Dwell on Your Dreams
February 25, 2007
The Rev. Dr. Anthony J. Godlefski, Pastor
Montgomery United Methodist Church
1Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, 2where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing at all during those days, and when they were over, he was famished. 3The devil said to him, "If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become a loaf of bread."
4Jesus answered him, "It is written, 'One does not live by bread alone.'"
5Then the devil led him up and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. 6And the devil said to him, "To you I will give their glory and all this authority; for it has been given over to me, and I give it to anyone I please. 7If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours."
8Jesus answered him, "It is written, 'Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.'"
9Then the devil took him to Jerusalem, and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, "If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, 10for it is written, 'He will command his angels concerning you, to protect you,' 11and 'On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.'"
12Jesus answered him, "It is said, 'Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'"
13When the devil had finished every test, he departed from him until an opportune time.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, good morning. The title of our sermon today is “Dwell on Your Dreams.” I have a question for you this morning. What thoughts do you dwell on? Do you dwell on your fears? Or do you dwell on your dreams? I think a very clear, resounding trumpet call comes to us from the Gospel this morning, inviting us to dwell on our dreams.
Now, let me ask you, when you wake up in the morning, how is life going for you? Do you wake up thinking of the wonderful promise of the day ahead? Well, if you and I are at all alike, sometimes we wake up thinking about the things that we have to do, the things that we’re afraid of, the things that are bothering us, the things that we don’t feel quite adequate to handle. Friend, I’m inviting you to put that aside. Exchange those thoughts for great dreams that God can put in your heart.
Are you familiar with the children’s story character Winnie the Pooh? There is the ebullient character Tigger who is always bouncing around. And we have the optimistic Pooh. But are you familiar with Eyeore? Eyeore is the little gray donkey. His ears hang down, and there’s always a cloud over his head. I wonder if you feel like that sometimes. It’s so tempting to be like Eyeore. We are responsible people. We are realists. And because we are, we can be very tempted to think only about our worries and responsibilities, our inadequacies, our fears. It can be very tempting.
But you know what? During all that time, the meter is running. There are only 24 hours in a day. Twenty-four golden, God-given hours! Is that the way God wants us to spend them? I think not.
So, what do we do? When you’re tempted to dwell on your fears, when you’re tempted to take that cloud around with you, say, “Dear God, I want to trade in my fears for dreams.” Let God put dreams in your heart. We’re going to talk a bit more about that this morning.
Let’s take a look at what happened to Jesus in this morning’s Gospel. Jesus had a great-big, mountaintop moment. He was baptized in the river by His cousin John, and as He came up from that remarkable baptism, He heard the very voice of God saying, “You are my beloved Son. I am well-pleased with you.” Jesus was thrilled! He was on a mountaintop spiritually.
He said, “What am I going to do with this?” So He went into the wilderness to think about it, to pray to God, to figure out what He should do with His life, and to solidify His dreams. While He was there, the Gospel tells us, He went through some experiences. The first thing He experienced was hunger. He was down. He was weak. And it was then that the temptations came.
Isn’t that the way it is? Doesn’t it seem that way? Doesn’t it seem that we’re attacked when we’re down? Jesus’s hunger was a symbol of that, and it was a symbol that He understands, that very often the temptations and the hardships of life happen when we’re tired and weak and feeling depleted. But the good news from the Gospel is that Jesus went through it, and you can, too, triumphantly.
Jesus had temptations to pull away from His dream. What was His dream? His dream was to put God first. His dream was to bring you and me close to God. That was His dream; that was His purpose. But the tempting voices said, “Turn these rocks into bread. You’ll feed all the hungry people in the world for a little while.” It was tempting. It was something Jesus wanted to do. But He said, “I’m not going to do it, because I have bigger dreams. I have to stay focused.”
Then the devil took Him and showed Him all the kingdoms in the world and said, “You know what? They all want you to become King. Bow down to me, and I will make you ruler of all the kingdoms in the world.” It was very tempting, but Jesus said, “No, I’m going to stay true to my dream. There’s more to life than that.”
And then the devil said, “Throw yourself down from that big, high building, and you’ll float to the ground like an angel and impress all the people. Wouldn’t you like that?” And Jesus said, “No, I’m going to stay focused on my dream of bringing people close to God.” And He did. In another account of the Gospel, it says after it was all over, angels came and helped Him out. And they do for us, too.
Friend, if you find yourself preoccupied with the fears and the negativity of life, ask God for a new dream. Say, “Dear God, help me to turn the page away from these thoughts and to thoughts of accomplishing the dreams you have for me.”
I think dreams come in three sizes, small, medium, and large. Small dreams might be what you can do today. Some of you may already have a dream of having some lunch; maybe the dream begins right now. You might want to get together with your family and have a good meal. That’s a good dream. God wants you to have things to look forward to. What are the small dreams for you? Maybe being home this evening, reading a good book, or doing a crossword puzzle. Keep that dream in front of you, instead of thoughts about fears.
Dreams come in medium sizes, too. Those are the dreams that you dream over a couple a weeks or a couple of months, positive things that you can accomplish, with God’s help. And then there are the big dreams, perhaps for retirement or a retirement home or financial dreams.
Keep those positive dreams in front of you, and let God help you focus on them. The burden and the worry and the cloud that’s hanging over you will drift away, and the sunshine of God’s love will appear. I remember when I was in seminary, and I’d gotten my master’s degree and I was going for my doctorate. I was writing my doctoral dissertation. Now, some of you will find this very hard to relate to, but when I was writing my doctoral dissertation, personal computers had not yet been invented. I typed my dissertation on a manual Underwood typewriter. A typewriter is a [laughter] keyboard that shoots the letters at the paper. I used erasable bond paper, because there was no ‘highlight and delete’. Spell-check was Dr. Brock, my thesis reader and professor. I was struggling with that document.
I was working on the first chapter – it was my third rewrite of the first chapter. It was five in the morning, and I was sitting there with my cup of coffee and my Underwood typewriter, and I had a terrible thought – maybe I won’t make it. Maybe this is not going to happen. Maybe I’m not going to be able to do my dissertation and get my degree. It was a very threatening thought. I sat there with my coffee at five in the morning, and I prayed about it. I said, “God, what am I going to do? I feel so stuck.”
And the answer came back, “Picture the dream come true.” So I took an index card, put it in the typewriter, and typed, “I am wearing a black robe and a black mortarboard hat, and I’m wearing the bright red crimson stole of a doctoral degree. I’m walking up the gray painted steps to the porch where the leaders of the university are. Dr. Paul Harden, president of the university, is handing me a diploma. He’s shaking my hand and he’s smiling. I have the diploma in my hand. I can feel it. I’m walking down the steps again.” I wrote that out on a little card, and I went to sleep. Then every night thereafter, I’d take that little card, and as part of my evening prayers, I’d read the card. I’d picture being there in my mind. And I put one foot in front of the other and typed one letter after the other, and I got the degree. The day came when I walked up those gray painted stairs and saw Dr. Harden and shook his hand and got my that doctoral diploma in my hand.
Keep the dream alive. Keep focused on the good things God has for you to look forward to. And He will bless you. And friend, stay focused on the importance of God in your life. You are here in church – that means that Jesus is knocking on the door of your heart. You are putting God first in your life. Keep it that way. Dwell on the dream of your unity with the Lord, and God will bless you in abundant and amazing ways. Don’t dwell on your fears. Dwell on your dreams. God will give you great dreams to dream, to reach for, to bless you, because He loves you. I do, too. Have a wonderful week. Amen.
© 2007 Anthony J. Godlefski