We had our first regular Wednesday Night Worship of 2014 last night and it was a great night. We opened the night with a short worship set that included "Salvation is Here" (Hillsong United) and "Burning in My Soul" (Brett Younker/Passion). We then got right into the message for the night.
I began by talking about how we all have an idea of what we want this year to look like. Whether or not we make resolutions or goals for the year, we all want it to be better than last year. I have big dreams for what I want this year to be like, and I want the students to have big dreams as well. I love how Jon Acuff says that "If nobody is laughing at your dreams then you're not dreaming big enough." While we must not have unrealistic dreams and aspirations, sometimes we set the bar way too low.
If you have not taken evaluation of your life and the past year, especially your spiritual life then now would be a great time to start. I challenged the students to consider the following questions: 1) Do you like who you are becoming? 2) Is God pleased with who you are becoming. Honestly, these are questions that we should not only ask at the beginning of each year, but we should ask at the beginning of each day of our life. So as we think about evaluating ourselves and dreaming about the future, it is important the we do it wisely.
We read 1 Corinthians 1:18-31. I gave a brief history of the writing of this letter by Paul. I shared that Corinth was a city that was filled with immorality, and sadly some of the believers were allowing the immoral culture to flow into their lives in the church. So Paul writes this letter to address these matters. I believe that as we think about having big dreams for what God wants to do in us and through us this year, we must take the wisdom from Paul and apply these three necessary steps in working toward these dreams.
1) Release the Past
I love this quote by Pete Wilson: "Your past is not your past if it is still impacting your present." Too often we hold on to the past and keep reliving past pains ands failures, which holds us back in moving forward in life. The truth is that you cannot and will never move forward as long as you hold on to the past. This is true in the why Paul is addressing the church at Corinth. They were trying to move forward, yet were holding on to their sinful lifestyle. For some people releasing the past may mean forgiving someone who has hurt them in their past. For others it may mean forgiving themselves for a mistake. What it is, unless you release it, you will continue to be hindered by it.
2) Believe In Yourself
In verse 26 Paul tells us that God has called them out and has used them, even thought they are ordinary people. God chooses the weak and lowly to accomplish His will. This excites me because He can and wants to use ordinary people like me. Because of this, God receives all the glory!
3) Dream With Christ In the Center
I believe this is the most often forgotten part of the equation. Often we do fail at our dreams/goals/resolutions because we lose sight, we get too busy, or simply because life happens. However, I believe more often than not, we fail at the goals because we never attempted to include God in any of it. It was all simply for our own glory and we maybe never consulted Him in the first place. Paul says in verse 27 that God chose the foolish things to shame the wise and the weak to shame the strong. He is saying that there is nothing wise or strong apart from God. Our dreams apart from Him are foolish and weak, and will fail. But when we seek God for our dreams, He gives us dreams that line us with His plan for us.
I closed the message with a challenge to spend some time dreaming big on what God wants to do in and through each individual this year. I shared that my prayer for the students and for myself is this: "Lord wreck our own plans this year and give us dreams that are completely disproportionate to who we are, so that You receive all the glory." I then had the students take some time to write out the things they believe God is calling them to do and dream this year. Then they sealed it in an envelope and addressed it to themselves for me to mail them in a year. We closed by singing "Forever Reign" (Kristian Stanfill) and "The Lord Our God" (Kristian Stanfill). I am excited about what God is going to do in all of our lives this year and the dreams that He is placing before us.