22 Feb 2015 by Adeline Lum CM-
Edmund Chan, Founder of the Intentional Disciple-Making Church (IDMC) Global Alliance and speaker of the disciple-making conference at Wesley Methodist Church Kuala Lumpur, talked about unfulfilled dreams on 15th of February.
Whether it is articulated or not, we have dreams for our family, for our wife, for our church, and for our work. But what do you do when your dreams are unfulfilled? Let us look at Zechariah 4:6, which talks about unfulfilled dreams and God’s providence.
So he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty. (Zec 4:6)
In 586 BC, Nebuchadnezzar seized Jerusalem and transported the Israelites to Babylon across a three-month walk. Fifty years later, the Persians sacked the Babylonians. And the king ordered 50,000 Jews to rebuilt the city, beginning in laying the temple foundation at 535 BC. But the work stopped for more than 15 years due to lost of passion and steam. In 520 BC, the Israelites began to rebuild. To think building something is hard; to rebuild something is even harder especially in the face of lacking resources and lost of steam.
But when dream are unfulfilled and when times are difficult, we can find three transformation principles.
#1 Principle of Confirmation
“The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this temple; his hands will also complete it. Then you will know that the Lord Almighty has sent me to you. (Zec 4:9)
We often asked the church especially the young people, the question, “Are you ready?” This is an important question but we have missed something more important here and more foundational here.
The question to ask is “Are you rooted in the Word of God? Are you rooted in the deep things of God? Are you rooted in sound doctrine?” Without roots, we have no foundation and no sustainability.
Discipleship is radically following Jesus. And the first call of discipleship is to abide in Jesus, not evangelizing. To know whether a dream is from God, we need to walk that pilgrimage of God.
But the way of the world is the fleshly way of getting things done. If we can push the right buttons and leverage on our agenda, then the dreams will be fulfilled. But many discovered that this is not so.
Even with award-winning businessmen, Edmund discovered from his discipleship with them that they too have no buttons to push—whether their connections, leadership skills and network—except to depend on God.
When Edmund transited in his leadership as a senior pastor in Covenant Evangelical Free Church (EFC) in Singapore, he recalled that one of the most significant last things he did was to take the newly appointed pastors up the mountain. They would spend four days and three nights there, seeking God alone and only meeting to share about God during meals.
He wanted them to know that life is complex and we do not have all the answers. So, we need to anchor ourselves in God. We need to know that our dreams and promises are of Him. Make sure God’s Word is central in your life. Anchor on what He has promised.
#2 Principle of Confidence
Do not be discouraged with your lack of resources because God will provide. The greater the dream, the greater the obstacle.
The verse Zechariah 4:6 has been misunderstood by many because we do not understand the context. Historically, this Scripture is not written for people with rich resources but people without manpower, resources, motivation, and zeal.
The word ‘might’ in this verse means military might but it metaphorically meant manpower or people help. The word ‘power’ refers to wealth and influence. What this verse meant is simply, “It’s not what you say you do not have, but it is by my Spirit.”
Many times, when God asked us to engage in His work, we thought of many, “If only.” We think, “Because we do not have, we cannot.” But God is no man’s debtor. He will provide. Do not lament on what you do not have. But lay hold on what God has and what He is willing to provide.
Edmund shared how he and his wife Ann decided to empty their bank accounts when they started their biblical college in 1983, since God has asked them to surrender all.
At that time, Ann was a schoolteacher and Edmund was a government servant. They forgot about the income tax they had to pay. Requesting for permission to pay by installment, they saw God’s providence of funds every time it is due.
Edmund and Ann would only eat their lunch and dinner in the Bible College that provided food. And in the weekends, they would eat the leftovers from cell group. He recalled how she would descend from the bus due to insufficient funds and walked home for the rest of the journey. But Edmund and Ann were very happy.
The Lord emptied their bank account for three times, which they happily surrendered. During the third time, their combined savings were less than $1500, which is less than their adopted daughters who had $2000 each, given by their aunt. Edmund asked if they would empty their accounts to build a house for Jesus. But as preschoolers, they were too young to understand what $2000 meant.
Hence, Edmund took their piggy bank and asked if they would give the money inside for Jesus’ house. Because the piggy bank had no stopper, they had to break it, to which one of his daughters exclaimed, “Shall we kill Piggy?” Edmund took this opportunity to tell her about how God provided for Abraham’s sacrifice for Isaac. The daughters agreed to give to Jesus’ home. And by Christmas, the children received three piggy banks!
We cannot out give God. Life is not measured by what we have—possessions or acquisitions—but the love relationship with a God who provides.
Having mentored multimillionaires and businessmen who transact in the billions, Edmund knew that money does not provide satisfaction.
No matter how much money we make or whether we give or receive money, it’s how well we steward it. We got to first open our hands to receive all that God has given us. God knows us best and He knows what’s best for us. He says to us, “You do not need this for your fulfillment. You do not need that for your happiness.”
Bottom line is when God calls us to do what we are called to do, He will provide for us the ways to do it.
Have confidence in God. Let Him do your work, especially in marriage. Pray for your spouse and children. And do not nag or micromanage them. Depend on God’s timing and press on.
#3 Principle of Consecration
“Who dares despise the day of small things, since the seven eyes of the Lord that range throughout the earth will rejoice when they see the chosen capstone in the hand of Zerubbabel?” (Zec 4:10)
Do not despise the day of the small things. During this time, we need to wait upon the Lord. The hardest room of faith is God’s waiting room. When something is not happening, it’s hard. We need the faith to depend on God. And you cannot wait on God if you have not deeply walked with Him. God in His time will provide.
The church Edmund was pastoring, Covenant EFC, was the slowest growing denomination in Singapore. Although he was given many gifts, he waited and held fast to the promise of God for 28 years for his church to be transformed into a disciple-making church in the city.
Waiting on God requires confidence in Him that He is not playing games with us and we can trust Him.
Edmund shared how he heard his daughter weeping in her room when he was passing by her room past midnight. Entering her room, he asked her why she was crying. She said that grandma had thrown away her special pillow. This pillow was special because her biological parents gave it. Understandably, this was devastating to a small child. But in his weariness, Edmund told her daughter that he would buy her a new pillow. The daughter quickly replied the new pillow would not be the same, which is true!
Staggered by his daughter’s response, he asked the Holy Spirit to give him wisdom in consoling his daughter. And the Spirit said to him to tell her that the little pillow represented her past. But God is asking her to let go of her past because He will be giving her a great future.
Likewise, are you walking in your disappointments of the past or are you rising to your destiny? Sometimes, we lost our focus on God as we wait upon Him. But the waiting room is also the bonding room with God. In the waiting room, we learned to quiet down our souls and fix our eyes not on the transient money, position, or other worldly pleasures but on our eternal God alone. We realized not who we are but whose we are. Our hope, identity, worth, and yes, our dreams, all lie in God and God alone. Hence, He will surely provide and He will surely bring it to pass, if it is His dreams we are working for.
Confirm your dream. Have confidence that God will provide. And consecrate yourself as you wait upon Him.
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Disclaimer: This article is written to report the content by the speaker as much as possible, according to the recording by the author. It is not comprehensive and not vetted by Wesley Methodist Church KL.