Never Stop Dreaming

Never Stop Dreaming

On this Sanctity of Human Life Sunday, we affirm, along with thousands of other churches, that every person from conception on, is created in the image of God, stamped with divine dignity, and worthy of protection.

The fact that the preborn are people is no small point, because the first thing a society does if it is going to mistreat a particular class of people is to dehumanize them. To justify the Holocaust, Jews were called sub-humans or “pigs”. In the 19th Century, Darwin’s theory of evolution spawned the idea that black people had no souls because they were decedents of apes, thereby justifying slavery. That is why our society today doesn’t call the preborn is not a baby, but a fetus, or just a blob of tissue with the potential to become human. It is easy to kill them if they are not yet human, when their cries cannot be heard or seen.

Tomorrow we celebrate the birthday of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. We recognize the incredible impact that our Christian brother, Rev. King, had in helping to establish the dignity of every person, regardless of skin color. When we think of Dr. King, many of us remember his “I Have a Dream” speech delivered during the March on Washington in 1963. He dreamed of a day when racial justice and equality would be the rule of the land.

God puts His dreams into people who will carry out His dreams. God is the source of all dreams for the betterment of human society. Dreams involve purposes for living. Without a purpose for living, we lose all hope for a better life.

I encourage you to make God’s will your dream, because some of our dreams are frivolous and foolish. Some dreams lack reality and substance. But God gives us dreams which can be accomplished, because they are the products of His desires—dreams that spring from His plans for our lives.

Consider the story of Joseph in the Book of Genesis. Joseph had dreams and he had the gift to interpret dreams.

Gen 37:5-7 Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more.   He said to them, "Listen to this dream I had:  We were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it."

Joseph had a dream from God that one day his family would bow low before him. In fact, God gave him two dreams of the same kind. Joseph didn’t understand the purpose of the dream, but after the second dream, he was convinced that the dream had come from God. Although Joseph would have been wise to keep the dream to himself until he understood the purpose of the dream, God’s will was nevertheless in the dreams of Joseph. How can we have God’s dreams?

First, ask God to show you His dreams for your life. When God gives you a dream, it is for the benefit of others, not yourself. God gave Joseph the dream, but the purpose of the dream was not that his father and brothers would bow before him. The purpose of the dream was that Joseph would be second in command in Egypt and save his people and all Egypt from starvation. All his hardships prepared him for the fulfillment of the dream.

One dream God wants to give all of us is His dream that we will be conformed to the image of His Son. God has a dream that we might love Jesus more dearly and follow Him more closely. God has a dream that we may develop a closer relationship with our spouses, family members, and each other. Do you have these dreams? Ask God to give you His dreams for your life.

Secondly, ask God to sustain His dreams in your life. Just because God gives you a dream doesn’t mean the dream will have smooth sailing through life. The dream will come across obstacles and opposition. There are always those who will put stumbling blocks in the path of your dreams. Joseph’s brothers hated him because of his dreams. They hated him so much that they conspired to kill him.

Gen 37:20 "Come now, let's kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns and say that a ferocious animal devoured him. Then we'll see what comes of his dreams."

Any dream worthwhile will face hard times and great trials. Whatever your God-given dream is, some will be upset with you, and instead of complementing you, they will seek to put stumbling blocks in your way. It comes with the territory of being a dreamer. God sustained His dream in Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., who surely faced hardships, prison, and even death.

Likewise, Joseph must have thought his dream had died when his brothers put him in a pit to die. Even when he was rescued by the traders and sold into Egypt, it didn’t look good for his dream. When he was falsely accused by Potiphar’s wife and cast into prison, it didn’t look promising for his dream. But God blessed Joseph and sustained His dream through it all. God brought him from a pit and a prison to a palace.

Don’t be discouraged if your dream is not shared by others. Dreamers are not popular with many people. Dreamers threaten the status quo. Dreamers tend to turn things upside down. Dreamers are dangerous people in the eyes of many. People dislike dreamers because they call us beyond our traditions, challenge our thinking, and convict us of settling for less than God’s best for us.

Also, don’t expect your dream to come true in a short time. Changes are sometimes slow in happening. But God will sustain His dream when your dream is also His dream.

Finally, ask God to satisfy His dreams through you. There came a time when the dream that God gave Joseph came true. God works the dream out in His own way and in His own time. Maybe the dream doesn’t come true as you thought it would. But let God’s will be done, after all, the dream originated with God.

Sometimes the dreamers die before they see the dream come true, but the dreams live on because they are conceived in the mind and purpose of God. The founders of this church back in 1904 had a dream for this congregation. They had to pass the dream on to others to work out God’s dream for this church.

The dreamer, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr, was killed, but the dream still lives on. The dream has passed on to the entire nation of people who work to accomplish the dream.

Since 1973, many have dreamed of the reversal of Roe vs Wade. Some of the dreamers have died, but the dream lives on because it is also God’s dream—that everyone, He creates, has a right to life.

Some here may say that their day of dreaming has passed. Dreams are not the prerogatives of the young. You are never too old to dream. God can use dreamers of any age.

For example, on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2, things began to happen that were prophesized long before. Peter said the prophesy in Joel has come to pass.

Joel 2:28-29 "And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.  Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days.” 

The Holy Spirit has come to the Church. The young and the old can dream together. God’s dreams live on, long after the dreamers have died. The dreams are passed on to us and they eventually are fulfilled just like God purposed it.

Jer. 1:4-5 The word of the LORD came to me, saying, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations."

This passage, along with many others in Scripture, establishes the sanctity of human life. This is God’s Word about the womb. Individuals will have their opinions, organizations will offer their expertise, politicians will differ about the preborn, but none of that matters. This is what God says about life. He makes four points.

1. The preborn are people. We see this in the very first phrase: “I formed you in the womb.” Before Jeremiah was even conceived, God knew him as a person.

Gen. 2:7  “the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.”

Ps. 139:15-16 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

Just as God purposefully formed Adam from the dust of the earth, so too, He does His creative work in the womb. Nothing is hidden from God. He personally puts our skeleton in place and creates all the delicate parts of our bodies, weaving them together to form His living masterpiece.

2. The preborn are pre-known. Look at the next phrase: “I knew you.” The word, “know” in Hebrew speaks of a personal intimate knowledge and was used to describe Adam “knowing” Eve. The idea is that God has a commitment and an intimate relationship with the person He creates, even before He forms them. If we are known to God even before He began His creative work, how much more are we a person after conception? I’m glad the answer to the question of when life begins is not above God’s “pay grade”!

3. The preborn are prized. Check out the next clause: “I set you apart.” Even before Jeremiah was born, he was set apart for a special task.

Jer. 29:11-13 “For I know the plans I have for you…plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

The Church’s calling includes upholding God’s dream of human life and dignity. Because as we do, we ultimately point all those, who are made in God’s image, back to Him, who created them and loves them beyond all comprehension.

4. The preborn have a purpose. The last part of verse 5 tells us about Jeremiah’s purpose: “I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” Jeremiah had a job to do and so do we! Note that God’s Word is not just for one group of people; it is for all the “nations.” A prophet’s primary purpose is to announce God’s message, expose sin, and call sinners back to their covenant responsibilities before God.

Each one of us has a purpose according to God’s plans. God has the length of our lives numbered, and He has purposes for our children and grandchildren. When God creates, He does it with purpose. What we are is God’s gift to us; what we do is our gift to Him.

Some preachers might hesitate to speak out on abortion. Some avoid the issue altogether because they say that it’s too political. I don’t see it that way. To me, the issue is moral and about life.

After 42 years, some suffer from “abortion fatigue” and feel like things will never change. While the length of time and the number of deaths is discouraging, this is no time to quit on the dream. We must continue to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves.

Prov. 31:8-9 compels us to do so: “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.”
Just as Jeremiah was given a job to do, so too, we have been commissioned by Christ to take the message of life and the way to eternal life to those around us. When Jeremiah was given his job, he looked for a way out, claiming that he wasn’t a good speaker, and that he was much too young. Many of us give excuses, as well, when we’re given a tough task.

However, God doesn’t accept excuses, as shown in
Jer. 1:7-8  But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am too young.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord.

Therefore, go to everyone God sends you to. Speak the Truth in love. In your going and speaking, don’t be afraid because God is with you. He will give you the words to say.

While the number of abortions performed each year has started going down, in large part due to Christians who are speaking up, we have nothing to be proud of as a nation. Since 1973, when Roe v. Wade became law, there have been 57 million babies murdered in their mother’s wombs. Did you know that abortion is the leading cause of death in the world, killing as many people as all of the other causes of death combined?

Fifty-seven million people is the combined population of 26 states. Can you imagine every single inhabitant of these states being wiped out: Louisiana, Kentucky, Oregon, Oklahoma, Connecticut, Iowa, Mississippi, Arkansas, Kansas, Utah, Nevada, New Mexico, West Virginia, Nebraska, Idaho, Maine, New Hampshire, Hawaii, Rhode Island, Montana, Delaware, South Dakota, Alaska, North Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming?

Incidentally, during our 90-minute service, 270 babies will have lost their lives. It would be like everyone in this room gradually disappearing in 15 minutes.

We have a responsibility. I urge you to follow the Holy Spirit’s leading. We can’t just sit back and do nothing. Do what you can to save lives, and vote for prolife candidates for office.

Prov. 24:11-12 lays it out in pretty strong words: Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter. If you say, "But we knew nothing about this," does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who guards your life know it? Will he not repay each person according to what he has done?

The best way to stop abortion is to convert the parents—young men and women.

Offer grace and forgiveness to those who need it. Abortion is a sin, but it’s also forgivable, just like murder. While we need to speak out against moral concerns in our society, we must also offer love and compassion. Studies show that the majority of women who’ve had abortions have significant emotional, physical, and spiritual scars. There may be some here this morning that have had abortions. I pray that you will experience God’s grace and forgiveness here today.
We need to watch our attitudes. Satan is the enemy of life, not doctors, not people who are in favor of abortions, nor politicians. It’s way too easy for us to become self-righteous, smug, and condemning. As I’ve said before, we’re prone to get angry with people who sin rather than the source of sin—the devil, who kills, steals, and destroys. Be angry at the sin, but build bridges with those who sin and are in need of the Gospel.

We need to balance our “prophetic” and “priestly” roles as believers. Society’s views on abortion are changing but it takes time. William Wilberforce had a dream and campaigned for 35 years before slavery was banned in Britain. Christians are making a difference and we need to keep speaking out (like prophets) but we must also offer love and compassion (like priests) to those who need help. We need to remember that our call is to make disciples, not win arguments. Laws will change after there are enough disciples with God’s dream to change the law.

Have the courage to do what’s right.  Be consistently pro-life. We need to value all human life – the preborn, orphans, widows, the physically and emotionally handicapped, the homeless, the hungry, the poor, those in prison, and older people. More importantly, we must also practice purity and show people a better way of life. For example, Christians need to stop fornicating and having abortions!

Be informed and pray for grace for our nation to repent. Pray for unwed mothers, fathers, and their preborn children. Most of us are in this service today because someone prayed for us. Remember we are all sinners in need of God’s grace.

Grace is found in the face of Jesus. His hands are open, and He's calling you to Himself.