Feb. 12, 2006
INTRODUCTION – As I have grappled over the last two months for proper perspective about our ministry and focus as a church for this new year, I have found myself several times pulling out the prophetic word that the Holy Spirit gave Dutch Sheets on January 5th. There are 16 points in this 3 page word. Most of you have read it. I don’t want to take the time to read it now. But one thing is clear from this word: The year 2006 will be a pivotal year for the mobilizing of the army of God to fulfill His purposes on the earth.
God’s heart and intent is that every member of every congregation be an effective, productive and fruitful soldier in this army. To help mobilize or equip us for that – He has given us His precious word that is full of both precept and example.
This morning I want us to meditate on one of those examples as found in Matt. 1:18-25. This is the story of how God prepared Joseph to be the earthly father or caretaker of His precious Son – the Lord Jesus Christ. Just as God the Father looked down on this earth to find a man that He could entrust the stewarding and shepherding of His Son to; I believe He is looking down now to find men and women and young people that He can entrust the proclamation of His Son to. As I have meditated on this passage, I’ve found four principles that are crucial for us to be the kind of people that God can entrust such a treasure to.
I. We must recognize that our first impressions and first responses to life’s circumstances and relationships are often wrong and need adjusted. Vs. 18,19
To appreciate the circumstances that Joseph was dealing with, you need to understand the concept of being “bethrothed.”
A. Explanation of “betrothed”: “Marriages in Hebrew culture were arranged for individuals by their parents, and contracts were negotiated. After this was accomplished, the individuals were considered married and were called husband and wife. They did not, however, begin to live together. Instead, the woman continued to live with her parents and the man with his for one year. The waiting period was to demonstrate the couples’ faithfulness to the pledge of purity given concerning the bride. If she was found to be with child in this period, she obviously was not pure, but had been involved in an unfaithful sexual relationship. Therefore the marriage could be annulled.” Not only could it be annulled, but the husband was expected to report this to the judges or elders at the city gate, who could decide she and the one who impregnated her should be stoned. (Deut. 22:23,24)
B. Explanation of “found to be with child by the H.S.”: WE know this from the scriptures. Mary knew this from a visit by and discussion with the angel – Gabriel. Joseph evidently found out Mary was pregnant from Mary. And either she didn’t tell him the source of this child, or she did tell Him what God told her, and he didn’t believe her. His conclusion was she had sex with someone, she had been unfaithful to him, their marriage was over, their dreams together dashed, and he had to act; and the sooner the better.
Based on what he knew and understood from his own powers of observation, he determined a quiet divorce was the right thing to do.
The fact is no matter how well meaning we are, and how righteous we attempt to be, there
will be times where we will wrongly judge a situation Or a circumstance – unless God mercifully opens our eyes to see what only He can see.
Prov. 13:10 “Through presumption comes nothing but strife, but with those who receive counsel is wisdom” Especially counsel from above.
One of the prayers of David that I often pray for myself is from Psalm 19 “Who can discern his errors? Acquit me of hidden faults. Also keep back Thy servant from presumptuous sins; Let them not rule over me.”
II. We must believe that God will lead and guide the righteous man. Vs. 19, 20 A. God is faithful to get us where we need to get
B. Character is more valuable than a formula. God responds to righteousness, not religiosity. Definition of Righteous: To be righteous is to be walking in right relationship with God and with all the people He has put you in relationship with.
Isa. 32:17 effect of righteousness
1. Part of being righteous is crying out for that righteousness. Prov. 2:1-9
2. Part of being righteous is considering, pondering, wrestling
It was as Joseph was considering His options, and wrestling with the circumstances that were before Him and the seeming implications of these circumstances that God spoke to and enlightened Him.
III. We must learn to anticipate and discern the voice of God through supernatural means vs. 20-23 First an angel of the Lord appeared to him; Second He appeared to him in a dream A. Examples where God led or directed through angels in scr. When Hagar fled from Sarah, and was drowning in hopelessness, it was an angel who directed her to go back to Sarah, and who assured her it would all work out.
B. Examples where God led or directed through dreams, visions or trances Green sheets; Example/illustration – Sometimes what we can see and know (apart from Divine intervention) will be so strong and persuasive, that there is no way we will think to do what God wants us to do unless He supernaturally reveals His will and way to us.
Me and coach Nerelli – 2 dreams
C. The precept – Acts 2:16f quoting Joel 2 “your young me will see visions; and your old men will dream dreams.” In the last days – the ability to discern God’s voice through prophetic revelation, whether through dreams, visions, trances, prophetic words or whatever will increase.
IV. We must obey the voice and leading of the Holy Spirit no matter what the cost. 24,25 A. Supernatural Revelation of God and His will hinges on our willingness to obey what He reveals Joseph “did as the angel of the Lord commanded him.” John 14:21,23 Example/illustration
1. We need to be a whole lot slower in responding to or sizing up the circumstances of life.
2. We need to put ourselves in an environment where we are growing in righteousness. Paul told Timothy in both of his letters to “pursue righteousness.” It is the effective prayer of a “righteous” man that accomplishes much. Error of thinking Elijah (vs. 17) is like us.
3. We need to start paying attention to our dreams and the dreams of others.
4. We need to cultivate more of an obedient heart.