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Sunday Night Live Sermons


Who He Really Is

John 15:1-17
29th August 2004

The bottom of the swimming pools, running tracks and sporting arenas of the Athens Olympics are covered with the shattered dreams of a thousand athletes. Most of them saw their initial dream of being selected as an Olympian turn to reality, even if their dream of standing on the dais for a medals presentation lay shattered.

Jana Pitman’s dream of an Olympic gold medal turned to a nightmare as she underwent the surgeon’s scalpel. But in an amazing turn-a-round her dream to become a finalist turned to reality. Jana is a church attending born-again Christian, and her mother, Jackie, said Jana’s amazing recovery from her dramatic knee injury is inexplicable, except that “it’s a miracle. How could you explain that, except that it’s a miracle.” Jackie had spread the word far and wide that people should pray for Jana during this crucial time. “I know it’s only sport,” said Jackie, “but this child has really made it her dream to go to the Olympics and we believe God has a destiny for her.” That maybe true, but we will have to wait four years to see if it turns to reality in Beijing. Jackie said that, as soon as she could after the operation, Jana phoned to tell her, with tears flowing, to pack her bags. “I think I might be going! Our prayers are answered. It’s a 50–50 chance I might be on the track after all.’” “I think her strength of character, her belief in God and definitely her determination to take that risk to go and get a second opinion and all these things . I think she’s going to be there and I personally believe that she is an inspiration to other people and, in some ways, a hope for other people,” said Jackie. “You know, God is there for us, and we are allowed to ask Him even little things.”

In an echo of that famous Christian Olympian, Eric Liddell in “Chariots of Fire” who decided he would not run in the Olympic 100 metres final when he was the favourite because it was held on a Sunday morning and he had promised to go to church, who said, “Another day, another race” Jana Pittman said she was considering switching to the 400m flat race. “Next season I wouldn’t mind running the 400 flat. It would be a little bit less pressure on the knee and I’d enjoy something different because I’ve had quite an emotional rollercoaster ride.” Changing events would lead to Pittman contesting the race made famous in Australia by Cathy Freeman’s victory over 400m at the Sydney Olympics. In spite of knee surgery, her dream of an Olympic gold medal might still become a reality. How can you make your dreams a reality?


Thousands of people come into Wesley Centre every day. The shops in Picadilly are crowded, the restaurant is full of people eating meals, hundreds of School for Seniors students are in class, our head office staff are at work, our computers are linking over 35 centres to this building; the underground car-park is packed to capacity, above our heads in our forty storey tower block the offices are full of lawyers and doctors, the Courts are taking evidence, and we sit in our church, the Lyceum or here in Wesley Theatre. But before any of this was built I dreamt about every part of it for years. I could see people I did not know filling our premises and our Annual reports every year reporting increased asset value. Thousands of tons of steel and concrete would go into the two acre hole, but it all started as a dream.

It starts with a person dreaming dreams. Freud declared that dreams were ways of making your wishes come true. Freud said: “The fulfillment of a wish is the dream’s only purpose. The dream therefore is the disguised fulfillment of a repressed wish.” Without first having a dream, your wishes rarely come true. If you do not have the dream, no one else will have it for you.


We work to fulfil our dream. Our work only accomplishes what we first dream, either consciously as a deliberate strategy, or unconsciously, as a subliminal motivation. We dream but then we put in our own effort. Without personal effort dreams do not become a reality. There is no short cut that by-passes work. One of the Athens Olympians related to us by marriage, had a dream to go to the Olympics, but two years ago he was overweight. He reckoned he needed not only to improve his skills, but needed to lose 25 kilos. So every day before work, he rode a bicycle from Parramatta to Mona Vale and then returned. He cycled tens of thousands of kilometers, built up his strength and lost the 25 kilos. He has competed in the Olympics but he had to work to get there. We know hard work is involved in dreams becoming reality. We have gained our homes by hard work, by careful saving, by regular repayments to the bank, by extra effort to makes ends meet, until our dream became a reality. Many people have dreams, but they do not become reality because they never do the work. This Wesley Centre, started as a dream. But it then took ten years of concentrated effort to bring together a team of experts to turn the dream into reality.

We added staff, contractors and volunteers with expertise in finance, development, architecture, demolition, construction, legal contracts, interior design and decoration, until the day came when the Governor General, the Prime Minister, the Premier, The Lord Mayor, The Church Archbishops, Presidents and Moderators all stood on this platform and declared the dream a reality.

Don Campbell was a member of our Chapel in the City congregation. He was an alcoholic. Don’s life was turned upside down when in an accidental shooting a bullet passed through Don’s son’s shoulder, smashed his spine, and rendered him a paraplegic. The Campbells were paying off a small narrow cottage in Glebe set high upon solid rock. How could a paraplegic son cope with all the stairs? Don had recently come to faith and he prayed: “God, somehow or other, you are going to make a new house here, a house with no steps. I’ll start the job, but it’s up to You, Lord to finish it.” Don looked at his house built on the rock. “If we could get to the back of the house, cut away all the rock, we could extend out further and have everything on one level.” A builder said it would be an horrendous expense. The Council inspectors said it was impossible. The social workers said they should just sell and move. But Don said: “With faith in God, all things are possible!” He took a large hammer, knocked a hole in the side wall of the house, put a tent up round it to keep out the rain and said: “There you are God. I have started it. I have no money or plans. I am willing to work at it but it’s up to you to finish it.” Don and his wife started with hammer and chisel chipping away at the rock. Every day they worked at it, and the newspapers told their story.

One day a truck pulled up and a driver, unknown to Don said: “I’ve got some timber here that you ought to have.” Then a builder, unknown to Don, called in, “I’ve 200 bricks left over from a job. You are to have them.” Then a couple who read of his son’s accident said: “Here are two special taps for the disabled, worth $80 each. You can put them in the bathroom.” Then one day, Don saw his patient chiseling had resulted in all the rock being removed leaving the bottom level.

Then a call came: “Can you use any concrete? I have a truck load we must dump.” Don said, “Praise God we’ve got the concrete.” But another truck pulled up and dumped a load of timber. The driver drove off, leaving the timber in the way of the concrete truck! Don despaired. Then another truck pulled up. The driver called out “You expecting some concrete?” “Yes” said Don, “have you come to help?” “No”, said the man, “but I’ve a message from the bloke bringing it. He’s in a hurry and can’t wait. He said he’ll just have to dump the concrete and you will have to move it. And watch out for rain. If it rains in the next two hours it will ruin the lot. How are you going to get the concrete in with all this timber here in the way?” Don replied: “I don’t know. That’s God’s problem. It will take four men to shift this timber.” The driver turned round and whistled. Three big concreters jumped down out of the back of his truck and the boss said: “Shift this timber round the back.” The concrete truck arrived. Don had only one wheel barrow. He thanked the concreters as they walked back to their truck after shifting the timber. But they had just gone back to unload four more barrows and soon five barrows and five men moved the concrete into place.

As they left, the driver said: “You’d better pray it won’t rain!” Don said: “Well it’s God’s concrete!” and for the next two and a half hours the sun shone! That house in Glebe is today called “The House With No Steps”. What would have happened if Don had not started to build it? Their wishes came true because they had faith, publicity, and some kind hearted workmen. But none would have joined them if Don had not first of all knocked the hole in the wall and started chiseling rock, working to make his dream come true. One further secret.


Prayer releases some of this world’s mightiest forces that enable our wishes to come true. Prayer is the deepest form of wishing from the heart. Three times in His last hours on earth with His disciples, Jesus makes the same promise. It was a promise that their dreams would be realized if they prayed them to the Father in His name: “If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, then you will ask for anything you wish, and you shall have it. And so the Father will give you whatever you ask of Him in My name” v16 “I am telling you the truth: the Father will give you whatever you ask of Him in My name.” 16:23 Prayer was to be the means of obtaining what they dreamed. The NIV translates it bluntly, “anything you wish”. But note the conditions of that promise: “If you remain in Me,” That is the essence of this chapter about the vine and the branches. Jesus was leaving His disciples a relationship that would be severed only by their fruitlessness. If they wanted to obtain their wishes by prayer they must continue to abide in Him. “And My words remain in you.”

The successful answer to their prayers depended upon their possessing His word of truth in them. “Then you will ask for anything you wish,” It is entirely open to us to ask — the Lord places no limitation on the substance of our prayers. He suggested that we “ask for anything you wish”. Some people have foolishly prayed then for great wealth, or great power. They argue: “Jesus said after all “Ask and you shall receive; seek and you will find; knock and it will be opened unto you.” Jesus did give us an open cheque-book, “you shall have it”. That was the great promise. It is so clear. There is only one proviso. “whatever you ask of Him in My name” v16 Here is the only condition — it must be asked “in My name”. This little phrase means that what we dream or wish should be in line with God’s will for us, in conformity to what Christ would wish for us. Was great wealth or great power ever desired by Jesus Christ for His own benefit? Or any other such selfish request?

He rejected that kind of wish for Himself, and if we were to wish for that we would not get what we requested, for we would not be asking “in the name” of Jesus. Here summed up in the next chapter is every aspect of His promise: “I am telling you the truth: the Father will give you whatever you ask of Him in my name.” 16:23

Dreams become reality when people dream then work and pray. God wants us to have our dreams become reality. He wants us to work for them, dream for them and pray for them. But let our wishes be in line with His will and for the benefit of others. The closer we come to Jesus Christ, the more we will know for what it is that we should wish, work, dream and pray.


Wesley Mission, Sydney.