New Year’s Sermon Idea – Reboot: The Power of Dreams

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One-third of our time is spent not having any idea what we’re doing. Admittedly, many people spend even greater percentages of their lifetimes clueless. But, officially, one-third of the typical life is unaccountable. Why? Because we’re sleeping.

Every creature with even the most rudimentary brain requires sleep. Yet, we fully don’t understand why sleep in necessary. Scientists do know that if deprived of sleep for ten days, a human being will die. That’s right – dead. Three minutes without air; three days without water; ten days without sleep. These are the physical limits of life.

Sleep, however, isn’t just a big shut-down. It serves as a healthy kind of “reboot.” During sleep we’re sometimes all but comatose, while other times we’re right on the edge of consciousness. No sleep cycle is complete until we get a good dose of REM-sleep. “Rapid Eye Movement” is characterized by the shifty, darting back-and-forth movement of our eyes and by the electrical brain activity that reveals we’re dreaming.

We Need to Dream

We don’t just need to sleep, we need to dream. If we’re awakened before we reach REM dream sleep, there’ll be no rest of body, no refreshment of the spirit. Our bodies and brains are designed to be refreshed and renewed during dream-time.

During dream sleep, our brain paralyzes the rest of us. Far from being a time-stopped stupor, our mandatory dream cycle puts us into a heightened anabolic state that promotes growth and rejuvenation. Dreaming boosts the immune system and promotes the optimal functioning of the nervous, skeletal, and muscular systems.

Long before electroencephalograms revealed sleep cycles, humans have known dreams are important. While only a select few may have been “called” to be shamans, prophets, or seers, we’ve all been “called” to be sleepers. And all sleepers dream. Every night, sleepers dream.

We Need to Dream God Dreams

Matthew 2:13-15 points to the power and promise of dreams. An angel appears to Joseph in a dream, warning him to steal away with the Jesus and Mary to Egypt and to stay until told to return. Joseph’s dream foretold of danger but also pointed the way to safety and salvation.

In God’s story of salvation, he often uses dreams to communicate his plan, desires, and will to people needing new direction and hope. Joseph, Jacob, and Paul, among others, all received God-dreams in which God birthed new vision of salvation and hope.

In modern times, God continues to reveal his dream for a preferred future through dreams. Martin Luther King, Jr. famously spoke from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial concerning the dream of a better, more equitable, more dignified, and just world.

Do You Have a Dream?

Is there something calling you, pushing you, opening up the future before you? Or, are you one of the “I just go with the flow” people? Going with the flow works like water, following the path of least resistance. God’s dream most often calls us to go against the flow, opposite of the crowd, toward seemingly dangerous places.

If we’re going to live the life to which God is calling, we need a reboot. We need to see visions and dream dreams of what God can do in and through us.

Four Keys to (Re)Discovering Your Dream

  1. Examine God’s Design

God’s creative work is uniquely displayed in your life. Job proclaimed: “Your hands shaped me and made me… you molded me like clay.” (Job 10:8-9 NIV). Potters don’t mass produce identical items. They create unique works of art. God designed you to be you and no one else. God’s dream for you will look like no one else’s dream. He made you on purpose for a particular reason. Examine God’s design, in that design will be the key to God’s dream.

  1. Embrace God’s Desires

“Happy are those whose greatest desire is to do what God requires; God will satisfy them fully!” (Matthew 5:6 TEV) As we live into God’s dream he starts to shape our desires, so that his desires become our desires. Our “want-to” is transformed. As we seek our happiness in God, he forms and fulfills our deepest desires (Psalm 37:4). God desires the very best possible life for us, a life of experiencing his love and offering that love to others. Let God transform your desires.

  1. Establish Good Goals

If we want to avoid the “go with the flow” philosophy, we need to have a plan. God’s dream is of the end-result, the final destination. In order to arrive, we need to set goals that align with God’s purposes.

Goals help us make the most of one our limited resources, especially time. The psalmist proclaims, “Teach us to make the most of our time, so that we may grow in wisdom” (Psalm 90:12 NLT). Are we using the gift of our time? Benjamin Franklin said, “Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time; for that’s the stuff life is made of.” Good, godly goals will help us use our times to pursue God’s dream for us.

  1. Enjoy Life

God didn’t put us here to make us miserable. If life was intended to be miserable, then why would Jesus say, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10 ESV). If life is meant for misery why in the world would God give us an abundance of it?

Aligning our lives with God’s dream is the best way to assure we experience the abundant life Jesus claims to have come to give us. If we go with the flow, do our own thing, and continue the rebellion, then we will reap the results, which is exactly what the thief wants. God’s grace opens our eyes and hearts to God’s dream, the dream he sent Jesus to realize, a world put to rights, a people on whose hearts are written his ways, a creation renewed to it’s original intent.

What are you dreaming? Are you merely daydreaming as you drift through life going with the flow? Or, are you attentive to God’s voice, ready to reboot, to follow the Spirit’s directions to salvation, freedom, and impact? God’s dream is always better than our dreams.

Image attribution: Sergey Nivens / Thinkstock

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Dr. Chris Howlett serves as the Senior Pastor of Lebanon United Methodist Church in Lebanon, Ky. He and his wife, Roz, are the parents of Chloe, Josiah, and Lydia. Chris loves soccer, coaching goalkeepers at the high school level. He coaches clergy and laity to discover and utilize their God-given talents and strengths for ministry. Catch up with him at www.chrishowlett.me.

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