Genesis 31:10 “In breeding season I once had a dream in which I looked up and saw that the male goats mating with the flock were streaked, speckled or spotted.”
Here we have Jacob telling of a dream he had while he was tending his father-in-law Laban’s flocks during the breeding season. He’s received quite a download from God that would increase his wealth and influence. This dream comes complete with a strategy to be implemented for its fulfillment. Long before anyone understood the science of genetics or the fundamental governing “laws of inheritance,” Jacob was enabled to take advantage of it through a God given dream and subsequent strategy.
On the surface it may appear Jacob was being deceptive (which was the basic meaning of his name), but a care reading of the entire narrative reveals otherwise. God had a plan and Jacob was a very big part of it. Jacob’s wealth and influence was just a by-product of the much bigger picture of God’s global strategy for world redemption. So Jacob’s dream was God given.
What is the difference between a God-given dream or vision and one that is not? We all dream of things we would like to do, places we would like to go, as I am sure Jacob did… Many people get to live their dreams but most people do not. Why is this so? I want you to know that God has given you the ability to envision the future and to partner with Him in creating it through the dreams He gives you. We have all been created in the image of God and designed to think, plan and cooperate with Him in His Grand design for humanity. God is constantly releasing dreams and ideas to people and there is a way to tell the difference between the good and the bad ones.
God is Good to All
First, you must believe that God is good to all and that includes you. He has nothing but good planned for you. If you will simply begin to dialogue with Him as you would with any friend you will be astonished to find Him communicating with you. Without confidence in the goodness of God toward you, and His desire to use you and your dreams for the good of others, both your hopes and dreams will come up short. Second, along with this confidence you must see yourself successfully executing the dreams that are within you. Dreams do not come to pass on their own, Search the Scriptures and you will find that everyone with a God given vision or dream had to do something about them just as Jacob had. History is replete with the stories of people who had a vision or a dream that would be of great benefit to others. You will discover people such as Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Bill Gates, and Steve Jobs to name a few had two things in common; they believed they could accomplish their dreams and they did something about them. They had a plan for their fulfillment and their dreams changed things for the better for countless people. Visions and dreams without a well thought out plan of action are nothing more than daydreams…Jacob did something about his.
Test Your Dreams
Generally it isn’t wise to simply accept every thought, suggestion or dream that comes into your mind. Some are good while others are not…I trust that you’re only interested in the good ones since they are always beneficial to you and others. Jacob stated that he had a dream and he was able to confirm it as God given. A simple test will help you discern the difference.
The Character Test
The character test is the simplest way to go about testing your dreams. Does your dream inspire the fruit of good godly character? Does your dream flow with the general character of God as plainly revealed in His Word? Although Jacob had many character flaws when he first followed God’s instructions, those flaws were dealt with along the way. God would not lead guide or grant dreams inconsistent with His own character, or general purpose for humanity (which is to redeem and/or bless), nor would anything coming from Him lead you into unethical behavior. You may start out owning the dream but in the end the dream will own you complete with the character transformation that comes along with the process.
So, your dream must not contradict any promises, instructions or the simple godly ethics described throughout the Scriptures. What I mean is your dream must require you to model solid godly character and not lead you into unethical behavior throughout the process of seeing it through to fulfillment. For example; in Galatians 5:15-23 Paul the apostle lays out fifteen unacceptable character traits and practices followed by nine acceptable godly character qualities. Fulfilling your dream should always make you a better person by God’s standards. Test your dream along these lines, if the dream requires you to emulate any of the fifteen unacceptable traits you can rule it out.
Paul also lays out a simple list of God’s general character traits that we are to emulate in 1 Corinthians 13:1-8 “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails…” Is your dream consistent with love for God and people? All of these traits are “others oriented” and not self-centered. If you’re prone to moral failures and being self-centered, developing these ethical behaviors and character traits are essential to fulfilling your God given dreams. Why not imitate God’s character? Ask for His help and He will gladly give it.
Conversations with God
Finally, ongoing dialogues with God cannot be overstated. If your vision or dream has come from Him, He is the one with the strategy to accomplish it. Jacob had ongoing encounters with God all through the process leading up to his dream’s fulfillment. Hold daily conversations with God discussing the details and waiting on His instructions on how to develop a game plan to fulfill your dream. I recommend you have a notebook with you for the many things He will download…many times your heart and mind will be absolutely filled with God and His ideas after a good session with Him.
God is all about developing character and deeper thinking in your times together. You are much more important to Him than any dream. The outcome of all you accomplish in this life should always make you a much bigger person on the inside than you are on the outside. This is consistent with God’s bigger picture of World Redemption.