Discerning Dreams

Behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit (Matthew 1:20, ESV).

Aren’t we glad that Joseph had learned to discern dreams? When an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, he didn’t consider his dream the result of bad lamb shawarma from the night before.

In Biblical times dreams were considered a means by which God spoke, sort of an interface between heaven and earth. Today, we consider dreams to be a mental rumbling of the subconscious.

Yes, dreams can be from God, bad pizza, or even the evil one. It’s important for latter-day revelation to discern the difference.

Let me describe a dream I had. And though it was a strange dream, I knew it was from God.

Years back, at the church that I pastored, the sanctuary was packed with people every Sunday. We were maxing our seating capacity for two services. 

But the building was in the center of our city, and we were landlocked.

I knew the need for our church to be a witness and servant for Jesus in the city, but with no room for expansion, the leaders of the church were prayerfully considering moving our church to a location just outside the city limits.

During this discerning process, I traveled to Russia.

One night (in Russia), I stayed up late, praying about whether to change locations. That night I had a dream …

I saw hundreds of people coming forward to receive Jesus in front of the pulpit as I was preaching. The pulpit was in a field outside the city.

What happened next was a bit unusual … 

I don’t usually remember dreams, but I remembered this one because my bed started shaking. I woke up, and it was still moving. As I looked around my bed, not noticing anyone standing next to the bed, I asked God, “What just happened?”

At that moment, the sun came up and there was a ray of sunlight that landed on an angel figurine on the wall next to my bed.

HHHHMMMHHM! Hundreds of people coming to know Jesus at a location outside of Springfield — was this dream an answer to my prayers?

After returning from Russia, still shaken by this dream, I was sitting in a local coffee shop retelling the story to a couple from our church. In the background was very loud and annoying jazz music.

But as soon as I mentioned seeing the angel after my dream, Handel’s Messiah interrupted the jazz with …

Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah.

The couple mentioned the coincidence, but I sat there stunned. I knew God was saying that we were to move our church to a different location.

In the new location, we had a ten-year period when hundreds came forward to accept the Lord. There were at least ten times when 15 to 20 people came to the pulpit, and after one service, over 300 accepted Jesus.

I’m glad that I, along with the leaders of the church, were able to discern God’s will in a dream.

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