Dream a Dream That Outlives You (Sunday Morning Message to Christ Our Shepard Washington DC, April 14th 2002)
I'm delighted to be here this morning. For the past 7 years most Sunday mornings find me glancing at my watch, tracking your service and praying for you as a congregation. I have the wonderful fortune of having a lot of prayer equity in this church. I often listen to tapes of your services, and have wept at the depth of passion of Godís heart through His Word spoken here through Stuart. Iíve often told pastors that theyíve never heard preaching till they've heard Stuart. Most churches are thrilled to have a guest speaker, but I suspect some of you would prefer to hear Stuart than anyone else. I join you. But I trust the Word of the Lord is upon my lips, and that God will give each of us keen ears to hear it.
Abraham Joshua Heschel said Preach in order to pray, preach in order to cause others to pray, The true test of a sermon is that it can be turned to prayer. It is my intent this morning to speak briefly so we can spend time at the end in prayer.
Under some of your pews is a visual aid for what I am going to speak on this morning. I had to clear these with the Smithsonian Department of Near East Antiquties but I was successful, and they gave them to me on loan. (Reach under pews and pass it around.) Can you imagine Getting these past security or customs? Do you have anything to declare. Umm yes, some bones. As you pass these among you I want you to imagine these bones belong to a man named Joseph who has been dead for 144 years and now you must carrying these bones with you for the next 54 years. Because this man named Joseph made you vow that you would.
In Exodus 13:19 we read: And Moses took the Bones of Joseph with him: for he had straightly swore the children of Israel saying, God will surely visit you; and you will carry up my bones away with you. In Genesis 50:24 we read the original prophecy "and Joseph said to his brothers, I die, and God will surely visit you and bring your out of this to the land to the land he swore to give Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob."
We remember Joseph as the great dreamer. The young man who was always dreaming about things bowing down to him, Sheaves, the Sun and the Moon, his 11 brothers, his mother and father. In fact Joseph is called "The Master Dreamer " by his brothers when he is about to be betrayed by them and thrown into the pit.
But all of Josephs dreams come true. God takes the horrid circumstances of his life and uses those exact circumstances to get him in the exact place he needs to be, at the exact time he needs to be there. God takes the betrayal of brothers and uses it to elevate him into his destiny. (I believe that is a Word of the Lord to someone here this morning). Joseph becomes the deliverer of Egypt. He becomes the first deliverer of Israel. Esther race is betrayed by Haman and their betrayal results in her becoming a deliverer of her people. And we remember our Beloved great Deliverer, the fountainhead of all deliverance Jesus, who's betrayal brings him to the exact place He needs to be, at the exact time to bring deliverance to all those who call upon Him. Jesus delivers to the uttermost all those who call upon Him. Joseph the Dreamer becomes Joseph the Deliverer. Josephs dreams all turn out to be Deliverance Dreams.
Joseph's godly dreams are instructive to us. Because He not only had dreams that were fulfilled in His life but he had a dream that lived beyond him. And that's what I'd like to talk to you about today.
Pouring Your Life Passionately Into God's Ultimate Dream-
A Dream That Lives Beyond You
The sad truth is that many people never dream at all, they live their lives in the grey twilight that knows no defeat or victory. They leave no mark, no inheritance for another generation. Their lives drag across the earth like a worm, leaving little trace. But God has called us to dream His dreams, He has called us to live our lives as if they mattered to future generations. God has called us to dream His dreams and see beyond our lifetimes, to proclaim to the next generation their destiny. God calls us to listen to Him and prophesy a future and a hope. We are called to tell bones their destiny, we prophesy into a valley of scattered dead and dried bones and we tell those bones their future.
Joseph said Surely the Lord will remember you and bring you to the land He promised and you will carry my bones with you. Joseph is looking beyond the next decade, in fact he's looking beyond the next century. (198 years) He is prophesying almost two centuries forward.
The truth of the matter is that every generation chooses either to live a generative life- A life that spends itself guiding and establishing the next generation, or it lives a life of self-absorption. Almost every generation chooses self-absorption. We live our lives as if our choices today have no consequence for tomorrow. Recently I was telling Joel why I almost never vote yes on bond issues. With a flip of chad I am in a nano-second indebting his generation with billions owed on something that will be obsolete by the time he has to pay for it.
My actions today have generational consequences. With a simple yes to a forbidden pleasure, I invite captivity to seize future generations. My obedience matters. With a simple indulgence, I set in motion a spiritual dynamic that can affect future generations. Those who succumb to depression and commit suicide, do not effect just one life-They commit mass murder. They murder all the future relationships that could have come from their life and story. They murder all potential spiritual progeny that could have come from the loins of their spirit, from the womb of their prayer life. They murder the chain of blessing God intended to come through distictively through their personality and story. Our obedience today effects centuries. Yet, a self absorbed life is very tempting, it's the path of least resistance. A self-absorbed spirituality is insidious and we must keep our hearts tender to God's gentle correction. Often I find my own prayer life obsessed with my own requests, instead of the larger concerns of God's heart.
Joseph had plenty of reason to be self-absorbed. God had elevated him, to became second only to Pharaoh. He could have lived forever a legend in his own mind, because of his own miraculous story. He could have reveled in how his own dreams all came true. I have watched people be elevated in ministry and my heart has broken as I watched them change. There are very few who can steward glory. Sometimes a humble man is shown favor, and quickly becomes a strutting peacock.
But Joseph refused to preen his feathers. He could have camped in the lands of past triumphs. He could have said "I've lived a full life, God's been good to me, bury me in the land of my vision's fulfillment. After all Egypt had the world's best embalming technology. Were there not graves in Egypt? the Israelites cried to Moses. But ruling Egypt and saving the whole of Egypt, and saving the nation of Israel was not Joseph's final vision. It was not the thing that captured his heart. All that God did through Joseph was not what he wants to talk about while he's dying. He wants to prophecy the future. He wants to invest his bones in God's Ultimate Dream. Joseph's eye is fixed, he's seen the promise land, and he knows God keeps his promises. He wants to be part of the action. Joseph doesn't just prophesy to his sons like other patriarchs. He prophecy's the future of an entire nation
He refused to be spiritually self-absorbed. He would not be completely invested in his present life, or in his amazing history. He was not like Hezekiah who hears Isaiah's devastating prophecy that all that he has will be carted off by the King of Babylon, that his own sons will be eunuchs in the court of Babylon. Hezekiah hears this heartbreaking prophecy and shrugs and says "It's a good word, Isaiah because it won't happen in my lifetime."
We arch our eyebrows with incredulity at Hezekiah's cluelessness. But we find in our own hearts the same sentiment. I fear that Christianity in America is more concerned about today's goosebump than tomorrow's coming calamity. We need a heart like Moses who says "if you're going to blot them out, blot my name too!" A heart like Abraham, who when judgement was hanging over Sodom, pled with God, if there are just twenty, just 15, oh be patient with me God, what if there are 10, perhaps 5?
Each of us can choose to be self-absorbed, self-indulgent, spending our children's inheritance on our own neurosis, or we can be generative. We can spend our lives establishing and guiding the next generation. Observe David in 1 Chronicles 22:5
Now david said "Solomon my son is young and inexperienced, and the house to be built for the Lord must be exceedingly magnificent, famous and glrious through all countries, I will now make prepartion for it,." So David made abundant preparations before his death."
Consider Jeremiah in Jeremiah chapter 32: 6-15 who has been thundering judgement on Judah, who has declared by the Word of the Lord that everyone should go off to captivity to Babylon, that they will be there 70 years and they should seek the peace of the city. Jerusalem is days away from being destroyed, and what does Jeremiah do by the word of the Lord- He buys a field. Jeremiah invests what he has in a vision that will outlive him. His obedience creates for another generation a piece of land.
Are we buying the field? Are we accumulating building materials like David for another generation-are we saying like Joseph, carry my bones from this place, I want to be involved in your future?
We think perhaps we have nothing to impart. After all we're not Joseph. We rarely dream dreams and our past history is not particularly spectacular. Even if your whole life has felt like one colossal failure, you have much to impart. Even if it's simply telling the next generation what to avoid. We can use our own two arms and two lips, arms to embrace and lips to kiss this next generation into their destiny. We can use our lips to plead with God that all His dreams for the next generation will be realized. We can use our own personal history as a curriculum of compassion.
Joseph's dying wish, was to be intimately involved, to be attached, to be somehow present when God fulfilled His Word to a generation yet to come. Joseph pledged his bones to another generation. Joseph's last words, were to declare the goodness of God to another generation. I said earlier all of Joseph's dreams turned out to be deliverance dreams, and that is certainly true of his last dream. Take my bones with you, for Surely the Lord will remember you and bring you out of this place into the land He promised.
Investing our lives in God's Ultimate Dreams involves humility. We may be the first deliverer of a people, but we will not be the last. We may be the first to see the promise, but we will not be the last to declare it. We may be the first to prophesy, but we will not be the last word. There will arise a Moses, a Joshua, there will be Gideons, and Debra's, there will be Esther's and others who will eclipse our memory. In fact, if we invest our lives in the future we will not be jealous of those who eclipse us, we will pray them into their destiny. Are we willing to see daughters come from us, daughters that don't carry our name but carry our DNA?
Investing Your Life in God's Ultimate Dream, means seeing His glory covering the earth as the water's cover the sea, it's seeing that Jesus will have the preeminence in all things. That all things in heaven and earth will be summed up in Christ. It's a reality worth investing our every breath, it's a reality worth pledging our heads for. Because it's a dream that will be fulfilled. "And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more." Jeremiah 31:34,
Surely God will remember you and bring you into the Land He promised and you will carry my bones with you.
And when the children of Israel had finally come to the land of promise 198 years later we read-"And the bones of Joseph which the children of Israel brought up out of Egypt, buried they in Shechem in a parcel of ground which Jacob bought of the sons of Hamor the father of Shechem for a hundred pieces of silver and it became the inheritance of the children of Joseph."http://www.robibrad.demon.co.uk/shechem.htm
A good man leaves an inheritance to his children's children. But not just their children, a good person leaves an inheritance for many generations. Hebrews 11:22 says it was by faith Joseph when he died, made mention of the departing of the children of Israel and gave commandment concerning his bones.
Why are Joseph bones mentioned four times in Scripture? What's the big deal-We know that Jacob's bones were taken back right after he'd been embalmed, and it's likely that others who died had their body's returned to Canaan soon after their demise. Why does Joseph, the Master Dreamer insist on his bones making the journey out of Egpyt? Could it be that Joseph wanted his story to be a perpetual story of God's deliverance. Could it be that his bones became a traveling memorial of the faithfulness of God? Could it be that Joseph wanted to be intimately identified with the entire Exodus? Where you go I will go. Carry my bones with you. I want to not settle in the past, I want to journey with you into promise.
While Ezekiel was called to prophesy to the valley of dry bones, Joseph bones prophecy to the children of Israel on their journey. God will deliver you, these bones testify that after God humbles you He will most certainly exalt you. These bones verify that God can take any circumstance of your life and use it to elevate you into your destiny. These bones are proof of the goodness of God. These bones hold the story of a God who fulfills His promise when every event of your life contradicts that promise. These bones prove that God specializes in finding pit people and turning them into palace people.
What is your prayer life? Is it primarily a self-absorbed endeavor? Is it primarily for this present moment? If you looked at your praying in light of future generations would they have a crumb of your interest? These are hard words and I address them to my own heart as well as yours.
What is your passions? What motivates you to endure? Are you simply working hard, to earn money to buy more toys? Or are you heavily invested in telling another generation their destiny. About a month ago I found myself waking up praying for Katy and Potomoc Gardens. Now I don't really even know Katy, I met her briefly in Concord. But Jesus was praying for you Katy, and somehow I ended up happily joining Him. I applaud the passion of your heart to invest in another generation. To tell them their destiny, a destiny rich with the goodness of God. You and those who serve with you are telling another generation "God remembers you. He will bring you into your destiny." You are not settling in what could be a great career, you are identifying with a people, you are journeying with them into their promise. You are pledging your bones to that journey.
What is your Purpose? The only true meaningful purpose of your life is the glory of God. Dreaming a dream beyond your lifetime requires a high and holy view of God's ultimate dream, that Jesus will have the preeminence in all things. That His fame and renown will cover the earth. That in this city He will be talked about in the boardroom and the bedroom, on the playground and in the pub. That He will be loved and worshipped and obeyed by every tribe and tongue. The purpose of dreaming dreams of deliverance is to enable people to become worshippers of the Holy One.
How do we Invest in God's Ultimate Dream of Deliverance?
- Cultivate a secret history with God.Saturate your bones, your inner substance so with God's Word and will so that there is a residue of His Spirit left after you've died. Practical suggestions, get Scripture tapes and play them while you drive.
Feed your spirit the word of God in large doses.
"And it came to pass, as they were burying a man, that, behold, they spied a band of men; and they cast the man into the sepulchre of Elisha: and when the man was let down, and touched the bones of Elisha, he revived, and stood up on his feet. "
2 Kings 13:21,
- Trade Your Dreams for God's Ultimate Dream
When I was young I wanting to see continents fall at the feet of Jesus through my preaching. I wanted to shake nations, and see millions come to Jesus through me. How my life has actually turned out is another matter. As I've traded my dream for God's ultimate dream, I Ďve realized I am mainly called to be a Mother in Israel to another generation. Yes, I am called to be a communicator, yes I write books, but the truth is my influence is very small, fairly regional. But I am committed to pouring my life into the next generation. I Ďve pledged my arms to embrace, my lips to kiss, my bones to journey into promise with them. I will not side with the accuser of the brethren that always divides generations through accusation and self-righteousness. I will stand with Jesus the great Intercessor who loved this generation and gave his life for them. Because His blood is precious to me, I will not reject what He's given His life to redeem.
- Intentionally Invest Your Heart and Life into the Next generation
- Be present notice them
- Be passionate about God's dream for them,
- Be prophetic-listen to what God is saying about them
- Be praying God's holy ambitions for them
Boomer Generation don't trust anyone over 30-Question Authority-
This generation just the opposite.
Will you be a Joseph's or Josephina's who will tell the next generations their destiny? Will you be a Joseph's and Josephina's who so want to be identified with God's future deliverance of generations that you say "When God does, this thing, I want some part of me to be present. Maybe my words will be present, maybe my bones, maybe my prayers, or my tears, maybe my spiritual children, but I am so positive of God's destiny for future generations, that I want to be attached to the promise with whatever it is I have. Where are the Joseph's and Josefina's who will not settle their bones down in the past, but will pledge their bones to another generations future?
Jesus Our Deliverer dreamed a dream that lived beyond his earthly life. The Bible tells us He endured the cross for the joy set before Him. That joy was not a privileged place at God's right hand. Jesus already had that. It was not the joy of having His Father's pleasure-Jesus already had that. I believe the joy set before Jesus was you Anne, it was you David, It was you Christine. It was each of you. Will you join Jesus and endure this present challenge, this present moment with a view of the joy set before Jesus, of being known and loved by future generations.
Jesus prayed in John 17 I pray not for them only but for those who will believe on Me because of their Word. Did you know that you were specifically prayed for in John 17- Jesus is saying I pray for Celia, Father I pray for David, Father
Have those under 40 come forward and stand with you.