What are Your Dreams for a New Year?

Ephesians chapter 1 verses 3 to 12 

Do you have some dreams for 2004? for yourself, for your family, for St Albans? I’m not talking about New Year’s resolutions although they may be included. I’m thinking of Big Picture stuff.

While on holiday one Sunday, I heard a preacher say that he didn’t believe that New Year’s resolutions worked because his wife always stayed the same! He was a very brave man indeed – or very foolish – and clearly had a very gracious wife.

But what was most encouraging was the member of the congregation who called out – "You should be very glad she does stay the same!"

 

1. Have you got any career dreams or retirement dreams, family dreams or personal dreams for 2004?

2. Have you got any dreams about developing and growing in your Christian discipleship? About growing more Christ-like in your Christian relationships, your work, in your giftings? Have you got any dreams about how you can help to build and extend God’s kingdom, make a difference for God, have a greater influence for God, in your everyday life?

3. Have you got any dreams for St Albans? – apart from moving into the new building as soon as possible!

  • What are you doing with your life this year?

  • What’s your purpose?

  • What’s inspiring, shaping, driving, pushing your life in 2004?

On the Alpha Course, Nicky Gumbel tells the story of a young Swedish woman who came to England to be a nanny and improve her English. When she heard the two kids arguing and fighting one day, she rushed into their room and said, "What are you doing on earth?" What she meant to say of course was…."What on earth are you doing?" But it is still a vitally important question to ask ourselves regularly.

How do we discover what we are on earth for; our purpose for living?

 

1. Speculation

This is what most people do. They dream up, or construct for themselves, or decide from some significant experience, what they will choose to be the purpose and meaning for their lives. They make a best guess. Throughout life’s history, philosophies and religions have tried to answer this question.

In the 1980’s an American Professor of Philosophy, Dr Hugh Moorhead, wrote to 250 of the best-known philosophers, scientists, writers and intellectuals in the world, asking them; "What is the meaning of life?" Moorhead published their responses in a book. Some offered their best guesses, some admitted they had just made up a purpose, others were honest enough to say they had no idea. In fact, a number of these famous thinkers asked Professor Moorhead to write back and tell them if he discovered the purpose of life.

Now this is the logical result of a belief that the world simply evolved by the random interaction of mindless molecules that just happened to exist.

Speaking of intellectuals, here’s an interesting quotation: "Unless you assume a God, the question of life’s purpose is meaningless." Know who said that? It wasn’t a Christian theologian but a famous twentieth century atheist Bertrand Russell.

People today generally reject any external purpose to life because that might suggest there are right ways and wrong ways of living and therefore some kind of accountability. And if we reject God we have trouble defining morality.

Speculation also includes those who state there is no meaning to life. At least they are logical and honest.

As well as the search for purpose/meaning on the intellectual level there is also the search at the popular level – the self-help, self-discovery, self-actualisation, the self-fulfilment, through looking within ourselves or by experiencing the pleasures and thrills of life. Purpose is found in experiencing life to the full. This is also very logical if no external purpose exists.

 

2. Revelation is the second option to discover meaning. If there is an external meaning, discovering it depends on the external provider revealing it. If you found a piece of equipment that you didn’t recognise, you would need to find the inventor or someone who knew the inventor or had read the inventor’s manual.

The Christian claim, along with various other religions from primitive tribes to the contemporary disciples of aliens, is that a creator of the world, even the universe, does exist and has spoken and acted in human history.

Further, God has made himself known in the writings of the Bible which is a reliable expression of God’s purposes for the created world and our lives.

God has not left us in the dark to wonder and guess. God is there and He is not silent! The owner’s manual reveals God’s purpose in terms of a relationship with God of worship and love, and a role with God of being a friend and servant in God’s earthly mission.

The Bible explains why we are alive, how life should be, what’s gone wrong, how things can be put right, and what to expect in the future.

 

Read Ephesians chapter 1 verses 3 to 12 from ‘The Message’ version.

There are three insights here into life’s purpose

1. We discover our identity and purpose through a relationship with Jesus Christ. If you do not have a relationship, you cannot discover your unique purpose.

2. God’s purpose for our life predates our birth, even our conception. God was thinking about you long before you ever thought about God. God planned your purpose before you existed and without your help. We may make many choices in our lives but we don’t get to choose our original purpose.

3. The purpose of your life fits into a much larger, cosmic and eternal purpose that God has designed. The purpose of life is not about you.

The purpose of your life is far greater than your own personal fulfilment, your peace of mind or even your happiness. Its far greater than your family, your career, or even your wildest dreams and ambitions.

So often in seeking purpose and happiness, we start at the wrong point. We ask self-centred questions like "What do I want to be? What should I do with my life? What are my goals, my ambitions, my dreams for my future?’ But focussing on ourselves will never reveal our life’s purpose. There’s a Bigger Picture and it’s not about us; It’s all about God!

You and I were born by God’s purpose and we were born for God’s purpose, and we cannot discover that purpose without knowing God.

We’ve got to keep hold of the Big Picture and the Long-Term perspective.

 

True life is about saying ‘Yes’ to God’s invitation and committing ourselves to demonstrate and to work for the rule, the realm, the leadership and influence of God, in every community and every area of our lives.

How well do your dreams fit into God’s Big Picture?

How well do our lives, plans and directions fit into God’s purposes? Are you and your plans becoming a better fit, coming more into line, into harmony with God’s purposes? Or are they becoming a looser fit, drifting off course, getting out of harmony?

Are you consulting God, being truly open to his leading, about your career, your parenting, your future partner, your use of time and gifts, the way you do your work?

How often do you give each day, each job or activity or relationship to God and ask him to use you in it for his purposes? Are we living with God’s future in mind?

Are you building/developing/investing in something of eternal value; creating an eternal legacy rather than an earthly memorial? We weren’t put on earth to be remembered. You were put on earth to prepare for eternity.

We are called to grow & mature in our worship, our character, our relationships, our service.

How well are we maturing? How well are we encountering Jesus, growing to be like him, moving out to serve him in all of life? How well do you rate yourself? What are you doing about it?

How many of you would love to grow closer to God and feel more of his presence and power this year? So what’s your plan to help it happen? What are your God shaped dreams for your life?

American civil rights leader, Rev Martin Luther King, had a dream and he shared it across the United States throughout the late 1950s and the early 1960’s, until he was killed for it. But the dream lived on in the hearts and lives of others until it was fulfilled. They couldn’t kill a God-shaped dream.

King’s dream was best expressed at a march on Washington for ‘Jobs and Freedom’, on August 28, 1963. In his speech were these inspiring words.

 

"I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today."

 

I have dreams for St Albans.

I have a dream that St Albans will continue to grow into a more Christ-like community of honest, caring, serving, celebrating and Spirit-filled people which is truly welcoming of newcomers and committed to helping them find love and acceptance, forgiveness and fellowship, healing and help; that we will care for one another so well that people will want to be part of our church.

I have a dream that one day our new building will be a home-base, a service centre, a hub, where followers of Jesus will be well nurtured and equipped, supported and challenged to make more of a difference in every area of our lives; that every member of St Albans will have an outreach component to their lives.

I have a dream that one day we will be more prayerful and passionate about finding ways of connecting with the people of Hokowhitu; that they will see St Albans as their community centre and that all kinds of groups will gladly use our facilities, that the people of Hokowhitu will feel so valued and served by St Albans that the unchurched will come to our centre to find help and meaning and encounter Jesus Christ in their lives.

I have a dream that one day every member of St Albans will be in some kind of small group or some relationship of support and accountability, that will help us to be more authentic and faithful followers of Jesus, and that every small group will engage as a group, in some regular practical ministry in the community.

I have a dream that one day every member of St Albans will be more surrendered to the purposes of God, more enthused about engaging in God’s mission, more open to God’s leading, more ready to share their resources, in order to communicate and demonstrate the good news of Jesus Christ in our families and workplaces, in Hokowhitu and Palmerston North and in any place in the world that God calls us to.

I have my dreams and I believe they are also God’s dreams for St Albans.

How will you help us to realise God’s dreams?