Are God’s Dreams Your Dreams?

Door-to-Better-WorldThe topic of this article has come to my mind on several occasions over the years, and again recently. For some time, I’ve been fascinated by the reality of the emotions of God. Many in the Church have believed for far too long that the main emotion God feels is anger – mostly toward us when we fail. Thankfully, that has been and is changing in recent years and this is good news. God is very much an emotional being, just as we are, for we are made in His image. He feels joy, sorrow, sadness, anger, happiness, and other typical emotions. But have you ever considered that God also has dreams? Not the kind of dreams we have when we sleep, for He never slumbers. Dreams for us, for His bride, for His kingdom, for what He intends to accomplish on the earth. He has given us dreams as well; desires that we long to experience and accomplish.

Jeremiah 29:11 is a familiar verse, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” The word “plans” used there literally means, “purpose, invention, imaginations, and thoughts.”  Those words are mostly synonymous with dreams. What parent doesn’t have dreams for their children? They want to see them prosper, succeed, and become mature, healthy adults. As broken humans, we sometimes project our unfulfilled dreams on our children, but God isn’t like that. He knows and wants what is best for every one of us.

Religion has lied to us and told us that our dreams are selfish and ungodly. Many believers feel guilty when they experience the desires of their heart being fulfilled. But God said, ‘Take delight in the LORD, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” (Ps. 37:4) It is not wrong to desire or dream, as long as those desires don’t replace Him. I believe this verse is also saying that the dreams and desires that are in our hearts are not our own, but His, especially when we are following Him, by His grace. He loves to bless His children, even more so when we are living for Him. As a parent, I always loved my kids when they were young, and wanted to give them whatever they wanted (within reason, of course!) Yet when they went out of their way to do something special for me, it made me want to do so even more. This is just a small example of how God feels toward us.

I believe it pleases Him greatly when we acknowledge and passionately pursue the dreams He has put in our hearts. With no fear of failure, no guilt, shame, or condemnation from religious people who try to tell us we are being selfish or greedy, or living for ourselves. One of a parent’s greatest pleasures is when the dreams they have for their kids are embraced and pursued with joy by their kids. If we feel that way, how much more does God? Of course, we still love them even if they choose to go a different way, and so does He. We should at least consider the possibility that those desires and dreams in our heart may actually be His. Ask Him for a new perspective and pray for the courage to follow those dreams, trusting His grace to lead and empower you. What dreams has God put in your heart? Are you pursuing them? If not, why not? Talk to Him about it.

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Let Go and Live

letting go2My husband loves to watch the TV show, American Pickers.  It’s funny to me because when we first married, he hated antiques while I loved to contemplate their untold secrets. Yesterday, Mike and Frank, the two pickers, went to visit a pastor who they were told, had some old things he was ready to part with. After asking about the price of several items, it became obvious he wasn’t quite so ready to let them go. His line got my interest as I was half paying attention. “It seems I have a hard time letting things go,” he said, and my ears immediately perked up. Sounds like a lot of folks I know, myself included.

It may not be antiques or belongings we have trouble letting go of. More often, its those deeply personal things like relationships, unrealized hopes, shattered dreams… Sometimes it seems as though the reality of day to day living versus that which we’ve hoped and longed for is a deep, dark abyss that can’t be bridged. Thus far in my years of living, I’ve not yet met a person who had every hope, dream, or desire fulfilled, or one whose life turned out exactly as they had planned.

I’m finding that the older I get, the heavier those unfulfilled longings become and the more energy it takes to continue to hold on to them. Sometimes we need to ask ourselves, why are we afraid to let them go? What is the worst that could possibly happen after all? We would be lighter, have more energy for each day, and look forward to new and better things that await us. Maybe our fear is looking like or acknowledging that we failed in some ways. Well, I’m pretty certain we ALL have fallen short in many ways we may or may not recognize or acknowledge. Failure only occurs when you quit. Making mistakes is how we learn.

As Graham Cooke would say, we need to get over ourselves and get on with the business of living. Living in the past is futile, so let go of what weighs you down and look up with new eyes and new hope to the One who makes all things new. Grieve the loss if you need to, and move on towards new life. This world and all that is in it is quickly passing away. Only Jesus can give us a life of true satisfaction and the fulfillment of every longing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Overcoming Temptation

No one is immune to temptation. It is familiar to us all. It entered the human temptationexperience at the beginning of time and is one of the three most common ways the enemy attacks us. The Scriptures give many examples of the temptations of the saints and provide wisdom to help us if we will heed it.

The first instance is found in Genesis 3, the story of the fall of man. No doubt, we are all familiar with the details, however; there are a couple of things I want to point out. First, the enemy lies to Adam and Eve, telling them that God has lied to, and withheld something valuable from them. (v. 4-5) At that moment, a seed of doubt was sown into their minds about the trustworthiness of their Creator. This seed of doubt, this thought, was the impetus for the temptation.

The thought, when dwelled upon, caused the first couple to consider their options. If God couldn’t be trusted and was withholding something of value from them, what was it? Eve looked at the fruit, turning her focus away from the One who had freely given them everything their hearts could long for. She chose to turn her attention to that which He had not given them, and had actually forbidden them to have. In doing so, she “saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.” (v. 6)

There are three main areas the enemy targeted – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. The lust of the flesh involves satisfying our appetites. The lust of the eyes speaks of greed, envy, and coveting that which we do not have. The pride of life includes that which we can achieve or accomplish. 1 John 2:16 further confirms this, “For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world.”

Jesus was tempted in the same ways during His time in the wilderness. (Matthew 4:1-11) We, too, have been or will be, tempted in these areas. It is not a sin to be tempted; it is a part of life in this fallen world and will be until Jesus returns. Many years ago, a former pastor said to me, “Temptation is about fulfilling a legitimate, God-given need, in an illegitimate way.” God has given us valid needs and desires that we cannot deny. He has promised to meet every need and longing of our heart when we seek Him first. Our part is to trust Him. Every temptation we face is another opportunity to trust Him.

When those seeds of doubt come and the devil whispers in our ear, “Did God really say…?” we must keep our eyes fixed on Him and remember, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet He did not sin.” (Heb. 4:15) The One who overcame all temptation lives within us that we also might overcome!