. The baby is conceived of the Holy Spirit. God tells Joseph not to be afraid to take Mary to be his wife. They have a quick wedding and head to Bethlehem for the honeymoon.

And Mary delivers the Good News, Jesus!

The Names of Christmas.

The name Joseph descends from the Hebrew root yacaph, and it means to add, to increase. To add more and more. God is always in the business of adding more and more to His people. More righteousness, more grace, more love, and more blessing.

The name Mary also descends from the Hebrew root marah, and it means bitterness, rebellion, a rebellious house. I am not proposing a new doctrine, but perhaps Mary is a symbol of the rebellious nature of the people of Israel. And amid their rebellion and bitterness, God appears one silent night  to add more and more to the lives of His people by sending His only begotten Son. More grace, more love, more blessing. If you have bitterness in your heart, you need more and more Jesus.

God yacaph life to our marah by sending the King of Kings.

You see, God is redeeming us from our rebellion and bitterness.

Reflect: How is God adding more and more to your life this Christmas season? How does your life fit into the names of Christmas story this year? Please leave a comment down below. I’d love to chat with you!

Merry Christmas!

by Mary Kane

all rights reserved. Copyright 2019

Follow Along Advent Readings, Day 5

Welcome back to Day 5 of Only ByPrayer’s thoughts on the Painted Advent devotional. Thanks for joining us.

Sometimes I am tempted to gloss over Joseph’s part in the Christmas story and focus on others. But that means I’m missing such an important part of Jesus’ earthly life: His father.

Joseph was a man of amazing integrity. If you go back and read Matthew 1, we see that Joseph had been planning to quietly divorce Mary upon receiving the devastating news that she was pregnant. That all changes when an angel visits him in a dream and validates Mary’s story.

Joseph Is the Man

Joseph never looks back. God knew that Mary would need a husband of strong character to stand by her. Joseph is the man. He marries Mary and raises Jesus as His own. Surely they were the subject of gossip. But Joseph stands as an immoveable barrier of protection between his family and society.

Three more times in this chapter we read (who knows how many times in their lives?) God uses Joseph as the protector of his family by warning him in dreams of danger to Jesus’ life on the part of Herod or his son Archelaus. Each time Joseph heeds the warning and whisks his family away to safety.

Joseph’s sense of alertness is so heightened that in verse 22 it seems he senses danger before he was even warned.

He is the epitome of what a man, husband, and father should be. Men need to be protectors of their wives and children. We live in a society where a man’s role is often belittled or worse yet deemed unnecessary. That is a lie that is doing unchecked damage to our families. Women need to let men be men and fulfill the role GOD gave them to fulfill without trying to manage them and make them more “like us.”

There have been times in my life where my husband took an action to protect our family that I didn’t like because it would “make waves” with others. I was wrong. When a man is being led by God and acts to protect he family, he is doing what God created him to do.

Men of Character Are a Blessing

Despite what society preaches, we need to celebrate the strong men in our lives and support them.  Like Joseph, they are a blessing from God.

What do you think? Leave your thoughts below.



Christmas To Do-ers List, Day 6: Protect Him

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Christmas To Do-ers List

Day 6:Protect Him

 Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, “Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word; for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him.” Matthew 2:13
Often times, Joseph’s role in the Nativity is overlooked. But God chose Him just as carefully as He did Mary. Had Joseph been any less the humble, prayerful, courageous man he was, Mary and Jesus would have been in serious trouble.

 If Ever There Was a Righteous Man …

 First of all, we see in Matthew 1:19-25 that  Joseph is a righteous man. When he finds out Mary is pregnant, he could have made a spectacle out of her to protect his own reputation. He does not want to disgrace her, however, so he decides to divorce her quietly.  Before Joseph can do this, God sends an angel who explains through a dream that  Joseph should not be afraid to take Mary as his wife. Even though he surely knew his reputation would be in tatters from the village gossip, Joseph does exactly what the angel says. We see the tangible hedge of protection he casts around Mary and her unborn child.
When King Herod orders a census, Joseph packs up a very pregnant Mary, and they set off for his hometown of Bethlehem. Joseph’s next test comes upon arrival in the city, which is packed to capacity and beyond. Mary is already in the active stages of labor, but every inn Joseph frantically inquires at has no room. In the knick of time, one innkeeper offers an animal stable, and Joseph becomes midwife by ushering Jesus into the world.

Joseph is the type of man you want around in an emergency.

Finally, in Matthew 2:13 Joseph again protects his little family as God sends another angel in a dream Day 6 Protect jpgto warn him of danger, as Herod is diabolically bent on snuffing out the lives of every baby boy in Bethlehem. He bolts up in the middle of the night, gathers his family, and leaves for Egypt.
Through Joseph’s example, we can see the importance of protecting our relationship with the Lord. Had Joseph not been a righteous man who made his relationship with God the biggest priority in his life, this story could have turned out much differently. But as it was, Joseph prayed and believed and had so nurtured his relationship with God, that when God called upon him, he was ready. He humbled himself and he displayed  true grit and courage that helped save the lives of Mary and Jesus. His is a true story of protection, love, and obedience, one that we should emulate.

How Can We Protect our Relationship with God?

In order to display the grit and courage of Joseph, we need to protect and guard our connection to Jesus.

  1. Make Jesus your top priority. The only way you’ll get to know Him is in the same way we get to know any other person in our lives: by spending time with Him. Show up each day to read the Bible, pray, and listen for the Holy Spirit’s direction.
  2. Be obedient to the direction the Holy Spirit gives you. He is our helper, teacher, and guide. By tuning in to His voice, we will be living under the protection and direction of the Holy Spirit.
  3. Make sure you’re growing and changing. If you’re still at the same spiritual level you were ten years ago, something is not right. We need to be in the process of transformation.
  4. Try something new. Explore a spiritual discipline, such as silence and solitude. Attend a retreat. Try walking through a labyrinth prayer walk (the link contains a search that will locate the ones closest to you.) Just don’t stagnate.

Enjoy the music of the season and let us know your thoughts on how you will protect your relationship with Jesus.

The Gifts of the Nativity Podcast

Nativityornament, editedWhat can we learn from those God called to play a part in the birth of Jesus? Mary, the Magi, the shepherds, Joseph, and Jesus all have important gifts to give us as we seek to understand their roles in the story of the Nativity. Join Mary Kane and Jane VanOsdol of OnlyByPrayer.com as they explore The Gifts of the Nativity in today’s podcast. Prepare your hearts for Christmas as you delve more deeply into the birth of Jesus. Be sure to download your free viewer guide. This podcast is available as both an MP3 and in video format.

To listen to the MP3 audio version, click at the top of this post.  To watch in video format, click below.


The Blessing of Affliction by Mary Kane

During these troubled times, many people are facing trials and hardships. While this season of life may be difficult and painful, God promises to use it for your good. To do the study The Blessing of Affliction, just click on the link!

Apples and Grapes by Boaz Yiftach


Mary and Joseph in the Christmas Story


“Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child.” Luke 2:4,5 NKJV


I will never forget the birth of my third child. It was early December, and I was 9 months pregnant with my baby. My second child had been born with a congenital heart defect and died shortly after birth. Although the doctors had assured us that everything was fine with this baby, we were all anxiously anticipating the birth. The baby was big, and I was so uncomfortable. I wasn’t able to relax in any position, sitting, standing or lying down. A few days before my due date, my husband and I were driving home. The road was full of potholes and ruts. Every jolt felt as if it were going to send me into labor on that excruciating ride. I couldn’t wait to get out of the car.

As I was complaining to my husband about the bumpy roads (and probably grumpily about his driving!), a vision of Mary, Jesus’ mother popped into my head. In my mind I transported myself back to her journey on a donkey, of all things, into Bethlehem. I imagined what it would be like to be her. She knew the birth of her baby was imminent, and yet she found herself leaving behind her home, her family, her mother–who would have helped her in the birthing process–to begin a long, tiresome journey to another city.

I could well imagine what it must have felt like to perch atop a donkey as it plodded along, step by jolting step. The dust the donkey kicked up surely wafted around them, clinging to her garments and  scratching at her dry, dusty throat. How her back must have ached from sitting slumped on a donkey for hours, that pain being overshadowed as the force of intensifying contractions gripped her weary body.

I at least knew I would have a birthing room and expert help for my baby. Mary had no such assurances. All the women who would have helped her were back home. She had no idea of where they would be stopping and what accommodations she would have. “How did she do it?” I found myself wondering. By all accounts, she was probably only 14 years old, and this was her first baby. I can only imagine what Joseph felt as he looked back at his young wife suffering on the donkey.

We have the advantage of knowing how this story ends. There was no room in any inn, so Joseph gently settled Mary in the stable with a clean pile of straw for her bedding and the cows and bleating sheep for roommates. They had each other and God and His promises to sustain them though the most holy of nights. Despite the odds against them, God’s plan was not to be denied, and Jesus entered this world with a herald of angels melodiously announcing His birth.

Since that time, I’ve never again glossed over Luke 2:7 as I’ve read through the Christmas story. I allow myself to think about the journey and suffering and sacrifice that went on that night, as the Word became flesh. Two young peasants with the love and courage to say yes to God’s miraculous plan found themselves as the earthly parents of the Messiah! And the world has not been the same since.

Prayer:  Lord, we are humbled by the birth of Your Son. We thank You for sending Him to earth so that we can be saved. We look to the example that Mary and Joseph set, and we can only pray for the same willingness to say yes to Your plans when you call on us. Amen.

Merry Christmas!