Part 4: Living Out God's Dream

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20/20 Vision for Life  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  39:38
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In this message, we’ll talk about the power of two underused spiritual practices: dreaming and planning. God invites us to dream of what tomorrow could be like if we believe Him and He challenges us to plan based on where we are today. The connection between the reality we face today and the dream God gives us for tomorrow is important for us to understand as we discover clarity about our lives.

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Well according to Legend. on December 31st 1899 the way back the passenger steamer the SS warrimoo warrimoo a good name. That sounds like it should be on on Mario or something right the SS warrimoo with quietly knifing its way through the waters of the mid-pacific on its way from Vancouver to Australia. You can see maybe it's past their the Navigator had just finished working out a star fix that had brought the man that brought the master Captain John Phillips. The resolved the warm is position was latitude 0 degrees 31 minutes north and longitude 179 degrees 30 minutes West

The first mate said to Captain Phillips. He said do you know what this means is that we're only a few miles from the intersection of the Equator and the International Date Line. Captain Phillips had a little bit of a prank a streak about him and a little bit snarky and so has so much so that he wasn't going to let the opportunity to take full advantage of this passing by.

He wanted to achieve a navigational freak for the ages. Here's what he did. He called his Navigators to the bridge to check and double-check the ship's position and then he's slightly changed course. So as to Bear directly on his Mark, then He adjusted the engine speed and the calm weather and it was a clear night. All of that worked in his favor and it midnight the war moule on the equator exactly at the point where it crossed the International Date Line. Now first blush this might not seem like a big deal. But bear with me here because the consequences of this bizarre position geographical position is Manny the forward part of the ship was in the southern hemisphere in the middle of summer. The back of the ship was in the northern hemisphere in the middle of winter.

The date on the back of the ship was December, excuse me on the on the back of the ship was December 31st, 1980 or 1899. The date on the front of the ship was January 1st 1900. Now think about this for a second. This is crazy. So this ship was in two different hemispheres at the same time on two different days in two different months of two different seasons in two different years and two different centuries all at the same time.

for the record We don't know for sure if this actually happened.

And I recognize to the 1899 and 1900 are actually the same Century, but don't ruin my illustration. Do you realize what this means for passengers of this ship? If you are on the back of the ship. You had the opportunity to stay there in that day for a few more moments and just Savor the rest of 1899. But you also have the opportunity. Walk into your future you can walk to the front of the boat and enter your tomorrow and be the first people to step into the new year.

No matter where you are. Or what the date on the calendar is? You have that opportunity to you have that opportunity? Take some steps and move into the dream that God has for you in the future.

You can do that. How do you do that? Well, we do this by the spiritual practice of dreaming you can enter tomorrow, you might not realize it but I would contend that dreaming is actually a spiritual practice. But most people have to learn how to do it and we're going to go to bed have a dream and wake up right I'm talking about dreaming in the sense that that you're awake. I've like living into God's dream for you. Dreaming is part of what it means to be human. In fact, it's it's our unique ability to imagine that tomorrow could be different than today. you like I'm not much of a Visionary will know if you're a human being you're a Visionary. It's part of bearing God's image. Do you realize that? Being made in God's image then that you're a Visionary. I don't think that's too lofty of a plane to make because if you think about it, if you've ever looked forward to Something in the future and told someone about it. You're a visionary. You've been dreaming about the future we ever done that we will look forward to the future all the time. We look forward to vacations. We look forward to date nights. We look forward to graduations and the completions of a project. We look forward to the relief of physical pain are filled belly. It's important to see. That is a human being you're a Visionary and you can dream and you can look into the future. You can like the people walking across the bow that ship you can walk into the future simply by dreaming and it's I would contend it's a spiritual practice when it's done in a god-honoring way. Part of what makes you an image Bearer? But here's the deal when you stop dreaming about the future. You either stop start fantasizing or you just click into surviving with your life. You quit dreaming you quit planning. You quit thinking what would God have and sadly? This is where so many people live. They fantasize and survived. Or they survive and fantasize constantly going back between the two. One guy says we're Zombies by day, and we're insomniacs at night. Cuz we don't take time to dream God's dream for us in the future. And when we live this way friends, you you lose part of your Humanity part of what it means to image God and God has a different way for us. He wants us to dream and plan rather than survive infanticide. Hey, I want to talk to you about the spiritual practice of dreaming and planning with your life. And it's something we find God calling his people to do in Jeremiah 29. So you can turn their if you want working to get Jeremiah 29, but in the meantime, let me set a few things up that for the past few weeks. We were in the series cup 2020 vision for life and we've been dipping in and out of the book of Jeremiah looking at his life looking at the progression of things for the people of Israel and what it what it looks like to have a vision for your life that the God we saw the first week that God Made You More unique than you think like just like Jeremiah Jeremiah what had a purpose and a plan that was consecrated for him by God before he was ever formed in the womb the story the first few verses of the book of Jeremiah. It's undeniable we read about in Psalms as well. I think God has a plan and a dream for you that he had planned out all of your day is long before any one of them ever came to pass. He's been dreaming about your life prepared good works for you Paul rights and Seasons beforehand before you were even around and we talked about some of the false versions of herself that keep us from living into that and instead we turned out yours to try to hear what God says about who we are last week. We started talking about it that having you dream a little bit about what are those what's that calling? God has really how you express how he is uniquely made you to do honor him and love others. Today we're going to talk about dreaming a bit. I want to take another stuff on this journey and invite you into. Spiritual practices of dreaming and planning now. I told you to turn to Jeremiah 29 and Jeremiah 29 verse 11 is one of the most overused out of context vs used out of context vs and all the scripture, right? You know that it's like I don't even have to be up on the screen the plans I have for you declares the Lord plans to prosper you and the plans for a hope and a future and done all these things and even followed you this for any length of time. There's there maybe even to be a Trinket in your home, you know her hanging in the bathroom that has this verse on it somewhere, right? So I acknowledge that right away is that this verse I mean in the reason it gets used out of context sometimes because it's a powerful verse. I've got a highlighted in my Bible. I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord plans for welfare and not for evil but to give you a hope and a future. However, even though it's often quoted. It's seldom understood. And too often this passage is actually been used to justify the American dream. And it was never intended to justify the American dream. In fact, you could probably take a lot of what I said even in the course of this series and if you took it out of context from where I see how tall that you could accuse me of being a health wealth gospel Prosperity guy, right? You said you could take some clips and you can make me out to look like a fool on the internet pretty easily or if you were dipping in and out not paying attention and a danger of preaching the series like this is that some will almost certainly hear the things I'm saying even today and that light but I'm just telling you those that would be an error. And the reason for that is some preachers of pulled this passage from its context to claim that saying yes to Jesus is the equivalent of walking an EZ Pass the health and the well, But it's simply not the case. Nothing could be further from the truth so that they don't want you to hear this passage in its context and in the setting of this passage is incredibly critical for you to understand really what it says and what's happening here. So again, let me give you some background for Century or four centuries for decades Jeremiah has been the God's people the southern to Kings of Judah and if we take it all the way back in history just really quickly Solomon was the king of Israel and Israel was huge and prosperous as large as prosperous as it's ever been but after his death a random comes to power and because of sin the kingdom splits and the 12 tribes of Israel divided into two different nations to different kingdoms. There's 10 tribes to the north and there's two tribes to the South and got it told them we're ahead of time. Like if you obey me things are going to go really well to still Bay choose blessing, but if you choose to send your choosing to suffer and I'm going to discipline you and so They chose at the northern kingdom that 19 Kings. They all disobeyed and over the course of a couple hundred years. Basically, they turn from God and in 722 got sent the Assyrians into just totally house them and take them into Exile. He was keeping his promise they chose to send now they're going to suffer and he's doing that because he loves them. He wants him that he wants to turn their hearts back to him and I'll be Southern two tribes of Judah. That's where Jeremiah is at is at the end of the Southern tribes being around because a hundred fifty years later in 586 BC that the southern tribes are taken into Exile by the Babylonians by King Nebuchadnezzar. He comes in and cleans house. He sets up a new King in Jerusalem, and he takes all the the the leaders in the Craftsman in the artist. First aid takes him into Exile then comes back and takes a whole wave of others into Exile and Jeremiah is a profit during this time in the southern Kingdom in East Anglia. Go to get it. Like if you don't turn the same thing to happen to Israel going to happen to Judah. If we don't turn back to the Lord, we're going into a trust me open. Jeremiah was constantly written off by others will come on, but we don't want to hear this and there were false prophets, but came up and prophesied things against what Jeremiah and said, no, don't worry about that. He's just mr. Doom and Gloom actually things are going really really well for us. And I things are going great. And just don't worry about that. And we're going to be fine. That's what God really says.

Jeremiah continues prophesying and when we get to Jeremiah 29, the inevitable has begun to happen Exile has started neberkenezer comes then he sets up his own King to be faithful to him. He takes the leaders to try to break through that he thinks the leaders first into Exile collider come back for the rest. And it's during this time. He was trying to break through his ability to Rebelle again supporting its leaders at soldiers of Craftsmen and the Exile had begun in Jeremiah was one of those who are left with most of the population who are poor peasants in the spur. They can happen in three waves. And this first wave Jeremiah is Left Behind and at this moment his Messi against the change. If you guess the change in a pretty radical way give long preached the message of judgment to those who refuse to repent but here in these verses Jeremiah now give the word of Hope and Grace and of Mercy in the form of a letter to the people who have been exiled to Babylon. Is writing to them right at the lowest part of Israel's history in the most miserable situation. He calls them to dream and to plan to dream to look forward to God's hope that he has for them. He speaks into their current reality. I called them to get their eyes forward on what God has in the future Read With Me from Jeremiah chapter 29. I'm going to start in first one. We'll work our way up through 14 this morning. These are the words of the letter that Jeremiah the prophet sent from Jerusalem to the surviving Elders of the Exiles. Play sending it from Jerusalem to Babylon to the priest the prophets all the people who Nebuchadnezzar had taken into Exile from Jerusalem to Babylon.

Amazon down in first for that says the Lord of hosts the god of Israel to all the Exiles whom I've sent into Exile from Jerusalem to Babylon build houses live in then plant Gardens ether produce. Nothing, like advice should be here in like after you had just gotten sacked because of your sin and yet God comes in. He has a word for them. He's like okay lesson that you're being disappointed, but he needs to happen during this time. Dream houses living in point Gardens ether produce take wives have sons and daughters. Take wise for your sons and give your daughters in marriage that they made their sons and daughters multiply their don't decrease stick the welfare of the city that I've sent you into Exile and praise to the Lord on its behalf and its welfare. You will find your welfare your translation by saying its Prosperity. You'll find your prosperity for this is the Lord of hosts the god of Israel. Do not let your profits and your diviners who are among you deceive you and do not listen to the dreams that they dream remember there were some and if we will go back maybe a little bit later this morning and chapter 28, some of them started saying that no, it's really not going to be that bad. Like even though we're only going to be here for a couple years and God's going to send us back and it's going to be awesome. Don't don't sweat it God's in control. Right sounds like if you're in that yeah, that's the vision. I want to believe. Would you agree like just two years of this and then we're going home. I got those don't believe them. It's a lie verse 9 that their profits aren't you in my name? I did not send them the Claire's the Lord says the Lord when 70 years are completed for Babylon. Two years like they would say 70 years. I will visit you and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. Think about that for a second. Kind of gives them a dream for the future doesn't he? He gives them a preferred future of a better future a hoe. 70 years if you have been taken into exile. and you were / 5 there's a good chance. You're not going back. Isn't it? So you're not going to see the reality of what God has promised actually come to pass.

But he gave you some instructions of what to do in the midst of it, didn't he? Listen I am going to do this and I live like this in the midst of it. He says and then everybody says for I know I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord. I remember the people who hear this originally are probably not going to live through the Exile. They're going to die in Babylon. Forgot to listen or die. I know the plans I have for you. And now you're going to say it but he read between the lines that you're probably going to die here. But check this out my plans for you or for welfare and not for evil to give you a future and a hope. American dream that you can just pull up your bootstraps and do whatever you want and make the most of yourself. That's the promise of God that he's going to be with you through the mess as you trust him and follow him and continue to seek him and keep your dreams and your plans in line with what he has revealed and said in his word that make sense.

Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me and I will hear you. You will seek me and you will find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you the fires the Lord. I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I've driven you declares the Lord and I will bring you back to the place from which I have sent you into exile.

The God gives them a dream. Of what the future is going to look like and that's really what a god dream is. It's a vision for a better future that can only be achieved with God's help and I believe he has some of those dreams set up for you and for me and for a church. Okay, cuz he's like he has to 10 right like he's been planning good work for us in advance for you. And I to do them. He's got a plan. He's got a Dream well in advance in and it's things that it's like this Preferred Future Would you agree? Like that's the thing I want to do I want to do what God has for me to do. I want to live out that dream. There's a difference between God dreams and just simply fantasy human fantasy. That's what I want to do is I'm going to look here briefly this morning at kind of three distinctions between a god dream, which is a better future in line with reality god-centered gospel focus and human fantasy that's out of line with reality and that's me focused and all about me and my comfort. Yeah. Yeah. Here we go. Here's distinction. Number one. God dreams face reality got dreams face reality, but fantasies on the other hand. They totally deny reality. When God has a dream for the people here in Exile his dream faces their reality. Where is he riding this to them from sending this message to them at I should say.

They're being disciplined for their sin. It is it says right away the first one to the those who are in Exile. It doesn't deny reality. Like like the false prophet that it its face is it? And it got to restart my face in our current reality is in reality that God meets us with love and Hope and Faith and love this deal with the what is we are Bart's testimony this morning and seeing that sign in this dream that to know that he was love made all the difference so that he could face reality burn back to the Lord. That's why we have this blazing sign out there that says you are loved that you would understand that people would understand Another Love by Jesus Christ their love because of what do you realize it or like it or not? You are loved and it's when you begin to receive that love and become a Christian and follow Jesus Christ receiving that love for you. That's when things change.

And love helps us deal with the what is and love then we know where love that leads to Hope. Like there's a hope for me. There's there's something for me and in the midst of Exile these people get this message from Jeremiah. This is got to listen. I know the plans I have for you. I love you. I care about you even in the mess and now suddenly there's there's a little bit of Hope bright. A lot of times I begins with frustration frustration with the reality of what is right now. when you camp out in in God's love for you and what's true and as you turn your eyes to Jesus that hope becomes faith in this confident Assurance of What will be because God promised it?

Is good plans for his people Israel here now while that's a promise to Israel. God does not. If your follower Jesus Christ, you're one of his children. I just as he had good plans for them. I'm I'm telling you I can't believe I can say this with confidence. He has good plans ultimately for you. And dreams for you. Begins with receiving that love facing reality as it is right now that I need a savior. I need you to find need someone to help me. This isn't naive optimism. That's a fantasy.

In management in the management Guru Jim Collins book good to great. He interviewed a guy named Admiral James Stockdale.

if your picture of him here on the screen and He was looking in this book towns was looking in his book at organizations that displayed unusual excellence and he identified the characteristics that these companies had in common from to go from good to great and he's one of them in an interview with Admiral James Stockdale Stockdale had been the highest ranking Naval prisoner-of-war at the Hanoi Hilton during Vietnam during the Vietnam war. Now is that how do I help him? If you're not aware was the prisoner of war camp for American pows in North Vietnam? It's actual name with low prison in literally fiery furnace or Hell's Hole. That's probably all I need to say about what that place would have been like for him as he was taking a prisoner of war and in his time in captivity he persevered in the midst of just incredible torture and suffering. I made it through and so Collins ask. They'll how did you make it through such devastating circumstances? And here's what he told him Stockdale said that part of what allowed him to survive was that he never gave up believing that in the end. He and his comrades would Prevail and that this would be the defining moment of his life going through this. Continent as a follow-up question. What about the people who did survive who didn't survive the most octaves response was

that was then that would be the optimist.

And here's what you just said you persevered because you had this Vision out in front of you that I you were going to make it like you were optimistic about the future. He said yeah, but don't confuse that Vision in that belief for that future with naive optimism because The Optimist would say all we're going to be out by Christmas and then Christmas would come and go and they were still there Easter show me the world the over by Eastern Easter would come and go and they were still there and eventually they died. He said of a broken heart

Canada same as well as false prophets and Jeremiah 28, right? Like it'll only be two years and then this is all going to be over and got those. No, that's not actually the case. It's going to be 70. The dreaming and having a hope for a future doesn't deny reality. It's not fantasy. It says, you know what my situation is this that's how it's coming up, but I know God loves me and in that love I can face what is and I Can Dream I have confidence that he has a dream and a preferred future for me because he is good. make sense a distinction one between dreams and Fantasies got dreams and Fantasies got dreams a face reality fantasies. Totally deny them. Number to Dodge rims work through reality. They work it out fantasies. Just try to escape reality. They start facing reality, but they don't in there. They actually work through it in Jeremiah 29. He describes a tension for Israel's new life. He says for that says the Lord verse 10 when 70 years are completed to be 70 years, then I'll visit on the one hand. They needed to believe that that God. Would one day bring them back to Jerusalem and restore all they had lost it would be 70 years, but one day they would return so their stay here was not permanent. But on the other hand for those 70 years they're going to live in Babylon. And in Babylon, they needed to have a plan. They needed to settle down build houses plant Gardens get married have children. We read that earlier in chapter 29 never felt caught between Babylon and Jerusalem.

IQ you have this dream for what could be but man I'm stuck here in this reality. Whatever that reality might be in my life or the situation. Maybe it's one I've even made for myself.

But this point Jeremiah's prophecy God tells his people that even though he has a dream. He also has a plan through the dream is like the Preferred Future god-centered the plan is how they're going to get through the ups and downs until that calms. I think it's a dream like God would dream in line with his word in line with reality. But then also a God gives them actually plans to start working through it. God said that his Prosperity is it just tied to their eventual return instead? He wants them to prosper and Babylon to Prosperity hear this for what it means. It means to succeed flourish. It doesn't necessarily mean financial prosperity.

Frank the flourishing is a better word that they're going to flourish that their welfare is in God's view. He tells them they're they're flourishing is tied to the forest and of Babylon that very City that drag them into Exile and plan for the peace and prosperity of Babylon. Even while they dream of one day returning to Jerusalem for us as followers of Jesus. That means we seek the welfare of our community right like we get out we get involved were sent to love people even if the Love Is Never reciprocated and were sent to do that because the good of the community in the good of the spices are good and because our neighbor

Give some plans of how they're to live all this out and the hard to swallow truth. Is that the road to God accomplishing his dream would be filled with lots of ups and downs. I know about you though. And for God's dream. I want to like point A to point B. I'm right there. Tell me if your lives that's like totally not the case anybody with me like every hand should be sky-high right now. Totally not the case lots of ups and down but actually uses those ups and downs. Those are are not a deferment of his plans for you and his dream if you want to keep using that word for you. It's actually part of how he's going to bring you there. When introduce you to scan and Bruce yeany. Bruce Lee and he is a middle school science teacher and he talks about an illustrates. This fact of between kinetic energy has two pads because one the up two points shortest path from here to the next track. And so he's going to set this up. I'm going to quit talking but the question is will the ball get there quicker on the straight path or the lower path. I like to take a look at something. I called the high road low road track my car completely different the opposite side. If I were to release from the same height at the same time before we come up with what we try.

What is the shortest point between two points is a straight line it what happens? The potential energy is kept in the first ball, but it's released in the kinetic energy in the second one. God uses. I think this translate sterilized. He uses the ups and downs. My life isn't a straight down and up. It's a up and down keep watching.

Having to travel a little bit further up and down going to be early. Can't use that.

even with more ups and downs The Vault this totally illustrates how God uses the messed-up realities of our life when we Face Reality like see-through reality fantasy just tries to escape them and think I'm just going to go to straight path and I'll get there I don't have to go through the pain. I don't have to go through this suffering nonsense these things to A Dream Deferred. It's the dream defined its the realities of what is dream looks like if he brings us along this path Any wants you to plan not a naive plan for the future. Like I'm going to I'm going to get there and I'm going to step out every little detail in my life until I get there. No, it's like there's this dream on the horizon, but that's on the horizon. That's way out there. And so that's enough for for Israel's that's 70 years. So, what do I do now? How do I honor the Lord now in the meantime though? That's when there's a plan build houses for children X beef roof all those things, right? That's that God dream language shows up all throughout scripture. That's what he told Adam and Eve be fruitful and multiply fill the Earth. So he told no after I got off the arc be fruitful multiply, but then I've got a plan. I'm going to work. It's going to happen. Trust me in the process. For some of you it's really easy to dream for some of you it's really easy to plan and you're at odds with each other because the dreamers and the planners are not the same right that the planners look at the big dream and they go I've never seen a dream where anybody's ever got in there. I never seen a plan good enough to get me enough steps to get me there the Planters go. I've never seen a plan. That's and it's really God's eyes and is any more than a glorified to do list? Because you both got to look at what has got to have in the future. And then how do I live now? That's when he gives his people here in Exile. So got dreams face reality fantasy is denying God dreams walkthrough reality. They they they work through it through the ups and downs fantasies try to escape it but but got dreams face it and then the third distinction just quickly got dreams become reality fantasies leave you stuck and reality. Are you just escaped you ignore what God has said Set timing by says God dreams become reality. What God has said happens?

The final difference as enticing as a fantasy might be like the false prophets and Jeremiah 28. They never really change your reality and in the end. You're right where you started your stuck.

Dreaming like I would have you dream in accordance with his words centered on the gospel on his plans. They do change reality because they become a new reality is God works those good things. He's promised out in our lives. Israel's history proved at 70 years after all this they left eggs out on the entered back into the promised land. They did return God did alter their reality according to his dream for them. And we love stories of people like Daniel and Esther Show us to his people florist in the midst of this in the midst of the ups and downs. He was with them he cared for them. God promises the same for you and I Friends will close with this tradition. We have a word for everything that we've been talking about today. It's for the word confession like on a confession is what I mean by this Christians make two types of confession. We make confession of sin and we make confession of Faith confession of sin is a confession of what is I messed up. I need God's love. I need you to Christ to save me in to make me new. I need help in a big way. confession of sin we also on the other hand make a confession of Faith where we don't just stay where what is but we look ahead to what will be according to what God has said. That's a confession of faith. Got this is what your words said. I believe it or not on this totally see it right now. I don't get it right now. I believe it. I believe you're good. I believe you'll bring the sense to pass that you do have a plan in a future and a hope for me. What help me live in light of that and in reality not denying reality, but in reality looking forward to that future you promised. That's a space. Believe in God's word what he said will happen and we make both of these confessions. And so I would invite you today into both and it dreaming is is is an Act of Faith. And that's the word you prefer today. But either way I invite you to Face Reality to work through reality and through dreaming and planning Dare To Dream what God might have for you. Out this invitation is an important just for you alone. It's for everyone around you. Remember God told the people in Exile to the do these things that he gave them a dream for the future given plans for now not just for their benefit, but for the benefit of all of Babylon around them So I'll leave you three questions.

If you're just kind of thing stuck in Fantasyland and not looking where is God leading? What what does what does God have for me looking to his were looking to Jesus for your future? 3 questions, who are you robbing of their prosperity member there their they're flourishing. Because you're not dreaming and planning with your life. It doesn't matter your age on this by the way, it doesn't you still breathing or still things for you to do there still plans God has for you. Christian poverty because you're not dreaming again. I just financially but emotionally and mentally relation to spiritually who still captive because you're not dreaming of what God would have for you and you're not following him and walking in obedience according to his word by the power of His spirit. Only prayer father. Thank you for Jesus. Thank you Lord that you do have a plan and a future and a hope and I would daresay even a dream for us. But there's things you look forward to in our futures. That's for any who called upon you Lord? You say clearly in your word that the plans you have. The joy and abundant joy that you have a head week. We can't even imagine it.

We look forward to that day. We trust you afraid for each one here Lord that you would give them a glimpse of your love for them. So they could face the reality that they could work through it and that they could trust you for the future you have for them in Jesus Christ. It's in his name. We pray. Amen.

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