As Anton Ego put it in the movie Ratatouille, "... you know what I'm craving? A little perspective. That's it. I'd like some fresh, clear, well seasoned perspective. Can you suggest a good wine to go with that?"
Tuesday, July 2, 2013
iPray eVotionals exhorts those who pray. It's the glass of water held out around each month's turn for the runners who can use a quick and easy quench in order to finish strong.
(Approximate reading time: 10 Minutes)
Did you know that God declares that in the last days He will pour out his Spirit on all flesh?
Not in your wildest dreams!
No really, He says that sons and daughters shall prophesy.
A dream come true...if that were true.
I didn't dream it up, I read it.
Don't dream your life away believing everything you read.
I read it in the Bible.
Really, it first appeared in Joel 2:28 as a prophecy and Peter quoted it again in Acts 2:17 as it was being fulfilled.
If you think I'm going to fall for that you are living in a dream world.
I didn't just dream this up. It says that young men shall see visions and old men shall dream dreams.
In your dreams!
Wake up! I wouldn't dream of putting false words into God's mouth. This is a prophecy that is absolutely true to this day.
I'll dream up a solution why you may think this is true, for now your tunnel vision is making you sleep walk.
My tunnel vision? Open up God's Word so that He can open up your eyes!
"'And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams." Acts 2:17
Not long ago I heard someone say, "Praying is talking to God." It's true that praying involves talking to God, but I would go further and say that praying is more than talking to God, it's talking with God. Hearing from Him is just as important.
Most would claim that it's the harder part of talking with God, hearing from Him. Just the other day I was helping my son realize that his help comes from the Lord and his response was, "I have tried to pray but I can't see or hear Him."
It made me stop to think. How do I hear from Him? First and foremost, He has spoken to me through His Word. At times He has spoken to my heart through people and situations. Still there is another way He speaks and quickly grabs my full attention. Some of my most intimate conversations with God have been when He has spoken to me through dreams and visions.
I realize I just lost half my audience. Dreams are nothing but a series of thoughts, images and sensations in a person's mind during sleep. Every time we go to sleep our brains keep thinking. If they didn't then we would be brain dead. Looking at things the wrong way can really cause massive confusion. Waking up each morning and testing every part of a dream (that no doubt is slowly fading from your memory as the morning gets going) with what God says in His word can be exhausting not to mention a waste of time and energy. At that point dreaming becomes your primary source of knowledge and that is idol worship.
At the same time, it is absolutely true that God can use that quiet time to get our attention. From the beginning He has used dreams and visions to speak to us. Encouragement, hope and promise came to Abram inGenesis 15:1-6. An announcement of judgment came to Samuel about Eli in 1 Samuel 3:1-18. God uses dreams and visions to reveal secrets and interpretations of dreams like He did to Daniel, as in Daniel 2:19. Announcing a servant's call came to Zacharias for John in Luke 1:22. Confirmation of His will came to Joseph in Matthew 1:20. In dreams and visions God announces good tidings like he did after Jesus' resurrection when some women saw a vision of angels announcing Jesus was alive inLuke 24:23. He uses them for guidance and explicit instructions like He did to Ananias for Saul in Acts 9:10-12. Guidance to change locations came for Paul to go to Macedonia in Acts 15:9. God speaks through dreams and visions to help change an opinion and give an assignment like He did to Peter about the Gentiles in Acts 11:5-10.
As it stands we only see in part, at some point we will see in full. Until that time God speaks to us in the ways He knows we can and are able to hear for understanding.
Able to Hear
One day last week I was chit chatting with a woman about how different we all are, with unique strengths and struggles. She shared with me a way she was able to connect with her son "My kids are grown adults now," she said, "but when my son was young he could not focus around a group of people. Sometimes I would have to take him away from all the noise to talk to him so that he could really hear what I had to say." Take him away... take him away so that he could focus and really hear.
That evening my husband and I were discussing a situation. In the conversation he said, "Sometimes just telling a person what they need to think and feel will not change what they think and feel." True, it has to somehow be made real. I thought about how only God can speak to our hearts the way we need to hear it, changing us so that we can arrive to where He needs us to be.
That night God took me away from the noise of the day where He had my full attention like the mom did for her son. He made His Words real through intense circumstances that evoked feelings of urgency in a dream.
A man was after me, my husband and family. I was aware of the danger that came to all who crossed his path, so I stood alert. The dream moved through three specific areas where this man showed up to kill and destroy. In each, because we were on high alert, we were able to quickly spot the danger as the man lurked. Working as a team we were able to respond to protect the lives of those around us. My husband in his way and me in mine, together we made the rescues complete. Still, the man did not give up and continued to pursue me as I woke up.
When the dream was done I was wide awake with a racing heart, instantly God was telling me to write it down just as he had told the prophet to do in Habakkuk 2:2...for He was speaking to me.
After writing down as much detail as possible I read it back and could hear God's voice speaking to me. Peter 5:8 was no longer words on a page, the urgency to, "Be alert and of sober mind" was intense. The reality that "your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour" was not just a passing thought or a good thing to ponder. As I looked at each of the three specific areas in my visionary dream God's Word became alive...Luke 21:36... 1 Timothy 3:11... 2 Thessalonians 3:3.
Joseph is known as the dreamer. God chose to open a little window into the future for him to peek through. He could have spared himself by keeping the dreams to himself. Instead, the dreams had such an impact on him that he couldn't help but share them.
Joseph's brothers had no intention to seek any truth the dreams may have held for in the dreams it seemed that Joseph's brothers would someday bow to him. They became jealous that their father would even ponder over Joseph's words concerning these dreams. (Genesis 37:1-11) Their younger brother Joseph lording over them was just offensive and downright wrong in their eyes.
Well, wiping out his existence was the sure way to make sure that never happened. Sold into slavery and advertised as dead, Joseph was out of the picture as far as his brothers were concerned. (Genesis 37:12-35)
But they forgot that God is omnipotent, one who has all power and is able to accomplish everything He desires.
For Joseph I'm sure that vision did not seem very accurate while he was rejected by his brothers, worked as a slave, was falsely accused, put in jail and forgotten. I wonder if those two visions played any part in how Joseph was able to stay true to his God and His ways, trusting that he WILL be the vessel of hope for his family that God had shown him to be. Through twisted events and more dream interpretations God placed Joseph in a place of authority, in charge of the very things his family and people needed to stay alive.
For Joseph's brothers, rejecting the dream in the way they did brought out the worst in them: jealously, revenge and deception. After seeing what their lies had done to their father, guilt became their norm.
As it turns out, Joseph's entire family needed to stay alive during a famine. Yes, Joseph's brothers bowed in front of a man they thought they did not know in order to receive what they needed to stay alive. What his brothers feared long ago was a Joseph ruling over them. After their honesty and integrity were tested they realized who was in front of them, their brother Joseph. What they did not expect was a Joseph that had compassion and forgiveness in his heart, not lording his authority over them but instead using it for the entire family's good. It is written that from the time of their deception to that very day their hearts were in torment over what they had done. At that moment they all cried for they had been humbled to see God's plan play out for their good and not for their bad...and even more they had been forgiven and reconciled. (Genesis 24:50)
Like Joseph God gives us just what we need to stand up and do what is right. When the world tells us otherwise we can trust that when we stay true to Him and His ways, He will accomplish all that He said He would. Sadly, we are often not like Joseph. We are like his brothers, full of fear and assumptions-not willing to hear anything that would in any way seem to rock our world. The Bible says that some day every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord. (Romans 14:11) Should we have to live in torment just to save face? God's plan will not be thwarted and it is for our good.
A Joseph or A Brother
"Then he said to the crowd, 'If any of you wants to be my follower, you must put aside your selfish ambition, shoulder your cross daily, and follow me. If you try to keep your life for yourself, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for me, you will find true life. And how do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose or forfeit your own soul in the process? If a person is ashamed of me and my message, I, the Son of Man, will be ashamed of that person when I return in my glory and in the glory of the Father and the holy angels.'" Luke 9:23-26
Now that brings all dreams and visions into focus! If you have ears to hear and are willing, ask God now to speak to you.
"Hear my words: If there is a prophet among you, I the Lord make myself known to him in a vision; I speak with him in a dream." Numbers 12:6
Is there a small part of you wondering if you can have a Joseph response instead of his brothers' response? How willing are you to hear a message and be changed?
I have shared about how God has used dreams and visions in the Bible. I have also shared how God speeks to me through dreams and visions. Now I am going to share with you a message that God has placed on the heart of one of his faithful daughters, a German living in Africa, through a dream. It is a message that she has been called to share with women of the world.
About two weeks ago Michelle Swanepoel, a daughter of the Living God, sent out an email that landed in my lap. After an email conversation, one Michelle to another she gave me permission to share what I believe is God's scriptural charge to wives with you. Now it is your turn to experience a dream that can be tested by God's Word and has the power to change! God placed a message on the heart of His trusted daughter, knowing her faithfulness and obedience would allow Him to usher in a mighty change through prayer.
Click the below link to read her email sent out in June 2013.