Do We Have a Dream?

(From a sermon preached 25 January 2015)

I had a dream last night?                     Did you?

Chances are you did – but did you remember it?

Generally I enjoy dreaming – although some can be mystifying.

Indeed most of my dreaming I imagine is just random jumbled thoughts; outright weird sometimes.

In my dreams I can do anything!

leap tall buildings

fly over deep gullies

get away from the bad guys

be shot but never die.

What about your dreams? Apparently we all dream but we don’t all recall our dreams.

What do you recall?

According to the dictionary a dream is:

A series of thoughts, images, and sensations occurring in a person’s mind during sleep:

But it can also be

A cherished aspiration, ambition, or ideal:

Last Monday was Martin Luther King Jr day; this man born on the 15th January 1929 – also had a dream.

His most famous speech delivered on August 28, 1963, was heard by more than 200,000 people who had gathered in the shadow of the Lincoln Memorial.

“I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

I have a dream stirred a nation – and lead to radical change, freedom and recognition for black Americans.

Martin Luther King Jr had a dream – he had a cherished aspiration, an ambition, an ideal.

When we think about it it is the dreamers who inspire change and a better future. Those who imagine a different future; those who have the courage to pursue that future.

Martin Luther King Jr had a dream

Do you have a dream?

Do we have a dream?

Dreams are commonplace in the Bible also – and I’m intrigued that in Scripture the words for dream seem to be used in both the ways we commonly use:

Dream often is “a series of thoughts, images, and sensations that occur while a person is sleeping” and becomes “a cherished aspiration, an ambition, an ideal”.

Who are the dreamers in the Bible?

I’m thinking of Joseph

Do you recall his dream? We read about it in Genesis 37:1-11

It would take a long time but the day came when Joseph ruled over his brothers and they bowed to him.

Solomon had a dream one night too. In his dream he had an amazing conversation with God.  1 Kings 3:5-15

Let’s move into the New Testament.

Joseph the father of Jesus was known to dream. Matthew 1:18-24.

Again in Matthew 2 Joseph was told by God to flee to Egypt in a dream and to return from Egypt in a dream.

Peter the practical man of action apostle of Jesus also became a dreamer. In Acts 10 God showed him a picture that convinced Peter that the gospel had to be shared with all people.

And likewise Paul ministering in Asia Minor one night had a dream that changed his direction and took him to Europe.

Acts 16

9-10 That night Paul had a dream: A Macedonian stood on the far shore and called across the sea, “Come over to Macedonia and help us!” The dream gave Paul his map. We went to work at once getting things ready to cross over to Macedonia. All the pieces had come together..

Other versions say Paul had a vision – but these words in this context are really the same thing.

God uses dreams and visions to direct his servants; dreams and visions, to change their hearts, change their attitude; their direction.

The Church has been shaped by the dreamers.

Indeed the prophet Joel said: Joel 2:28

Then afterwards
I will pour out my spirit on all flesh;
your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
your old men shall dream dreams,
and your young men shall see visions.
29 Even on the male and female slaves,
in those days, I will pour out my spirit.

Where else have you heard that?

From the lips of Peter; Acts 2:17-18

“In the last days it will be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions,
and your old men shall dream dreams.
Even upon my slaves, both men and women,
in those days I will pour out my Spirit;
and they shall prophesy.

Joel was saying this will happen one day. Peter is saying this is happening NOW.

God has poured out his Spirit on all people; all races; rich and poor; educated and illiterate; male and female.

Essentially God is saying that I will speak to my people by prophecy and through dreams and visions.

I will speak to all of my people.

Martin Luther King Jr had a dream for his nation.

My dream is smaller and it’s still developing.

I have a dream for this Church?

Do you have a dream?

I believe it is essential that together we develop a dream; a sense of what is possible in God for us; a dream that will encourage us and challenge us, and take us beyond where we are now; beyond where we can even imagine if it were not for God.

Did you notice in Scripture so many of the dreams and visions were unexpected; so many relied upon God’s work, but they also relied upon the person, the people responding in obedience.

Peter went to the house of Cornelius; preached the Word and even while he was speaking, Acts 10: 44 ‘the Holy Spirit fell upon all who heard the word.’

Peter did what he was asked to do – God the Spirit did the rest.

Paul had this vision of a man calling him to Macedonia – a whole new frontier of ministry – Europe! Paul went in faith; arriving in Philippi the leading city of the region nothing of significance took place until the Sabbath. On that day Paul found a place near the river where people prayed and he began to speak.  Acts 16:14ff

A certain woman named Lydia, a worshipper of God, was listening to us; she was from the city of Thyatira and a dealer in purple cloth. The Lord opened her heart to listen eagerly to what was said by Paul. 15 When she and her household were baptized, she urged us, saying, ‘If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come and stay at my home.’

Paul obeyed – going to unknown places in response to the vision he had received he preached the good news and the Lord did the rest.

We too are being called, stretched, challenged, invited to enter God’s vision for us and this community.

There are some cautions – not everything I say is necessarily right; not everything you say, any of us say is necessarily right. Sometimes we simply get it wrong.

So we have to test the dream; check the vision.

1 Thessalonians 5:16ff

Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise the words of prophets, 21 but test everything; hold fast to what is good; 22 abstain from every form of evil.

We must be a praying people

We must be an expecting people – expecting that God will speak to us.

We must test the vision; check the dream – is it of God?

Is it for us?                      Is it for now?

Does it align with Scripture?

If it doesn’t – reject it immediately.  

Take counsel from others: mature elders; pastors; others in the church.

There is a wonderful verse in Acts 15:28

The church was wrestling with some important decisions about how to minister amongst the gentiles.

Then when they begin announcing their decision they say… “For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us.” 

They had been in prayer and intense discussion – they took seriously their responsibility to discern God’s call together and then finally they are able to say: we agree!

We should also ask of a vision

Is it convicting.                         Does it linger.

Dreams from God tend to linger – and challenge us, disturbing our sleep until we begin to act upon it.

Ultimately – does it come to pass.

So friends I dream, Parish Council dreams, Ps Joao, Ps Clay, the elders dream of a different tomorrow.

I have a dream for Arrowtown – I see a day when St John’s buildings and grounds will ring to the sounds of children and teenagers.

A day when the elderly and young worship and encourage each other and reach out in service to that community.

For Queenstown I see a church that reaches out to the margins; strangers, foreigners, and people far from God being invited in to hear the good news while God opens their hearts.

I see opportunity to welcome even more – so that Global Community truly becomes a more Global Community.  And I dream of a rebuilt space that will allow greater use by the community and from which we can serve.

In Frankton I see a growing hub for all our ministries. Changing patterns of worship, growing numbers of families.

And the unpopular one but I see a need to rebuild – we are outgrowing this site, and we will have to do something about that.

In Arrowtown, in Queenstown, in Frankton, amongst the Global Community I dream of a people who hunger and thirst for God; teaching and encouraging one another. A people going out to their neighbours, to this community, a people who increasingly take the gospel to the nations.

And we do that in two ways.

The nations are coming here – they will come in greater numbers and we will open our hearts to them, and we will teach them and love them. Joao, Clay and I dream one day of a discipleship school here that will train up many for the kingdom.

And we will also go. Sending missionaries, and missionary teams when and where God leads.

I pray that in 10 years we will struggle to recognise ourselves as we seriously step out in faith.

Our mission is: To live in Christ, and to grow as a Community of Faith, Hope, Love and Joy.

And our vision is that we must also be seeking to grow in numbers. Growing not for our sake but for the sake of God’s kingdom.

Growing one life at a time – Because every life, every individual matters to God.

Some call me a dreamer; but that’s ok – I wish we are all dreamers in God.

Seeing God’s vision

Dreaming God’s dreams

Then together proclaiming God’s Word and making those God given dreams reality.

Ephesians 3 20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,

21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Get the Fear

This morning we begin a 4 week series looking at the book of Jonah – a familiar story that has much to teach us about the sovereignty, and justice and mercy of God.  Jonah 1.

By way of background we need to be aware that Jonah ministered between 800-750BC during a time of relative peace for the northern kingdom of Israel. However a major threat from the north was posed by Assyria, whose intentions for domination of the region were obvious.

Jonah was a contemporary of Elisha, Amos and Hosea. Earlier in his career he had been used by God to bring good news to Israel, in particular he encouraged King Jeroboam to restore Israel’s borders to their former glory (2 Kings 14:25). I’m sure this positive prophet became popular in the royal court and no doubt enjoyed the good favour of the people as well.

However no sooner had Israel achieved the promised security than she began to gloat over her success and became exceedingly complacent about her favoured status with God (Amos 6:1). Religion became focused upon the Day of the Lord (Am 5:18-20) in which other nations would be engulfed in darkness while Israel basked in God’s light.

In any age what does God require of us? Continue reading

No need to be imprisoned

From a sermon delivered 12th May. Read Acts 16:16-40

Paul and Silas are going to a place of prayer and meet a woman. This woman is a no-name slave girl, no power, no status, no freedom: doubly enslaved: to her human master and to a spirit that bound her in fear.

At first reading I am confused by Paul’s reaction – this woman is after all speaking the truth, at least close to it; she provides free advertising for Paul. Continue reading

Remember Me

from a sermon delivered Sunday 26th April at St John's, Arrowtown. Read 1 Corinthians 11:1, 17-34

If you have been part of this church, or for that matter, almost any church, for more than a month or two you will be familiar with the words, “Do this in remembrance of me.” In virtually all congregations these words are said each time communion is shared. Continue reading

to the Cross

A sermon for Palm/Passion Sunday 24th March. Luke 19:28-41, 22:39-48

Entry to JerusalemThis Sunday we enter what the church calls Holy Week, a week that traces the final days of Jesus’ earthly life and invites us to enter the journey for ourselves: some of us will attend to prayer and bible reading, and if that’s for you there are suggested readings that I sent out by email this week and on our web page and Facebook there’s a link to a book you can download there.

Sometimes this time in the church year can seem a little ho hum, been there done that. We know the details of Palm Sunday, the Last Supper, Good Friday, and Easter. We are going through this again? Why? Continue reading

Prodigals

a sermon from Erin Pendreigh as preached at St John's and St Andrew's 10 March 2013. Scripture Luke 15:11-32

Who do we identify with this morning?

Illusion (Young woman Old lady)

Have a look at it this image for a moment – who do you see?

Do you see the young lady – or the old woman?

Try as I might I can only see the young lady.

I have tried turning my head this way and that – but the old woman just won’t appear for me.  I have a memory of seeing this picture a while ago and I am sure that I could see both – I thought I must have been really clever —- but I wonder if it was that I was just open to the possibilities.

So who do you see? Continue reading

The Naked Truth

A sermon for Sunday 3rd March 2013. Read Isaiah 55:1-9, Luke 13:1-9

In Hans Christian Andersen’s fairytale “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” the emperor wanted everyone to tell him how good he looked in his new clothes. He’d employed the best tailors, spent a load of money and he was convinced he was the envy of the world – a man to be admired.

By THÓRARINN LEIFSSON. www.totil.com

Yet we all know he was naked! No one would tell him the uncomfortable truth, that he’d been tricked, that he was as naked as the day he was born, except for one little child, who naively called out: “Look, he’s not wearing any clothes!”

Most of us shy away from speaking the bad news, the uncomfortable news so bluntly – and when someone else does it we don’t know where to look.

Continue reading

Evangelism

A sermon from Sunday 24th February 2013. Read Matthew 28:18-20; 1 Corinthians 9:19-22; 1 Peter 3:15  with help from Bill Hybels

Preachers often report a familiar scene – whenever preaching on EVANGELISM the congregation looks like a possum caught in the headlights.

And Adrian Plass throws some light unto why this may be the case.

He writes “Personal evangelism, or rather my failure to do it, was one of the things that caused me quite a lot of guilt when I was a young Christian.”

I understand that – and in part that guilt and feelings of inadequacy explain the reaction whenever the preacher turns to Matthew 28:20.

We don’t like being reminded of our lack and we feel out of our depth when confronted with the super-stars of evangelism who make it all look so easy.

Well sorry possums but we are talking about evangelism.

But before we go on just what is evangelism?

Evangelism defined. The word ‘evangelism’ comes from the word euaggelion. This is a word composed to two other Greek words, eu which means ‘well’ or ‘good’, and aggelion, meaning ‘message’. The word ‘evangel’, therefore, means ‘good message’ or ‘good news’. To evangelize is to present good news.

Sometimes we think of evangelism as seeing men and women come to faith. But that is the result of evangelism and that part really is God’s work. Our part is to present the good news of Jesus the Christ.

Three quick points to keep in mind…

— Act of God... We acknowledge that salvation is of God. It is God who has taken the initiative, while we were yet sinners, to send Christ into the world. It is God who convicts people of their need and convinces them of the truth of Jesus Christ as the only way to live their lives now, and the only way to live the eternal life we were created for.

— Gospel of Christ… Salvation is due to Christ’s work on the cross. He was the sacrifice for sin and was the first fruit of the resurrection. Our salvation is due solely to the work of Jesus Christ and is not based on any form of human endeavour or merit.

— Come to Salvation… everyone is required to come to God in repentance and to place their life under the authority of Jesus. Jesus is the only path to God, the only path to salvation.

But even though the act of salvation is God’s work we must not forget that we are the means God often uses to bring someone to that point where they recognise their need of God.

It is the example we set, the words we speak, the love that we share that so often is critical in a persons faith journey.

Yet in general we find it difficult to share our faith.

No doubt there are many reasons for this: sadly some of us are luke-warm in our faith, it doesn’t excite us, it is not a priority to us, it just is something we do without really doing anything.

Hardly surprising then that we don’t talk about it, and if we did our lack of enthusiasm is hardly going to inspire.

Others however simply feel out of their depth, inadequate. We have not learnt to share our faith and we don’t believe we have the temperament or the knowledge to do so.

But look around – there are friends, family, colleagues and neighbours who are dead. For without Christ we are all dead.

Friends we have an urgent task to get out of our comfort and to share the good news with the walking dead of our community.

In Matthew 5 Jesus describes believers as Salt and Light.  But to be of any use the Light must be displayed and the Salt poured from the shaker.

As one of our Parish Councillors put it on Tuesday night the trouble with salt is it often clumps together, especially when in the shaker too long. And the longer left there the harder it is to get out.

Saltshaker Christians

Church and church structures and church people are a lot like a giant Salt Shaker.  It’s kind of comfortable in here – not too many hassles – all the other grains are similar to me – we fit together – we clump together.

But we are not much use in the shaker. We must be poured out on a lost and broken world.

In his book ‘Becoming a Contagious Christian’ Bill Hybels suggests some basic principles that we need as we are poured out

…and the first is the principle of HIGH POTENCY.

You see, the salt must have flavour – and that only comes from a deep and potent relationship with Christ.

In order to fulfil the Great Commission described in Matthew 28 we need a real and vibrant relationship with our Lord.

A relationship that becomes obvious to anyone who knows us.

I have been conducting a lot of weddings lately and one thing that is fairly consistent with the couples I marry is that they are consumed by each other.

love-pic

Their relationship is fresh, deep, vibrant and it quickly becomes obvious that they are ‘in love’.

Likewise we are highly potent and impact those around us when we have a relationship with Jesus that is deep and real; so much so that his love flows through us and beyond us. It is obvious when we are ‘in-love’ with Jesus.

This is not something we can learn, buy off the internet or fake – the love of God flows from our relationship with God and no other way.

To positively share our faith with others they must be convinced that our faith is for real.  We can’t put this on, and people will know when we are genuine.

People are watching us, more than you realise.  They are looking for something and they are watching you to see if what you say matches how you live. Shallow faith, lukewarm faith tends to result in lifestyles and attitudes that don’t reflect the love of God – and make no mistake people notice.

I was asking someone last year about their faith journey: they had recently become a follower of Jesus.

This person had been around the church for many years, involved in groups like Mainly Music, appreciating what was offered and quietly watching. In time they began to explore the gospel and in more time made a commitment to Christ.

There were many important steps in this persons journey but one stands out. It was the watching of people here at this church – people whose words and actions consistently reflected the love of God, that then lead to a desire to know this love personally.

And I bet none of those involved considered themselves to be an evangelist.

Yet they had a key quality of high potency because they themselves have a deep and real relationship with Christ.

 … the second principle is that of CLOSE PROXIMITY….

You see, it doesn’t matter how POTENT our relationship with Christ is if we never get close to people who don’t know Christ themselves.

Remember salt does no good if it is left in the shaker. So if we are going to impact our world for Christ, the most effective approach will be through relationships with those who need to be reached.

Statistics show that within 2 years of becoming a Christian most people have no significant relationship with non-Christians. They get so involved in the church that they centre nearly every free moment of their lives within the church and have no time left to develop relationships with lost people.

The salt stays in the shaker.

To really influence our community we must live our Christian lives openly – publically, we must connect with people that have yet to know God.

How do we do this – simply by being involved.

Get involved in the community, school groups are great for this, but so are garden clubs; drama groups, U3A, volleyball and lawn bowls … whatever … look for opportunities to go out there and introduce yourself to people who need to be introduced to Jesus Christ.

Follow Paul’s example in our text from 1 Corinthians and, …become all things to all people so that by all possible means you might save some.

Okay, that’s two steps.  In order to effectively do our bit to share the good news so that others can know Jesus we must have a HIGHLY POTENT walk ourselves and we must be in CLOSE PROXIMITY to others  A final consideration.

…the principle of…CLEAR COMMUNICATION.

Again remember Paul’s words about becoming all things to all people. One of the principles behind is knowing people and communicating to them in ways they understand.

Paul writes to the Colossians:

 … pray for us as well that God will open to us a door for the word, that we may declare the mystery of Christ, for which I am in prison,so that I may reveal it clearly, as I should.   Colossians 4:3-4

Paul knew the importance of ensuring the message was understood, and I suspect he was equally aware that he had to be careful in this regard. He did not dumb down the message but he was careful to convey it in ways that would connect with his audience.

Likewise with us – don’t worry about not being educated, or about knowing all the answers to all the questions.  None of us do anyway.  Simply tell the story of the gospel that you have experienced – that’s what Paul did, tell it simply and clearly.

Adrian Plass is good at saying things simply and clearly.  Today gone is the guilt of his earlier days.

Today he has got his priorities in order and he writes this:

…commitment to God has become my priority, I shall pass on the message of salvation as well as it can be done, in the way and the place that is appointed and right, just as Jesus did …2000 years ago.

 

Friends may we be poured out.

Arohanui - Ian

Temptation

a sermon for Sunday 17th February 2013. Read Genesis 2:15-17, 3:11-8, Luke 4:1-13.

To be human is to experience temptation, and in Luke’s narrative – as the final event before his public ministry begins – Jesus is put to the test.

If you need further proof that Jesus is fully human here it is – like you and me – Jesus was tempted, he could not escape that side of life. And don’t think for a moment this was his only experience of temptation. I am sure like you and I temptation was before him at all times. Hebrews 2:18 tells us he was tempted in every way. Continue reading