Big Dream Ministries Archives - Big Dream Ministries
Big Dream Ministries exists to help people understand the Bible as God's amazing Word and help them apply Biblical truth to their daily lives. We do this by offering studies that drive people to the Scriptures for answers and equipping leaders with excellent resources to reinforce learning.
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Big Dream Ministries Tag

Jesus wept. As He stood at the tomb of his beloved friend, Lazarus, who had died four days earlier, He wept (John 11:25-42). The Sovereign Lord with the power to heal and raise the dead – wept. He wept because death is not the way it is supposed to be. God created man to be in His own image, our spirits are a reflection of His (Genesis 1:27). We were created to love deeply and live eternally, that is until sin entered the world (Genesis 3).

Now, our nation is weeping for the same reason – death as a result of sin. Our hearts ache over the senseless killings, racial inequality, and violent outbursts. It is not supposed to be this way.

Join us in praying God’s Word over the deep pain that is being experienced by individuals, families, and communities.

  • May we start by examining our own hearts for any sin that must be confessed – Psalm 139:23 “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!”
  • May the anguish of loss and oppression be healed by the Lord Jesus – Isaiah 61:1 – “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound.”
  • May we respond to others with the love and compassion of God – John 13:35 – “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
  • May we see the image of God in every single person, each created for a unique purpose – Ephesians 2:10 – “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
  • May we see and address the social injustices within our communities – Isaiah 1:17 – “… Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.”
  • May we seek to be united with others, especially those who are different from us – Ephesians 4:1-3 – “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”

The only hope for our nation is Jesus Christ. As Christians filled with the Holy Spirit, we need to be His ambassadors in this world (2 Corinthians 5:20). There are challenges we all face and we need each other: leaders, law enforcement, and every single person who calls our nation home. Let us be a people who listen to one another in order to do what is right for each other (1 Corinthians 10:24). And may we seek to be a part of the solution in our spheres of influence – Matthew 5:9 – “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”

 

Keep up the good work, Moms!!! 

In a sample of Barna’s 2019 research on Households of Faith1, moms were at the top of the list of who teenagers trusted to talk to about life problems and spiritual matters. In all areas of spiritual life – going to church, talking about God, teaching the Bible – moms were identified as the “main spiritual coaches for teens.” This message is consistent with well-known theologians in history: John Newton, Hudson Taylor, Charles Spurgeon, and even John Piper. They all proclaimed the significance of their mothers in their spiritual development.2 

The Apostle Paul also gave significance to the impact of moms when he commended Eunice and Lois to his protégé, Timothy. Their deliberate teaching of the Scriptures and modeling wisdom led to Timothy’s salvation in Jesus Christ. His mother and grandmother, respectively, provided the spiritual development Timothy needed for life as a Christian, in spite of the fact that his father was a Greek and not described as a believer (2 Timothy 1:5; 3:15).   

It will look different for each mom, but being genuine with your faith and intentional to instruct your children in spiritual disciplines will have an eternal impact on their lives.  

Happy Mother’s Day 

1 https://www.barna.com/research/moms-christians-households/  

2 https://www.challies.com/articles/christian-men-and-their-godly-moms/ 

Written by Pat Harley

Based on John 11:1-44

We are in the midst of a pandemic. Around the world as of this morning, there have been over 200,000 deaths from the Coronavirus. It makes no difference if one is rich, powerful, poor, or even destitute. The virus is no respecter of persons and makes no differentiation between social classes or bank accounts. At present, no weapon, no medication or vaccine can take it down. It is a ruthless enemy. And behind every one of those deaths is a home where loved ones are grieving, their lives changed forever.

Two thousand years ago, there was another home with a family who was grieving deeply. The two sisters knew there was a cure for the disease their brother was suffering from, yet they were unable to procure it. And so as days went by, they simply had to sit by helplessly and watch their brother, whom they loved dearly, slowly slip away unto death.

It was enormous sorrow – certainly sorrow over their great loss, yet that sorrow was intensified, because the cure was none other than the One they had accepted as the Messiah, and He was their dearest friend. They had witnessed His power. They had heard amazing stories from reliable witnesses about healings from disease, from demon possession, and paralysis. It had been His very words that had raised the young man in Naim, raised him right out of a coffin. They had heard about the leper whose body had been completely healed and cleansed. The disciples had told them about the calming of the storm and the feeding of the five thousand. And yes, they had believed every one of those stories. They had believed without a doubt that Jesus was the Christ, sent from God, and the Son of God.

Lazarus Suffered

They had enjoyed His company and friendship, but they had never needed His power until now. And so, as Lazarus lay suffering, the sisters cried out to Jesus through an anguished message. “Behold, he whom you love is sick.” And then they waited, knowing surely He would come at once. But Jesus did not come. The hours of suffering continued as life gradually slipped away. And then … Lazarus was dead. Anguish, Loss, Confusion, Doubt. No more chances for healing; all hope was gone.

And so, the sisters wrapped Lazarus’ body in strips of cloth layered with the accustomed spices. Some of the men then carried his body to the family tomb, laid it on a cold stone slab, and rolled the stone across the opening. Done. The end.

Almost a week went by. No word came from Jesus. Then after six days, Martha heard that He was coming to Bethany and their home. She went to Him immediately and spoke the words that had plagued her for days. “Lord if You had been here my brother would not have died.” But clinging to the last bit of faith, she continued, “Even now I know whatever You ask of God, God will give You.”

And Jesus responded, “Your brother will rise again.” But Martha continued, seeking perhaps answers, perhaps an explanation, most likely seeking HOPE.

“I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.”

And then Jesus spoke words of comfort, assurance, joy, TRUTH. Words so important for us today as we are surrounded with sorrow and grief and fear death.

“I AM THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE: HE WHO BELIEVES IN ME LIVES EVEN IF HE DIES.”

Within the next few hours, Jesus would once again show His awesome power, and yet in a way he had never done before. Mourners once again gathered at Lazarus’ tomb along with the sisters. Jesus, even as Martha objected, asked that the stone be rolled away. And then Jesus spoke, no commanded. “Lazarus come forth.” And in a moment, death was replaced with life, mourning with joy, and doubt with robust faith, for death had been conquered and Lazarus was alive.

The Resurrection and the Life Are For Us

As I sat under the awning, reserved for family members at my mother’s grave during the funeral, the casket resting just above the open grave, I was overcome with sorrow and loss. I had prayed for healing for Mom. I had prayed that she would walk again and enjoy life for a few more years. That prayer was not answered. But then as I looked upon the opened grave that was before me, the Lord brought to mind those same words He had spoken to a sorrowful sister some two thousand years ago. Only this time my name was inserted into the sentence. “Pat, I AM THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE. HE WHO BELIEVES IN ME SHALL LIVE EVEN IF HE DIES.”

And then I envisioned Mom, not with limbs twisted from debilitating disease, but whole and joyful and free of pain and suffering. It was a glorious picture but one that was real because Momma KNEW Jesus. And at that moment she was more alive than she had ever been, never to face death again. She was with her Savior and there was LIFE. And for me those words brought immense comfort, abundant comfort for such a sorrowful heart.

At Easter, we celebrate the empty tomb. It is an awesome reminder that he has indeed overcome death and for those of us who believe, death truly will be swallowed up, and we will be fully alive, fully healed, and fully at home with the One who gives life to enjoy Him forever.

The Savior Is Calling

The Savior IS calling to all of us, not just during a terrifying pandemic, but every day. Come to Me. I AM the resurrection and the life…even if you die you will live.

Life is such a struggle at times! There are real battles going on around us. The world is so unsettled, especially now with the pandemic impacting all facets of human life. The current virus may be new for our generation, but the Bible tells us that early in the creation story, a war was waged against humanity. A war without and a war within. The evidence is all around us. The world we live in is anything but peaceful, with an enemy who desires to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). As if that is not bad enough, personal struggles with sin keep us from thriving.

But there is good news! You can have faith over fear and be victorious over the battle. You can overcome whatever battle you are facing through the powerful love of God. He is not surprised by any situation you are facing. In fact, He will equip you with everything you need for victory.

Discover the battle plan God revealed in the story of Scripture, from Genesis to Revelation, through the Invincible Love, Invisible War Bible study. The six-week Bible study is an overview of the entire Bible, which highlights the war we encounter and the love that triumphs over it.

You will discover who the battle is really against and have access to the weapons to prevail. You will realize that the promised future victory is available today.

When you follow God’s battle plan, you will avoid the despair and hopelessness that many people find themselves consumed by. But rather, you will live confident in the plan, knowing God is always in control. You will recognize that you are a part of a much larger story that God is weaving throughout human history – a story of an invincible love that is victorious over an invisible war.

Are we in a battle? Absolutely! But we can live victoriously!

Not long ago, Crawford Lorritts offered the opening address for the Moody Bible Institute’s Founder’s Week Celebration. In his message, he explained that the Bible must be the context from which Christians live, not the culture. The emotions that the culture stirs up in individuals must be set aside to look at the truth. Truth doesn’t change, but our emotions change how we respond to it. I couldn’t agree more.

But how is the Bible supposed to be the context of our lives when our current culture is so far removed from when the Scriptures were written? We have a 21st century understanding of the world and reading even the New Testament with a modern point of view can be difficult to fully grasp. After all, why are hair and hats worth discussing in 1 Corinthians 11? How is it that slavery still exists after the resurrection (Colossians 3:22-25)? And what’s the harm of having a replica of a statue (Ephesians 19:26)?

There are realities of the early church that are vastly different from the realities of today.

We cannot assume that we can fully understand the core of what is being communicated unless we know the circumstances of the original message. Who was delivering the message and to whom was the message delivered? Were there any specific situations or issues that were being addressed? If so, why?

These are important questions, especially when reading the epistles. The Apostle Paul delivered his message to be received by the audience he was addressing. He used images and examples that they would understand and relate to in their own lives. By his second missionary journey, he had developed a pattern of sharing the gospel in his ministry journeys. Upon entering a new city, Paul and his traveling companions would enter the synagogue to share with the Jews that the Scriptures had been fulfilled in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ (Acts 17:2-3). As a “Jew of Jews,” Paul had a heart first for his own people to know that Jesus was the promised Messiah. His message was rejected by most of the Jews and he was banned from the synagogue. Paul would then take the good news to the Gentiles of the city (Acts 13:46-47).

In Acts 17, Paul arrived in Athens and was “provoked” in his spirit by the sheer number of idols in the city. When the opportunity presented itself to speak with some of the thought leaders of the day, he gave a culturally-specific sermon that was tailormade for the listeners on Mars Hill. For those who can remember learning about ancient Greece in history class, you may remember the pictures of all the temples and altars to the numerous gods that provides a backdrop of what was taking place while Paul was there. The historical context lends richness to our current understanding of the message.

The gospel may have been contextualized for the Athenians, but the good news is just as relevant for our culture. The ancient idols may have been carved from stone, but today’s idols are just as numerous. And the sneering response of the philosophers to the resurrection of Christ is no different from the reactions given today.

There is much we can learn from the cultures of another era that applies to our own culture.

Reading the epistles, you sense how Paul was equally intentional with each letter he wrote to the different churches. If we are observant, we will discover the specific issues and challenges that Paul was addressing in each letter. When we learn more about the context and the culture of the original recipient of the letters, we realize the essential truth that Paul is conveying. Paul was teaching the early church how to live a life worthy of the gospel. Because the letters were written many years ago, it is crucial to understand Biblical context, because the practices may have changed over time, but the principles have not.

The timeless principles can be then be contextualized for today’s culture.

When the norms of today are the foundation of a person’s life, it will be difficult for him or her to see the biblical truth through that “lens.” It will be hard for him or her to live biblically, much less have the Bible be the foundation for living. As Bible teachers, we can help broaden students’ perspective of the Scriptures by helping them discover the biblical context first, and then they will be able to accurately discern the truth that is being portrayed.

Jesus said to those who believed in Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free” (John 8:31-32).

The word “continue” is the root word for “abide.” This is ongoing remaining; never departing. What truth! John wrote the words Jesus spoke, so the original hearers would be free from the cultural norms and so can we!

Through the power of the Holy Spirit, the truth of the Bible can be the foundation of Christians of every era.

 

Written by Pat Harley

The timing was all wrong for sure. There was something more exciting on the other side of the room and so I had lost my audience.

It was Christmas Morning and, as is our tradition, each one of my family including my husband and our then-young two young daughters, gathered early to give our gifts to Jesus. This always comes first before we dive into our own Christmas presents. Now this is not a complicated thing. Beloved had written a poem, Jenna had learned a violin piece and Cameron ( the youngest) had drawn and colored a picture  of the nativity scene. I had written a story entitled Meshed and the Messiah. (more…)

 

Are Your Arms Open or Closed?

Josh was stunned. He imagined so many scenarios of how the reunion would go, but never did he imagine the response he got. He had been a young boy when his mother remarried and moved away from his paternal grandparents. The college years were busy with studies, working, and friends, and time slipped away from him. Now, as a young 20 something, he was making his first visit to their home. A surprise visit, he had not spoken to them in years. Nothing hurtful or wrong, just overly involved in his new life.

He waited at the curb by their house until he saw his grandfather arrive home from work. Josh got out of the car and slowly walked to the door, with every step feeling heavier with the weight of the distance in their relationship. After ringing the doorbell, the black wooden door opened slowly and there stood his grandfather, silently staring at him. Josh’s heart pounded hard as he uttered the words, “Hi, Grandpa.” Then, without saying a word, his grandfather slowly closed the door. Josh, confused, stood at the closed door for an unusually long time before returning to his car. He never imagined the stony silent reception. If his grandfather was not going to welcome him back into his life, he would have preferred a heated argument, a good fight to at least feel justified in the strained relationship. But now what? Was restoring the relationship worth the hurt?

How we respond to others when they hurt us is a big deal to Jesus!

The morning after Jesus’ triumphant entry into the city on the back of a colt, He was traveling from Bethany to Jerusalem and teaching the disciples about the power of faith and prayer.  He shared that whatever they asked of the Father and believed would happen, it would be granted. But then Jesus added this very crucial key for prayer, “Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions.” (Mark 11:25).

Our prayers must not be offered from an unforgiving heart.

It is easy to see the harsh and unforgiving reaction of Josh’s grandfather, but harder to see our own heart as unforgiving. Yet what is our response when our neighbor lets their dog roam through our freshly planted flowers or when someone swiftly pulls into the parking space we have been patiently waiting for? How do you respond when you run into the woman you once called a friend until she shared your very sensitive and very private situation with others?

Jesus knows that forgiveness does not come naturally for us.

So much of Jesus’ teaching was about forgiveness. He taught that we are all sinners who have been forgiven and that when we recognize that hard truth, forgiving others should be our overflow response (Matthew 6:14-15).  He elaborated that we should be prepared to forgive others often and repeatedly (Matthew 18:21-22).  And, he knew we would be quick to point out others’ faults when he taught, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone.” (John 8:7).

Jesus modeled the way of forgiveness.

At the crucifixion Jesus’ arms were nailed wide open on the cross in the ultimate act of forgiveness. He laid down His life in order for sinners to be reconciled to the Father. Every sin, every time, has been forgiven for those who have faith in Jesus’ work on the cross (Ephesians 2:8).

This Easter let’s celebrate His Resurrection by opening our hearts and our arms to embrace those who we need to forgive – open the door to restoring the relationships that need restoring.

Written by Traci Martin.