Moving from the Cave to the Crown

David was living in the caves as King Saul tirelessly chased him. At times, we are all overwhelmed by problems in our lives. We face both physical and mental challenges. But the joy of the Lord is ours; therefore, we have the ability to handle our difficulties and the sorrows that accompany them.

Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer. From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe. I long to dwell in your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of your wings. For you, God, have heard my vows; you have given me the heritage of those who fear your name. Increase the days of the king’s life, his years for many generations. May he be enthroned in God’s presence forever; appoint your love and faithfulness to protect him. Then I will ever sing in praise of your name and fulfill my vows day after day. (Psalm 61:1-8)

David sang to the LORD the words of this song when the LORD delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul. He said: “The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation. He is my stronghold, my refuge and my savior—from violent people you save me. “I called to the LORD, who is worthy of praise, and have been saved from my enemies. The waves of death swirled about me; the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me. (2 Samuel 22:1-5)

David was overwhelmed to the point of depression. He was alone, running for his life. Sometimes God does the most profound work when we are alone, totally dependent on Him. It is was the same with Moses, Isaiah, Elijah, Jacob and even Jesus.

  1. God reveals your goal, passion and achievement.

You need the call. It is not about doing something for God, but being called to do something for Him. The people who came to David had problems, debts and so on, but they were the people who made him king. Prophetic words are equal to a call. Sometimes it is in your loneliness that you can best visualize your call.

  1. God reveals your character.

The crown always comes after the test of character. David was calm, and he took care of his family, showing his true character.

  1. God reveals your commitment.

David was totally committed to God’s Word that he would become king. He never went after Saul, nor did he kill him when he had the chance. He treated King Saul as his father and acknowledged that Saul was God’s anointed one. He trusted that God would fulfill His promise and waited his turn.

Who will refresh you during difficult times?

The first people who will come to your rescue are your family members. Secondly, God uses your friends, even people who are under pressure or in debt, or who have been mistreated. Finally, God Himself will refresh us when we focus on His promises and count on His faithfulness. David believed in his calling, holding to the truth that he was the king in waiting, and no one could take that away from him.

God will be faithful to bring us out of the cave and give us our crown.

Manifesting God’s Plan and Purposes in Your Life

Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. (John 3:5-6)

Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. (1 Corinthians 12:7)

You will not experience the spiritual if you pursue the fleshly. The Kingdom of God requires a spiritual approach. The manifestation of God’s presence and power in our natural world is the expression of His Spirit inside of us, much like a prism that divides light into many colors.

There are four practical stages for us to manifest the spiritual plan of God:

  1. Learn to receive the plan and purposes of God in your life.

“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail.” “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled?” Then the angel left her. (Luke 1:34-38)

When Mary was visited by the angel, she listened intently and responded by humbly submitting to the Word of the Lord. We must learn to listen to God’s Word in His presence.

  1. We must protect that Word with divine discernment.

And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route. When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.” So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.” When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. (Matthew 2:12-16)

Like Jesus father, we must learn to discern God’s voice and respond with obedient hearts.

  1. We must become mature in our thoughts and actions.

Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. (Hebrews 5:13-14)

God’s plan is rarely smooth and nice. Over the course of 40 years in the desert, the Israelites’ experience in the wilderness was not all that inspirational or exciting. Joseph had to literally run for his family’s lives after the birth of Jesus. Remember that, while reality may seem insurmountable, the grace and protection of God will always succeed. We need to become mature in the Lord and seek to understand His ways.

And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was on him.

And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man. (Luke 2:40, 52)

Jesus grew stronger in wisdom and stature and found favor with both God and man. What a great example to follow. We need the power of God, and the favor of men will likely follow. We must work to develop our character so that God can develop our gifts and accomplish His purpose for our lives.

  1. We must release God’s power by relinquishing control.

What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him. (John 2:11)

Jesus did His first miracle, and in doing so, He revealed His glory. This happened as a part of His maturing process.

Mary never controlled Jesus. On the contrary, she remained steadfast in her faith, standing by when He was crucified, trusting the greater plan of God.

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD, the LORD himself, is the Rock eternal. (Isaiah 26:3-4)

Your Life Is the Fulfilment of God’s Dream

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:8-10)

We are saved because of God’s dream. As His prized creations, our lives should line up with God’s will and purpose. Do not give others authority over your dreams.

How do you begin living such a life?

“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them. (Genesis 50:20-21)

God created you for a good purpose. Do not let past experiences deter you; allow God to define who you are. Joseph never let his past dictate the future. He remained focused and trusted God’s plan for his life.

It is all about your attitude towards your dreams. You can be careless or develop tunnel vision and miss the greater things of God. Choose to have a great attitude like Joseph. We must realize that God’s dream is bigger than our own, for God’s dreams always include others. It is important to ask, “What can I do for others?” daily.

Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph! Is my father still living?” But his brothers were not able to answer him, because they were terrified at his presence. Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come close to me.” When they had done so, he said, “I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will be no plowing and reaping. But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance. (Genesis 45:3-7)

According to Genesis 45:7, Joseph did not let his brothers’ cruelty affect his walk with God or his trust that God would bring about the great dream he had given him. God always uses imperfect situations to perfect His work. Dreams will prepare you, so surrender to God’s sovereignty.

Remember, your dream is not all about you; it is for God’s greater purpose as well. Joseph’s dream was about saving his family which, in the long run, kept God’s promise to Jacob. He has a greater purpose for you as well. Be it for your family, your church or society at large, there is always a bigger picture than we think. Everything will unfold as we live according to God’s guidance.

He restored the chief cupbearer to his position, so that he once again put the cup into Pharaoh’s hand—but he impaled the chief baker, just as Joseph had said to them in his interpretation. The chief cupbearer, however, did not remember Joseph; he forgot him. (Genesis 40:21-23)

Be prepared to be betrayed. The chief cupbearer completely forgot Joseph and left him behind. People have a bad habit of forgetting the favors of others when they achieve success. The Israelites forgot what God did for them not long after He rescued them from oppression in Egypt.

What is your attitude towards others?

“So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. He made me father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household and ruler of all Egypt. Now hurry back to my father and say to him, ‘This is what your son Joseph says: God has made me lord of all Egypt. Come down to me; don’t delay.’” (Genesis 45:8-9)

Joseph had a great attitude. He forgave his brothers because he knew that whatever happened to him was a part of God’s plan.

When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “What if Joseph holds a grudge against us and pays us back for all the wrongs we did to him?” So they sent word to Joseph, saying, “Your father left these instructions before he died: ‘This is what you are to say to Joseph: I ask you to forgive your brothers the sins and the wrongs they committed in treating you so badly.’ Now please forgive the sins of the servants of the God of your father.” When their message came to him, Joseph wept. His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. “We are your slaves,” they said. But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them. (Genesis 50:15-21)

The lesson we can learn is to always forgive people so that people don’t fear us. We have to keep forgiving others, bind up the wounds and refuse to take advantage of our superior position.

Anticipating a God-given, Good Life

The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. (Psalm 23:1-6)

Psalm 23:6 promises that goodness and mercy will follow us all the days of our lives because God is with us. God is more faithful to us than we are, and we will dwell in His house forever. David proclaimed these promises, knowing the Lord as his Shepherd and revealing his attitude towards God.

We can adopt one of three attitudes towards life:

We can live without thinking and merely exist.

We can be fatalistic, living defeated lives.

We can adopt an attitude of expectation, believing that we are empowered creators of our circumstances and destinies.

It is clear that we should seek to have the third attitude. Here are some important points to consider as well as some roadblocks that can hinder an attitude of expectation:

  1. Anticipation is often hindered by pessimism.

Saul replied, “You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a young man, and he has been a warrior from his youth.” But David said to Saul, “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. The LORD who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.” Saul said to David, “Go, and the LORD be with you.” (1 Samuel 17:33-37)

As a young boy, David was hindered by his age and occupation, as he was only a shepherd and the youngest of seven brothers. He was met with a lot of pessimism, but his confidence in God empowered him to conquer Goliath. God will defeat the Goliaths in our lives and promote us when we move forward with the right expectations.

  1. Learn how to handle your heart.

Crises can cause our hearts to lose confidence and become discouraged. Be careful to always guard your heart. Every discouraging situation is an opportunity to trust God in disguise.

This is the evil in everything that happens under the sun: The same destiny overtakes all. The hearts of people, moreover, are full of evil and there is madness in their hearts while they live, and afterward they join the dead. (Ecclesiastes 9:3)

  1. Root yourself in righteousness.

Be like a tree rooted in fertile soil. Even when it is cut down, it will soon spring up again. When drought comes, the Living Water will sustain it and bring forth new branches.

“At least there is hope for a tree: If it is cut down, it will sprout again, and its new shoots will not fail. Its roots may grow old in the ground and its stump die in the soil, yet at the scent of water it will bud and put forth shoots like a plant. (Job 14:7-9)

Baggage That Hinders Your Dream

Past mistakes can come back to haunt you. Do not live according to your past experiences. Baggage comes in many sizes, from hand bags to trunks. The bigger the unsolved problem, the larger the baggage.

Joseph never let the terrible experience with his brothers weigh him down. Although David endured extreme hardship at the hand of King Saul, he chose to love him and trusted God. Ruth never allowed her broken heart to become bitter. We need to deal with the root of our bitterness, forgive and move on.

See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. (Hebrews 12:15)

People deal with their baggage in several ways:

  1. Some live empty or limited lives.

People who live in social, spiritual or economic poverty need to know that Christianity is not about just believing in God but living a God-filled life.

This poor man called, and the LORD heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles. (Psalm 34:6)

  1. Some are broken.

There are hurting people everywhere, and they cannot see God beyond their imperfection. They need to come out of hiding and see God as they are.

  1. Some have surrendered their lives to the rule of another person or situation.

We live in a highly self-absorbed culture, culture that unapologetically ascribes to escapism.

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind and to set the oppressed free, …” (Luke 4:18)

  1. Some have lost their dreams and vision.

Many people have completely given up. They cannot see how their situation could ever improve. We need to know that sometimes our dreams will die for a greater dream. Failure is a step closer to success, and facing it is part and parcel of life.

Never Give Up on Your Dreams

“In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.” (Acts 2:17)

In Christ, we can all walk with God-given vision and dreams for the future. If God is a part of your life, you will always have dreams to bring Him glory in new ways. If you have no dreams, there is no room in your life for godly intervention.

Research has proven that people like to associate themselves with organizations that have vision and purpose. There is fire in the hearts of people who have a vision. They take risks without fear, and their dreams come true in time if they do not give up.

I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the LORD sent me from Kadesh Barnea to explore the land. And I brought him back a report according to my convictions, but my fellow Israelites who went up with me made the hearts of the people melt in fear. I, however, followed the LORD my God wholeheartedly. So on that day Moses swore to me, ‘The land on which your feet have walked will be your inheritance and that of your children forever, because you have followed the LORD my God wholeheartedly.’ “Now then, just as the LORD promised, he has kept me alive for forty-five years since the time he said this to Moses, while Israel moved about in the wilderness. So here I am today, eighty-five years old! I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I’m just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then. Now give me this hill country that the LORD promised me that day. You yourself heard then that the Anakites were there and their cities were large and fortified, but, the LORD helping me, I will drive them out just as he said.” (Joshua 14:7-12)

Scripture tells us that Joshua had to wait 45 years for God’s promise to come true. Never give up on your dreams. Life is a challenge all the way to the end. Like Joshua, we will encounter giants on the road to the land of honey. The question is, what is your focus?

  1. You must never give up but out-live them.

The Bible says that Joshua and Caleb were the only two members of their generation who entered the Promised Land. Be mindful of negative people around you. All of the negative people around Joshua and Caleb died one by one, and none of them reached the land that flowed with milk and honey.

  1. We need to overcome the giants.

Face the giants in your life and overcome them with the help of the Holy Spirit. Only Joshua and Caleb saw the Promised Land as a promise from a trustworthy God. The rest saw it as a land wrought with danger and disappointment.

Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had explored the land, tore their clothes and said to the entire Israelite assembly, “The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good. If the LORD is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us. (Numbers 14:6-8)

There are four keys to realizing your dreams:

Make sure your dream is from your heart. Sometimes dreams are founded on your own thoughts, desires or emotions, but godly dreams flow from the heart. Believe Him at His Word and fight every battle that challenges His promises.

You must wholly follow the Lord. Keep God in the consciousness of your mind. God wants us to live victoriously. Commit to following Him daily.

Claim your inheritance. Joshua 14:9 tells us that Joshua was promised the inheritance. Stay the course until you receive what God has promised you.

You must want it. In Joshua 14:12, Joshua claimed his inheritance based on the Word of God. Remember, when someone steals from you, they will have to pay you back sevenfold (see Proverbs 6:31).

Foundation of All Success: The Dream, the Dreamer and the Finisher

If God is part of your life, this is an important message to share with others. It is dangerous to become a boring Christian. People who are dreamers finish well. We need to dream, for when we dream, energy flows into our lives through the Spirit. People will not only follow your speech, but the divine inspiration behind your words.

They came to Bethsaida, and some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him. He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When he had spit on the man’s eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, “Do you see anything?” He looked up and said, “I see people; they look like trees walking around.” Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. Jesus sent him home, saying, “Don’t even go into the village.” (Mark 8:22-26)

When Jesus touched the blind man’s eyes, he suddenly could see clearly. Similarly, our dreams are not always clear at first, but with Christ they can become reality.

  1. The ability to dream is important.

Abraham was a dreamer. God asked him to count the stars – an impossible task. In Genesis 28, Jacob had a dream very similar to the promise God made to his father, Isaac, and his grandfather, Abraham. This happened at a time when his life was in crisis. God can inspire us to dream at any time.

Jacob left Beersheba and set out for Harran. When he reached a certain place, he stopped for the night because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones there, he put it under his head and lay down to sleep. He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. There above it stood the LORD, and he said: “I am the LORD, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring. I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I was not aware of it.” He was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven.” Early the next morning Jacob took the stone he had placed under his head and set it up as a pillar and poured oil on top of it. He called that place Bethel, though the city used to be called Luz. (Genesis 28:10-19)

  1. Your dream gives you the strength to push through.

We are liable to care for our God-given dreams. Always focus on the positive rather than the negative to see your dream fulfilled.

Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. His mother had named him Jabez, saying, “I gave birth to him in pain.” Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, “Oh that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” And God granted his request. (1 Chronicles 4:9-10)

We need to be like Jabez – to pull through the pain and ask God to enlarge our territory in order to fulfill our dreams. Learn to dream, and know that with God, you are free to dream big.

  1. What is a finisher?

When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. (John 19:30)

Jesus is the greatest Finisher of all time. God sent Jesus to redeem us, and He completed the task, taking suffering as it came in order to fulfill God’s dream to restore mankind. John the Baptist was another finisher who was faithful to God all the way to his gruesome death. Paul also kept the faith and finished the race (see 2 Timothy 4:7).

We need to be strong and have courage, mastering our fears in order to be a finisher.

After saying this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. “Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam” (this word means “Sent”). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing. (John 9:6-7)

Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, and after taking some food, he regained his strength. (Acts 9:18-19)

Sometimes we think too much, and we need to let God cleanse our eyes of the spiritual blindness brought on by the ways of the world in order to receive His miracle.

  1. You need to do your part

Dreams are a mixture of God’s intervention and your decision. Salvation is the work of the Spirit empowered by your decision to accept it.

Your Life Is the Fruit of God’s Tree

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:10)

You are the workmanship of God. You are the fruit of His tree. God is committed to making you successful. Allow Him to empower you. What does it mean to be empowered? It simply means that you have authority, license to act freely for God’s purposes because He has equipped you. God’s empowerment is in every season and area of your life.

Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. (Philippians 2:12-13)

According to Ephesians 2:10, God has prepared good works in advance for us to do, which means He has a clear mandate for each one of us. There are four fundamental keys in the mandate of God:

  1. Empowerment begins with seed which is the Word of God.

Learn and hold on to the principles of God’s Word.

He also said, “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.” (Mark 4:26-29)

  1. Meditate on the Word day and night.

When you meditate, wisdom and understanding will flow from Scripture, strengthening your spirit.

Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. (Joshua 1:7-8)

For I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance. (Philippians 1:19)

So again I ask, does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you by the works of the law, or by your believing what you heard? So also Abraham “believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” (Galatians 3:5-6)

  1. It is a process, not an event.

Precept by precept, line by line, we gain wisdom and become mature in Christ.

“For it is: Do this, do that, a rule for this, a rule for that; a little here, a little there.” (Isaiah 28:10)

  1. Action requires initiative.

The harvest will come, the seed will never fail, and the seed inside of you is an incorruptible seed.

“As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.” (Mark 4:29)

Success is for people who take their faith seriously. You need to be physically, mentally and financially strong in order for all these to fall into place. Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you (Matthew 6:33). Your life is the fruit of God’s tree.

When a Dream Becomes a Nightmare

Joseph was pledged to be married to Mary. Matthew 1:20 tells us that he had a dream, and at the time, his dream must have seemed like a nightmare like a nightmare.

This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. But 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. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfil what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus. (Matthew 1:18-25)

  1. Realize that God has a great plan.

We are born with the capacity to dream, and godly dreams are meant to help us progress, not digress. Joseph’s dream must have shattered his plan with Mary, but God had a greater plan to save mankind.

  1. Demonstrate the strength of your Christ-like character.

Your character is your moral fortitude, the strength that is within you.

Then the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.” “Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied. “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. But now stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.” The LORD said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your power, but on the man himself do not lay a finger. “Then Satan went out from the presence of the LORD. One day when Job’s sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother’s house, a messenger came to Job and said, “The oxen were ploughing and the donkeys were grazing nearby, and the Sabeans attacked and made off with them. They put the servants to the sword, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!” While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, “The fire of God fell from the heavens and burned up the sheep and the servants, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!” While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, “The Chaldeans formed three raiding parties and swept down on your camels and made off with them. They put the servants to the sword, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!” While he was still speaking, yet another messenger came and said, “Your sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother’s house, when suddenly a mighty wind swept in from the desert and struck the four corners of the house. It collapsed on them and they are dead, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!” At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.” In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing. (Job 1:8-22)

The above scriptures describe Job’s strong character. Joseph responded similarly to the dream God gave him. Life always presents us with choices, and they will not all necessary be good and safe.

  1. We must see things from God’s perspective.

Only through sincere trust in the goodness of God can we be willing to look see our shattered dreams as part of the journey to His greater blessings. Matthew 1:20 tells us that Joseph made a decision based on God’s higher perspective. As a result, the nightmare of his reality became a great testimony of God’s provision.

  1. We need to respond with pure faith.

Resist the temptation to question God. He is still in control. If need be, we should stand up for what is right against public opinion. Be willing to embrace God’s plan. In Matthew 1:24-25, Joseph did exactly as God told him.

Breaking the Tyranny of Routine

The greatest enemy the Church faces is the dictatorship of routine. When our behavior falls into a routine, we begin to die. If everything goes on as usual and nothing out of the ordinary happens, life becomes rigid and we lose sight of opportunities to do the work and will of God.

In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron. Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly. But they were childless because Elizabeth was not able to conceive, and they were both very old. Once when Zechariah’s division was on duty and he was serving as priest before God, he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to go into the temple of the Lord and burn incense. And when the time for the burning of incense came, all the assembled worshipers were praying outside. Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born. He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.” The angel said to him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their appointed time.” (Luke 1:5-20)

Therefore once more I will astound these people with wonder upon wonder; the wisdom of the wise will perish, the intelligence of the intelligent will vanish.” Woe to those who go to great depths to hide their plans from the LORD, who do their work in darkness and think, “Who sees us? Who will know?” You turn things upside down, as if the potter were thought to be like the clay! Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, “You did not make me”? Can the pot say to the potter, “You know nothing”? In a very short time, will not Lebanon be turned into a fertile field and the fertile field seem like a forest? (Isaiah 29:14-17)

How do you break out of the routine of life?

1. Take responsibility for your life.

The Gospel of Luke tells us that Zechariah was so deeply committed to a cultural, religious routine that he doubted the Word of God through Gabriel regarding the birth of his son, John the Baptist. We easily become like Zechariah, conditioned by our practices. We need to continually check the motives that dictate our life and break out of ungodly routines.

2. Discover God’s will in your life.

We are created to be different than the world. The Bible tells us that we are wonderfully made. Do not let other people control your life. Celebrate who you are; do not try to be somebody else.

For you created my inmost being, you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. (Psalm 139:13-15)

3. Do something bold.

When it was time for Elizabeth to have her baby, she gave birth to a son. Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown her great mercy, and they shared her joy. On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him after his father Zechariah, but his mother spoke up and said, “No! He is to be called John.” They said to her, “There is no one among your relatives who has that name.” Then they made signs to his father, to find out what he would like to name the child. He asked for a writing tablet, and to everyone’s astonishment he wrote, “His name is John.” Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue set free, and he began to speak, praising God. (Luke 1:57-64)

Following the story of John the Baptist’s birth, Elizabeth made the bold choice to name her son John, going against tradition.

4. Believe that change is possible in your life.

The only thing that is constant in life is the presence of change. Break the tradition of religion where it hinders you from hearing God. We must change according to the season as we follow the leadership of the Holy Spirit.

For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it. I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers. But when God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, my immediate response was not to consult any human being. (Galatians 1:13-16)

Paul was caught up in his practice of persecuting Christians until God set him apart to become a great apostle for the Lord Jesus Christ.

5. Learn to have faith and obey God.

Zechariah lost his ability to speak when he doubted God’s Word, but when the prophecy of John‘s birth was fulfilled through obedience and faith, he regained his speech. The births of John and Jesus defied nature. God did not follow tradition.