“Living The Dream” – 5-7-17

Have you ever been asked “How are you?” and answer “Living the dream.”? Well I bet you are living the dream, but who’s dream are you living? God put us on this earth for a reason. God has a plan and a dream for our lives. God wants to use us for a great purpose beyond what any of us could every possibly imagine. Yes, that plan and dream of the Lord’s is bigger and better than what your plan and dreams are!

However, we have a problem when it comes to God’s purpose for our lives. We have our own because often we put barriers up in our minds and hearts to the Lord’s plans and dreams. What we are in effect saying to ourselves is, “How could God ever use someone like me?” So for God to use us we have to change the way we think. The Bible says as a person thinks in their heart, that is who they’re going to be. Therefore, since God has a dream, purpose, and plan for our lives, what we need to do is find out what that is, because if we’re not being used by God for His plans and dreams then what are not doing with what He wants in our lives.

1 Corinthians 2:9 says, “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” Paul is saying that God’s plan and dream is mind-boggling. It’s so fantastic that we can’t even imagine it. Through Jeremiah the Lord says, “ For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.” Are you living your life like you truly believe that?

Paul tells us that God is able to do abundantly more for us than what we could ever possible ask or imagine. We are made in the image and likeness of God, and seeing that God is the Creator, He has made us to be creative as well, and in that creativity He’s given us the ability to imagine. So, imagine what God can do in and through your life? Unfortunately, many people have no imagination when it comes to what God wants to do. Even though we can marvel at man’s imagination, we still all too often, can’t imagine God using us.

But God wants to use us in great and mighty ways therefore we need to apply that imagination. Where is our imagination for God’s kingdom? Can we dream God’s dream for our lives? And then when God starts revealing it, we need to have the courage to start living it. Just like we did last week, we can learn from Joshua and find there are four things we need to do if we desire to be used by God. The Bible is full of, and the world is full of ordinary people that God has done unimaginable things through, remarkable things. Here is what they did and do you need to do these things too?

1. Dump the Doubts
One of the biggest imagination busters is doubt. We must let go of doubt to move into the dreams, plans, and purposes of God. Doubt limits our potential. It causes procrastination and we miss out on God’s best. We see this doubt in our words. We say, “I doubt that God could use me.” We doubt God by coming up with all these excuses. The Apostle James says that if anyone lacks wisdom they need to ask God, and God will liberally supply whatever wisdom is needed.

But then he adds James 1:6-7, “ But ask in faith, never doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind; for the doubter, being double-minded and unstable in every way, must not expect to receive anything from the Lord.” Who remembers reading that in your Bible? Before God can use us we’ve go to deal with this doubt issue.

Yes, Joshua had a doubt problem, a confidence problem because look who he was following – Moses, the great leader. Now Joshua was to lead the children of Israel into the Promise Land, something Moses failed to do. Joshua had his doubts. Why do I know this, because right before the campaign God had to give Joshua a pep talk, and three times He tells Joshua to be strong and courageous. Joshua 1:9, “Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

The Lord was saying, “Dump the doubts because I’m with you!” Doubt is a choice. People choose to doubt, rather than live by faith. What’s even sadder is that people believe their doubts and doubt their beliefs. Instead let’s begin to doubt our doubts and believe in what we say we believe in, and that God wants to use us and give us great and precious promises.Two basic things that cause doubts

a. Comparing Ourselves
Instead of looking to God, we start looking at everybody else. We say they have more talent, better abilities, more education and experience. Or they may be like me, better looking. Maybe I should doubt my belief in that one! The Bible says that comparing ourselves to others is a foolish thing to do. 2 Corinthians 10:21, “We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who commend themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another, and compare themselves with one another, they do not show good sense.” Stop comparing.

b. Remembering Our Failures
Remembering our past failures is like putting on a movie in our minds and replaying it over and over again. God doesn’t want us to focus on our past. Knowing our past mistakes helps us from repeating them, but focusing on them keeps us from moving forward. Focusing on our past is never going to help us in the present, nor will it allow God to use us in the future.

Moss was a murderer before he became the deliverer. Jacob was a liar and manipulator before he became the father to the twelve tribes. King David was an adulterer and murderer. Abraham gave his wife away, not once but twice. “Save my life, take my wife.” Paul was a religious terrorist, and Peter was hardheaded, had a temper, and was always putting his foot in his mouth. But God wanted to use them just as He wants to use us. Paul said, Philippians 3:13, “but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead.”
The second thing if we want to be used by God is to

2. Believe God’s Promises
Even at the beginning God reminds Joshua of the promise He made. Joshua 1:3, “Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, as I promised to Moses. When God makes a promise, He keeps it. If He says He’s going to use us, then He’ll use us. If he says He’ll bless us, then He’ll bless us. God keeps Him promises and His word.

If you want to be used by God, believe in His promises. The place you find His promises is in the Bible. If we’re going to grow in our faith, we’ve got to build our faith on God’s word. To Joshua God promised three things. First He promised strength, verse 1:5 he said no one could stand against him. Whatever God asks us to do, He’ll give us the strength to do it. There’s an old adage that says, “Where God guides, God provides.”

Second God promised Joshua success. Twice in chapter 1 God tells Joshua that he’ll be successful. But God’s promise of success isn’t in the world, but rather it’s in what God is calling for us to do. Third, God promises support. In verse 9 God commands Joshua to be strong and courageous, because God would be with him wherever he went. It’s said that God’s word done God’s way will not lack God’s support.

If you want to get God’s promises for you life, get into the Bible. This is what God told Joshua, 1:8, “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.” Notice the order of the words. Success doesn’t’ happen until there’s obedience. Success is not based on our ability; rather its’ based on our commitment to God’s word. And so first we need to dump our doubts, and then believe in God’s promises.

3. Lean on God
To lean means you have to depend on whatever you are leaning upon. If you lean on a wall, you are trusting the wall will hold you up. And that’s what God is asking for us to do. To Joshua God said, Joshua 1:5 “No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you.” God is saying, “Joshua, lean on Me.” And that’s what Joshua did. When Joshua leaned on God he was undefeatable. But when he stopped and leaned upon his own understanding, then he failed.

After defeating Jericho and Ai Joshua and the elders were feeling pretty confident. When a group of men came into camp seeking a treaty because they were from a far away land, Joshua and the elders looked at their clothing and supplies and made a treaty with the locals. Only later did they realize they lived right next-door and they weren’t then able to attack nor possess their land. Joshua forgot to inquire of God first; he leaned upon his own understanding and didn’t look to get God’s take on what to do.

Proverbs 3:5, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” Who or what are we leaning on for strength? Is it other people, possessions, or power? That is shaky ground that will let you down in the end. We can’t even lean upon ourselves, and that’s because we make promises we can’t keep. But having a faith that works is having faith that God will hold us up and keep His promises. Finally,

4. Step Out In Faith
There comes a time when we have to stop discussing what God has called us to do and do it. We have to step out by faith. If God tells us then stop saying “I’ll pray about it” and do it. That’s the greatest Christian cop-out. I didn’t think I could be a pastor but I stepped out in faith. I was planning 5 years later. There are many people in this church that have stepped out too. We have to step out in spite of our feelings, fears, and doubts. There’s a time when we have to get off our blessed assurances and get it in gear.This is what Joshua did.

God commanded Joshua to move and he did. They had to cross the Jordan River, but it was the flood season and there were no bridges. They had to step out in faith, which is what they literally did. The priest carried the Ark of the Covenant in front and literally stepped into the flood water, and they believed God’s promises and God stopped the waters several miles up. And the people crossed over.

What is your Jordan? What is that barrier that stops you from being used by God? Whatever it is, step out in faith. And understand the first step is always the hardest, but we have to move forward by faith. God said to Joshua and God says to you too, “Be strong and very courageous.” Courage isn’t the absence of fear; rather it’s moving forward in spite of our fear. God’s miracle and purpose is waiting ahead of us, not behind us.

Some might say, “I’m too old for this stepping out business.” But Joshua was about 80 years old at the time. Others say, “Now isn’t a good time.” But look at what Solomon says, Ecclesiastes 11:4, “Whoever observes the wind will not sow; and whoever regards the clouds will not reap.”
Solomon was saying that if we’re waiting for the right time or perfect conditions, then we’ll never get anything done.

Can you imagine what God wants to do in your life? There’s no greater thrill than being used by God. And if God isn’t using us, then we’re wasting the life He has so graciously given and we’re missing the thrills He wants to give us. So let’s dump our doubts, believe in God’s promises, lean on the Lord, and step out by faith in the purposes and will of God. So begin living the dream …….of God’s.

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