A Christmas where faith overcomes fear
Christmas Dreams - “I am dreaming of this kind of Christmas!”
A Christmas where faith overcomes fear!
When I was a kid I had dreams of what I wanted to do with my life. I thought about the usual. Fireman, Soldier, Astronaut, Race Car Driver, Tow Truck Driver. My dad had allot to do with that dream! Help me here this morning. As I became older my dreams changed. Indians 1st Baseman. For the longest time I was convinced I would become a heavy equipment operator. I would drive a bulldozer or operate a crane. Never one time did I dream about becoming a preacher! I still have dreams today. Some are personal. Some are corporate. One dream is become healthy. Mainly because I want to dunk a basketball. I mean a rim rockin, backboard shakin – “slam with the right hand” power dunk. In your face Lebron! That would be sooo cool! I also share a dream with my friend Chris Brooks he wants Detroit – I want Cleveland to one day win a Super Bowl! It may be Super Bowl 2030, but hey that’s ok! I have this dream that I will one day have a little rhythm. I’m so “white.” I think this dream became reality. Look at this – (www.elfyourself.com.) Didn’t know John, David & I had so many moves – did ya? I wanted so bad to get a picture of Pastor Reggie. Tricia and I have this dream that one day we will be debt free. And do you know why? Because giving blows away receiving any day of the week. God promises blessing when we give, but most of us can’t give because we have so much debt. Our church is connected with Tree of Life Christian Schools. I heard Todd Marrah, Tree’s Assistant Superintendent, present the school’s most aggressive capital campaign. They are trying to raise 23 million dollars to purchase the AOL building in Upper Arlington and make it their school. So far they have 16 of the 23 million committed. Whether its Tree of Life, the Mushayamunda Village or this church – Tricia and I want to be to be generous but we can’t be generous until we make the decision to live on less. I have this dream that this church will grow exceedingly and abundantly because we have our priorities in place – God comes first!
Now those are my dreams. I wonder if Joseph had any dreams. Turn in your Bible to Matthew 1:18! Do you need a Bible? We love to give away Bibles. As a church we teach and believe that this is the Word of God and faith is taking God at his word. Matthew 1:18-25 is certainly about Jesus the Son of God and about Mary’s virgin birth. But we see Jesus and Mary through the life experiences of Joseph. Let’s start with verse 18. Isn’t that nice? Mary and Joseph are getting married. I wonder. How many women in here dreamed of getting married when you were young? Now maybe that’s Mary’s dream? It might also be Joseph’s dream. That isn’t necessarily true today. Not all men and women want to be married today, but in Joseph’s day it was fair to say betrothal – being pledged to a Jewish girl was simply part of growing up and becoming an adult.
I think verse 18 is one of Joseph’s dreams. He’s getting married. Proverbs 18:22 says, "He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord.” A husband and wife were at a party chatting with some friends when the subject of marriage counseling came up. "Oh, we'll never need that. My husband and I have a great relationship," the wife explained. "He was a communications major in college and I majored in theater arts." "He communicates real well and I just act like I'm listening." How would Joseph receive favor from God by being married? He is now not alone. He has someone who will be his companion. They can talk together and walk together not to mention - sleep together. I’m not talking sex here. Solomon said two can keep each other warm. Two can defend each other. Two can help each other get up from a fall. Now I am talking sex – Joseph can now start his family. Matthew tells us that Joseph and Mary have at least six other children. One of them could be very familiar to you. Flip over to Matthew 13:55. (Read 55-56)
Marriage does have its benefits and blessings. When two people love God and love each other marriage can be quite dreamy. Joseph is living his dream. I imagine he would want verse 18 to stop right here. This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph…but it doesn’t stop there. Let’s finish verse 18. What? Joseph’s dream just became his nightmare. This wasn’t supposed to happen. This wasn’t in the Jewish Marriage brochure. The steps to a Jewish marriage are as follows[i]: Step #1: Since there was no www.eharmony.com two families agree to this union. The parents arranged this. Step #2: A public announcement was made. Maybe it was Jacob, Joseph’s father who shared the big news. “Excuse me everyone. I just want you to know my son Joseph will soon wed a sweet little named Mary. Isn’t that great!” At this point the couple is now pledged. But Mary stayed with her parents. Step #3: The big day. This is day when the couple would marry and Mary would begin living with Joseph. There is no Step #2b which says Mary gets pregnant before she lives with Joseph. The pregnancy messes everything up!
Did you ever have a dream and it became a nightmare? Maybe for you it was marriage. Someone once said, "Marriage is like eating with chopsticks. It looks easy till you try it."[ii] “The most difficult years of marriage are those following the wedding." [iii] You expected your marriage to go this way, but it went that way! Tiger may be the #1 golfer in the world, but right now he just wants to hide under a rock. Maybe you had a business that was great, but now you’re not making any money. Maybe your health has always been good, but not this past year. You thought you bought the house of your dreams and now the basement walls are crumbling and the roof needs replaced. You get diagnosed with something you can’t even pronounce let alone understand.
Joseph is confused. “I am supposed to marry a girl who’s already pregnant. I did not think Mary was that type of girl.” Joseph believes his dream has crumbled and he has only two options to end his nightmare. Look at verse 19. Matthew gives Joseph a compliment. He calls him a righteous man. A righteous man is someone who meets the requirements of the law. Jesus is the ultimate righteous man. He never sinned. A good Jew is righteous because they offer animal sacrifices for the forgiveness of their sins. Joseph does not want to do what is contrary to the law found in Deuteronomy 22. He could take Mary to trial and publicly ridicule her which then could end in potential stoning. OR he could just divorce her quietly and be done with it.
But God has a better option! Find verse 20. (Read 20-22)
Here is Joseph’s first dream. Joseph has a dream of an angel of the Lord. That would be so cool. Most of my dreams are weird. Aliens, falling – being late to preach! We don’t know what this angel looked like but we do in Matthew 28:2. (Read) Angels often looked like men! And this angel person has a message from God. (Read 20 again) Can I give a cliff notes version of what the angel just said? “Jesus is special. So is Mary. I know what I’m doing so do not be afraid!” Our dreams can become nightmares because of our own choices, (we step out of God’s will - Lie my way out of this one. I’ll have an affair.) or by the choices of those we love (they step out of God’s will) or by God himself. It is God’s will. Joseph can’t believe it but here’s his third option. This is his best option. “Don’t be afraid. This is God’s will for Mary, for you and for the world.”
We all have dreams. Joseph had dreams. But our dreams aren’t as good as God’s dream. And here’s God’s dream for Joseph and for each of us. That our faith would overcome our fear! Joseph is about ready to make a terrible decision and its all fear driven! “Mary blew it, I didn’t. She’s guilty, I’m innocent. I am getting away from her.” He was afraid of what people would say. He was afraid of what people might do. What has you gripped in fear today? You still can’t find a job. Fear is setting in. What is wrong with me? Where is God? Your marriage has become distant and routine. Fear is setting in. Maybe divorce is my best option? Don’t you wish this kind of message would appear in the sky every now and then? “Desperate? Confused? Visit www.God.com for all your spiritual needs!” I wish God would speak to us just when we’re about to make a bad decision! He has. Find Matthew 1:22-23. That prophet was Isaiah. He’s not the only prophet who spoke up. Other prophets have spoken. Angels have declared. Men have preached. Missionaries have taught. Small group leaders have facilitated. And what have all of them said. We walk by faith and not by sight. We fear God by doing what’s right in the eyes of the Lord.
But dreams are funny. Have you ever played the Board game Taboo? You are a part of a team and you are trying to get your team to say a certain word. Certain clues however are taboo. If you want your team to say “apple” you can’t say RED, FRUIT, CIDER, or CORE. Those clues are taboo— but you could say:
•“NEW YORK IS THE ‘BIG’ ONE” or “EAT ONE OF THESE A DAY TO KEEP THE DOCTOR AWAY”[iv] Let’s pretend the answer is Greg Bondurant. The taboo clues are Akron, Preacher, Tricia, Daughter & Son. But I could use words like Introverted
Low self esteem, flunked 2nd grade, mugged at 12, had few friends, low SAT scores and deathly afraid of public speaking. I never dreamed of becoming a preacher. But I can’t imagine doing anything else. This was not my dream, but I accepted it.
Joseph would not have scripted his life this way! But God give him an amazing adventure! He was given the privilege of being Jesus’ earthly father. Now that would not have happened without this happening first. Look at verse 24.
How did he do that? He chose faith over fear! Will you?
[i] LAB, Notes on Matthew 1:18, 1945