Sunday, December 25, 2016 - When Your Dreams Become A Nightmare!
Pastor Roger C. Marcos
Dec. 25, 2016
Jesus has dreams for us, his people, also. His dream is that we might have life and have it abundantly. Jesus calls us to live out the reality of that dream by denying ourselves, taking up our cross, and following him.
18This 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. 19Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.
20But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream 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. 21She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins."
22All this took place to fulfill 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" which means, "God with us."
24When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. 25But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus. (Matthew 1:18-25)
I. A SHATTERING DISCOVERY. 18 18This 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
Smashing: the act of breaking something into small pieces.
3 Steps of Marriage to the Jewish
1. There was the engagement.
2. There was the Betrothal. -- Mary and Joseph were betrothed to one another. The betrothal was what they call the ratification of the engagement into which the couple had previously entered. . But once the betrothal was entered into it was absolutely binding. It lasted for one year. During that year the couples were known husband and wife. It could not be terminated in any other way than by divorce. So if a woman whose fiance had died during the betrothal called ”A virgin who is a widow”. It was at this stage that Joseph and Mary were. They were betrothed, and if Joseph wished to end the betrothal, he could do so in no other way than by divorce; and in that year of betrothal Mary was legally known as his wife. It was as binding as a marriage. Surely they were excited about their future together as husband and wife.
3. The third stage was the Marriage Proper, which took place at the end of the year of Betrothal.
- It Was A Time Of Excitement -
- It Was A Time Of Expectation - The Bible tells us that these took place "before they came together". Surely they were both counting down the days until they could be together and live together as husband and wife.
- It Was A Time Of Embarrassment - During this betrothal period both the bride and the groom were to keep themselves physically pure. Unlike our day, this was a time when both men and women were expected to go into the marriage as pure virgins. But, it was during this time that Joseph discovered that his bride was pregnant. This would have been a source of great embarrassment both to Mary and Joseph, as well as to their respective families. It seemed that all the dreams Joseph had for the future had been shattered by this devastating news.
When Mary became pregnant, she was engaged (but still unmarried) to Joseph. Matthew 1:19-24 says that Joseph wanted to back out of the marriage after he found out about the pregnancy. But then an angel appeared to him in a dream, told him about Jesus, and convinced him to accept Mary as his wife. Matthew 1:25 says that he "had no union with her until she gave birth to a son", thus confirming that it was a virgin birth. Jewish girls of that period usually became engaged when they were twelve or thirteen years old. Actually, for legal purposes this engagement was regarded as the first stage of a marriage, although the girl would normally remain with her parents for about a year before going to live with her husband and consummating the marriage. If she became pregnant before then, she would face public disgrace, and if the law was strictly enforced, could even be executed as an adulteress.
II. A SOBERING DELIBERATION 19- 19Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly..
A. Joseph's Character Is Revealed - In the midst of this most difficult situations Joseph's true self is revealed. We are told that he was a "just" man. This simply means that he was blameless under the Law and that he walked by faith in the Lord. He was a man of God before these events befell him and what he was in his heart came to surface in his trials.
Note: The times when life goes wrong from our perspective is the time when we can see our true selves. For what we are in the worst of times is what we really are in our hearts! Again, I would call your attention to Job 1:20-22. 0 Job stood up and tore his robe in grief. Then he shaved his head and fell to the ground to worship. 21 He said,
“I came naked from my mother’s womb, and I will be naked when I leave. The Lord gave me what I had, and the Lord has taken it away.
Praise the name of the Lord!” 22 In all of this, Job did not sin by blaming God.
What Job was in his trouble revealed what had always been in his heart! This is what God knew about him before the calamities came, Job 1:8. Anyone can rejoice when life is good, but it takes a consecrated life to shout when life falls to pieces. How you respond toward God in a time of crisis reveals the depths of your commitment to God and to His will.)
B. Joseph's Choices Are Revealed - When it all boils down to the bottom line, Joseph has but three choices.
1. He can publically humiliate Mary because of what he perceives to be her immorality. This choice could possibly lead to her death under the Law, Deut. 22:13-21.
2. He can divorce her quietly and just walk away from her, leaving her to raise the child in shame and poverty.
3. He can marry her and raise the child as if it were his own. This last option would rarely have been chosen by a Jewish man.
Note: To Joseph, none of the choices seemed appealing, but he had to choose one of them. Often life presents us with choices that are less than appealing to our human nature. Our duty in those times is to listen to the voice of God and Seek to do that one thing that He wants us to do in our situation.
C. Joseph's Compassion Is Revealed - Joseph's decision is to react toward Mary in compassion. This was not an easy decision to reach, but it was a decision that was in the best interests of Mary. Instead of making a public example out of her, and perhaps even bringing about her death, Joseph decides to deal with her in a quiet manner. Even though he is sure that she has been unfaithful to him, he still loves her and wants to do the right thing by her.
Note: This says a lot about Joseph! As I have already said, how we respond in a time of crisis reveals a great deal about the depth of our walk with God. How we respond to those who have hurt us is also an indicator of the depth of our spiritual walk. If we can learn anything from the example of Joseph it is that we should never let the hurt others inflict upon us to cause us to retaliate in an effort to hurt them in return. We need to deal with those around us who hurt us in compassion. In fact, the Lord Jesus told us to go farther than that! He said that we were to forgive those who offended us without reservation - Matt. 18:21-35; Luke 17:1-5. This is also the command from the Spirit of God through the Apostle Paul, Eph. 4:32.)
III. A SATISFYING DECLARATION. 20-21 20But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream 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. 21She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins."
A. It Was A Declaration Of Divine Providence - As these thoughts troubled the mind of Joseph, the Lords sent an angel to speak to him in a dream. The angel brought Joseph a word of Explanation, of Exaltation, and of Exhilaration. Joseph was made to understand the origin of the child his bride carried. He was made to understand that this dream of his that had turned into a nightmare in his heart and mind was really a miraculous work of God.
The best thing we can ever learn to do is to simply trust Him to bring the best into our lives day by day. Even when our dreams are shattered and our hopes are dashed to pieces on the jagged rocks of reality, we need to trust the truth that our Father is still in control and He will take care of His children! Despite what you and I may think at times, God does know what is best for us!
B. It Was A Declaration Of Divine Provisions - Joseph is given details of a miracle that much of the world still hasn't grasped: God entered this world through the womb of a Jewish virgin! Joseph is told that Mary will have a son and that this son is to be named Jesus. He is also told that this son will be the Savior of the Jews. That is quite a revelation! In a nutshell, Joseph is made aware that this child is no ordinary baby.
He is in fact the Son of God. His name will reflect that because the name Jesus means "Jehovah is Salvation". His life will reflect this because He will be responsible for the salvation of the lost. This He will accomplish through His death on the cross, His resurrection from the dead and His ascension back into Heaven. Surely Joseph doesn't know all the details about this miracle child his bride carries in her womb, but he knows enough to be sure that child is a divine provision for the sins of the world.
Note: May we never forget that it is from the wreckage of our greatest hurts that God often builds for us the greatest of blessings! Just because the way is dark, do not stop holding to His hand. He may lead you through some desolate places, but He will never forsake you in any of them, Psa. 23:4. Wherever His path leads you, you can count on His provisions to be sufficient for the need of the hour, 2 Cor. 12:9; Heb. 13:5; Phil. 4:19.)
C. It Was A Declaration Of Divine Presentations - 22All this took place to fulfill 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" which means, "God with us."
Joseph is shown that the child Mary carries in her womb is none other than the Deliverer Whom the world has waited on since man sinned in the garden of Eden, Gen. 3:15. This baby is to be the fulfillment of all the prophecies of the Old Testament. He is to be the end of the Law. He will flesh out all the types for the Old Testament. He is to be the fulfillment of prophecy, but He is far more than that: He is to be God in human flesh. Joseph is allowed to see that his hurt, his anger and his confusion were necessary to bring about the greatest miracle the world has ever known: God becoming flesh and entering the world to die as a man, John 1:1; 14; Phil. 2:5-8!
(Note: When your dreams are shattered, your plans are derailed and your hopes are all destroyed, remember that while it may look bleak from our perspective, God is working out His perfect will in your life and mine. Therefore, let us walk confidently with our hand held safely in His grasp, even when we cannot see the way or understand the why. He will bring us to the place where it all makes sense someday. From where I stand right now, I cannot see what God has placed in my future. I am facing some puzzling events in my life at the present, but I know that down the road, in a place I have not arrived at yet, my questions are answered and my needs are met. That is how God operates! Our duty to Him is to walk with Him humbly by faith until He brings us to the place where He has already placed our provisions. You see, while we are toiling here today, He has already gone into tomorrow and arranged our path, supplied our need and lifted our burden. Therefore, just walk, one step at time. You will arrive at the place where the questions are answered and the needs are met, in His time!)
IV A SHOCKING DECISION (24-25)
A. Joseph's Quick Reaction - As soon as Joseph understands what is happening in his life, he reacts in faith. He goes and takes Mary into his home and his heart as his wife. He response of pure faith. He still doesn't know how things will work out, but he knows that God is working and that is enough for Joseph. Joseph's decision must have shocked the whole community. Everyone probably assumed that Joseph and Mary had not been able to wait for the wedding. He was willing to bear the shame of Mary's pregnancy because he knew it was the work of God.
Note: True faith does not shrink from the call of God just because others do not understand. True faith hears the voice of the Lord and simply does as it is told.
B. Joseph's Quiet Resolve - Joseph waited patiently until Mary gave birth to her son. No doubt Joseph cared for the expectant mother as best he could. When the time came and the baby was born, Joseph did the job of the father, he named the boy Jesus. Naming the child was the responsibility of the Father, Luke 1:63. Joseph is saying that he is willing to embrace the plan of God for his life, even though he doesn't fully understand it. He is willing to raise this child as his own, even though he knows the baby is not his son. Joseph is saying this: "I had my life all planned out! Mary and I were to be married and we were going to life together for many years. We were going to have lots of children and be very happy. Then, I found out she was pregnant. I knew the baby wasn't mine, but I did not know who's it was. I was hurt! All my plans and dreams were shattered. But, then the Lord showed me that He had a better plan for my life! He called me to be the surrogate human father to the Messiah! What I thought was a great tragedy was in fact the greatest blessing of my life!"
Conclusion: Have you ever had a dream turn into a nightmare before your very eyes? We all have at one time or another. I just want to ask you this question: When your dreams turn into nightmares what are you doing about it?
Some people try to fix it themselves. Friend, it won't work! You will only make it worse. Some people just quit. That won't work either, because whether you participate or not, life goes on. Still others become angry and God and their fellow man and try to make others pay for their own hurts. That attitude is no good at all! The only person you really hurt is yourself. Of course, there are a precious few who are able to take the pieces of their broken dreams, lay them at the feet of the Lord and say, "Lord, I don't understand why this has happened to me. I never wanted this, but it has happened nonetheless. I am here before you now to ask for you help. Even though I cannot see it, I know that you have something better for me than I had planned for myself. Please give me grace to believe it and faith to see it." Those are the people who walk in victory, even in the midst of their worst nightmare.
What kind of person are you? What are you doing with your broken dreams? I invite you to bring your life to Jesus, mess and all. Let Him have is and let Him do with it that which He wants to do. He does have something better planned for you, the way to receive it is to react to Him in faith.
"Whatever you've done, whatever you have become, it doesn't matter. Please come." Matthew 11:28
If your dreams are lying in shattered pieces around you right now, and have turned into nightmares, please bring them to Jesus and let Him turn them into a source of glory and rejoicing. Regardless of what has become of your life, you can bring it to Jesus right now.