John E. Thomas wrote a terrific article in the December 2018 issue of Charisma magazine that caught my eye and excited my spirit while I read it. It is entitled: The 3 Dreams of Christmas and I am borrowing from it liberally as I write this…
Thomas reminds us that God-given dreams are a frequent method of prophetic “download” in Scripture and were pivotal around the time of the birth of Jesus. There was (and is!) a cost to following the prophetic dreams of God, but in doing so Kingdom people can change the world! Ponder this:
Joseph was certainly a good and righteous Jew, a follower of the Law of Moses, and a man who desired to honor God at every turn. But not every turn is easy! Joseph, in a dream, was told to marry pregnant Mary. The knowledge that the child within her had been conceived supernaturally must have been comforting, but the cost culturally was extreme. Joseph, in effect, told that culture around him that he was a sinner who had impregnated his wife. Trying to convince folks that it “It was God, not me” would have been pointless. Joseph suffered as a businessman/carpenter and as a man once considered righteous—for the rest of his life. He obeyed the dream—though it was very costly…!
The Wise Men came bearing gifts—and considerable prestige. After all, they rode into the Capital City and went directly into the presence of the King. Having this kind of clout, this kind of ambassadorial authority, would have been just as rare then as it is now. (Try flying to London expecting an immediate audience with the Queen. You will more likely find an immediate audience in jail or a psych ward…!) After meeting Herod, the Wise Men were warned in a dream to not go back to Jerusalem and to Herod but rather to sneak out of the country another way. Goodbye ambassadorial credentials! Goodbye friendly ties with a neighboring Nation! The Wise Men were just that—Wise. They obeyed the dream—though it was very costly…!
Perhaps a year or two after Jesus’ birth, Joseph received yet another dream, in which he was told to get out of town in a hurry and head to Egypt. Leave Bethlehem? (Joseph’s ancestral home, so a place where he had Family…) Leave our house? (They had long since left the stable and the manger to move into a home.) Leave my carpentry business… Again? Yes. Again. Go to Egypt?! Talk about a cultural demotion. Talk about moving into the desert. Talk about taking a step—or a few thousand—back into a land best known to Jews for slavery. But Joseph and Mary obeyed the dream—though it was very costly!
Obedience—especially to the prophetic dreams of God—is always costly. When Father speaks emphatically, He looks for those who will obey Him just as emphatically--quickly and completely. Frankly, that level of Obedience is rare. Righteous and Wise men and women struggle mightily with such obedience, counting the cost. But never forget, God has called you and me both “righteous” and “wise…!” (2 Cor. 5:21; Matt. 10:16)
God has spoken to us clearly and repeatedly over the past couple years. There was a time when the vision of this church was to simply be a good “First” (County Seat) Methodist church. In the 1990’s, God called us to be a Holy Spirit-filled congregation, exciting to watch and join and a beacon for the area and for other Methodist churches.
Now, we respond to new Dreams. Be an Antioch Church—a Hub of unity and diversity, where old and new, young and old, local and global, apostolic and prophetic, are drawn together to awaken the Church and sow for an Awakening. Plant MY Church—across Appalachia, as the final Great Awakening explodes across the world. Rescue My people Methodist—as we help congregations find their way back to the River of God, and back to what Methodism once was…
Exciting? Yes. But understand this clearly: Obedience to God’s Dream is costly. Reputations and agendas and comfortable-comfort give way to things costly—and far more valuable. Are we willing to Obey God’s Dream and dreams this Christmas—and for the rest of our lives? I pray so, even as we together take a deep breath and…believe and obey!!