After God says men and women will prophesy, he says that your old men will dream dreams and your young men will see visions. The dreams of our older men come before the visions seen by young men. As I read this I wondered, what would the older men dream and what is the vision that young men will see? It caused me to think about the dreams of my grandfather, and I wondered what kinds of dreams he had for my future.
Did he dream that I would find my way out of the projects, attend college, and have the opportunity to work alongside some the most amazing people I've ever met? Did he dream of his great grandchildren and how their lives would be so much different than how I grew up? Did he know that unlike me they would never have to see their mother or father addicted to drugs, never know what it's like to be evicted and have all of our belongings stored up in a shed in the backyard? Did he dream that one day God would give my mother her life back, that she would accept Jesus as Lord of her life, and that God would restore our relationship before she died?
What are the dreams these older men will dream after God pours out the Spirit and men and women prophesy? And I have to ask the question because if these were even some of my grandfathers' dreams, I wish he would have told me. I wish he would have sat me down and said, "Son, God is going to do something amazing in your life. God is going to bring you out of these situations. He's going to give you a second chance. Hold on and don't give up because one day it's going to happen, trust me. I've seen it in my dreams. "
If my grandfather had told me about those dreams, maybe I could have avoided some of the problems in my life, and maybe the struggle would have been easier. If my grandfather would have told me about those dreams as a child, they would have given me something to hold on to in the midst of my own nightmares.
I don't know about you, but I've had some nightmares and lived through some nightmares. For years, the pain of watching my mother destroy the life she had build for us by using drugs haunted me. There was verbal abuse from people in my own family who knew no other way to express their personal pain than speak negative words. I remember nights when I was ten years old, laying in the darkness and silence of my room wondering if this is how it feels to be dead; I started talking to God and said, "God, if this is how my life is going to be then I don't want to live." There were times when my cousin and I would sit with other friends and plan our funerals because we believed that through our funerals people would finally see us and act like they loved us. Perhaps knowing my grandfather's dreams would have given me the vision to look beyond the pain and see God's promise of a better future. How many of our young people endure the pain of their situation without ever knowing the dreams of another generation that could help them keep going?
But if our young men and women are going to see visions of what God has in store, then we have to tell them about our dreams. And when our young men and women hear us telling them about our dreams and what God has shown us, it will open their eyes so that they can see the vision of a better future. They won't turn to drugs, crime, or gangs. They won't drop out of school feeling like it doesn't matter. They won't be so angry with life and discouraged about the future because they have heard us talk about our dreams. I'm glad God didn't give up on me and didn't take my life in the midst of one of my darkest moments, but poured out his Spirit on men and women who spoke a prophetic word. And now I have to tell my children about the dreams God has shown me. And you have to be courageous enough to tell your children about the dreams that God has shown you.
And finally, God says, even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days. What happens after God's servants have received this outpouring of the Spirit? When we think about where God has brought us from, the legacy of his faithfulness as we see the dreams of our forbearers made real, what is God trying to do now through the church? At first I didn't know the answer to this question, but then I looked at verse 32 where God says,
Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved; for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will deliverance, as the Lord has said, among the survivors who the Lord calls.
One of the greatest things we can do is go out and be a living testimony to what God has done in our lives. And when people hear your story, how God found you when you were broken and changed your life, when they hear you talk about the great things that God has done for you, it will let them know that God has poured out his Spirit because lives are being changed. We are evidence to those who need to be saved that if you give your life to him, God will repay you for years you have lost, remove the guilt of your past, and allow you to dream again and have a vision for the future that give you the strength to keep going until the vision comes to pass.
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At the end of this sermon we did an altar call. Numerous people came forward for prayer and to give their lives to Christ. But of particular note was the woman who came forward for prayer because she said her 12-year-old son wanted to kill himself. Another gentleman came forward along with his wife, and he has been trying to overcome addiction to heroin. In the midst of our nation's struggling economy, our leaders are asking us to come together because these will be tough times. I agree, these times will not only show our resolve to overcome financial problems, but they will also reveal our spiritual and emotional strength to stand with people who are hurting and point them towards a God who can heal their pain and allow them to dream and have a bright vision for the future. Amen.
[read all four parts of this series]