August 1, 2021

Living The Dream

Passage: 2 Samuel 23:8-17

Jimmy was playing after dinner and his Mom and Dad were busy with paperwork from work.  They didn't notice the time.  It was full moon, and some of the light seeped through the windows.  Then Mom glanced at the clock.  "Jimmy, it's time to go to bed.  Go up now and I'll come and tuck you in."  Unlike most of the times when complaining, Jimmy went straight up to his room.  About ten minutes later his mother went into his room and to her astonishment her son was staring at the moonlight.  "Why are you staring at the moon?", she asked.  And then it came from a boy like many children before and after him that dreamt about things, "Mom, you know one day I'm going to walk on the moon."  Who could have known that the boy in whom the dream was planted that night would survive a serious motorbike crash and 32 years later his dream became reality.  James Irwin stepped on the moon's surface, only the eight person who had done so.  I think that most people who accomplished something great in life shared where it all started – they had a dream.  From 2 Samuel 23 we learn about David and his men who kept the dream alive and how they were rewarded by God.  Let’s take some advice from them as we strive to fulfill God’s dream for us.

First you have to 1 Set Your Goals.  All the men in David’s party had the same goals. That was to see how God was going to give them victory over the Philistines and then to see David again on the throne.  And to get to those goals wasn’t going to be easy.  Hardship and death were things they had to be willing to endure.  Isn’t it so essential that every person in this world before doing something should ask,  “Is this what I’m about to do the right thing?”  Stephen Covey said, “Most people are so busy climbing the ladder of success that they fail to realize it’s leaning against the wrong wall.  So, before you go after your dream, you better have to make sure it’s the right one.  You have to define your goals before you get started.”  Saul made a big mistake when he became king of Israel – he never set the goal of representing God before the people he was called to serve.  No, it was always about him – his position, his image and his people had to show respect to him.  I think you will agree with me – too many people in our time are in it for themselves.  They become greater than the cause.  Well, that's what they think.  David was different – his goal was to serve the God of Israel.  Yes, he failed on a number of occasions, but he made things right before God.  My friends, we have to set goals for ourselves if we want to be successful in life.  That's so essential in our personal lives.  What goal have you set before you and how are you going to reach that goal?  Thomas Edison had so many failures before his inventions changed many lives.  He shared, “I made the mistake of jumping into things, but then I went back to write down every goal.”  But then my friends, what are the spiritual goals we need to have before us?  Like St. Paul we have to place Jesus before us and then we can list all the other things we want to accomplish.  We the people of Cooke’s Presbyterian Church have to affirm together, “Our goal is to glorify God, through everything we do – through our worship, our witness and outreach, in our fellowship or anything else we can think of.  The dream is God’s.  He gave it to us and says, ‘You are the ones I have chosen to fulfill my dream.’”  The same goes for the family of Langley PC as they stand at a transition of new beginnings and new relationships.  But friends, we have to ask, “Where are we going in God's grace?”

In Living The Dream you have to 2 Take It One Step At A Time.  That was something David did to perfection in his life.  Ancient historian Josephus said that David was 10 years old when he was anointed by Samuel, but most commentators agreed that he was actually 15 years old when that happened.  And when David finally became king he was about 30 years old.  It was a period of at least 15 years he had to wait.  He knew how dissatisfied God was with Saul and from a human’s perspective the logical thing was to have Saul removed from the throne – Away with the king, for a new king is to ascend the throne!  But, that wasn’t God’s plan.  And then in 1 Samuel we learn of how David fled from Saul and on two occasions he had the opportunity to kill Saul, but both times he spared his life.  Can we appreciate the reality?  God didn’t want him to take the second step yet.  And when David fled from his son, Absalom, he had to hold back as well.  And then back to the chapter we read.  David and his men were in battle against the Philistines.  Under most circumstances a general at war will command his men – “Charge the enemy!  Go for the kill!”  O my friends, can we only appreciate from the Word of God and from His guidance in our lives that we have to take it one step at a time?  I think many times we just ignore what we sing in the hymn,  “Take time to be holy, let Him be thy guide.  And run not before Him whatever betide.”  I have to confess that in my time at Cooke’s I haven't always comprehended why God always wanted me to take it one step at a time.  But you see, He tells us again this morning, “It's in my time that fruits will be reaped.”  As we do our best for God in all of our ministries, let’s wait upon Him to open the doors we have to go through.

There is something that is the key in Living The Dream.  We have to 3 Work With The Right People.  2 Samuel 23: 9 says that Eleazar was “with David when they taunted the Philistines gathered at Pas Dammin.”  He was in the right place at the right time with the right person.  One of the best ways of Living The Dream is to live someone else’s.  And if you don’t have a dream, get around someone who has a dream.  That’s what Eleazar did.  There is something God brings to each one of us in person, “I am in the business of building your résumé.  I am in the business of building your network.  But you have to get around the right people.”  It’s true my friends, God has always worked through other people in the lives of His servants.  Moses had to take Aaron with him when he went to Pharaoh.  Elisha shadowed Elijah.  Perhaps it was to learn when the time came for him to take the mantle from Elijah.  Ruth wouldn’t leave her mother-in-law Naomi’s side.  There were Peter, John and James Jesus took with Him when He went up the Mount of Transfiguration and when He later prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane before His betrayal and arrest.  There is something that can determine a positive outcome in life and it can determine a bad outcome in life.  It's the people we hang out with.  We have to choose our friends wisely.  Why have you and I decided that we would rather be with friends in Cooke’s and Langley Church than people who want to hold the world’s agenda in their hands?  Why is it that we sometimes have to decide, “This person isn’t a good influence in my life?”  Because my friends, we know that God wants us to be influenced by the right people as well as to be the influence in other lives.

There is a last truth from 2 Samuel 23 about Living The Dream – 4 Never Give Up.   We read in verse 10, “…but Eleazar stood his ground and struck down the Philistines till his hand grew tired and froze to the sword. The Lord brought about a great victory that day.”  God won’t give us anything if we’re lazy.  You can’t just pray like it depends on God; you have to work like it depends on God.  You have to fight for your dream until your hand freezes to the sword like it happened in the case of Eleazar.  There was no quitting for him.  It was only persevering.  And as God gave them a great victory that day, He will give us the victory…not just at the end of time when we will receive the victor’s crown, but we will see the victory in the church of Jesus Christ.  Can we only comprehend the victories for God's kingdom in many countries where Christianity was banned before.  But the sad reality is where numbers are declining in churches people gave up hope.  No, now is the time not to quit, now is the time to persevere like Eleazar.  Friends, we need to dream big and then we have to trust in God and work hard in His name to bring the dream into reality.  May He guide us in this every day.