God speaks to us through many ways. He is a living God who desires to speak to his people, and He does speak to us. Scripture has reflected that God uses dreams and visions to communicate with us and make His presence known to us. He makes Himself known to us when we have the desire to hear Him and listen to His voice.
In John Maxwell’s book, How Successful People Think, he shares that dreamers have an expanded way of seeing life and are more likely to achieve their dreams. God uses those people who dream “to bring a newness into our lives and even to his people, the church.” As God provides for us the ability to dream, he wants us to use “big-picture” thinking to see the world beyond your own way of thinking about the future.
God wants us to grow in our relationship with Him and does not want us to become satisfied or content in where we are. We are to continue to progress in our faith and in our trust as we grow in our service and ministry for God. He gives us the ability to see where we are and to dream, or aspire, to want more. “Lord, You have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I stand up: You understand my thoughts from far away. You observe my travels and my rest; You are aware of all my ways” (Psalm 139:1-3). God can, sometimes, bring us to the end of ourselves in order to create the desire to start something new or different in our life.
While we may have a dream and desire to change, it will never work if you ate unwilling to change. You must have a willingness to deal with your own attitude. Jerry Falwell (from Building Dynamic Faith) had hundreds of ministries because God placed on his heart the desire to dream big and trust the Lord in everything He provided for him. Even in this, dreams come with some responsibilities in where they come from:
1. Is it biblical in nature?
2. Who gets the credit? God or men?
3. Have you, as a person, grown enough to receive it?
4. Would God be glorified by others when they see the results?
5. Would it help or harm my continued growth in Christ?
6. Will lost people come to Christ?
7. Will the body of Christ be edified?
In the book God Still Speaks by Robert E. Webber, he noted that “there are numerous accounts in Scripture of God revealing Himself through visual means. God uses dreams and visions to introduce change in the individual’s life and His church. Although communication through dreams is sometime looked upon negatively, dreams do have a positive place in the biblical record” (refer to Joel 2:28 and Acts 2:17-18).
“After this I will pour out My Spirit on all humanity; then your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old man will have dreams, and your young men will receive visions” (Joel 2:28).
God works throughout Scripture to bring about change in our personal life as well as the church by dreams, visions, and trances (for clarity, dreams are often referring to activity during sleep, while visions and trances occur when awake). These are ways God can use to communicate with us. This communication is one of many ways that God, when we are obedient to His Word and are in line with His will, can inspire us to have a significant impact on our lives and even in the lives of others. A great example of this is how God was able to impact Cornelius, a devout Gentile who still needed a relationship with Jesus Christ as Savior, and Peter, a Jew and a believer who still had more to learn about the unlimited gospel of Christ.
Cornelius, a Gentile, had a vision that God gave to him (Acts 10:3-8) that would give him the desire to be more than just a devout, God-fearing person. God gave him the vision that would impact him, and as a result, his entire household, to seek a relationship with Jesus Christ. He was told to seek Peter in Joppa. The next day, in Joppa, “Peter went up to pray on the housetop at about noon. Then he became hungry and wanted to eat, but while they were preparing something he went into a visionary state” (Acts 10:9-10). Peter, a Jew, had to now have his attitude changed as to how he was to see Gentiles. Before this, Peter was taught to not associate with Gentiles. Even as believers, God is still teaching us and working with us (Philippians 1:6). In this vision, only Peter could see it, but he had to see how God sees all people, both Jews and Gentiles, are all the same in Christ. God wanted him to ponder the vision and think about it (Acts 10:17) as he was to finally meet Cornelius. The Spirit told him to not hesitate to greet the men even though they were Gentiles (Acts 10:19-20). Peter learned the lesson from his dealings with the men and realized that God was teaching him an important lesson in spite of the existing culture between Jews and Gentiles. “Peter said to them, ‘You know it’s forbidden for a Jewish man to associate with or visit a foreigner. But God has shown me that I must not call any person common or unclean. That’s why I came without any objection when I was sent for. So I ask, ‘Why did you send for me?’” (Acts 10:28-29). The Spirit was working within Peter to see how both Cornelius and Peter were to learn from the experience. Cornelius was prepared through God’s vision…”So we are all present before God, to hear everything you have been commanded by the Lord” (Acts 10:33b). “Then Peter began to speak: “In truth, I understand that God doesn’t show favoritism, but in every nation the person who fears Him and does righteousness is acceptable to Him” (Acts 10:34-35). Peter, in obedience to God, then proclaimed the truth of the gospel to all who were present, in spite of his surroundings. The message changed everyone who heard it, and the church was forever changed. “While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came down on all those who heard the message. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astounded, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also” (Acts 10:44-45). It all started with God’s communication to Peter and Cornelius, and in their obedience, to bring together a nation of people to build and encourage one another in Jesus Christ and for the body of Christ.
God is the one who communicates with us, trains us, and guides us into knowledge, wisdom, and truth. Our dreams and visions, when God-inspired, give us the ability to see God’s heart and His will in your life and in the lives of others.