A Dream Can Change Everything

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 fulfill 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)

Joseph had a dilemma. The right thing to do in Joseph’s mind was to divorce Mary. And Joseph was all about doing the right thing. According to Scripture, he was faithful to the law, which required divorcing a wife who was guilty of adultery. There was no other possible explanation Joseph could come to. How else could Mary have gotten pregnant? The law is all about doing right things on a horizontal plane. Being a nice guy though, Joseph decided to quietly get a divorce and not publicly disgrace Mary.
God intervened in Joseph’s horizontal world and turned everything vertical. In a dream, God explained that the child Mary was carrying was from the Holy Spirit and that Joseph had been chosen to step into the father role and name the boy, Jesus. In a great act of faith and obedience, Joseph chose to accept his place in the plan of God.
It might not be in a dream, but God is still working at getting our attention and turning our focus vertical. What might be expected on the horizontal level is to finish college and get a good paying job in order to enjoy life. God’s call, however, might be to move to another nation to make disciples in a culture different than one’s own. It might be to live and serve in the inner city, demonstrating the life of Jesus to those in darkness. The vertical life is always about allowing God to interrupt our own plans and move in a whole new direction, centered upon His purposes.

Listen: Spend a few quiet moments seeking God. Be attentive to whatever He may speak to your heart.

Reflect: How is the Spirit leading you to respond to what you have heard from God?

Confess and Repent: If there is something the Spirit convicts you of, take time to prayerfully confess it. Resolve to turn from it if it is sin, or step toward whatever He is leading you into that you have either neglected or not seen before.

Ask: Father, whether through a dream or another way, interrupt my life with Your presence and Your purposes. Set me free from desiring to do what appears right in the eyes of others and to desire only that which is right in Your eyes. May I have the faith of Joseph, willing to take risks in order to walk in obedience to You!


  • Can you remember God doing something completely unexpected through a dream or a thought . . . something that changed everything about the direction you were going? How did you respond?
  • Are you willing to take a risk if God were to lead you to step into something unfamiliar or completely out of your comfort zone? If not, what would keep you from saying yes to Him?
  • Keep a journal by your bedside to record any dreams you may have. If you think a dream might have spiritual significance, submit it both to Scripture and trustworthy advisors to see if the Holy Spirit may be leading you as He did with Joseph.

Taken from Vertical with Jesus by David and Kim Butts. © 2022 PrayerShop Publishing.