What To Do When You Are Stuck Between Reality And The Dream

[waves crashing] – We’re in a series called Journey To Christmas, and as we make our journeys towards Christmas this season, we’re taking a journey of ourselves to some different cities from Biblical Israel that will help us remember what’s important this Christmas season And today we’re in the ancient city of Caesarea Caesarea was the center of Roman power in Israel Its very existence was a reminder that God’s people were ruled by a foreign king The harbor was one of the primary entrances into the land Those who would journey to Judea by boat likely came through here And for many, Caesarea was the end of their journey, but for Jews who were coming back to the promised land, it was yet another reminder that the Messiah hadn’t come yet [dramatic music] Yo, Herod built Caesarea to honor Augustus and to reflect the power and the might of Rome To see Caesarea at the time was to see the glory of Rome expressed in full by one of Israel’s greatest builders, Herod And yet in a city not far from here called Bethlehem, another king came and displayed His power And He did it in the form of the baby ♪ Shall come to thee, O Israel ♪ ♪ Oh ♪ – You know, two things strike me about this place of Caesarea Number one is that Jesus viewed and expressed power a lot differently than our world does today There’s a lot we can learn from that But, you know, the other thing that’s striking to me about Caesarea is it’s the very place where the Gospel came to the Gentiles In Acts chapter 10, there’s a centurion named Cornelius, and God appeared to him in the form of an angel And God brought Peter to him, and Peter explained the Gospel to Cornelius and his family And the Bible says that all of his family was saved and filled with the Holy Spirit See, this good news that we’re looking at this Christmas season, it’s not just for the insiders, it’s not just for those who have their lives all figured out or all put together; it’s the good news that’s for everybody Yo, many, many people journey to and from Caesarea, but in the New Testament, it’s never anyone’s ultimate destination; it’s a powerful reminder that this world is really full of amazing and wonderful things But as we journey through it, we need to remember that this is not our ultimate destination or home ♪ O Israel ♪ – Well, good morning – [Congregation] Good morning – Isn’t that beautiful? We just were there a few weeks ago, and the video team does such a great job People have asked me, “When can I go?” Well, if you want information, we don’t have a trip set up yet, but we will pretty quickly If you would like information, go to seacoast.org/israel and they’ll give you the latest information about that So I wanna welcome the campuses, say Merry Christmas to you, and hope that you are in the Christmas spirit Those of you who are watching around the world online, we’re glad that you’re here too Yesterday, Debbie and I were out, doing a little shopping She was shopping, I was complaining [congregation laughs] So we stopped and had lunch, and during lunch we were each reading our phones When you’ve been married as long as us, you can do that I mean, it’s social interaction There’s only so many words you can say then you go right to the phone, and so we’re reading the phones And I was just reading the news, and I saw this story Did anybody else see the story yesterday? There’s a lady, apparently, she’s doing some Christmas shopping and true story in Texas And she went to check her bank balance on her phone, and the bank had apparently made a mistake and had deposited $37 million into her account [faint voices talking] Anybody wanna know the name of the bank? [congregation laughs] It’s called Legacy Texas Bank, I like that $37 million The story says, for her brief moment as a millionaire, [congregation laughs] gives her name, she daydreamed about ways

she would have spent the money I love this She said, “First I was gonna do the tithe thing, the 10%.” I thought, “Yes!” Maybe she’s a Seacoaster online in Texas [congregation laughs] We love you [congregation laughs] Then she was gonna donate some money to other things and she would have invested the rest The problem is she told her husband, and her husband says, “You better call the bank.” And she called the bank and sure enough, it wasn’t their money They were hopin’ that there was a long lost relative that had just deposited there Have you ever had that dream? – [Man] Yeah – But she’s hoping that maybe they’ll give her a be-nice fee How many of you believe that that’ll leave a little somethin’ in that bank for– – [Man] Yeah, it can be something – Two or three, the rest of you are bankers or work in a bank? [congregation laughs] That’ll leave a little bit there Well, your bank probably didn’t make a $37 million error this year, but would you agree, we’re all blessed We are blessed We can look around and we say, “God has blessed us in so many ways in our families.” And I wanna take just a minute before I get into the message I wanna talk to you about the legacy offering that many of you have, you’ve already gotten emails on and may have some communication on Let me just explain it real quickly Legacy is about what we leave behind It’s more about what we invest in the future I remember last year, our legacy offering was about this building We were trying to get in here, we’re challenging everybody to pray and see what God would say in my life, and I did that as we’ve done this year also But we gave toward this building And every time I drive by here, I think about legacy I think about how this place is gonna be here long after I’m gone Decades and decades and decades Generations will come to this place They’ll come to know Christ Their marriages will be whole, receive healing here And partially, because I and you invested in something that leaves beyond, that’s what legacy is about We explained how the money works at Seacoast We operate on a budget We have a trustee board of wise business people here that help us to manage he funds And we live on the offerings of the people, the regular tithes and offerings that you give every week go toward buildings and people And then also, and ministry And also, out of there, we designate about $2 million to go toward our local, global, national mission outside of this place And these things like, they were telling me that today there will be 100,000 people that will drink clean water because of the wells and those types of things that you guys have invested in You didn’t even know it, some of you It comes out of your offering [congregation applauds] Over a half million people in underserved countries have received medical care because of the medical mission trips and the clinics that we’ve built in several different places And that’s just happening right now behind the scenes because of your giving, and just our budgeting toward that Today there will be approximately half a million people, maybe a little bit more that will worship in a life-giving church that’s been planted through Ark over the last 20 years And a percentage of what you give is budgeted toward that And that’s exciting to me And on and on and on Did you know that about 1,700 prisoners in South Carolina are watching right now and watch every weekend our services? And soon if we can make it happen, soon, every prison in South Carolina’s gonna be live streaming Seacoast Church And we think that’s a good thing [congregation applauds] So we budget that But what we do once a year is we have a legacy offering, which is outside the budget It’s like, if you’re already giving gift, okay? But if you say, “God, You have blessed us this year,” or maybe in faith you’re saying, “God, I believe You’re gonna bless us,” and then you pray and say, “God, I wanna give above “and beyond so that we can do even more.” In fact my goal, now, this isn’t the leadership team, it’s just me I thought it might freak them out But my goal is that we match the $2 million that we already give away, maybe do $4 million this year with addition to the Legacy Offering That sound good? [mumbles] Nobody’s as excited as I am Okay, good And the good news is there’s already a tithe on that that’s come in Over $200,000 has already come in in the Legacy Offering This will be clearly for the end of the year But let me show you how it works real quick

If you were to go to the website, seacoast.org, is it up? Do we hae it up there? Can we get it up there? There it is Okay If you went to the website, seacoast.org/legacy, you would see this And it talks a little bit about the Legacy Offering, and what’s goin’ on And we try to do in our projects, we’re not just haphazard We’re trying to get the biggest kingdom ROI, return on investment that we can And so we’re lookin’ for partners and places In fact, like the church planting of the 900 churches just about that we planted over the last 20 years, they will give $30 million to world missions this year And our investment hasn’t been that big, but the kingdom ROI is huge, and that doesn’t even include lives that have been changed But we also know that people’s hearts are moved toward different things, right? Some people are excited about buildings, and other people are excited about next generation kids And some people are excited about local missions, and some are global, or national missions And so we have what we call Legacy Lanes for all of those There’s Seacoast Projects You can see that Next Generation, which has to do with projects for children for our special needs classes are one-by-one We’re gonna expand that into some of our other campuses for those with special needs We wanna do that And also Seacoast, the college, Southeastern University at Seacoast, there’s some things that we wanna do there Local Missions, which are all of our local partners; and National Missions, which is church planting and leadership development In fact, let me read you a few statistics about pastors 4,000 new churches start each year in America, okay? We’re a part of that ‘Cause we think church planting is the best means of just seeing our country just experience God But 7,000 churches close each year in America 70% of pastors continually battle depression 1,500 pastors leave the ministry permanently each month in America 80% of pastors and 85% of their spouses feel discouraged in their roles 70% of pastors do not have a close friend, confident, or mentor 50% of pastors are so discouraged that they would leave the ministry if they could but have no other way to make a living Those are real stats I meet these people every time And here’s the thing is we have made a dent in the church planting world in a major massive way, and it’s going exponentially now We can change this deal with pastors too Seacoast Church can do that And so we’ve started what we call Pastors Collective, which is a podcast, and also gatherings for just the mental and spiritual health of pastors and pastors’ wives And we wanna ramp that up this year Some of you will resonate with that goal I wanna give into that We’ve got global missions that we’ve talked about all over the world Now, if you were to click on the view legacy lane report, and I’m gonna go all the way through this, but it has reports on all the projects Like there’s a Project Lane Report, and the first one is for the projects And I’ll make it a little bit bigger so you can see it One of ’em is the Somerville Campus new facility And they are just shouting right now in Somerville Ermelo Campus, we’re moving into a new facility in Ermelo and we’re renovating that right now James Island Campus, Greenville Campus We need permanent facilities Johns Island, on and on and on and on We need facilities And many in our Next Gen we’ve got Seacoast or Southeastern University, a fund for operating cost Now, if you were to go over here, let me make this a little bit bigger Can you see it? On each one of these, it says here’s the cost, $185,000 for that one, zero-funded ’cause we’re just starting it But that is a budgeted project, so that’s in our budget So let’s look at one that isn’t Let’s go down here In fact let’s get another Seacoast college Here’s a Seacoast scholarship fund, so that we can help train next generation leaders The cost on that is $150,000 It’s an unbudgeted project In other words, comes in in the Legacy Offering We’re gonna work on that So you can go on and on and on There’s reading in all the different projects right now that are in our mind Whether we’ll do them all, probably not right away How fast we’ll do them? That’s up to you and I How much that we fund with Let me do one more thing, and I’m gonna go back here to the front page

And then it says, “Give now.” Little button Give Now And the Give Now button will come up with a place, so you can give online I’d like to give, and you put a number And then if you go, and some of us go, and you know what, I wanna give toward the Legacy Offering Y’all figure it out And we have priorities Undesignated stuff, we have priorities on these projects You say, “You know what, go with your priorities “I just wanna be a part of it.” You just do a Legacy Offering If you’re really moved by one of the lanes, like we can go in here to Local Missions, and it will go directly to that lane, and you can give a certain amount So you can kind of custom-tailor the giving toward where your passion is or where your vision is And so that’s what I wanna tell you That’s all I’m gonna say about that You can give online right here at seacoast.org/legacy You can give by texting 320320, and you put the word Legacy and an amount of money or you can give through the offering boxes, but excited about it Anybody believe me for a $2 million Legacy Offering this year, anybody? [congregation applauds] Yeah, it’s gonna take a miracle Some of you don’t really believe that but you clapped, because you like your pastor, all right? So let me give you a 20-minute message That’s what I’ve got right now How many of you, anybody here ever been in a season where you felt stuck, anybody? Felt stuck Could be stuck in a relationship, stuck in a job, stuck in a career Maybe you’re stuck in circumstances Stuck between the reality of where you are and the dream that you have in your heart Stuck Well, not long ago, or not long after we were married, [chuckles] that was long ago, [congregation laughs] Debbie bought me a book I was a youth pastor in my third job I’ve been fired twice, and I was on my way to getting fired again I didn’t it at the time, but I was And she went to a Christian bookstore in Denver, and on a bargain table, you know what a bargain table is? That’s where they have books that nobody wants to read anymore Well, this one, the original price on it was $2.50 That’s back when Noah was on the ark That’s what books cost But this one was a quarter And Debbie brought it home, and it’s called “All Originality Makes a Dull Church.” The idea is you don’t have to reinvent the wheel that God’s doing incredible things and to study about five churches in America This book impacted my life in ways that no other book has besides of the Bible You say, “Well, I wanna get one of those.” Well, they’re out of print Probably wouldn’t mean that much to you, but it meant something to me I saved up my money and went to the appendix and any of the pastors that wrote books I read their books And I had a dream I dreamed of a church that would be outside of the box In fact I’ve dreamed of Seacoast and I really didn’t know what to call it or what it looked like Then I got fired again real quick after I started reading this book [congregation laughs] And moved my small family into the basement of my father and mother’s house in St. Louis, and I began to wait And eventually a tiny church in Northern Illinois that was desperate [chuckles] A small farming community asks us to come be their pastors And we had some great years, some good years We had some very, very hard years there too But we knew just in our heart that while this was good, this was a passing point, this wasn’t the dream This was a temporary stay In fact, it was 10 years between the time that I got the dream and the very beginning of the fulfillment of the dream For 10 years we were stuck between reality of where we were and the dream Now, we’re in a series called Journey to Christmas, and my job is to talk about Caesarea And here’s what’s interesting about Caesarea Caesarea doesn’t appear in the Christmas story other than Herod You remember Herod, the king? He’s the guy that built all kinds of places If you’ll go to Israel you’ll see several of these, amazing architect But he’s also the guy that the wise men came and said, “We’ve heard there’s a king coming.” And he wanted them to tell him where the king was They wouldn’t do it, and so he had every male child, two years old and under executed for the next couple of years in Bethlehem And that’s why Mary and Joseph took Jesus to Egypt But the only connection is he built one of his palaces in Caesarea It’s huge, we’ve seen it

Think built more time about four or five, okay? Amazing, amazing place But Paul, the Apostle Paul gets stuck in this transitional place In fact he’s in prison there for two years between a harsh reality and a dream The only thing about the Apostle Paul, he was a bad guy then he has a conversion experience and becomes a missionary And he plants churches all over the world He goes on missionary journeys to kinda see how they’re doing On his third missionary journey, he comes home to Jerusalem because He’s a Jew All of the folks in the New Testament up to a certain point were Jewish And so he goes to the temple And there’s som rabble-rousers that come and stir up trouble for him in the temple We won’t get into all of what it’s about But anyway, he finds himself fighting for his life before a religious tribunal called the Sanhedrin I wanna read just a little bit of that, which I kinda understand is they’re having a trial and he could get the death penalty as a result So it’s very important Acts 23, it says, “Gazing intently at the high council, “Paul began: ‘Brothers, I have always lived before God “‘with a clear conscience!'” Instantly Ananias the high priest commanded those close to Paul to slap him on the mouth [chuckles] You just can’t make this stuff up Slap that guy right there in the mouth, boom! Okay, got it I love this next part It says, “But Paul said to him, ‘God will slap you, “‘you corrupt hypocrite!'” [laughs] I like that Why do I like that? Paul calls him names Should he have called them names? No, but the fact that Paul did, now he pays the consequence for it But the fact that Paul did gives me hope [congregation laughs] ‘Cause I call names every once in a while, not very often, hypocrite He calls him a hypocrite And God will slap you What kind of judge are you to break the law yourself in order to struck me like that? Those standing near Paul said to him, “Do you dare to insult God’s high priest?” Paul goes, “My bad, I didn’t realize he was a high priest.” He says, “I’m sorry “I didn’t realize he was,” he replied, “for the Scriptures say,” “‘So he orders his life around Scriptures, “‘you must not speak evil of any of your rulers.'” – Amen! – And so he [mumbles] Hey there’s a good Amen [congregation laughs] Whether they’re democrats or republicans, I’ll preach this one ‘Cause this one irritates me more than anything, but I’m not gonna preach it right now [congregation laughs] Speak well Speak well Now here’s what’s funny Paul is in a desperate situation He’s talking about politics Watch Paul realized that some members of the high council were Sadducees and some were Pharisees You gotta understand that in Israel there was no separation of church and state It was altogether, [mumbles] should be But it was altogether, and so it was church and it was state politics And he had two clubs in: the Pharisees and the Sadducees So he shouted, “Brothers, I’m a Pharisee, “as were my ancestors! “And I am on trial because my hope “is in the resurrection of the dead!” “This divided the council, because the Pharisees “against the Sadducees.” Because the Sadducees were sad, you see, because they didn’t believe in the resurrection [congregation laughs] They didn’t believe in angels They didn’t believe in any of that stuff And so Paul yells out, “I’m a Pharisee, and so all of the Pharisees believe “the stuff that he does.” “So there’s a great uproar “Some of the teachers of religious law “who were Pharisees jumped up and began to argue,” [mumbles] “or argue forcefully “We see nothing wrong with this guy ’cause he’s one of us.” That’s all I’m gonna say about that Things don’t change that much Don’t worry about politics It’s gonna be okay So it was Paul who writes back then too It’s gonna be okay, God’s in control God’s in control And that night and so, anyway, got so bad The conflict grew more violent, the commander was afraid they would tear Paul apart So he ordered his soldiers to go and rescue him by force and take him back to the fortress And that night the Lord appeared to Paul and said, “Be encouraged.” You think Paul was discouraged I think probably If you say, “Be encouraged,” that probably means you were discouraged He says, “Be encouraged, because just as you have been “a witness to me here in Jerusalem, “you must preach the Good News in Rome as well.” And what he knows is that’s the dream in his heart He’s a Roman citizen So Jesus Himself appears to Paul And he says, “Be encouraged “The dream’s gonna happen.” And what Paul doesn’t know is that it will nearly be three years before the dream

will be fulfilled Two years will be under house arrest in Caesarea where he deals with crooked politicians One guy wants to bribe and delays and delays and delays, lying religious leaders He’ll spend several months on the worst possible boat trip that there has ever been to Rome, where everything that could go wrong did There’s no evidence that he wrote any letters or any books He’s a prolific writer He does nothing Can you imagine a type A personality that can do nothing for two years He’s stuck between a reality and a hard place on the way to the dream Have you ever been there? Have you ever been there? Let me give you three questions to ask when you’re stuck between the reality and the dream Question number one is why is this happening to me It’s okay to ask why You need to know why If you’re gonna move forward, you gotta know how to respond You need to know why And in the why there are four possible causes If you’re stuck here today, or you know somebody that’s stuck here today, it’s one or a combination of these four reasons, these four ones Number one it’s my fault My fault Anybody ever done anything stupid? And you pay the stupid tax for it Yeah Proverbs, this is not on your outline sheet, but Proverbs 19:3 says, “People ruin their lives “by their own foolishness and then they’re angry at God.” You know anybody like that? No, get angry at yourself And why you need to know that is because your first response needs to be to repent So beat yourself up, say, “I blew it.” It’s my fault I’ll own my piece of this And usually it’s the least part of the piece is ourselves The second reason that the people maybe get stuck is other’s people’s fault Sometimes it’s somebody else’s deal You get caught up in their whirlwind So what’s your response there? You need to forgive, because so long as you’re blaming and you’re holding a grudge, I know people that are world-class in grudge-holding You don’t wanna be the best at that You wanna forgive, because the moment you forgive, and it’s a process, you can move forward, okay? The other possible cause would be the devil Now he gets blamed for a lot of stuff [laughs] but he is at the center of some things And the Bible says that he runs around as roaring lion trying to devour whoever he can Don’t be afraid of him, resist Resist! That’s what you do And sometimes it’s God And that’s the situation here with Paul A little bit of other people and a little bit of God God has you in a place for a purpose, and when you figure that out, your response is to submit to God Submit to God So how do I figure it out? I’ll talk to God about it If you ask God, He’ll speak to you I love this verse Psalm 73:16, it says, “When I tried to figure it out, “all I got was a splitting headache.” Everybody ever been there? Watch what he does “Until I entered the sanctuary of God “And then I saw the whole picture.” Does that ever happen to you? Have you ever gone to church and it felt like the preacher was preaching your story Was all up in your mail Everybody had that happen? Everybody ever had? It’s God God wants to speak to you That’s why [chuckles] listen, I love going to church I even go to church on vacation I go because I wanna see if God has anything to say to me And it doesn’t, it’s not tied to the quality of the worship or the quality of the preaching I was at a church not long ago, worst possible worship in the history of the world They were terrible They were awful [congregation laughs] And God spoke to me that day during the worship If your heart’s right, you know, God can speak So I ask God, ask God, ask God A lot I’d like to say about that but let’s move on [congregation laughs] What can I learn from it? Not only why, but what can I learn? Look what Paul learned 2 Corinthians 4:17, he says, “For our present troubles are small, “they won’t last very long.” Let me talk to you about Paul’s present troubles Here’s another Scripture later in your outline sheet Think it’s on the backside, probably won’t have time to talk about it, ’cause this is a 20-minute message, maybe a 22, possible 23 and a half I don’t know [congregation laughs] Paul’s small troubles are he was left for dead three times, ’cause they beat him so bad Took everything away from him, had resistance at every town that he goes to

But he says, “You know what? “Our present troubles are small “and they won’t last very long, “yet they produce for us.” That’s what can I learn in the midst of a stuck place? They produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever In other words, it says, the problems in your life will not last Luke 2:1 says, “And it came to past.” Everything comes to pass It’s not gonna last The problems don’t come to stay The problems are temporary, but it says the rewards are permanent The rewards are permanent And so, so what are the results? Romans 5:3 Paul writes this also He says, “We can rejoice too “when we run into problems and trials “for we know that they help us develop endurance “and endurance develop strength of character “and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.” Turn to somebody next to you and say, “Boy, there’re some endurance being cultivated in me.” Will you do that? [congregation laughs] Yeah So, why? What can I learn from it? Here’s the most important one, how should I respond? When you face a roadblock to your dream, you’re either gonna grow through it or you’re gonna give up on it You’re gonna become what God wants you to be or you’re gonna shrivel and your heart is gonna become hard It’s your choice It’s your choice When I go through a tough time, what happens to me is not nearly as important as what happens through me Would you agree with that? So how should you respond? I’ll give you three things, pray Pray When you find yourself in a stuck place, you kinda have an idea of why and you know you wanna learn something through it, then pray How do you pray? Philippians four in verse six says, “Do not be anxious about anything, “but in every situation, by prayer and petition, “with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” He’s saying you can either worry or pray, but you can’t do both, okay? So he says, “When you’re tempted to worry,” anybody ever been tempted to worry today? Yeah That’s an indication it’s time to pray How do you pray? You pray with Thanksgiving God, thank You for watching me Thank You for my family Thank You even for this circumstance because You’re gonna work something through me And through this, pray Second thing you do is find strength in those around you Find strength in those around you It’s hard enough to feel stuck, but it’s really hard when you’re stuck alone Would you agree with that? – [Man] Yes – Paul is on a three-year detour There’s no writing, there’s no productivity He’s at the hands of self-seeking political figures Here’s a question Did Paul go through Caesarea alone? It never mentions specifically anybody else being there, but there was Let me tell you how I know There’s a clue in the next chapter, Acts 27, again, ready to go on a boat ride And the writer of the story says, “When it was decided that we would sail for Italy,” say the word we – [Congregation] We – What does we mean? There’s more than one person there Who was that person? He was the writer of Acts Who is the writer of Acts? Luke Who wrote more of the New Testament than anybody else? Trick question, ’cause you’re gonna say Paul No, he wrote a lot, but Luke wrote more of the New Testament The Book of Luke and the Book of Acts Where did he find the background material in the book of Acts? Hanging out with Paul [laughs] in Caesarea You know who else was in Caesarea with him? Jesus was [laughs] There’s no indication that He was there physically, but He appeared to Paul at night before he went And I think He was there all the time because Jesus said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Some of you feel stuck alone this Christmas Maybe you’re new to town Maybe you’re unemployed Or maybe this is the first Christmas since you lost a loved one or since the health issue that started The first are hard I had a friend text me last night after the message and she said, “You know what, the first Christmas was hard,” because she lost her husband She said, “The second one is harder.” The first one, she was in a kinda a gracious numbness And she said, “It’s been a struggle this Christmas.” And sometimes it is So what’s the antidote? Psalm 68:6 says, “God sets the lonely in families

“He leads out the prisoners with singing.” You know, you may be lonely right now Did you know that God planned for your loneliness before you ever became lonely? God has a plan for it He says that, “He sets the lonely in families.” I believe that’s talking about your spiritual family ’cause sometimes we can be alone in a family and still feel alone But He’s got a spiritual family for each one of us That’s the beauty of small groups, where we can go and we can be honest and we can have lifelong friendships That’s what the church is supposed to be It doesn’t matter what we look like on the weekend, it’s how we relate to each other into our world throughout the week You can find friends here In fact, some of you are lonely here today and you’re gonna find a friend today I wanna challenge everybody here Listen, you’re here for a purpose Either to find a friend or be a friend, how about that? Let’s just connect the dots One of the ways we do this is don’t leave church so fast [congregation laughs] Go get your kids We don’t want your kids, we love your kids [congregation laughs] We don’t wanna raise them, they’re yours [congregation laughs] Go get your kids, slowly walk out of this building Slowly walk, and be thinking, what do you want me to do? Do you want me to be a friend or do I need a friend today? And the Holy Spirit will prompt you and you’ll meet people That’s gonna happen It happens all the time, look around Find strength in those around you, pray, and remember that your circumstances don’t limit God’s options How many of you are happy for that? – [Man] Amen – We all have reasons why God’s promise or dream doesn’t apply to us I’m too old, too young I’ve done this, there are things in my past I’m addicted, it isn’t medically possible, hasn’t happened yet, it’s not gonna happen as if God is unaware of our situation Let me tie in one Scripture from the Christmas story In Luke chapter one in verse 34, an angel comes to Mary It’s a young girl, maybe 14 Says to her, of course, they married a lot earlier then He says to her, “You’re gonna have a baby “and that baby is gonna be Emmanuel, Jesus.” Mary says to the angel, “How will this be since I’m a virgin?” The angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you “and the power of the most high will overshadow you “Therefore, the child to be born “will be called holy, the Son of God “And behold,” in order to build her faith, “Your relative Elizabeth,” they all knew she was barren they called it back then Fertility issues we would say today And she’s well past childbearing years That’s been a painful thing for her and her husband all her life, but she says, “Elizabeth in her old age has conceived a son, “and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren “for nothing will be impossible with God.” I want you to see this God deliberately chooses to use an older woman, past childbearing years, and a young girl who’s never had sex to bear children to show you that God is never limited in His options to deliver the promise It didn’t matter that Paul was in chains It didn’t matter that the politicians were corrupt around him and were lying and bribes I didn’t matter that the religious leaders were lying because of their own desire for money and power It didn’t matter God was able to bring about the dream And today, I just really believe I was praying in this building before we came in and thinking about the campuses And I believe that there are gonna be some miracles in this house today I believe that some of it is gonna have to do with infertility I don’t know why I was thinking about that, but I feel like God just dropped that in my heart Some of you, your miracle is gonna be around the same miracle, similar miracle that we celebrate the Christmas story Others, it’ll be your family, relationships in your body Take advantage of it Let’s open ourselves to God as we respond to Him Lord, I thank You for Your kingdom I thank You for how wonderfully You’ve knit us together God, I thank You for Your direction And, Lord, when we feel stuck, that You’re there

and that You’re able and that You will And so, God, I pray that Your kingdom would come and Your will would be done in this place In Your name we pray, Amen