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Sermon – 2/22/04
Genesis 28:11-13 - The Dream


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If you like “The Dream,” tell your pastor and/or Bible study leader.  Pastor Ron presents this message to churches and Bible studies, appearing as a guest speaker.

The Dream

He came to a certain place and spent the night there, because the sun had set; and he took one of the stones of the place and put it under his head, and lay down in that place. He had a dream, and behold, a ladder was set on the earth with its top reaching to heaven; and behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. And behold, the Lord stood above it and said, ‘I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie, I will give it to you and to your descendants” (Genesis 28:11-13)

Jacob would soon be on the run from his brother.  His mother, Rebekah, had been concerned, for it was time for her twin sons, Esau and Jacob, to be blessed by their father, Isaac.  The blessing would be physical – one of them would be the principal inheritor of a considerable estate, and it would also be spiritual.  One would be blessed with the promise of God.  As you can see in Genesis 25, Esau was the first born; the one who would inherit.  Their father, Isaac, liked Esau better, and would certainly give him the blessing.  Jacob would ordinarily receive whatever was left over, except in this case, a prophesy was given to Rebekah, their mother, before they were born, concluding with these words from God: “The older shall serve the younger” (Genesis 25:23).  JACOB would inherit.

Now they were older, and Jacob’s mother attempted to MAKE the prophesy come true by trickery.  Her husband Isaac was going blind and she got Jacob to fool the old man into giving the blessing to her favorite, the younger son.  It seemed to work, but it also left Jacob in fear for his life.  He actually had to leave the country and was gone for many years.  Rebekah succeeded, but she lost her favorite son.

Let me tell you about the Friday Study and especially, about OUR dream.  In 1997, some men from a Bible study I was teaching, asked me to start a church.  After prayer, I told them I would be willing to start an internet church.  To be honest, I did not know what an internet church was, except that, after prayer, it seemed like the right thing.  We formed what was to be a “start-up” Board, and one of the men, Mark Behrens, volunteered to build a website for the ministry.  I was already sending out Bible studies on the internet each week, and now they would be posted on a website, as well.

A number of things happened during that time.  I went to a couple of pastors and asked: How do we become a church?  One of them handed me some papers and said just fill them out and send them in.  It turned out to be a little more than that.  An “ordination certificate” was a requirement, and none of us were ordained.  I went to a local pastor, asking – What do I need to be ordained?  He asked me why I wanted to start this “internet church” and my answer surprised me: “I want to reach the world for Jesus Christ!”  That turned out to be our dream from the Lord.

The pastor replied that I needed a four-year degree in Bible, which I had.  In the early 1970’s, after a lot of prayer, I left a 14-year civil service job and got a Bachelor’s degree in “Religion with Emphasis in Bible” from Southern California College, and a Teaching Degree from the Evangelical Teacher Training Association.  There was no money to go for more and those degrees seemed to lead nowhere.  I went back into the business world, discouraged, but taught Bible studies over the next decades.  Somehow the MORE that God seemed to have in mind, was elusive.

That MORE was to be now, a quarter century later.  I was given other assignments for ordination, which took another year before I was ordained.  The Franchise Tax Board wanted us to be a corporation, and we became one.  Then we received a donation and attempted to open a bank account.  The teller said we needed a “Federal Tax I.D. Number.”  She knew who to call and we had one in minutes, except that the lady on the phone said that we had to be not only approved by the State, but also by the federal IRS.  She sent the paperwork, and we were now looking for another approval.

Something else happened – A young man who was recently paralyzed, sent out a call through his mother, for “someone to come and read the Bible to him.”  I felt drawn to his need, but thought I was too busy.  A week later I got his phone number and made an appointment.  He was at the local VA (Veterans Administration) hospital, and I saw him the following Saturday.  His name is Jonathan Merchant, and you can read about him in our Church on the Net, in a sermon dated January 23, 2000, “The Nature of Suffering.”

Jonathan and I were together 3 times a week for the next 10 months.  At first, it was simple to find him, because, as a paralyzed person, he was in bed.  But then they gave him an electric wheelchair, and he was everywhere!  One of the places I would find him was in the “Rec Room,” where he was often at a bank of computers.  It was there that we saw a lot of paralyzed people with many limitations, but they had the whole world in front of them through a computer!

I went back and told our Board members what I had seen.  Yes, we would “Reach the World for Jesus Christ,” but that world would contain those who, because of physical limitations, had difficulty attending a traditional church.  We would serve those who cannot, and as it turned out, we also serve those who WILL not attend church.

The Federal IRS was interesting.  We were transferred from the St. Louis office to the Washington, DC, office, and my thought was: There’s a problem; and there was.  The gentleman from the IRS who was assigned our case, told me right up front that he could approve us as a non-profit at any time, but “You will NOT be approved as a church.”  I would then tell him something about our ministry, and he would respond, “Write it up,” which I did and sent him a fax.  This happened time and time again, because it seemed important for us to be a CHURCH for “our” quadriplegics.

Finally, early one morning, a message was left on my cell phone, from Bob, the IRS man, and I’ll never forget his words:  “All right, Mr. Beckham, you’ve got what you want – You’re a church!”  God has given us the desires of our heart.

It’s interesting that often the dream God gives to us is not what we would expect.  In our Scripture for today, Jacob was given a dream that included a “ladder” and it was also about the land he lived on, the place that subsequently was called Israel.  He probably had some understanding of that part of the dream, though possession of the land did not start to become real until after he and his sons were dead.  The “ladder” part may have made no sense at all to Jacob, because the “spiritual” part of the blessing that was given to and through him, would not be fulfilled for 2000 years.  Through his physical line, the Messiah (the Anointed One) of Israel would come.

In John 1:51, Jesus told Nathanael, “Most assuredly, I say to you, hereafter you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”  Jesus Christ, in giving His life, is the “Ladder” of God for you and me.  Because of Him, all the resources of heaven are brought to bear so that you will trust in God.

Dreams given by God are often obscure to those who receive them.  Jacob did not comprehend the “ladder” in his dream and he did not realize the possession of that land in his lifetime.  King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon had a dream, as seen in Daniel Chapter 2.  An interesting thing about this king is that he was given much, and yet, it would be many years before he would finally place his faith in God.  The dream was about the future of his nation and other nations; empires that were yet to be.  It took a prophet of God for him to understand the dream, and “scholars” still argue about it.  And yet the “dream” is very real, and is still unfolding, as a united Europe comes into being – one that will pick-up where the Roman Empire left off, and fulfill all that is left.

2000 years after Jacob, the disciples were told by the Lord that they would be “witnesses to (Jesus) in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8).  They did very well.  Thomas went to what is now called Pakistan and India.  Paul, who was not yet an apostle of the Lord, was to go deep into Europe.  Peter would end up in the heart of Rome.  But the real fulfillment of this dream was far in the future, as missionaries the apostles never heard of, still travel to places never even heard of at that time, such as China and the Americas.

It’s interesting that God will give us a dream, and then take it to places we do not expect.  For us, it has been “Blessed Hands,” a name given by Jonathan Merchant, the young man who was suddenly paralyzed.  Blessed Hands is a program where we especially can use your help.  We receive computers and computer equipment, refurbish it, and get it into the “hands” of people who have a need.  We also buy specialized computer programs, like voice systems that will type a word when you say it into a microphone.  Right now, Blessed Hands is limited to Los Angeles and Orange Counties, and we’re stretched thin.  We need donations, computers, computer equipment, technicians - We invite you!  We especially ask you to pray.

We’ve run into lots of those who have been given a “dream” by God, though it should be mentioned that such “touches” of God are often in the midst of great sorrow.  My wife, Genevieve Douglass Beckham, is the widow of my best friend, Bob Douglass.  She lost all of her dreams when Bob died because of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma from his service in Vietnam, 25-years before.  Because of that, she formed the “Agent Orange Widows Awareness Coalition.” This organization reaches out to others who have lost or who are losing their husbands as a result of the “Agent Orange” sprayed on everyone in Vietnam.  It was in the drinking water and in the air.  Millions have suffered and died because of Agent Orange.  Genevieve reaches out and helps those who suffer.

Renee Bondi, who lets us use her songs at Friday Study Ministries, the First Church on the Net, is a quadriplegic.  Because of her injury, she touches thousands through speaking engagements and as a singer.  Faye Dietiker, who herself had breast cancer, and is on our Board, formed an organization called “Breast Cancer Angels,” counseling and helping many women.  Sue Beeney, a former hospice Registered Nurse, started “New Hope Grief Support,” which holds grief support seminars for those who have lost one or more loved ones and cannot deal with the loss.  And there are more, but these are just a few of those who give their lives to help others who are need. 

There are two parts to Friday Study Ministries, the First Church on the Net.  We have continued to send emails each week of the Sunday Sermon and weekly Bible studies, and that’s the first part.  The other part is our electronic church, where we’ve added “Pray For These People,” On-Line Prayers, where you can place your own prayers onto the site, Especially For Women, Especially for Youth, a New-Believer’s Study, a Substance Abuse Program, Communion, Baptism, a Discussion Forum and much more.

There are now 3,000 pages on and it grows every week.  Sandy Stahl is a lady, who, out of her own loss, has become a genius with computers and is on our Board.  She has completely rebuilt the site, made it interactive and beautiful, and is the Chairperson of Blessed Hands.  We need to bring Sandy into a full-time paid position within our church.  Will you help?

Recently, at a Board Retreat, we looked at a letter from the end of 2000, where we reported that we had reached 61,000 people within that year.  Right now, we are reaching 50,000 people per month.  These are not just “hits” – These are flesh and blood people, and they come from more than 50 countries around the world.  The U.S. is usually in fifth place in visits to our Church.  They contact us for prayer, counsel, encouragement, and ask for supplies.  Will you help?  Join our Prayer Team, by writing to  You can help in other ways, too. 

What is YOUR dream, by the way?  We know that all of us have a “dream” from the Lord.  This is seen in places like Joel 2:28-29, where the prophet reveals, “And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions; and also on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My spirit in those days.”  The Lord, through Peter, revealed to us at Pentecost, after the Lord was raised from the dead, that this prophesy of Joel refers to NOW – To you and me (Acts 2:16-21).  This is about your dream as well as mine.

Remember that Jacob “came to a certain place and spent the night there, because the sun had set; and he took one of the stones of the place and put it under his head, and lay down in that place. He had a dream, and behold, a ladder was set on the earth with its top reaching to heaven; and behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. And behold, the Lord stood above it and said, ‘I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie, I will give it to you and to your descendants” (Genesis 28:11-13).  The “Ladder,” of course, is Jesus Christ, and as revealed in Joel, He gives His Spirit to those who trust in Him.  When you have Him; when you have His Spirit, His dream becomes yours.  Let’s pray.

Father, we trust in You now.  We understand that You want all of us, our very lives, and You intend to give us, in return, Yourself – forever.  We receive You now, Lord, and where You send us, we will go.  In Jesus Name.  Amen.

Ron Beckham, Pastor
Friday Study Ministries

Tel: (562) 688-5559
PO Box 92131
Long Beach, CA 90809-2131
"While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8)


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