How to Conquer Worry – Part III

God’s Cure for Worry: Part III- I Have a Dream!

So far we have seen two essential beliefs for a peaceful heart in the midst of the storms of life.

The first essential belief was in the sovereignty of God. The second was the belief God is our provider, who shall provide all our needs.

Today we look at the third essential belief for a peaceful heart- the belief God has a plan for your fulfillment. God wants to give you the desires of your heart, God wants to give you a dream He has just for you.

It was August 28th, 1963 when 250,000 people were gathered in Washington DC for a civil rights march which featured many celebrities, politicians and musicians.  All leading up to a speech by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the preacher from Atlanta GA., who had become the face and voice of civil rights. Dr. King had Mahalia Jackson, the famous gospel singer to sing before he spoke. She and Martin were friends and she had spent much time with him and knew his heart.

Martin started speaking to the rather noisy crowd. He began talking about the Declaration of Independence and certain inalienable rights- but he did not have the attention of the crowd. Seated behind on the podium, Mahalia spoke up to Martin and said, “Tell them about the dream, Martin. Tell them about the dream.”  The rest is history. If you observe the tapes , you will see Martin pause, look up from his notes and what came forth is the powerful ad lib speech known now as I Have a Dream- that came from his heart in phrases and words which electrified the crowd of 250,000 people.  It was the dream God had given Martin Luther King, Jr.  God’s plan for fulfillment.  The dream which kept Martin focused and going during all the trials he faced.

I want to take you back to another dream which kept a young man going in spite of the incredible, horrifying circumstances he found himself in. I want take you back to Genesis where God wants to show us how powerful a dream is when it is God’s dream for you.

I love the book of Genesis. If you are disheartened today because your family is not Facebook perfect, join the club.  When you read the book of Genesis, beginning with Adam and Eve right on through the 12 sons of Jacob, the tribes of Israel, you will not find a single perfect family. In fact they are everyone dysfunctional at some point. Yet God put them in His Facebook, the Bible, to let us see no one is perfect. The very first family Adam and Eve had enough heart ache to last a life time.  They lost their home and it was perfect. They cast a spell over all of mankind so that we were all born with sinful natures. Their son Cain killed his brother Abel. Can you imagine the heartache they lived with- the arguments they must have had about the forbidden fruit, the accusations, and the grief they endured. Guess who their Father was? God.

Things got so bad, we see God take action with the flood and started over with 8 souls, Noah, his wife, his three sons and their wives.  They had problems also. Their offspring included a notorious rebel, Nimrod.

Abraham and Sarah were not exactly the Ozzie and Harriet were they?  They certainly had some issues.  The Egyptian debacle, Lot and Sodom and Gomorrah, Hagar and Ishmael.  And finally comes Isaac, the promised son and heir.

Don’t know about you, but I thought this young man, Isaac, was destined for greatness- but he was a man of sensual appetites who seemed to be bossed by his wife.

Then comes the twins, Esau and Jacob, Isaac’s sons.  Abraham was their grandfather. He did not die until they were 14 years old.  Jacob was a con man, as slick and underhanded as a street hustler. He tricked his older brother out of his birthright.  He left home to escape the wrath of Esau and ended up working for his Uncle Laban. He met his match in deception, as Laban was always tricking Jacob from the very beginning when he pawned off Leah and got 14 years of labor from Jacob by giving him Rachel the one he loved and thought he was marrying the first time. I have given you all of this background to bring you to the story of Joseph. The young boy who had a dream.

Jacob, whose name would later be changed to Israel, was to be the father of the 12 tribes of Israel. He had two wives and two concubines who gave him 12 sons.  Only two of his sons were born to Rachel, Joseph and Benjamin. And Joseph was his favorite.  Talk about a dysfunctional family, Jacob is a text book case of poor parenting skills.

THE DREAM

Have you ever had a dream, a desire which captured your imagination and you begin to see if you could make this dream come true?  You wanted to follow this dream and make it a reality.  You realize God wants to give you the desires of your heart. He wants to share with you the dream He has for you- His plan for fulfillment. “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37) Now let me say this about dreams- the dream which God gives you will be a dream which will glorify God. It will be a dream which will utilize the gifts God has given you- for He is our provider and He will provide you with the abilities, the talents needed to accomplish the dream He has given you.  God did not give me a dream to glorify Him by becoming an all American football player – He did not give me the physical abilities. He did not give me a dream to become a famous singer- I could not carry a tune. He gave me a dream for which He also gave me the abilities to accomplish. (which I will share with you later.)

In the 11th grade I began to run around with a boy from Humboldt. He was the lead singer for a local band.  Back in the 60’s there were a lot of local bands around and Billy Browder was the lead singer for one of those bands. They played high school dances in gyms and armories. Billy was a nice looking kid, with a good singing voice.  He came from a poor family. He had no car and I was always picking him up.  He spent the night with me one night and the next morning was playing the piano and singing. My mother who was an English teacher asked Billy what he wanted to be and he replied- an entertainer. He wanted to be a singer and become a star.  Billy quit school when he was 16. My mother told me- he was making a huge mistake he would live to regret. He moved to Memphis and went to work at Sears.  Through a series of events and great persistence and never giving up on his dream Billy ended up with a recording contract with RCA. He had a string of number one hits in the late 70’s and 80’s. He changed his name to become country and western recording star- TG Shepherd. He appeared not only on television, but also the Grand Ole Opry and concerts and venues all across the country. Billy Browder from Humboldt made it on the cover of People magazine.  He had a dream.

There was another young man, about Billy’s age in the Bible in the book of Genesis who had a dream. His name was Joseph.  He surely must have wondered if he was going to make it through some of the most difficult circumstances one could imagine. He must have had his share of sleepless nights, depression and wondered would it ever lift? Would his life ever change?

Do you remember how long a year was when you were 17?  10 years was like a lifetime. Thirteen years was how long you had been in school.  What could keep a young man of 17 going for 13 years of unbelievable harshness,  including false imprisonment knowing it was his own brothers who had caused it. I tell you what kept him going.   A dream God had given him.  Joseph had a dream.

It started innocently enough one morning when he came to breakfast and began to tell his brothers about two dreams he had.  Joseph’s brothers already disliked him. He was his father’s favorite. Genesis 37 starts his story which will dominate most of the rest of the book of Genesis; his story dominates 12 of the remaining 13 chapters. (God is telling us- this story is important!)  His story starts out by Joseph giving a bad report regarding his brothers. We are told his father loved him more than all his other sons. Jacob, now known as Israel, made him a richly ornamented robe. And the more his father loved and doted on him, the more his brothers hated him.

The dream just made it worse. The dream Joseph shared was about the sheaves which represented his brothers bowing down to him. The second dream was the sun, and the moon and the stars bowing down to him.  And we are told his brothers hated him even more, taunting him saying, ‘are you going to rule over us?’

Some believe Joseph should not have told them about the dream.  But dreams are to be shared, this is the first step in their becoming true. Our God is a ‘dream weaver’ and while He is weaving this tapestry , we view it from the underside where it appears to be a tangle of knotted threads, but as God lifts our eyes above we begin to see- when we look back just what God is and was doing.

It would be this dream which would keep a young man from giving up. It would be this dream which would keep him from becoming bitter and allow him to not only survive, but thrive. Joseph had a dream.

THE PIT

Joseph’s father sent him down to Shechem to check on his brothers. (There are a lot of parallels of Joseph to Jesus, but for now, we will stay with the story.)  When his brothers saw him coming, they plotted to kill him. They said, “here comes the dreamer, let’s kill him and throw him in this cistern and tell our father a ferocious animal killed him.”  You will always have those who want to kill your dreams, rain on your parade, and discourage your dreams.   Are you in a pit today?  Maybe it is one you did not see coming.  Joseph did not see this pit coming.  Here he is in his multicolored coat, a handsome young man, his father’s favorite who has a dream of greatness and great things and all of a sudden, he turns a corner and ends up in a pit.

His brothers are so hard hearted and uncaring, they sit down to eat lunch while Joseph calls out to them from the pit. They have torn his coat and covered it with the blood of a goat.  This coat will be the last thing his father sees of Joseph for over 20 years. His sorrow would cause him to age overnight and live for the next two decades in sorrow and sadness for his favorite son, Joseph.

The next thing Joseph hears is the approach of a caravan, and to his shock he is sold by his brothers for 20 pieces of silver and put in chains and taken down to Egypt.  The enemy comes to steal and kill and destroy your dreams, the abundant life God has for you. Surely Joseph would wonder how this dream would be accomplished as he is taken down to Egypt and put on the auction block, a slave, for sale. He had nothing. He was in a country where he did not even understand their language. He was purchased by Potiphar, one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard.

Is God sovereign? Is He in control of the circumstances in one’s life? He is- because He is the great- I AM. The Dream Weaver is weaving together all things for good. Be patient. Be single minded. Joseph had seemingly lost everything the world would consider valuable. He had lost his position as the favored son, the heir apparent to his father’s estate. No family. He did not even understand the language.  He has lost everything, but THE DREAM. Those dreams God had given Joseph convinced him God had a plan for his fulfillment. He was not sure how they would be accomplished, but he held on to his dream like a drowning man would a life jacket.

WAIT ON THE LORD AND DO GOOD.

Bloom where you are planted, would be a perfect description of what this young man, Joseph would do. He was waiting on the Lord to fulfill his dream, but while he waited he was not idle, sullen or bitter. He did the best he could as a servant in Potiphar’s household.

Got a dead end job?  People don’t recognize your worth and ability?  Others getting to advance up the ladder of success and you cannot get noticed?  Joseph was a hard worker. He had his mother’s good looks and his daddy’s work habits. He worked hard. He did more than was expected.  He believed he was where he was supposed to be and decided to bloom where he was planted.  Watch what happened:  “The Lord was with Joseph and he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master. When his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord gave him success in everything he did, Joseph found favor in the eyes of his master.”  Potiphar put him in charge of everything he owned and the Lord blessed the household.

Joseph was a loyal employee. He was a hard worker. He did more than was expected. He was enthusiastic, creative and obviously worked well with others.  Joseph waited on the Lord and did good.

But the enemy will continue to attack you and do all he can to destroy your dream. Mrs. Potiphar had her eyes on Joseph and was after him continuously flirting with him and trying to seduce him.  Joseph is a young, handsome, lonesome young man, probably 20 years old.  This had to be a great temptation. Joseph kept escaping and told her he could not do such a thing against his master and against his God.

Finally in anger at his refusals to lie with her, Potiphar’s wife accuses him falsely of a sexual assault and Potiphar took him and put him in a pit for the second time. This pit was an Egyptian prison, where Joseph must have wondered how will my dream come to be in such a place as this. Egyptian prisons were underground without windows. The food was horrible, the guards uncaring and cruel. Joseph would be here for probably the next 10 long years.

But- Joseph had a dream.  A dream kept him from being bitter. We read, “But while Joseph was there in prison, the Lord was with him; He showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the warden. So the warden put Joseph in charge of all those held in the prison, and he was made responsible for all that was done there. The Lord was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did.”

Are you in a prison of unfavorable, harsh circumstances today?   Been there for a while?  What do we do while we are waiting on God? We serve him.  In serving the prisoners, Joseph encountered two prisoners, the former cupbearer and the former baker of the king of Egypt. Joseph with God’s help would interpret their dreams accurately.  Two years after the chief cupbearer had been released, the Pharaoh had a dream, and no one could interpret.  You know the rest of the story, Joseph goes in one day from prisoner to the 2nd highest position in all of Egypt.  His strategy to survive the famine saved thousands and thousands of lives.  It also brought his brothers to Egypt to find food. Some would think Joseph was an overnight sensation, not realizing God had been preparing Joseph for this role for 13 years.

Now when he looked back, as Joseph must have done on many occasions he would begin to understand what God had done.  The enemy wanted to destroy the dream and the dreamer.  God would use it for good, what the enemy intended for evil.  Joseph at 17 was not prepared to carry out the dream.  He was soft, spoiled, and success seem to be handed to him on a platter.  Even at Potiphar’s household, he rose quickly to become the number one servant in charge of everything. But God would not allow him to become prideful- ten years in prison was part of God’s boot camp for building the faith and character into Joseph so he was ready for the dream to become reality.  The day would come, when Joseph, now a Prince of Egypt would confront his brothers. They were fearful of the revenge he would take on them. But Joseph through over 20 plus years of adversity and difficulty had learned something about the Dream Weaver.  “What you intended for evil, God meant for good to saving of many lives.” He would care for his brothers and they were overjoyed. Everything was working out- for their brother was the Prince of Egypt.

Life is difficult at times. You may be thrown suddenly in a pit of circumstances of sickness, stress, or sadness. But then you remember, sooner or later, God is sovereign. He is your provider. He allowed this to happen. He has a reason and a purpose for it. But right now looking up at the underside of this tapestry God is weaving is nothing but a confusing mass of knots in your life.

When your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. God will never place more on you than you can bear. So let your faith grow in this test and you will develop some faith muscles you did not know you had. And you will grow stronger and your faith will be strengthened as God makes your dream a reality.

Let God train you. Remember all tests are temporary.  Thirteen years seems like a lifetime to as 17 year old Joseph.  But as Joseph kept doing his best- God assured him He was with him.  Go back and read the story and see how many times it tells us- but the Lord was with Joseph.  The Lord is with you- He will not leave you or forsake you.

The test becomes the testimony.  Your tests become your testimony.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not to your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.”   Proverbs 3.

 

*You may be thinking this morning- I am not sure God has a dream for me or that I am aware of the dream He has for me.  I know what God’s dream is for you: He is not willing you should perish but would come to repent of your sins. God’s dream for you is to be conformed to the image of His Son and this drives everything He allows in your life. God’s dream for you is to allow Him to share His life with you.*

I did not have a dream when I was 17 years old, I just wanted to have fun. When I went off to college in 1963 as a 17 year old, I was clueless.  I did not have a dream to direct my life and I began to wander down the broad way headed for nowhere and ended up a failed alcoholic by age 31.  But God had a dream for me and He was in the process of weaving this dream together for me.  Fast forward six years and I was back in the optical business doing well. I was saved, sober and sane.   We had hired a national speaker by the name of Bob Bieber to come speak to our customers. I sat there through his 3 hour workshop and was amazed at what I was hearing.  I filled several pages with notes, we had taped his workshop and I would listen to it countless number of times in the months to come. I came home that day and told Gina, I have seen what I want to become.  I had a dream.  I wanted to be a national speaker.  It would be 9 years before I stood before an audience in the beginning of a career as a national and international speaker.

I was to discover as Joseph discovered, God is able to do immeasurably more than we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, and to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations! ( Ephesians 3)    Through a series of events our company would end up in the late 80’s test marketing a prototype product for PPG.  It would come to the market place in 1990 and I had already left the company and was in business for myself.  My dream of being a national speaker seemed to have been sidetracked when PPG called me and asked if I could do some consulting for them. It led to a full time career and I became a national speaker and traveled around the world. In the next 25 years I would speak to over 100,000 people on six continents.

All of this happened after I yielded to a request from my pastor, Brother Bob Ervin to become a Sunday School teacher. I gave my testimony for the first time to a crowd of 500 people about my battle with alcohol. It was as a Sunday School teacher God prepared me and brought my gifts and talents together which prepared me for to become a speaker who would develop continuing education courses.  Just as He prepared Joseph.  Joseph would realize when he looked back all of his experiences had prepared him for the leadership position and given him the knowledge of the Egyptian culture, government and economy.

In 1998 God gave me a dream to write my spiritual autobiography. I wrote, sent it to publishers and talked with editors, but no one would publish it. Over the next 17 years- I would re-write, share my dreams with several people and get them to look at my work and offer their advice.  Sometimes it would lay idle for months or even years as other things occupied my time. All the while I was teaching each week, writing lessons and even having some of them put into print as Linda Benthal and Judy Frazier worked to put them together the Bible studies. God was training me.

But God kept bringing me back to my story- which I realized was His story. So I kept at it – because I had a dream. A dream that God gave me and now in 2015, seventeen years after I had the dream- the dream has become a reality.

God is sovereign.

God is our Provider.

God has a plan for our fulfillment.

God has a dream for you.

And remember- your big brother, (Jesus) is a Prince!

 

 

God’s Cure for Worry: Part III- I Have a Dream!

So far we have seen two essential beliefs for a peaceful heart in the midst of the storms of life.
The first essential belief was in the sovereignty of God. The second was the belief God is our provider, who shall provide all our needs.
Today we look at the third essential belief for a peaceful heart- the belief God has a plan for your fulfillment. God wants to give you the desires of your heart, God wants to give you a dream He has just for you.
It was August 28th, 1963 when 250,000 people were gathered in Washington DC for a civil rights march which featured many celebrities, politicians and musicians. All leading up to a speech by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the preacher from Atlanta GA., who had become the face and voice of civil rights. Dr. King had Mahalia Jackson, the famous gospel singer to sing before he spoke. She and Martin were friends and she had spent much time with him and knew his heart.
Martin started speaking to the rather noisy crowd. He began talking about the Declaration of Independence and certain inalienable rights- but he did not have the attention of the crowd. Seated behind on the podium, Mahalia spoke up to Martin and said, “Tell them about the dream, Martin. Tell them about the dream.” The rest is history. If you observe the tapes , you will see Martin pause, look up from his notes and what came forth is the powerful ad lib speech known now as I Have a Dream- that came from his heart in phrases and words which electrified the crowd of 250,000 people. It was the dream God had given Martin Luther King, Jr. God’s plan for fulfillment. The dream which kept Martin focused and going during all the trials he faced.
I want to take you back to another dream which kept a young man going in spite of the incredible, horrifying circumstances he found himself in. I want take you back to Genesis where God wants to show us how powerful a dream is when it is God’s dream for you.
I love the book of Genesis. If you are disheartened today because your family is not Facebook perfect, join the club. When you read the book of Genesis, beginning with Adam and Eve right on through the 12 sons of Jacob, the tribes of Israel, you will not find a single perfect family. In fact they are everyone dysfunctional at some point. Yet God put them in His Facebook, the Bible, to let us see no one is perfect. The very first family Adam and Eve had enough heart ache to last a life time. They lost their home and it was perfect. They cast a spell over all of mankind so that we were all born with sinful natures. Their son Cain killed his brother Abel. Can you imagine the heartache they lived with- the arguments they must have had about the forbidden fruit, the accusations, and the grief they endured. Guess who their Father was? God.
Things got so bad, we see God take action with the flood and started over with 8 souls, Noah, his wife, his three sons and their wives. They had problems also. Their offspring included a notorious rebel, Nimrod.
Abraham and Sarah were not exactly the Ozzie and Harriet were they? They certainly had some issues. The Egyptian debacle, Lot and Sodom and Gomorrah, Hagar and Ishmael. And finally comes Isaac, the promised son and heir.
Don’t know about you, but I thought this young man, Isaac, was destined for greatness- but he was a man of sensual appetites who seemed to be bossed by his wife.
Then comes the twins, Esau and Jacob, Isaac’s sons. Abraham was their grandfather. He did not die until they were 14 years old. Jacob was a con man, as slick and underhanded as a street hustler. He tricked his older brother out of his birthright. He left home to escape the wrath of Esau and ended up working for his Uncle Laban. He met his match in deception, as Laban was always tricking Jacob from the very beginning when he pawned off Leah and got 14 years of labor from Jacob by giving him Rachel the one he loved and thought he was marrying the first time. I have given you all of this background to bring you to the story of Joseph. The young boy who had a dream.
Jacob, whose name would later be changed to Israel, was to be the father of the 12 tribes of Israel. He had two wives and two concubines who gave him 12 sons. Only two of his sons were born to Rachel, Joseph and Benjamin. And Joseph was his favorite. Talk about a dysfunctional family, Jacob is a text book case of poor parenting skills.
THE DREAM
Have you ever had a dream, a desire which captured your imagination and you begin to see if you could make this dream come true? You wanted to follow this dream and make it a reality. You realize God wants to give you the desires of your heart. He wants to share with you the dream He has for you- His plan for fulfillment. “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37) Now let me say this about dreams- the dream which God gives you will be a dream which will glorify God. It will be a dream which will utilize the gifts God has given you- for He is our provider and He will provide you with the abilities, the talents needed to accomplish the dream He has given you. God did not give me a dream to glorify Him by becoming an all American football player – He did not give me the physical abilities. He did not give me a dream to become a famous singer- I could not carry a tune. He gave me a dream for which He also gave me the abilities to accomplish. (which I will share with you later.)
In the 11th grade I began to run around with a boy from Humboldt. He was the lead singer for a local band. Back in the 60’s there were a lot of local bands around and Billy Browder was the lead singer for one of those bands. They played high school dances in gyms and armories. Billy was a nice looking kid, with a good singing voice. He came from a poor family. He had no car and I was always picking him up. He spent the night with me one night and the next morning was playing the piano and singing. My mother who was an English teacher asked Billy what he wanted to be and he replied- an entertainer. He wanted to be a singer and become a star. Billy quit school when he was 16. My mother told me- he was making a huge mistake he would live to regret. He moved to Memphis and went to work at Sears. Through a series of events and great persistence and never giving up on his dream Billy ended up with a recording contract with RCA. He had a string of number one hits in the late 70’s and 80’s. He changed his name to become country and western recording star- TG Shepherd. He appeared not only on television, but also the Grand Ole Opry and concerts and venues all across the country. Billy Browder from Humboldt made it on the cover of People magazine. He had a dream.
There was another young man, about Billy’s age in the Bible in the book of Genesis who had a dream. His name was Joseph. He surely must have wondered if he was going to make it through some of the most difficult circumstances one could imagine. He must have had his share of sleepless nights, depression and wondered would it ever lift? Would his life ever change?
Do you remember how long a year was when you were 17? 10 years was like a lifetime. Thirteen years was how long you had been in school. What could keep a young man of 17 going for 13 years of unbelievable harshness, including false imprisonment knowing it was his own brothers who had caused it. I tell you what kept him going. A dream God had given him. Joseph had a dream.
It started innocently enough one morning when he came to breakfast and began to tell his brothers about two dreams he had. Joseph’s brothers already disliked him. He was his father’s favorite. Genesis 37 starts his story which will dominate most of the rest of the book of Genesis; his story dominates 12 of the remaining 13 chapters. (God is telling us- this story is important!) His story starts out by Joseph giving a bad report regarding his brothers. We are told his father loved him more than all his other sons. Jacob, now known as Israel, made him a richly ornamented robe. And the more his father loved and doted on him, the more his brothers hated him.
The dream just made it worse. The dream Joseph shared was about the sheaves which represented his brothers bowing down to him. The second dream was the sun, and the moon and the stars bowing down to him. And we are told his brothers hated him even more, taunting him saying, ‘are you going to rule over us?’
Some believe Joseph should not have told them about the dream. But dreams are to be shared, this is the first step in their becoming true. Our God is a ‘dream weaver’ and while He is weaving this tapestry , we view it from the underside where it appears to be a tangle of knotted threads, but as God lifts our eyes above we begin to see- when we look back just what God is and was doing.
It would be this dream which would keep a young man from giving up. It would be this dream which would keep him from becoming bitter and allow him to not only survive, but thrive. Joseph had a dream.
THE PIT
Joseph’s father sent him down to Shechem to check on his brothers. (There are a lot of parallels of Joseph to Jesus, but for now, we will stay with the story.) When his brothers saw him coming, they plotted to kill him. They said, “here comes the dreamer, let’s kill him and throw him in this cistern and tell our father a ferocious animal killed him.” You will always have those who want to kill your dreams, rain on your parade, and discourage your dreams. Are you in a pit today? Maybe it is one you did not see coming. Joseph did not see this pit coming. Here he is in his multicolored coat, a handsome young man, his father’s favorite who has a dream of greatness and great things and all of a sudden, he turns a corner and ends up in a pit.
His brothers are so hard hearted and uncaring, they sit down to eat lunch while Joseph calls out to them from the pit. They have torn his coat and covered it with the blood of a goat. This coat will be the last thing his father sees of Joseph for over 20 years. His sorrow would cause him to age overnight and live for the next two decades in sorrow and sadness for his favorite son, Joseph.
The next thing Joseph hears is the approach of a caravan, and to his shock he is sold by his brothers for 20 pieces of silver and put in chains and taken down to Egypt. The enemy comes to steal and kill and destroy your dreams, the abundant life God has for you. Surely Joseph would wonder how this dream would be accomplished as he is taken down to Egypt and put on the auction block, a slave, for sale. He had nothing. He was in a country where he did not even understand their language. He was purchased by Potiphar, one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard.
Is God sovereign? Is He in control of the circumstances in one’s life? He is- because He is the great- I AM. The Dream Weaver is weaving together all things for good. Be patient. Be single minded. Joseph had seemingly lost everything the world would consider valuable. He had lost his position as the favored son, the heir apparent to his father’s estate. No family. He did not even understand the language. He has lost everything, but THE DREAM. Those dreams God had given Joseph convinced him God had a plan for his fulfillment. He was not sure how they would be accomplished, but he held on to his dream like a drowning man would a life jacket.
WAIT ON THE LORD AND DO GOOD.
Bloom where you are planted, would be a perfect description of what this young man, Joseph would do. He was waiting on the Lord to fulfill his dream, but while he waited he was not idle, sullen or bitter. He did the best he could as a servant in Potiphar’s household.
Got a dead end job? People don’t recognize your worth and ability? Others getting to advance up the ladder of success and you cannot get noticed? Joseph was a hard worker. He had his mother’s good looks and his daddy’s work habits. He worked hard. He did more than was expected. He believed he was where he was supposed to be and decided to bloom where he was planted. Watch what happened: “The Lord was with Joseph and he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master. When his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord gave him success in everything he did, Joseph found favor in the eyes of his master.” Potiphar put him in charge of everything he owned and the Lord blessed the household.
Joseph was a loyal employee. He was a hard worker. He did more than was expected. He was enthusiastic, creative and obviously worked well with others. Joseph waited on the Lord and did good.
But the enemy will continue to attack you and do all he can to destroy your dream. Mrs. Potiphar had her eyes on Joseph and was after him continuously flirting with him and trying to seduce him. Joseph is a young, handsome, lonesome young man, probably 20 years old. This had to be a great temptation. Joseph kept escaping and told her he could not do such a thing against his master and against his God.
Finally in anger at his refusals to lie with her, Potiphar’s wife accuses him falsely of a sexual assault and Potiphar took him and put him in a pit for the second time. This pit was an Egyptian prison, where Joseph must have wondered how will my dream come to be in such a place as this. Egyptian prisons were underground without windows. The food was horrible, the guards uncaring and cruel. Joseph would be here for probably the next 10 long years.
But- Joseph had a dream. A dream kept him from being bitter. We read, “But while Joseph was there in prison, the Lord was with him; He showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the warden. So the warden put Joseph in charge of all those held in the prison, and he was made responsible for all that was done there. The Lord was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did.”
Are you in a prison of unfavorable, harsh circumstances today? Been there for a while? What do we do while we are waiting on God? We serve him. In serving the prisoners, Joseph encountered two prisoners, the former cupbearer and the former baker of the king of Egypt. Joseph with God’s help would interpret their dreams accurately. Two years after the chief cupbearer had been released, the Pharaoh had a dream, and no one could interpret. You know the rest of the story, Joseph goes in one day from prisoner to the 2nd highest position in all of Egypt. His strategy to survive the famine saved thousands and thousands of lives. It also brought his brothers to Egypt to find food. Some would think Joseph was an overnight sensation, not realizing God had been preparing Joseph for this role for 13 years.
Now when he looked back, as Joseph must have done on many occasions he would begin to understand what God had done. The enemy wanted to destroy the dream and the dreamer. God would use it for good, what the enemy intended for evil. Joseph at 17 was not prepared to carry out the dream. He was soft, spoiled, and success seem to be handed to him on a platter. Even at Potiphar’s household, he rose quickly to become the number one servant in charge of everything. But God would not allow him to become prideful- ten years in prison was part of God’s boot camp for building the faith and character into Joseph so he was ready for the dream to become reality. The day would come, when Joseph, now a Prince of Egypt would confront his brothers. They were fearful of the revenge he would take on them. But Joseph through over 20 plus years of adversity and difficulty had learned something about the Dream Weaver. “What you intended for evil, God meant for good to saving of many lives.” He would care for his brothers and they were overjoyed. Everything was working out- for their brother was the Prince of Egypt.
Life is difficult at times. You may be thrown suddenly in a pit of circumstances of sickness, stress, or sadness. But then you remember, sooner or later, God is sovereign. He is your provider. He allowed this to happen. He has a reason and a purpose for it. But right now looking up at the underside of this tapestry God is weaving is nothing but a confusing mass of knots in your life.
When your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. God will never place more on you than you can bear. So let your faith grow in this test and you will develop some faith muscles you did not know you had. And you will grow stronger and your faith will be strengthened as God makes your dream a reality.
Let God train you. Remember all tests are temporary. Thirteen years seems like a lifetime to as 17 year old Joseph. But as Joseph kept doing his best- God assured him He was with him. Go back and read the story and see how many times it tells us- but the Lord was with Joseph. The Lord is with you- He will not leave you or forsake you.
The test becomes the testimony. Your tests become your testimony.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not to your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3.

*You may be thinking this morning- I am not sure God has a dream for me or that I am aware of the dream He has for me. I know what God’s dream is for you: He is not willing you should perish but would come to repent of your sins. God’s dream for you is to be conformed to the image of His Son and this drives everything He allows in your life. God’s dream for you is to allow Him to share His life with you.*
I did not have a dream when I was 17 years old, I just wanted to have fun. When I went off to college in 1963 as a 17 year old, I was clueless. I did not have a dream to direct my life and I began to wander down the broad way headed for nowhere and ended up a failed alcoholic by age 31. But God had a dream for me and He was in the process of weaving this dream together for me. Fast forward six years and I was back in the optical business doing well. I was saved, sober and sane. We had hired a national speaker by the name of Bob Bieber to come speak to our customers. I sat there through his 3 hour workshop and was amazed at what I was hearing. I filled several pages with notes, we had taped his workshop and I would listen to it countless number of times in the months to come. I came home that day and told Gina, I have seen what I want to become. I had a dream. I wanted to be a national speaker. It would be 9 years before I stood before an audience in the beginning of a career as a national and international speaker.
I was to discover as Joseph discovered, God is able to do immeasurably more than we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, and to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations! ( Ephesians 3) Through a series of events our company would end up in the late 80’s test marketing a prototype product for PPG. It would come to the market place in 1990 and I had already left the company and was in business for myself. My dream of being a national speaker seemed to have been sidetracked when PPG called me and asked if I could do some consulting for them. It led to a full time career and I became a national speaker and traveled around the world. In the next 25 years I would speak to over 100,000 people on six continents.
All of this happened after I yielded to a request from my pastor, Brother Bob Ervin to become a Sunday School teacher. I gave my testimony for the first time to a crowd of 500 people about my battle with alcohol. It was as a Sunday School teacher God prepared me and brought my gifts and talents together which prepared me for to become a speaker who would develop continuing education courses. Just as He prepared Joseph. Joseph would realize when he looked back all of his experiences had prepared him for the leadership position and given him the knowledge of the Egyptian culture, government and economy.
In 1998 God gave me a dream to write my spiritual autobiography. I wrote, sent it to publishers and talked with editors, but no one would publish it. Over the next 17 years- I would re-write, share my dreams with several people and get them to look at my work and offer their advice. Sometimes it would lay idle for months or even years as other things occupied my time. All the while I was teaching each week, writing lessons and even having some of them put into print as Linda Benthal and Judy Frazier worked to put them together the Bible studies. God was training me.
But God kept bringing me back to my story- which I realized was His story. So I kept at it – because I had a dream. A dream that God gave me and now in 2015, seventeen years after I had the dream- the dream has become a reality.
God is sovereign.
God is our Provider.
God has a plan for our fulfillment.
God has a dream for you.
And remember- your big brother, (Jesus) is a Prince!

God’s Cure for Worry: Part III- I Have a Dream!

 

So far we have seen two essential beliefs for a peaceful heart in the midst of the storms of life.

The first essential belief was in the sovereignty of God. The second was the belief God is our provider, who shall provide all our needs.

Today we look at the third essential belief for a peaceful heart- the belief God has a plan for your fulfillment. God wants to give you the desires of your heart, God wants to give you a dream He has just for you.

It was August 28th, 1963 when 250,000 people were gathered in Washington DC for a civil rights march which featured many celebrities, politicians and musicians.  All leading up to a speech by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the preacher from Atlanta GA., who had become the face and voice of civil rights. Dr. King had Mahalia Jackson, the famous gospel singer to sing before he spoke. She and Martin were friends and she had spent much time with him and knew his heart.

Martin started speaking to the rather noisy crowd. He began talking about the Declaration of Independence and certain inalienable rights- but he did not have the attention of the crowd. Seated behind on the podium, Mahalia spoke up to Martin and said, “Tell them about the dream, Martin. Tell them about the dream.”  The rest is history. If you observe the tapes , you will see Martin pause, look up from his notes and what came forth is the powerful ad lib speech known now as I Have a Dream- that came from his heart in phrases and words which electrified the crowd of 250,000 people.  It was the dream God had given Martin Luther King, Jr.  God’s plan for fulfillment.  The dream which kept Martin focused and going during all the trials he faced.

I want to take you back to another dream which kept a young man going in spite of the incredible, horrifying circumstances he found himself in. I want take you back to Genesis where God wants to show us how powerful a dream is when it is God’s dream for you.

I love the book of Genesis. If you are disheartened today because your family is not Facebook perfect, join the club.  When you read the book of Genesis, beginning with Adam and Eve right on through the 12 sons of Jacob, the tribes of Israel, you will not find a single perfect family. In fact they are everyone dysfunctional at some point. Yet God put them in His Facebook, the Bible, to let us see no one is perfect. The very first family Adam and Eve had enough heart ache to last a life time.  They lost their home and it was perfect. They cast a spell over all of mankind so that we were all born with sinful natures. Their son Cain killed his brother Abel. Can you imagine the heartache they lived with- the arguments they must have had about the forbidden fruit, the accusations, and the grief they endured. Guess who their Father was? God.

Things got so bad, we see God take action with the flood and started over with 8 souls, Noah, his wife, his three sons and their wives.  They had problems also. Their offspring included a notorious rebel, Nimrod.

Abraham and Sarah were not exactly the Ozzie and Harriet were they?  They certainly had some issues.  The Egyptian debacle, Lot and Sodom and Gomorrah, Hagar and Ishmael.  And finally comes Isaac, the promised son and heir.

Don’t know about you, but I thought this young man, Isaac, was destined for greatness- but he was a man of sensual appetites who seemed to be bossed by his wife.

Then comes the twins, Esau and Jacob, Isaac’s sons.  Abraham was their grandfather. He did not die until they were 14 years old.  Jacob was a con man, as slick and underhanded as a street hustler. He tricked his older brother out of his birthright.  He left home to escape the wrath of Esau and ended up working for his Uncle Laban. He met his match in deception, as Laban was always tricking Jacob from the very beginning when he pawned off Leah and got 14 years of labor from Jacob by giving him Rachel the one he loved and thought he was marrying the first time. I have given you all of this background to bring you to the story of Joseph. The young boy who had a dream.

Jacob, whose name would later be changed to Israel, was to be the father of the 12 tribes of Israel. He had two wives and two concubines who gave him 12 sons.  Only two of his sons were born to Rachel, Joseph and Benjamin. And Joseph was his favorite.  Talk about a dysfunctional family, Jacob is a text book case of poor parenting skills.

THE DREAM

Have you ever had a dream, a desire which captured your imagination and you begin to see if you could make this dream come true?  You wanted to follow this dream and make it a reality.  You realize God wants to give you the desires of your heart. He wants to share with you the dream He has for you- His plan for fulfillment. “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37) Now let me say this about dreams- the dream which God gives you will be a dream which will glorify God. It will be a dream which will utilize the gifts God has given you- for He is our provider and He will provide you with the abilities, the talents needed to accomplish the dream He has given you.  God did not give me a dream to glorify Him by becoming an all American football player – He did not give me the physical abilities. He did not give me a dream to become a famous singer- I could not carry a tune. He gave me a dream for which He also gave me the abilities to accomplish. (which I will share with you later.)

In the 11th grade I began to run around with a boy from Humboldt. He was the lead singer for a local band.  Back in the 60’s there were a lot of local bands around and Billy Browder was the lead singer for one of those bands. They played high school dances in gyms and armories. Billy was a nice looking kid, with a good singing voice.  He came from a poor family. He had no car and I was always picking him up.  He spent the night with me one night and the next morning was playing the piano and singing. My mother who was an English teacher asked Billy what he wanted to be and he replied- an entertainer. He wanted to be a singer and become a star.  Billy quit school when he was 16. My mother told me- he was making a huge mistake he would live to regret. He moved to Memphis and went to work at Sears.  Through a series of events and great persistence and never giving up on his dream Billy ended up with a recording contract with RCA. He had a string of number one hits in the late 70’s and 80’s. He changed his name to become country and western recording star- TG Shepherd. He appeared not only on television, but also the Grand Ole Opry and concerts and venues all across the country. Billy Browder from Humboldt made it on the cover of People magazine.  He had a dream.

There was another young man, about Billy’s age in the Bible in the book of Genesis who had a dream. His name was Joseph.  He surely must have wondered if he was going to make it through some of the most difficult circumstances one could imagine. He must have had his share of sleepless nights, depression and wondered would it ever lift? Would his life ever change?

Do you remember how long a year was when you were 17?  10 years was like a lifetime. Thirteen years was how long you had been in school.  What could keep a young man of 17 going for 13 years of unbelievable harshness,  including false imprisonment knowing it was his own brothers who had caused it. I tell you what kept him going.   A dream God had given him.  Joseph had a dream.

It started innocently enough one morning when he came to breakfast and began to tell his brothers about two dreams he had.  Joseph’s brothers already disliked him. He was his father’s favorite. Genesis 37 starts his story which will dominate most of the rest of the book of Genesis; his story dominates 12 of the remaining 13 chapters. (God is telling us- this story is important!)  His story starts out by Joseph giving a bad report regarding his brothers. We are told his father loved him more than all his other sons. Jacob, now known as Israel, made him a richly ornamented robe. And the more his father loved and doted on him, the more his brothers hated him.

The dream just made it worse. The dream Joseph shared was about the sheaves which represented his brothers bowing down to him. The second dream was the sun, and the moon and the stars bowing down to him.  And we are told his brothers hated him even more, taunting him saying, ‘are you going to rule over us?’

Some believe Joseph should not have told them about the dream.  But dreams are to be shared, this is the first step in their becoming true. Our God is a ‘dream weaver’ and while He is weaving this tapestry , we view it from the underside where it appears to be a tangle of knotted threads, but as God lifts our eyes above we begin to see- when we look back just what God is and was doing.

It would be this dream which would keep a young man from giving up. It would be this dream which would keep him from becoming bitter and allow him to not only survive, but thrive. Joseph had a dream.

THE PIT

Joseph’s father sent him down to Shechem to check on his brothers. (There are a lot of parallels of Joseph to Jesus, but for now, we will stay with the story.)  When his brothers saw him coming, they plotted to kill him. They said, “here comes the dreamer, let’s kill him and throw him in this cistern and tell our father a ferocious animal killed him.”  You will always have those who want to kill your dreams, rain on your parade, and discourage your dreams.   Are you in a pit today?  Maybe it is one you did not see coming.  Joseph did not see this pit coming.  Here he is in his multicolored coat, a handsome young man, his father’s favorite who has a dream of greatness and great things and all of a sudden, he turns a corner and ends up in a pit.

His brothers are so hard hearted and uncaring, they sit down to eat lunch while Joseph calls out to them from the pit. They have torn his coat and covered it with the blood of a goat.  This coat will be the last thing his father sees of Joseph for over 20 years. His sorrow would cause him to age overnight and live for the next two decades in sorrow and sadness for his favorite son, Joseph.

The next thing Joseph hears is the approach of a caravan, and to his shock he is sold by his brothers for 20 pieces of silver and put in chains and taken down to Egypt.  The enemy comes to steal and kill and destroy your dreams, the abundant life God has for you. Surely Joseph would wonder how this dream would be accomplished as he is taken down to Egypt and put on the auction block, a slave, for sale. He had nothing. He was in a country where he did not even understand their language. He was purchased by Potiphar, one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard.

Is God sovereign? Is He in control of the circumstances in one’s life? He is- because He is the great- I AM. The Dream Weaver is weaving together all things for good. Be patient. Be single minded. Joseph had seemingly lost everything the world would consider valuable. He had lost his position as the favored son, the heir apparent to his father’s estate. No family. He did not even understand the language.  He has lost everything, but THE DREAM. Those dreams God had given Joseph convinced him God had a plan for his fulfillment. He was not sure how they would be accomplished, but he held on to his dream like a drowning man would a life jacket.

WAIT ON THE LORD AND DO GOOD.

Bloom where you are planted, would be a perfect description of what this young man, Joseph would do. He was waiting on the Lord to fulfill his dream, but while he waited he was not idle, sullen or bitter. He did the best he could as a servant in Potiphar’s household.

Got a dead end job?  People don’t recognize your worth and ability?  Others getting to advance up the ladder of success and you cannot get noticed?  Joseph was a hard worker. He had his mother’s good looks and his daddy’s work habits. He worked hard. He did more than was expected.  He believed he was where he was supposed to be and decided to bloom where he was planted.  Watch what happened:  “The Lord was with Joseph and he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master. When his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord gave him success in everything he did, Joseph found favor in the eyes of his master.”  Potiphar put him in charge of everything he owned and the Lord blessed the household.

Joseph was a loyal employee. He was a hard worker. He did more than was expected. He was enthusiastic, creative and obviously worked well with others.  Joseph waited on the Lord and did good.

But the enemy will continue to attack you and do all he can to destroy your dream. Mrs. Potiphar had her eyes on Joseph and was after him continuously flirting with him and trying to seduce him.  Joseph is a young, handsome, lonesome young man, probably 20 years old.  This had to be a great temptation. Joseph kept escaping and told her he could not do such a thing against his master and against his God.

Finally in anger at his refusals to lie with her, Potiphar’s wife accuses him falsely of a sexual assault and Potiphar took him and put him in a pit for the second time. This pit was an Egyptian prison, where Joseph must have wondered how will my dream come to be in such a place as this. Egyptian prisons were underground without windows. The food was horrible, the guards uncaring and cruel. Joseph would be here for probably the next 10 long years.

But- Joseph had a dream.  A dream kept him from being bitter. We read, “But while Joseph was there in prison, the Lord was with him; He showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the warden. So the warden put Joseph in charge of all those held in the prison, and he was made responsible for all that was done there. The Lord was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did.”

Are you in a prison of unfavorable, harsh circumstances today?   Been there for a while?  What do we do while we are waiting on God? We serve him.  In serving the prisoners, Joseph encountered two prisoners, the former cupbearer and the former baker of the king of Egypt. Joseph with God’s help would interpret their dreams accurately.  Two years after the chief cupbearer had been released, the Pharaoh had a dream, and no one could interpret.  You know the rest of the story, Joseph goes in one day from prisoner to the 2nd highest position in all of Egypt.  His strategy to survive the famine saved thousands and thousands of lives.  It also brought his brothers to Egypt to find food. Some would think Joseph was an overnight sensation, not realizing God had been preparing Joseph for this role for 13 years.

Now when he looked back, as Joseph must have done on many occasions he would begin to understand what God had done.  The enemy wanted to destroy the dream and the dreamer.  God would use it for good, what the enemy intended for evil.  Joseph at 17 was not prepared to carry out the dream.  He was soft, spoiled, and success seem to be handed to him on a platter.  Even at Potiphar’s household, he rose quickly to become the number one servant in charge of everything. But God would not allow him to become prideful- ten years in prison was part of God’s boot camp for building the faith and character into Joseph so he was ready for the dream to become reality.  The day would come, when Joseph, now a Prince of Egypt would confront his brothers. They were fearful of the revenge he would take on them. But Joseph through over 20 plus years of adversity and difficulty had learned something about the Dream Weaver.  “What you intended for evil, God meant for good to saving of many lives.” He would care for his brothers and they were overjoyed. Everything was working out- for their brother was the Prince of Egypt.

Life is difficult at times. You may be thrown suddenly in a pit of circumstances of sickness, stress, or sadness. But then you remember, sooner or later, God is sovereign. He is your provider. He allowed this to happen. He has a reason and a purpose for it. But right now looking up at the underside of this tapestry God is weaving is nothing but a confusing mass of knots in your life.

When your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. God will never place more on you than you can bear. So let your faith grow in this test and you will develop some faith muscles you did not know you had. And you will grow stronger and your faith will be strengthened as God makes your dream a reality.

Let God train you. Remember all tests are temporary.  Thirteen years seems like a lifetime to as 17 year old Joseph.  But as Joseph kept doing his best- God assured him He was with him.  Go back and read the story and see how many times it tells us- but the Lord was with Joseph.  The Lord is with you- He will not leave you or forsake you.

The test becomes the testimony.  Your tests become your testimony.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not to your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.”   Proverbs 3.

 

*You may be thinking this morning- I am not sure God has a dream for me or that I am aware of the dream He has for me.  I know what God’s dream is for you: He is not willing you should perish but would come to repent of your sins. God’s dream for you is to be conformed to the image of His Son and this drives everything He allows in your life. God’s dream for you is to allow Him to share His life with you.*

I did not have a dream when I was 17 years old, I just wanted to have fun. When I went off to college in 1963 as a 17 year old, I was clueless.  I did not have a dream to direct my life and I began to wander down the broad way headed for nowhere and ended up a failed alcoholic by age 31.  But God had a dream for me and He was in the process of weaving this dream together for me.  Fast forward six years and I was back in the optical business doing well. I was saved, sober and sane.   We had hired a national speaker by the name of Bob Bieber to come speak to our customers. I sat there through his 3 hour workshop and was amazed at what I was hearing.  I filled several pages with notes, we had taped his workshop and I would listen to it countless number of times in the months to come. I came home that day and told Gina, I have seen what I want to become.  I had a dream.  I wanted to be a national speaker.  It would be 9 years before I stood before an audience in the beginning of a career as a national and international speaker.

I was to discover as Joseph discovered, God is able to do immeasurably more than we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, and to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations! ( Ephesians 3)    Through a series of events our company would end up in the late 80’s test marketing a prototype product for PPG.  It would come to the market place in 1990 and I had already left the company and was in business for myself.  My dream of being a national speaker seemed to have been sidetracked when PPG called me and asked if I could do some consulting for them. It led to a full time career and I became a national speaker and traveled around the world. In the next 25 years I would speak to over 100,000 people on six continents.

All of this happened after I yielded to a request from my pastor, Brother Bob Ervin to become a Sunday School teacher. I gave my testimony for the first time to a crowd of 500 people about my battle with alcohol. It was as a Sunday School teacher God prepared me and brought my gifts and talents together which prepared me for to become a speaker who would develop continuing education courses.  Just as He prepared Joseph.  Joseph would realize when he looked back all of his experiences had prepared him for the leadership position and given him the knowledge of the Egyptian culture, government and economy.

In 1998 God gave me a dream to write my spiritual autobiography. I wrote, sent it to publishers and talked with editors, but no one would publish it. Over the next 17 years- I would re-write, share my dreams with several people and get them to look at my work and offer their advice.  Sometimes it would lay idle for months or even years as other things occupied my time. All the while I was teaching each week, writing lessons and even having some of them put into print as Linda Benthal and Judy Frazier worked to put them together the Bible studies. God was training me.

But God kept bringing me back to my story- which I realized was His story. So I kept at it – because I had a dream. A dream that God gave me and now in 2015, seventeen years after I had the dream- the dream has become a reality.

God is sovereign.

God is our Provider.

God has a plan for our fulfillment.

God has a dream for you.

And remember- your big brother, (Jesus) is a Prince!

 

 

God’s Cure for Worry: Part III- I Have a Dream!

 

So far we have seen two essential beliefs for a peaceful heart in the midst of the storms of life.

The first essential belief was in the sovereignty of God. The second was the belief God is our provider, who shall provide all our needs.

Today we look at the third essential belief for a peaceful heart- the belief God has a plan for your fulfillment. God wants to give you the desires of your heart, God wants to give you a dream He has just for you.

It was August 28th, 1963 when 250,000 people were gathered in Washington DC for a civil rights march which featured many celebrities, politicians and musicians.  All leading up to a speech by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the preacher from Atlanta GA., who had become the face and voice of civil rights. Dr. King had Mahalia Jackson, the famous gospel singer to sing before he spoke. She and Martin were friends and she had spent much time with him and knew his heart.

Martin started speaking to the rather noisy crowd. He began talking about the Declaration of Independence and certain inalienable rights- but he did not have the attention of the crowd. Seated behind on the podium, Mahalia spoke up to Martin and said, “Tell them about the dream, Martin. Tell them about the dream.”  The rest is history. If you observe the tapes , you will see Martin pause, look up from his notes and what came forth is the powerful ad lib speech known now as I Have a Dream- that came from his heart in phrases and words which electrified the crowd of 250,000 people.  It was the dream God had given Martin Luther King, Jr.  God’s plan for fulfillment.  The dream which kept Martin focused and going during all the trials he faced.

I want to take you back to another dream which kept a young man going in spite of the incredible, horrifying circumstances he found himself in. I want take you back to Genesis where God wants to show us how powerful a dream is when it is God’s dream for you.

I love the book of Genesis. If you are disheartened today because your family is not Facebook perfect, join the club.  When you read the book of Genesis, beginning with Adam and Eve right on through the 12 sons of Jacob, the tribes of Israel, you will not find a single perfect family. In fact they are everyone dysfunctional at some point. Yet God put them in His Facebook, the Bible, to let us see no one is perfect. The very first family Adam and Eve had enough heart ache to last a life time.  They lost their home and it was perfect. They cast a spell over all of mankind so that we were all born with sinful natures. Their son Cain killed his brother Abel. Can you imagine the heartache they lived with- the arguments they must have had about the forbidden fruit, the accusations, and the grief they endured. Guess who their Father was? God.

Things got so bad, we see God take action with the flood and started over with 8 souls, Noah, his wife, his three sons and their wives.  They had problems also. Their offspring included a notorious rebel, Nimrod.

Abraham and Sarah were not exactly the Ozzie and Harriet were they?  They certainly had some issues.  The Egyptian debacle, Lot and Sodom and Gomorrah, Hagar and Ishmael.  And finally comes Isaac, the promised son and heir.

Don’t know about you, but I thought this young man, Isaac, was destined for greatness- but he was a man of sensual appetites who seemed to be bossed by his wife.

Then comes the twins, Esau and Jacob, Isaac’s sons.  Abraham was their grandfather. He did not die until they were 14 years old.  Jacob was a con man, as slick and underhanded as a street hustler. He tricked his older brother out of his birthright.  He left home to escape the wrath of Esau and ended up working for his Uncle Laban. He met his match in deception, as Laban was always tricking Jacob from the very beginning when he pawned off Leah and got 14 years of labor from Jacob by giving him Rachel the one he loved and thought he was marrying the first time. I have given you all of this background to bring you to the story of Joseph. The young boy who had a dream.

Jacob, whose name would later be changed to Israel, was to be the father of the 12 tribes of Israel. He had two wives and two concubines who gave him 12 sons.  Only two of his sons were born to Rachel, Joseph and Benjamin. And Joseph was his favorite.  Talk about a dysfunctional family, Jacob is a text book case of poor parenting skills.

THE DREAM

Have you ever had a dream, a desire which captured your imagination and you begin to see if you could make this dream come true?  You wanted to follow this dream and make it a reality.  You realize God wants to give you the desires of your heart. He wants to share with you the dream He has for you- His plan for fulfillment. “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37) Now let me say this about dreams- the dream which God gives you will be a dream which will glorify God. It will be a dream which will utilize the gifts God has given you- for He is our provider and He will provide you with the abilities, the talents needed to accomplish the dream He has given you.  God did not give me a dream to glorify Him by becoming an all American football player – He did not give me the physical abilities. He did not give me a dream to become a famous singer- I could not carry a tune. He gave me a dream for which He also gave me the abilities to accomplish. (which I will share with you later.)

In the 11th grade I began to run around with a boy from Humboldt. He was the lead singer for a local band.  Back in the 60’s there were a lot of local bands around and Billy Browder was the lead singer for one of those bands. They played high school dances in gyms and armories. Billy was a nice looking kid, with a good singing voice.  He came from a poor family. He had no car and I was always picking him up.  He spent the night with me one night and the next morning was playing the piano and singing. My mother who was an English teacher asked Billy what he wanted to be and he replied- an entertainer. He wanted to be a singer and become a star.  Billy quit school when he was 16. My mother told me- he was making a huge mistake he would live to regret. He moved to Memphis and went to work at Sears.  Through a series of events and great persistence and never giving up on his dream Billy ended up with a recording contract with RCA. He had a string of number one hits in the late 70’s and 80’s. He changed his name to become country and western recording star- TG Shepherd. He appeared not only on television, but also the Grand Ole Opry and concerts and venues all across the country. Billy Browder from Humboldt made it on the cover of People magazine.  He had a dream.

There was another young man, about Billy’s age in the Bible in the book of Genesis who had a dream. His name was Joseph.  He surely must have wondered if he was going to make it through some of the most difficult circumstances one could imagine. He must have had his share of sleepless nights, depression and wondered would it ever lift? Would his life ever change?

Do you remember how long a year was when you were 17?  10 years was like a lifetime. Thirteen years was how long you had been in school.  What could keep a young man of 17 going for 13 years of unbelievable harshness,  including false imprisonment knowing it was his own brothers who had caused it. I tell you what kept him going.   A dream God had given him.  Joseph had a dream.

It started innocently enough one morning when he came to breakfast and began to tell his brothers about two dreams he had.  Joseph’s brothers already disliked him. He was his father’s favorite. Genesis 37 starts his story which will dominate most of the rest of the book of Genesis; his story dominates 12 of the remaining 13 chapters. (God is telling us- this story is important!)  His story starts out by Joseph giving a bad report regarding his brothers. We are told his father loved him more than all his other sons. Jacob, now known as Israel, made him a richly ornamented robe. And the more his father loved and doted on him, the more his brothers hated him.

The dream just made it worse. The dream Joseph shared was about the sheaves which represented his brothers bowing down to him. The second dream was the sun, and the moon and the stars bowing down to him.  And we are told his brothers hated him even more, taunting him saying, ‘are you going to rule over us?’

Some believe Joseph should not have told them about the dream.  But dreams are to be shared, this is the first step in their becoming true. Our God is a ‘dream weaver’ and while He is weaving this tapestry , we view it from the underside where it appears to be a tangle of knotted threads, but as God lifts our eyes above we begin to see- when we look back just what God is and was doing.

It would be this dream which would keep a young man from giving up. It would be this dream which would keep him from becoming bitter and allow him to not only survive, but thrive. Joseph had a dream.

THE PIT

Joseph’s father sent him down to Shechem to check on his brothers. (There are a lot of parallels of Joseph to Jesus, but for now, we will stay with the story.)  When his brothers saw him coming, they plotted to kill him. They said, “here comes the dreamer, let’s kill him and throw him in this cistern and tell our father a ferocious animal killed him.”  You will always have those who want to kill your dreams, rain on your parade, and discourage your dreams.   Are you in a pit today?  Maybe it is one you did not see coming.  Joseph did not see this pit coming.  Here he is in his multicolored coat, a handsome young man, his father’s favorite who has a dream of greatness and great things and all of a sudden, he turns a corner and ends up in a pit.

His brothers are so hard hearted and uncaring, they sit down to eat lunch while Joseph calls out to them from the pit. They have torn his coat and covered it with the blood of a goat.  This coat will be the last thing his father sees of Joseph for over 20 years. His sorrow would cause him to age overnight and live for the next two decades in sorrow and sadness for his favorite son, Joseph.

The next thing Joseph hears is the approach of a caravan, and to his shock he is sold by his brothers for 20 pieces of silver and put in chains and taken down to Egypt.  The enemy comes to steal and kill and destroy your dreams, the abundant life God has for you. Surely Joseph would wonder how this dream would be accomplished as he is taken down to Egypt and put on the auction block, a slave, for sale. He had nothing. He was in a country where he did not even understand their language. He was purchased by Potiphar, one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard.

Is God sovereign? Is He in control of the circumstances in one’s life? He is- because He is the great- I AM. The Dream Weaver is weaving together all things for good. Be patient. Be single minded. Joseph had seemingly lost everything the world would consider valuable. He had lost his position as the favored son, the heir apparent to his father’s estate. No family. He did not even understand the language.  He has lost everything, but THE DREAM. Those dreams God had given Joseph convinced him God had a plan for his fulfillment. He was not sure how they would be accomplished, but he held on to his dream like a drowning man would a life jacket.

WAIT ON THE LORD AND DO GOOD.

Bloom where you are planted, would be a perfect description of what this young man, Joseph would do. He was waiting on the Lord to fulfill his dream, but while he waited he was not idle, sullen or bitter. He did the best he could as a servant in Potiphar’s household.

Got a dead end job?  People don’t recognize your worth and ability?  Others getting to advance up the ladder of success and you cannot get noticed?  Joseph was a hard worker. He had his mother’s good looks and his daddy’s work habits. He worked hard. He did more than was expected.  He believed he was where he was supposed to be and decided to bloom where he was planted.  Watch what happened:  “The Lord was with Joseph and he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master. When his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord gave him success in everything he did, Joseph found favor in the eyes of his master.”  Potiphar put him in charge of everything he owned and the Lord blessed the household.

Joseph was a loyal employee. He was a hard worker. He did more than was expected. He was enthusiastic, creative and obviously worked well with others.  Joseph waited on the Lord and did good.

But the enemy will continue to attack you and do all he can to destroy your dream. Mrs. Potiphar had her eyes on Joseph and was after him continuously flirting with him and trying to seduce him.  Joseph is a young, handsome, lonesome young man, probably 20 years old.  This had to be a great temptation. Joseph kept escaping and told her he could not do such a thing against his master and against his God.

Finally in anger at his refusals to lie with her, Potiphar’s wife accuses him falsely of a sexual assault and Potiphar took him and put him in a pit for the second time. This pit was an Egyptian prison, where Joseph must have wondered how will my dream come to be in such a place as this. Egyptian prisons were underground without windows. The food was horrible, the guards uncaring and cruel. Joseph would be here for probably the next 10 long years.

But- Joseph had a dream.  A dream kept him from being bitter. We read, “But while Joseph was there in prison, the Lord was with him; He showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the warden. So the warden put Joseph in charge of all those held in the prison, and he was made responsible for all that was done there. The Lord was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did.”

Are you in a prison of unfavorable, harsh circumstances today?   Been there for a while?  What do we do while we are waiting on God? We serve him.  In serving the prisoners, Joseph encountered two prisoners, the former cupbearer and the former baker of the king of Egypt. Joseph with God’s help would interpret their dreams accurately.  Two years after the chief cupbearer had been released, the Pharaoh had a dream, and no one could interpret.  You know the rest of the story, Joseph goes in one day from prisoner to the 2nd highest position in all of Egypt.  His strategy to survive the famine saved thousands and thousands of lives.  It also brought his brothers to Egypt to find food. Some would think Joseph was an overnight sensation, not realizing God had been preparing Joseph for this role for 13 years.

Now when he looked back, as Joseph must have done on many occasions he would begin to understand what God had done.  The enemy wanted to destroy the dream and the dreamer.  God would use it for good, what the enemy intended for evil.  Joseph at 17 was not prepared to carry out the dream.  He was soft, spoiled, and success seem to be handed to him on a platter.  Even at Potiphar’s household, he rose quickly to become the number one servant in charge of everything. But God would not allow him to become prideful- ten years in prison was part of God’s boot camp for building the faith and character into Joseph so he was ready for the dream to become reality.  The day would come, when Joseph, now a Prince of Egypt would confront his brothers. They were fearful of the revenge he would take on them. But Joseph through over 20 plus years of adversity and difficulty had learned something about the Dream Weaver.  “What you intended for evil, God meant for good to saving of many lives.” He would care for his brothers and they were overjoyed. Everything was working out- for their brother was the Prince of Egypt.

Life is difficult at times. You may be thrown suddenly in a pit of circumstances of sickness, stress, or sadness. But then you remember, sooner or later, God is sovereign. He is your provider. He allowed this to happen. He has a reason and a purpose for it. But right now looking up at the underside of this tapestry God is weaving is nothing but a confusing mass of knots in your life.

When your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. God will never place more on you than you can bear. So let your faith grow in this test and you will develop some faith muscles you did not know you had. And you will grow stronger and your faith will be strengthened as God makes your dream a reality.

Let God train you. Remember all tests are temporary.  Thirteen years seems like a lifetime to as 17 year old Joseph.  But as Joseph kept doing his best- God assured him He was with him.  Go back and read the story and see how many times it tells us- but the Lord was with Joseph.  The Lord is with you- He will not leave you or forsake you.

The test becomes the testimony.  Your tests become your testimony.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not to your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.”   Proverbs 3.

 

*You may be thinking this morning- I am not sure God has a dream for me or that I am aware of the dream He has for me.  I know what God’s dream is for you: He is not willing you should perish but would come to repent of your sins. God’s dream for you is to be conformed to the image of His Son and this drives everything He allows in your life. God’s dream for you is to allow Him to share His life with you.*

I did not have a dream when I was 17 years old, I just wanted to have fun. When I went off to college in 1963 as a 17 year old, I was clueless.  I did not have a dream to direct my life and I began to wander down the broad way headed for nowhere and ended up a failed alcoholic by age 31.  But God had a dream for me and He was in the process of weaving this dream together for me.  Fast forward six years and I was back in the optical business doing well. I was saved, sober and sane.   We had hired a national speaker by the name of Bob Bieber to come speak to our customers. I sat there through his 3 hour workshop and was amazed at what I was hearing.  I filled several pages with notes, we had taped his workshop and I would listen to it countless number of times in the months to come. I came home that day and told Gina, I have seen what I want to become.  I had a dream.  I wanted to be a national speaker.  It would be 9 years before I stood before an audience in the beginning of a career as a national and international speaker.

I was to discover as Joseph discovered, God is able to do immeasurably more than we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, and to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations! ( Ephesians 3)    Through a series of events our company would end up in the late 80’s test marketing a prototype product for PPG.  It would come to the market place in 1990 and I had already left the company and was in business for myself.  My dream of being a national speaker seemed to have been sidetracked when PPG called me and asked if I could do some consulting for them. It led to a full time career and I became a national speaker and traveled around the world. In the next 25 years I would speak to over 100,000 people on six continents.

All of this happened after I yielded to a request from my pastor, Brother Bob Ervin to become a Sunday School teacher. I gave my testimony for the first time to a crowd of 500 people about my battle with alcohol. It was as a Sunday School teacher God prepared me and brought my gifts and talents together which prepared me for to become a speaker who would develop continuing education courses.  Just as He prepared Joseph.  Joseph would realize when he looked back all of his experiences had prepared him for the leadership position and given him the knowledge of the Egyptian culture, government and economy.

In 1998 God gave me a dream to write my spiritual autobiography. I wrote, sent it to publishers and talked with editors, but no one would publish it. Over the next 17 years- I would re-write, share my dreams with several people and get them to look at my work and offer their advice.  Sometimes it would lay idle for months or even years as other things occupied my time. All the while I was teaching each week, writing lessons and even having some of them put into print as Linda Benthal and Judy Frazier worked to put them together the Bible studies. God was training me.

But God kept bringing me back to my story- which I realized was His story. So I kept at it – because I had a dream. A dream that God gave me and now in 2015, seventeen years after I had the dream- the dream has become a reality.

God is sovereign.

God is our Provider.

God has a plan for our fulfillment.

God has a dream for you.

And remember- your big brother, (Jesus) is a Prince!

 

 

God’s Cure for Worry: Part III- I Have a Dream!

 

So far we have seen two essential beliefs for a peaceful heart in the midst of the storms of life.

The first essential belief was in the sovereignty of God. The second was the belief God is our provider, who shall provide all our needs.

Today we look at the third essential belief for a peaceful heart- the belief God has a plan for your fulfillment. God wants to give you the desires of your heart, God wants to give you a dream He has just for you.

It was August 28th, 1963 when 250,000 people were gathered in Washington DC for a civil rights march which featured many celebrities, politicians and musicians.  All leading up to a speech by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the preacher from Atlanta GA., who had become the face and voice of civil rights. Dr. King had Mahalia Jackson, the famous gospel singer to sing before he spoke. She and Martin were friends and she had spent much time with him and knew his heart.

Martin started speaking to the rather noisy crowd. He began talking about the Declaration of Independence and certain inalienable rights- but he did not have the attention of the crowd. Seated behind on the podium, Mahalia spoke up to Martin and said, “Tell them about the dream, Martin. Tell them about the dream.”  The rest is history. If you observe the tapes , you will see Martin pause, look up from his notes and what came forth is the powerful ad lib speech known now as I Have a Dream- that came from his heart in phrases and words which electrified the crowd of 250,000 people.  It was the dream God had given Martin Luther King, Jr.  God’s plan for fulfillment.  The dream which kept Martin focused and going during all the trials he faced.

I want to take you back to another dream which kept a young man going in spite of the incredible, horrifying circumstances he found himself in. I want take you back to Genesis where God wants to show us how powerful a dream is when it is God’s dream for you.

I love the book of Genesis. If you are disheartened today because your family is not Facebook perfect, join the club.  When you read the book of Genesis, beginning with Adam and Eve right on through the 12 sons of Jacob, the tribes of Israel, you will not find a single perfect family. In fact they are everyone dysfunctional at some point. Yet God put them in His Facebook, the Bible, to let us see no one is perfect. The very first family Adam and Eve had enough heart ache to last a life time.  They lost their home and it was perfect. They cast a spell over all of mankind so that we were all born with sinful natures. Their son Cain killed his brother Abel. Can you imagine the heartache they lived with- the arguments they must have had about the forbidden fruit, the accusations, and the grief they endured. Guess who their Father was? God.

Things got so bad, we see God take action with the flood and started over with 8 souls, Noah, his wife, his three sons and their wives.  They had problems also. Their offspring included a notorious rebel, Nimrod.

Abraham and Sarah were not exactly the Ozzie and Harriet were they?  They certainly had some issues.  The Egyptian debacle, Lot and Sodom and Gomorrah, Hagar and Ishmael.  And finally comes Isaac, the promised son and heir.

Don’t know about you, but I thought this young man, Isaac, was destined for greatness- but he was a man of sensual appetites who seemed to be bossed by his wife.

Then comes the twins, Esau and Jacob, Isaac’s sons.  Abraham was their grandfather. He did not die until they were 14 years old.  Jacob was a con man, as slick and underhanded as a street hustler. He tricked his older brother out of his birthright.  He left home to escape the wrath of Esau and ended up working for his Uncle Laban. He met his match in deception, as Laban was always tricking Jacob from the very beginning when he pawned off Leah and got 14 years of labor from Jacob by giving him Rachel the one he loved and thought he was marrying the first time. I have given you all of this background to bring you to the story of Joseph. The young boy who had a dream.

Jacob, whose name would later be changed to Israel, was to be the father of the 12 tribes of Israel. He had two wives and two concubines who gave him 12 sons.  Only two of his sons were born to Rachel, Joseph and Benjamin. And Joseph was his favorite.  Talk about a dysfunctional family, Jacob is a text book case of poor parenting skills.

THE DREAM

Have you ever had a dream, a desire which captured your imagination and you begin to see if you could make this dream come true?  You wanted to follow this dream and make it a reality.  You realize God wants to give you the desires of your heart. He wants to share with you the dream He has for you- His plan for fulfillment. “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37) Now let me say this about dreams- the dream which God gives you will be a dream which will glorify God. It will be a dream which will utilize the gifts God has given you- for He is our provider and He will provide you with the abilities, the talents needed to accomplish the dream He has given you.  God did not give me a dream to glorify Him by becoming an all American football player – He did not give me the physical abilities. He did not give me a dream to become a famous singer- I could not carry a tune. He gave me a dream for which He also gave me the abilities to accomplish. (which I will share with you later.)

In the 11th grade I began to run around with a boy from Humboldt. He was the lead singer for a local band.  Back in the 60’s there were a lot of local bands around and Billy Browder was the lead singer for one of those bands. They played high school dances in gyms and armories. Billy was a nice looking kid, with a good singing voice.  He came from a poor family. He had no car and I was always picking him up.  He spent the night with me one night and the next morning was playing the piano and singing. My mother who was an English teacher asked Billy what he wanted to be and he replied- an entertainer. He wanted to be a singer and become a star.  Billy quit school when he was 16. My mother told me- he was making a huge mistake he would live to regret. He moved to Memphis and went to work at Sears.  Through a series of events and great persistence and never giving up on his dream Billy ended up with a recording contract with RCA. He had a string of number one hits in the late 70’s and 80’s. He changed his name to become country and western recording star- TG Shepherd. He appeared not only on television, but also the Grand Ole Opry and concerts and venues all across the country. Billy Browder from Humboldt made it on the cover of People magazine.  He had a dream.

There was another young man, about Billy’s age in the Bible in the book of Genesis who had a dream. His name was Joseph.  He surely must have wondered if he was going to make it through some of the most difficult circumstances one could imagine. He must have had his share of sleepless nights, depression and wondered would it ever lift? Would his life ever change?

Do you remember how long a year was when you were 17?  10 years was like a lifetime. Thirteen years was how long you had been in school.  What could keep a young man of 17 going for 13 years of unbelievable harshness,  including false imprisonment knowing it was his own brothers who had caused it. I tell you what kept him going.   A dream God had given him.  Joseph had a dream.

It started innocently enough one morning when he came to breakfast and began to tell his brothers about two dreams he had.  Joseph’s brothers already disliked him. He was his father’s favorite. Genesis 37 starts his story which will dominate most of the rest of the book of Genesis; his story dominates 12 of the remaining 13 chapters. (God is telling us- this story is important!)  His story starts out by Joseph giving a bad report regarding his brothers. We are told his father loved him more than all his other sons. Jacob, now known as Israel, made him a richly ornamented robe. And the more his father loved and doted on him, the more his brothers hated him.

The dream just made it worse. The dream Joseph shared was about the sheaves which represented his brothers bowing down to him. The second dream was the sun, and the moon and the stars bowing down to him.  And we are told his brothers hated him even more, taunting him saying, ‘are you going to rule over us?’

Some believe Joseph should not have told them about the dream.  But dreams are to be shared, this is the first step in their becoming true. Our God is a ‘dream weaver’ and while He is weaving this tapestry , we view it from the underside where it appears to be a tangle of knotted threads, but as God lifts our eyes above we begin to see- when we look back just what God is and was doing.

It would be this dream which would keep a young man from giving up. It would be this dream which would keep him from becoming bitter and allow him to not only survive, but thrive. Joseph had a dream.

THE PIT

Joseph’s father sent him down to Shechem to check on his brothers. (There are a lot of parallels of Joseph to Jesus, but for now, we will stay with the story.)  When his brothers saw him coming, they plotted to kill him. They said, “here comes the dreamer, let’s kill him and throw him in this cistern and tell our father a ferocious animal killed him.”  You will always have those who want to kill your dreams, rain on your parade, and discourage your dreams.   Are you in a pit today?  Maybe it is one you did not see coming.  Joseph did not see this pit coming.  Here he is in his multicolored coat, a handsome young man, his father’s favorite who has a dream of greatness and great things and all of a sudden, he turns a corner and ends up in a pit.

His brothers are so hard hearted and uncaring, they sit down to eat lunch while Joseph calls out to them from the pit. They have torn his coat and covered it with the blood of a goat.  This coat will be the last thing his father sees of Joseph for over 20 years. His sorrow would cause him to age overnight and live for the next two decades in sorrow and sadness for his favorite son, Joseph.

The next thing Joseph hears is the approach of a caravan, and to his shock he is sold by his brothers for 20 pieces of silver and put in chains and taken down to Egypt.  The enemy comes to steal and kill and destroy your dreams, the abundant life God has for you. Surely Joseph would wonder how this dream would be accomplished as he is taken down to Egypt and put on the auction block, a slave, for sale. He had nothing. He was in a country where he did not even understand their language. He was purchased by Potiphar, one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard.

Is God sovereign? Is He in control of the circumstances in one’s life? He is- because He is the great- I AM. The Dream Weaver is weaving together all things for good. Be patient. Be single minded. Joseph had seemingly lost everything the world would consider valuable. He had lost his position as the favored son, the heir apparent to his father’s estate. No family. He did not even understand the language.  He has lost everything, but THE DREAM. Those dreams God had given Joseph convinced him God had a plan for his fulfillment. He was not sure how they would be accomplished, but he held on to his dream like a drowning man would a life jacket.

WAIT ON THE LORD AND DO GOOD.

Bloom where you are planted, would be a perfect description of what this young man, Joseph would do. He was waiting on the Lord to fulfill his dream, but while he waited he was not idle, sullen or bitter. He did the best he could as a servant in Potiphar’s household.

Got a dead end job?  People don’t recognize your worth and ability?  Others getting to advance up the ladder of success and you cannot get noticed?  Joseph was a hard worker. He had his mother’s good looks and his daddy’s work habits. He worked hard. He did more than was expected.  He believed he was where he was supposed to be and decided to bloom where he was planted.  Watch what happened:  “The Lord was with Joseph and he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master. When his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord gave him success in everything he did, Joseph found favor in the eyes of his master.”  Potiphar put him in charge of everything he owned and the Lord blessed the household.

Joseph was a loyal employee. He was a hard worker. He did more than was expected. He was enthusiastic, creative and obviously worked well with others.  Joseph waited on the Lord and did good.

But the enemy will continue to attack you and do all he can to destroy your dream. Mrs. Potiphar had her eyes on Joseph and was after him continuously flirting with him and trying to seduce him.  Joseph is a young, handsome, lonesome young man, probably 20 years old.  This had to be a great temptation. Joseph kept escaping and told her he could not do such a thing against his master and against his God.

Finally in anger at his refusals to lie with her, Potiphar’s wife accuses him falsely of a sexual assault and Potiphar took him and put him in a pit for the second time. This pit was an Egyptian prison, where Joseph must have wondered how will my dream come to be in such a place as this. Egyptian prisons were underground without windows. The food was horrible, the guards uncaring and cruel. Joseph would be here for probably the next 10 long years.

But- Joseph had a dream.  A dream kept him from being bitter. We read, “But while Joseph was there in prison, the Lord was with him; He showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the warden. So the warden put Joseph in charge of all those held in the prison, and he was made responsible for all that was done there. The Lord was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did.”

Are you in a prison of unfavorable, harsh circumstances today?   Been there for a while?  What do we do while we are waiting on God? We serve him.  In serving the prisoners, Joseph encountered two prisoners, the former cupbearer and the former baker of the king of Egypt. Joseph with God’s help would interpret their dreams accurately.  Two years after the chief cupbearer had been released, the Pharaoh had a dream, and no one could interpret.  You know the rest of the story, Joseph goes in one day from prisoner to the 2nd highest position in all of Egypt.  His strategy to survive the famine saved thousands and thousands of lives.  It also brought his brothers to Egypt to find food. Some would think Joseph was an overnight sensation, not realizing God had been preparing Joseph for this role for 13 years.

Now when he looked back, as Joseph must have done on many occasions he would begin to understand what God had done.  The enemy wanted to destroy the dream and the dreamer.  God would use it for good, what the enemy intended for evil.  Joseph at 17 was not prepared to carry out the dream.  He was soft, spoiled, and success seem to be handed to him on a platter.  Even at Potiphar’s household, he rose quickly to become the number one servant in charge of everything. But God would not allow him to become prideful- ten years in prison was part of God’s boot camp for building the faith and character into Joseph so he was ready for the dream to become reality.  The day would come, when Joseph, now a Prince of Egypt would confront his brothers. They were fearful of the revenge he would take on them. But Joseph through over 20 plus years of adversity and difficulty had learned something about the Dream Weaver.  “What you intended for evil, God meant for good to saving of many lives.” He would care for his brothers and they were overjoyed. Everything was working out- for their brother was the Prince of Egypt.

Life is difficult at times. You may be thrown suddenly in a pit of circumstances of sickness, stress, or sadness. But then you remember, sooner or later, God is sovereign. He is your provider. He allowed this to happen. He has a reason and a purpose for it. But right now looking up at the underside of this tapestry God is weaving is nothing but a confusing mass of knots in your life.

When your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. God will never place more on you than you can bear. So let your faith grow in this test and you will develop some faith muscles you did not know you had. And you will grow stronger and your faith will be strengthened as God makes your dream a reality.

Let God train you. Remember all tests are temporary.  Thirteen years seems like a lifetime to as 17 year old Joseph.  But as Joseph kept doing his best- God assured him He was with him.  Go back and read the story and see how many times it tells us- but the Lord was with Joseph.  The Lord is with you- He will not leave you or forsake you.

The test becomes the testimony.  Your tests become your testimony.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not to your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.”   Proverbs 3.

 

*You may be thinking this morning- I am not sure God has a dream for me or that I am aware of the dream He has for me.  I know what God’s dream is for you: He is not willing you should perish but would come to repent of your sins. God’s dream for you is to be conformed to the image of His Son and this drives everything He allows in your life. God’s dream for you is to allow Him to share His life with you.*

I did not have a dream when I was 17 years old, I just wanted to have fun. When I went off to college in 1963 as a 17 year old, I was clueless.  I did not have a dream to direct my life and I began to wander down the broad way headed for nowhere and ended up a failed alcoholic by age 31.  But God had a dream for me and He was in the process of weaving this dream together for me.  Fast forward six years and I was back in the optical business doing well. I was saved, sober and sane.   We had hired a national speaker by the name of Bob Bieber to come speak to our customers. I sat there through his 3 hour workshop and was amazed at what I was hearing.  I filled several pages with notes, we had taped his workshop and I would listen to it countless number of times in the months to come. I came home that day and told Gina, I have seen what I want to become.  I had a dream.  I wanted to be a national speaker.  It would be 9 years before I stood before an audience in the beginning of a career as a national and international speaker.

I was to discover as Joseph discovered, God is able to do immeasurably more than we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, and to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations! ( Ephesians 3)    Through a series of events our company would end up in the late 80’s test marketing a prototype product for PPG.  It would come to the market place in 1990 and I had already left the company and was in business for myself.  My dream of being a national speaker seemed to have been sidetracked when PPG called me and asked if I could do some consulting for them. It led to a full time career and I became a national speaker and traveled around the world. In the next 25 years I would speak to over 100,000 people on six continents.

All of this happened after I yielded to a request from my pastor, Brother Bob Ervin to become a Sunday School teacher. I gave my testimony for the first time to a crowd of 500 people about my battle with alcohol. It was as a Sunday School teacher God prepared me and brought my gifts and talents together which prepared me for to become a speaker who would develop continuing education courses.  Just as He prepared Joseph.  Joseph would realize when he looked back all of his experiences had prepared him for the leadership position and given him the knowledge of the Egyptian culture, government and economy.

In 1998 God gave me a dream to write my spiritual autobiography. I wrote, sent it to publishers and talked with editors, but no one would publish it. Over the next 17 years- I would re-write, share my dreams with several people and get them to look at my work and offer their advice.  Sometimes it would lay idle for months or even years as other things occupied my time. All the while I was teaching each week, writing lessons and even having some of them put into print as Linda Benthal and Judy Frazier worked to put them together the Bible studies. God was training me.

But God kept bringing me back to my story- which I realized was His story. So I kept at it – because I had a dream. A dream that God gave me and now in 2015, seventeen years after I had the dream- the dream has become a reality.

God is sovereign.

God is our Provider.

God has a plan for our fulfillment.

God has a dream for you.

And remember- your big brother, (Jesus) is a Prince!

 

 

 

 

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