Sermon 2 - Discovering Jesus - Can You Receive Him? (Matthew 1:18-25)

“Discovering Jesus:  Can You Receive Him?”; Matthew 1:18-25

AWC, August 8, 2010

18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child of the Holy Spirit; 19 and her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20 But as he considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit; 21 she will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins." 22 All this took place to fulfil what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: 23 "Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel" (which means, God with us). 24 When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took his wife, 25 but knew her not until she had borne a son; and he called his name Jesus.

OK.  Straight up - it’s not Christmas.  It’s just that there is hardly a more outstanding example in all of Scripture as to what it means to receive Jesus.  This story so clearly shows that receiving Jesus is critical to the kingdom of God.  Imagine the vast and eternal implications for all people if there was no Mary and no Joseph to receive Jesus.  Mary and Joseph got it going, and it has been the Father’s quest ever since to  find people who will receive His Son without question, just like them.  Such people are hard to find.

One of the things that makes people who will receive Him scarce is that God often offends our minds in revelation.  His way almost always moves against the normal process of the natural mind.  Our natural minds seek for security, stability, and order that creates harmony in our world of experience.  The problem is, we live in a world that is  hostile to God, so to have peace in our normal life process, we have to either:

a. develop habits, activities and ways of relating that move with the world systems.  These, in many cases, are at cross purposes with the kingdom of God.

b. Become reclusive, pulling away and sitting in judgement of world from a distance.  This disengages us from the call to make disciples and leaves us in judgment for allowing people to head to eternal separation from God without making an effort to reach them.

So when God speaks to move us towards our glory in Christ, He almost always has to confront structures in our minds that are resistant to where He wants to take us.

In this context, prophecy becomes a critical gift.  We need to hear God speak in ways that are loud enough to overcome our fears and defenses and move us toward receiving the Jesus who messes up our lives as much as he messed up Mary & Joseph’s.  Therefore we must cultivate a truly “Christian” mindset, which both allows for and embraces supernatural elements and actions which appear to be outside of normal.

We must not think dreams, visions, voices, personal prophecies, angelic visitations, or other revelatory means coming from outside our human reasoning to be strange.  To the world systems they are.  We flow in streams of orderly process according to known facts and experiences.  When something new comes, we expect to have a logic to it that we can figure out.  [My plugged nose that has been plugged for months - #’s of diagnoses; all with a logic]

When God came to Mary, there was no logic like that to figure out.  When He came to Joseph and told him to take Mary as his wife, there was no logic like that from his culture, background, or religious teaching to push him in that direction.  Which makes their openness to revelation an amazing example of a man and a woman who were ready in their hearts, minds, spirits and wills, to receive Jesus.  Are you?

Roy & Buddy became "revelation" in the purchase of our cottage property.  It was God’s way of recovering our losses that I would have missed had I not been willing to go against my natural logic.  We were already in possession of two homes as Candow hadn’t sold.  We were, for the second time, facing a potential financial disaster.  And yet God was clearly revealing to us that He wanted us to buy this cottage property.  Both Roy and Buddy were the revelators to urge us towards God’s blessing.  Had I gone with my logic, I would be at least $100,000 poorer than I am today, and more likely, with a simpler mortgage transfer, about $200,000 poorer.

So, if there is so much blessing, excitement, eternal purpose, power to see miracles, the salvation of the lost, and all Joseph and Mary were conduits for, what stops us from receiving Him?  When God comes and reveals Jesus, why do we tend to turn the other way instead of putting on the brakes and opening the door?

Blocks:

a. Not taking focused, uninterrupted time.  It takes us time to get our spirit quiet so it can receive.

b. Failure to obey in the last revelation God gave.

c. Character development is needed before the next significant revelation can be released; which requires some persistence in the pursuit (test and trials often come in this period and can be frustrating).

d. A failure of pursuing our first love.  “God is not against doctors.  He’s against being second.”  Bill Johnson.  If God is put second in any of our life processes, we will not receive revelation other than the call to repent in anything to do with that area.  E.g. healing vs. doctors.

Breaking Through:

a. Obey the first revelation.  Good stewardship leads to the release of more.

b. Test what you think is unusual revelation with your whole heart and be prepared to say, “It wasn’t God.” without shame - especially in the early stages of learning to receive Him.

c. Ask for and expect the supernatural.  It is “normal” to God and it should be “normal” to us.  It’s like a new pair of skates.  Very uncomfortable at first.  They get familiar after a while.  I tried going back to my old “Ultras” on the ODR after the 742’s and they felt like ugly mush.  I could barely skate they had such little support.  Yet at the time, just before I got the 742’s I debated for over a year if I should buy new ones, because those Ultra’s - man I “knew” them.  They were like a familiar friend - one that needed a serious shower mind you - but a real friend.

But you know what?  I never really liked the 742’s.  I had spent the money so I wore them.  I hated them.  I should have right up front, after two years of hating them, said, “This isn’t right.  I know I invested a lot, but they just don’t fit.”  Instead, I went on for 10 years with those 742’s.  Last winter I saved my refereeing money and bought new Graf’s.  I could have kicked myself for waiting so long.  It is like the kingdom of God come to my feet.  You know?  They are just - right.  They fit.  Why didn’t I let go of the 742’s sooner?  Because I had an investment.  And once you have an investment in a way of doing things, you just don’t like letting it go, even if God isn’t in it.

Listen!  If it isn’t God, admit it!!  Let it go!!  Even if you thought it was God and made an investment to test it.  Just say, “oops.  Must have been indigestion.”  Seek Him again and embrace the next thing you think He is saying.  Keep trying.  Keep seeking. Don’t ever be embarrassed about launching out and taking a kingdom risk because you believe Jesus is revealing something.  Eventually, you will put on just the right skate and you will say to yourself - “Am I ever glad I didn’t feel obligated to my choices that were just a little off base.  I would have missed this!  And this is really Jesus.”

It is those moments when it really is God that make the pursuit worth it all.  When God breaks through, when our hearts and wills are really ready to receive Jesus, all heaven is let loose to come to our aid.  Angels can intervene.  God can send dreams.   He can grace us to rise above resistance and bless us with provision to execute on the revelation.  But until we are ready to receive, He can spend literally years working, trying to shape us, trying to get us humbled, trying to get our hearts ready, just so He can give us good things we have been resistant to all along.

Why do you resist?  Why hang on to what you have, when it so pales in comparison to what God wants to give you?  I doubt there is a single person here that has not had God speak to them in some fashion in the last month, trying to increase His glory in you.  But did you hear Him?  Did you receive that greater revelation of His Son?  Were you host to a kingdom idea?  Did you act on it?  Do you have a fresh kingdom adventure have a story to share?  Don’t let the next month pass by without getting some new revelation of Jesus.

[Loonie, Toonie..etc. - the giveaway that calls for more and more trust, and more and more overcoming of natural thinking - rotten banana peal nobody wants actually has a $20 bill hidden in it - but who wants it?]

Be a Joseph.  Be a Mary.  Get your heart, mind and will ready to receive.  And when the revelation of Jesus comes, receive Him and enter into the glory God created you for.  Live life in the supernatural.  It’s filled with wonder and eternal blessing.