Following your dreams or the will of God?
FOLLOWING YOUR ‘DREAMS’, YOUR ‘VISION’, OR THE WILL OF GOD?
Men say – and even some preachers – ‘Follow your dreams!’ But Jesus said, ‘Follow me!’. If you follow your dreams, you are pleasing yourself. If you follow Jesus, you will please Him. If you follow your dreams, you are serving yourself. If you follow Jesus, you will serve Him and His church. If you follow your dreams, you are preparing a way for yourself. If you follow Jesus, He will prepare a way for you!
To tell Christians that they should ‘follow their dreams’ or to ‘have a dream or vision for their future’ is to lead them the wrong way and deceive them. Those that teach such things are responsible before God for deceiving believers. Those that receive such an idea into their hearts are responsible for receiving something that is not taught in the Bible and is contrary to the teaching of the Bible.
What is wrong with this idea? Firstly, it is not the teaching of the word of God. Such things are being taught in the world by ‘motivational’ speakers and ‘self-help’ writers and teachers! And Christian preachers are borrowing their ideas to try and encourage Christians that they have potential to do great things, to be someone special or to change things in their society. These teachings are ‘humanistic’ and anti-biblical. I have seen the website of one preacher who calls himself a ‘motivational speaker’! It seems Christians today are not ashamed to copy the world and to follow their methods in order to be popular – instead of preaching from the Bible. I will touch on this again later.
Secondly, the deception of this teaching is that it does not distinguish between what may only be the personal desire of a Christian to be or do something, and the will of God for their lives! These two things are not always the same! This is why this idea of ‘follow your dream’ is so wrong! Instead of a believers ‘offering their lives as a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable before God, some Christians – especially young believers – are just following their own personal desire to do something, for example, becoming a ‘worship leader’ or the leader of some work; or trying to get a recording studio because they think they are called to be a singer; or starting a particular business. They do not take time to wait on the Lord and to discover if this really is what God wants for them! What we desire is not always wrong. This is clear. But it is also clear that what we desire to do is not always the same as what God has chosen for us! This kind of teaching about ‘Follow your dream!’ or ‘Have a dream for your future life!’ appeals to believers because it is an ‘easier’ way; it is a ‘short cut’ – it allows them to think that their personal desire to do or be something is the same as the will of God for their lives! Maybe they pray, ‘If it be your will…….’, but in reality they just continue to follow what they want – because they want it so much, and this worldly teaching makes them believe it is all right to do that!
They terrible danger of this kind of teaching is that it makes believers follow their own desires instead of following the Word of God, instead of following Jesus, instead of following what the Bible teaches! Where does the Bible teach us to ‘follow our dreams’, or exhort us to have a ‘vision’ for our future lives? If you know your Bible, you know these kind of exhortations are not found anywhere! Men misuse and corrupt Bible verses in order to preach these worldly ideas, and we will look at how they do this later.
The Bible teaches us that whatever our desires are for our future, we are firstly to offer ourselves daily as a living sacrifice to God the Father, holy and acceptable unto Him, not seeking our own will but His will (Romans 12:1,2). The apostle Paul continues in Romans 12 to teach us that ‘we are not to be conformed to this world, but to be ‘transformed by the renewing of our mind that we might prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.’ So the teaching of the Bible is clear – offer your life as a sacrifice to God and in so doing let your thinking be renewed so that you may understand God’s will for your life!
The Word of God teaches us, ‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart; and lean not to your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and he shall direct your paths.’ (Proverbs 3:5-6).
We shouldn’t be constantly expecting God to fulfil our dreams or our vision for our future! We are to trust Him completely to lead us in the way He wants us to go. I have seen young people trying to ‘push doors open’ to fulfil their ambitions or dreams, and it has resulted in them missing out on the will of God for their lives, not just outwardly, but, more importantly, inwardly, spiritually. If we do not offer our lives continually before Him then our thinking is not being renewed by His Spirit and we are not being taught by His Spirit. So not only will we misunderstand what God’s will is, but we also misunderstand God’s way, we misunderstand the cross of Jesus Christ!
This teaching about ‘follow your dreams’ doesn’t transform our thinking in any way to know God’s will. On the contrary, it allows our natural desires to dominate our lives and direct our lives and deceives us into thinking that the ‘dream’ or ‘vision’ we have is the same as the will of God.
I said earlier that this new teaching represents an ‘easier’ way for believers. It is an ‘easier’ way because the believer can ‘automatically’ assume that his desire to be or do something for God is the will of God for his life. There is no need for patience. There is no spiritual discipline in his life. There is no need to ‘prove’ if our dreams are really the will of God. It allows us to ‘hold on’ to our own desires, ambitions, vision and dreams! If I have such an attitude, I will not truly lay my own desires to do something (great for the Lord) on the alter of God so that God can choose what is acceptable to Him and what isn’t!
I am not exaggerating. I have heard preachers encouraging Christians that they need to have a dream or a vision for the lives. These preachers don’t teach believers that they need to distinguish between what could be just their own personal desires and what is of God. They teach as if such dreams or visions are of God! One well-known preacher from Tanzania used Habakkuk 2:4 (‘…the just shall lived by faith…’) to ask Christians if they ‘had a personal vision for their future life’. This verse from Habakkuk is used as a fundamental truth in the New Testament. It refers to the basis of our justification and salvation! Yes, of course we are to live by faith, but this verse has nothing to do with developing a ‘vision for our future lives’! This speaker was trying to say that if you truly want to live by faith and please God, then you should have a ‘vision for your future life’. This is nonsense and a corruption of the word of God. These things are taught in the world by writers and speakers who don’t know God or His salvation, but who want to show people how to be successful in their lives and to encourage them that they have the ‘potential’ to do great things with their lives. Of course people like to hear positive things about themselves and be told that they can be successful and achieve things. It is heart-breaking that Christian speakers and writers leave the word of God and teach the philosophy and psychology of this world to attract listeners.
Jesus said the His food was to do His Father’s will. He said He came not to do His own will but the will of the Father who had sent Him and that He sought not to do His own will but the will of the Father, and that He always did those things that pleased the Father. If the Son of God lived like this, shouldn’t we? Why don’t modern preachers teach the Bible instead of teaching the thoughts of the worldly men? ‘Follow your dreams’ is what the world tells those who know not God!
Another very well-known preacher in Tanzania, who is also considered a prophet, taught the following thoughts:
Faith comes by hearing. The beginning of faith is hearing. Only listen to the things that will be best for your future. Only desire to listen to those things that will cause the best for the future. Where do you want to go? What do you want to achieve? – prepare/choose your goal of achievement. Prepare a strategy that will get you there. Spend much time considering the things that will bring you benefit – take a pencil and paper, write your goals down. Every success has its price – pay the price of success.
The apostle Paul speaks of those who corrupt the word of God (2 Cor.2:17), and this is exactly what the preacher above is doing here. He takes a well-known verse but does not quote it to the end. Faith does not come only by hearing! You can hear many different things, many of which can lead you astray! Faith comes by hearing the word of God! But the preacher didn’t mention this truth! Instead of encouraging people to believe the word of God, he teaches the thoughts of men, the ideas of this world! He encourages their personal ambition and their pride. He encourages them to think about themselves, what they themselves want to achieve, what will benefit them, and he tells them to give much time to strategies that will help them achieve their goals! These are ideas that are being taught in the world today and Christian leaders and preachers are leaving the Word of God and teaching these things without shame! Many Christians are posting these kind of ideas on Facebook as if they were based on the Bible and many other Christians who read these posts ‘like’ them! It seems many are simply ignoring the word of God. It seems we like to be told how successful we can be, what potential we have, how good we are, what attitudes to practice to make us successful and acceptable to others. Why is this so wrong? Because it encourages the love of self instead of the love of God and self-denial. This teaching focusses on me, on what I want, on what will benefit me personally. It does not focus on Christ, on His will and on following Him.
The Bible teaches us that the ‘end’ will not come until there is a ‘falling away’ from the faith (1 Tim.4:1; 2 Thess.2:3). So, one of the ‘signs’ of the end time, is that a noticeable number of believers will fall away from the faith. Are we seeing today the beginning of this process? All over the world, popular preachers and speakers and feeding young Christians with the ideas and philosophy of the world, and many young Christians are building their lives on this ‘sand’ and not on ‘rock’. It is possible that many of these young Christians will ‘fall away’ in times of real trial because they have been building on sand.
You know what the Bible teaches, Christian reader! The word of God teaches us, ‘Seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.’ (Matthew 6:33). Why are modern preachers ignoring this simple, fundamental and powerful truth? And what did the Lord say, to Baruch, who was Jeremiah’s assistant? God said, ‘And do you seek great things for yourself? Seek them not…’. Of course this verse has its particular context, but it is a word that God can apply to all our hearts, (as He has to mine), especially when we get carried away with our own dreams and ideas! I have already quoted Romans 12 verses one and two about offering our lives as a living sacrifice, and proving what is God’s will for us. Listen to what the next verse says, ‘For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God has dealt to every man the measure of faith (Romans 12:3) . You see, Paul is aware that we can get carried away with great ideas for ourselves and our lives and he warns us against this temptation! Modern preachers are encouraging believers not to recognise this temptation but to fall prey to it!
When Jesus talked about His death on the cross, Peter rebuked Him. Peter didn’t like the idea of ‘weakness’ and ‘failure’ Peter had a different ‘vision’ for the ministry of His master Jesus Christ. Jesus turned and said to him, ‘Get behind me, Satan: you are an offence to me: for you consider not the things that be of God, but those that be of men. (Matthew 16:23). And so today, preachers and hearers together like things which speak of strength and success, of human potential, of achieving your ‘goals’ of fulfilling your ‘dreams and of having a ‘vision’! These things are not of God, but of men. In the next verse Jesus says, ‘If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.’
In the verses above the man Peter rebuked the Son of God. Peter had his own thoughts on how Jesus was going to change the world. His ‘vision’ for Jesus was based on human ideas of strength, victory and success. Jesus not only revealed that Peter’s idea was ‘of men’ but actually also inspired by the devil. Peter’s ‘plan’ for Jesus’s future ministry represented the pride of man, who wants to be successful and popular – it is a pride and belief in one’s own ability, which of course comes from the devil. Preachers and organisations today are to some extent repeating the mistake of Peter. They are telling young people that if they have the right ‘attitude’, the right ‘mindset’ then they can change the country. It is a bit like Peter who wanted to tell the Son of God how He could triumph for Israel! And they are just as mistaken as Peter! And they are just as deceived as Peter was before Jesus rebuked him for his pride! Instead of preaching Christ and Him crucified, and making their hearers true followers of Christ who can live and spread the Gospel, they are actually encouraging young Christians to believe in their own abilities to change the world – all they need is to have the right attitude!
You can see this all over Facebook. Christians are posting the thoughts of men, not of the Bible, telling others that their life will be better, happier and more successful if they have the right attitude. Sometimes they don’t quote the Bible at all, it is just the teaching of modern human psychology! It is not based on the Bible, but Christians are ‘liking’ these posts and say they are encouraged by these thoughts! I will speak more about this later.
Peter tried to change the attitude of Jesus, the Son of God, concerning the will of God for Him! But Jesus walked in fellowship with His Father and only sought His Father’s will, not His own, He only wanted to do those that things that pleased the Father – even if this meant being unpopular, ‘unsuccessful’ and dying in weakness on a cross! Where are those who preach the truth as it is in Jesus? Where are those who preach the truth as Jesus taught it? Where are those who preach the life that Jesus lived?
Pleased don’t get me wrong. Of course how we think is important, very important. But the Bible doesn’t teach us that just by having ‘the right attitude’ we can be ‘successful’ in changing things. It teaches Christ, it teaches this,
‘Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, …made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.’ (Philippians 2:5-8.) ‘And be not conformed to this world: but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.’ (Romans 12:2.) ‘This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you no longer walk as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind,’ (Ephesians 4:17). That you put off concerning the former way of life the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind…’ (Ephesians 4:22-23).
Modern preachers are following the world and teaching ‘self-realisation’, (how to fulfil your dream or vision and how to achieve your goal) and not ‘self-denial’. They are teaching psychology and trying to dress is in biblical clothes! However, if you want to have a ‘goal’ in your life, have this one…
‘And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.’ (Deuteronomy 6:5).
Do this, and you will be blessed beyond measure. Do this, and He will guide you in the way He wants you to go. Do this, because He is worthy – He has saved you and cleansed you that you should no longer live to yourself, but to Him who died for you (2 Cor.5:15). Do this, because you are not your own but you have been bought with a price (1 Cor.6:20,21). Do this, because He is God!
You have no rights to your own dreams, to your own visions, to achieving your own goals, to fulfilling your own potential and ambitions (1 Cor.6:19,20). We have been crucified with Christ! All our rights to ourselves have been crucified with Him! We are His! Glory be to God! He will choose the way we are to go. He will make us those who serve the Lord in truth, whatever our work is; He will make us those who truly to serve His church, and not our own selves. And then we will serve Him not according to our own abilities, but by His grace! The apostle Paul reveals to us how important this is and how terrible it is if we fail to distinguish between our own desires and the will of God:
‘For I have no man like-minded, who will genuinely care for your state. For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s.’ (Philippians 2:20-21).
Amazingly, Paul tells us here that among all those who say they are serving the Lord, he has no one like Timothy, who truly cares about the Lord’s people and who truly serves the Lord! At this period in his ministry, Paul says that all the others are serving themselves! They are seeking benefit for themselves; they are seeking their own goals and fulfilling their own desires and dreams for success, popularity, power and money. This is a very serious word. If it could be like this in Paul’s day, it can certainly be true today, and my concern is that these preachers who are teaching ‘self-development’ and ‘self-fulfilment’ by encouraging believers to follow their dreams and to have a vision for their future, are actually directing these believers to be like those that Paul speaks about when he says they ‘seek their own’ and not the things that are Christ’s. I have met young men who say they want to serve the Lord in ministry or as a singer. I could see that what was driving them was their own ambition and their strong desire to do what pleased them. And I have seen them follow their dreams, which in the end came to nothing as they pushed forward with their ambitions. On the other hand, there are those who seek Christ for Himself and for no personal profit; they seek first the Kingdom of God; they seek not their own way but offer their lives to God; they do not seek self-fulfilment but live denying themselves and loving Christ Jesus. Such ones God can call and use!
Please understand me. It is good to want to serve the Lord but the problem is this: many preachers today are laying another foundation, not Jesus Christ! Instead of preaching Christ and the word of God, they are feeding people with the thoughts of men, with the psychology of this world. Yes, they use verses from the Bible, but as we have seen they only use them to build their own teachings, which have no real foundation in Christ. They stir up young people to do a lot of things and to do great works, but they are leading them to build on a foundation of wood, hay and stubble, and this kind of foundation cannot establish the Kingdom of God! Paul says that if we build on another foundation our work will be burnt up and we will suffer loss (1 Cor.3:10-15). And it is because of these things that I am writing this short article. It is my deep desire that we may serve God in all things, and know Him and His will, and that we suffer no loss!
We are in our Father’s hand. We are to commit our ways to Him and to trust Him fully. In Psalm 37:3,4 it says, ‘Trust in the LORD, and do good… Delight yourself also in the LORD; and he shall give you the desires of your heart.’
This is the wonderful truth. If we make the Lord our delight; if we seek Him more than anything else on earth; if we love Him more than anything else on earth; if we live in loving obedience to His word; if we trust in Him completely to lead us, then our hearts and minds will be renewed by His Spirit, we will find ourselves in His will and He will give us the desires of our hearts. If we desire something that is not His will, then our hearts will be prepared and glad to offer this to the Lord and wait on Him for His way for our lives!
Many books have been written by non-Christians over the last 50 years concerning ‘self-development’, how to be successful, achieving your goals, having the right attitude, fulfilling your potential, having a vision for your future and following your dreams. What is happening is that Christian preachers and writers are now borrowing directly from these philosophies, from these psychological strategies, using the same words, but presenting it as biblical teaching! It is not biblical teaching. It has nothing to do with the cross of Jesus Christ. It is concerned with the advancement of my agenda, not the Lord’s. We should give heed to Paul’s warning in Colossians 2:8, where he says, ‘Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.’ Paul says that we should ‘rightly divide the word of truth’ (2 Tim.2:15) but that there are many who ‘corrupt the word of God’ (2 Cor.2:17). How do men ‘corrupt’ the word of God today? They do it by referring to verses in the Bible but then misusing these verses to build their own teaching. How do they do this concerning ‘dreams’ and ‘visions’? They do this by referring to Joseph in the Old Testament.
They say that Joseph had dreams and that these dreams were going to lead him to be successful his future life. So these preachers encourage believers to have a dream or dreams, because it is only through having a ‘dream’ or ‘vision’ for your future that you will achieve your goals! This is all nonsense and deception. They also say that you have to be careful what you do with your dream and who you share your dream with. If you share it with the wrong people then you might get into big trouble and maybe your dream will not be fulfilled. This is all nonsense and deception!
A big preacher in Africa taught exhorted Christians with the following notion:
If you don’t have a dream you are satisfied with having nothing. If you don’t have a dream of two shoes, one shoe will make you happy. I pray today you have a dream. If you don’t have a dream, you have nothing to fight for. If you don’t have a dream, you are easily satisfied. Dream a dream for your family, church, city… . Discern who is important in your life – the right contacts who can promote you and improve your situation. May your eyes be opened to know who are the right contacts to promote you and improve your situation. Dream! When you have a dream of owning a car, you will find a friend of owning a car… Dream!
While he was speaking hundreds of believers at this conference in Tanzania stood up shouting and waving their hands. They thought this was a wonderful message – they thought this was the word of God, because the preacher was using the example of Joseph from the Bible. What he was really doing was corrupting the word of God. All the above is nonsense and deception – the tragedy is that so many Christians immediately receive this deception instead of proving these things by the Bible!
Let me share with you something simple that has helped me greatly over many years. If anyone teaches something new or different or you don’t recognise it from the Bible, ask yourself, ‘Where is this taught in the Bible?’ For example, the speaker above tells his listeners, ‘If you don’t have a dream, you have nothing to fight for.’ This is a clear simple thought. If it is true, it is very important for us to understand this. So where do I find this in the Bible, more particularly, where do I find this in the New Testament?
The answer is nowhere! Nothing like this is taught in the Bible. It is an invention of the speaker. This deception teaches believers to focus on themselves, to concentrate on their own personal development and profit – if focuses on ‘me’ and not on ‘Christ’! So it encourages pride in believers (‘Discern who is important in your life.’ Jesus never taught this!). It also encourages greed. The preacher above says that if you don’t have a dream for two shoes you will be satisfied with one shoe. This is not true! A person with one shoe knows he needs another shoe and he will want another shoe. The Bible doesn’t teach, ‘Dream a dream of clothes, dream a dream of food.’ Jesus teaches us to ‘seek first the Kingdom of God’ because the Father already knows we need these things! This preacher then went on to say that if you don’t have a dream for a car, you will be satisfied with a bicycle, but if you have a dream of a car, you will meet someone with a car – and so maybe your dream will be fulfilled! This encourages greed in believers. He is saying that you need to have a dream of car if you want to have a car! This is deception and it is cruel! I have spoken in many villages in Tanzania and I know how poor people are, and this man is deceiving people by claiming the way you can get a car is by having a dream of a car! He is just stirring up desire for ‘things’ in people, not love for God. The Bible teaches us to ‘seek first the Kingdom of God’! The Bible doesn’t teach, if you want something, you need to have a vision for it or a dream of it!
As I said at the beginning, this teaching doesn’t distinguish between our personal desires (‘dreams’) for our future life and the will of God for our life. And this is exactly what the preacher above has done! He applies what happened to Joseph to our own personal desires and ambitions! Let us look at how the word of God is corrupted by such men.
Firstly and importantly, the two dreams that Joseph had were directly from God. He was not sitting under a tree and thinking of how he could become successful one day! He didn’t develop a personal dream of being great! He didn’t say, ‘I want to serve the Lord in this way or that way one day and I will do all I can to achieve this goal in my life!’ His two dreams were real dreams. They had nothing to do with Joseph himself. They were given directly from God. They had nothing to do with Joseph’s personal or private vision for his future. God Himself was communicating what He (God) would do through Joseph. These dreams were the will of God for Joseph – whatever Joseph wanted or didn’t want for his life, this was God’s will! These dreams represent God’s will from heaven not just for Joseph, but they relate to God’s will for Israel’s future! Moreover, the life of Joseph and how God led him has become instructive for all Christians down the centuries. How can modern preachers so corrupt God’s word by comparing Joseph’s dreams which came directly from God and which did not originate out of Joseph’s personal desires or ambitions, with someone’s personal desire to become, for example, a gospel singer or to have their own successful business? How can the preacher above compare Joseph’s dreams which were given by God with a ‘dream’ someone has for a car? And how is it the so many Christians are so easily deceived by such false teachings? Can it be because our love for success in ministry or in business is greater than our love for God? So we pay greater attention to these falsehoods than to the word of God because they promise us such great things!
This teaching is completely wrong in one other area. We are told, “Be careful who you share your ‘dream’ with. Look what happened to Joseph when he told others about his dreams! If you tell the wrong people about your ‘dream’ they may laugh at you and try to prevent the fulfilment of your ‘dream’”. This teaching just creates fear and it is just superstition. Because these preachers do not distinguish between personal desires and the will of God, they now have to invent a teaching to ‘protect’ these personal dreams by saying, ‘Don’t tell anyone about them!’
Let us be clear. What God had shown Joseph was His will. No man or devil would be able to prevent its fulfilment! Both men and the devil tried to destroy it, but stopping it was impossible because God Himself had spoken it! What God had promised, He fulfilled. Joseph told his brothers about his dreams and this got him into trouble. The Bible doesn’t say if Joseph was wrong to tell his brothers about his dreams. But what is clear is that God used their opposition to his dreams (throwing him into a hole and then selling him into Egypt) to fulfil His purposes! Praise God! God used the cruel reaction of Joseph’s brothers to bring about His will. This shows how these modern preachers corrupt the word of God.
Of course, Joseph didn’t know in advance what God was going to do with him. Joseph would be ‘proved’. He would need deep trust in God; he would need to learn lessons from God; he would need much patience! But God’s promise was sure! Please be clear about this. Joseph didn’t have a ‘dream’ about being a leader in Egypt! He didn’t privately have a desire to be ruler in Egypt and wait for God to fulfil his ‘dream’. He had two dreams about his parents and brothers bowing down to him, and he didn’t know what it meant! He didn’t know what the will of God was for his life specifically! God’s will for his life developed step by step over many years without him even realising it at the time! Over many years, God just wanted Joseph to trust Him, love Him and obey Him. At the right time God would make His purposes clear and He would be the one who would fulfils them! And that is how God works in our lives.
He expects us to walk humbly before Him; to love Him with all our mind, heart, soul and strength; to deny ourselves, not seeking our own will but His. When we live like this before Him, we won’t have to grab after some ‘vision’, we won’t have to chase some ‘dream’, worrying that someone might prevent its fulfilment if we speak at the wrong time about it! Living like this, we will be truly blessed, and our greatest blessing, our greatest prize will be the Lord Himself! Living like this, we will be renewed in the spirit of our mind and we will be able to recognise what is the will of God for us and what isn’t. The Lord Himself will put right desires in our hearts, or confirm that the desire which is in our hearts is from Him. Generally, God reveals His will step by step. There is no short cut. God will test the motivation of our hearts; we will need obedience, patience and trust. If we walk before Him like this, nothing and no one will prevent His will from being fulfilled in our lives. Our hearts and minds shall be at peace; we won’t be frustrated waiting for the fulfilment of our own ‘dreams’ or ‘visions’.
If we walk humbly before Him, offering ourselves to Him, then He will show us if at any time we are mistaken in what we desire. He will show us through His word in the scriptures, or through our circumstances, and by giving us peace in our hearts concerning which way is right. Please don’t misunderstand me. I am not saying that only people like Joseph can know the call of God on their lives. No, not at all. We can too. But the problem and the deception is that people are saying that the things I desire or dream about are the same as the will of God!
God promised Abraham a son. Abraham waited a long time for the fulfilment of this promise. He was still waiting when God appeared to him in Genesis 15 and said,
‘Fear not, Abram: I am your shield, and your exceeding great reward.’
Abraham was worried that he still had no son, but God told him, ‘I am your exceeding great reward.’ Is this true for you and me, dear reader? Do you count the Lord Jesus Christ as your exceeding great reward, more than anything else? Is He more precious to you than your giftings or your calling ? Is He a much greater reward to you than all of your ‘dreams’ and ‘ambitions’? If not, how can you serve Him? If not, how can He use you?
God did give Abraham a son. His name was Isaac. God fulfilled His promise at His time and in His way. When Isaac was still young, God told Abraham to offer up Isaac as a sacrifice. Abraham didn’t hesitate. Early in the morning Abraham got up to take his son to the place of sacrifice – the place where later Jesus Christ would be crucified. We need to understand how great a sacrifice this was for Abraham. Not only was Isaac his only son, given to him miraculously by God, but God had promised to make a great nation out of Abraham and that his seed would be as the stars of heaven! God promised Abraham that all the families of the earth would be blessed through his seed! So all of God’s promises of future blessing where to be fulfilled through Isaac, and now Abraham not only had to offer his only son, whom he loved, but also offer up as a sacrifice all the promises which God had made to him. Because if Isaac died, God’s promises would also be slain!
How is it with you? Are you willing to put all your personal plans, ambitions or dreams for this or for that ‘on the alter’ and to say, not my will but yours be done! Are you willing to really ‘let go’ of what you want to do, or even of what you think God has planned for you, and let Him ‘resurrect’ what He chooses for you? Abraham, when he went to sacrifice Isaac, told his servants to wait while he went to ‘worship’. Can you worship God in this way – to make Him Himself your shield and exceeding great reward, to love Him more than any ministry or success that you dream of? Does everything else seem as nothing to you compared to knowing Him and loving Him and walking in His way? If not, how can He use you? If not, how can God bless others through you? If we ‘worship’ God like this, we will not loose out! God Himself will provide what we need and give us a way to walk in that will abundantly bless others as well as ourselves!
( You can download the PDF of this message HERE )
August 20, 2016 at 11:43 pm
I know becoming a Christian means putting your life before God, and sacrificing your life to him to serve him just as how Jesus did for God, and just how Jesus sacrificed himself for us. I am just very very afraid. I grew up with a love for theatre and acting. And growing up I knew this was something I loved passionately, and something I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I know God must be put first for everything, this article spoke so much truth but it also confused me greatly. Does this means I must give up the things I love? The things that make me unique and special, the talents I thought God has given me? Because I thought God blessed us with creativity and things to take inspiration on. To dedicate your life to god, does this mean I must give up these things? Because these things bring me hope to fulfill great projects in what inspires me, to make projects in the things that inspire me, to go into making films or acting in films, to make a career out of the things I love, to make the art I’ve always wanted to make, to be able to express myself creatively. My biggest dream in my life was to be able to do the thing I love so greatly into a career, to be able to continuelly express myself and do the things that I love. But reading this I don’t know if what I aspire to do is selfish or not of the will of God. Because as silly and unrealistic as it sounds, I want to be a well known actress. To be able to work in dramas where I can get into different characters, to be able to explore the art of acting in these ways. Because somehow I find working in acting to feel so empowering, and it’s helped me so much in expressing myself. But I know how bad the industry is, how self serving the environment is, how God might not want me to take part in such a superficial business. And maybe my desire is superficial and I don’t even see it. I just want to make enough money to provide for my dad, to provide for my entire family and feel okay. To feel like they are okay, to final,y feel that they are financially stable. Stability is an illusion I realize, and a pastor has taught me this through his preaching about how God is the one really in control, and that we can lose all our financially stability in an instant. So we aren’t really stable no matter how well we are doing financially. But my real dream, is to have enough money to pay everything for my entire family, to my extended family, to know they will have better care. I know my superficial desire of being well known in the entertainment industry, I’m just very confused in what is selfish of me. I understand we have no right to be living in this world, but I hope that I have the right to be able to express myself and make a living off of somethings that I love. To be able to make my future home feel like a home, because my parents divorced and I lost the feeling of security of having a home a long time ago. I know this earth isn’t our home, but I hope to get back what I once had, the feeling of having a home. And this is something I greatly value, because I lost this, and this was a great loss for me. I know this entire speech went all over the place, but is what I want not the will of God? Is it superficial and selfish? Especailly with me wanting to be able to act in well created dramas. Not being able to fulfill any of this will be another huge loss for me, and then I’ll feel really lost. I don’t know if you answer to this or read this at all, but after reading this I am just really confused, afraid, and really sad. And I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to follow the things I love, and I feel very misunderstood by God, and I may sound really selfish admitting this. I hope you read this, I hope you answer back. Sorry about this long annoying speech.