If you’ve had dreams of Jesus, there are no two ways about it : your subconscious is trying to send you very important messages regarding your personal spirituality.
I understand that this topic is very sensitive nowadays.
Either people want to deny that they have this aspect to their persona, or they believe that spirituality has nothing to do with “traditional religion”.
While these are two totally understandable reactions, the truth is, we all have to live with a God shaped hole in our lives.
You’re free to fill that gap with whatever you choose, some fill it with the striving for money, status, fame, and personal importance.
Others try to satisfy it with a desire for knowledge, personal enlightenment, and self realization.
Even others go down the traditional spiritual and philosophical path of religion.
For this third group, there are many ways to feel the need for connection with a higher power.
Others take refuge in the tradition, customs and structure of established long standing religious institutions.
Others focus on the basics of such religions.
They focus on the scriptures.
Even others, they direct their attention to living out the scriptures.
In however form, they see fit.
As you can imagine, there are many different paths one can take when thinking about divine authority, higher truth, and the Almighty.
When you have dreams of Jesus, all of these are in play.
Of course, your interpretation of your dreams will be greatly affected by where you were born, whatever spiritual background your family or already has, or or doesn’t have.
You also use your experience in terms of your understanding of what scripture says, what you’ve observed in the behavior of people who claim to be followers of Jesus.
If you ask 100 different people what Jesus means to them, you probably will get 100 different answers, which highlights the important point that spirituality ultimately is personal.
If it means something to you, assuming that it does, then it can only make sense based on your personal understanding and experience of the different strands and richly textured realities that make up your spiritual side.
I need to establish this as we delve into the rich multi-layered and profound meaning of dreams of Jesus Christ.
Key themes of dreams of Jesus
If we were to break down the general meaning of dreams of Jesus Christ or Jesus type figures in dreams, it will probably fall into the following major headings.
But with any heading are many different directions.
Think of it as a river that is fed by many different streams.
Before you see this mighty river, there’s actually many different smaller tributaries, each of them called a river in their own right.
In each of these smaller rivers are fed by smaller bodies of water.
The big river is Jesus.
The meaning that he brings to the table, the importance of his message, and his impact on our modern world, both for believers and non believers.
But within this larger river, there are many different tributaries of meaning that we need to address for us to truly get to the bottom of what dreams of Jesus Christ really mean.
Prophecy, or call to action
Many people who report dreaming of Jesus go on to experience a personal spiritual renewal.
Some start going back to church, others go to church for the first time.
Even others start to line up their day to day actions, with the things that they claim to believe in.
Even others become judgmental.
They hold up the Bible and then they use it as a filter to screen the lives of those around them by doing so, hoping that they would “call people to repentance”.
Their hearts are in the right place.
Let’s hold back from judgment.
Assuming that they are fired up by the zeal of the Holy Spirit, some people respond this way to the calling of God’s message, as revealed through the Bible.
They call others to repentance.
This is a great start.
But it must come from a basic foundation.
Romans 3:23, All have fallen short of the glory of God.
For you to call others to repentance, you must first understand and accept that you too have fallen.
As the Apostle Paul repeatedly points out in his epistles, “All have fallen short of the glory of God; nobody can boast about winning or meriting or somehow earning salvation”.
We cannot earn our way to heaven because if we could we have something to be proud of.
We have something that we believe will put us in a higher level than the other people around us because “we are righteous, we’re the good ones”.
Instead, Apostle Paul emphasized the truth that all are sinners.
Indeed, in the Psalms, King David points out that we were born in iniquity.
The prophet Jeremiah says that “The heart is deceitful: Who can truly know it?”.
That’s our reality.
We are born with sinful natures.
This is why sin doesn’t take much encouragement.
As Apostle Paul says, “If it isn’t faith, it is sin”.
You just have to act naturally and sin will naturally appear.
You give into your instinct, sin will appear.
And it often manifests itself in one form with many different faces: The self.
When you put yourself first and take care of your needs first and let your desire to feel your needs take precedence over the needs of others, sin will naturally follow.
It is in this context that the apostle Paul highlighted the fact that while we must be called to repentance, we have to do so with the understanding that if it was not for the grace of God, we will remain fallen.
And if we fully understand that, we know that we are always in debt to the Lord.
We have nothing to boast of because it is not our goodness that qualifies us to be saved.
Instead, God the Father, so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
Notice that the passage from John 3:16 does not say, “Those who are good and those who are worthy, are the ones who will be saved”.
They are the ones who will have eternal life.
Nowhere does it say in the Bible, that that is the case.
Because nobody is qualified on their own.
Human nature is so fallen, that in Hebrews 12, Apostle Paul lays out the truth: God is the author and finisher of our faith.
The fact that you’re reading this blog post, the fact that you’re dreaming about Jesus, the fact that you are re-examining or exploring your new spiritual life are testimonies to the fact that you are being called.
You don’t have it in you (none of us do) to be spiritual by nature.
We are called.
And the first step in our calling is that God shaped hole that God created in us, because we were created in God’s image.
But that was shattered, and only a hole was left.
Thanks to the disobedience, or the Garden of Eden.
The God shaped hole in our lives is left although we were created in God’s image.
Previously, Adam and Eve walk with full intimacy with God.
They didn’t have to hide from him.
They weren’t afraid of him.
They experience full belonging, acceptance and love.
And God wants to restore that through His son Jesus Christ.
But this is how it all works out.
We don’t qualify ourselves to be reunited with God through the good things people say about us because of our good works.
It doesn’t matter how many times you go to church.
It doesn’t matter how many times you read the Bible, or how many dollars you give away to charity, none of that qualifies you to stand alone for God’s kingdom.
Because as Apostle Paul has made clear, “All have fallen short of the glory of God”.
And the penalty is also equally clear: Death.
The wages of sin is death as his letter to the Romans makes clear.
We’re not just talking about physical death.
We’re talking about eternal death.
Meaning, the life that you’re living now is your last life.
You will be resurrected to face judgment but once you are judged, that is your last life.
Because the next step, if a person is not saved, is the Lake of Fire: Hell.
The wages of sin is death.
As John 3:16 makes clear there are really only two options: Perish eternally or live eternally with God.
Nowhere in this doesn’t say that through your skills, talent, striving, work, effort, inherent goodness, or intrinsic righteousness, qualify for heaven.
Instead, when we place our faith in Jesus, and believe that God the Father sent Him to earth to pay the penalty that we so richly deserve.
And by him being hung up on that cross, He has redeemed humanity and by His blood being shed, His blood satisfied the blood debt that we owed because of our sins, then and only then will we be saved.
In other words, he is the only one who is righteous.
Jesus was fully God and fully man.
He came down to earth to show us the sacrifice.
He became fully man to let us know that he understood where we came from.
He understands what we’re dealing with.
He witnessed and experienced firsthand our struggles.
But despite all of that, he didn’t sin and this blameless lamb was slain for the sins of the world.
In the Hebrew Bible, there is an elaborate ceremony for cleansing sin.
The one who is seeking atonement will bring a lamp that is spotless to the priest.
The priest would then slit the throat of the lamp and drain out its blood.
In other words, the sin of the person seeking atonement is passed to the lamp.
The lamp paid with its life for the sins of the person that brought the lamb.
God the Father gave us His only Son as the one and only true sacrifice that would fully liberate us from our sins.
Because since the wages of sin is death, sin requires a sacrifice to be forgiven.
The whole Hebrew testament points to the coming of Jesus.
All their ceremonies regarding animal sacrifices, and all that blood spilled, foreshadowed the ultimate sacrifice of the spilling of the blood of the God’s only begotten Son, so that we can finally be liberated from our sin.
All that rivers of animal blood that was spilled beforehand, didn’t free us.
It took the blood of one man: Jesus
So when people experience the Holy Spirit and they call others to repentance, the only real way for that to take place is when they are really born again by accepting Jesus through faith.
Nothing else will do.
Everything else is fake.
And leads to hypocrisy, religious intolerance, and judgment.
The Bible says that we must test all spirits.
So when you’ve been dreaming of Jesus, and your first instinct is to judge the people in your life through scripture, please begin with yourself.
I know it’s hard, because the feeling is strong.
The holy light burns bright.
But the Bible is clear: Test the spirit through the word of Christ.
If your understanding doesn’t fall into line with scripture, then that spiritual message that you’re getting might be coming from someone else.
The Bible is clear as who is that someone else: The enemy.
His name is Satan.
The father of lies.
So, it is important to understand this framing, before we dig even deeper into dreams of Jesus.
Because there is a very strong temptation to be carried away by the seeming religious and spiritual symbology of this type of dream.
We run the risk of letting our own personal biases and often our less than fully developed and matured understanding of Scripture take over.
And given the emotional zeal that we feel it can blind us.
Always line up whatever spiritual zeal energy and a sense of renewal that you’re feeling with the word of God.
Now with that said, another general meaning of dreams of Jesus involve confidence.
Jesus is our ultimate source of spiritual confidence
How confident would you be when you find yourself a defendant in a criminal case facing years in prison, standing a trial to discover that the judge is also your defense attorney?
You would feel really confident, right?
The prosecutor is the devil.
But the judge and your advocate are one in the same.
If this played out in any human court, it’s a foregone conclusion.
The judge has the final word.
Well, in the Divine Court, our advocate is Jesus.
And he is also God, the judge.
Claiming Jesus, and dreaming of him are two different things.
If you want to access that kind of confidence you need to not only make it through your day to day challenges, but to step out in confidence knowing that your life has purpose and meaning, you have to focus on the assurance symbolized by Jesus Christ.
The Bible teaches that since the beginning, ever since the fall of Adam and Eve, God the Father loved us so much that he has already made the provisions for our salvation.
He saw what Adam and Eve will do with their free will, they will disobey.
And he saw the consequences of all of that, because God is all knowing.
But just because he’s all knowing doesn’t mean that he wills everything.
He has given us freewill.
Our choices have consequences.
But even then, he has our back.
Because he didn’t hesitate in pouring everything he has got in the form of His only begotten Son so that we can be saved.
You have to understand that God didn’t change his law.
The law still stands, the wages of sin is still death.
But he showed the world that he will sacrifice everything, just so we have a way to be reconciled with Him.
We cannot be reconciled with Him through the law.
As Apostle Paul keeps pointing out in the letter to the Galatians, “Keeping the law is not going to save you”.
That’s not going to happen.
Either you keep it for some time, and then you break down and fail, or you come up with a way of making it look like you’re keeping it but God sees your heart.
Regardless of how many ways people can try to get around this, the truth is, we are too fallen for that to work.
So God made the provision of his Son, that we just believe in him.
This is the assurance of salvation.
Faith alone will save you.
Faith alone by grace alone
What is the difference between belief and faith?
The apostle James says that even the demons believe in God.
Obviously they’re not going to heaven.
So what is the difference?
You can believe that there is a God.
You can believe that God created the world and is fully sovereign.
You can believe that He sent His only begotten Son to save the world.
You can believe that Jesus walked the earth.
You can believe all those things.
But belief alone will not save.
What saves is faith.
Here’s how it works.
Let’s say you believe in the physics law of the pendulum.
Meaning, if you’re holding something of a certain weight, and you let it swing, it will never exceed the initial position of that heavyweight.
Mentally, you can make sense of this, maybe you can look at a diagram and see how it works.
You can look at the mathematical breakdown of the energy being dissipated each time the pendulum moves, and it never exceeds the initial amount of energy when the pendulum is released.
All of that makes sense intellectually.
But what if you attached a bucket and filled it with cement, and you placed the bucket right under your chin and then released it?
Because you wouldn’t do that if you are not willing to suffer possible painful injury because you believed in physics.
We are saved by faith alone.
So it means that we forgive, we love, we care for each other, we practice compassion, we love just as Jesus loved.
That’s how faith is manifested.
Because other than that, you’re just back to reading texts.
You’re back to Creed’s statements of belief, Census classifications.
None of those are safe.
None of those qualify you for heaven.
None of those lead to us spending eternity with God.
This is why Apostle James said in his letter, “Faith without works is dead”.
Put simply, if you say you believe in certain things, but people can see it in your daily life, then it’s not faith.
You can say you believe in the laws of physics, you understand the law of the pendulum and it’s real.
But if you’re not willing to put your personal safety on the line, by swinging that bucket from below your chin in front of witnesses, then you don’t have faith.
You have belief, nobody’s going to take that away from you.
That is established just based on what you talk about.
But belief doesn’t get you into heaven.
Faith is belief lived out.
This is what gives us confidence.
Because we only claim Jesus to faith and what gives us confidence is that he will do it for us.
It is no longer I who lives
One of the most powerful phrases in the Bible is in Galatians.
When the Apostle Paul said, “It is no longer I who lives but Christ who lives in me”.
Prior to that statement, Paul laid out the fact that if we are to follow God’s law using our own power, our own strength, our own personal morality, we will fail again and again and again.
We don’t have that strength.
It’s not gonna happen.
But he said, “I was crucified with Christ”.
That means when you place your faith in Christ, you trust him fully to let go of your past.
Let go of your porn addiction.
Let go of your same sex attraction.
Let go of your need to lie, exaggerate, twist the truth, tell stories that always make you the hero.
I could go on and on.
You fill in the blanks.
When we get crucified with Christ, the old man is dead.
It is Christ who lives in us.
This is why being born again is so crucial because Jesus said, “Point blank”.
If you are not born again, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.
There are ifs, ands, or buts about it.
But to this very day, many people laugh at that concept, much as Nicodemus was puzzled by it.
That’s how powerful the Holy Spirit is.
The Holy Spirit is God.
And if God can create the world with just his words, can you imagine how he can recreate you, just by claiming him in faith?
How can he renew you and give you a new birth?
Because when people go through a born again experience, their old habits, their old ways of thinking, their mindsets, which I keep talking about in this blog, change.
And it’s as if your filters, the ones that you were to make sense of the world, are removed.
And you’re now seeing the world through the eyes of the Holy Spirit.
That is what Jesus was talking about by being born again.
And this experience is crucial for Christ living in us because we cannot keep the law.
Remember, you must still keep the law.
God’s law hasn’t changed.
Jesus said, “Not one jot, not one title, will the law change. I have come not to abolish the law, but to fulfill it”.
His law remains.
And it is death to us as Apostle Paul repeated again and again.
If you want to be saved by simply keeping God’s law and by doing so being good people, forget it.
Not gonna happen.
But thankfully, it is not us who lives but Christ who lives in us.
That’s the born again experience.
That’s when we claim him by faith.
This is where people start behaving differently.
Because again, it’s one thing to talk about Jesus, it’s another for people to actually see him in your life.
Because God cannot be mocked as First Corinthians points out.
You can’t fake god.
This is why a lot of people are puzzled about this idea that we are saved by faith alone.
They’re thinking, “That is so easy to fake. I can just say I believe in Jesus. I am saved.
Because the Apostle James said, “Faith without works is dead”.
That’s not a real faith if it’s just lip service.
In fact, Jesus has mentioned in the Gospel of Matthew, again and again people make a big public display of their faith.
He kept saying they already got their reward.
They wanted status, they got it.
They wanted respect, they got it.
They want heaven?
No, they’re not gonna get that.
Because their display of faith is for the public.
It’s for show.
God sees in secret.
He sees what you do repeatedly.
You are what you do repeatedly.
And if you are thinking and feeling guilty because of your habits, please understand that God can change you.
God turned a perennial coward, like Gideon, into a mighty fierce warrior of the Lord.
God transformed a scheming liar like Jacob, into he who struggles with God, Israel, the father of nations.
God has not done with you yet.
But you have to claim him in faith.
You can’t contain him by compartmentalizing him or reducing him into something that you feel you can fully understand and by extension, can control.
That doesn’t work that way.
That’s why you have to let him live with you.
And if you understand that, in how faith really works, there is no line, there is no pretending.
A lot of people claim to be born again, because they’re just trying to get away from the guilt of having made a mistake.
Maybe they grew up in a religious tradition where people are expected to be perfect to uphold the clean name of their families.
When everybody knows that they messed up, they switch religions and say “I’m born again. You can’t judge me”.
Now what Jesus says is the world can judge you all at once.
But if you have him living on you, you have something far more valuable than the world.
What does it profit a man to gain the world but lose his soul?
Shouldn’t it be the other way around?
Jesus said, “Seek ye first the kingdom and all these will be added to you”.
So any conversion has to come from the heart, it has to be real and it has to be in line with scripture.
Not with our feelings, not with our priorities, not with what we want to happen, but him.
In other words, desire him.
Not the peace of mind that he brings, not the confidence that enables us to walk through many doors.
Not the new life of peace, serenity, and calm within, but him.
This is the real meaning of confidence in Christ.
Christ lives in us because He will keep the law in us.
It is still above the law because Jesus said “Unless you are holy, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven”.
How can that happen?
We’re not holy, the only God is holy.
Holiness means set apart.
Holiness means not common.
Jesus is inviting us to let him in.
As he has mentioned in his word in the book of Revelation, “I come knocking at the door of your heart. If you let me in, I will have a meal with you. I will enter”.
Jesus is always knocking but the thing is we don’t want to open the door unless it’s on our terms.
You open the door only if we can order Jesus around, “Jesus I have bills to pay, “I have a medical condition that needs to be taken care of”, “I have a problem child or my marriage is on the rocks or I have an addiction. Jesus please come in”.
That’s like me inviting a friend and asking him “Hey, come on in. But don’t sit on the couch immediately. I need you to clean and wash the dishes first”.
Does that make any sense?
Jesus wants us to surrender.
And this is scary for a lot of people.
After all, we think about what we stand to lose.
Rarely do we think about what we stand to gain.
Because if we did, we would be confident.
This assurance comes from the author of life, the Prince of Peace, the source of truth.
Instead, we are thinking about what we will lose, because we can no longer do certain things.
Some of us may even think that our identity is tied up into how we used to do things and think about how we used to think, talk and act.
But please understand that whatever value your past may have to you, it pales in comparison.
In fact, there’s no comparison to the infinite life you will have with God.
That’s how stark the choice is.
Also, if we look at our identity, and what we think are our strengths, a lot of that has to do with external sources of power.
Do you think you will still feel valuable if other people think that you are trash?
Do you still think that you are a capable person when it seems that no matter what you do, things just don’t work out?
Of course you won’t.
Because your confidence, like most people, is based on external circumstances.
But the problem is, they depend on people you can’t control and circumstances that are beyond your power.
You can barely understand yourself.
Can you imagine understanding people and the confluence of their influence and dealings with each other?
Things easily spiral out of control.
Jesus gives us an internal source of strength, we just need to believe in Him.
And the Holy Spirit enters our lives and bears the fruit of the Spirit
According to Galatians, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forgiveness, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control.
That’s all you need.
Because if you think about it, all the physical material, financial, emotional, sexual cravings that we have cannot be satisfied.
We will want more and more.
We eat and eat but we’re still hungry we drink and drink but we’re still thirsty.
But when the Holy Spirit after we have been born again in Jesus enters our lives, it starts to bear fruit.
First, the love that we have in us, thanks to the spirit residing within our souls, is not the world’s love.
Transcending transactional love
Most people define love as somebody who gives you something that you’re inspired to give back to them.
The best way to test this is can you still love somebody who doesn’t love you back?
Better yet, can you love somebody who is unlovable?
Maybe you treat them really well, you go out of your way to give them stuff and then they slap you, call you a fool, laugh at you, possibly even spit at you.
God’s word teaches us that the kind of love He has, is not normal human love because human love is transactional.
Like attracts like.
So if I do good things for you and I see you reciprocate, I love you.
But if I don’t see that reciprocity pretty soon I will come to the conclusion that I can’t love you because you’re not bouncing it back.
That’s not how God’s love works, it’s not transactional.
Instead, he is like a river that just keeps flowing.
No matter how many times you try to drain it, try to control it, try to redirect it, it just keeps flowing nonstop.
That is his nature.
And if you need proof of this, just look at the cross.
Just think about the psychology of a father that will give everything he has got just so you can be reunited with him.
That’s how much he loves you.
You might not understand what’s going on in your life.
You might not understand the core issues of the suffering that you’re facing.
But you can at least grasp the extent and the depth of God’s love that he poured everything that he had in the form of his Son just so he can reach you.
It’s not transactional.
You didn’t earn it.
Because that’s what human love is.
It’s merit based, “I will only continue to love you if I notice that you’re earning it back by bouncing it back to me. Then in my mind you’re worthy of loving”.
No, it doesn’t work that way.
God is grace.
So he continues to love and love and love some more.
This is what we claim through the Holy Spirit.
Joy and peace that no one can take away
Another pair of fruits of the Spirit are joy and peace.
As you probably already know, if you’ve been reading this blog, peace is central to the human condition, at least our desire for it.
But as you know, as you strive to get what the world has to offer, it is rarely a peaceful journey.
It is filled with ups and downs, turbulence, emotional trials, heartbreaks, disappointments, betrayal.
It’s a mess.
Life can be messy.
But God in this person as Jesus Christ brings peace.
The Holy Spirit’s fruit of peace is possible precisely because it doesn’t depend on your external circumstances just as the joy that it brings is not dependent on people being kind to you.
Many of the Protestant martyrs who believed in reading the Bible instead of the false teachings of the medieval church, went to the steak singing hymns.
As their bodies burned under the watchful eye of the church hierarchy, they looked up to heaven and let out their voice praising God.
That can only be done if you have the kind of peace and joy that nobody can take away.
And that kind of joy and peace can only come from God’s Spirit.
Jesus brings real forgiveness
Just as we viewed love as transactional, we view forgiveness as transactional too.
We look at forgiveness as a strategic move if we can even bring ourselves to forgive.
Most people can understand that forgiveness is for you, the one who was offended.
Most people get that, because most people are mature enough to understand that if you refuse to forgive and you remain bitter and angry, that’s like as the Buddha said, holding fire in your hands, “Who are you teaching a lesson to?”.
Not the guy who offended you, not the people who offended you.
Do you think by hanging on to all that negative energy, they will change their minds?
Think again, a lot of them are happy.
A lot of them have moved on.
A lot of them have actually leveled up.
So by choosing to be miserable and bitter, wallowing in rage and bottled up emotion only serves to punish yourself.
People get this, that’s why they understand forgiveness, but they can’t forget.
Because they fear that it’s gonna happen again or they can only forgive up to a certain extent but they don’t because they don’t want to send the wrong signal to people who might abuse them.
The list goes on and on.
When you accept Jesus, you activate real forbearance in your life.
Jesus made this message clear in his story of the two debtors, Jesus told the parable of two debtors who the first one owed the king a huge sum of money.
We’re talking about an impossible amount of cash that cannot be paid off not even after several lifetimes.
The king was impressed by just how sincere the servant was in pleading for more time to repay the debt.
In the back of the king’s head, “It’s obvious that this person cannot repay the debt, no way”.
So he forgave this person’s debt.
Naturally, the person was overjoyed.
So when he was leaving the King’s presence he ran into another servant who owed him a tiny fraction of what he owed the king.
The other servant pleaded for time, just like what he did with the king.
But the first servant wouldn’t hear of it.
He said, “You pay what you owe and he threatened him.
When the king heard that, he revoked his forgiveness of the first servant.
What Jesus is getting across to us and what we must understand is that whatever other people may owe us, we’ll all always pale in comparison with what we owe God.
The wages of sin is death.
We are all living with a death sentence.
And God, because of his generosity and grace and the fact that God is love, gave us Jesus so that if we believe in Jesus, place our faith in Him, we will be saved.
Given this reality, can we really hold back on forgiving others?
Sure, it can be horrendous.
We may have gone through abuse, we may have gone through extreme betrayals and extreme harm.
But the truth is, none of that comes close to the debt that we owe God and that he discharged.
Kindness and goodness that don’t depend on reciprocity
Just like with love, we find it easy to be kind or good to somebody that we know will somehow repay us.
Even if it’s just a simple smile or thank you, we expect some sort of response.
What if you come across somebody that you’re kind and good to, even though they don’t care about you.
Maybe they see you being nice to them but they don’t want to know you.
They’re eager to receive what you have to give but don’t expect the thank you.
Let’s be honest, it’s hard to continue to show kindness and goodness when you don’t get any kind of feedback, no matter how little.
But God blesses us, even if we actively sin against Him.
As Jesus said, “It rains on both good and bad people”.
There are so many people in the world who are convinced that God doesn’t exist, but he still sustains them.
Imagine that kind of goodness and kindness.
You might be thinking that it’s just an impossible standard to meet.
Yes, you would be absolutely correct, if God wants us to use our own powers.
It’s just impossible.
But he doesn’t do that.
He doesn’t expect that.
Instead, He expects us to invite Him into our lives so it is his power working through us.
Remember, as Jesus said, “With man this is impossible. But with God, all things are possible”.
The Bible also says “I can do all things through Christ, who gives me strength”.
Finally, the scriptures also remind us that God will continue to work his will in us until Jesus comes again.
These are not empty promises, because you can see and people who are actually truly converted, a black and white change.
You can see the fruit of the Spirit in the form of kindness and goodness despite the fact that they don’t get anything in return.
Because they have already been blessed.
They can only pay it forward and what they’re paying forward is just a fraction of the larger blessing and the larger goodness that they receive from the Lord out of His infinite grace every single day.
This is also possible for us.
We just have to trust in Him fully.
This is how powerful the fruit of the Spirit is.
Faithfulness in a faithless world
It’s hard to remain faithful when you feel that everybody else has lost their faith.
Let’s be honest, human beings tend to always compare themselves to those around them.
And if they sense that everybody else is going in one direction, or they’re defining faith and spirituality a certain way, pretty soon they go along.
Things have a way of working out that way.
That’s just human nature.
Thankfully, God isn’t like that.
God always keeps his promise.
Jesus said, “I will not leave you nor forsake you”.
And he kept that promise when he was crucified and buried, and rose again, the Holy Spirit came into the world.
Through the Holy Spirit, we are always connected with God the Father, and God the Son.
Jesus kept his word.
As he explained to Nicodemus, if you need proof of the Holy Spirit’s movements, compare it to the wind.
You can see the wind, but you can see its effects.
The same goes through the Holy Spirit.
He takes broken people, and gives them a new life.
Thanks to Jesus, and the inner working of the Holy Spirit in our day to day lives, millions of addicts have been liberated from their mental, emotional, physical, and medical prisons.
Couples that were on the brink of breaking up or have been broken up for many years, have reconciled.
People who have lost hope and are contemplating suicide, have found a reason to live from.
They have found a person who can give the meaning until the next day and the day after that.
I could go on and on.
Usually, when we talk about the word “Miracle”, we’re expecting something big.
Maybe we expect a parting of the Red Sea, the spelling of the plagues.
We’re looking for something grandiose, dramatic.
But the truth is, God is working miracles every single day.
It’s easy to identify answered prayers.
Maybe you wanted to get into a certain school, maybe you wanted to pass a board exam, perhaps you were courting somebody and she or he decided to have a relationship with you.
This can take many different forms.
What they all have in common is that you’re specifically asking for a blessing that has a specific appearance that you can describe.
But what if I told you that God is always blessing you?
He is blessing you believe it or not, by the things that didn’t happen.
A plane didn’t drop out of the sky and crash into your home so you can read his blog.
You’re not wracked in pain right now of tumors that spread like wildfire throughout your lungs and your liver.
War didn’t break out in your part of the world.
I know they seem improbable but you only need to turn on the news.
You only need to listen to your friends and their stories.
You only need to look at your past to get a good understanding of what kind of disasters you have been spared from.
Don’t just define blessings based on the things that you can see, hear, touch, taste and smell.
That’s just one aspect of reality.
What about alternative realities that could have happened that have their basis in fact?
The truth is there’s just so many things that have lined up in the past that could play out in
disaster in the present, or in the very near future, but they haven’t.
That is the hand of God at work.
That is His faithfulness.
While God is the God of justice and he will be counted on to deliver justice to us based on our deeds.
He is also the God of mercy.
He is postponing the judgment because he is waiting for us to have a change of heart.
That is faithfulness.
He is not this caricature God that is just waiting for you to screw up.
Just one full step and he will cast you straight into hell.
Instead, he is the God that Jesus described as so generous, as to almost look (in human eyes) as foolish.
Who would leave 99 sheep, just to look for one that is lost?
I know I wouldn’t.
Think about it.
You’re going to leave 99 of your sheep so you can search for one that is lost?
In normal human calculation, that is a cost of doing business.
Too bad that sheep got lost.
But you have to look at the rest who remained.
That’s where your profit is.
That is where your future is.
But God doesn’t think like that.
His heart is broken when even just one person is lost, or puts himself in a situation where he cannot feel God’s love.
It breaks his heart.
Jesus also laid out many different parables that explained just the depth of God’s mercy.
My personal favorite that highlights his faithfulness involves the vineyard owner, looking for workers.
The vineyard owner went out to the market in the morning and announced to the people there “I need workers for my vineyard. Come work for me and I will pay you a day’s wage”.
So some people went.
When he looked out in his vineyard, he noticed that he still needed people so a little bit later he went back to the market and made another announcement and another batch of people came to work for him.
Pretty soon in the afternoon and it’s near closing time but he still needed workers so he made one last announcement and more people came.
When the time for paying the wages came, those who went to work early got excited.
In their minds, they’re thinking “Since we’re the ones who put in the work the earliest we should get a much higher wage than those who worked only an hour because they got invited really late”.
The vineyard owner paid the latest workers first.
The earliest workers saw how much those late workers get paid.
They were excited.
But guess what happened?
All of them got the same wage and they were resentful.
The vineyard owner then said to the earliest workers, didn’t he have a right to do what he wishes with his money?
Since God created all of us, just as he created everything, he can do whatever you want.
He operates outside of our notions of fairness, proportion, and even logic.
He is holy.
We are unholy.
We are common.
As a prophet Isaiah says, “His mind is not our mind. His ways are not our ways”.
Thank God for that.
Because he is graceful.
Because if he gave us what we deserved, he would still be faithful but we’d all get death.
The wages of sin.
As Paul’s letter to the Romans, states clearly is death.
That’s all we have qualified for.
That’s all we have earned.
But God is gracious.
That is the kind of faithfulness we can look forward to.
And if you’re going through a tough time in whatever area of your life please understand that God’s promise through the words of Jeremiah rings through today as it did when the Israelites saw the destruction of their kingdom by the Babylonians.
God said through Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you”, declares the Lord, “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope, and a future”.
If you think things are bleak right now, can you even imagine what the people from the southern kingdom of Judea were feeling when they saw their kingdoms snuffed out by the invading Babylonian army?
Not only to add insult to injury, a significant number of them were forced into exile.
They were basically kidnapped from their land and brought to a strange land.
Mockers would probably have said back then, “Where is your God now?”
But God had other plans.
And after so many years, 70 to be exact, the Jews came back.
God also has a plan for you.
That’s how faithful he is.
Don’t just focus on what you lost.
Focus on what you gained in your relationship with him.
Hang on to him
The Spirit brings self-control
When you dream of Jesus and the theme is the Holy Spirit, do not overlook the power of self-control.
I know that a lot of the fruit of the Holy Spirit is already very lofty because they are not defined in human terms.
God’s love is not the same as human love, not even by a longshot.
The same with joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness and gentleness.
But if there’s anything that we should all strive for at the least, to be guided into and provided for by the Holy Spirit is self-control.
It may seem least among that amazing list of virtues.
But I would submit it’s also the most powerful.
Because if you have self control, by the grace of God, everything else is possible.
Ultimately, what sets you up for failure again and again, on many different levels, emotional, psychological, spiritual, is yourself.
It eats and eats, but it’s never full.
It thirsts continuously, but its thirst is never quenched.
But through the Holy Spirit, if we gain the fruit of self control, everything else will flow to us.
We will be able to love, to experience joy that doesn’t depend on the external world.
We’ll be able to access a piece that is so deep that it enables us to have the patience of saints.
I could go on and on.
If there is one fruit of the Holy Spirit that we should aim for, or petition God for a day to day basis, it is self-control.
Because self control enables us to shift our mindset.
It enables us to take full ownership of our mindset.
As I have repeated several times in this blog, our mindset is our gateway to the world because it acts as our filter.
If you were to wear green sunglasses, everything is going to look green, because the color green is your filter.
Now replace green with any other color of the rainbow and that’s what the world will look like.
The world hasn’t changed.
It’s still sending you the same images, but the way you perceive it has changed.
And this is not just a simple case of seeing one color over another.
Because you act on what you see.
What you think about the world is directly impacted by what you see.
Finally, your actions and decisions flow from your understanding and reading of the world based on what you see.
That’s how important your mindset is.
And when we pray for a higher level of self control, we are able to change our mindset.
We are able to switch from victim to victor.
We’re able to make the transition from bitter to better.
When you dream of Jesus Christ, understand the Godhead.
Jesus Christ is the Son, He is God.
But God is also the Holy Spirit, and God the Father.
When you dream of Jesus Christ, you have access to the three persons of the trinity.
This is crucial.
Because if we have access to the Godhead through Jesus, you have access to the Holy Spirit.
And one of the Holy Spirit’s most powerful fruits in your life, on a practical day to day basis is self-control.
This is the one virtue that will enable you to run the race of faith and come out a winner.
Who owns you?
Have you ever asked yourself that question?
A lot of people never bothered to ask themselves that question and that’s why they tend to live their lives aimlessly.
I’m not one to talk, because it took me a long time to get to the point where I asked myself that question, who owns me?
Turns out that I thought I owned myself.
But when I dug into that question even deeper, I realized that nobody did.
That was why I was going nowhere.
I thought I had plans, I thought I had a vision, I thought I was on the right track.
I grew up in Southern California, and got into a school in Northern California.
It was a school that a lot of people applied to, but a very small percentage only managed to get accepted.
So I felt personally proud of being one of the select few that got in.
That was my pride.
And I thought my life was going somewhere.
But something weird happened.
Every time I defined my happiness, in the form of a goal, when I reached that goal, I was not any happier than before.
Funny how that worked out.
When I was in high school, I thought that once I got into college, I would be happier.
Because once I get to college, I’ll join a fraternity, I will have an amazing social life, I’ll meet
different people from different parts of the world, the whole nine yards.
So when I did get to college, I still wasn’t happy even though I was doing those things.
And I was being exposed to those types of people in those environments because my mind was on my life after college.
As I was looking forward to my first job, I was looking forward to entering corporate life.
Then when I finally did find myself working in a large insurance company, my first “real corporate job”, I wasn’t any happier.
Because by that time, I was so disenchanted that I was looking forward to graduate school.
I hope you can see the pattern.
This is the pattern of somebody who doesn’t have an owner.
Because when you don’t have an owner, there is no direction.
And if you think you own yourself, you are at the mercy of your wants, your whims, and your capricious needs.
You know how that goes.
This is especially true if you’re dependent on the approval of people around you.
People are fickle.
They change their minds.
And you better believe that your sense of ownership and direction will change because you think you own yourself.
But the problem is you define yourself based on what’s going on around you.
This involves people and things that you cannot control.
So that was the kind of world I was in.
Until I discovered the real Jesus Christ.
The Jesus Christ of the Bible.
The same Christ who liberated me from 25 years of chain smoking.
I was involved in a business where we handled all sorts of accounts.
And some accounts were very lucrative because they involved gambling.
My company does not handle the gambling operations directly.
Instead, we handled marketing and you will know how lucrative online marketing deals could be.
We’re talking big dollars here.
But I gave all of that up for a greater treasure.
The Bible says “When a man saw a treasure in the field, what did he do?”
He sold everything he had to buy that for you.
And I came across Jesus Christ, I want him.
So I sold figuratively everything that I had turned my back on that big contract.
Even to this very day, if I wanted to go back, I could easily do that.
It’s like turning on a faucet of money.
But what I gained after 18 years of being with Christ is so much more valuable than money.
This is the power of authority.
Because Christ is the only power that can give us true meaning, true purpose, true peace.
Because when I look back at what I thought was important, all the ideas that I could come up with, as Jesus said, “It can be taken by robbers, eaten by moths, and they can eventually all break apart”.
The only exception is, of course, the treasures stored in heaven, “Seek ye first the kingdom of heaven and all these will be added to you”.
I’m happy to report that even though I’ve turned my back on a very lucrative industry, and focused on more competitive and lower ROI sections of global outsourcing, God has been kind.
He never let down those truly seeking.
You can tell if you’re truly seeking Him, by based on what you’ve given up.
He is my owner.
I’m not saying I’m perfect, God is still working on me.
I’m still a work in progress.
But I wanted to share this with you to let you know that if you’ve been having dreams of Jesus, one of the meanings of those dreams is authority.
Maybe you’re looking for authority.
Maybe the authority that is running your life right now is leading you to a dead end.
I’m sorry to report, I mean, money, sex, respect from others, position, power, all of these go away.
But what won’t go away is if you will spend eternity even if you’re faceless, even if you’re just another voice in the choir out their way in the back but you’re connected in the presence of the Almighty forever and ever.
Now that is the ultimate goal.
That is authority that rings through the ages.
So who owns you?
Is it your needs?
Is it your past?
Or is it the future?
An eternal future with the one who truly loves you.
Jesus brings belonging
In our modern world, people try to satisfy this deep abiding need for belonging in so many ways.
They define themselves based on religion.
They define themselves based on class.
They defined themselves based on the school that they went to, the part of town they’re from.
But at the end of the day, is this real belonging?
Will there come a time when you can come to a place where there is no need for you to explain yourself or even to introduce yourself, because people automatically know who you are or what you’re about, and there’s nothing for you to be ashamed of.
Nothing for you to explain, nothing for you to justify, nothing for you to pretend to be.
One of the most powerful statements in the Bible came from the passage in Exodus when Moses asked God what his name was.
This way he can tell Pharaoh who sent Him.
God the Father just said, “I am sent you”.
I hope you can grasp the gravity of that statement.
Because when you ask other people, they cannot say “I am”.
They will say “I am Michael”, “I am Paul”, “I am Davey.
That’s what they will do.
God just said “I am”.
Because when you say “I am something else” in normal human terms, you will have to go into explanation.
You’re connected to somebody else, you come from a specific place, you have a backstory.
God doesn’t have a biography nor a resume.
He doesn’t need one.
He doesn’t need any of those.
He just is.
That is power.
And when we are connected to such a power, we just belong, we just are.
Everything else has to require definitions.
Everything else has to go through the process of definition and being.
Do you see how powerful he is?
Because it’s impossible to be restless.
It’s impossible to have an identity crisis.
It’s impossible to be ill at ease with your existence when you have that kind of belonging.
And that is only possible with God because he simply is.
He is the eternal I am.
Dreams about Jesus will always involve grace
You cannot have Jesus appear in your dreams, without the issue of grace being presented to you.
So I’ve repeated over and over again in this post, the only thing we have coming to us is death because we’re all sinners.
The Bible is clear, all have fallen short of the glory of God.
There is no space for saints there.
At least not the way we normally define saints.
All have fallen except one: Jesus Christ, fully God, fully man.
When we understand the centrality of grace in the Jesus message, then everything else makes sense.
When we look at the story of the prodigal son, it’s very easy to look at the divine grace from the perspective of the younger son.
This is the sign that is so ungrateful, so disrespectful, and so thoughtless about his father, that based on the customs of Jesus’ time, what he did amounts to basically killing his father.
Because at that time, the only way you can get your inheritance before your father dies is basically in the eyes of many people, the figurative death of your father.
That’s how thoughtless and selfish he was.
So he gets the money and goes to faraway land, wasting all that hard earned family money.
It took generations to earn.
Lots of blood, sweat and tears, one generation after another, all squandered on fast and easy friends and of course, prostitutes.
When famine hit the land, the prodigal son realized that he had no real friends.
To add insult to injury, Him being a Jew, was relegated to feeding pods to pigs.
Imagine the disgust he felt.
This was the point where the prodigal son had an experience very close to what a lot of alcoholics go through when they hit rock bottom.
Many of them find themselves face first at the bottom of a toilet bowl.
After puking their guts out, then and only then they realize they’re our problem.
That’s when it dawned on him, “I’m going to go back to my father’s house not as his son but as a laborer”.
That’s real remorse.
That’s a real change in heart because he didn’t come back to claim his right as the son.
He knew he lost it.
He knew what he deserved.
In Jesus’ portrayal the father is just so heartbreaking.
When you read the prodigal son, straight from the Bible, the verse that really always strikes me is from afar, the father saw the son coming back.
Meaning he was searching for him day in day and night.
It is how heartbroken and how loving the father was.
And before the son can even explain, the father fell on his neck.
Meaning he just heard the son, no need for words, no need for explanation and guess what the father did”
He said, “Put a ring on him”.
Meaning symbolizing to the community, “Here is my son. He is a member of my family”.
Now, please understand that this is the same son that turned his back on his family, because what he did was tantamount to killing his father.
Imagine breaking up the family wealth so he can get his inheritance ahead of time?
The father didn’t care about any of that.
And he said, “Give him the robe”.
So he restored his son to his rightful place.
Now as sinners with broken hearts, we can all empathize with the younger son.
In that story, we can see ourselves in that younger son because of our screaming need for grace.
That’s how gracious God is.
Now, would human fathers act that way?
Will your father act that way?
At best, you probably would hear an earful.
At best a human father would see his son from a far away, he’d be thinking “This guy better have a good story. I want to hear this explanation”.
So there’s going to be a mix of disappointment, anger, and possibly even gloating in a sense of vindication.
But this young guy who thought he figured out everything, and was so full of himself, publicly humiliating the father by splitting up the family wealth, now coming back with his tail between his legs.
That is the human response.
And logically speaking, let’s just be completely honest, that would make a lot of sense.
But thank God he’s not like that.
Thank God our Father in heaven is not like that.
Like I keep saying, he gives us out of His grace and abundance, not based on what we deserve.
Are You the Elder Son?
While it’s very easy to conclude that the Parable of the Prodigal Son is all about the younger son, it’s important to remember that Jesus did not label his story “the Parable of the Prodigal Son.”
Instead, that title was only added later on.
If you pay close attention to Jesus’ story, this message was actually intended for another audience.
Prior to this parable, Jesus was also talking about the Pharisees.
These were religious teachers and pillars of society who based their status almost solely on their claim of moral ascendancy.
These were the people who held themselves out as righteous.
If you want to model yourself after anybody, it should be the Pharisees.
They were the embodiment, at least according to many people at that time, of right and moral living.
But Jesus had some choice words about these people.
First, he pointed out their hypocrisy.
They talked on and on about how other people should live their lives, but it turns out that they themselves do not practice what they preach.
They also make God’s Law, especially the Sabbath, a hardship to other people instead of the celebration of God’s love and providence that it was supposed to be.
It would be fair to say that Jesus wasn’t exactly a big fan of the Pharisees and vice versa.
In this context, it’s important to keep in mind what He had to say about the elder son in the Parable of the Prodigal Son.
In the story, the father was overjoyed seeing his younger son return home.
He looked at this broken man who had finally come to his senses and had swallowed his pride.
This was the symbol of redemption.
But the older brother didn’t see any of that.
Instead, he understood what the placement of the ring, the wearing of the shoes, and the robe meant, at least regarding his interests.
This indicates that the father was going to give the son, who had returned, a portion of his inheritance.
The father is still alive!
He still had property.
He still commanded respect.
His word still had value.
You can tell from the way the older son was carrying himself that this upset him.
If this sounds familiar, you only need to look back to the story of Jonah.
Jonah didn’t want to preach the news of repentance to the Assyrians.
He knew how gracious and generous God is.
He knew God’s nature.
He was, after all, a prophet of God.
So he went out of his way to try to get away from God’s calling.
But still, God got to him, and he managed to preach.
When you look at his preaching, it was very shallow, and he did it in such a way that it appeared Jonah was just going through the motions.
But whatever he said had an impact because the Assyrians declared a fast.
They repented publicly.
Please understand that this was a great empire.
This was one of the most feared kingdoms in the region at the time.
It takes a lot to set that aside and humble yourself to repent.
Moved by what He saw, God relented, and Jonah was upset.
He was upset because he was looking at the Assyrians from the perspective of the Hebrews at that time.
The Assyrians were a very cruel people.
In fact, if you look at the archaeological record, there were many incidents where they would cut the right thumbs off the men of the tribes that they captured.
The logic was if your right hand, which you use to handle weapons and tools, had its thumb cut off, you couldn’t use a bow and arrow.
It would be very hard for you to handle a war ax or a war hammer, much less a sword.
That’s how brutal the Assyrians were!
The argument could be made that Jonah was being sensible when it came to his discomfort about the salvation of the Assyrians.
But God had other plans!
God loved the world, not just the Hebrews, not just the Israelites, not just the people of the Book, not just the people of the promise.
He loved the world!
After all, as John 3:16 says that God gave His only begotten Son because He loved the world — not just Christians, not just Jews, and not just Muslims, but the whole world.
It is this anger at God’s grace that is evident in the older son.
And when you look at what he said to the father, you can see where he bases his sense of anger and disappointment from.
“All my life, I have kept your commands.
But when it came time for me to celebrate with my friends, I couldn’t even serve a kid goat.”
He said this to highlight the fact that the father had commanded the fattened calf to be slaughtered to celebrate the return of his younger son.
When we study the older brother’s words, we realize that he didn’t love the father.
Instead, he looked at his relationship with the father as a series of transactions lasting a lifetime, keeping commands, doing what’s right, and staying within the boundaries of the father’s expectations.
By doing so, he thought that this qualified him for the inheritance.
What is obviously missing from that line of thinking is any love for the father.
Sure, there may be love and respect for the father as a provider of material things, protection, security, and even status.
How many people do you know are in church because it gives them an identity?
It makes them look like they are decent people.
It gives them some sort of social standing.
There are many families who go to church out of tradition because that is what their neighbors expect of them.
They are the pillars of society.
They are the moral standard.
But do they really love Jesus?
Is there really an aching desire in their heart to truly know God the Father?
This is the question that the elder son failed based solely on his statement and his lack of action.
The father was inviting him:
“Come inside the house!
Let’s celebrate the return of your brother, who was dead and now has come back to life.”
This is what happens, brothers and sisters, when we are born again.
We were dead and trespassers!
We were well on our way to the Lake of Fire called Hell.
That is the default position of humanity.
But when we listen to God’s calling through the Holy Spirit, and we surrender ourselves to the calling of the Holy Spirit and are born again through the Spirit, we are like that younger brother.
We are brought back into the house, brought back into life, and brought back into communion with God the Father, the Son, and the Spirit.
There’s no space for ego there.
There is no space for thinking that we are good and people look up to us because we donated so much money to the church or we volunteered our time to different ministries.
It does not make you somehow more deserving than those who obviously wasted their lives and their potential running away from God, doing the desires of their flesh like the younger son.
This is the argument going on inside the older brother’s head:
• How can this be?
• I slaved away all those years following my father’s commands!
• I didn’t violate any of his commands.
• I gave and gave all my time.
• My loyalty was to him.
The problem is that he was looking at what he had coming to him.
He looked at the Kingdom of Heaven as something you work for.
He looked at God’s love as ultimately transactional.
In other words, he was looking at God’s love no different than human beings looking at each other’s love.
If I’m nice to you, you’re nice to me.
If I love you and show you through my kind words, my service, my support and encouragement, my comforting touch, my presence, and my material support, then you reciprocate.
But once that’s gone, you feel that since you’re not getting the love that you expect from me, it’s okay for you to let go.
That’s the way of the world, and that is the mindset of the older son.
And to him, to get into Heaven, you have to be good.
You have to do good things.
You have to follow a checklist.
You have to light the candles the right way.
You have to say the right prayers.
Just as importantly, people have to say good things about you.
But what’s missing in all of this is any genuine love for God.
Because we can never qualify ourselves for Heaven, there will always be a shortcoming.
As the Apostle Paul said, if you want to get into Heaven, according to his letters to the Galatians, you better keep the whole Law.
The Galatians had this misplaced understanding that if they were truly Christians, then they must first become Jews, meaning they have to first be circumcised and keep the Law.
That is what they thought would save them.
The Apostle Paul said that nothing could be further from the truth!
What saves people is that they have placed their faith and trust in Christ.
This is not based on what He is going to do in the future but on what He has already done.
He was hung on that cross for our sins.
By His stripes, we are healed.
By His death, we have been born again.
There’s nothing we can add to that.
It already happened.
We can only claim it.
And when we do it with real sincere, broken hearts and with contrition over the lives that we have led so far, the Holy Spirit enters our lives.
Pretty soon, if we continue to trust the Holy Spirit, our words will change!
The way we look at other people will change.
Through the Spirit, you start looking at your lives in a transformed way instead of being this moral person that shows up every Sunday at church, where everybody sees you as this “church family” while secretly agonizing over the dirty things you’ve done in the past.
You let that go!
Instead, you can boldly say in the church:
• Yes, I was a drug addict.
• Yes, I was addicted to porn.
• Yes, my wife used to be a prostitute.
• Yes, I used to be a pimp.
• And so on and so forth.
Because when you look at the Bible, who was there?
Prostitutes, frauds, liars, and murderers.
In the eyes of the world, these are fallen people.
Since God works through broken people, we can see just how much He loves us.
We can also see that it is not our capacity to follow His commandments to be “good and moral people.”
Instead, it is all His grace.
If you’re reading this, you probably have heard the saying (and I’m paraphrasing it):
The church is not a museum of moral heroes.
It is not a place where you go to see these living saints of pure, unblemished morality.
Instead, it is a hospital.
It is a place where we comfort and encourage each other as we fellowship with each other to celebrate God’s healing grace.
Just as God can heal your flesh and bones physically, He can also heal your past because so many of us live in the past.
In fact, so many of us allow ourselves to be slaves of the past.
What if I told you that just because you constantly lied in the past doesn’t mean you’re still a liar?
Just because you sold your body for money in the past doesn’t mean you’re still a prostitute.
I could go on and on. Name the activity, and you will come up with some sort of identity that ties you to that.
But Jesus breaks all ties.
The moment you accept Jesus as our Lord and Saviour, we are in the eternal present, looking forward to this bright future with Him eternally.
The past is forgotten.
Other people may not forget, but that’s them.
You have a higher Judge Who has covered your sins and wiped them off.
It wasn’t wiped off by some cloth or water.
It was wiped off by blood, Jesus’ blood.
This is the power of non-transactional love — God’s love, agape, the kind of love that apostle Paul described in First Corinthians chapter 13.
• Love is kind.
• Love is patient.
• Love does not put on airs.
In other words, love doesn’t display itself to be noticed.
It doesn’t make a big deal of itself.
It just is just as God said to Moses, “I am.”
You have to understand that we all have this tendency, once we have become born again through the Spirit, to fall in the other direction.
There’s a part of you who is thinking:
“Now that I’m in the church, it is my job to protect the church by sizing up the people who enter it.”
Basically, you appoint yourself as some sort of self-selected and self-anointed fruit inspector.
As Jesus said, “You shall know them by their fruits.”
You cannot lie to God.
People can quickly see if you truly are born again based on what you do and the kind of life you live.
Unfortunately, some people define this as looking at your past.
The real way to determine and discern a true rebirth in the Spirit is what they do today repeatedly into the future, not the past.
Just because you were attracted to members of the same sex does not mean that that is who you are.
Just because you can’t help but steal stuff that isn’t bolted down doesn’t mean that’s who you are.
Just because you have this urge to sleep with anything that has a heartbeat doesn’t mean that that’s who you are.
The Apostle Paul has repeatedly said this in his letter to the Romans and the Galatians:
It is not the past you.
It is Christ living in you that defines you.
And this is why one of the most powerful passages from the Bible, at least as I am concerned, is when Apostle Paul wrote:
“It is no longer I who lives but Christ Who lives in me.”
Because if it is us who try to carry the Law, we’re gonna fail.
We’re all covetous.
We all have thoughts that we shouldn’t be thinking.
We definitely can stretch the truth or even break it entirely!
Again, I could go on and on.
I’m not just talking about the 10 Commandments.
Remember, there are over 600 commandments in the Bible!
But at the end of the day, as Apostle Paul said: “If it isn’t faith, it is a sin.”
So when you put God as the center of your life, and you turn your back on that transactional definition of love and just focus on Him, His goodness, kindness, generosity, and grace, He will give you everything you need.
In fact, He will give you a new heart.
This is what the older brother is missing because he is still looking at the situation from human eyes.
He never really grew up in the sight of the father because he was still focused on transactional love.
The fruit of the Spirit and all those nine virtues ending in self-control are only possible when you truly welcome the Holy Spirit.
When you let your ego aside and just focus on the Spirit guiding you through, you’d be surprised at what you can do.
There were a lot of things that you felt you could not do, like forgive, move on, get a sense of closure, set aside your pride, stop being stubborn, or start from the beginning.
All of these and much more are now possible through the Spirit.
This brings me to the next meaning of Jesus Christ in dreams: growth.
Any Substantial Kind of Personal Growth Will Only Have Importance if It Leads to a More Central Question: The Search for Meaning
Have you ever stopped to ask yourself what your life means?
Have you ever wondered why you exist instead of somebody else?
A lot of people think that only geniuses or people with high IQ or full bellies in fully developed countries have the time or the luxury to think about these questions.
But in reality, regardless of where you live and how much money you make or don’t make, you ask these questions but just in your own way.
When you think about why today is almost exactly the same as yesterday and the day before, part of your subconscious is asking why this is the case.
What accounts for this seeming similarity?
Maybe there’s something more to this.
When you focus on life being unfair, you’re asking a profound question.
Why is it unfair to you and not to somebody else?
Do you see what I’m getting at?
Just because you can’t articulate it a certain way doesn’t mean that you’re completely clueless about these big questions because we all ask them in our own way and our specific context, depending on what’s happening in our lives at a specific time and place.
I would submit that this is unavoidable because this is part of the human condition.
Part of us screams out for meaning and purpose, and if we can’t get it in a form that makes to us, we try to come up with it in other ways.
It is no accident that since World War II, the rates of suicide, drug addiction, divorce, and other activities have gone up.
In fact, in the past two decades alone, the rates for these have gone up quite a bit, especially in the Western world.
We all have a God-shaped hole in our lives.
In the 1940s, American psychologist Abraham Maslow came up with this concept called the Hierarchy of Needs.
It is shaped like a pyramid, and at the bottom are basic needs like safety, security, shelter, food, drink, and the basics that will help keep the body alive.
As you go up this hierarchy, there are other needs: the need for recognition, the need for achievement, and so on and so forth.
At the very top forming the apex of that needs hierarchy pyramid, is the need for transcendence also the need for meaning.
It is very hard to fill that God-shaped hole with anything other than God.
You can fill it with shallow relationships.
You can fill it with possessions.
You can fill it with money, drugs, alcohol, or fame.
But you only need to look at the lives of famous people as well as many billionaires to see how much that coping mechanism goes.
We all need meaning, and this is how important God is.
One of the most effective ways to bring meaning into your life is to understand the power of faith.
When you’ve been dreaming of Jesus Christ or Christlike images, your subconscious is trying to communicate to you about your deep and profound need for meaning.
You may be making good money, and you may be doing well, taking care of your basic needs.
But that’s not enough!
The way professor Maslow’s needs hierarchy works is that those needs are always there.
And the more you scale up and climb up the needs hierarchy, the more empty you feel.
A lot of people in developing countries would think:
“Gee, I will be happy if I live in an airconditioned room in a nice neighborhood in a very safe and secure street where it’s close to a mall.
I can get anything I want, and I have easy access to a grocery that offers everything that the world can provide.”
We develop “first-world problems.”
I know that’s a pejorative, but it does work to highlight the fact that once your basic needs are taken care of, you remain unhappy.
The next layer of needs must be addressed, and then once that’s done, you’re still not happy.
Do you see how this works?
Then ultimately, we have a need for God, and your subconscious is trying to communicate to you that deep and profound hunger or thirst you have for meaning.
Does this mean that you should just rush out there, get a Bible, and read or sign up for a Bible study?
What it does mean is that you need to first acknowledge that you have a spiritual requirement.
Because a lot of us have totally given up on this, many of us are blind to this.
In fact, I’ve met somebody who has never gone to a church or any other kind of religious building or institution.
She said: “Church? What’s that? Religion? What’s that?”
What I saw there was really an important lesson in my own assumptions.
That experience hit me like somebody dowsed cold water on me because here I am thinking that everybody is searching for God and everybody needs God.
But that need is presented in different ways!
Our subconscious is communicating to us that need in terms of what makes sense according to the context of our lives.
For you to grow, you have to scale that hierarchy of needs.
You can’t just say:
“Well, I have a roof over my head.
I’m warm during the night, and I’m cool enough during the day.
My belly is full.
My family is clothed and taken care of.
My kids are going to school.
I am okay.”
That can only last for so long until it starts breaking down because you’re not looking at all your needs.
All of them have to be satisfied.
This is where faith comes in.
There is a point where you just basically have to stop analyzing and just start trusting.
This is what scares a lot of people, and this is what many conclude that religion is some sort of delusion.
But if you think about it, there are many things in life that you do every day that don’t come with full guarantees.
There are many things in your day-to-day routine.
They are not guaranteed, but you do them anyway.
There’s a point that you cross, and you just basically trust that things will be okay.
The same goes for faith.
This doesn’t excuse anybody from reading the Bible, praying, or meditating upon their lives to see what makes sense in terms of the Scripture or the spiritual commentary that they are reading, and this dream interpretation is no exception.
As the Bible teaches in First John, test the spirits.
Anybody can say that they have the truth.
In fact, someone claiming to “have the truth” has rung through history.
It echoes through many years of human existence.
But until and unless these claims line up with the Scripture, the Word of God, then they’re just somebody’s opinions.
You have to search.
It has to make sense to you.
This is part of what your dream of Jesus means.
It’s a personal journey.
Growing With Jesus Means Walking With Him Alone
Usually, when we think about religion and Christianity in particular, we think about packed churches.
We think about a religious leader who is doing something in front of everybody, and everybody prays.
We think about rituals, ceremonies, or some order of activities.
But what if I told you that that’s not where most of the spiritual growth takes place?
I’m sure people who experience those things have some sort of spiritual feedback.
I’m not discounting that nor denying it.
But what I’m submitting to you is that if you want to spiritually grow, you have to do it alone with God and His Word.
You have to do it alone as you read His Word and apply it to your life.
When you read His Words, go through your memories.
Something will connect, and something makes sense.
That’s how you grow.
You also grow in faith when you take God’s Words and His teachings and apply them to your emotional thinking, your attitude, and your personal filters that you use to process reality.
Because at the end of the day, you are not saved or enter the Kingdom of Heaven because you are somebody’s son.
You’re not qualified to go to Heaven just because you come from a certain family where you check a certain box during a census as to what your faith is.
None of that qualifies you, nor do you go to Heaven based on the prayers of other people.
What qualifies you is your personal relationship with the Lord.
It must be personal.
It must include real faith.
But more often than not, you pray and pray.
But God wants to speak to you, and all you can focus on is what you can get from Him, what you can demand from Him, and what you’re petitioning Him for.
God cannot get a word in edgewise because you’re hogging up the conversation.
Do you see how that works?
It will probably be a shock to too many people, and I know it was a shock to me to realize that prayers are a two-way street.
When you pray to God, of course, you’re telling him what you need.
But there’s a lot of other things going on.
He has a lot to tell you.
He also has a lot to share.
When we spend some of our time praying in adoration of God, communicating to him just how much we appreciate His majesty and how holy He is and just describing the feeling that we are in spiritual conversation with something that is so different from us, this makes God real.
Because when you do that, you’re not talking about yourself, your needs, your limitations, your fears.
It’s about Him.
And when we thank Him, we shift our mental camera from what we need, what we’re lacking, and what has gone wrong to how kind, generous, gracious, giving, and patient He is.
When we do that, we get a tremendous sense of relief because it’s no longer about us.
You have to understand that what makes day-to-day living so stressful and filled with all sorts of pressures is that the spotlight is on us.
What can I do now?
How do I pay the rent now?
How do I come up with the money for the mortgage?
How do I take care of my kid who is sick, this and that?
Everything is about us: I, me, and mine.
It’s no wonder that we’re feeling all this pressure.
But when we practice gratitude through our prayer and shift the camera to Him, we are able to say with our full hearts, with complete sincerity, “To God be the Glory!”
You feel a tremendous amount of relief, which in itself is a blessing.
For a few moments, we are freed from our daily grind of carrying the world.
But as beautiful as praise and adoration may be, we still have to be still and know that God is God.
As the Scripture says, “Be still and know that I am God.”
When we stop talking, we get to listen, and God has a lot to say to us.
Remember, a relationship is not a relationship if it’s only you doing the talking.
Both of us need to be talking, but we also have to listen.
We have to shut up.
We have to stop obsessing about what went wrong and the day-to-day dramas that surround us.
Instead, we just stop and allow the Holy Spirit to speak.
And it is in this silence that we feel real communion with God, not with the priest handing out some wafer.
Real communion is with God because, as the Apostle Paul said in First Corinthians, your body is the home of the Holy Spirit.
Listen to the Spirit, and that silence that you get is probably one of the biggest blessings you can access on a day-to-day basis because it’s total.
It is serene and peaceful.
It cannot be intimidated.
It doesn’t have to pretend to be somebody else.
It doesn’t compare itself to others.
It is just and beautiful.
This is how we grow!
It happens when we allow our prayers to become a two-way conversation.
Because as much as we have a lot to say to God (mostly in the form of petitions and requests for help), God has a lot to say to us too.
When we look at the Bible, we can rest assured that one of the things God will say (and because He keeps saying this in His Holy Word): “Fear not!”
Stop being afraid.
Stop looking at the size of your problems.
Instead, just focus on the size of your God.
When you see Jesus Christ in your dream, your subconscious is trying to communicate to you that you need to open yourself up fully to the presence of God in your day-to-day life.
He is not in one place on one date of the week.
You can’t compartmentalize God like that!
That’s like trying to intimidate fire.
It’s not gonna happen.
God just is, so we need to have a real relationship.
That means opening our hearts fully to him.
God Can Present Himself Using Challenges
It’s human nature to run to pleasure and run away from pain and discomfort.
But what if I told you that in many cases, since human beings have a great capacity to compartmentalize God, sometimes a bigger blessing can come in the form of a disaster?
It’s very easy to say “I love God” when things are going well.
But just like Job, do we have the patience to continue to love Him, to continue to hang on to Him, to continue to believe in Him when everything else has fallen apart?
Because if we disabuse ourselves of the premise that bad things happen to good people and replace that with another premise that there are no good people, except for one Jesus Christ, then we will keep hanging on to misunderstandings about God.
You just have to claim Him.
Basically, we have to reach a point where we say:
“Lord, I can’t understand everything that’s happening, and I definitely cannot understand You fully because You’re God and I’m a human being.
What I can do and what I fully understand is that I can trust You.”
If we can reduce ourselves to that and stop pretending to know, things will become possible.
You have to understand that in the midst of the destruction of Jerusalem in the southern Kingdom of Judea by the Babylonian Empire, God made a promise.
He said: “My plans for you are to prosper you, not to harm you.”
We can see almost that small voice of assurance rising up from the smoke and the rubble of disaster.
We have to claim this.
Your subconscious is showing you these dreams about Jesus for a reason.
You don’t know what’s around the corner.
But if you place your trust in Him, you don’t need to see what’s around the corner.
He is the answer.
He is all we need.
Right now, things are going well, and it’s easy to say these things.
We all have an easy time saying and reading these things.
But we will all have a time where we will be tested, not just once, not just twice, but possibly many times over.
And the good news is that the answer is always the same.
The question is whether we are going to set aside our ego, our pride, and our emotional thinking and attitudes to just cling to Him and trust in Him.
Regardless of what other people say and regardless of what social status or reputation we think we have that we need to preserve, we just have to hang on to Him.
This is the point where we are no longer the older brother in the Parable of the Prodigal Son.
This is the point when we stop being Pharisees.
This is also the point where we stop being the lost younger son in the Parable of the Prodigal Son.
We just have to trust in Him, not with words, not with strong emotions or even reassuring visualizations when we read the Word of the Lord.
Instead, we must do it in faith.
Faith is total because we can see it in our actions.
You don’t just hear the words.
You don’t just hear verbalizations of reassuring thoughts.
We communicate through our changed lives.
And by doing, we celebrate why God put us here on Earth.
We are here to call others to Him because the end is coming soon.
The end is nothing to fear because the end means the Second Coming of Jesus.
He is all we need.
It is a happy day.
It’s a day to look forward to.
When the old is totally destroyed and replaced with the new, the infinite Kingdom.
If you’ve been seeing Jesus talking to you in your dreams, hearing Him speak, or seeing scenes from the Bible, the Holy Spirit is trying to wake you up.
It is trying to invite you to have a real relationship with the Prince of Peace.
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Dream interpretation and symbology have fascinated me ever since I read Freud’s classic, “The Interpretation of Dreams.” Ever since, I have explored Christian, Jewish, Hindu, and Buddhist as well as Jungian psychological ideas about the meaning of dreams. Thanks for joining me in my exploration of the amazing intersection between our conscious waking world and the rich expanse of our subconscious-the home of our intuition, instincts, and hidden potential.