(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.
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
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.