When I read the accounts written in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke of how our Heavenly Father sent His Son into the earth wrapped in human flesh and the incomprehensible way He did it (angelic visitations, supernatural conception, a star appearing, etc), my imagination gets stirred for my present circumstances of life. Heavenly possibilities begin to overlay what I thought were limiting earthly realities. This is where, with Holy Spirit, we can dare to dream and embrace the "what if's" of God. And such dreaming and pondering has been known to lead to believing that you can receive what you had never previously imagined. As Jesus said, the Kingdom of Heaven is "at hand."
While Matthew's account kicks in with Joseph and Mary as the central story, Luke begins with the "story behind the story." And this is where I want to begin my Christmas journey this year. In Luke 1, we are introduced to a couple, Zacharias and Elizabeth, relatives of Mary. We read that when God began to open up heavenly possibilities ("what if....?") into their lives, they were already in the grip of "hope deferred," "dreams have died," "just surviving," disappointment and shame. All they had wanted in life was to have a son who would carry on the family name and priestly ministry of the father. They had served God faithfully according to all His commands, especially the ones that carried promises of blessing. But the fulfillment of the promise of the blessing of children was beyond them, for they were now too old in body and Elizabeth's continued barrenness had become deadness.
Just like you and I, they had no idea that their dream was too small and that their Father, who had regard for their faith and obedience, had kept in reserve something greater than they thought was available. It is not that He had no regard for their pain or disappointment (hope deferred makes the heart sick), He just had a more glorious outcome to overlay onto their impossibilities that carried a joy in fulfillment beyond their imagination. And the heavenly Kingdom assignment for their son required a more than ordinary birth to provoke the hearts of all who heard of it that something marvelous was about to break into the earth and change history forever. "Fear came on all those living around them; and all these matter were being talked about in all the hill country of Judea. All who heard them kept them in mind, saying, 'What then will this child turn out to be?' For the hand of the Lord was certainly with him" (Luke 1:65-66, NASB).
Ponder with me: What if my present "hope deferred" and the limitations/impossibilities that seem to dictate my future are only the stage God has set for His glorious entrance into my life circumstances to unfold His glorious plan that was far greater than I could have imagined? Is there reserved in heaven for me right now a blessing, a breakthrough, a fulfillment that will blow my mind when it comes to pass in His prearranged time? And would you welcome an extraordinary, unexplainable miracle breakthrough to shake things up around you? Here is the pathway to receive it, found in the words of Elizabeth herself after she became pregnant: "Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord" (v. 45).
Dare to dream again with God this Christmas. Your ponderings and prayers could attract some angels to your impossibilities, which could lead to something marvelous!
John Gabriel Arends will be leading an acoustic set of worship from his home and Pastor Paul will link to the live stream to give a message from the Word from his home. THE STREAM WILL START ON SUNDAY AT 11AM and is open to anyone. Simply come to the Facebook page (facebook.com/therivermontana). You can watch on your computer, phone, tablet, or smart TV. And because it's Facebook, you'll be able to interact live in the comments.
If you plan to join the live stream, please be ready a few minutes early. Since this steam is being produced for an emergency situation and not under our ideal situation, we hope you'll be patient if we have any technical difficulties. It may be raw, but we expect real encounters with God for those who have hungry hearts!
We are excited to invite everyone to come join us on Christmas Eve for a special country Christmas!
This season holds incredible meaning. You see, God sent His Son to come into this dark world. God was invading with His light. The very first people to find out about this history-altering truth were a lot like cowboys--shepherds. They were just simple people who were acquainted with hard work, open country, the harsh elements, and with animals. This good news of Christmas is for cowboys. Even more than that, God's son found His first home in a manger! God loved us so much that He was willing to stop into our poverty and darkness in order that we could taste the goodness of Heaven. The love of God came knocking on our door.
We're going to have an incredible party as we celebrate the birth of our Savior and to worship Him. You won't want to miss this amazing time as we listen to great cowboy music, hear a powerful message, and enjoy the friendly faces. We're going to have candles and just about every other thing a cowboy could need to celebrate Jesus' birth.
(By the way, you don't have to be a cowboy to come. Everyone is welcome. Just come as you are and enjoy a great evening!) See you there!