Contending for the faith | Making Disciples | Equipping the Saints for Ministry

by Jeannette Haley

This is the time of the year when we’ll most likely hear the old song, “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas.” It seems that there is something wonderful about snow at Christmas time. Of course, if you live in a warmer, snowless climate, all you can do is try to imagine what it would be like. I remember the one Christmas I spent in Arizona, many years ago. Somehow, to me, lights on a cactus just did not quite measure up to beautiful lights on frosty evergreen boughs.

Most of my life, except for some “rough patches,” Christmas, with all commercialism aside, has been a special time of the year. If you are one of those Christians who sees Christmas as pagan and diabolical, then ignore it. After all, if those who hate everything and anything that even remotely suggests that there is a God in heaven, who sent His Son into the world (whether in December or some other unknown time) have their way in the near future, Christmas will become illegal. In all probability, so will your Bible (unless it is one of the politically correct newer so-called “versions.”)

Even though Christmas is loaded with commercialism, the true meaning of Christmas, like a garland woven through the branches of a tree, remains. Therefore, Satan will never give up trying to snuff out all remembrance of Christ’s incarnation and advent from the face of the earth. The battle between light and darkness, truth and falsehood, morality and immorality, true Christianity and pseudo Christianity has been raging for over 2,000 years. The outcome will be a perverted, pseudo faith that fits in nicely with the antichrist spirit that we see in operation today.

Now that those in high places, along with their choice for President, are dreaming of a one-world government, economy, and religion modeled after the original Babylon of Genesis 11, God’s people may begin to “dream” of the day Christ returns to set up His kingdom instead of “dreaming” of how to store up for themselves treasures on this earth. Currently, millions of poor souls in America have tasted the bitter and sad realization that earthly riches can evaporate overnight. The dream of many Americans of a safe and secure future has suddenly turned into a frightening nightmare. On the other hand, those who have invested in eternal riches can rest assured that their treasure is secure in heaven. This spiritual treasure is priceless, and one which is incalculable by earthly standards. (Matthew 6:20)

There is another kind of dream, however, and that is the dreams that originate with God. If you have ever experienced a dream given by God, you will not only know without a doubt that it is of God, but you will never forget it. Dreams from the Lord are for the purpose of instruction or direction, to reveal or expose something hidden, to serve as a warning, or to make known future events.

As we read the account of the birth of Jesus Christ in Matthew’s Gospel, one of the things that stands out are the many times the Lord used dreams to speak to Joseph. Matthew 1:19 and 20 give us insight into the excellent character of this remarkable man. Verse 19 says that he was a “just” man. “Just” means equitable in character or act; innocent; holy, and righteous. Such a righteous man would not react to the news of Mary’s pregnancy with rancor, threats or accusations, nor would he publicly humiliate her. In fact, Joseph thought about these events in order to make a wise and godly decision as to what to do. At this point, the Lord intervened. We read in verse 20, “But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.”

Imagine Joseph’s wonder and joy as the angel of the Lord explained: “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.” Who but God alone could save people from their sins? What a wondrous and amazing proclamation this was! The angel of the Lord continued:“Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name, Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.” Can you begin to fathom what a powerful, earth-shaking revelation this was? The Lord Himself was introducing Jesus as God Incarnate before He was even born into the world!

While still in Mary’s womb, Jesus was identified as a child (not a “fetus” or blob of tissue). God gave Him His name and identity. In addition, God proclaimed His plan and purpose for His life. The fact that God knows every unborn child, from conception to death, and has a plan for their life, holds true with other unborn children mentioned in the Scriptures such as John the Baptist. Psalm 139 makes it clear that God knows every child conceived in the womb. He is the one who fashions us, loves us, provides for us and longs for us to give our lives unreservedly to Him. No man, or woman, has the right to determine if a child has the right to live or die. That decision belongs to our Creator God alone.

Yet, in spite of inwardly knowing God’s heart in this matter, there are some who, while professing Christianity, agree with the murder of innocent and helpless babies, both born (survivors of abortion) and unborn. This subject is hard to write about for mere words are inadequate to express the horror of this atrocity. America, along with the rest of the world, will face the wrath of God because of the shedding of innocent blood, along with her many other transgressions and iniquities (moral deviance). May the Lord have mercy on His remnant, which faithfully stands for all that is righteousness. Thank God that Mary and Joseph did not opt to destroy the wonderful thing that God was bringing forth. God, have mercy upon this wicked nation, and send forth a mighty spirit of prayer and repentance! As God delivered His people from the wickedness of the Pharaohs who commanded the murder of the little Jewish boys, may He deliver His people from this wicked “death culture” in America.

Now, let’s see how Joseph responded to the instructions given him in the dream: “Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS” verses 24, 25. Praise God for Joseph! He did not argue with the Lord, nor did he whine about the great responsibility God put upon his shoulders. He did not hesitate, waiting for somebody else to come along and make his job easier. He did not look at the difficult circumstances and balk, nor did he cave in to some sort of “political correctness.” No! Rather, he rose up and didwhat the angel of the Lord had commanded. Joseph walked out his faith through obedience.

How many Christians today would instantly obey the Lord in such a situation? The truth is, if we neglect to walk in obedience daily to Jesus’ commandments, we will not be prepared to obey as Joseph did when the big tests of life come our way. Obedience must become a daily exercise in our lives so that whenever God speaks, instant obedience is natural for us.

When the wise men arrived in Jerusalem seeking for the King of the Jews, and learned that He would be born in Bethlehem, they continued to search for Him, following the star, until they came to the house where the young Jesus lived with Mary and Joseph. After falling down and worshipping Him, they gave him their treasures of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Here again we recognize the deity of Jesus, for only God is to be worshipped. Neither Mary nor Joseph prevented them from worshipping Jesus, and both of them, being devout Jews, knew well the first commandment. The wise men knew that He was no ordinary king, but that He was the Promised One—the King of the Jews, and the King of kings.

The gifts the wise men brought also revealed their knowledge of who He was. Gold represented His divine origin, again pointing to His deity. Frankincense, which is the most important of the aromatic gums, was regarded as a precious perfume and pointed to Christ being pierced in order for His fragrance to come forth. Concerning the Myrrh, Ruth Lascelle wrote: “Through the power of the Eternal Spirit, Christ gave Himself freely. He was made sin or “bitter”, but from His bruising came forth the sweetness of the Holy Ghost. He is our purification (Heb. 9:13, 14). His life He gave was sweet to God, sweet to the saints, and His life is a healing medicine for those who are sick in spirit, soul, or body.”

Not only were these men wise because they knew who Christ was and traveled from afar to worship Him, but they were also wise because they heeded the warning God gave them in a dream that they should not return to King Herod; thus, they obeyed and returned home another way. Thank God, these men obeyed His warning!

When they had departed, the Lord again appeared to Joseph in a dream and instructed him to take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt. Joseph did not waste any time in obeying the Lord, for we read that he arose, and “took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt” Matthew 2:14. One can only speculate what would have been the outcome if Joseph had ignored the Lord’s instructions, shrugging it off as “just a dream.” How many of us would have lingered on in order to figure out how to keep our worldly possessions, or take time to say “good bye” to friends and family? Maybe we would wait around to see what would happen. Perhaps we would complain that we did not want to move to such and such a place. How thankful we should be that Joseph was a godly, responsible and obedient man.

Joseph remained in Egypt in obedience to the Lord until, in another dream, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph, saying, “Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel: for they are dead which sought the young child’s life” Matthew 2:20. Thus, yet again, once inside the border of Israel, God guided Joseph in a dream to dwell in Galilee. (Verse 22)

What we learn through this sequence of dreams surrounding the birth and early life of Christ is the faithfulness of God to guide and protect His own. In the tumultuous times in which we live, fear can creep up upon the most stalwart in heart. Now is not the time to try and “pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps” as the mind-science people would have us believe, but to “cast all our cares upon the Lord.” Now is the time to seek the Lord through His eternal Word and prayer. Now is the time to fall on our faces in true repentance and mourning. Now is the time to examine ourselves to see if we really are in the faith. Now is the time because there may be no tomorrow, for who can deny that we live in uncertain and perilous times?

King David gives us insight into what we are to do in times such as these. In 1 Samuel 30:6 we read: “And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the LORD his God.”

To be encouraged in the Lord, we must first believe that He is. Hebrews 11:6: “But without faith it is impossible to please him; for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” It is impossible to encourage yourself in the Lord if you do not truly believe that He is, and that He is who He says He is. You must know Him by His character and attributes—that He is God Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, and that He is omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient and immutable. Who else can you run to who is all-powerful, everywhere present, all-knowing and unchangeable? “Thus saith the Lord; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord” Jeremiah 17:5.

Psalm 119:52 says, “I remembered thy judgments of old, O LORD; and have comforted myself.” Through God’s Word, we find hope. Consider Abraham “Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be” Romans 4:18. Romans 8:24tells us this about the saving element in life: “For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?” The Scriptures, now largely forsaken and replaced by “Christian novels,” are the sure source of our hope: “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope” Romans 15:4.

The same God who guided Joseph, and others, through dreams, will be faithful to guide us by His Spirit if we wait upon Him. God has many ways of guiding us, sometimes He may lead through dreams and visions, but usually His direction comes through prayer and His Word. The key is, we must be established and rooted in Him. We must believe that we are here, in this end time, for His purpose. We must hold fast to our faith and believe that He knows all things that concern us, for “The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me: thy mercy, O Lord, endureth forever: forsake not the works of thine own hands” Psalm 138:8.

We can mentally formulate our own dreams of peace and prosperity, but not the world, or any world leader, no, not presidents, kings or popes, can ever offer lasting hope to humankind. Revelation 5:3-4 tells us why: “And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon. And I[John] wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon. And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon.”  No man can solve the world’s problems but One. “. . .the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof. And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain . . .”

Concerning lasting world peace that the one-world “Planners” and “Insiders” believe they can accomplish through a one-world government, the Apostle Paul prophesied: “. . . For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape”” 1 Thessalonians 5:2, 3.

What are you dreaming about this Christmas? Are you dreaming about the things of this world that shall soon pass away, or are you looking “for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ: Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works” Titus 2:13, 14?

May we all, with Jesus’ righteous step-father, welcome the Savior into our hearts with great hope and joy, allowing Him by His Spirit to prepare us for the days ahead, that whether in the body, or absent from the body, we may bring honor and glory to Him, whose reign is forever and ever. Amen.