From Dreams to Reality Pt I
As many of you would know one of the main goals at Grace this year has been to see every person who calls Grace their home experience measurable growth in their personal lives so that more of Jesus would be seen and experienced in all of our relationships. If we want the world to see more of Jesus for that to happen we need to grow in the expression of our love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
Now during a lot of my messages so far this year I’ve felt the need to encourage us to keep on keeping on when the valleys we’re walking through seem to drag on for ever. It’s not how you handle the good times that determines the outcome of your life but how you handle the tough times. They’re also the ones that have the most potential to grow us or derail us. Being prepared for the ups and downs of life means we’re more likely to persevere and succeed.
That said, I’d like to take the next little while to help lift your eyes to see the possibilities that lie ahead when you do life with Jesus. To challenge you to dream bigger than you’ve ever dreamt before whilst remaining firmly grounded in reality.
There’ve been too many messages preached from pulpits in the past that have catapulted people into the stratosphere chasing stars only to leave them dying from a lack of oxygen in outer space with no way of arriving at their destination. Hopefully these next few messages won’t set you up for disappointment but will instead give you the tools you’ll need to see your most profitable and best days ever serving Jesus.
Some of my message today may sound a bit familiar because I talked about Dreams a few years ago just after we’d moved into the Grace Centre. What I find really cool about it is that when I last talked about dreams we were in the early stages of seeing our dream for the Centre and our community coming to pass. Since then we’ve built the offices at the Centre and now not only have the offices been built, but the foyer, toilets and disabled car park have been completed. One Community Together’s Staff worker is based at our offices throughout the week and Lifeline and various other community organisations regularly run workshops out of the Wilson Room. Every week we have community members accessing the space and our youth program GY is now the biggest regular gathering of young people on the Eastern Shore of Hobart, possibly even all of Hobart itself. And just recently we’ve seen nearly a million dollars pledged to get the kitchen at the Centre up and running as a source of emergency food relief and a traineeship provider for local young people.
It’s been a great object lesson for all of us showing us what can be achieved when you start where you are, use what you have and do what you can in the pursuit of a dream, serving others so that they might experience the love of Jesus.
When we first moved to Clarence Plains and started meeting here at Emmanuel, God spoke to me from Revelation 3:7, 8
Revelation 3:7, 8
“To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write:
These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.
That promise launched our church into our current season of faith where we’ve looked for opportunities within our community to get involved, serving and helping out wherever we can. We’ve seen door after door open up for us to care and to help others and it’s been a joy getting to know so many great people here in our local area.
I believe that God has been quietly working in the background getting us ready for significant engagement which revolves around the dream He has for our lives and the community He’s planted us in. And I believe that we as a church have been prepared and equipped to see that come to pass.
Dreams are different to vision. [Slide] Vision is a picture of the future that you can imagine, along with steps that need to be taken to see that picture come to pass. We often talk about vision in the context of leadership and the growth of an organisation. Dreams however are a whole nuther level above vision.
Dreams are a creative picture of a future that given the state of our current situation, appear completely out of reach.
They are the birthplace of all human creativity, a creativity that’s birthed and grows in our imagination.
To understand why dreams are so very important we need to go right back to the start of the bible.
I want to draw your attention to two things that we find in Genesis.
Even though its staring us right in the face we tend to brush over it way too quickly. To our detriment.
The first thing that we need to note is the creation of the physical universe from nothing. Funnily enough both science and the Bible agree that that’s how the universe started. It’s just that the Bible has a little bit more information to add as to what kicked it all off.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
Now here’s what’s really interesting about that statement.
Before anything came into existence the thought of it was present in God’s mind.
The universe remains the single greatest demonstration of creativity that you and I and all of humanity right from the beginning of history, have ever witnessed. And it all started in the imagination of God. He had a dream which became reality. It moved from His imagination and created the physical reality that you and I experience every day of our lives.
Science itself is convinced that everything that is, was created out of nothing that was. They call it the big bang. [Slide] We call it, God’s first public gallery exhibition. And what an amazing exhibition its ended up being.
How did He kick it all off? “Then God said, . . “ He released His dream through speech. We’ll come back to that in a moment.
1) So the first point that I want to make is that the very first thing we learn about God in the Bible is that He is extraordinarily creative. Creativity is the very first behaviour we see God demonstrating.
Nowadays we call creative people artists, inventors, designers, authors. All of them combined pale into insignificance when compared to the creativity of God displayed at the creation of the universe. God is the original dreamer, the original artist, the original creator, the original author.
He started everything off and it all came from His imagination. The picture He created in His mind. The dream that He so clearly saw and then spoke into being.
2) When God created humankind, what did He do? What was His goal?
Genesis 1 says,
Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us.”
We’ve just had God create everything there is from nothing other than a picture He had in His imagination and then He creates human beings in His image stating His intention is that we would be just like Him. Wow!
What does that tell you about you?
If you’ve been created in the image of God to be like Him then what does that actually mean?
It means that every one of us has the God given creative ability to dream of things that have yet to happen and then see those dreams come to pass.
The creative ability to imagine something that doesn’t exist, is part of your DNA. It’s part of who you are. If you accept the existence of God and the truth of your creation in His image then you have within you the same potential that saw the creation of the universe happen out of nothing.
Now we have no idea how old God is, or how long it took Him to picture the universe in all its diversity so I’m not saying that you can go out and create your own pocket dimension with a little universe sitting inside it. But I am saying that the ability to dream and imagine something that has never been seen before, lives in the heart of every little girl and boy who has ever been born on the face of the planet.
When you travel across the earth it’s not long before you see examples of the creativity of humanity on display over and over again. In every culture, in every people group, in every location that humans live, there will always be examples of their incredible creativity that effects the world around them.
Where did toasters come from? They came from the imagination of a person who had a dream and then brought that dream into our reality. Where did our current school system come from? It came from multiple people who had a dream of what the education of children should look like and they then brought that dream into reality and it continues to unfold right through to our day.
Humans are by nature creative, because of the template that was used to create us in the first place, and the creative process is powered by our minds’ ability to dream dreams. To imagine the unimaginable. To picture a future that isn’t here in the natural, yet.
So where are we going with this?
I believe that within every one of us there’s a God given dream that we’re responsible to deliver to our generation. There is within each of us something that the world will never see if we don’t give birth to it.
If God hadn’t spoken out the dream that was within His heart, the universe would never have come into existence.
Miles Munroe said it like this,
“The wealthiest spot on earth isn’t the greatest gold mine but a cemetery, because many people take their wealth/their purpose to the grave. Buried there are great books & music never written, businesses never started, visions that never became reality. The grave yard should never get a dream that you were born to give to your generation.”
I want to make an important clarification right now. I’m not talking about your dream car or your dream house or your dream job. I’m talking about something way higher than a comfortable lifestyle. I’m talking about a dream that will leave your world in a better place than it was before you were born. That’s the dream we’re talking about this morning. It’s the dream that releases the power of the creativity locked up within your DNA, to bring about change in the world around you that will leave it a better place for others who will come behind.
Now you can use the power of dreams to selfishly feather your own nest. To destroy rather than build. To oppress rather than liberate. To anaesthetise yourself to the pain and suffering in the world around you. And we see that happening down through history, time and time again. Where men and women have used their God given creative ability for evil rather than good. You have a Hitler on the one hand, and a Nelson Mandela on the other. Both used the power of a dream to bring about change in the world.
The challenge we all face is to dare to dream a dream that will change our lives and the lives of those around us, helping align them with the dream that God originally had for all of humanity. That we would flourish and multiply, living in harmony with each other and the world around us. You have the potential to change the world for the betterment of others.
But you need to bring your dream into the light of day. You need to articulate it, to speak it out, to give it breath.
Remember, you don’t have to know how it’s going to come to pass. It’s a dream that we’re talking about here, not a vision or a plan or a goal. It’s a dream. The very nature of dreams puts them outside of what is completely understandable in the natural. They at times invite ridicule and will sometimes be laughed at by those who can’t see what you can see.
God spoke his dream into being and we need to, as well.
Who here know’s their dream? Did you have a dream once but you’ve let it slide? Have you forgotten it?
I have a bunch of dreams. Personal dreams, dreams for my family, dreams for our church.
I remember in Townsville 25 years ago when Deb and I were pastoring our first church and asking myself the question “Where does Jesus want to be in our local community?” And the answer I came up with was “He wants to be at the very centre, not on the edge.” That made me think about how uninvolved churches have become nowadays in their communities and led me to the question, “If our church were to close its doors would anyone even notice?”
That birthed a dream in my heart to pastor a church that was so involved and embedded in its community that everyone in the community would notice if we were to close our doors. 25 years later, that dream is becoming a reality.
And you know what’s really cool about that. It has nothing to do with our Sunday service or a church building. It’s totally dependent on the good we’re currently doing in Clarence Plains. And I think that’s the way the church was always meant to function in the world.
If I were to ask you, “What is it that you would love to see happen in the world around you, the people in your life, your family?” and then get you to describe that to me, could you? If not, why not?
If God created you to be like Him, don’t allow the world or yourself to tell you otherwise. Don’t allow your past to write your future’s script. You were created to create, to bring beauty, love, joy and hope into this world.
One of my profile pics on Facebook is a quote by Mary Oliver where she asks a very pointed question.
Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?
I can answer that question for you if you’ll tell me your dream. I can’t, if you don’t have one, and neither can you.
Because without a dream the world around you will create your life, the circumstances you find yourself in, your upbringing, your past, the way people treat you, the way you feel about yourself, the hand that fate deals you.
But if you have a dream for your life and pursue it, over the course of your life you WILL see a creative miracle come to pass.
Just one last thought, not all dreams are created equal. Too many people use the power of dreams to promote themselves. That’s not what God wants for you. He wants your dream to promote others. He wants you to lay your life down for others. To use your creativity for the betterment of the world. We’re going to talk more about that next week.