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Living the Impossible Dream

 

2 Thessalonians 1:11-12

 

Jim Davis

 

We often dream of living the impossible dream; our world encourages us to follow that dream. We dream of living an earthshaking life of riches, glamour and prestige. Many spend their lives chasing the impossible dream. We are convinced we deserve it. Yet, the masses know the dream will never materialize for them. I am beginning to wonder if that is why thereís so much anger in our world. We are chasing the impossible dream and grow angry as it eludes us. We see kids killing kids, road rage, and all sorts of violence.

 

We dream of the impossible dream because God designed each of us to live His impossible dream.  The Bible outlines Godís impossible dream and tells how to work with God realizing it is within Godís reach for our each of us. This is the message of salvation.

 

The Bible is written to encourage us to obey Godís call to his impossible life. It is humanly impossible to accomplish, but God makes it possible for all. God had an earthshaking dream for Abraham. He appeared to him saying ďthrough you all the families of the earth will be blessed.Ē God promised Abrahamís descendants the land of Canaan for an inheritance, now that was an earthshaking vision. The worldís order would certainly have to be shaken to its foundations for Abrahamís descendants to inherit Canaan.

 

God promised Abraham a son, but he let Abraham and Sarah wrestle with the idea of having a son until they knew it was physically impossible for Sarah to conceive. Godís dream for their lives seemed so impossible they began to laugh at Godís promise.

 

God called Moses from leading sheep to leading his people out of Egypt. Moses responded, ďWho am I Lord that you should send me?Ē How could a man who had spent forty years herding sheep be called to do the impossible? Moses not only ask, who am I, he also ask God, who shall I say is sending me. It was a diplomatic way to ask God, who are you? God didnít blush. He simply did what He always does; he revealed his power to do the impossible.

 

God Is Lord of the Impossible

 

Salvation begins with Godís impossible plan. The New Testament opens introducing us to Godís impossible plan as the angel speaks to Mary. She is told she will have a child. Mary questions the angel.

 

Luke 1:34-37

34 "How will this be," Mary asked the angel, "since I am a virgin?"

 

35 The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. 37 For nothing is impossible with God." NIV

 

Jesus continually brought his disciples face to face with their impossibilities. In fact, Jesusí ministry led them to face an endless series of impossible tasks. They were challenged with the storm at sea, to walk on water, to feed the five thousand with five barley loaves and two small fish, with those they could not heal. They were challenged to stand when the only thing could do was flee. They often returned to Jesus defeated. He introduced them to the God of the impossible.

 

A simple reading of the Sermon on the Mount brings us face to face with Godís impossible dream for our world. Loving our neighbors as ourselves, praying Godís blessing on our enemies, turning the other cheek, going the second mile with those who abuse us, on and on the impossibilities go. Be holy as God is holy. Reading through the Sermon on the Mount brings me face to face with the reality of the first statement Matthew records in Jesusí sermon: ďBlessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.Ē I cannot read through Jesusí sermon without being overwhelmed with how poor in spirit I am. God desires to bless me with the impossible life because spiritually I am to poor to attain it on my own.

 

This sinful world reminds us it is impossible to live above sin. Paul experienced the impossibility of living above sin. He couldnít do what he knew to do. It made him dependent upon the life giving Spirit of God to impart to him what he could not attain.

 

Romans 8:11

11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you. NIV

 

The Holy Spirit is the invisible active presence of God in our hearts working to resurrect us from a dead life. He seeks to release us from the prison of sin to resurrect us to Godís impossible dream.

 

Sometimes God places us in impossible circumstances to bring us to realize our need of his resurrection power. Paul not only experienced the impossibility of living above sin through human effort, he also experienced the impossibility of carrying out the work God called him to do as an apostle.

 

2 Corinthians 1:8-11

8 We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. 9 Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. 10 He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, 11 as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many. NIV

 

The apostles were forced to endure far beyond their ability to endure to bring them to trust God, who raises the dead. Dependence upon our fleshly efforts will certainly make Godís plan impossible. Paul could do all things as Christ worked through him. He was totally dependent upon Jesusí power working through him. He was looking to Christís power to make it all possible.

 

God led his prophets and apostles to extreme measures to bring them to humbly depend upon his power. It wasnít always easy to surrender to Godís impossible plan. We find Esther laying her life on the line in the direst of circumstances, Daniel struggling in prayer for wisdom in Babylon, Jeremiah enchained and living in a pit; Hosea, married to a prostitute; Elijah, fleeing from wicked Jezebel; Ezekiel, living in exile. The apostle John was suffering patiently in exile on the isle of Patmos. God revealed his impossible vision to John. It is recorded in the book of Revelation for all to dream it. They all discovered the key to the impossible lifeósurrender to Godís will and experience His power.

 

Victory through Surrender

 

If you feel as though you cannot do what God is calling upon you to do, you are on the right road. You may feel as though you are locked into to a life of sin. You may have besetting sins holding you back, but God desires to resurrect you from your impossible world. It may be marriage problems, lust problems, pornography, financial problems you have created for yourself, or a thousand other things.

 

Surrendering our wills to Godís will is the only hope of experiencing Godís resurrection power in this life. Paul sought to surrender his life to the resurrection power of God.

 

Philippians 3:10-11

10 I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. NIV

 

Surrender begins with desiring to share in Christís suffering to discover Godís impossible vision for our lives. Jesus asks a man who had been an invalid for thirty eight years, ďDo you want to get well?Ē This is Godís question for each of us; we will never begin to obey God without desire.

 

Many sit around and wait for motivation and desire to overwhelm them. We want God to motivate us with his powerful desire before we move. Itís a huge mistake. You know how it feels to lack motivation. It makes you feel weak and helpless leaving you in a state of depression. It is much easier to work yourself into a better way of feeling than feeling your way into a better way of acting. The only way you can live the impossible life is to begin to act upon your faith however small. You will begin to see Godís powerful desire come to life in you.

 

Surrendering to Godís power begins when we seek to obey the impossible. The blind man obeyed the impossible when he obeyed Jesus and washed in the pool of Siloam (John 9). My how his eyes were open to the availability of Godís power to do the impossible. The world needs to have her eyes opened to the availability of Godís power to accomplish the impossible. Until we doówe are locked into a prison with no escape.

 

Surrender is characterized by persisting in the impossible call of God.  God has made it perfectly clear there is no way out of this prison of death except through his power. This is the message of the Bible. To experience deliverance we must persist in acting upon what little we do know.

 

Ten lepers came to Jesus desiring to be healed. They experienced the impossible the moment they began to obey Jesus.

 

Luke 17:11-14

11 Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance 13 and called out in a loud voice, "Jesus, Master, have pity on us!"

 

14 When he saw them, he said, "Go, show yourselves to the priests." And as they went, they were cleansed. NIV

 

These lepers realized the regenerating power of God as they began to move out in their own strength. When they moved out God supplied the healing power they needed. Paul reminds us that this is how it begins with all of us.

 

2 Thessalonians 1:11-12

ďWith this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faithĒ (NIV).

 

We need to see the important part of this verse? It says Godís power fulfills ďevery good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith.Ē When our faith, regardless how small, prompts us to act upon Godís will, Godís begins his powerful work in us as he empowers us to do more. God raised Jesus from the dead and glorified him so our faith and hope would be in God.

 

Surrender is possible when our faith and hope rest in the power of God that raised Jesus from the dead.  The resurrection power of God is the very hope of our callingóit is our only hope. Paul prayed for us to be enlightened concerning Godís resurrection power exerted in our lives. 

 

Ephesians 1:18-23

18 I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, 20 which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.

 

When Jesus died on the cross the disciples went back to fishing. They returned to their impossible world. They saw no hope of realizing what they had dreamed while he was alive. But after the resurrection they placed their faith in the Lord of the impossible. They turned the world upside down as they began acting upon their faith to accomplish the impossible. This is the message of the resurrection. When Jesus arose from the dead his disciples began living in the hope of Godís impossible dream (1 Peter 1:1-3).

 

1 Peter 1:20-21

20 He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. 21 Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God. NIV

 

Previously the discipleís faith and hope were in human potential, but their faith and hope died with Jesus on the cross. Through his resurrection they were born anew to a living hope (1 Peter 1:1-5). It is amazing Jesus appeared to them on the sea shore after his resurrection performing the same miracle he performed when he first call them. When he initially called them they had fished all night and caught nothing. Jesus told them to cast their nets out again. They caught so many fish the boats began to sink as they hauled the fish in. After Jesus died Peter said, ďLet go fishing.Ē They went back to fishing after Jesusí death. Again Jesus met them after they had fished all night and caught nothing. At his command they cast their nets and caught another load of fish. Jesus knew they needed to understand Godís power was with them as Jesus called them to be fishers of lost souls.

 

Sin Makes Life Impossible

 

Sin makes life impossible without God. Eveís single sin imprisoned this world to the impossible consequences of sin. Spiritual death passed upon all because of that one sin. All the animal sacrifices of the Old Testament could not remove the consequence and guilt of sin.

 

Hebrews 10:1-4

10:1 The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming ó not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. 2 If it could, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins. 3 But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins, 4 because it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. NIV

 

All our human efforts to remove our sin only increase our awareness of our sin.

We were dead in trespasses and sins because we walked according to the directions of this world (Ephesians 2:1). Nothing more restrictive than death; it leaves us powerless without the resurrection power of God. The same is true with spiritual death.

 

Romans 3:19-20

19 Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. 20 Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin. NIV

 

Human efforts for salvation only make us more conscious of the guilt of sin. Yet, do you know how most Christians endeavor to live? We try to work it out on our own strength only allowing God to help when we run into trouble. It will not work.

 

Peter followed Christ full of self-confidence, self-power, self-will, self-determination, but he denied the Lord. He denied him because he was living in denial of his need of Godís power to do the impossible. How many times have we done the same? Christ called Peter Satan and told him to get behind him. Satan is certainly the author of these thoughts.

 

God glorifies his people when we allow him to be the Lord of our impossibilities. ďJesus replied, ĎIf I glorify myself, my glory means nothing. My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies meíĒ (John 8:54 NIV).

 

A young man came to Jesus thinking Godís impossible dream for his life was within his feeble human grasp. He had kept all the commandments, and Jesus told him to go and sell all he had and give to the poor.

 

Luke 18:23-27

23 When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was a man of great wealth. 24 Jesus looked at him and said, "How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! 25 Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." 

 

26 Those who heard this asked, "Who then can be saved?"

 

27 Jesus replied, "What is impossible with men is possible with God." NIV

 

The Old Testament impresses upon us salvation from sin is humanly impossible. That is something this young man wasnít willing to accept. It was the impossibility that made his disciples hopelessly ask, ďWho then can be saved?Ē

 

Standing under the wings of Godís holiness makes us acutely aware of our extreme sinfulness. We should expect our awareness of our personal sin to increase as we draw near to God. An increased awareness is a sign we are drawing near to God. This often discourages Christians. We become aware of just how impossible it is to come to God without his help. Instead of fleeing in despair, we must become totally dependent upon Godís provision to make us holy. The blessing is that Christís sacrifice makes it possible for us to live under the shadow of Godís holy wings.

 

In surrendering my life to die with Christ and be buried with him in baptism I place my faith in God to make me holy.

 

Colossians 2:11-12

11 In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.

 

In baptism my faith is not in what I am doing, my faith is in the operation of God that takes place at baptism. My faith is in the resurrection power of God when I obey rather than any personal merit. When I obey Christís command to be baptized, God acts on my behalf to remove my sin because of the sacrifice of his Son. It is his work that saves me.

 

Colossians 2:13-15

13 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14 having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. 15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.  NIV

 

The sacrifice of Christ disarmed those heavenly demons seeking to imprison us in an unholy impossible world. Christ has set the captives in sin free. The demons no longer have the power to hold us. Paul and Silas were in jail at midnight in Philippi. God shook the earth and set them free. In Christ God has shaken heaven and earth to set us free. He has triumphed over those seeking to hold us prisoner.

 

Conclusion:

 

We must put no confidence in our human efforts. We must surrender to the power of Almighty God for His deliverance. It all begins with our willingness to repent of our sins and to meet Christ in his death in baptism.

 

The world seeks to convince us the fountain of life, happiness and strength lies within our own hearts. Yet, we were never created to live independent of God. We were created for God will to live through us. This makes the impossible a reality for each of us. The joy of salvation is that we receive the life of God moment by moment as we surrender to his impossible plan.

 

When Adam and Eve sinned there was never the slightest hope of recovery without the power of God. The good news is that Jesus Christ is the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16). God invites you to be resurrected with Christ today? He wants you bless you with his impossible incomparable plans for your life?

 

The New Testament outlines the things we must do to accept Godís gift of salvation. Yet, God makes it perfectly clear our salvation lies outside the sphere of what is humanly possible. Paul instructs us to work our own salvation, but he reminds us in the same breath that it is God who is at work in us to accomplish his will (Philippians 2:12-13). These thoughts are presented in a single verse of the Bible, yet we often quote them independently of each other. We never see their connection. We must never forget that we are working with the God of the impossible. We work with God as he is working in us. Our working makes us totally dependent upon God, we cannot boast about what we have done (Ephesians 2:8-9).

 

Christís sacrifice for our sins sounds repulsive to a modern world. What could be more repulsive than a human sacrifice to set us free from our sin? Yet, we are quick to make human sacrifices when we decide to go to war to fight for our earthly freedom. There are people laying their lives on the line every moment of the day for your freedom to live in safety. Yet, God chose that the whole world be set free through the death of one manóJesus Christ. Jesus was God; therefore it was the One who created us that purchased the impossible life for each of us. Not as repulsive as it might sound.

 

It should be no great surprise that Christ also asks us to surrender our lives to follow him. We must lay down our lives to set ourselves and others free from the impossible prison of sin.

 

Romans6:3-4

3 Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. NIV

 

Bible Study Questions

1.     Why would you want to chase an impossible dream?

2.     Why does God call us to do the impossible?

3.     Discuss Godís impossible dream for Abram and Sarah, and Moses? Can you think of others God called to do the impossible?

4.     What is the first thing we must do to begin to realize Godís impossible plan for our lives?

5.     What part did the resurrection play in first century discipleís faith and circumstances? (2 Corinthians 1:8-11)

6.     What part does desire play in following Godís vision?

7.     What is the best thing to do when we lack desire?

8.     When did the ten lepers who came to Jesus begin to be healed? (Luke 17:11-14)

9.     What is the message of 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12?

10.  What makes faith and hope in Godís plan possible?

11.   What does Paul pray that we would be enlightened about? (Ephesians 1:18-23)

12.   What happens when we seek God solely through human strength?

13.   What is your reaction to the fact that it is harder for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God than it is for a camel to go through the eye of a needle? What was the disciples reaction?

14.    Why does Christís sacrifice sound repulsive to our modern world?

15.    What does Christ call us to do follow him?

 

 

 

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