Rick Warren - The Struggle Behind Every Dream
Now if you bring out your teaching notes, I want us to continue in part three of this series we're doing on time to dream open doors. You know, a lot of people dream, but they never do anything about it. Lots of people dreams, but they don't ever go after their dreams, why? Well, there are a lot of reasons. People are afraid. There are insecurities that keep us from going after our dreams. Last week we talked about how our past can keep us stuck in the past and we can't get into the future. Criticism, the fear of critics can keep us from going after our dream. Maybe you have a dream that would cause conflict with somebody. If achieving our dreams was easy, everybody would do it. But there's always a price to pay, and there's always work and there's always effort to see a dream realized.
So today as we're still getting into the early stages of how to dream and what to dream and where to dream, and then what to do with the dream that God gives you, I want us to look at the struggle behind every dream. So you'll know what you're getting into because there's always a struggle behind every dream. Ask Martin Luther King if there was a struggle behind his dream, he'll tell you yes. Ask Christopher Columbus if there was a struggle behind his dream, he'll tell you yes. Ask the Pilgrims if there was a struggle in starting over in a brand new country, if that was tough, yes, there's a struggle behind the dream. Now, God intentionally allows these struggles to happen in your life and in my life, why? Well, because God is far more interested in what you become on earth than what you do on earth.
Let me say it again. God is far more interested in what you become on earth. That's your character than what you do on earth. That's your contribution. God is more interested in the person you are becoming than your accomplishments, why? Because you're not taking your accomplishments to heaven. The deeper purpose of a God-given dream that he gives you is what you end up becoming in the process of going after that dream and you're not taking the the end goal to heaven, but you are taking you. Now a clear example of this in the Bible of the fact that there's a struggle behind every great dream and in this series we're doing on time to dream, we're looking at what's God's dream for your life and what's his dream for the next stage of your life. We're gonna look at the life of Jacob today. Jacob's an interesting fellow. He's a mixture of combination of good and bad, of highs and lows, of strengths and weaknesses.
Jacob ran from God his entire life and he actually ran from his brother his entire life. But one day God made him stop riding just long enough to gave him a dream of a great blessing. But after God gave him that dream came a very severe struggle with four phases. And these are the exact same four phases that you're gonna struggle with in getting ready for the dream that God has for your life. So first, we learn of God's dream for Jacob's life in Genesis chapter 28. If you look there on your message notes verses 11 to 22 of Genesis 28 say this. "When Jacob reached a certain place, he stopped for the night because the sun had set. He found a smooth stone for a pillow and he laid down to sleep. Then God gave him a dream in which he saw a stairway going from earth to heaven".
Now you always thought stairway to heaven was a Led Zeppelin song. No, no. It actually came from this guy, from Jacob. "He saw a stairway going from earth to heaven, and the angels of God were going up and down the stairs. At the top of the stairway was God who said, I am the same Lord of Abraham, your grandfather, and of Isaac, your father, and I'm gonna give you," here is the dream, "I'm gonna give you and your descendants all the land on which you're sleeping". That's the nation of Israel. "And your descendants will spread all around the world". That's the Jewish nation. "And all the peoples on earth are going to be blessed by your future generations," by God's chosen people.
Now God promises in this dream, "I'm gonna be with you and I'm going to watch over you wherever you go. But one day, I will bring your people back to this land". That actually became true. That prophecy was fulfilled in 1948 when the nation of Israel was established and Jews came back to the land in 1948. Now, "When Jacob woke up, he thought, surely the Lord is in this place, and I wasn't even aware of it". Let me just pause here. How many times has the Lord been in a place and you weren't aware of it? How many times? It says, "Then he was afraid and he said, this place is awesome. It's the house of God, the gateway to heaven. So early the next morning, Jacob got up and took the stone that he'd used for a pillow and he stood it upright as a memorial marker," like a pillar, "and then he anointed the stone with oil". This is a symbol of anointing, "and he named the place Beth-el, which means house of God". Anytime you've heard the word Bethel, it's a combination, the Americanization of Beth-el, which means house of God, just like Bethlehem means house of bread.
Now, "Then Jacob made this vow to God. If you'll be with me," Jacob says, "I will honor you with my life and I will give back to you a tenth of all that you give to me". That's the principle of tithing. It's taught many, many places in the Scripture, but Jacob is one of the early ones to say, I'm gonna give you 10% back of everything you've given to me as an act of worship, as an act of gratitude, as an act of faith that I realized it all comes from you in the first place. Now, that's the exciting part of the story. God gives Jacob this dream, I'm gonna build a great nation from your descendants. I'm gonna give you this land, I'm gonna be with you, I'm gonna bless you. And Jacob says, you're gonna be my God and I'm gonna serve you and I will give you 10% back of everything that you've blessed me with. But, Jacob was not ready for God's blessing at this point.
And this is not the end of the story. Jacob was not prepared. Jacob was not ready. Jacob was not mature enough to handle the great blessing and the great dream that God had in store for him. So, God has to prepare Jacob to receive the dream he has for Jacob. He has to prepare him, He has to get him ready to receive the God-given dream, which by the way, so do you. God has to prepare you. You have to get ready to receive the dream that God has for your life in the next decade and in the years ahead. God will take you through the same four phases, the same four phases of the struggle that he took Jacob through in order to get you ready to be blessed and to be fulfilled in your God-given dream.
So, before we even talk about, well, next week we're gonna begin talking about how do you get God's dreams specifically? How do you decide the specifics of it? Before we look at that, I wanna just warn you in advance. There will be a struggle, that after God gives you the dream, the dream that God gave me of Saddleback Church has had many, many struggles over 40 years. There is no dream without a struggle, and that struggle involves four different phases that God takes us through in order to build our character, to strengthen our faith, to build our patience and resilience, get us ready for His dream. The four phases of the struggle we go through for God's dream is in Genesis 32, a couple chapters later after Jacob's been given the dream. So I want you to write this down.
Now, the first phase in God's process of preparing us for the dream He has for us is what I call the crisis phase. You go, oh great, we begin with a crisis. Yeah, sorry. Write this down. In the crisis phase, here's the first phase of struggle. I struggle with God and others. I struggle with God and others. Are you in a crisis right now? Congratulations, God's getting ready to give you a new dream for your life. Now, I don't know what that struggle may be. I dunno what that struggle or crisis may be. You may be facing a health crisis or you may be facing a financial crisis, or maybe you're going through a relational crisis. There's conflict with someone you love. Maybe you're going through a personal crisis mentally or emotionally. Maybe you're wrestling with all kinds of different issues right now. Well, congratulations. You're in phase one of God getting you ready for the dream He has for your life.
If you're going through a crisis, it's God's way of getting your attention. If you're wrestling with difficult issues in your life right now, God is getting ready to give you a new big dream. Now, the background on Jacob is that all his life, he had fought with his twin brother. In fact, the Bible says they even fought in the womb and Jacob was hanging onto the Esau's leg. Esau was born first. Jacob was born second, but Esau was trying to pull him back into the wound. And then later, if you know the story of Jacob, Jacob stole the family blessing from his brother. His brother was the first born. His brother was the one to get the birthright of the family, but Jacob tricked his father who was blind and hard of hearing and cheated him out of the blessing and cheated Esau. And he has been running from his brother ever since. This struggle that we're gonna look at today happens the day before he confronts his brother for the first time since he manipulated the family blessing and stole what was rightfully his brothers. He's gonna have a face-to-face encounter the next day and he's scared to death. He's got this conflict with his brother.
Maybe you've got some conflicts in your life and your family, but it's bigger conflict. Jacob's bigger conflict was with God and God brought it all to a crisis stage. Now we start the story of the struggle in Genesis chapter two, excuse me, 32, chapter 32 verses 22 to 25, and here's what it says. "That night Jacob sent his family across the Jabbok river. Then Jacob was left all alone in the camp, and a Man," and notice that's a capital M, "a Man, The Man came and wrestled with him all night". Now this is a story of a very unusual all night wrestling match. It's not nine rounds, it's all night. Now, it's a supernatural wrestling match because as we're gonna find out later in the story, the opponent is God. This is not WWF Wrestling, Jacob is wrestling with God. Your biggest wrestling match in your life is with God.
Now, let me tell you a little fun thing about this passage. You know, the Old Testament's written in Hebrew. In this passage, there's a pun in the verse I just read because the Hebrew word for Jacob is Yabok. That's the word for Jacob in Hebrew, Yabok. The word for wrestling in Hebrew is yabek, okay. And the river he had just crossed over with his family is the Jabbok river, which is actually called Yabak. So in this sense we have Yabok, Yabok Yabeked God at Yabak. That's just a little play on words. Now, this was true of all of Jacob's life. It was a struggle. The Bible tells us in Hosea chapter 12 verse three. "Before Jacob was born, he struggled with his brother. And when he became a man, he even fought with God". Now let me just pause you for a minute and make an application to your life. I want you to think of the biggest conflict or the biggest problem that you're facing right now, okay? I want you to think of the biggest conflict or the biggest problem you're facing right now. Now without even knowing what that is, I can boil it down to two basic issues, and the issue is this.
Number one, will I obey God and do the right thing in this situation? That's the first issue. And number two, will I trust God to take care of this situation? Will I obey God and do the right thing in the situation? Or will I trust God to take care of this situation? The root of all your problems is really your struggle with God. You wanna be in control. You wanna be God. You wanna be the master of your fate. You wanna be in charge. You wanna call off the shots. So God forces the issue with a crisis. And you're wrestling with some problems in your life right now. What is the objective of wrestling? I actually wrestled in high school and the the objective of wrestling is to pin the opponent down. You pin him down on the mat until finally they say, I give up. Uncle, I surrender. You're in control. And that's what God is doing here in this wrestling match with Jacob. He said, I'm gonna pin you down until you say, I give up, I surrender, you're in control. Now note in that verse it says, he couldn't win. Did you notice the phrase he couldn't win? Have you ever been in a no-win situation? Who do you think is behind that? When you're in a no-win situation, God's behind it.
Now listen very closely. God often uses a crisis to get our attention. God whispers to us in our pleasure, but He shouts to us in our pain. There's a verse in Psalms that says sometimes God, it takes a difficult situation to make us change our ways. We don't change when we see the light, we change when we feel the heat. You say, well, I thought God loves me. Of course he loves you. God loves you just the way you are, but He loves you too much to let you stay that way. And so he's gonna force you through a crisis, through a wrestling match having to wrestle with different kinds of problems. He is gonna force you to deal with the issue and pin you down. Why is this? Because we rarely change until our pain becomes greater than our fear of change. And it often takes a crisis to get that change.
So when the struggle comes and it will come in your dream there will be pain and there will be a crisis that comes into your life. But then here's the second phase. And the second phase in God's process to get you ready for His big dream He has for your life is not the crisis phase, this is what I call the commitment phase. I want you to write this down. Here's the second phase of the struggle. God tests my faith in His promise. God test by faith in his promise to bless me. He has made this promise. He's told Jacob, I'm gonna bless you, I'm gonna give you this land, I'm gonna multiply your generations. You're gonna be a mighty nation. Your people will bless the whole world. You're the chosen people. He's given all these promises.
Now God's gonna test Jacob's faith and God's gonna test your faith in His promises too. He gives you a promise of a great dream and then He test it. In Genesis chapter 32 verses 24 to 26 notice it said, "Jacob wrestled with this Man until dawn, until dawn". That's a long time. It's an all-night situation. This crisis is not a quick over done. God is testing his patience, testing his faith, testing his trust. Now it says, "When the Man saw that he could not win the match, He struck Jacob's hip and knocked it out of joint at the socket". Ooh, that's gotta be painful. That's gotta be painful. "Then the man said, let me go, for it's dawn"! Now he's setting all this up for Jacob. "And Jacob panted". Jacob's worn out, he's tired. "Jacob panted, I won't let you go unless you bless me"! Now, isn't that an interesting thing to say to somebody you're wrestling with? I'm not gonna let you go until you bless me.
What happened here? Well, somehow some time during the night, during this all-night wrestling match, during the struggle, evidently Jacob became aware that the one he is wrestling with is no ordinary individual. It's God, and if he's wrestling with God, then God can bless him. So now he's gone, I'm not gonna let go, I'm worn out. I'm just as tired as you are, but I'm not gonna let go. Have you realized yet that the very God that you wrestle with when you go, God, I don't wanna do that, I don't wanna do, I don't wanna tithe, I don't wanna trust you. I don't wanna do your rules for sex. I don't want, whatever. God I don't wanna do. I don't wanna be kind to my enemies. I don't wanna love people who persecute me. Have you realized yet that the very God you wrestle with is the one who gives you your great dream and He's the one who will make it happen? You just gotta come to a point of commitment. God isn't here to fort the dream that He gave you, but He is here to get you ready for it. He is here to prepare you and the way He prepares you is to strengthen your character, to build your stamina, to deepen your patience, to increase your resilience.
Now obviously, God could have... If this is God wrestling Jacob and we find out it is, He could have easily overpowered him. So when he goes, I can't overpower you. Of course God could have overpowered him, and He could have ended the match instantly. Your arms are too short to box with God. If you get in a real match with God, He's going to win unless He lets you win, but God lets the struggle go on. When Jacob started wrestling this guy, God could upend him in the first 30 seconds or one second. What's the lesson here? When God uses a crisis to get your attention, He often doesn't resolve it immediately. Now, this always bugs us, but He waits a while. He does. He lets us wrestle till dawn, why? Because He wants to see if you really mean business. Do you really want His blessing? Do you really want His dream for life? Do you really want God's plan and purpose for you more than you want anything else?
When you say, God, I've got to have it. I've got to have it. I'm not gonna let go until you bless me. I've got to know the purpose of my life. I've gotta know your dream for my life. That's when God says, okay, now we're talking. This is phase two, commitment. God tests my faith, my trust, and my sincerity. What if God answered every prayer in your life immediately? Then you would treat God like a vending machine. You would be a spoiled brat. Put in the prayer, pull the button, get whatever you want. God is not your genie. And so it doesn't happen. The things that God wants to give you, He doesn't just, your wish is my command and snap and everything, you've got it. You'd be a spoiled brat. Also, the problems that you have in your life, you didn't get them instantly. You took time getting them. The place you're in right now took a lot of steps to get there. You didn't get into debt supernaturally. Like all of a sudden, boom, I'm in debt. No. You made a lot of decisions that got you deep into debt.
Did you notice I said, read there where it said, "He dislocated his hip"? As I said, that had to be pretty painful. Listen, the pain in your life is preparing you for God's dream. God wants to build your character. God wants to teach you persistence. Many people miss God's best because they give up too soon. They give up too soon. They're not willing to wrestle 'till dawn. They're not willing to say, I'm not letting go until you bless me. They prayed one time and well, God didn't answer my prayer and I stopped. Or they prayed twice and then they go, God didn't answer or they pray for a month and they said, God didn't answer my prayer. They miss God's best because they give up too soon. You don't know how long God is gonna test your faith, but you do know this promise from Galatians chapter six verse nine there on your outline. "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time," in other words, God knows the right time. He is never late. He knows the proper time.
"We will reap a harvest if, if, if we do not give up". So all I wanna say to you as your pastor who loves you, your spiritual coach, don't give up. Don't give up. Hang in there. This is a test. Going through a crisis where you're having to wrestle some hard issues, okay, phase one. Having to wrestle 'til dawn and you get your hip dislocated, there's a little pain going on, okay, don't give up, hang on This is a test. It took years for you to get in the mess you're in. You didn't develop all your hangups overnight. They're ingrained patterns. They're deeply built in fears and God often has to remove the junk in our lives layer by layer. It's kind of like peeling an onion. Peel it one time, one layer at a time. That by the way is the value of a good godly biblical counselor. We have a lot of good counselors in our church and we have a lot of referrals because sometimes it takes a long time before we wise up and then we give up to God.
Phase one, a crisis. We struggle, we wrestle with issues, with problems at our lives and really beneath all that is our issue with God. We wanna be God. And then phase two, God test our commitment and our faith and our trust. Then we come to phase three. And the third phase in the struggle for God to get you ready. We're talking about getting ready for the big dream. You're not ready for the dream God has for your life. The phase three is the confession phase. Crisis, commitment, confession. I want you to write this down 'cause this is the third thing that Jacob did. I admit that I am my own biggest problem. I admit that I am my biggest problem. When you finally go, God, I realize I'm the big problem here. It's not my brother or my sister, it's me, oh Lord, standing in the need of prayer. It's not my husband, not my parents, not my kids, it's me, oh Lord that I am causing a lot of these problems by my reactions.
Now, when you get to this third phase, the confession phase where I admit that I'm the biggest problem in my life, I caused myself more problems than anybody else causes me. I do it, do my own insecurities, my own fears, resentments, shame, guilt, whatever, worry, anxiety. When I admit that I am my own biggest problem, this is the breakthrough, and this is the breakthrough in your struggle. This is the breakthrough in your wrestling match. There is no victory in your wrestling match until you admit it. Here's the verse 27 of Genesis 32. So, "The man asked him what," asked Jacob, "what is your name"? Jacob says, "'My name is Jacob', he answered". Now, isn't that a strange request? I mean, they'd been wrestling all night. They don't know each other's names. Obviously, God knows Jacob's name. Anytime God asks you a question, it's never for His benefit. He already knows the answer, all right?
So he obviously he knew Jacob's name. He knew Jacob, he knew every second of Jacob's life. He fought him up. He'd seen every moment of his life, the good, the bad, and the ugly. So this is a strange request because God obviously already knows Jacob's name. Why does He say, "What is your name"? Well, you need to understand that in ancient times, your name was a description of your character. Today we choose names because they sound nice. They might not have any meaning at all, but nobody was named without meaning. In ancient times, your name was your label. It was the label of your character. It was your brand. And it was a description. And so for instance, Jabez, which means painful was named Jabez because his mom said he was painful in delivery. Now in Jacob, his name in Hebrew, Jacob originally meant in Hebrew, deceiver or manipulator. That doesn't mean that anymore, obviously because this Jacob is a hero to all of us. But Jacob in Hebrew originally meant deceiver, trickster, manipulator, conman, and you know what?
All of his life, Jacob had lived up to his name. First, he deceived and conned and manipulated his dad. Then he deceived and manipulated and conned and cheated his brother, and then he used his father-in-law and manipulated him. Jacob had a track record of one heartache after another that he caused to anybody who came into his life. And so he was actually named manipulator. Let me pause here for a second and ask you to consider something. If you were named right now for your greatest character fault, what would your name be? If you were named for your greatest character fault, what would your name be? Would people call you, hey, Bitter. Hey, Selfish. Hey, Arrogant Would some people look at you and go, hey, Gossip, how's it going? Hey, Lustful. How are you doing, Greedy. What's go on on, Unreliable. If you were named for your greatest character weakness, what would that be? When Jacob is asked, what's your name? This is an act of confession. It's an act of self-revelation.
Jacob is owning up to years of his conniving ways. He says, what's your name? He goes, my name's manipulator. My name is deceiver. I am a deceiver. I'm a manipulator. I'm a conman. This is a moment of confession and it's the third part of the struggle where I realized I'm my own biggest problem. Now let me give you some insight here. I will never be able to reach all the great dreams that God has for my life until I admit my own weaknesses and sins to myself, to God and others. I can't possibly go after God's dream for my life if I'm still holding back and not being real, not being authentic. If I'm being a phony or a fake. You know, I tell you every week how much I love you. I've been pastor at this church 40 years. You can fake love maybe for a year or two, but you can't fake it for 40. You either love people or you don't, and people figure that out pretty quickly.
So when he says, here's what I am, he's just owning up to I'm my biggest problem and my identity has been tied to my weakness. So what are we talking about here? For you to fulfill the dream that God has for your life, you're gonna have to stop making excuses for yourself and your weaknesses. You're gonna have to stop blaming others for your weaknesses. You're gonna have to stop rationalizing your weaknesses. Remember rationalizes to tell rational lies. I'm telling myself with my mind what I know in my heart is untrue. You gotta come clean about your faults, about your weaknesses. The Bible says God resists the proud, but He gives grace to the humble. For you to reach your dream you're gonna need God's grace.
God's dream for your life is so big, so great, so good, so blessed, so powerful. You can't do it on your own. You're gonna need the grace of God. How do you get the grace of God? God gives grace to the humble. Now this is scary. I mean if I were to ask you to finish this sentence, I am a, blank, and you were to fill in a character quality, that might not be a good one. That's got a scary, but I will tell you this. It's a little secret. God's not gonna be shocked. And if you were to say, God, I'm a gossip, He's not gonna go, oh really? I didn't know that. Or God, I'm arrogant, or God, I'm stubborn, or God, I have an anger problem. Or God, I have a pornography and lust problem, or God, God's not gonna go, wow, I never saw that one coming. He's seen it all. He's not gonna be shocked. He already knew Jacob's name. He just wanted Jacob to admit, to confess.
Now we come to the fourth phase in the struggle. This is really a good part because we've gone through the crisis, and then we've made the commitment. You're stuck with us. I'm not letting go until you bless me. I'm not gonna stop praying. I'm not gonna stop believing. I'm not going to stop trusting. And then God says, so what's your name? This is the confession. God, I am the biggest problem and I get in my own way with my own ego, with my own anger, with my own fear, with my own jealousy, with my own competitive spirit, whatever it is. Then you come to the fourth phase. Crisis, commitment, confession, now we come to conversion. The fourth phase in the struggle for God to get you ready for the big dream that He has for your life is the conversion phase. I want you to write this down. In this phase, God gives me a new identity and dream. God gives me a new identity and dream. I look at God's loving and gracious response to Jacob's confession.
When Jacob goes, I admit it, God, I'm a manipulator. I manipulate people. I get my own way by doing stuff behind. I'm a politician, I do office politics. I'm a manipulator, just to get my way. Here's how God responds to Jacob's authentic gut-level honesty. Genesis 32 verses 28 to 30. "Then the Man," we know who the Man is now, it's God. "The Man said, your name will no longer be Jacob". Okay, He's given him a new identity. "Instead, you will be called Israel". Israel, the whole nation is gonna be named after this guy. "Then God blessed Him". God blessed him after his confession. He said, that's not you, that's the old you. You're not that person anymore. You're not gonna be manipulator and I'm gonna let anybody call you manipulator anymore. "Instead, your name is gonna be called Israel. Then God blessed him there. So Jacob called the place Peniel because," he said, "It is because I saw God face to face".
Now, the transformation starts happening in Jacob's life. Remember, God's more interested in what you become than what you accomplish here on earth because you're gonna take your character to heaven. Notice here is the transformation. Number one, he gets a brand new identity. He says, your new name will be Israel, Is-ra-el, Is-ra-el. You know what that means? Prince with God or Prince of God. Well, He changes his name from manipulator to Prince of God. What's going on here? God saw Jacob's potential. And God looks at a scared young guy who thought he had to fight for everything in life to get his 'cause he was the first born child and so he's gotta fight for it and he's gotta push people away from the table so he can get his part of the meal. God looks at Jacob and he doesn't see all of this sin. He sees all of his potential. He says, Jacob, beneath all of your emotional hangups, I see a prince. I see a prince of a man. I see a prince with God.
So first he gets a new identity. Second, he gets blessed. Notice, "And God blessed him". Circle that word, God blessed him. You get a new identity, you get blessed. And third, he is given a reminder of this experience so he never forgets who's in charge. What's the reminder? He's given a limp, a limp. Remember, God pulled his thigh out of his hip socket. Dislocated his hip. Genesis 32:31 says this. "The sun rose as Jacob left Peniel, and he was limping because of his hip". Now Jacob will never walk the same again.
Now let me stop here. Let's say, because he will never walk the same again, he can't run anymore. Jacob has spent his entire life running. He ran from his family relationships. He ran from the people he swindled. He ran from his brother. He ran from his father-in-law. God says, we can put an end to that. I'm just gonna touch your hip and you'll never run again. In the struggle, God dislocates his hip. He leaves him actually with a weakness. Now, what is the significance of this? Well, as I said, number one, it stopped his lifelong pattern of running away. Every time he'd gotten into trouble, he'd always run. He was irresponsible. God says, we're gonna take care of that problem. Listen, you never solve a problem by running from it. You might wanna write that down. You never solve a problem by running from it. So God's gonna say, you're not gonna run anymore, Jacob, you're a Prince of God.
Second, here's another issue. It's a daily reminder to depend on God. Jacob's gonna walk with a limp the rest of his life. It's interesting that it says God touched his thigh. Your thigh muscle is the most powerful muscle in your body. You don't have a bigger muscle than your thigh muscle. God touched Jacob at the point of his greatest strength. And he said, you're gonna be weak here, but in my weakness, you will be strong. And Jacob, you're no longer gonna stand on your own power, you're gonna stand on God's power. That's part of the dream. So out of this, Jacob emerges both stronger and weaker, okay, stronger in God's strength, weaker in his own strength, but with a new identity.
Now I want you to listen closely. I want you to have God's dream for your life, but even more important than me wanting to have God's dream for your life. I want you to understand that God does his deepest work in your life in changing your identity and changing how you see yourself. Because this is one of the biggest problems we all have. We see ourselves as we've been told to see ourselves, and those people lied. They weren't always accurate. They were impartial, they weren't unconditional love. They saw themselves as they saw you. God does his deepest work in changing our identity, how we see ourselves. That's a lifelong process and for lasting change, you're gonna have to change how you see you, your perception of yourself.
For you, why am I sharing this with you instead of talking about the steps to discovering the dream? Because the way you see yourself affects everything else in your life, including the dream that you have for you. Some of you can't dream God's great dream because you think, well, that's not me. That's on me, and that's the problem. You act in according to what you think about yourself and it's wrong. I want you to see how God sees you. You see yourself, well, I'm a Jacob, I'm a manipulator. I see my sins, I see my faults. God says, no, no, you're gonna be Israel. You've got a new identity. You're a Prince of God. You're a princess with God. Only Jesus Christ can make that kind of radical change in a person.
Regardless of who you are, regardless of what you've done, Jesus Christ wants to give you a new identity. In fact, he promises it. 2nd Corinthians 5:17 says this. "If anyone belongs to Christ, they are a new creation". They are a new identity. They are a new person. They are a new being. Not a turnover leaf, it's a whole new life. "If anyone belongs to Christ, they are a new creation. The old things have gone". The old names, the old labels. Well, you're uncoordinated. Well, you'll never amount to anything. Well, you're a failure. "The old things have gone, everything is made new". This is the starting point for God's dream for your life. So let me close with four questions, all right.
Let's just review these four phases of the struggle behind the dream that God wants to give you. Number one. In what areas of your life are you struggling with God? Maybe you didn't realize it's actually struggle with God, but you've actually been wrestling with God. What areas of your life are you struggling with God? So I don't get that. I'm not sure what trauma. Well, let me be more specific. What do you know is the right thing to do but you keep ignoring God and not doing it? You knows it's the right thing to spend time with God every day in prayer, read the word of God, spend some quiet time with God, are you doing it? You know God says, give me 10% of your income back, are you doing it?
You know, God says, I want you to forgive the people who've hurt you, are you doing that? You keep disobeying. You keep fighting with God always. God, I don't wanna let them off the hook. My ex hurt me and I wanna hold on the resentment. And you love your resentment. You gotta let it go. Why won't you trust God with that problem? Hey, this is what it means to ask, what's my struggle with God? You've been wrestling with that problem and you're looking at it and go, it's a no-win situation. Well, what does that mean? Stop being afraid of letting God control it. Stop being afraid of letting God be in charge of the problem that's no win 'cause nothing is a no win for God.
Okay, here's the second question. Commitment. What areas of your life have you felt like giving up? Right now it just may seem easier to walk away from it all? Well, it might seem easier, but you better ask God first. And if you do walk away from it, you will be missing the greatest best blessing of your life. Jacob wrestled till dawn and he says, I'm not letting go 'till you bless me. You may be ready to walk out in your marriage, don't do it. Don't do it, give it to God. Seek help and let God blew blessing out of it. You may be willing to give up on your job. You may be willing to give up on yourself. You've thought about suicide, don't do it. Give everything that's hurt you to God and seek His help. Let me ask you the third question, the confession question. What do you need to admit about yourself? What's the common denominator in all your problems? You. What do you need to admit about yourself? When are you gonna face the truth about you? When are you gonna have the courage to share that with others? God says, what's your name? Who are you?
You know, you can talk this through with a counselor at Saddleback Church. You can get involved in Celebrate Recovery or any of our support groups, they will help you have the courage. You know, you don't need to tell everybody but you need to tell somebody. The Bible says that revealing your feelings is the beginning of healing. Confess your faults one to another and you will be healed. So just be honest, be authentic, be real. We're in a church where everybody knows nobody has it together. We're all in the same boat, we're all sinners. How about number fourth question, will you let Christ give you a new identity? I don't care what other people have said about you. I don't care what your parents labeled you or your peers labeled you at school or your partners at work labeled you, or your partner in marriage or the professionals around you It doesn't really matter. God knows that underneath every Jacob is a prince or a princess. That's you.
Now here's your time to dream homework for this week. Number one I want you to read the devotional in "Open Doors" that book that I've written, for March one to seven, okay? Read the devotional in "Open Doors" everyday for March one to seven. Second, in your small group this week, I want you to watch and discuss video lesson number three, which is The 3rd open door, and it's called The Door to Greatness. The Door to Greatness. If you're not in a small group, it's not too late. Don't miss this, okay, don't miss this. Go out after the service. Go out to the table, your small group's table at your campus and say, help me get in a group. Help me form a group. Help me... You could just get a cup of friends and say, look, let's study this. Literally thousands of people are studying this. Tens of thousands of people are studying this for about 40 days. We've started over, I think over 2,000 new small groups in our church. You can start one. So go out and get the curriculum and material. It's all there.
Number three, pray for everybody else who's participating. Last week we gave out those tent cards that you put together and put on your table. If you weren't here last week, go out and ask somebody for how can I get one of those prayer cards where we're praying for each other because everybody's praying for you. You need to be doing your part, praying for everybody else during this Time to Dream campaign. And number four, here's our memory verse for the week. Second Corinthians 5:17. "If anyone belongs to Christ, they are a new creation". All right, and remember when we memorize, we say the verse before and after. Say the address, 2nd Corinthians 5:17. So let's read this aloud together, okay? 2nd Corinthians 5:17. "If anyone belongs to Christ, they are a new creation". And where is that? 2nd Corinthians 5:17.
By the way, what is 2nd Corinthians 5:17? "If anyone belongs to Christ, they are a new creation". And where is that? 2nd Corinthians 5:17. Here's what I want you to do. Write that down on the card, memorize it this week. This is your new identity. You're not what the world says you are, you're not even who you think you are, you're who God says you are. You're a prince of God, you're a princess of God. "If anyone belongs to Christ, they are a new creation". Let that sink into your soul this week. Let me pray for you. Let's bow our heads. If you've never opened your life to Christ, say Jesus Christ come into my life right now. I wanna know you, I wanna trust you. I need a new identity. Say:
Jesus Christ, I need a fresh start. I need all my sins forgiven. I need a purpose for living. I need a home in heaven. I wanna follow you...
Lord, I wanna thank you for our church family and all of our campuses and those who are watching online right now. I pray that this message about Jacob will head home with us as we get ready to begin to plan and prepare for your dream for our lives in the next decade ahead. I pray that we would be willing to go through the struggle behind the dream. That we would see that the crisis in our lives, the struggle and the wrestling matches and the conflicts we're having with others really conflict with you. We wanna come back to you. We wanna stop fighting with you, but we do wanna say we're not gonna let go until you bless us. Help us to be honest and open to admit who we really are to you. You're not shocked, you're not stunned, you're not... You don't shame us. You're not mad at us, you're mad about us. And then Lord let us hear you give us a new identity, Prince of God, princess of God. That we're not who we used to be, but we're new people in Christ. And we have confidence, we have assurance because you have changed our identity. Thank you in advance for how you're gonna use the small groups this week to help us grow in you and learn to live a life of greatness. I pray a blessing on all of our people in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.