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Book Jacket

159185640X
Trade Paperback
224 pages
Apr 2005
Charisma House

Reaching Your Dreams: 7 Steps for Turning Dreams into Reality

by Tommy Barnett

Review  |   Author Bio  |  Read an Excerpt

Excerpt:

CHAPTER ONE

Discover Your Dream

Every one of us on Planet Earth was created by God to have a dream, a destiny, and a reason for living. When God created you, He needed something done on earth that nobody else could do, so He designed you to do it better than anyone else. There is a certain way you give love that nobody else can duplicate; a certain way you praise God that nobody else can imitate; a certain way you relate to people; a certain way you serve; a particular sense of humor you have; a particular way of singing, telling stories, building a business, designing, or decorating. You add something to this planet that nobody else can add. God receives special pleasure from you that He receives from nobody else.

That unique destiny, that dream, that special something you do better than anyone else is meant to change the course of earthly history. Each person has a moment when his or her dream and destiny can literally impact the lives of millions—perhaps billions—of people. You have probably heard the famous phrase about each person having “fifteen minutes of fame.” That is a cynical reference to this fact: our dreams are meant to impact many other people. As you walk through life, you have preplanned appointments and opportunities to carry out your destiny in a way that will leave a mark on this planet forever. I don’t care if your parents didn’t plan your birth, or if you were made to feel unwanted as a child. Maybe you have been rejected as an adult or have lived a meaningless or self-serving life until now. You are on this planet for a reason, and that reason is found in your dream.

WHAT IS A DREAM?

By dreams I don’t mean the nightly thoughts you experience as the brain sorts out the day’s events. I am referring, rather, to the goals and visions that fire your heart and saturate your soul with joy at the very thought of them. I mean those continuing visions of what you want your life to be at its highest level of fulfillment—what you want to do, how you want to do it, what kind of person you want to become in the process. Your destiny and reason for living are wrapped up tightly in your dreams and desires, like the genetic information inside a seed. That dream in your heart contains your spiritual “DNA,” the very blueprint for who you are. Your dream is that idea, that vision for your life that burns inside of you, something you can’t tamp down or ignore for long. It keeps coming back to your mind because it is part of who you are; it will never leave you alone.

A dream doesn’t drive you; it draws you. It is like a big magnet that pulls you toward itself.

There is no such thing as a man or woman without a dream, because God designed every member of the human race to have dreams. Dreams are the key to finding your fulfillment. Without a dream, a person will be frustrated in the present and will miss his or her future. It has been said, “No individual has the right to come into the world and go out of it without leaving behind him distinct and legitimate reasons for having passed through it.” But most people have lost their dream. It seems impractical in this world to believe you were born for a destiny. Somehow it becomes more important to have a steady job, pay the mortgage, keep things moving forward with the least amount of disruption and the highest possibility for what our society calls “success.”

Maybe you have been lured away from your dream. Maybe you believe your life is destined for insignificance. Somewhere along the way you got lost in the shuffle of humanity, out of God’s sight. The Bible says He knew us from the foundation of the earth (Rev. 17:8). He had a purpose for us before we took our first breath. The Bible calls Him the “Great Shepherd,” and we are the “sheep”; it says the Shepherd knows each of us by name. He knows your first name, your middle name, and your last name. He is personally familiar with you as an individual. God even told us, “I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands” (Isa. 49:16). God has tattooed your name on the palm of His hand if you are a professing Christian. He doesn’t stop there: your name is on His lips, as He said, “I have called you by your name” (Isa. 43:1, emphasis added). And you are on His mind all the time, as David said, “The LORD has been mindful of us” (Ps. 115:12). He thinks about you. He dwells upon you. He puts your life before His eyes at every opportunity. We see a crowd at a sporting event, in a shopping mall, or in Times Square, and we see an indistinguishable mass of humanity. But He looks at a crowd and sees every person. To Him every face is different, every expression is a story, and every heart represents a dream bursting forth.

Every person longs to know that he or she has significance and meaning, and is unique and purposeful. I know a young man named Chalka who today works with us at our church in Los Angeles, but who once was a notorious graffiti artist. He wrote his name all over the Los Angeles area, along freeways, on buildings and billboards, on train stations, even in places that seemed unreachable. He single-handedly cost the City of Los Angeles $700,000 as they cleaned up after him.

Then the Lord saved him and brought him to us. One day while we were working, I said to him, “Chalka, why did you write your name everywhere?”

He said, “Because I felt lost in this big city. I felt so unimportant. When I saw my name all over town it gave me a certain prominence. I needed to have some identity.”

Each person feels that same way. We want to fulfill our God-given desire to change the world. We want to be great, and we can only be great if we fulfill our dreams.

HOW TO KNOW YOUR DREAM IS FROM GOD

Where do dreams come from? From your own imagination? Your parents? Your boss? Your spouse? Your upbringing or a favorite teacher? No, dreams don’t come from men. Your dream did not even originate with you. It resides within you, but God put it there. He is the source of your dream.

When people dream without God, they find it hollow and unsatisfying. Every person must come to Jesus for his or her dream to make sense. In fact, without Jesus, you might follow a dream for your life that God never put in your heart. Not every dream is from God. Some people dream of being rich and having wild parties, so their dream drives them into an unrestrained, reckless lifestyle. Other people dream of cheating people out of their money or wooing unsuspecting people into romantic relationships. Those are godless dreams.

But when your dream is God’s dream, it’s unstoppable. The very first step to reaching your dream is to begin a relationship with Christ. He created the world we live in and foresaw each one of us. He put a plan in place to reunite us with God. He died to save us, and He reconnected dreamers—you and me—with our dream-giver, God. Jesus said that apart from Him we can’t do anything and that all our dreams will be frustrated. He said He is the vine and we are the branches. Branches only grow and produce fruit when connected to the vine. So the power, energy, and creativity needed to fulfill our dreams must flow from Jesus.

Once you have a relationship with Christ, you can begin to sort through your dreams and decide which ones are from God. The most common and most crucial question is, “How do I know which dreams in my heart are from God?” Here is the answer. You will know it’s God’s dream if:

    1.      It is bigger than you.

    2.      You can’t let it go.

    3.      You would be willing to give everything for it.

    4.      It will last forever.

    5.      It meets a need nobody else has met.

    6.      It brings glory to God.

Let’s go through each of these. First, any dream God put in your heart will be much bigger than you. Most children start out with big dreams of being a major league baseball player or the first woman president of the United States. But people and circumstances whittle those dreams down to size. We reach adulthood, and we voluntarily trim our dreams to manageable proportions so we won’t be disappointed.

That’s the opposite of what we should do. We should set higher goals, not lower ones. God is the author of bigness, not littleness. We may not reach the highest dream, but we will go a lot farther by aiming high than aiming low. The first test you can apply to your dream is: “Is it too big for me to fulfill without God’s help?” If you can do it without His help, you are not dreaming big enough. If it’s much bigger than you, you are on the right track! The Bible promises that all things are possible with God. Is your dream impossible enough? Does it go beyond you enough to qualify for God’s help? Your dream should be so big that it takes your breath away, makes you temporarily weak in the knees, and makes you cry out to God for help and guidance.

Next, are you able to let this dream go, or does it keep bugging you? A God-given dream is a bothersome thing: it won’t leave you alone! It keeps bobbing to the surface of your heart, clamoring for your mind’s attention. If that’s how your dream behaves, then it is probably from God.

You also know it’s a God-given dream if you are willing to devote every ounce of energy and every minute of your days to it. A dream inspires devotion like the devotion a parent has for a child: you would give your very life just to see it grow and find fulfillment.

The next way to know it’s God-given is if your dream will last forever. Many people pursue dreams built on things that will fade away. They dream of fame, but fame never lasts. Yesterday’s big star is today’s trivia punch line. You’re a hero today and a zero tomorrow.

Others build dreams on wealth, health, or power, but none of these last more than a few decades at most. A dream cannot be built on ego. People sniff out ego trips quicker than anything. It cannot be built on tradition—because the company expects it or your family expects it. None of these foundations will support your dream.

You have to build your dreams on something that will last. The Bible—God’s handbook—says only two things in the entire world will last forever: truth and people. The Bible says heaven and earth will pass away, but God’s Word will never pass away. Think about that; even heaven will one day become obsolete, but truth will last forever. Where is truth found? In God’s Word, the Bible. You have to build your dream on that never-changing foundation, which is why it’s so important to read from the Bible often. We’ll talk about that later.

The second thing that lasts forever is people. God made human beings to last forever. They never pass away. Jesus came to seek and save that which was lost, to die for people. That’s how we should spend our lives, too. If God Himself thought people were worth dying for, shouldn’t we follow His example? In fact, the only way to minister to God is to minister to people, as He said, “When you’ve done it to the least of them, you’ve done it to Me.” (See Matthew 24:40.) Your dream must be built on human need. Will it help people? Improve lives? Alleviate human suffering? Does it fill a need nobody else is filling? If so, you can be sure that dream is from God. People are often like empty vessels you pour into. You don’t need to expect much out of them; just be thankful you have someone to pour into. The secret to happiness in life is pouring into other people, giving without expecting anything in return. We’ll talk about that later, too.

Finally, your dream should bring glory to God. The most horrible thing in life is to realize you have wasted months, years, or decades following the wrong dream. Life is too precious to fritter away by building on a crumbling foundation. Many people lose their lives, not by dying, but by squandering their time.

GREAT PEOPLE FOLLOW THEIR DREAMS

The greatest men and women in biblical history followed the dreams God placed in their hearts. Noah was able to build an ark in spite of the scoffing of his day. Why? Because he had a dream.

    •       Abraham was able to leave his father and his friends and go to a new land because he had a dream and a destiny.

    •       Joseph was able to endure persecution, imprisonment, and lying because he had a dream.

    •       Moses was willing to leave the palace and the riches of Egypt because he had a God-given dream.

    •       David confounded the giant and led a nation to greatness because he had a dream.

    •       Daniel was able to stay in the lions’ den because he had a dream.

    •       Stephen took the stoning because he lived for his dream. Paul was shipwrecked, beaten, and stoned, but he continued on because of his dream.

    •       Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God, was willing to leave His home in glory and come to a world that hated Him. He was able to endure the cross and endure the shame. Why? Because He had a dream that all who would accept Him would live with Him forever.

God takes pleasure in our dreams. You are unique and uniquely important in His plan for humanity. You are not one in a million; you’re one in eight billion. When you get to heaven, God won’t say, “Why weren’t you more like Billy Graham, or Moses, or the apostle Paul?” He may very well say, “Why weren’t you more like you? Did you follow your dream to the end?”

DISCOVERING YOUR DREAM

A dream is of no use unless it’s discovered, just as gold is of no use unless it’s mined from the ground. Have you ever discovered and defined your dream? Do you know for a fact the distinct reason God put you upon this earth? If not, then these six steps will help you discover and define it.

1. Get alone with God.

One reason why people never discover their dream and purpose in life is because they never stop long enough to listen. They are like the World War II pilot who became lost over the ocean and radioed back, “I have no idea where I am or where I’m heading, but I’m making record time.” Someone else said, “It’s an ironic habit of the human race that we double our speed when we’ve lost our way.”

We have to get alone with God and listen. Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still, and know that I am God.” To get a vision from God, turn off the television. Get quiet. Let God talk to you. An Indian tribe in Oregon used to send young men out, when they came of age, with the instruction, “Don’t come back until you have a vision.” Those who got discouraged came back early. Those who stayed until they had a vision became the leaders of the tribe.

Paul spent three years in the desert listening to God before he began his ministry. That was his seminary education. He said, “God, what is the overarching, all-consuming passion of my life? What will I do until I die?” Once he discovered his dream, he lived an extraordinary life.

2. Next, review your gifts and talents.

Romans 12:6 says we each have gifts. God gave you the gifts you have; you didn’t choose them. Fulfillment comes when you use those gifts for Him in service of your dream. Your gifts are the key to discovering God’s will in your life. What are your abilities? What do you like to do? God uses our desires to identify what we should do. Desire points us to our dreams. God uses desire to accomplish what He wants on this earth. How did He make sure the world was populated? He gave men and women a desire for each other to produce children. How did he make sure we cared for our bodies? He made us thirsty and made two-thirds of the planet water. He made us hungry and caused food to grow all around us.

God speaks to us through desires. Many Christians have come to think that their motives and desires are corrupt and untrustworthy, but the Bible says that if any man is in Christ Jesus, he is a new creature. Old things pass away, and all things become new (2 Cor. 5:17). That includes our desires! The Bible says you can have the mind of Christ within you. So what does it say about your desires? It says your desires, when you become a new creature, are changed. That’s why God can say, “I want to give you the desires of your heart.”

3. Review your experience.

We pay attention not only to our desires and talents, but also to our past history. This is a powerful thing. Romans 8:28 says, “All things work together for good.” God uses all things. Perhaps you were taught a certain skill as a young person, like playing the piano or building houses. Those skills are useful to God. He may want you to use them further in your life. Perhaps you were raised in another country and learned to speak a language other than English. Maybe you have experience in international travel, counseling, or business that might become part of your dream. God can use those to serve your larger goals. Even if it’s a skill you don’t particularly enjoy, you may find it opens doors for you at key times.

Not everything in our past is bound to be good. Some people reading this may have lingering pain in their lives. Some went through a divorce, grew up with angry parents, or struggled with alcohol. Some had abortions, filed for bankruptcy, or endured hurts that cannot be easily explained. But each of these problems falls into the category of “all things.” God wants to integrate your hurts and difficulties into your life message. He never wastes circumstances, even bad ones. Before you became a believer, God was working to redeem the problems you faced. Not all things are good, but all things will work for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Rom. 8:28).

Even more than that, God will give you a special ability to minister to people who are going through what you went through. Second Corinthians 1:4 says God helps us in our troubles so we can help others who have troubles, using the same help we ourselves have received from God. When you grasp that, it will change the way you view your life circumstances, and it will help you discover your dream.

4. Decide what’s really important in life.

Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 10:23, “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful.” Some things are not necessarily wrong, but they’re just not necessary. They waste time. We might not have time to pursue every dream, so we must choose to spend time on what’s important. Successful people learn to eliminate nonessentials, those things that won’t matter ten years from now. We saw earlier that only two things will last forever, truth and people. Invest your life in those things that will outlast you.

5. Begin to explore different avenues.

If you have done these things and still don’t know in what direction your dreams are taking you, begin to explore. Try out different ministries, business avenues, and educational possibilites. Take classes; volunteer until something sparks. You will find your place much quicker if you are actively participating.

6. Journal your dream.

Once you are able to define your dream, write it down. Habakkuk 2:2 says, “Then the LORD answered me and said: ‘Write the vision and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it.’”

If you want to move ahead in your dream, you must write it down—inscribe it indelibly. That shows resolve, definition, and form. It is not enough to have an idea of what you want to do; you must have a plan for implementing it. Dreams do not come true by fantasizing—you have to write them down and let them become a guiding force in your life.

If there was one gift I could give to you, it would be the gift of vision, of seeing what God designed your life to be. Romans 15:20 says, “I have made it my aim to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named.” Ambition is not wrong if it flows from a godly pursuit of your dream. Paul put his ambition in preaching the gospel. Later on, in Acts 26:19, Paul said, “I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision.” Your dream is more than a goal; it’s a clearly defined objective for your existence.

Every person ought to define his or her life in one word. When people think of Tiger Woods, they think golf. When they think of Steven Spielberg, they think movies. When they think of Imelda Marcos, they think shoes or the Philippines.

What word pops into your mind when you think of your husband? Television? La-Z-Boy? Sports? How about your wife? Shopping? Heaven forbid—jewelry?

How do you want to be defined? Why not integrity, servant, or perhaps soulwinner, giver, or discipler?

 

 

Study Guide Questions

1.      When did you first begin to understand what your dream and destiny in life are?

        

        

        

        

2.      If you are still discovering your dream, how do you intend to go about achieving it? Are you getting alone with God so that you hear from Him? Are you trying out different things to discover what you have a passion for? Sketch a personal plan of action for discovering your dream.

        

        

        

        

3.      What are the most important talents, skills, and experiences in your life? How do these point you to your dream? Explain.

        

        

        

        

 

4.      Is your dream bigger than you? Why do you believe it will last forever?

        

        

        

        

5.      Does your dream meet a need nobody else has met? Explain.

        

        

        

        

6.      Have you ever tried to let your dream go? What happened?

        

        

        

        

 

7.      Pick a word you hope will define your life. Write it below. What word would friends, family, and co-workers choose to describe you? Write down what you think they would say.

        

        

        

        

 

Reflections

DAY 1

Read and review the chapter material.

DAY 2

Where there is no vision, the people perish.—PROVERBS 29:18, KJV

Have you ever fallen out of shape? I have. A few years ago I was so busy traveling and preaching that I had no time for exercise. My body grew lazy and sluggish, and I felt terrible and unfocused in my mind. I needed a goal, a vision for getting back into shape. That vision included a dream I had suppressed. I had always wanted to run all the way across the United States. While I couldn’t devote the months to running that far, I could run the four hundred or so miles from Phoenix to Los Angeles.

I grabbed hold of that dream, and it revitalized me! I trained hard, got my body and mind in good condition, and spent my two-week vacation running across the desert to raise money for my church in Los Angeles. That run was one of the toughest—and yet most fulfilling—experiences of my life. The sky was clear, the air was fresh, and there were no phone calls or appointments.

The worst part was crossing the finish line, because the adventure ended!

That dream helped me rediscover my vision for staying mentally and physically fit. In the same way, each of us must discover and pursue the larger dream God has built into our lives. God created you to dream. When you have no dream, you wander in circles, get “out of shape,” and the dream eventually perishes. Hardship and affliction have never broken a person, but living without a dream ruins people all the time.

A life-defining, life-sustaining dream must be an essential part of your everyday life. Don’t wait to discover that you have grown out of shape and are directionless. Set your course now in the direction of your dream.

1.      What is your “dream fitness” level? Are you in good shape, or have you grown slow and lazy in pursuing your dream? Give an honest written assessment of yourself:

        

        

        

        

Consider Habakkuk 2:2:

Then the LORD answered me and said: “Write the vision and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it.”

2.      What is your dream, very specifically? What vision are you pursuing? Journal your dream.

        

        

        

        

DAY 3

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.—2 CORINTHIANS 4:7, NIV

Not long ago a woman in our city who was known as a “bag lady” died. Everybody thought she was flat broke, but when people retrieved her body at her home, they found trash cans full of money and cash stuffed under carpets and hidden in many other places. She was worth millions, but her treasure remained hidden and unused.

You too have a dream within you that is worth more than the gold in Fort Knox. It is a hidden treasure inside of you. So the question is not whether you know that you have treasure within you, but whether you are putting that treasure to use. Perhaps your dream would help the poor, create a new business, invent a product, or change the world in other ways. But is your dream hidden and dormant, or are you putting it to work?

The Bible warns against keeping our treasure to ourselves. Jesus told a story about three men who received money to invest. Two of them put the money to work, and when the master came back, they were rewarded. But the third man hid his money in the ground, and the master took his “treasure” away and banished him from his presence. (See Matthew 25:14–30.)

God gave you your dream for a specific reason. He wants you to use it to change the world, to bring glory to Him, and to accomplish something that will last forever.

What treasure lies within you? God knows the answer. He sees your dream clearly, even if you have not fully discovered it yet. You have within you a hope and a God-given future, a dream that will guide you toward your destiny. None of us should delay in discovering that treasure inside of us and putting it to work. Don’t let life slip by while the treasure remains hidden away. Begin today to discover your God-given purpose.

1.      How do you judge now whether your dream is active or inactive in your life?

        

        

        

        

2.      How would your life be different if you were fully pursuing your dream?

        

        

        

        

DAY 4

There is none like you, O Lord; no deeds can compare with yours....For you are great and do marvelous deeds; you alone are God.—PSALM 86:8, 10, NIV

Some people start dreaming big at a young age, like Joseph from the Book of Genesis. He dreamed so big that when he shared it with his brothers, they mocked and resented him for it. He dreamed that one day he would be a great leader and his brothers would bow to him. He held on to that big dream even when he was sold to slave traders and unjustly sent to prison. He was one of those people who naturally dream big, in spite of the circumstances.

Is that you? How big is your dream? Are you dreaming so big that other people find it incredible? Impossible? Amazing?

Good! You’re on the right track. The Bible says many times that God’s deeds are great, awesome, marvelous, and too wonderful for us to fully comprehend. He is a God of bigness, boldness, of great things.

But others of us are like Gideon, who dreamed smaller than God did. Gideon had the kind of personality that saw the glass as half empty; he saw what couldn’t be instead of what could be. But God didn’t let him get away with dreaming small. One day an angel showed up and surprised Gideon by saying:

    The LORD is with you, mighty warrior.—JUDGES 6:12

Gideon responded by protesting:

    My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.—JUDGES 6:15

Does that sound like you? Do you cling to small dreams, even when God wants to bring big dreams to pass for you? Are you always reducing what He wishes to do?

The good news is that God is in the business of drawing us back to our big dreams. Like Gideon, we really can become mighty warriors, and when we relentlessly pursue our dream, the results will be beyond what we could have hoped. Because Gideon allowed his dream to grow, “the land enjoyed peace forty years” (Judg. 8:28, NIV).

Those are big results from a man who initially was full of doubt. But that just goes to show that God gives no small dreams.

Consider these verses:

    Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.—EPHESIANS 3:20–21, NIV

    I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.—JOHN 14:12, NIV

1.      Are you dreaming big enough? How can you tell? Explain.

        

        

        

        

DAY 5

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.—MARK 1:35, NIV

A friend of mine was listening to the radio while driving during a long trip. He was listening to a preacher whose message was, “God loves you so much.” Then the signal from that station began to weaken and gave way to another station that was stronger. It was a music station playing a rock-and-roll song that said, “You’re no good...baby, you’re no good.” He drove a little further, and the station with the preacher came back; so he heard, “God loves you so much.” Then the rock-and-roll station took over again: “You’re no good...baby, you’re no good.”

Talk about mixed signals!

Have you ever felt your attention going in two directions? Have the voices of people around you drowned out your dream? Some people live like my friend, going back and forth between different voices saying opposite things. God’s voice tells them, “Keep following that dream! I love it when you go after the destiny I planned for you from before time began.” Other voices say, “That dream is pie in the sky. Quit wasting time. Get practical!”

Have you had trouble making up your mind whom you’re listening to? Here’s the solution: get alone with God so you can hear His encouragement. Jesus did it while He was on earth. Luke 5:16 tells us:

    Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.—NIV

Then it says in the next verse that when He returned to His task, “the power of the Lord was present for him to heal the sick” (v. 17, NIV).

The power of your dream springs from time spent in solitude with God, listening to His voice and forgetting all other distractions.

1.      Why do you think people need to spend time alone with God? What happens in those transactions? Explain.

        

        

        

        

2.      When did you last spend time alone with God? What was that time like? How were you different afterward?

        

        

        

        

 

3.      Do you fear getting alone with God because of what you’ve done or what He might say? Do you ever feel awkward, ashamed, or self-conscious in His presence? Explain.

        

        

        

        

4.      How often do you need alone time with God? In the space below write down a weekly schedule that would serve you best.

        Morning Evening

Sunday          

Monday          

Tuesday         

Wednesday               

Thursday                

Friday          

Saturday                

 

DAY 6

David said to Saul, “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine [Goliath] will be like one of them.”—1 SAMUEL 17:34–36, NIV

As you start to define your dream, your talents and experiences should help you a great deal. For example, if you are naturally gifted in the areas of finances, music, or public speaking, those gifts will point you in those directions, as they should. Paul said:

We have different gifts, according to the grace given us.—ROMANS 12:6, NIV

The gifts and talents we have are not happenstance; God gives them. Everybody has gifts. We should pay attention to them. They are a big part of our dreams.

We should also pay attention to any skills we have developed and any life experiences that endow us with certain knowledge or expertise. When David saw the opportunity to fight the giant Goliath, he emboldened himself by remembering how he won previous “impossible” battles against wild animals. His experience and skill in close combat made him unafraid. That is what we must do when pursuing our dreams.

Maybe you are one of those people who say, “I’m not good at anything.” Hogwash! Everybody is good at something. Everybody has natural gifts and life experiences. The Bible says, “Each man has his own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that” (1 Cor. 7:7, NIV).

Perhaps you haven’t put enough effort into discovering what you are good at. Or maybe your talents are so obvious that you don’t see them anymore. In any case, having a clear idea of your past experience and talents will speed you toward your dream.

1.      What are you good at? What important experiences have you had? How does this relate to your dream, if at all? Explain.

        

        

        

        

2.      Have you ever thought, I’m not good at anything? If so, now is the time to repent for leaving your God-given gifts unnoticed or unused. Write a prayer asking God to help you see your gifts and talents.

        

        

        

        

 

DAY 7

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.—2 CORINTHIANS 4:18, NIV

When I was a young man, I saved $5,000 of hard-earned money and decided to invest it with the help of a man who said he could make that investment grow. But within a few months, he invested poorly, didn’t really tend to it, and lost it all. I was so sick about the loss that I almost had ulcers.

I never got that money back, but I learned a number of lessons that served me far better than money. One of them was invest in what lasts.

Did you know that the dollar in your purse or pocket is declining in value, even as you read this? Almost everything you own is worth far less than what you spent on it. Very few things tend to increase in value. Land is one; fine art and stocks are others. But even these have a short shelf life when compared with eternity. And no investment on earth is certain.

Where should you invest your money, your life, and your dream? Jesus gave the best advice:

    Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.—MATTHEW 6:19–20, NIV

The only things that last forever are truth and people. Jesus told us:

    Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away. —MATTHEW 24:35, NIV

He also said:

    I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. —JOHN 6:51, NIV

Those who don’t serve Jesus “will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life” (Matt. 25:46, NIV).

If your dream is built on anything but the truth and people, it will last only a short time. Ask yourself: “Is the primary purpose of my dream to serve others? Does it meet a need nobody else is meeting? Does it alleviate suffering and improve life for people?”

If so, that’s a dream to follow!

1.      What are the benefits your dream will bring to other people? List them:

        

        

        

        

 

2.      How fixed are your eyes on things that are eternal? What are the biggest distractions? Television? Anxieties? Relationships? List them:

        

        

        

        

Pray and ask God to help you invest your life in ways that will reap eternal benefits.