Tony Evans - Dream Big
When players go to sports teams, those teams just don't talk about being on the team. They're told to dream big. It's not just about one game, it's about a season. And they want them to think big, to dream big, to maximize their purpose and their calling. It is unfortunate that we will do in the career realm, in the financial realm, and in the educational realm what we're unwilling to do in the spiritual realm and that's go for it. We will give great sacrifice, great time and attention to make more money, get a title by our names, get popularity and notoriety, get elevation for what this world values and what is legitimately needed in order to function but often at the cost of dreaming big spiritually.
And so I want to expand your focus today because far too many of us have settled as Christians. This is why Jesus told his disciples in the Sermon on the Mount, "To seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all the stuff you're after, all the things that I legitimately have for you will be added to you". But he says, "You must think kingdom first. You must think the rule of God first. You must think your relationship with me first. You must think me first and stuff second". What we do is we reverse the order. We think of stuff first and wherever we can fit him in along the way he should be happy we chose to do so.
My challenge today as we go into this next season of life and ministry is for you to dream big but starting from a spiritual point of view. Not because these other areas aren't legitimate and not because they're not important, I'm just saying they're not first. Just as we want our kids to think big and to not dream little, God wants his kids, you and me, his ministries to think big within the context of his purpose for their lives. In 2 Kings chapter 13, we got a situation. We have a problem. The king of Israel, Joash, has come to the prophet Elisha on his dying bed and he says, "My father, my father, we have a problem. Our problem is that we're under attack from Aram".
Aram had risen up to challenge Israel and to destroy them; and the king was outnumbered, overpowered, and didn't know how he was going to make it in this situation. I just wonder this morning are there folks here with any Arams in your life, problems that have come on you that you're not quite sure how you're going to handle. You're not quite sure how you're going to make it through this one because it looms large in your life, in your world, or in your mind. It was too big for him to handle. Let me just throw a little parenthesis in here. One of reasons that God allows things in our lives that are too big for us to handle is to put us in our place, to let us know, "You ain't all that on your own 'cause without me... if I just let this thing have its way with you, it'll do you in".
King Joash recognizing that Aram was going to be too tough to handle, too hot to deal with goes to Elisha. It's amazing how folks will show up to the preacher's door when things have gotten out of hand. They come to the prophet Elisha, and he says, "My daddy, my daddy, my father, my father. 'Cause right now I'm your baby boy". In other words, a child is dependent on his parents. Why does he go to Elisha? Because he recognized that his personal might, personal strength, personal prestige couldn't fix this problem. Too big. Aram was too overwhelming. So he recognized the need for the spiritual if he was going to successfully address the physical.
Now, there's a reason he went to Elisha and calls him, "My father, my father". Calls him that twice. See, Elisha had a double portion. If you remember the story, when Elijah was getting ready to be taken up to heaven, Elisha became his mentee. Elijah was his mentor. And when Elijah was getting ready to leave, Elisha said to Elijah, "I want a double anointing". So when you read the life of Elisha, you see him doing twice as much as Elijah did 'cause God was glad to find somebody who wanted more of him. By the way, let me give you a little parenthesis. God will only give you as much of him as you can handle, see, 'cause God is not about to waste God on anybody. So he's not going to give you more than you can handle.
Some folks say, "God, give me more of you". God ain't going to let that just run over and spill out in the ground. He wants to know your container is worthy of his glory. And so he says, "My father, my father". And then he says, "The chariots of Israel and the horsemen". That doesn't make sense, does it? The chariots of Israel and the horsemen. Well, in order to understand what he's saying here, you have to go back to 2 Kings chapter 6. In 2 Kings chapter 6, Elisha's servant is looking out and he sees the army, the same situation, coming after them, surrounding his house, getting ready to attack and kill he the servant and Elisha the prophet. He runs into Elisha the prophet and he says, "We're not going to make it. They're outnumbering us. They're getting ready to kill us".
In verse 17 of 2 Kings chapter 6, Elisha says, "Lord, open up his eyes 'cause he can't see". And it says God took the scales off the servant's eyes, and when the scales were taken off his eyes, the servant saw horses going all around the house led by angels with chariots of fire daring the Syrians to come near that house. You see, the reason that Joash went to Elisha is he knew Elisha had spiritual insight. He knew he could see in the invisible to deal with the visible. The reason why we don't dream big is 'cause all we see is what we see. And if all you see is what you see, you do not see all there is to be seen until you learn to either be a person or at least hang out with somebody who can see stuff in the spiritual so that you can address it in the physical.
You will be left to the limitations of your own human resources, and your human resources are limited 'cause all you see is what you see. Until you and I realize that the spiritual must precede the physical, until you and I live with that not as an event but as a way of life, a mindset, how you roll, then you will live, I will live, we will live our lives never seeing what God can do and be limited to what we can do. And when the problem is big enough, you can't do too much because you are limited by your own human finiteness. Okay? So he comes and he says, "What am I going to do"? He wants spiritual perspective.
Elisha says, "Well, here's what I want you to do, king". Verse 15. "Take bow and arrows". So he takes up the bows and arrows, weapons of war. He says to the king, "Put your hand on the bow". So the king puts his hand on the bow, and he put his hand on it. And Elisha laid his hand on the king's hand. Okay, watch this now. We're going somewhere. He picks up the bow and Elisha then puts his hand on top of the king's hand. This is called sharing the anointing. You may not have what you need, but do you know somebody who does, spiritually. It's sharing the anointing. So Elisha spiritually wraps the anointing of God around his hand physically with a weapon of war. It's going to be very important in a moment. And then he's going to tell him to shoot. "Take an arrow and shoot it".
So the king opens the window toward the east 'cause that's where Aram is coming from. So Aram is going to attack him from the east. They're the east there. So he says, "You came to me running from them 'cause they're too big and too strong. We're going to change this equation. We moving from defense to offense. Okay? I know they coming at you. Well, let's come at them". You remember David when he was faced Goliath? It says he ran to Goliath while Saul and the army ran from Goliath. Why? Because when you have God placed in the equation, it changes the scenario. That's why Ephesians 6 says when the enemy comes in stand firm. It says stand firm. Don't run 'cause you're no longer playing defense if God is in the equation.
And so what does he say? Well, guess what he says? He says, "I want you to open the window. I want you to shoot the arrow out of the window". And he says the Lord's arrow of victory, even the arrow of victory over Aram, for you will defeat them until you destroy them. Oh, wow. "Shoot the arrow out the window". Okay, hear that. "Shoot the arrow out the window. Shoot it east 'cause that's where they're coming from. This is a weapon of war. I want you to declare victory because what you just shot out the window is the Lord's arrow".
Wait a minute. I just thought this was a bow and an arrow. Well, it was till it got sanctified. Sanctification is the biblical doctrine of separating something for its unique use by God. Throughout the Bible, God would sanctify something in order to use it supernaturally. So he tells Moses, who's only got a stick leading sheep with a hook on it, "Throw it down, it becomes a snake. Pick it up, it becomes a rod again". And now he tells him, "Open up the Red Sea with it 'cause it's now called the Rod of God, no longer the Rod of Moses". He sanctified the rock of David so an ordinary rock could bring down a 9'9" giant. He sanctified the net of Peter so it could now bring up fish that would sink a boat. God sanctifies things when the spiritual is covering the physical.
Notice it's not the spiritual versus the physical, it's the spiritual. 'Cause he's still going to use the bow, he's still going to use the arrow, but it is now covered by the hand of the prophet. The Lord's arrow of victory. So I got to explain this. Let's deal with a little theology here. The Lord's arrow of victory. He just got a promise from God. Stay with me. He's got a promise from God the victory is his. Not only has he gotten a promise from God, he's got a promise that says you will wipe them out. He's got a promise of completion. That is because you and I must learn something about God. God is not waiting for stuff to happen.
Moses says, "Who should I tell them sent me"? "You tell them I Am sent you". Let me call it another way. "You tell them Is Is sent you". Okay? Why? Because God has no past. He can never say, "I was". God has no future. He can't say he will be. Everything for God is the present tense. What God promises is not yet his reality. He will have victory. He will defeat them. But what God has said is going to happen in history has not yet occurred. That is because, and this is why the Bible is true. The Bible is true because God is not waiting for prophecy to happen. In the mind of God, whatever he's prophesied has happened because it's in the eternal now.
So we read the Bible and say, "Boy, revelation is going to happen. Jesus is going to return". Well, with God it's a now event. So he's not hoping and going oops if it doesn't happen because it's all reality to him. It's not hoping, wishing, or desiring as far as God is concerned. So Isaiah 46, verses 9 and 10, since God declares the end from the beginning, in other words, he's already been there and come back. So victory has been declared. So let me give you some good news. Whatever God has declared for your life has already been determined. It has already been guaranteed. It has already been achieved, and God is not waiting for it to happen. You are.
Stay with me. The reason you can dream bigger than you can see is because what God has ordained in the mind and heart and the purposes of God has occurred. Your life, Psalm 139 says, has already been laid out as a follower of Jesus Christ. It's been decreed from the end to the beginning. He starts at the end and works back. Now, with that information, we got the same bow, the same arrow. We got a new perspective. It's the Lord's arrow now, and you are going to wipe them out. Dreaming big says, "God, I am not going to settle for how things are. I'm not going to settle until I get all that you have ordained for me". He doesn't ordain the same thing for everybody. But whatever is mine, I want it even though I can't see it.
In the spiritual realm when you see what God is doing before it happens and then you watch the process of it unfolding when it happens and as it happens. It's called walking by faith, not by sight. Another Scripture says it is speaking of things as though they were even they are not yet because you have a spiritual perspective and you have placed that as a priority on top of the physical and not simply asking the spiritual to bless the physical. You have asked the spiritual to envelop the physical. He says you will fight them and defeat them until you destroy them at the end of verse 17. Then he says, "Take the arrows".
So he's got a quiver full of arrows. And he took them and he said to the king of Israel, "Strike the ground". And he struck it three times and stopped. In other words, now shoot the arrows, shoot the arrows into the ground. Okay, watch this. Take one arrow and shoot it out the window. That's God's arrow. That's hearing God's Word declaring how things are. In spite of how things seem right now, we're putting it in God's hand. We're sanctifying the battle. You just did that with one arrow. "Now, I want you take the other arrows and strike the ground". So he takes out three arrows. Poof, poof, poof. And then the verse says and stopped. Somebody say, "And stopped".
So the man of God was angry with him and said, "You should have struck five or six times, then you would have struck Aram until you would have destroyed it. But now you shall strike Aram only three times". All right, this is the principle. God's promises are in your reach. They're not in your hand. Okay, listen to me now. God's promises, victory, is in your reach 'cause God can't lie. So if God says something, it's true, which means it's gettable 'cause it's true. But when he makes a promise to you, while it is in your reach it's not in your hand because he wants to see you walk by faith to go get it. He wants to see that you believe his Word enough that you will go get it, that you will act in sequence enough to arrive at what the promise declared.
So many people who say amen to the victory promise still don't get the victory because they don't go get the promise that is in their reach but not in their hand. There must be movement by faith to get and experience the promises of God. So what does the king do? He takes the arrows, three of them. Boom, boom, boom. And the preacher is ticked off. Why is he mad? "'Cause you're not taking God seriously. I said to shoot the arrows until you destroy them, which means you're going to use all your arrows. But you playing games with me". In other words, you placating God. You doing enough to make it look like you're doing something. You're doing enough to spiritually get by. You're doing enough to give the impression you believe God, but you're not doing it to completion.
"In other words, you're not taking God seriously, Joash. You playing with me. I didn't just declare the full victory and you won't give me half a commitment". Being half committed is like being half-dead, half pregnant, and half married. Let me tell you the problem with half. The problem with half is you've left the other half to come back at you later on. You see, half means there's this other half still out there that once it gets itself together 'cause you didn't take it half of it away, but now this other half once it reconfigures itself and gets itself together and grows back up to full size now you're right back where you started because you did not go all the way with God; that his kingdom, his rule, and the full commitment is not there.
And so the promises that are in your reach never show up in your hand, and you wonder whether God lied or whether God's messing with you. No. God is waiting on you. So you and I can delay or cancel what God has already declared should happen. Not because it's not true, but because we weren't all in. Some of us have been here long enough to have seen some things God can do. I remember, and many of you know the story, you know, the story of the whole ministry, but you know, 'cause when we started nothing was out here but grass and trees and the A-frame building, but God let me see something that was not yet. And I told him. And the dream is to own both sides of the street, and the dream is to get the two shopping centers, and the dream is to have a school, and the dream is, and all for the glory of God.
That is the dream. That is the dream. I spoke as though it was, but it was not yet. A more personal story is the 65 acres that we have at Camp Wisdom in Hampton. I guess about 100 of us out there we were calling on God. You had to bid for the property. We were out-bidded by a lot and so we didn't get it, but God has a way. God has a way of disappointing you in order to appoint you, see, 'cause when it was taken out of our hands we had no control, but after 2 years the folks who bought it couldn't keep up with the payments. It fell into foreclosure. Hey. And at that time over 2 years we had grown enough that the price was right.
See, God has a way of doing things, and he doesn't always explain how he's going to do it 'cause his ways are not our ways and his approach is not our approach, and his thoughts are not our thoughts. But when the spiritual is put first, it can address the physical, the social, the economic. It can address all that. God is not against that. All these things can come but not at the expense of delaying full commitment, full following, full faith, full obedience. Or as Ephesians 3:20 says, "Now unto him who can do exceedingly..."
Oh, listen to the superlatives. "Now unto him who can do exceedingly". He not only can do exceedingly, he can do exceedingly abundantly. He cannot only do exceedingly abundantly, he can do exceedingly abundantly above. But he not only can do that, he can do exceedingly abundantly above all. But he not only can do that, he can do exceedingly abundantly above all you can ask. But then he'll go one step better 'cause he can do exceedingly abundantly above all you ask and that you even thought about. Oh, everybody likes the first half of the verse, but don't leave out the second half: according to the power that's working within you. The spiritual will determine what God is free to do for you based on his promises to you.