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About this series
Good to Great in God's Eyes
Ten Practices Great Christians have in Common
Are you tired of the status quo Christian life? Do you long for a spiritual breakthrough? Are you looking to go to the next level or get a fresh infusion of faith and spiritual passion? Great Christians live out their faith with purpose. In Mark 10:43, Jesus says, whoever wants to become great among you must - what? You'll explore the idea that there are certain practices available to every believer, at every maturity level, to move us from good to great, in God's Eyes. ACSI approvedMore from this series
God delights to do impossible things through improbable people, to impart exceeding grace to undeserving recipients. I spent some time making that sentence up. And since it was so wonderful, let me give it to you again, because I want you to really think about what it means.
It’s not that God just happens to do it – God delights. There is a pleasure in the heart of God. There is something that happens in the divine Trinity. He delights to do impossible things. Not hard things, not difficult things, not what really smart people getting together with a lot of money, and a lot of resources, and a lot of effort could do – God delights to do impossible things.
But He delights to do it, not through people that everyone thinks it could happen, He delights to do it through improbable people. A lot like the person that might be sitting in your chair. The person that you would think, I mean, great? There are other people who are great, and there are other people that, I’m sure, God will use, and certain things will happen in the world. I mean, yeah, maybe I can help them out, but…no, no. God delights to do impossible things through improbable people.
Why? To impart exceeding grace. See, it’s not about us. It’s not about our ambitions, our dreams, our visibility. God wants to do something impossible through someone like you, and someone like me, so other people get what they don’t deserve, to impart exceeding, overwhelming, lavishing grace to people that don’t deserve it. Because when God does that, He gets the glory. He gets the glory.
When my seventh and eighth grade coach found out I was playing college ball, they had to pretty much figure that God must have showed up somewhere in my life, because that four foot-eleven kid did not have a career in basketball. God wants to do amazing things.
But you know something? Nothing can ever happen until it becomes even the flicker of a thought. Nothing will ever happen in the future until that flicker of a thought becomes a desire that you would even be willing to think about that desire might happen.
And I’m talking about godly, God-honoring, things that would help lots of people. And then, that little desire has to flicker, and go into a flame, to where you have a dream that is birthed in your heart, in your life. And then, that dream becomes the target. It becomes something that you think about, and you pray about. And your energy, and your resources, and your priorities, and your focus – it gets around this dream that, if God would so decide to do it, it would be so impossible that everyone would know God, and God alone, has done it. And I want to talk about: how does it happen? How does God develop, birth dreams in people like you, and people like me?
Well, He invites ordinary people to dream something so great that it would be impossible, if God did not do it. He just invites you. It’s not mysterious. It’s not for a few special people, special times, somewhere. God invites ordinary people to dream something so great that it would be impossible, if God did not do it.
Now, at this point, we’re living in a world where you can go to a seminar for several hundred dollars and learn to think positively. And you can go to another seminar, or the bookstore, and think and grow rich. There’s a lot of self-help material. It’s a multi-billion-dollar industry. We’re right on the edge of, “So, Chip are you really saying that what the mind can believe, the will can conceive, and all that jazz?”
No, I’m talking about sanctified dreaming. I’m talking about a God thing. I’m not talking about learning to think a certain way. Now, are those very helpful tools? When people begin to think positively, and organize their life, can you see, believers and unbelievers have very successful things? I’m sure. Yeah. But I’m not talking about that.
I’m talking about sanctified, biblical dreaming that God births, not so that we can become successful, visible, wealthy, affluent, famous – but so that we can be an agent of grace, where God would do something, first, in us, and then through us, that both we and all who know us would say, “This is the hand of God.” So, let me give you the biblical basis for sanctified dreaming.
First, God is able. Write that in. He’s able. He’s able to do the impossible. Jeremiah 32:17 says, “Ah, Lord God, behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm. Nothing is too difficult for You.” What if we believed that?
Nothing is too difficult for God. And just before you say, “Well that’s an Old Testament passage, and maybe that’s not really operating the same way it was,” okay, let me give you a New Testament one. Luke 1:37: “For nothing will be impossible with God.”
Do you remember where that showed up? Mary is being told, “You are going to be the mother of the Messiah.” Mary is being told, “Guess what, God is going to visit the planet. The Second Person of the Trinity is going to come.” And she says, “I think we have a problem here. I’m a virgin.” “Mary, the Holy Spirit is going to come upon you. And by the way, don’t worry about the scientific deal, for nothing is impossible with God. The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and you will be with child.” We need to first believe that God is able. But He can be able and we can say, “That’s great. He has the power to do it. I intellectually believe that.” That’s not enough.
Second, God is desirous. God is desirous. He not only has the power, and the ability, but God is desirous to not just plant a dream, but to do things in you and through you that are beyond what you could even think or conceive. You say, “Well where do you get that?” 1 Corinthians 2:9, the Apostle Paul says, “But just as it is written, ‘Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him.’”
Take your pen out, and put a line under: eye hasn’t seen, ear hasn’t heard – are you ready for this? – and then, that last part: have not entered the heart of man. Now, doesn’t that sound like something a little bit bigger than you have in your mind right now? And what is it? God desires to do it. He stores up things that have never come into your mind, things that you’ve never seen, things that, in your wildest dream, you’ve never birthed. God desires to give, and has stored up, for those that are His children, to do things in you and through you for His glory.
But He’s not only able and desirous, He has made a promise. Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart.” “Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Now I think this has been widely misused. This does not mean, delight yourself in the Lord, and you’ll always make the great decisions in the stock market. This does not mean, delight yourself in the Lord, and none of your family will ever get sick, you’ll never get cancer, and your life will go peachy cream, nice and smooth. This isn’t, delight yourself in the Lord, and that new Lexus you really want…
No, this is about, when you delight yourself in the Lord, then you begin to take delight in what God takes delight in. Your heart begins to beat with the things that beats with God’s heart. Your concerns begin to be God’s concerns. The things that are of God, the things that bring Him delight, His purposes for the world, and for the planet, and for people – you begin to delight yourself in your special relationship with Him, and what you get is, I want to please You, Lord. I want to love You. I want to enjoy You. I want to be Your man, I want to be Your woman. I want to find my delight, and my value, and my significance, and my security in You, not in stuff, not in people, not in success, not in fame, not in accomplishment. I thank You for those things. I want to find my delight in You.
And when God finds a man, and when God finds a woman, like that, whose ultimate delight is longing for Him, He says, “Tell Me what your desires are.” And you know the desires that’ll get birthed? The desires that’ll get birthed in your heart and life will be according to your background, and your gifts. They’ll be according to what God has planned for your life.
And you’ll birth desires inside of you, and God will delight to fulfill those desires that will bring you exceeding joy, and Him exceeding glory. God is able. God is desirous. And here, God has promised that, as we delight in Him – see, it flows out of relationship.
But finally, I love this last one: God invites us. He literally says, “Okay, I’m able. I’d like to plant a dream in your heart, and see things happen in you and through you that you could never imagine. And I’ve made some real promises to those kinds of people, who really want My glory.” And then, He says, “Here’s an invitation.” Psalm 2:8: “Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance, and the very ends of the earth as Your possession.” Is that big, or what? Is that an invitation from the Almighty God?
Have you picked up: “Lord, will You give us the nations, will You give us the nations for our inheritance? Can we be a part of what You’re doing with the body of Christ, and with churches around the world, and churches and pastors here, and with people who love You? Would You give us the people groups of the world?”
See, what we want you to know is that this isn’t something that might happen, someday, somehow, some way, with some group, somewhere else. This is what God is doing. And He is inviting you and inviting us.
How did those things happen? He spoke to individual people. He was able. He was desirous. He made promises, and He spoke to individual, improbable people. And He said, He whispered in their ear, when they couldn’t even believe it, I want to do something impossible through you.
And the response, early on, was, “I’m an improbable person. You could never do that through me.” Oh, I like to use improbable people. And I want to use an improbable person like you to do something impossible, so I could do – what? – I could provide exceeding grace to undeserving people. So that, when it happens, everyone will know, it’s not about you. It’s about Me. Would you like to be involved in that? Would you like God to use your life in that way?
In fact, if you think I’m pushing it a little, again, from the Old Testament, this is the very last night Jesus is on the earth. Let’s get there. Let’s not make this a Bible story. Let’s think about, let’s smell the smells, and the dust on the sandals, and being a little bit sweaty, and having the robes on, and being uptight this last week. And He’s cleared the Temple. And we’re having the Passover meal. And we’ve gone out, and He’s told us that this is going to be the last time together. He’s washed our feet. And then, He looks in our eyes, and He says, “Truly, truly I say to you.”
And we’ve been around Him long enough to know that, whenever He repeats that word, “truly, truly,” this is like, underline this. This is, highlight this in your mind. This is the big stuff. “Truly, truly I say to you, he who believes in me…” And we’re all sitting around that table, saying, “Lord, we believe in You. Lord, if we don’t believe in You, we’re the dumbest guys on the face of the earth. Because it looks like, the way things are going to go, You’re going to get killed, and so are we.” “Truly, truly I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also.” “The works that I do” – think of what Jesus did: raised people from the dead. Fed five thousand on a few fish, and a couple pieces of bread. “The works that I do, greater works than these he will do.” Why? “Because I go to the Father.”
And here’s the invitation: “Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything, I will do it.”
Do you believe that? Or have we, over time, been so unconsciously and unwittingly dumbed down that the basic question we unconsciously ask is, How do I make it through this week? How can I get my kids through college? How can we take the business to the next level? How can my marriage be a little bit better than it was last year? Well, let’s kind of help out the church. Let’s teach a class here, and do something there.
All those things are good things, but you know what happens? We just get so close, so close, so close, we’re living in this tiny little box. And the God of heaven is shouting, Hey! Hey! Wake up! I want to put a God-sized dream in your heart. I want to do an impossible thing through an improbable person like you, to provide exceeding grace to undeserving people. Ask of Me. Greater works than I have done, you will do. Ask. Ask Me anything from the Father, and I will do it.
And, of course, the code, the condition is, you’re asking things that honor Him, you’re asking things that align with the Word of God, you’re asking things that will bring glory and praise to Jesus.
God births dreams in His people. How does it work, functionally? I don’t know about you, but when I go through this biblical basis of sanctified dreaming, I always start thinking, Man, I think so small. I just – God, I’m thinking about life in terms of – and I don’t mean to do it – about what I can accomplish in my strength, in my time, doing it my way, for Your glory. And what You want to do is say, “Chip, that’s not what I want in your life. I want you to start asking what I could do through you. Not what you can do.”
Let me give you a little stroll through a biblical lane, if you will, about how God births dreams in His people. You ever wonder how this works? So, one of the things about me – and I never opened this book until I was eighteen – but what I love about it, it’s so earthy. It’s so real. We make these people like they’re so out there. And we put them in stained glass, and, “Oh, Peter! Founder; Rock.” Loudmouth, betrayer, loser, went back to fishing. “Abraham, the great man of the faith.” Liar: “She’s my sister! Please don’t kill me.” Rahab: former prostitute.
I read this book, and I’m thinking – I don’t know about you – I qualify. This is a book about very improbable people. In fact, some of you may be too good for God to use in a very significant way. You know? You just may have too much going for you. Because the people that God uses here, man, they’ve got baggage. They’ve got struggles. They’ve got sin.
I think about the great men that God has used, the great people God has used. Do you have to commit murder to be greatly used of God? Moses. David. Paul. Moses, David, Paul. Each, for different reasons, succumbed to the flesh, and did the most hideous of things that a human being can do to another human being. And they were forgiven, and they were restored. And God planted, not just a dream, but He changed the course of history, and fulfilled His purpose, through an improbable person.
How about you? Could it be that God brought you here, on this day, to pull the veil off your eyes, and get you thinking God-sized dreams? And saying, Lord, Dawson Trotman was a guy with a high school education. Cameron Townsend was some guy who didn’t have a lot going for him. But he dreamed a dream, and, now, all of those languages are being translated from the Bible.
Well, let’s talk about how it works. I want to get down to the very nitty-gritty. And the way I’ve done this is, I just did a little survey of some Bible characters. And I think there’s a principle from each one. How God births dreams in His people – let’s take Abraham.
First, He commands us to step out of our comfort zone. By the way, most dreams are done right here. If you are not willing to step out of your comfort zone, forget the dream stuff. Just listen to the first part of this, and give it to a friend and say, “You might like this. It’s not for me.” Unless you are willing to step out of your comfort zone, unless you are willing to take a risk, unless you are willing to do something where you step out, and you’re thinking, Oh, God, if You don’t help me, forget dreams. Because, without faith, it’s impossible to please Him.
And those who come to God must always believe two things. We always emphasize one, but not the other. Those who come to God must believe that He is who He really is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. Do you believe He’s a rewarder? Do you believe that, when you step out with your time, when you step out with your money, when you risk in relationship, and get out there on the edge, that God is waiting, leaning over the throne of heaven, wanting to reward you, and help you, and bless you? See, that’s a part of what faith is.
Genesis, Chapter 12: Here’s Abraham. All of his family’s right around him. He gets a word from God: Abraham, I want you to leave everything. Here’s where I want you to go. “Where do You want me to go?” I’ll let you know later. “Can we go over that again?” Yeah, I want you to leave all the security, all the people, and all this land, with all its evil. I’ve got a whole brand new plan. And what I want you to do is just follow where I say. And it’s, go out of town, that direction, on that road. “And no destination?” No. “No map?” No. You just take the first steps of where I’m showing you. And as you keep walking, My Word to you will be a light unto your path, and a lamp that will show you where, one step of the way.
The first step in the birthing process of God’s dream in your life will be the same one with Abraham. You have to be willing to step out of your comfort zone.