From the desk of Steve Shultz:
If you're looking for a good teaching and word on "dreams" this one by Barbie Breathitt is it! People are dreaming much these days, and I too am having some of the most profound dreams in my life. God speaks much of the time through our dreams. It's a time when our mind, soul and body are at rest. Therefore, He can have access to us in the night hours sometimes much more effectively than while we're awake and distracted.
Barbie Breathitt's ministry is focused around dreams and we carry some of her most excellent dream resources in our elijahshopper store. I encourage you to take hold of these two dream resources right below that will benefit you greatly along with these words. After reading this article, I can't wait to go to sleep and see/hear what the Spirit has to say!
Our Destiny Awaits - In Our Dreams
What is the purpose of a dream? How does God use dreams in our lives? What dreams should we pay attention to and what dreams should we ignore? How much influence should they possess in our lives? Is it safe to ignore them, and how safe is it to act on them? The premise of this article is to explain the depths to which the Lord uses dreams to affect our lives. He uses dreams to wake us up, to give us prophetic insight, and to spur us forward toward our dreams and destiny so that we don't lose sight of them.
In a society where success often looks like busyness and hurried insanity, God sometimes talks to us the only way He can – when we are asleep (that is, when we are quiet enough to hear Him). He can reveal our emotions, our pain, future events, and even the secrets of other's lives to us. The puzzles that God uses in dreams are a secret language known to us, God, and to the people we have the dreams about.
What Happens in Our Sleep
Do dreams have restorative power? Can a good dream life make the dreamer live longer, be healthier, happier and even thinner? In today's society of rush and clamor, everything is tied to speed and production. Whipping around a drive-through or "speed" surfing the Internet, we tend to spend less time sleeping and more time searching. While we sleep, our soul continually searches for God. We desire to make intimate contact with the all-knowing Creator. "He will not let your foot slip – He who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, He who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep" (Psalm 121:3-4 NIV).
Sleep is the time God chooses to give us His perspective, to steer us away from harmful events and to give us life, vision, direction, provision and destiny. As our understanding is enlightened, we will be able to follow the leading our dreams provide. A scoffer may seek wisdom and find none, but spiritual knowledge comes easily to one who has an understanding heart. Wisdom rests in the hearts of those who seek to have spiritual understanding of their dreams.
A true dreamer is one who sees the impossible and knows through God it will become possible. Dreamers are able to see the shadow of things to come as if by moonlight; by joining their faith to believe, the rays of the morning's dawn bring the understanding and visionary clarity. "In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falls on men as they slumber in their beds, He may speak in their ears and terrify them with warnings, to turn man from wrongdoing and keep him from pride, to preserve his soul from the pit, his life from perishing by the sword" (Job 33:15-18 NIV).
Dreams in Biblical Times
A fantastic, almost nightmarish and horrific dream sequence is recorded in Genesis 15:12-13 when Abram the patriarch was cast into the dream realm by hearing the voice of the Lord as a deep sleep fell over him. "As the sun was setting, Abram fell into a deep sleep, and a thick and dreadful darkness came over him. Then the Lord said to him, 'Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be enslaved and mistreated four hundred years'" (NIV).
God spoke to Abram in the night seasons so that Abram would listen and hear God's voice while in a peaceful state. Dreams unlock the deepest depths of knowledge and understanding as we peacefully rest in God's embrace. Dreams allow our hearts to express our inner beliefs in a grand way.
Abram's descendant, Jacob, experienced a desert sleep, which allowed him to see a heavenly stairway that joined the gateway of Heaven to an entrance point on earth. The Lord's angelic messengers were ascending and descending upon the ladder delivering the Lord's prophetic declarations and visions to Jacob as he slept. Genesis 28:10-17 is an account of this heavenly event.
Jacob was able to feel and sense the powerful presence of the glory realm that was deposited in the natural realms of earth. He presented a memorial offering in honor of God's visitation. Jacob left that place with an assurance that God was with him, and was watching over him to direct his path as he journeyed through life. To know the path to our future and destiny we only have to embrace the dreams God gives. Out of the obscure will rise the clear, out of the dark chaos will rise the light of a new day dawning, and out of a dream will rise our destiny. God-given dreams of destiny and success will empower us to conquer our mistakes and nightmares of the past.
Dreams are God's night parables that direct our path and speak to our daily needs in life. These dream events and awesome promises came while the dreamers, both Abram and Jacob, were sleeping.
It is the same for us today. The questions we have about the future are answered in our dreams today. The time we spend sleeping has many diverse and varied benefits. Sleep allows the physical body to rest, repair itself and improve our health. It also gives us the vision for tomorrow.
Life would be so much smaller if we were not able to dream. So dream largely and see God's hand move to bring increase, largeness, sufficiency and a grand future to pass! The quality and length of our lives is related to the quality and quantity of our sleep patterns and dreams. The lack of proper sleep cycles is directly related to an increase in high blood pressure, heart disease, high cholesterol, migraines, diabetes and weight gain.
Hormones become imbalanced due to anxiety and stress, which leads to a decrease in the proper function of the immune system, stomach problems, metabolic changes and other physical ailments. These conditions appear more frequently in people with insomnia or sleep apnea who only sleep an average of four to five hours a night.
Sleep deprivation for prolonged periods causes forgetfulness. It also affects our cognitive reasoning, our concentration, our moral judgments and memory skills as well as our physical performance. This accelerates the aging process. No wonder our physical appearance changes with the lack of sleep. As we grow older, the levels of growth hormones drop drastically, causing variations in our moods, muscle mass, skin tone and energy levels. Sleep disorders cause disruptions in the normal patterns of brain waves, heartbeats and respiratory system which affect our dream cycles. Depression is also prevalent in people who are not able to maintain healthy sleep patterns. Getting the proper amount of sleep is a good way to keep our hormone levels in balance and maintain a youthful appearance.
Dreams Unlock and Release Creativity Within Us
It is essential that we learn to still our racing minds by releasing stress and calming ourselves. Instead of ruminating or mulling over problems and concerns of the day, make it a habit to compile a list of thoughts, worries and concerns on a pad of paper kept near the bed. Whisper a simple prayer. Ask God for the needed answers and then allow His peace to take over. We should believe that we will receive God's divine intervention and answers and enjoy peaceful, deep sleep.
Proverbs 3:24 When you lie down, you will not be afraid; yes, you will lie down and your sleep will be sweet.
We can trust God to supply the needed answers by formulating dreams that bring needed insight as we slumber. Our dreams are God's answers to the questions we hide within. Once our dreams are embraced, we have the courage to give them expression. 1 Peter 5:5-7 tells us, "'God resists the proud (those who try to deal with their problems on their own without asking for his assistance or Divine intervention), but gives grace to the humble (to those who ask).' Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you (raise you above the problem so you don't remain beneath it) in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you."
As we learn to bring our cares and concerns to God, He will deliver us from the weights that try to bury us. There is a biochemical nature to dreams in that we all carry the capacity to dream. Dreaming by day and by night allows the Holy Spirit to fill in the missing pieces of the puzzle with the wisdom God sends in answer to our prayers. Our souls desire spiritual growth and fulfillment. Dreams unlock and release the creativity that is held captive within the soul. We must dream to maintain a healthy life, both spiritually and physically.
The body's need to rest, relax and rejuvenate is an essential part of remaining healthy and prosperous. 3 John 2 says, "Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers."
A Physical and Spiritual Event
The link between our ability to enter into a deep, restful, good night's sleep in order to receive and then to understand the messages of our dreams is an important part of maintaining the health of our physical and spiritual bodies. In this way, dreaming is as much a physical event as it is a spiritual one. We must cherish the dreams we are given and guard them with determination. If we allow them to be stolen, or fall to the floor by ignoring them, they will be trampled underfoot and their benefit will be lost.
Biblical history agrees that God has spoken to mankind through dreams since the beginning of time. Our dream life is like a highway on which messages are carried to the mind's eye and then to the spirit. These messages may come from a variety of sources: from the body, from the soul, from evil influences in the demonic realm, or from God through messengers of the angelic realm. As the Holy Spirit hovers over mankind, He embraces us during the night season and gifts us with dreams that call us to pursue Him with all our hearts. "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths" (Proverbs 3:5-6).
The mysteries He seals within our spirits create urgency within us to seek after Him for the key to unlock the revelation He has deposited. "And those who know Your name will put their trust in You; for You, Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You" (Psalm 9:10).
When the message is from God, REM sleep is an opportunity for Him to bypass the rational thinking of our logic and deposit messages through the mind's eye, or what we refer to as the image center. The mind's eye can be defined as: the human ability for visual perception, imagination, visualization, and memory. In other words, the mind's eye is one's ability to see things with the mind.
Because many dreams are symbolic mysteries, God's guidance is necessary to uncover their hidden meanings. God intended that we get to know Him better through this process of discovering the meaning of our dreams. Our image center is a vehicle that the Holy Spirit can access if we are open to Him. The Holy Spirit will give us dreams in the night or streams of thought during the day to bring revelation and direction to our lives.
We must activate and train the human spirit to open the door of our hearts by inviting the Holy Spirit to search, test and teach us; for it is out of the abundance of the heart that our life flows. The Spirit of God will show us glimpses of our nature and our responses to our natural life situations through a spiritual window. The Bible tells us, "He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy" (Proverbs 28:13).
Symbols are often used in comparison to counterparts. They represent something else by association, convention or resemblance. Usually symbols depict a material object that is used to represent something more abstract.
Similarly, dreams are God's symbolic parables of the night. They are a part of His parabolic language that He uses to speak to us in our sleep. These same symbols may also appear to us as an answer to our prayers. He makes us aware of our true selves, as well as others' true identities, through the symbols He interjects into our dreams. The color, shape, size and number of symbols will all give us needed information about the message our dream was meant to reveal. The more dream symbols and their corresponding meanings we know, the more clearly God can speak to us in dream pictures that we will understand.
It is always beneficial to encourage people to record, track and categorize their own dream symbols. This will enable them to recall the dream's meanings, which are integral to our growth and development. This picture language has been given to us so that we might understand the mysteries of their symbolic representations in our dreams. Hosea 12:10 says, "I have also spoken by the prophets, and have multiplied visions; I have given symbols through the witness of the prophets."
Dream symbols can be defined as things or objects that represent something or someone else in a dream or vision of the night. Again, these symbols can also be material objects representing something subjective or abstract.
We must always rely on the Holy Spirit to give us the correct interpretation for the symbols that appear in our dreams. In one dream a symbol may represent something, but it may indicate something else entirely in another dream – because the colors, characters, context or setting of the dream is totally different. We cannot insist that one symbol is always going to mean the same thing every time, because if we did, we would be putting God in a stagnant box and trying to wall Him in to our limited understanding.
God is a Spirit who flows like a progressive, changing river that is always new. We must learn to flow and change with Him.
Barbie L. Breathitt Ph.D.
Breath of the Spirit Ministries