LIVING THE DREAM
August 31, 2008
You guys ready to talk about some dreams? Let’s talk about dreams. Let’s talk about dreams, dreams, and dreams. Everybody is talking about dreams these days and dreaming is a good thing. Like I have been saying over the last several days because last Saturday and Sunday I talked about dreams and of course you were here Saturday night, right? How many of you always come to church on Saturday night? Lift your hand. So that means you weren’t here, right, Sunday, correct? You were here last Saturday. Well last Saturday and Sunday I talked about dreams and I have been doing this talk called Living the Dream.
We all want to live the dream. Sometimes people say “I’m just living the dream.” So I decided to tackle a lot of Scripture to let you see how God’s dream developed and unfolded in the lives of a lot of people. Now sometimes I will take certain sections of Scripture and concentrate on them for several weeks. But in this series, we have put the pedal to the metal, we have put the throttle to the fire wall and we have flown through scripture. We started last time with Genesis 15. We talked about Abraham. God told Abraham that he was going to bless his socks off and back again. God told him he was going to build a nation from his descendants. The problem was Abraham was old, he didn’t have any kids, and God showed up and did some miraculous stuff. And then he talked to Abraham about this land, about this turf, this Promise Land, this dream piece of real estate that Abraham’s offspring would inhabit, that they would claim.
Then we moved over to Numbers 13 and 14. We took a look at the children of Israel in Egyptian slavery, Moses led them out of slavery, parted the Red Sea, God showed up in supernatural ways, they got to the brink, I mean, they got to the mortgage company, you might say, they were getting ready to take title from the property and the people in Israel lost it. Only two, out of 2 million really, Joshua and Caleb, made it into the Promise Land. Because the Israelites didn’t do the deal they spent 40 years, 4 decades wandering in the wilderness. They died off. The vision vandals died off and now we come to the Promise Land, again. 40 years later the people who didn’t live the dream died in the desert. Joshua and Caleb now are leading this new generation into the Promise Land. That is where we left off. I have a hard time remembering that myself. It is in scripture. If we have any preachers here or maybe some preachers will watch this by television or maybe they’ll check it out on a pod cast or MP3 or DVD or whatever, here is how a preacher would outline where I have gone so far. Do you want to hear how a preacher would do it? I can tell you do. A preacher would say “God made a pact about this tract. The people wouldn’t attack so they lived in the land of lack. I don’t know why you came here tonight but I have come to praise the Lord.” That’s how a preacher would outline the scripture.
Let’s live the dream. Here is what we do when it comes to dreaming. Here is what we do. I have done this, I will confess, and I know you have, too. I will start out with my scheme, with my dream and then I will do what makes me look good, what puts wind in my sail and then I will take some God stickers and I will just place the God sticker on it. People do that all the time. People play the God card, use the God sticker. They dream, they do their deal and then they put the God sticker on it. Well, God just wants me to be happy so we bolt out of a marriage, leave our kids, hook up with someone else then we will play the God card and put the God sticker on our dream. Hey, God is not blessing that. Don’t use God as some cheap sticker. That’s pitiful. Or we’ll commit all this sexual immorality, we’ll do this, we’ll do that and then we’ll say, “God has blessed my life.”
We’ll put the God sticker on it. If you’re living with someone outside the context of marriage God is not going to bless your life. Let’s just talk about the ABC’s of Scripture. It’s not going to happen. If you’re living the homosexual lifestyle, don’t put the God sticker on it. God is not going to bless your life. If you’re materialistic or greedy and it’s all about you and your scheme and your stuff, God is not going to bless your life. So don’t play games with God. You can play games with me but don’t play games with God and say I’m going to do what I want to do and then I’ll put the God sticker on it. It’s like the typical comedian we see who just rips everything imaginable, drops the F bomb and takes the Lord’s name in vain and he or she has the audacity to end the shtick by saying, “You’ve been a great audience. God bless you. Peace.” They put the God sticker on it. No, come one. So we can’t do what we want to do and place the God sticker on it.
If we want to live the dream what do we have to do? We have to see and discern and log onto God’s dream and stick ourselves to it. God has an amazing dream for every single person here. I can say that with total and complete confidence. God’s dreams for your life are unimaginable. They’re phenomenal. We can’t even wrap our brains around them.
And the reason we have the ability to dream is because God is a God who dreams. He wants you and me to stick ourselves to his dream and that is what I want to talk to you about again in this session. I want to talk to you about living the dream because here’s what it means to dream. It’s about Developing Righteous Engagement Anticipation and Momentum. Say it with me; it’s about Developing Righteous Engagement Anticipation and Momentum.
That, in a nutshell, is God’s dreams for all of our lives. And the great news is this: we can get in on God’s dream. Now right now you’re thinking to yourself, “There is no way, Ed, I can live God’s dream because you don’t know what I’m involved in. Ed, there’s no way I can do what God wants me to do. I can’t get on this great life because you don’t know my past, you don’t know what I’m thinking, you don’t know my hurtful habits and my rebellions.”
You know what, you’re right, I don’t. I can’t read anybody’s mind. God knows. The Bible says God is omniscient. It means he knows everything. He knows. You can’t live on the down low or do something sly or sneaky or clandestine in God’s economy. He knows. It’s like it’s in broad daylight. God even knows all of our shortcomings and sins, all of our fallenness and fallibility and he still, are you ready for this, he still says you can live the dream. Well Ed how can you say that?
Well, let’s go to Scripture. Joshua, and I’m going to take you on a quick cruise through Joshua again. Remember, we have gone through the first potential real estate deal and it didn’t work. Now Joshua and Caleb, 2 out of 2 million, are leading the new generation into the Promise Land. And I have to make a point here.
Many students who are hearing my voice right now, you have returned back to school. School is in session, yeah! No, you’re not saying that. But whenever we go to school, what’s going to happen? We’re going to experience peer pressure. I like the word peer because it peers and it’s full of pressure. We all deal with peer pressure and students, I feel your pressure. I feel your pain. I have been there. Peer pressure, it can cause anxiety and stress. It can cause compromise. It can cause you to miss living God’s dream. And here it is, here’s my word of wisdom before we jump in. I hope we finish tonight before we even jump into Joshua: Don’t fall for it. When God starts dreaming the enemy starts scheming. Don’t fall for it, because the people that you’re trying to impress, the in crowd, whatever that is in today’s culture, about five or ten years from now you’ll look back and laugh thinking what was I worried about, trying to do this or that to appease them? To have the peers accept me? It’s not worth it. You’re playing for an audience of one. That is God, himself. Stick yourself to God’s dream, all right? Don’t live like hell and then stick God to your dream and say this is it. It can ruin your life. Don’t do it. Life is short.
Even though you’re young, you’re like Joshua and Caleb. You can make a difference. God will give you the strength and the power to stick yourself to his dream when you make the dream center— this church— your social life. When you engage and involve yourself here you can stand up and you can be the Joshua. You can be the Caleb. Joshua and Caleb did it. Were they super-human?
No. They were normal guys but they were able to stand against 2 million people because they lived the dream. Why did they live the dream? There’s one secret, the secret word I gave you when I ended last time. O-B-E-Y, it’s a four letter word that you have to memorize. O-B-E-Y, say it with me, obey. “Obey”. That’s really the secret to the Christian life. It’s not that difficult to explain, you know. It is tough to live but it’s really trust and obey.
Now let’s go back to Joshua. Joshua is getting ready to cross the Jordan. So he sends a couple of spies out to check out the first city. Say first with me, first. I’m talking about Jericho. This is huge, because I’ll come back to that later if we get to later. The first city, Jericho. They were going to take out, wipe out Jericho. That’s what they were going to do. God told them, “Destroy Jericho, take it out, wipe it out.” So Joshua was ready. He had his game face on. Everything was ready. He takes two spies and sends the two spies out to Jericho.
Now Jericho was locked down, I mean there was nothing going on. The people had heard the Israelites were getting ready to cross the Jordan. The Jerichoites were about to lose their minds. Everything was locked down but there was a house of ill repute. But there was the red light district. But there was a place where the women of the night kind of cruised around if you understand what I’m talking about. And the two spies cruised into this house and the woman, I mean the madam, was named Rahab. In today’s culture we would call her a ho. But I have good news for you, God can take a ho and give her hope. Isn’t that great? God can take a ho and put a P- E on it and give her hope.
And some of you right now are going “I’m a ho.” You know what, just say it with me, hope. Because God in his grace and love is all about that because God, check this out, is going to use Rahab, this ho, in a phenomenal way.
Rahab is a part of lineage of Jesus. Rahab was instrumental in this whole deal. So don’t let the enemy or anyone else say you’re used up. You can’t do it. You can’t make it. At Fellowship Church we don’t want to ever confuse acceptance with approval. We accept everybody, fornicators, adulterers, liars, murders, homosexuals, sinners. We accept you. We love you. We don’t approve of your behavior. We don’t go way to go adulterer, all right homosexual, yeah. Way to go murderer and liar. We don’t do that. We accept you and we’ll show you what the Bible says about your behavior. God wants to use you and he’s going to use Rahab because Rahab hides the spies. The king of Jericho and the secret service, man, they’re trying to find these spies. Rahab has them hidden and then the spies come back and they tell everybody the deal.
So it’s time, are you ready for this, for Joshua and Caleb to move out and cross the Jordan. Now we pick up scripture. Joshua 3:1 4, the Bible says, “Early in the morning Joshua and all the Israelites set out from Shittim,” that’s a good place to be from, “and went to the Jordan.”
Wow. I woke some people up on that. What? Is that hilarious? I’m just reading the Bible. That sounds like some bull rider should be from that town, right? Here is cowboy Billy Bob Jones from Shittim, Texas. My e mail is Ed.Young@FellowshipChurch.com.
But they were moving from this town and “went to the Jordan where they camped before crossing over. After 3 days the officers went throughout the camp, ‘When you see the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord your God,’” okay, they have the Ark, right, “’and the priests who were Levites carrying it you are to move out from your positions and follow it.’”
Now I want you to see the development of this dream. Here are the people. They are living the dream. They have stuck themselves to God’s dream. And now Joshua is saying, “When you see the Ark out in front of you and the Levites, the pastors, the leaders, when you see them moving out you follow.”
God calls leaders in every realm of life, especially in his kingdom, to move out. We’re called to follow. It says “When you see the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord your God and the priests who are Levites carrying it you are to move out from your positions and follow it.” I love this, “Then you will know which way to go.”
So see if I follow the Lord’s directives, if I follow God’s dreams, because remember all true dreams start with God, if I follow that then I’m going to know where to go. I will not know where to go if I follow my own dream. But if I follow God’s dream, if I stick myself to his deal, I will know where to go; I will have a great sense of direction.
Illus: A friend of mine goes to Alaska a lot and he saw this sign in Alaska and I love this. It said, “Choose your rut carefully because you’ll be in it for the next thousand miles.”
Isn’t that great? I thought that so many people, it’s like they’re living in a rut and you’ve heard what a rut is. A rut is a grave with both ends knocked out. That’s the kind of life that a lot of people are living. Why is that? Because they are living their scheme instead of God’s dream. They’re doing their stuff instead of doing God’s stuff. They’re doing what they want to do and then sticking God to it instead of doing what God wants them to do and sticking themselves to it.
So he says “You’re to move out and you’ll know which way to go since you’ve never been this way before.” That’s what God’s going to do. God develops a dream in your life and mine. His dream is righteous, it is holy, we’re going to find out. There is engagement there. We’re ready for A-C-T-I-O-N. There is movement. There is momentum, there. There’s anticipation there. So it’s all right here in the dreams.
Look at verse 5. Now you’re talking about being righteous, here God is developing this dream and now God is going to talk about the righteousness. He says, “Consecrate yourselves,” consecrate yourselves, get right, get right, get right, and get right. God wants us to get right. R
Romans 12:1 & 2, let me take the sticker off my shoe. It says we’re to “present our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God.” In a little while we’re going to receive the offering and in a real way we should crawl up, but don’t do this literally, in our minds, crawl up into the offering plate and say, “God I offer my life to you as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable.” God’s plan is always going to be pure. It’s always going to be holy. It is always going to be about being set apart. It is not going to be all messed up and dirtied up by the world, by immorality and anger and lust and greed.
But you’ll see here in Joshua 3:5 it says, “for tomorrow,” I love that, “for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things amongst you.”
That’s what I love about dreaming God’s dream because only God’s dream tethers today to tomorrow. When I dream God’s dream it tethers my today to tomorrow. I have engagement. I have anticipation and I have this thing called momentum.
Are you dreaming God’s dream? “Well Ed I don’t know if I am or not, brother.” Well just log onto yesterday.com. Yesterday.com will help you to look back and if you see that your dream, this dream that you’re doing is not about the advancement of the gospel, then it’s not God’s dream. But if you log onto yesterday.com and go it is about the advancement of the gospel. I see God developing it although I don’t know right now where I’m going or I know I’m not going to know exactly which way to go until I continue to walk in faith. And I see it’s about righteousness and about holiness. Wow, it is about engaging the enemy. I feel like I’m in a faith fight because hey, you can mark this one down here, the Christian life is not a playground, it’s a battle ground. Say that with me, it’s not a playground, it’s a battle ground.
But I don’t know about you I want the blessings, and so do you, without the battle. That’s what we want. God, bless my socks off and back on again. I want the blessings. I want your favor. Well, that’s great. God is going to bless your life and mine but it is about engaging the enemy. It is about a faith fight. It is about a battle. It is about adventure and excitement. So the Bible tells us that. The Bible says that a dream will tether our today to tomorrow. It is about engagement. It is about momentum. I like what Joshua 3:9 says, “Come here and listen to the words of the Lord your God. This is how you will know,” again, we are talking about knowledge, “this is how you will know that the living God is among you.”
Now as the whole Ark moved on and as the people followed, Joshua said you’re going to know which way to go. Now in verses 9 and 10 he says you’re going to know which way to go and that “the living God is amongst you as he will drive out,” this is huge here, “before you” and I love these names “the Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites and Jebusites…” and the lustites and the materialismites and the greedites and the gluttonessites and all sorts of -ites.
God wants to drive them out. When we say, “God you know what, it is not ability me, it is about you. It is not about my deal, it is about your deal. I’m going to stick myself to you.” When we do that here is what’s going to happen, we’re going to see this land that he wants us to claim in every realm of life. We have to allow him to convict us and to move us to drive the people out. You’re like, “What?” Yes, drive them out because sin dealt with radically is sin dealt with effectively. God knew that the people couldn’t hang out with all these -ites. The pull was too strong. The depravity was too great. There are certain places that I can’t go and you can’t go. It is just too strong. It is just too evil. There are certain people that I cannot associate with in a deep way, and you can’t either. We just can’t do it. There are certain things that I can’t watch and or that you can’t watch. We just can’t do it. It’s too powerful. Are you dealing with that radically? Because Christianity is a radical thing, man. Because when it’s dealt with radically it will be dealt with effectively. Now again, the Christian life is about O-B-E-Y, obey. And it’s our choice. We have a freedom of choice. We either live it or we don’t.
So it’s about development, right? It’s about being righteous. It’s about being pure. It’s about engaging the enemy because they’re going to rumble in a little while with Jericho and it’s also about anticipation. Let’s check that out again. Joshua 3:15 & 16. They’re getting ready to cross the Jordan and the Jordan is at flood stage, flood stage, I’m talking high tide. Man, that’s a bummer. That’s a doggy downer. Wait a minute God, you’re telling us to cross the Jordan and it’s at flood stage.
Have you ever felt like that before? Okay God, I’ve stuck myself to your dream and its high tide, flood stage, I can’t cross that. I knew I shouldn’t have done that. It’s not worth it. That’s what we do but here’s the deal. When you see an obstacle, that obstacle can be an opportunity for God to move in a supernatural way. We should look at an obstacle as an opportunity for the grace and the power and the mercy of God. It is going to cause hope; it is going to cause strength. We are going to see who are the players and who are the posers. It is great stuff.
So the Jordan is at flood stage during this harvest yet as soon as the priest who carried the Ark reached the Jordan and their “feet touched the water’s edge the water from upstream stopped flowing.” So check it out again, “when their feet touched the water’s edge,” they had to step out right? “The water from upstream stopped flowing.”
Now this is a very interesting fact because if you look back, when the Israelites 40 years ago, 40 years ago from this situation crossed the Red Sea, Moses took the rod of God, put it out over the water and you know the story, they crossed through the Red Sea.
Well here God takes them to a level that most people don’t want to live on. He says, “Now, forget the rod of God, I want you to wade in the water.”
Wade in the water. Anybody know that song? Wade in the water, children. Anyway. I want you to wade in the water. So they’re going deep, here, literally. So as they move out by faith, as we stick ourselves to God and trust him then God’s going to move but it takes us to move for this whole situation to happen.
That’s like salvation, becoming a Christian. You don’t just sit there and boom you’re saved. I’m born again. I just made a commitment to Christ, it just happened. No, you have to take a step in the water.
Many of you right now are at an obstacle. You’re at a place that’s at flood stage in many different areas of your life. Step out and watch God show up in a huge way. And then again real quick, when they were walking through the Jordan in the dry land God told them to pick up 12 stones, 12 rocks and when they got to the other side they made this memorial. I think that’s pretty cool, a memorial. I think it’s vital that we make memorials to the dreams of God in our lives. In other words, as we live the dream, as we stick ourselves to God’s dream we should have tangible reminders of what God has done. 3
Illus: This Bible right here is a tangible reminder of what God has done. My parents gave it to me the day we opened this worship center. Right here it says “Holy Bible presented to Ed Young. Dad and Mom. We thank God for you, Ed, and for what he is doing through you at Fellowship Church. We love you. April 5, 1998.
Illus: Every time I walk down from my office down the steps to hit this stage I have a number of visual memorials, visual reminders of God’s dream, of how God just showed up in huge ways, about times I wanted to just stop, I wanted to maybe quit pastoring, I thought maybe there’s no way we can do it, we don’t have enough manpower, we don’t have enough money, I don’t know what to say when I hit the stage.
But now I have these memorials and every time before I preach, the memorials, as I glance at them, give me confidence and that’s what God was doing right here when he instructed them to take the rocks and make this memorial. He said, “Man tell your kids about it, tell others about it, that I showed up and that I had a dream and have a dream for you.”
Joshua 5:7 is a heavy verse and I just put this up on the screen for many of you to just download it. And I don’t have time to get into the whole verse but basically it says that all of the people died off in the wilderness, right, but this new generation now is in play and in verse 7 it says, “So he,” God, “raised up their sons in their place.”
Now that’s heavy because if someone does not step up and stick themselves to God’s dream we’re going to get replaced one day. And so many, many of you have taken the place of people before you who just didn’t do the dream. Did you hear that? People before us, decades before us, I’m sure, dreamed of how there could be a church even in the Bible belt to reach people who are far away from God. There could be a church that has a core group of believers who are white hot for evangelism. And there could be a church where people could show up and understand what is going on about the life changing message of Jesus Christ. And for several different reasons many of them failed, they’ve died off, they’ve missed the dream yet so many of you have stuck yourselves to God’s dream and look at what the Lord has done. So give yourselves a round of applause because you’re clapping for God because none of us would be here, anyway, if it weren’t for God. So I thought that was really cool but also a sobering word. I have an opportunity, a time, a place to do something. Wow.
Okay. They take on Jericho and wiped Jericho out but they spared somebody. The ho who now has hope, I’m talking about Rahab. They spared Rahab and her family and Rahab is mentioned in Hebrews 12 in the hall of faith. Here’s what God said right before battle verses 18 and 19, Joshua 6:18-19, he is telling all of his boys here, “But keep away,” talking about Jericho, the first city, “from the devoted things so that you will not bring about your own destruction by taking any of them otherwise you’ll make the camp of Israel liable to destruction and bring trouble on it. All the silver and gold and the articles of bronze and iron are sacred to the Lord and must go into his treasury,” or into his dream center.
So they wipe out Jericho and then after this victory they have all of this momentum and they’re like Ai, it’s a little town over there, we can take out Ai no problem. So they go to take out Ai and Ai kicks their rears all the way back to where they were hanging out. They’re like what happened? What’s the deal? And God says you’ve been disobedient. Joshua is like what? God said you’ve been disobedient. You have stolen some of the devoted things. And Joshua is like what? And then they start to search tribe by tribe, you want to talk about accountability, clan by clan, read it, family by family, man by man. They’re searching in their tents. They’re searching in all of their articles because they know somebody has stolen the things that should be devoted to God and finally Achan is the man. And God, through Joshua, says you know Achan, it’s not looking good. And with Achan they have the first rock festival ever recorded because he was stoned to death, he was taken out.
People sometimes say you know the church, I just don’t know about the church. The church talks about money so much.
Sometimes I go weeks without talking about money. Hey, I wish I couldn’t talk about it or didn’t mention it that much but you cannot read scripture very much without running into money. Money matters to God. God is into the tangible because money is God’s, it’s not yours. So I want to ask you if we could do a search right now are any of you taking the things that are devoted to God? Are any of you hiding some of that stuff in your tent?
You’re wondering why you’re having a hard time with battles. You’re wondering why your kids are about to drive you crazy. You’re wondering why you don’t have any meaning and fulfillment or purpose or in life. You’re wondering why you just can’t get your thoughts together.
Well it could be traced back, it could be traced back, it probably can be traced back to the gold and silver devoted to God. It is the treasure test. Jesus said it; I’m just saying what Jesus said. Jesus said, where your treasure is that’s where your heart is. Where’s your heart? Where’s your treasure? Are you hiding it in the tent thinking it’s yours?
Because think about the city, Jericho, the first, there’s power in the first. God gave his first, right? We’re to give the first fruits, the first born throughout scripture and the first portion of our income to the dream center, to the church. Because God says when we honor him with the first he’s going to bless the rest. So a long time ago I knew I had a choice. Okay Ed, you live under cursing or blessing. You bring the first to the dream center and God’s going to bless the rest or you go Achan and hide it and keep it for yourself and you’re cursed. Let me think for a second. I’ll take the blessing. How about you? How about you? It’s a tangible reminder and test to see if God is number one.
And you want to talk about momentum? That’s it. You want to talk about anticipation? That’s it. God showing up in intangible and tangible ways. You want to talk about engagement, the fight, the faith fight? We’re talking about it right here. You’re talking about righteousness, holiness, purity? It’s right here. It’s a battle. You want to talk about development? It is right here in this dreamventory that we have gone through tonight.
So what’s the deal? It’s time take that dreamventory. Are you doing your dream and sticking God to it? Or are you saying God, I see your dream, it is written in the Book and I stick myself to it. Because if you do that you’ll discover this amazing life that God has for every single person in this house. Let’s pray together.