God's Dreams are Ever Consistent with His Word (Guest Blogger: Jason Dollar)

At my church I’m preaching a series of sermons through the Gospel of Matthew. I’d like to share a few thoughts from the latest message in that series from Matthew 1:18-25.

Matthew 1:18-25 Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins." All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: "Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel" (which means, God with us). When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.

In this passage, God reveals his dreams for humanity (and the entirety of creation) through a dream (the other kind of dream that comes when we fall asleep) to Joseph. God’s dream is to redeem his people and his world for his ultimate glory. Here are some important life lessons we learn from this passage.

God’s dreams overshadow the problems we face.

Joseph was distraught. Mary, his wife-to-be was found to be pregnant. What a downer! As he ponders the best course of action, which he concludes is a quiet divorce, God shows up. The dream that God reveals through Joseph’s dream is amazing. God is going to save people from their sins, through a holy child conceived in Mary’s womb. Suddenly, Joseph’s problems are not as big as they previously were. Suddenly, in the light of God’s global plan, Joseph’s disappointment and anger fades into the background.

Do you really want to deal with the problems in your life? The first step is to quit living the course of your own self-developed dream, and begin seeing the universe, history, and our individual lives, as all part of God’s giant dream. When we think this way constantly, our problems quickly become non-issues in our own thinking. We begin to see our trials as important parts of God’s plan, and we actually learn to appreciate them as such (James 1:2).

God’s dreams often lead us to do what seems backwards to the world.

The angel commanded Joseph not to fear taking Mary as his wife. To the world, nothing could be more backwards! Marry and take care of a woman who cheated on you? And her child as well? No way, Joseph. Leave her, and quick! The world, operating on the premises of greed and self-centered thinking, would not be able to except Joseph’s decision to stick with Mary.

But God calls his followers to what seems like a backwards way of thinking. He commands Noah to build a boat on dry land, miles away from the sea. He commands Abraham to sacrifice the promised son, the one who was suppose to live and have many children. He commands Joshua to march around the walls of Jericho, rather than attacking it directly. He led Jesus to the cross rather than immediately to the throne. These are things which seem backwards to us, but they make perfect sense to God.

It might be that he is calling you and I to do some “backwards” things even now. To step out on faith and trust him even when the world rolls its eyes at our “foolish” behavior.

God’s dreams are ever consistent with his Word.

Matthew is quick to point out the connection between the birth of Christ, and the prophecy of that birth from Isaiah 7:14. In so doing, Matthew is implying the reality that God is consistent with his own Word. The Lord has one unchanging dream for humanity – to save guilty sinners for his glory. He is not dreaming up new plans. He will not throw us a curve ball on this. He was busy with this plan in Genesis 1, Isaiah 7, Matthew 1, and he is busy working out this dream of his in 2009.

If you want to know God’s dreams and plans, and his will for your life, then read his Word. It is an unchanging collection of truth, providing the basic overview of human history from the beginning to the culmination of his kingdom in the future. The flower fades, but his word endures forever. Or as Jesus says it:

Matthew 5:17-18 Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.

God’s dreams should never remain in the theoretical.

Matthew tells us that once Joseph was aware of God’s intent to save people from their sins, he awoke from his sleep and immediately obeyed. He took Mary as his wife, and when the baby was born, he named him Jesus. Joseph functioned in the concrete world of reality, on the basis of the pure theology he had been taught through his dream.

May we never let our understanding of God’s dream remain in the theoretical realm. Let us put hands and feet to his Word and commands. May we not only dream the dreams of God, but may we be willing participates in the actual unfolding of that plan in time and space.


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