Summary: This sermon is about a dream that God gave to me concerning my home church. Consider what it says for yourself and your church.
By Pastor Jim May
Joel 2:28 says, "And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions..."
There are several meanings that we could put on the term "dreams" in this passage. Sometimes the dream is about some great thing that God wants to do in us. At other times those dreams can be meant to warn us of things that God sees in us, that perhaps we can’t even see in ourselves. God can use dreams to accomplish His work in many ways.
On several occasions I have had a similar dream concerning the church. At first I thought that the dream was the result of constant thoughts of what to preach or teach next that the congregation needed, or that I am always thinking of what can be done to improve our church with those who are attending without overloading everyone. I suppose that all true pastors have those thoughts.
In the past, most of the time, when this dream comes, it is short and simple. I would always find myself in the wrong place, at the wrong time, when it came time for church to start. I wouldn’t be prepared sufficiently. I knew that it would only be a few minutes until it would be time for me to stand and deliver a message to God’s people and I just wasn’t ready. I don’t know if I will ever feel truly ready. I have figured that this was just God’s way of keeping me from thinking that I have it all together so that I will seek His will on behalf of the church.
That’s not a duty that I take very lightly. It is a constant prayer, and an ongoing concern of mine that I have a fresh “Word” from the Lord. I don’t like warmed over sermons, even though there have been a few times when I felt led to preach one again.
Every once in a while a warmed over sermon actually tastes better, and seems to accomplish more the second time around. Perhaps it’s because of a change in circumstances or maybe it’s just a greater anointing upon the preacher and the listeners. But most of the time a warmed over sermon isn’t too well received.
Much like warmed over dinner, the original zest and “pizzazz” is missing. There’s just something about leftovers that leaves you feeling left out. Something is just not right. I like dinner to be hot and fresh. So must the Word from this pulpit be. None of us like to eat cold, stale, leftover pizza. We must have a word from God that is hot and fresh too.
In all of those dreams, it always seemed that I didn’t have the message ready and that I was forced to seek for a leftover sermon. It wasn’t a dream really, it was a nightmare!
On a few occasions I have dreamed that when it came time for church to start I was still at home trying to get ready. I couldn’t find my notes, or there were none. I felt so bad, so inadequate, so much like a failure because I wasn’t prepared like a pastor should be. I didn’t know what to say, and without God’s help, I never do.
I just felt terrible. Even after I would wake up, I could still remember that dream because it was so real.
I would always think, “The folks at church will wonder just why they allow me to continue being pastor. I just have to do better than this. I don’t know why I wasn’t ready, but it can’t be this way anymore.” Even though I am always striving to improve, that same dream would come again. I suppose that I have had this dream as many as 5 or 6 times. I have no doubt that God was trying to speak to me in those dreams but I am a little thick headed sometimes and He has to keep repeating it to get my attention.
Then just this past week, on Sunday night to be exact, I had the dream again, only this time it was much more emphatic and much more disturbing in several ways.
Always, in the past, I didn’t see any faces, I didn’t see the reaction of the crowd, and I was never in the church; always somewhere else. But this time it was different.
I ask you bear with me for a moment as I relate a few things about this dream and then let me tell you what I have finally discovered and come to realize that God is trying to say to me, at to you through me.