Dreams and Service

What do we do when we are faced with opposition to the dream God has placed in us? We have a lot of options but not all of them are right. Today I want to take a quick look at Joseph because Joseph had a dream. In Genesis 37 Joseph has two dreams and while we can debate on whether he communicated those dreams to his family properly the point stands God gave Joseph a dream. God gave Joseph a dream and he was excited for the dream God gave him. The dream, in essence, was that he was going to be over his family. He had no idea how this was going to come about and I can only imagine that in his foolish youthful mind he wanted to see his brothers literally bowing down before him. He was one of the youngest, so it is not like he had the opportunity to lead the family.

Joseph has this dream in him but how will it play out? How will God fulfill it? When will he see it come to fruition? Will he reign in the land he is in? Where will it happen? Will he know it is starting to come to pass? These are only some of the questions I imagine young Joseph thought about. But none of those thoughts matter because Joseph is thrown into a well and then sold into slavery. From there he is brought to Egypt and sold again. Joseph at this point has this dream but now he is a slave. A slave in a new land. So, what does Joseph do when he is faced with opposition to the dream God gave him? He sees an opportunity to serve and honor God.

That went well for a while but then Joseph is framed for rape and thrown into prison. His situation goes from bad to worse so what does Joseph do when he is faced with opposition to the dream God gave him? He sees an opportunity to serve and honor God. While in prison he is able to interpret dreams for two other prisoners. He asks the cupbearer to not forget him but as you can imagine he is forgotten. Two whole years pass, and Joseph is still in prison. How many times have you and I felt like our dreams are in prison?

Joseph finally gets the opportunity to stand before Pharaoh and interpret his dreams. Finally, he is put into a position of authority. After years of suffering, he is put in the place where the dream God gave him can come out but now, he is different. Not only is it time for the dream to come out but Joseph is not the man who he needed to be for the dream to come out. In the waiting, in the difficulty, Joseph always chose to see an opportunity to serve and honor God while waiting.

So, my question is this, has God given you a dream? Has God places something inside of you? Has God given you a calling? I know God has placed something in me. God has given me a dream to tell everyone about who He is and how wonderful this God I love and serve is. I want to see the whole world fall in love with my God. I want people who are hurting, lost, broken, and confused to see that God is there for them. That they can have a relationship with the one who holds the universe. How will that play out? I have no real idea. I have some ideas and I can see doors God has opened but the situation in the world confuses me right now, but I hold on to the dream of telling everyone about this amazing God I love and serve. That is the dream.

I want to challenge us today, you and me to see the opportunity to serve and honor God in the midst of challenges to the dream. To choose to believe that God sees the end and whatever situation we find ourselves in today that we have the opportunity to choose to serve and honor God. I want to challenge us, you and me, to see adversity not as something that stands in opposition to the dream God has placed in us but as an opportunity to serve and honor God. I find it amazing that Joseph is not living out his dream. He is a slave and a prisoner but during that time he is helping others understand their dreams. His dream is deferred but that does not stop him from helping others understand their dreams. He became so focused on serving and honoring God that he forgot about his dream as we will see later.

Maybe the opposition we see is not opposition but an opportunity that forms us into the people we need to be in order to allow the dream to come to pass. Maybe the delays are not delaying but opportunities for growth. How we respond could very well determine how many more so-called delays we have. Do we respond with service and honor to God or something else? I am sure Joseph cried at times, maybe when he was in that well, or in prison but in the end, he chose to see an opportunity to serve and honor God. What about you, what about me?

I think a big part of the key for the dream to come about was timing. Yes, there is the obvious part that the famine needed to come on the land but there is also the timing for Joseph to be ready. In Genesis 42:9 it says that when Joseph saw his brothers, he remembered his dream. He was just doing what he needed to do. He was honoring and serving God in the midst of his situation and he finally became the man that he needed to be for his dream to come about.

Today, let us choose to honor and serve God so we can become the people we need to be to have the dream come about. Let us be so fixated on Christ that we see nothing else but Him and His ways. Let us become the people we need to be.

Just a thought,

Mike

What is hope?

Do you have hope? What is your hope? In Colossians chapter 1 Paul mentions hope four times and that might not sound like a lot because a lot of words are repeated throughout the chapter and throughout the Bible in general so what makes, or should make a word like hope stand out?

Not all words are created equal. Words like love, freedom, victory and hope carry more weight than other words. For example, if you are in sales then a word like “discount” carries more weight than other words. When you are talking to a customer and they hear the word “discount” it will make their ears perk up. Use it two or three times in the conversation and you have their attention. If you are talking to your kids (little kids) and you mention a snack they instantly pay a little more attention because a word like “snack” means something more to them. The same thing holds true here in Colossians 1 with the word “hope.”

Hope as is typically used means something along the lines of “want something to happen or be the case” but that is not what the word means in Greek. In Greek, hope, as used here, means “confident expectation” which is to say you know this is a thing is going to happen. The difference is huge because in the typical usage definition you would like something to be true but in the Bible (especially in Colossians) you know it to be true.

I think we get it. Let’s look at Colossians 1:27 which says, “God wanted to make known among the Gentile (non-Jews) the glorious wealth of this mystery which is Christ in you the hope of glory.” With the understanding of what hope is in biblical terms, we can read this and see that Christ in us is the confident expectation of glory. What a relief! I don’t have to be great or good enough but Christ in me is good enough. Jesus is the answer to the question of what does God want from me. All my work can be laid down and I can rest in Jesus’ finished work on the cross. I can rest from my labor and take His yoke. I can stop trying to figure out how to make myself good enough because it is Christ in me that is good enough.

Hope is such a powerful word. Hope is an amazing thing because the hope is Christ, not my better performance. If we back up and look at two of the other uses of hope in chapter 1 we read that we can love others because of our hope in Christ (Col 1:5a). We can love others the way we should and want to because of the hope of Christ. The pressure to perform or be self-sufficient is gone because of Jesus. The hope (confident expectation) we have in Jesus frees us to love others.

The hymn writer Edward Mote wrote “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness; I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.” Our hope is built or founded in Christ and on His work. This brings us to the second point which is that our understanding of this hope is found in the Gospel (Col 1:5b). Because of the message of the Gospel and the confirmation from the Holy Spirit we can understand that there is hope. The Holy Spirit brings the truth of the Gospel to life in us and produces fruit. The hope of Christ is not pie in the sky but is a living hope that is useful and producing fruit in us now.

I will close with this thought from Paul in Romans 5:5 “Now hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” Hope is not only an amazing and wonderful thing but if your hope is in Christ, and that is the key, then it will not disappoint because Jesus is faithful. He is always faithful and will always be faithful because He cannot be anything but faithful. That might now always show in the way you want but it will always be true. You can count on that.

Just a thought,

Mike

Confession of Hope

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What is the confession of your hope? For me, it is not in material things or a promise of an easy life because goodness knows that is fleeting. It is not that everything will go right either. No, the confession of my hope is that I trust in Jesus. I trust in Jesus to be there when all hope seems lost. I trust in Jesus to comfort me when I morn. I trust in Jesus to make all things work together for good because I know I have been called by Him. I trust that when I said “Lord you can have my life if you want it” He said yes. I trust in Jesus to not only be Savior but also Lord of my life. I trust Jesus loves me, that He has a plan and calling for my life. I trust Jesus to lead. I trust that the Jesus knows I am not perfect and takes me anyway. That is the confession of my hope and I am confident that He will keep His promises!