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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Mark Batterson » Mark Batterson - Dream 24, Like Those Who Dream

Mark Batterson - Dream 24, Like Those Who Dream

Mark Batterson - Dream 24, Like Those Who Dream
TOPICS: Dream 24

I was knee high to a grasshopper, just a little guy, and our family took a trip to Lake Itasca State Park in Minnesota. It is where the Mississippi River originates. You can actually cross it on stepping stones. I'll show you a picture. It's only a few feet wide, a few inches deep. It's pretty, pretty shallow, not much to look at right here. Average flow rate is only six cubic feet of water per second. Go downstream, and it gets stronger, and wider, and deeper. It's the second longest river in America, 2,552 miles. It has 250 tributaries that touch 31 states. Its watershed covers 40% of the United States, and it's home to 25% of the fish species in America. But you would never guess it right here. Just jot this down, get it in your spirit, the miracle always starts upstream.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know, I know. Joshua crossed the Jordan at Jericho, and the walls came down. That's not where the miracle happened. It happened 16 miles upstream in a place called Adam. I'm not worried about downstream, I'm worried about upstream. I want you to juxtapose that with this. By the way, by the time the Ole Miss, the Old Man empties into the Gulf of Mexico, that tiny trickle is a raging river with a flow rate of 600,000 cubic feet per second. Not 100X, not 1000x, 100,000X. Something getting in your spirit today?

In the book of Ezekiel, the prophet paints a picture, and it's a river, kinda like the headwaters of the Mississippi, but it's coming out from under the temple. And at first, it's just ankle deep. You could cross it on stepping stones. But then it's knee deep, and waist deep, and neck deep. And finally, it's a river so strong and current, and so wide that you can't cross it, but you can swim in it. And it's a river of life that flows into the Dead Sea. What a picture, here it is, Ezekiel 47: When the water flows into the Dead Sea, the salty water becomes fresh. Swarms of living creatures will live wherever this river flows. There will be large numbers of fish. Where the river flows, everything will live.

Fishermen, picture this, will stand along the shore, right? From En Gedi to En Eglaim, it'll be a place for the spreading of nets. If you're reading this, as a Jewish person, when it's written, you're like, "No way". But how many of you know sometimes when we say, "No way," God says, "Yes way". You see the Dead Sea, it's the lowest elevation on Earth. It's 1,292 feet below sea level. But it also has salt concentration of 34.2%, which means nothing can live in the Dead Sea. No macroscopic life form, plants, animals, nothing can live there. Oh, but occasionally there are the latter rains that produce the flash floods, and there's an infusion of fresh water, such that the salinity content dips below 30%. And it's incredible, the Dead Sea comes to life. It's a picture of what God wants to do in and through each one of us individually, and a picture of what God wants to do through us collectively. And it's a prophetic picture.

Revelation 22, "Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God". Right down the street, it's like Venice, there're like gondolas, that's what I'm picturing. It's this river of life. And it says, "On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing 12 crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations". What is the defining feature of the river in Ezekiel 47? What is the defining feature of the river in Revelation 22? They're life-giving rivers, they're rivers of life. And that's my prayer for this church. That's my prayer for you.

I've got a river of life flowing out of me,
Makes the lame to walk in the blind to see,
Opens prison doors, sets the captives free,
I've got a river of life flowing out of me.
Spring up, O well, within my soul.
Spring up, O well, and make me whole.
Spring up, O well, and give to me that life eternally.

Can I tell you today that if there's one defining feature, you're looking for a church, make sure it's a life-giving church, a church that brings you to life, why? Because Jesus said, "I came that you might have life, and have it more abundantly". And so you know what we're gonna do? We're gonna speak life, we're gonna say, "Lazarus, come forth". We're gonna believe for a river of life flowing through us individually, and we'll get there. But I wanna talk about it collectively. You should have gotten one of these on the way in. It's our "Look Book," the I call it, "Look At What the Lord Has Done". This is not an annual report, this is a praise report.

In fact, can I put a verse on the screen? 1 Samuel 12:7, and just like, I don't know, in keeping with the verse, can we just mix it up this weekend? It says, "Now then stand here," can you just stand? NoVA campus, online, unless you're driving. Can we just stand for a moment? 'Cause this is what I wanna do this weekend, because don't, please hear this, faith for the future is a function of God's faithfulness in the past. So in order to look forward, you have to look backward. And I love what Samuel does here, it is his farewell speech. He says, "Now then, stand here, because I am going to confront you with evidence before the Lord as to all the righteous acts performed by the Lord for you and your ancestors". Are you ready to be confronted today? All right, then take your seat, here we go.

Now listen, there are a lot of numbers in here, but please hear me. Every number has a name, every name has a story, and every story matters to God. In 1996, this church was a trickle. Our flow rate was about 25 people per Sunday. Are you tracking with me? Look at what the Lord has done, every single week, in so many different ways. Not just the weekend, we're not a church that's about just coming on Sunday. It's about living out our faith Monday to Friday. It's about our small groups, it's about our DC Dream Center. It's about our mission family around the world. And you add it all up, throw in our extended family, we're impacting tens of thousands of people every single weekend.

Now you're gonna find a little letter in here from me. Would you read it? And I'm not gonna read it to you, but what we do every year is we come up with a strategic plan. It's a strat-ops platform, and it's called our WIN Wheel. WIN stand for what's important now. And we try to discern, Lord, where is the Spirit moving? What's really important right now? I'll tell you what, three things, bless the Lord, bless the city, and bless the nations. That's who we are, that's what we're about, and that's what we're gonna talk about for just a minute. It starts with bless the Lord. "Bless the Lord, O my soul, all that is within me," bless the Lord. Our horizontal ministry is a function of our vertical ministry. Your first ministry is to the Lord. God, we give you our full attention and our full affection. We seek you first, because you're our first love. We're hungry for more of you. Bless the Lord.

The Lord gave us a promise a couple of years ago. He said, "If this church will be a house of prayer for all nations, I'll turn it into a house of healing, a house of miracles, a house of dreams". Prayer is how we write history before it happens. Prayer is how we turn this city upside. Can I extend an open invitation to our house of prayer? It sets the tone, it sets the table. This is who we are, and what we're about. I just, I feel like, and I said it opening night of revival, but I wanna come back to it. I spent a lot of time on my knees just saying, "Lord, give me promises, give me pictures, give me words," 'cause I do not, life is too short, and this is too important to blow smoke. And the Lord just impressed two postures.

Now, can I just say something? Do we take positions on things? Well, of course, and we don't just have opinions, we have biblical convictions. But what you'll find is that this is a church that's very intentional about standing in the gap as peacemakers, grace givers, truth tellers, and tone setters. In other words, this is a church where the posture that we strike allows us to take a position on things. And I think there are two positions. One is praying on our knees. I'm gonna keep praying on my knees. I have two torn ACLs, I've had six knee surgeries. I'm gonna keep kneeling on these knees. I don't have much cartilage yet left, but I'm gonna keep hitting my knees in prayer. You are never taller than when you're kneeling. The kingdom of God moves forward on our knees.

Would you find a prayer closet, a place, maybe right next to your bed, just to kneel and give it to God and put it before the Lord? And the second posture is one that is just so beautiful to me. We're gonna pray on our knees, and we're gonna worship on tiptoes. And this has biblical precedent, it's Isaiah 6:3, "In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord high and exalted seated on his throne. And the seraphim were singing, 'Holy, holy, holy.'" Strongest emphatic use in the Hebrew language. Not just a superlative, called a super superlative. God is thrice holy, holy, holy, holy. But that prayer was recited with legs together, and this is kinda funny.

In Jewish tradition, they believed that angels had one fused leg. So they would pray it like this. They would literally take an angelic posture. But wait, there's more. Then they would go on their tiptoes. And I don't know if that's like, well, this is as tall as you can get, right? And as close as you can get to heaven. I don't know what it is, but to me it's about living our lives with holy anticipation. And when you worship, when there's a rising tide of worship, it just, it shifts the atmosphere, something happens. I don't do yoga, so this is not an illustration I should use. So I beg forgiveness in advance, but am I right that there are power poses, am I? Power poses, and I think I gathered that maybe they go by a lot of different names. But there's the cobra pose, which I am not going to even attempt. I'm not gonna attempt the Wonder Woman either, nor the downward-facing dog, 'cause I don't know how to.

I think there are a lot of us who are trying to live in victory. We're trying to follow Jesus. But we don't realize it starts with posture, the posture of the heart. But the posture of the heart so often follows the posture of the body. There are two power poses, one is praying on our knees, the other is worshiping on tiptoes. Can I get an amen right there? Like just imagine a church that just keeps praying on its knees, and keeps worshiping on its tiptoes. Listen, God is gonna show up and show off. Bless the Lord. Can we talk about that second one, bless the city. We're not trying to build a church. We're dreaming bigger than that. We are trying to bless a city to the third and fourth generation, and it happens to be the nation's Capital. We are here for such a time as this, such a place as this. Yes, even 2024, yes even in an election year, we need to be right where we are doing what we're doing.

Now, how do we bless the city? Well, I mean there's a lot of different ways. Can I first of all say thank you for giving last year $487,000 to our common fund. Like, this is as close to Acts 2 as you can get. Like, we're gonna sell what we have, and then we're gonna give to those who have a greater need than we do. And you inspire me, like half a million dollars that then we can meet needs in our NoVA community, in our D.C. community. But then we're the hands and feet of Jesus. I just wanna take a moment to celebrate Pastor Ernest, and Louise, and others who work at the DC Dream Center. Come on, you can't not love Pastor Ernest.

Can I suggest that in 2017, a trickle in Ward 7 started flowing. It's a place where hope becomes habit. And we said, "We can't change every statistic. We can't do everything, but we're gonna do something, and we're gonna go after our kids. We're gonna go after the next generation, and believe that God, you have a dream for them". And here we are just a few years later, do you know that we operate 64 different programs through that DC Dream Center? Whoo, it is a river of life to this city. Thank you, Jesus. And I'll just say this, we have a core conviction that the church belongs in the middle of the marketplace. A church that stays within its four walls isn't a church at all. We wanna be in the middle of the action, and loving outside our walls.

And, but you know what, what's so fun is that we've created a marketplace. And so here we are gathering in D.C., at the Capital Turnaround, which we own and operate. But we thought, "What if we created an event venue, a place where we could bless our city"? And do you know, I'm gonna tell you two things, 'cause it's a double blessing, it's a double bottom line. It's not about the money, never has been, never will be. Although I will say, praise God, for more than 100 events that we hosted, that revenue streamed $1,258,195. Do you know that that's more than twice our annual budget 20 years ago, I went back and looked at it. The floor, you think you see the ceiling, the ceiling is becoming the new floor. Greater things have yet to come. What is the Lord doing? If God has done this in 28 years, what's next? What is gonna happen in the next five, 10, 20 years?

And here's what I love, we gifted 137,950 to schools and community organizations who maybe couldn't afford it. And we said, "Come on". And we gifted 152,850 to like-minded nonprofits, IJM, World Vision, you wanna do a day of prayer? Come on, it's on us. But here's what I love, we get to love and serve everybody who walks through our doors. You're gonna get loved on, you're gonna get served. And the best is yet to come. There's a sit-down restaurant over here. There's a mixed-use marketplace. There's a piece of property with a block of frontage on the 695 Expressway. God's vision for this church is bigger than ours. He doesn't entrust that to us.

But you know what that means? We're gonna have to stay on our knees in prayer, and on tiptoes in worship. Now let me talk for a minute about bless the nations. And this church is like the United Nations. I think the last time we checked, and it's been a few years, but there might be 100 nations represented in our congregation. I know our extended family online, shout out, maybe put in the chat where you're from, and 'cause I think 68 countries that we touch here, there and everywhere. And so what a joy to be able to make a difference all around the world.

But can I just remind you of what Dick Foth said to me a couple of years ago? He was preaching one Sunday, and on that Sunday, do you remember this? He met a family who had immigrated from China, a woman who had won a green card from Mongolia, and then the German wife of an American diplomat who was the council general in Hamburg. And it was the same day I met a member of the Parliament in Finland, who happened to be visiting another campus. So Foth calls me that afternoon, and just like a little kid in a candy store, said, "Mark, stay where you are! You can reach the nations"! And we're doing it. And I wanna say right here, right now, if you were born in another country, we are just so honored that you would call this your church home.

Last night I was out on the Dream 24 Prayer Board, and someone came up to me and said, "Pastor Mark, is it okay that I wrote my prayer in Swahili"? If you know another language, if you're from, go write a prayer in another language, you know why? Because church is a dress rehearsal for Revelation 7:9, "Every nation, tribe, people, language are worshiping around the throne". I know Dr. King said 60 years ago that 11 o'clock on Sunday is the most segregated hour in America. I wish it wasn't true, but it's not gonna be true here. And it's not without its pain points, right? Lora, how many times in the last week have I said, "I love all the differences in our church, It just brings me to life. We're moving from diversity, to unity, to what Dr. King called, 'Beloved community,' and it's beautiful". Just give someone a little love next to you, even if they're from the same place.

Now I wanna pop up a mission slide, and a church is not measured by its seating capacity. Church is measured by its sending capacity. And there are a lot of numbers that honestly we hide. I bet you don't know exactly how many people attend this church, 'cause those aren't the numbers that we're worried about. The number one metric to me of a healthy church is its sending capacity. Do you know that because of your generosity last year, we gave $2.14 million to missions. Praise God. And we're not just giving, we're going. And I'm not just talking about 300-plus mission trips that we've taken, or the mission trips that are on the docket this year. Get plugged into one of those.

Let me just take this opportunity, and I don't know where he might be this morning, but Pastor Stephen and Celeste formally served as our youth pastors. Wave at me if I can find you somewhere. There, yes, yep, right over there. And you served our youth. In fact, our mission camp initiated, as you served and got a vision for blessing our city. And now you're back as our mission pastor. And we just wanna say welcome back home. And I wanna share a little update. Lora and I, some of our dearest friends, Pastor Dave and Kate Schmidgall, for so many years, blood, sweat, and tears laying the foundation of who we would become in mission. We caught up for dinner a couple of weeks ago, and do you know that they just spent six weeks in Ukraine? Because it was a year ago in a house of prayer that Pastor Rudy, Family of Christ Ministries, was here.

And you can't show up here without walking away with a blessing. And we just felt like this is someone we wanna be in relationship with. And then they're serving and loving people on the front lines in a war-torn country. And we got to make a six-digit investment in that ministry, just loving people, leading people to the hope that is Jesus Christ, praise God. Your generosity is a river of life. "Well, Pastor Mark, this isn't what I expected on the last day of revival". Me neither. But can I tell you what revival looks like? Revival is a river of life flowing through a church, with thousands of tributaries that bring life wherever they go, that give life, that speak life to those around them. And then there's just this one little quote on the second page.

And I just point that out because it's pretty special to me. "'What joy some churches start in heaven,' said William Riley, 'they keep heaven happy all the time.'" That's my prayer for this church. Well, how do we, how do we keep heaven happy? Well, let me count the ways, right? You care for widows and orphans. The Bible calls it pure religion. When you wash feet like Jesus, I think it puts a smile on the heavenly Father's face. When you act justly, and love mercy, and walk humbly, you keep heaven happy. When one sinner repents, the angels in heaven rejoice. When you start tapping your God-given potential, and use your time, talent, and treasure to serve God, it keeps heaven happy. But I make no bones about this, I'm believing for a rising tide of worship at National Community Church. "So Pastor Mark, does that mean we're gonna sing more songs"?

I don't know. I'm talking, 'cause singing is what we do with our voices. Worship is what we do with our hearts. What I'm praying for is a heart transplant. The Bible talks about this, with a heart that breaks for the things that break the heart of God, a heart that beats for the things that the heart of God beats for. Humble hearts, hungry hearts, hearts that just wanna keep heaven happy all the time. That's where I just wanna invite our worship team to come, 'cause we gotta respond with some praise. Whatever you don't turn into praise turns into pride. We don't take any credit for anything in this book. Jesus said, "I will build my church," and he's delivering on that promise, and we get to be part of it. So I wanna invite you to stand, D.C., NoVA, and we're gonna respond just by giving God the praise, by singing back a word of praise, and just bless him for all that he has done. Can we just make heaven happy right now? Just begin to bless the Lord.

Lord, thank you, thank you, we count our blessings. Thank you for your faithfulness, thank you for your goodness, God. Thank you for the way that you have watched over us. Lord, some of us, we came out of a fire, but we didn't smell like smoke. And that's the Lord's grace. Some of us, why aren't the sandals wearing out 40 years in the wilderness? Because God is sustaining you. Lord, I pray whatever trickle is in our hearts today, I pray a raging river of life flowing out of each and every one of us, in Jesus' name, amen and amen.

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