Old Men Shall Dream Dreams
By Carter Conlon
"And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, that I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, your old men shall dream dreams" (Acts 2:17). You and I are living in the last days, which means that these wonderful promises are for us. In fact, the last days actually began on the day of Pentecost. It was on that day that the apostle Peter confirmed the words spoken by the prophet Joel. The time had come when God would interact in a supernatural way through all who turned to Him.
So what are some of the ways God will do this? Let's start by looking at the first part of the verse: "And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, that I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy." The word "prophesy" in the original text means to declare truths through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
I have personally experienced this. For example, I remember as a young man being sent to Police College. The curriculum included a public speaking course and I was the only novice in a classroom full of seasoned public speakers. But each time I had to speak, I prayed, and God's Holy Spirit came on me as I spoke on Bible topics. It was amazing!
The last assignment was a thirty minute presentation which would determine whether you passed or failed the course. Before it was due, I was called in and told, "Carter, you are a nice guy; we really like you. But this is not an evangelistic association; it is a Police College. You cannot pass your final exam unless you speak on a police topic."
I was terrified! I knew it was only the anointing of God's Spirit that enabled me to speak thus far. But would God anoint me to talk about the preservation of a crime scene?
The next day when it was my turn to speak, I got up and said, "Today I am going to speak about a police topic: the Bible. When we get up to testify in a court of law, we are asked to put our hand on a Book and say, 'I swear, based on what is in this Book, that what I am about to say is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help me God.' Don't you think it is important to know what we are swearing to?"
Everybody agreed, "Yeah, I guess so." So I started in Genesis and went through to Revelation. Thirty minutes on the dial, I said, "He is coming back as King of kings and Lord of lords!"
At the end of the meeting, they were supposed to evaluate me based on eye contact, voice intonations, hand gestures—but nobody did any of that. Everybody looked at me and, one after another, said, "I have never heard anything like that in my whole life!" One guy commented, "Boy, have you ever given me something to think about!" Another said, "Wow, this is what I am swearing to when I put my hand on the Bible?"
I went in there filled with fear, yet by the end, the instructors even asked if I would be interested in coming back to teach the course! That is what God can do! He enables us to declare His truth in a divine way through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
YOUNG MEN SHALL SEE VISIONS
The verse goes on to say, "Your young men shall see visions." The word "visions" means inspired appearances. I have seen visions, which tend to come to me like snapshots—often when I least expect them. One occurred during service as I was worshiping. Pastor David Wilkerson was beside me, and suddenly God gave me a picture of him going all over the world, standing before other pastors who had fallen onto the ground in despair. He was holding a censer, which indicates worship and prayer, and as he stood before them, they started to rise up. They began to give God glory again as hope and courage returned to their hearts.
I leaned over to Pastor David and said, "The Lord has just shown me that He is going to send you all over the world to speak to pastors." Pastor David leaned back and said, "Well, He hasn't spoken that to me yet."And I said, "Well, I can only tell you what He has shown me."
A year later, Pastor David launched out on what became a fifty-six-nation tour, speaking to tens of thousands of pastors. In one particular meeting, there were from eight to ten thousand people gathered, and everyone in the whole stadium went down onto their faces—even the maintenance people in the back—as the presence of God came so powerfully! When they rose to their feet, they were encouraged. They were worshiping again, exactly as God had shown me.
THE GRANDFATHER SIDE
I have given prophecies, I have seen visions, and now the Lord has reserved the best for last: This old man is beginning to dream dreams! That is the third promise. And while I can honestly say that I have had more in my life than my heart could wish for, now that I am "Papa" to eight wonderful grandchildren, I get to experience a side of God that I have never known before.
We see this side of God in the book of Genesis. "Out of the ground, the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name" (Genesis 2:19). This is the grandfather side of God! God created this man Adam out of the dust and then He created all the animals and brought them to him.
A father would say, "Adam, this is a giraffe, now remember that."But a grandfather would say, "Adam, what do you think we should call this?" And the Scripture says that whatever Adam called every living creature, that is what they are today!
I have the privilege of experiencing this wonderful side of God. You see, Mom and Dad represent the law. "Get up in the morning. Brush your teeth. Where are your books? Put on your good shoes. Eat your supper!"That's Mom and Dad!
I have been there; I understand the necessity. It is the legal side of God that says, "Touch not, taste not, handle not" (see Colossians 2:21). "Be careful crossing the road. Don't do this; don't say that."It is the legal side, and moms and dads have to go through that.
But Papa and Grammy get to represent grace—the other side of God! I have a closet in a home we go to in the summertime that I have turned into "Papa's Store." It is filled with candy from top to bottom—Oh Henry! bars, gummy worms, Jujubes, Swedish Fish! At the end of each day, if everybody has behaved, they get to go to Papa's Store and have a handful of whatever they want.
Mom and Dad say, "Eat your brussel sprouts!" But Papa and Grammy get to say, "Ice cream? How much do you want? How about a double scoop cone?"
Just the other night, our grandchildren were jumping on the bed. Now we would never let our kids do that. "You are going to wreck the mattress! You are going to fall and get hurt!"But now we say, "See if you can go higher! If something breaks, it's no big deal!"
You see, I believe that is the way God intended to reveal His character: through the family. And maybe you do not have family, but remember, you are in another family now—the Body of Christ. You get to be Mom and Dad, Grandma and Grandpa here in the Body of Christ!
So, what exactly are these dreams that old men dream? Why are they considered supernatural? The commentator Matthew Henry says these dreams are divine revelations. In other words, as Jesus said of the Holy Spirit: "He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you" (John 16:13-14)
Divine revelations are when God speaks to your heart about the future of not only your children, but of your grandchildren. He will tell you things that He is about to do in and through your family—especially regarding the little ones He has put in your care. These are whispers of God! For example, the Lord promised me years ago that my family will be known for missions long after I am gone. I do not know in what capacity, and I thank God I do not have to make it happen. As the Lord reminded me, "Carter, if you have to make it happen, it is no longer a promise. This is a promise: Your family will be known for missions."
Your old men shall be given these divine revelations! We have more power as grandparents than you and I realize. God gives us the power to speak into the lives of the next generation. He gives us the power to tell them what God is going to do; the plans that He has—especially if we take the time to pray.
It says it this way in the book of Malachi: "I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord [which we read about in Acts chapter two], and he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the earth with a curse" (Malachi 4:6).
In other words, your words have the power to break any curse of sin this world would like to use to captivate your family or those over whom you have influence. I believe that is why the devil has tried to sow selfishness into the Body of Christ, knowing that if our hearts are turned only to ourselves, we lose that power and vision God was willing to give us for the future. However, when our hearts are turned to the children—when we do not see them as just something to be babysat but rather regard them as tomorrow's Church and the future of this nation—we have the power to break the curse of sin on the earth.
What a phenomenal thought! There is incredible power in your speech when you walk with God and your heart is not all about yourself. You are not thinking only about your retirement and your own comfort. Rather, your heart is toward your children and your grandchildren; toward other children whom God has put under your influence. As you are thinking about them, praying for them, living for them, suddenly the divine begins to flow through your life. Those are the dreams the old men begin to dream!
You do not have to make them up; God will simply begin to speak to and through you. And it does not have to be outlandish. It might simply be, "You will be very courageous. You will have a heart for people. Just let God do what He wants to do in your life."
I am entering that stage of my life now, and it is the best. I have preached to five hundred thousand people. I have been in the homes of two presidents; I have traveled. It has been amazing, but nothing beats this! This is what makes growing old the most joyful thing. I see things in my grandchildren—good things. God gives me the ability to speak these things into their lives.
THE POWER OF A WORD
Growing old in the world is fearful—it is all about aches and pains, and your kids are just trying to decide how to look after you. But in the Body of Christ, power is given to old age! It is a power beyond prophesying and seeing visions, as those things are generally about larger events. But at the end of life, it is about the people whom you love. It is about the ones closest to you—those whom God has put under your care. It is about nephews and nieces, grandchildren, or that mother and her three kids across the hall.
That is what it is all about! When you get old in the Body of Christ, you do not have to curl up and die. You start living! And so our cry must be, "Oh, God, turn our hearts to the children of this generation! No matter how far away they might seem, show us their future. Give us the courage to speak into their lives and leave a lasting impact."
It is amazing when you realize that you have the power of speech to make a difference in somebody's life. I remember as a young Christian in my early twenties, I went through a season when I felt like a failure. I had so many struggles in my life, and I ended up under this cloud of despair for a couple of months, feeling that I would never change.
One day I was out with an older police officer named Doug who happened to be a Christian. "What's wrong with you?"he asked.
"I'm just so discouraged," I explained. "I feel like a failure. I want to be different, but it's just hopeless."
He looked at me and said, "That is just the devil trying to condemn you. But there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, who walk after the Spirit, not after the flesh. I know you want God, so let's just put that thing away."
To this day, I still remember those words that he spoke over my life! They were not especially profound; he did not open a text in the Bible. It was simply an older man speaking into a younger man's life, and it enabled me to get up again.
That is the power God is giving you now! It is the power to speak to your family; to make a difference in a generation of young people. He is giving you the power to live for the benefit of others, beginning in your own home. Whether or not your children are still at home or your grandchildren are close by, you still have that power. You can make a phone call. You can write a card if your children are not speaking to you.
Perhaps in the past, your words were not what they should have been. But this can be a new day. Despite our flaws and frailties, God remains faithful and will empower us to speak to the next generation.
Remember, all children in the Body of Christ belong to us, not just our own physical lineage. There are also many out in the streets who belong to God and just do not know it yet. But He will give us the power to get up and go get them. So let's take this promise given to the prophet Joel—this mark of the supernatural that "your old men shall dream dreams" (Acts 2:17). We simply have to choose to dream these dreams to their fullest; to take the deep deposit the Lord has sown into each of our lives and speak a word in season to a troubled heart.
Let's display God's power and make Him known to this next generation!
This newsletter is an edited version of "OLD MEN SHALL DREAM DREAMS," a sermon given on March 19, 2017 in the sanctuary
of Times Square Church in New York City. Other sermons are available by visiting our website at tsc.nyc. You are welcome
to make additional copies of this sermon for free distribution to friends. However, for all other forms of reproduction or
electronic transmission existing copyright laws apply. This sermon cannot be posted on any website or webpage without
permission from Times Square Church. Unless otherwise noted, all scripture references are from the New King James Version.