27/02/2007

Living the dream (part 1) - Dave Smith

Here are my notes from session 1 of Tuesday at the Life in the Spirit conference.

Dave Smith's bio is here. He is pastor of Peterborough Community Church {Edit 2013:  Now Kingsgate Community Church}. They have an amazing story of how God has built them. Dave's preaching is very powerful indeed, and very practical.

Here is this morning's message:


Living the dream (from the life of Joseph). Part 1


This is not an exposition of Joseph’s whole life (this is available from the Peterborough Community Church website - you can find the messages by typing "dream" in the search box on this page {edit 2013:  I couldn't find this message, but you are welcome to search through the church archives - just follow the link}). Rather in this and the next session, we will be allowing the Holy Spirit room to highlight the things particularly relevant to us.


Introduction

God took a young man at age 17 and gave him an incredible dream. He spent 13 years waiting while in preparation and then 80 years of leadership fulfilment. And he finished well.

These messages are to help us look at the kind of things we are doing to help people grow – to apply the Word to the mess of Monday - and also to show us the tests we need to pass as leaders. If we are not living dream ourselves, then we won’t progress.


The Power of a Dream

Where there is no vision the people perish (Prov 29v18). Where leaders have no vision, they perish. If we don’t live in the light of God’s dream for our lives we will get bogged down. Joseph had a dream and that kept him going for 13 years. And he didn’t just dream the dream, he lived the dream.

It is not too late for us to dream. Or to rekindle old dreams that lie dormant.

What a dream does for you – it gives you a goal, a destiny, a purpose and keeps you moving forward; you become more pregnant for the purpose of God. Are we still anticipating God’s purpose?

How do we get a dream? Our call comes from God. Joseph was Jacob’s 11th son and the result of his parents’ cry. Joseph was born by God’s ordinance. And us – God has chosen us to lead His people and chosen the church to do great things in the earth. As leaders, we need to help people realise God has called them for a purpose. And our people need to receive a dream.

How? Through the Word (reading), preaching, or a prophetic word. This is for every one of us. It is not self-promotion because there is a bigger dream than one’s own personal fulfilment – that is, God’s plan and purpose in the earth today. Joseph himself only had part of the dream - but he was part of bigger plan of God. Only at the end did he realise that the bigger picture was to save many lives. That is the bigger picture for us – to save many lives.


Gen 39: Years of preparation

Joseph had a pretty hard time. There was a long period between the vision conceived and the vision fulfilled (also Moses – 40 years). During the preparation season we can lose heart. Circumstances can rob us of hope. We need to learn how to undergo God’s preparation time.

Often at the beginning it seems that not a lot is happening. This is root work rather than fruit work. God is taking us deep into Him and the deeper the roots the bigger the tree. That was Dave Smith’s own testimony from a church of 9 to a new building with 5,000 people at its opening. At each step (and it was step by step), God didn’t let them go further than they were ready for.

At the beginning Joseph was not ready to influence a nation. For us – it is not how old we are but how ready. We need to be ready otherwise we can slow and hinder God’s purpose for us and impact the extent to which the dream fulfilled in our lives. We need to show people that God’s dream for them is bigger than the world’s dream.

[There was a time of prayer for those who had lost their dream. Very precious!]

There were three tests for Joseph:


1) The test of forgiveness and dealing with offence

Joseph had just cause to feel offended. But there is no indication that he carried the offence. Gen 39v2 says the Lord was with Joseph and prospered him; that could not be if Joseph was carrying the offence (see Heb 12v15). Offence can hinder God’s grace in our lives. As leaders we can’t stop offences but we can stop them getting inside us. Joseph kept his spirit clear. We need to quickly and unconditionally forgive. Joseph suffered repeated offence (cast into prison, forgotten). So do we and we must leave the past behind.


2) The test of fruitfulness in an unpromising situation

When did he live the dream? Not only before Pharaoh. He started in the house of Potiphar (39v2-5). For us and our people - not just Sunday, but Monday. Even if the boss is unkind we can witness there Monday-Friday. The blessing of God can happen in the here and now.

Also v21 – the Lord was with him – that’s the key. Whatever situation, he could prosper because the Lord was with him (v21-23). He didn’t wait for good circumstances. If we don’t prosper where we are, then we will never get to where we want to be. It is not just for us to arrive but step by step, glory to glory. Pass one test, then the Lord says ready for next.

We can feel like we are in the dungeon, but God’s power works in the dungeon. Look at China! The prosperity of gospel is dependent on God Himself, not the circumstances. Start prospering where you are. Meet the test of fruitfulness in the here and now.


3) The test of faithfulness in the area of morality

V6-12. It is estimated that 60% US pastors have a problem with internet pornography. We must pass this test – and we can be sure our people are struggling too. Joseph kept pure through his life. We must be alert, even as we get older, we must guard what we think. 8 principles:

a) Realise vulnerability. If you think you are standing firm be careful lest you fall. Be aware of what you are likely to be vulnerable to (eg: money, power, pride, sensual)? Ask when at most vulnerable? Can be when very weak – Joseph was a slave and far from family, no accountability. But he was also strong, in that Lord was with him. We can think ourselves invulnerable. Who? Is there a who in your life? Be alert to danger with certain people. How? Spoke day after day. Doesn’t just come once. Came with words – be careful of the words we speak and hear. Where? Don’t be in the wrong place. Use common sense.

b) Refuse to compromise. (v8, 10, 11). Don’t simply pray – run! Stay close what is right.

c) Recognise the sin. V9 – against God. He understood covenant man had with his wife. Kept not by fear of consequence but love for God.

d) Request God’s help. God is able to help you in temptation (1 Cor 10v13).

e) Refocus our attention on Christ (Heb 3v1, 2 Cor 10v5). Remember how Sam Storms described overcoming the song of the Sirens (in Pleasures Evermore). Not just no, no, no, but oh oh oh to Jesus. Personal intimacy with the Lord. Be made new. Live by the Spirit. Follow the law of love and you will not break the commandments. If you constantly think about the sin it becomes stronger. The way to be free – keep falling in love with Jesus.

f) Reveal struggle (Ecc 4v9-10, James 5v16). Don’t need to pass test alone. Wolves like to attack lone animals.

g) Resist the devil.

h) Receive your reward (James 1v12).


Conclusion

We all have these tests. We are all still in preparation. So we still have to go through these things so God can entrust us with more.

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