Then Joseph had a dream,
Genesis 37:5

Perhaps you are like me and never fully thought about the significance of these five words. Like me you might have never considered their impact since the event they described on the future nation of Israel, on Egypt, on all nations since, and on your very life.

Consider this, from the moment Joseph had his first dream a destiny came forth that would include your salvation. The power of this single dream to set God‟s plan into history is almost overwhelming to consider.

Most of us first heard the story of Joseph and his dreams in Sunday School. As I have listened to our Sunday School teachers share Joseph‟s story I am so grateful that the children can hear it and learn of God‟s amazing power. And for their age and intellectual capacity it is wonderfully shared. So please do not hear me discrediting Sunday School.

That being said, it is clear to me if we continue in a childish understanding of the stories of the Bible we learned as children, we will never fully grasp their true power and significance.

In order to understand the full meaning of these biblical stories we must stop seeing them like a childhood fantasy – like fairy tales --and see them the same way we see other historical events.

Joseph‟s story happened to a real person. It happened to a real family. It happened with a real nation. The events took place in reality. It is only when we see all of the stories in that light can we begin to relate them to our real lives. As long as they are “once upon a time” stories they may still teach good things but they will not tell us that God is real and involved in every aspect of our lives – the good and the bad -The lovely and the grotesque – the heavenly and hellish.

When an actual dream is from God it will always have part of its purpose to establish our destiny – which becomes the vision we have for our lives -our dreams of our destiny. In this way actual dreams and vision dreams meet.

First let us verify that God gives us dreams.
The coming of the new age of the Spirit has birthing dreams as a distinguishing mark.

"It will come about after this That I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; And your sons and daughters will prophesy, Your old men will dream dreams, Your young men will see visions. Joel 2:28

One of the most wonderful aspects about what Joel and Peter said was that it would not be a limited pouring out of the Holy Spirit as it was in the Old Testament. It would be on everyone. Everyone would have the chance to partake of the Spirit.

It is true that not everyone would but everyone could.

It is my hope that everyone listening today would open themselves fully to being saved, empowered and filled with the Holy Spirit that today is available and being poured out on all humankind.

So what about our dreams? What are they meant to do? How are we to understand them.
The first dream recorded in the Bible begins to point out the purposes of God in the dreams He gives:

But God came to Abimelech in a dream of the night, and said to him, "Behold, you are a dead man. . . Genesis 20:3

Wow! What an introduction to a talk on dreams!!!!!
One very important purpose God has for dreams is to warn us.

In fact it was by dreams that God protected Jesus as an infant.
Matthew 1:20 But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.

Matthew 2:12 And having been warned {by God} in a dream not to return to Herod, the magi left for their own country by another way.
Matthew 2:13 Now when they had gone, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, "Get up! Take the Child and His mother and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is going to search for the Child to destroy Him."

Matthew 2:22 But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Then after being warned {by God} in a dream, he left for the regions of Galilee,

When we have a dream that has a warning in it we need to seriously pray about how we should respond to the warning. Some people will say that a dream from God will not make you afraid. But it is clear that dreams from God have made people afraid. But what have they made people afraid of? Real circumstances of possible harm. This is the key point.

I see a second purpose of God in dreams is to give us information we could not otherwise know. Joseph could not have known the danger his family was in or what to do about it unless God had shown him it through dreams. When we have dreams we should consider them and see if they are seeking to tell us something that we need to know that we could not know naturally.

A third, wonderful purpose God has in giving us dreams is communicating Himself to us. In this he also communicates His desire for us to know Him and have a relationship with him and His larger plan and our destined place in His plan if we follow it. We see all of these purposes in Jacob‟s dream:

Then Jacob departed from Beersheba and went toward Haran. 11 He came to a certain place and spent the night there, because the sun had set;. . . 12 He had a dream, and behold, a ladder was set on the earth with its top reaching to heaven; and behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. 13 And behold, the LORD stood above it and said, "I am the LORD, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie, I will give it to you and to your descendants. shall all the families of the earth be blessed. 15 "Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.“ Genesis 28:10

God is speaking in this exact same way all over the earth today. People who know nothing of Jesus are finding him through dreams. I believe this is a direct answer to our missional prayers over these last many years.

God gives dreams to demonstrate his knowledge and to build relationships with others. Daniel‟s experience with Nebuchadnezzar's dreams did both.

You can read the whole story in Daniel 2. After Daniel correctly gave both the dream and the interpretation of the dream the king had he was given great authority and honor by the king.

Then King Nebuchadnezzar fell on his face and did homage to Daniel, and gave orders to present to him an offering and fragrant incense. 47 The king answered Daniel and said, “Surely your God is a God of gods and a Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries, since you have been able to reveal this mystery.” 48 Then the king promoted Daniel and gave him many great gifts, and he made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon and chief prefect over all the wise men of Babylon
Daniel 2:46-48 (NASB)

Another extremely important purpose God has in dreams is to prophetically speak to us of the future. We see this in Pharoah‟s dreams which our dream hero interpreted.

Now Joseph said to Pharaoh, "Pharaoh's dreams are one {and the same;} God has told to Pharaoh what He is about to do. Genesis 41:25

So how did Joseph come to be able to give the interpretation of dreams so accurately? I believe the scripture tells us.

1. Joseph believed dreams were significant.
This is crucial. Materialism will tell you dreams are nothing more than the phantasms of our brains being reset or working out problems in our sleep. Though that can be the case sometimes, we know from the Bible that is not always so.

2. Joseph knew God spoke through dreams.
When we believe God will speak to us through dreams we will be attentive to take them seriously and most importantly ask Him what they mean. We will not go to the latest book on how to interpret them.

3. Joseph knew God alone had the interpretation of dreams.
When we believe God has spoken in a dream we will not go to the latest book on how to interpret them.

Genesis 40:7 He asked Pharaoh's officials who were with him in confinement in his master's house, "Why are your faces so sad today?“ 8 Then they said to him, "We have had a dream and there is no one to interpret
it." Then Joseph said to them, "Do

not interpretations belong to God? Tell {it} to me, please."

The only one who could interpret Pharaoh's dream was Joseph and that was because Joseph knew only God could interpret them and he had been listening all his life to God‟s voice.

Do you see why it is so important to be listening every day to hear God speak. First through the Bible, through creation, thorough ours and others circumstances (history) and by His Holy Spirit.

Of first importance in hearing anything from God is our willingness to hear the voice of God in the Bible and to follow Him through it. This is certainly true of dreams – actual and visionary.

I was once dating a girl who became quite upset with me and God because she saw that God spoke to me by His Spirit in dreams and visions. She asked me many times “Why does God speak to you this way and not to me?”What I am going to tell you in the next minute needs to be understood not as a communication of pride on my part. What God said to me when I prayed for her about this deeply convicted me as to why I did not have more of His Spirit‟s power in my life even as it answered her question.

The Lord said to me, “If someone will not listen to my written Word why would I speak to them outside of that Word.”

And to confirm what He said He gave me this scripture:
Luke 16:27 "And he said, 'Then I beg you, father, that you send him to my father's house -- 28 for I have five brothers--in order that he may warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.„ 29 "But Abraham said, 'They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.„ 30 "But he said, 'No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent!„ 31 "But he said to him, 'If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.'"

And here is what in my mind it the most critical aspect of why Joseph was so accurate in interpreting dreams…..

Joseph was humble.

Gen 41:15 Pharaoh said to Joseph, "I have had a dream, but no one can interpret it; and I have heard it said about you, that when you hear a dream you can interpret it.“ 16 Joseph then
answered Pharaoh, saying, "It favorable answer."

is not

in me; God will give Pharaoh a

To receive the gifts of God requires deep humility. Humility results in thankfulness and complete openness to following God in whatever He has for us no matter what. Humility is essential for us to fully receive the empowerment from on high He gives by the Holy Spirit.

We must see in the life of Joseph the work that God was doing from the moment of conception to the day he met Pharaoh was to make him able to handle the power he would have when his dreams came true. That is what God is doing in our lives too. The only way we can handle great power is great humility.

The prophetic dream given to Pharaoh was also where dreams met destiny. Many years before, while still a youth Joseph dreamed two actual dreams that would mark his destiny forever. He dreamed he would one day see his family bow to him. And that is exactly what happened. But before it happened Joseph had to learn humility. That is always a deeply painful process.

I believe everyone in this place today

will totally understand what I am about to say. We all have dreams. I mean we all have deeply held desires for what we want to happen in our and others lives.

Our dreams are one of the most vulnerable parts of us. They come out of the deepest places in our being.

When those dreams are realized they are one of the most wonderful things that could ever happen to us.
When they do not come to pass we can feel life is almost not worth living. Fulfilled dreams can give us some of our greatest joys Unfulfilled dreams can bring us some of our deepest sorrows.

Dreams are one of the most powerful molders of our lives. We will do almost anything to achieve our dreams until we feel they are dashed. If they are ruined, in the deep pain of disappointment and disillusionment, we may never again allow ourselves to hope for a better destiny again. Perhaps the best expression I have ever heard of this absolute despair in the lose of our dreams is Fantine‟s song in Les Mis

I dreamed a dream in time gone by When hope was high And life worth living I dreamed that love would never die I dreamed that God would be forgiving Then I was young and unafraid And dreams were made and used and wasted There was no ransom to be paid No song unsung, no wine untasted But the tigers come at night With their voices soft as thunder As they tear your hope apart As they turn your dream to shame

He spent a summer by my side He filled my days with endless wonder He took my childhood in his stride But he was gone when autumn came
And still I dream he'll come to me That we will live the years together But there are dreams that cannot be And there are storms we cannot weather I had a dream my life would be So different from this hell I'm living So different now from what it seemed Now life has killed the dream I dreamed.

I believe – and my experience with every human I have made meaningful contact with has verified – every person has dreams for their lives that were given by God.
These dreams are sometimes attended with natural giftings to see them happen but some times not.

These dreams are one of the most significant aspects of who we will become – what our destiny will ultimately be.

I believe the life of Joseph more than any other life in scripture besides Jesus‟ demonstrates this truth.
And he shows us how to bring our dreams to reality.

Remember I said earlier I want us to understand Joseph‟s life as being a real one. Just like ours. I want us to imagine Joseph being right here with us right now. I believe he can give us great wisdom which is compassionate as well. If any one on earth saw the destruction of his dream other than Jesus it was Joseph. He can help us as we look around at the dreams we all once had that lie in ashes around us.

The first thing I believe he would tell us is to believe in the God who gives us dreams. We might say to him. “easy for you to say, your dreams came true in one of the most amazing ways the world has ever known. But remember we know the story from the first to the end. While Joseph was going through the circumstances of his life he had no more evidence that his dreams would come to pass than we do. I am pretty sure his dreams faded into an ancient memory. But the God who gave him his dreams did not.

If we see Joseph‟s life in the same way we live we can understand that had he given into bitterness at any point his dreams would have been seen as the illusions of a child. He most likely would mockingly said, “I once had dreams of a wonderful life but look at me now. I dreamed that my family would respect me. Now I am in prison for life. I thought my life would be purposeful but it has been one continual mess. Stolen by my own brothers from the bliss of my father‟s home. Sold into slavery. Falsely accused of immorality and thrown into prison. Forgotten by everyone. What are my dreams but a bitter reminder of everything I am not.

He would understand if we felt that same way now. He would have such a compassion on those of us who have had great dreams only to see them dashed into pieces. But he would say to us, ”even in the midst of the destruction I went through of everything that even slightly looked like it could bring forth my dreams I knew that the God who gave me dreams was still trustworthy. I chose to trust Him in the darkest moments of my life. It is true my dreams did not seem like they would ever come to pass. But I knew God was with me and I chose to stay with Him even if my dreams never happened. I loved and believed in God more than my dreams.”

How do I know he would tell us this?
Because after all he had suffered he still told the two men with him in jail that God was with him.

When he stood before Pharoah he told him that God would tell him the meaning of his dreams.
So today let Joseph encourage you. If you will trust the God of your dreams He will bring them to pass.

I also believe he would tell us that the terrible things that happened to him had to happen to bring his dreams to fulfillment. We often see God‟s work in our lives to bring forth our destinies as only those things that are positive. Joseph could hardly have known what it would take in his life to bring forth the fulfillment of the dreams he had when he was a young boy. But having the perspective of history we know that every step of the way the Joseph was forced to go was an absolutely essential step to the fulfillment of his destiny in God.

Had his brother‟s never sold him into slavery he would not have been in Egypt. Had his master‟s wife not falsely accused him he would have never been in the jail to interpret the dreams of the butler who would remember Joseph years later when Pharoah had his dreams. Had there never been a time of abundance and famine he would have never had the food to feed his family when they were starving. Joseph came to understand God‟s sovereignty in a way few have ever understood it. We see this in his statement to his brothers after his father‟s death. They were afraid he would take vengeance on them after his father‟s death. Remember this is a true story. Joseph was immensely hurt by his brothers.

"As for you, you meant evil against me, {but} God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.
He is saying to all of us, “No matter what you have, are presently or will go through, if you will continue to believe in Him, God is going to bring good out of it. No matter what.

He would tell us that we need to remember in our moments of temptation that He must remain the focus of our devotion. Listen to what he said to Potiphor‟s wife:

It came about after these events that his master‟s wife looked with desire at Joseph, and she said, “Lie with me.” 8 But he refused and said to his master‟s wife, “Behold, with me here, my master does not concern himself with anything in the house, and he has put all that he owns in my charge. 9 There is no one greater in this house than I, and he has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do this great evil and sin against God?”
Genesis 39:7-9 (NASB)

How then could I do this great evil and sin against God?”

In spite having every reason to have become a broken hearted, cynical, God hater – in spite of seeing the dreams he had for his life reduced to a pile of ashes he still loves God and wants to follow Him. That is what kept Joseph to one day see his dreams fulfilled.

Had Joseph succumbed in a moment of self pity to his master‟s wife‟s temptations you would have never known his name. In fact you would have never been saved. You might likely have never even been born.

If Joseph had not been there to interpret Pharoah‟s dreams his whole family would have died, and with them the line to bring forth Jesus would have perished.

If Joseph had not been there to interpret Pharoah‟s dreams most, if not all, of Egypt would have died of hunger. The nations that came to Egypt to stay alive would have also perished. The fate of the world hung in the balance because of one man‟s purpose to stay true to God.

It is the same for us today. Only a few weeks ago as I was discussing one of Howard‟s sermons with him I had the thought that each moment we live not fully giving ourselves to God is an eternal loss. That moment can not be reclaimed. It is gone forever. All that God wanted to grow out of that moment will never happen.

Some say, “Oh well, I am saved so it does not matter what I do. I am still going to heaven.” I am so glad that Joseph understood that it did matter what he did. I am so glad that he loved God so much that in spite of his terrible circumstances he purposed to remain true. And that is how he came to see his dreams come true.

That is how we also will come to see our dreams come true.
Michael‟s Dream

Prayer Points: Perhaps you are here and have never met the God who inspired and brought to fulfillment the dreams of those in the Bible and those who have believed in Him since. This would be a good day to come to know Him.

Prayer Points: Perhaps you have had a dream for your life and it has turned to ashes. You feel hopeless and even afraid to let it even begin to be rekindled in your heart. Come and give that dream to God. If it is from Him he will bring it to pass as you trust in Him. If it is not from Him he will comfort you and give you a new dream.

Prayer Points:
Perhaps you are in the midst of bringing forth your dream but have grown unfocused or weary in the journey. Come today to find an oasis of God‟s refreshing by the Holy Spirit.

Prayer Points:
Perhaps you have seen the fulfilment of many of your dreams but want to find the next dream God has for you. Come and ask Him to give you new vision.

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