Monthly Archives: December 2012

God-Sizing Your Dreams (Part 11)

God is always on time even if you or I think he’s late or not coming. God-sized dreams are totally dependent on the timing of God. Timing is everything in the Kingdom of God. You can do the right thing at the wrong time and you will always reap less than what God intended. Thankfully, when God acts the timing is perfect.

God-sized dreams are by nature miraculous. They cannot be achieved through our strength or ability alone. They are one step passed our capability—in the realm of what we would call impossible. But surround the category of impossible with God’s timing and miracles happen.

Just look at our childless couple camped out in Canaan. They are far passed the point of having children. Biologically, it ain’t never gonna happen (bad English but it certainly communicates). The old reproductive clock chimed its last time years before and the dust of impossibility has covered the chimes. In the human realm, age has taken its toll on both ability and capability. Abraham—the father of a multitude—is almost one hundred years old and his chances of producing a son with Sarah is slim and none, with the emphasis resting on none. For Sarah, the want to—the desperate desire to be a mother—is no longer enough, because her reproductive system has surrendered to the natural processes of age. Add Abraham and Sarah together and you are humanly speaking, left with nothing. It would be a miracle.

That’s the kind of odds God loves working with. Miracles are by their very nature acts which set aside the natural way things work or happen. Only God can suspend the laws of nature so that a man and a woman can conceive, and that woman could then carry a baby to term and birth it. Timing is everything. Just when it appears time has run out on this dream, God super-sizes it by making the impossible possible. Genesis 21:2 puts it this way: So Sarah conceived and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the appointed time of which God had spoken to him. God said, “It is time for a miracle—now!

Don’t miss what the verse says. Abraham and Sarah participated and God provided. They acted in faith—and God answered with a miracle. There was a resurrection in their reproductive systems. Don’t you just love it? God is the God of resurrection—he can breathe life into what’s dead and death must flee!

The key to Genesis 21:2 is timing—“at the appointed time.” A genuine God-sized dream always has an appointed time—a moment chosen by God to become a reality. The promised son could not appear until the promised time—until it was impossible for Abraham and Sarah to have gotten him naturally. At the appointed time the impossible became possible—what was no longer natural became supernatural. At the appointed time the dream of a lifetime became reality as little Isaac—the son of laughter—the miracle baby from God emerged from the miraculous womb of his mother.

God-Sizing Your Dreams (Part 10)

God’s timing and our timing rarely match. God is precise and meticulous. We are usually in a hurry, wanting everything right now. God is never in a hurry, but he is always on time. And when the time comes, God moves and he moves rapidly. In every dream there is an optimum moment when God pours out his power and the doors of destiny swing open for anyone willing to exercise faith and step through it.

In Abram’s case when the dream seemed to be as far from being fulfilled as the east is from the west, God moved. And he moved quickly. Repetition is the mother of learning and God is the master teacher. He appeared once again to Abram and step-by-step retraced the incredible dream he had first shared with Abram way back in Haran. Remember God is precise and meticulous and he was intent on Abram understanding that God’s intention was to fulfill his word and that fulfillment would be miraculous, which is domain he alone operates in.

As the Lord moved step by step through his planned fulfillment of the dream, stipulation by stipulation and benefit by benefit, he paused a couple of times to impress the reality of this moment on Abram’s brain. The first occurs when God changed Abram’s name to Abraham. God inserts a “ha” and the man whose original name meant “exalted father” (Abram) now becomes “father of a multitude” (Abraham). If you add two ha’s together (ha-ha) you have the beginning of a laugh. Perhaps, God was laughing at the response he expected with his next pause.

When the Lord paused again, he made it clear to Abraham that his wife Sarai would bear the son who would be the first installment of God’s dream fulfillment. And then God changed her name to Sarah, which means “princess.” It was more than Abraham could handle. He lost it. Falling on his face, he could do nothing but laugh. In his mind, he could not humanly comprehend how a ninety-nine year old man and his ninety year old bride could ever conceive, much less bear a child. In that moment of utter disbelief, Abraham offered God a way out, but God declined and again stipulated in no uncertain terms that it would be Sarah.

A year later, the Lord showed up with a couple of big burly angels and knocked on Abraham’s tent flap, on his way to rub Sodom and Gomorrah off the map. While they were enjoying a meal of veal and cheese, the Lord declared that Sarah would birth a child one year from that exact day. Sarah was eavesdropping and she lost it, giggling to herself. Everyone, it seemed, was laughing—except God. He makes a statement that we all need to tattoo on the inside of our eyelids—“Is anything too difficult for the Lord?” God was working a supernatural miracle—something “wonderful,” which is the literal Hebrew meaning of the word translated “difficult.”

That brings us to another key principle in dreaming God-sized dreams: God-sized dreams are always miraculous. God is the author of the miraculous. If you or I could bring the dream to pass it would not be miraculous. The miraculous transcends the laws of nature, overrides the abilities and capabilities of human beings, and is impossible to achieve through hard work, perseverance, and good luck. A miracle is a God move!

God is able to do whatever he told you he would do. Whatever the dream is—he has the capability to bring it to completion. He caused the sun to stand still, an axe head to float on water, a donkey to talk, and a fish to serve as a lifeguard. Is anything too wonderful for the Lord?

God-sized dreams are always supernatural and usually take place when their fulfillment is least expected. Remember God is a God of miracles and impossible is not in his dictionary.

Abraham waited and God worked. He delighted himself in the Lord and the Lord gave him the desires of his heart—not just “a” son, but “the son of promise.”

How Long?

How much longer will we, as the body of Christ, hide like ostriches with our heads buried in the sands ignoring the systematic destruction of our nation? How many more catastrophes like the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre will we allow to happen on our watch and do nothing? How much longer will we shed a tear, feel sorry for those involved, duck our heads, and then forget and go on with life, thankful it did not happen where we live or affect our family? How much longer will we do nothing? How long indeed!

 

How long will be refuse to pray—to cry out for the heart and the soul of this nation? Oh, we can debate how the world did not want God in the schools, but the world did not shut the door. The body of Christ turned the knob and slammed it in retreat, unwilling to stand up and contend for what is right. We abandoned the schools, the government, entertainment, music, and everything else now swirling around the bowl and headed for disaster with our feelings hurt because they did not want us. We—the body of Jesus Christ—have abandoned the walls of that fair city on a hill (a Puritan description of America), and allowed pure evil to scale her walls and stalk her streets. We are the watchmen, the last line of defense for the helpless, the hopeless, and those who have no chance apart from a relationship with Christ. We are the thin line of defense (not the police, the military, or the government) that stands between this nation and the anarchy of her utter destruction. We have not been put here based on whether or not others want us or our God. We have been put here to protect them, to love them, and to show them Christ. We have been put here to stand firm! We have been put here to pray—to cry out for mercy for those who don’t even know they need it. Our responsibility has been given to us by Almighty God. And…we have abandoned our post!

 

How long will we run and hide? How long will we pack into our cloistered little communities as hell engulfs the world around us and act as though nothing is happening? During the height of the atrocities of the holocaust in Germany, the Christians whose churches were located along the railways sang louder in their  worship to drown out the cries of the Jews, the Poles, the Czechs, and the Gypsies as the trains carried them to the gas chambers of the concentration camps. How long will we ignore the calamity and think it will not swallow us up as well? How long will we avoid our responsibility? Perhaps—until that same evil comes for us?

 

How long will we not pray? Not cry out in desperation and fasting for God to move? How long will we withhold what is within our power, privilege, and responsibility to do? Or do we really believe the promise of 2 Chronicles 7:14? How long will we, those who have been redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ and forgiven of our sins—who are called by God’s name—not humble themselves, instead of arrogantly acting like the world around us is getting exactly what they deserve? How long will we refuse to pray for those who choose not to think like us? How long will we sit back on our hypocritical hunches thinking those around us are surely getting what they deserve and not seek on their behalf, the face of a merciful and grace-filled God we claim to love and serve? How long will we refuse to repent for the wickedness of refusing to love as Christ loved, to turn the other cheek as Jesus did on the way to the cross, or to die to self, and if necessary in our physical bodies—to spare others who have as yet not come to know Christ? We talk a lot about hell, but we really don’t believe in its horrors or our attitudes and actions would be far different. How long will we sit idly by and not pray? For as sure as God sits on his throne in heaven and his word is true—until the church moves and obeys the commands of her head—God will not hear, the effects of rampant sin will run wild, and our land will die, unhealed. How long will we do nothing and expect anything to change?

 

How long do we think we can continue to act like this and call ourselves the church? How long indeed?

God-Sizing Your Dreams (Part 9)

God-sized dreams are so big that we can’t accomplish them on our own. So if we can’t achieve it by ourselves, why in the world would any of us be so presumptuous to think that God needs our help to bring it to pass? Most of us want to work with God, but only in an advisory capacity. God’s not looking for advisors, but for people who will exercise faith when reality says it’s impossible. The major problem with faith is you have to trust God and God alone, or it’s really not faith.

Abram and Sarai were not getting any younger. They were both preoccupied with 1/3 of God’s promise—the part about descendants. To have descendants like the sand of the seashore or the stars of the sky, you must first have a son. That one small detail consumed them both. They had been in Canaan for ten years and their biological clocks were slowing running down—the echoes of the tick tocks fading like the setting sun as it quickly drops below the horizon of the western sky. And…desperation makes intelligent people do stupid things.

It must have seemed plausible to them that God might need their help to bring the dream to fruition. The details of how God said the dream would be fulfilled sort of lost its meaning as menopause came and went, and the motherhood clock screeched to a silent halt. That event made it humanly impossible for Sarai to conceive or carry a child, much less give birth. Their assessment of the situation as impossible convinced them that God needed their help. Like most of us, they had forgotten that nothing (no thing) is impossible with God. God loves the realm of the impossible because he alone is at home there.

Sarai may not have been physically able to conceive a child, but she let her imagination run wild and conceived a plan on how to get a baby. The idea seemed simple and the laws of their culture certainly allowed it.  Sarai would give her maid Hagar to Abram. Abram would then take Hagar into his tent, sleep with her, and she would get pregnant. When it came time for the baby to be born, Hagar would give birth on Sarai’s lap and the baby would be hers because Hagar was her slave. She put the plan in motion, but her heart got in the way and envy and jealousy consumed her. The couple refused to wait on God’s timing, took a shortcut and their plan backfired.

That brings us to the third principle of God-sizing our dreams: God-sized dreams take time to fulfill and fleshly shortcuts are hazardous to your health. The result was Ishmael—the son who would go on to become the father of the Arab nations. Abram and Sarai’s fleshly shortcut to God divine promise resulted in an enmity of hatred and warfare that has lasted for almost five thousand years. Today Israel is surrounded by the progeny of Ishmael, whose chief desire is to totally destroy them. And this is all because one man and one woman chose their own way rather than follow God’s plan.

Let me put this as plain as I can: God does not need your help. Taking a shortcut on a God-sized dream always results in a disaster—most of them with long lasting consequences that adversely affect countless generations. Take a long hard look at Abram’s shortcut and its consequences. Be patient and wait on God. What he will give you is far better than anything you can get on your own.

God-Sizing Your Dreams (Part 8)

God was purposefully intent on Abram grasping all the nuances of the dream. It was multi-dimensional, one of the chief characteristics of a God-sized dream. These dreams always mirror their Creator. God’s intent can be seen in the multiple visits and visions Abram received. God is the original author of the axiom, “Repetition is the mother of learning.” Therefore he repeated his promise over and over (you can check them out in Genesis 12:1-3; 15:1-21; 17:1-21; 22:15-18), to make sure the smallest detail was crystal clear.

God was giving him a land, descendants, and a blessing. Abram would be a physical extension of God to the world and the world would come to know God through the testimony of Abram. This is pretty heady stuff for a wondering Bedouin living in a goat-hair tent and like most of us, he could not grasp it. In fact, he became fixated on one teeny-tiny detail in the great scheme of things. Abram could not grasp the big picture. He could not see the forest for all the trees. And that itsy-bitsy detail flooded his mind and took control of the next few years.

Abram was an old man and his wife Sarai was an old woman. Their main problem: they had no children. No son to carry on the family name. His thinking was: if I have not son, how can I have descendants? Abram, like most of us, was fixated on the natural and not free to dream supernaturally. God said he would have descendants—uncountable like the stars in heaven or the grains of sand on the seashore. Abram became obsessed. He and Sarai were not getting any younger.

Here is the next principle we all need to internalize in our learning curve to dream with God: God-sized dreams are so big, if we are not careful, we will fixate on a detail rather than the fulfillment. Most of us dream dreams that are one-dimensional. We often seek to bring those dreams to fruition and fulfillment one step at a time. God simply does not work that way. Abram thought he needed a son (at the point any son would do) to fulfill God’s promises. So, he nonchalantly mentions the adoption of Eliezer of Damascus, his chief servant, as a means of helping God out with the details. God is not interested. In fact, God then focuses the promise and gives him another clue where this son of promise would come from—“from your own body” (Gen. 15:4). Abram would father a son who would carry his blood.

Later, with Sarai’s blessing Abram would indeed father a son with an Egyptian handmaiden named Hagar. This time he did not consult God and the results of that decision created a conflict that is still being felt today and will eventually usher in the events of Armageddon. Thousands of years of conflict and the birth of a religion whose goal is ultimately to possess Abram’s Promised Land and destroy his descendants, and God’s blessing.

All this is because his vision was too small to see the diversity and the size of God’s dream.  He became fixated on a detail of the promise rather than the ultimate fulfillment of the promise. He wrongly thought he was responsible for this trivial detail he thought was so vital. He majored on the minor rather than grasping for the whole.

The devil is not in the details as the old saying goes. No, God is in the details. Every detail is critical and he will fulfill each one—his good name depends on it. So…you can bet he will come through—every “t” crossed and every “i” dotted. God will take care of the details if we will put our focus on him. Our job is to be faithful. God’s job is to fulfill (fill in every detail until the promised dream is full). Our responsibility is to trust and his job is to remain trustworthy, which after all is an attribute of his deity. He is God and we are not!

God-Sizing Your Dreams (Part 7)

Let’s face it, God’s dreams are too big for us to understand much less bring into existence by ourselves. Yes for us it is impossible, but for God—nothing is impossible. For those dreams to become a reality in our lives, we must partner with God. If we have faith enough to conceive it, God can birth it into existence.

Abram obeyed God and went to Canaan. Yet, he could not comprehend the sheer size of what God wanted to do in, with, and through him. There were obstacles all along the way but he made the journey one step at a time—day-by-day. Once in Canaan, a famine drove his family into Egypt in search of food. There Abram allowed the Pharaoh to take Sarah into his harem, intending to make her his wife. He did so because Abram said she was his sister. Self-preservation rather than faith drove Abram to do this. God intervened.

Once back in Canaan, Abram and Lot’s flocks multiplied to the point that the land could not sustain both of them, so they were forced to separate. Lot went to lush plain where the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were located. Things looked greener to Lot in that direction, but the grass is always greener over the septic tank. Not long after arriving, Lot was taken captive by invading armies and Abram was forced to track them down and rescue his nephew. God intervened.

Abram, like each of us, was learning to trust God moment-by-moment through the unknown, the unforeseen, and the ordinary.  Circumstances and situations come and go to teach us to walk in faith. They are designed to teach us to trust God and the lessons did not go unheeded by Abram. The dream was far bigger than Abram could comprehend in his mind. He did all kinds of things—both good and bad trying to apprehend it. Yet the key was learning to trust God. Faith is the essential element for seeing God-sized dreams come true. Remember, without faith, it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6).

Here’s the second principle we must all learn in this process: God-sized dreams are far bigger than our finite minds can comprehend so they must be apprehended by faith alone.  Our responsibility is to trust—to believe—to act in faith and leave the impossibilities of the God-sized dream to God. The fulfillment of the dream was God’s responsibility—for nothing will be impossible with God (Luke 1:37).

Over and over, God assured Abram he would fulfill everything he had promised. On different occasions God would appear to Abram and renew his promise of descendants whose numbers would compare with the sum of the stars in the skies or the sand on the seashore. God’s dream was infinitely larger than Abram finite brain could comprehend. God was not interested in whether or not Abram could get his mind around it. No, God was interested in enlarging the capacity of Abram’s faith—stretching it until it was God-sized. Would he—could he—really believe God could do what he said he would do? Only the test of time spent walking with God would transport Abram to this level of faith.

And that my friend is the exact same lesson God is teaching us as we attempt to step out in faith to apprehend the God-sized dream he has tailored for each of us. Don’t try to get your mind around it, use your faith instead. You mind is not as pliable as your faith. Your faith has an amazing elasticity about it that you won’t believe until you strecth it by exercising it.