Dreams that Shape the City / Week 4

BIBLE READING

Ephesians 2: 10 (MSG)

God....creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing.

1 Samuel 17: 11-12; 40; 45-50 (MSG)

When Saul and his troops heard the Philistine’s challenge, they were terrified and lost all hope.

Enter David.....

Then David took his shepherd’s staff, selected five smooth stones from the brook, and put them in the pocket of his shepherd’s pack, and with his sling in his hand approached Goliath.

David answered, “You come at me with sword and spear and battle-ax. I come at you in the name of God-of-the-Angel-Armies, the God of Israel’s troops, whom you curse and mock. This very day God is handing you over to me. I’m about to kill you, cut off your head, and serve up your body and the bodies of your Philistine buddies to the crows and coyotes. The whole earth will know that there’s an extraordinary God in Israel. And everyone gathered here will learn that God doesn’t save by means of sword or spear. The battle belongs to God—he’s handing you to us on a platter!”

That roused the Philistine, and he started toward David. David took off from the front line, running toward the Philistine. David reached into his pocket for a stone, slung it, and hit the Philistine hard in the forehead, embedding the stone deeply. The Philistine crashed, facedown in the dirt.  That’s how David beat the Philistine - with a sling and a stone. He hit him and killed him.

SUMMARY OF SUNDAY'S MESSAGE

On Sunday morning Ricky and Trey shared around our vision for ‘Compassion at the Centre’ in advance of our special offering next week.  While there have been a few delays in the process of planning for our new Compassion Centre, we recognise that delays are often used by God to (i) Define the Dream and (ii) Develop the Dreamer.  Both have certainly happened in our case.  The dream has been defined and has moved beyond building a place where people simply find help to developing a centre of economic empowerment and hope-filled compassion which lifts not only individuals out of poverty, but transforms the business and commerce activity within a whole city.  It’s not just about pulling drowning people out of the water, but going upstream and preventing them from falling into the water in the first place.  With God, we dream that people would not only experience salvation, but life in all its abundance; not only rescue from their past, but empowerment for their future.

Our region, the Causeway Coast and Glens, has the highest level of economic inactivity among 18-64 year olds in Northern Ireland at 39%.  That is the Goliath we are facing today, a giant which intimidates by its sheer size and could easily lead us into passivity because of our feeling of powerlessness to change the situation.  However, like David, we have been uniquely positioned for such a time as this and we are called to partner with God to bring down this giant and see this disgrace removed from our land.

David simply took what he had, as insignificant as it appeared in the face of such an adversary, submitted it to the Lord’s authority and utilised it to do what everyone thought was impossible.  Like David, when our partner is the Lord Almighty, giants crash to the ground and the impossible becomes inevitable. 

As a church we have seen so many dreams brought to birth.  Think about the Sunday Food Giveaway, Healing on the Streets, Hope and Gloria, sending out catalytic evangelists onto our streets – these all started with a dream and thousands of lives have been forever transformed.  God has brought us to the doorway of this next stage of His dream for us, He has given us permission to step inside and He is now waiting to see how we will respond.  I think He knows that we, as we have always done, will rise to this challenge, and offer whatever is in our hands, that the dream in His heart and ours might become a visible, tangible reality. 

One day our community will become known as a beacon of hope, compassion and empowerment, a centre of creativity and excellence, a hub of economic expansion and employment, a good place to grow up and grow old.