Grateful or Grumbling?

I have been teaching the Book of Exodus in Sunday school, and for the last several weeks, we have seen how the people grumbled against Moses and Aaron concerning their lack of water and food. In fact, the people longed to be slaves again in Egypt instead of placing their trust in God and entering the Promised Land. The people are momentarily satisfied when God gives them water and food, but they soon go back to grumbling after God has provided for them. They demonstrate no sign of gratitude and their faith in God is also found to be lacking.

Exodus 14:11: Then they said to Moses, “Is it because there were no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? Why have you dealt with us in this way, bringing us out of Egypt?

Exodus 15:24: “So the people grumbled at Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?”

Exodus 16:2: The whole congregation of the sons of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness.

Exodus 17:2-3: Therefore the people quarreled with Moses and said, “Give us water that we may drink.” And Moses said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the Lord?” But the people thirsted there for water; and they grumbled against Moses and said, “Why, now, have you brought us up from Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?”

As we begin a New Year, we often reflect on what changes we want to make in ourselves and we often make resolutions on what we can do better. I am not big on making resolutions, just for the sake of making them. So often, I fall short of any resolutions I make before the month of January ends. This year, I am going to attempt to be more grateful of the many things that God has blessed me with. Too often, we focus on what we lack or the events of life that don’t go our way. If we would only become more focused and grateful for the many blessings and the good things in our lives, we would draw closer to realizing God’s perfect design for our lives.

Does God Still Speak Through Dreams?

Job 33:14-18(NIV): For God does speak—now one way, now another—  though no one perceives it.

15 In a dream, in a vision of the night,

when deep sleep falls on people

as they slumber in their beds,

16 he may speak in their ears

and terrify them with warnings,

17 to turn them from wrongdoing

and keep them from pride,

18 to preserve them from the pit,

their lives from perishing by the sword.

Throughout the Bible, we find that God uses dreams to give warnings, to reveal prophesy, to encourage, and to provide reassurance. In Matthew’s Gospel, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, reassuring him to take Mary as his wife. The angel also reveals prophesy to Joseph, telling him that the child Mary is carrying, is Jesus, the Messiah. Later, the same angel of the Lord appears to Joseph in a dream, warning him to take the baby Jesus and his mother and escape to Egypt. God has always used dreams as a way to connect with us here on earth and I believe that God still does that today.

Morton Kelsey in his book: Dreams: A Way to Listen to God has this to say about dreams: “In order to deal with the topic of dreams and their meaning, it is necessary to deal with the question of our knowledge of God. Can men and women experience God and the realm of the Spirit? If it is absurd to believe that human beings can be reached and touched by the dynamism that lies at the heart of the universe, then dreams have little or no religious meaning. Then dreams may be at most a help in unraveling the tangled web of one’s personal life, but they have little or no meaning beyond this. If, however, humankind is open to another dimension of reality, then the dream may be one of the most common avenues through which God reaches out to us. Then dreams should be taken very seriously.”

“Many of the great religions of our human race have maintained that humans can experience God. Sometimes it seems that heaven opens itself to us – our hearts open themselves to heaven – something happens, and we recognize the living God. It is a numinous experience, an encounter with the Holy, a frightening experience in which we glance not only at the depth of our own being, but also at the depth of reality.”

“Once we have been touched by God this way, we know that the universe does make sense and our lives hold a place in it. Then we may attempt without fear, even with a new power, to go out into the world and go our way in it. Then doors open to us and strange things happen.” (Source used: Dreams: A Way to Listen to God by Morton Kelsey).

In my 52 years, I have had two dreams which I know were directly from God. I shared the first one on this blog about five years ago and it occurred when I was about 40 years old. The second dream occurred about three weeks ago and I am still coming to terms with its meaning. I will tell you that this second dream was very powerful and also immensely comforting. I look forward to writing about it over the course of the next few days.

I wrote the following about my first dream, which occurred about 12 years ago, as I was struggling with my calling into ministry.

This was my dream: I remember floating through the air for some period of time. Below me I could tell that I was approaching some kind of village or town , but it seemed far away. As I slowly began to get closer, I could see many people down below and they were all dressed in dark clothing. I saw a group of men and they all had on dark suits and white shirts but they were not wearing ties. I began to sense something familiar about this place or these people, but I was not sure what that feeling of familiarity was.

Continuing to “float” through the air, it seemed that I was finally getting closer to this group of men. In the distance I could make out a few buildings and I realized that one of them was an old country church. There seemed to be a lot of activity around that church.

All of a sudden, I was there, with that group of men. It seemed that I had traveled several miles in a matter of seconds and I came up behind this one man. It seemed like I was going to crash into this man when he turned very abruptly to me and said, “you will be a pastor.” The man that spoke to me was my grandfather, who had died while I was a high school senior in 1981. I woke up immediately and was both terrified and comforted.

I got up out of bed and I was very shaken at the sudden and abrupt ending to my dream. I knew at that moment that God had spoken to me through a dream and I believed that my personal struggle with my calling was over. I told God that I would accept this calling and would dedicate myself to following His will for my life.

A.J. Gordon, a late 19th century Baptist minister wrote this about his own powerful dream from God: “It was a vision of the deepest reality. Apparently we are most awake to God when we are asleep to the world.” (A.J. Gordon, How Christ Came to Church: A Spiritual Autobiography).

I believe that God continues to reach out and communicate to people in many different ways, including dreams. In the still and quietness of the night, God can come to us and speak into our hearts and minds. He can provide reassurance, comfort, wisdom, warnings, and even prophecy. If you believe in God and in His power to communicate, then you open yourself up to the possibility that our all- knowing and all- powerful God can reach down from heaven to touch the lives of mere mortals.