For this post to make complete sense, it will benefit you to read 1 Chronicles 4:1-15. I understand that it is a genealogy. Honestly, there are quite a few of these in the Bible. I forget sometimes that this is a historical book as well, written to a different people in a different place at a different time.
Have you read the passage yet?! If not, go ahead, pause and do so. If you have, read on.
If you are anything like me, these passages tend to drag on. I can’t even pronounce any of the names. A few of them sound like bad words, so be careful! It feels a bit like life.
Today is Monday, and some of you may hate that. You wake up, eat breakfast, go to work, come home, watch Netflix and go to bed. Only to get up, and do it all over again the next day. If you aren’t careful, the days can start to blend together. They drone on and on like verses 1-8 in this passage.
I am going through a “Read Through the Bible” plan on my phone. Let’s all be honest with ourselves for a moment. We come to a passage like this and we read a verse or two and then scroll to the bottom of the chapter and click next. There is one problem with this:
God wants to work in the middle.
If you didn’t make it past verse 8, then you missed out on two incredible verses in the middle. A passage that shares how we can approach God in our prayers and what He responds to.
v. 9-10 “Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. His mother had named him Jabez, saying, “I gave birth to you in pain.” Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let you hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” And God granted his request.”
If you want to find riches in the rags of life, you need to look for opportunity in the mundane.
I’m sure you have all heard of the Prayer of Jabez before. Some author or pastor was willing to gut out the chapter with eyes open, searching for riches in the middle of rags. Our life can feel like verses 1-8. If we aren’t intentional to keep going, we may very well miss out on verses 9-10.
This is how we are to live our lives. Everyday doesn’t have to be Monday. Yes, we live in the valley, not the mountaintops. That is not an excuse to ignore the Holy Spirits prompting in an ordinary moment on an ordinary day. He has riches waiting for us. He has opportunities we could only dream of, if we would open our eyes.
To take this one step further, we often do the same to people. I wonder how the story of The Good Samaritan turns out if the man beaten and robbed was someone of importance? Would the priest or scribe stopped to help? We dismiss people in the same way that we dismiss days. Boring, nothing to offer, no value to me, etc.
2 Corinthians 4:7-9 “But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.”
There is a treasure in this jar of clay. Another translation calls us earthen vessels. Don’t discount the treasure because of the vessel. Don’t discount the riches because of the rags. Don’t miss out on verse 9 and 10 in life because of verses 1-8.
Even if nothing glamorous comes to you today, God is developing a treasure, riches, inside of you. Let these insignificant moments build you and shape you into something beautiful. Be found faithful in the little that is here and now. Do your mundane work with diligence, all for the glory of God. See what riches He will pour out because of it. Look for the opportunities that arise in the middle of it.
Don’t miss the riches God has for you on this average, ordinary Monday!
One of my favorite books of all time is entitled, "Run With Horses," by Eugene Peterson. If you have ever read the Message paraphrase, then you are familiar with Eugene Peterson. The book outlines the entire book of Jeremiah, but lands on one passage of scripture out of Jeremiah 12:5. "If racing against mere men makes you tired, how will you race against horses?" This passage has changed my today more than any other. It has made me more intentional in the moment as a husband, father and Christ-follower. Let me explain:
One of my favorite characters in the Bible is pre-king David. I am not a big fan of King David, although he has a lot going for him as well. David is just a kid watching his father's sheep. He is minding his own business and before you know it he is being summoned by a servant. "There is a prophet at your father's house waiting on you!" I can only imagine what was going on in his mind. David shows up and Samuel anoints him king. What an incredible moment! What an honor! The very next day, David sits on the throne as king. End of story. Unfortunately, that is not what happened. And that is certainly not how life works. In fact, do you know what David did the very next day? He went back out in the field to watch his sheep!
See, David was now anointed, but he was not yet appointed. He was given a calling, but is not yet ready to step into that calling. This is where we often find ourselves in life. We have been called, or we have a dream of becoming something great. Joseph was here. We read his story in the book of Genesis. He is a dreamer if there ever was one. His brothers hated him for it and sold him to Egypt. God had anointed him for a task, but he finds himself in Potipher's house. It took him years to find himself appointed. Had Joseph not gone through this process, what kind of ruler would he have been? Had David not gone through this process, what kind of King would he have been?
So here we are? Jeremiah, in the first four verses of chapter 12, is complaining to God. Have you been there? "God, don't you see or hear me?" "God, when is it my turn to show the world what I'm made of?" I'm thankful that God is big enough to handle our complaints, doubts and frustrations! Jeremiah is pouring his heart out to God, and then in verse 5 we see God's response: "If racing against mere men makes you tired, how will you race against horses?"
Here is the Adam Steinbach paraphrase:
If you are growing weary with smallness, what in the world are you going to do with greatness?!
Listen carefully. If you can't get up when your alarm clock goes off for school or work, what makes you think you are capable of running a small business. If you can't finish your homework on time, what makes you think you can handle turning in a project on time. A project that people are depending on. If you can't handle serving your pastor and being willing to take out the trash and sweep the floors, what makes you think you can handle a microphone and a platform.
YES, God has a calling on your life!
YES, God has anointed you for greatness!
YES, God has said that you will be able to run with horses!
YES, you need to be faithful in little before you can be entrusted with much!
YES, you must cultivate your character to maintain and sustain a platform!
YES, you must protect your integrity and learn to walk in humility!
If I'm honest, there are days that I miss the anonymity of the small town that I came from. The church wasn't well known and I wasn't either. It was just me in a field with some sheep. I think of Joshua hanging out in the Tent of Meeting after Moses left. He had no agenda, just time in God's presence. I pray constantly that the time I spent in those moments, were enough for me to handle the time I'm in now. I also pray that the time I am spending now, is enough for the time that is to come.
You don't know what is coming tomorrow. If you are going to make the most of it, you must be faithful with your today. "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the paper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." (Gal. 6:9)
Some of my favorite days and some of my worst days happened in middle school. Let’s be honest, it was tough. You are not a kid anymore, but not in high school yet. This is how life is, trying to find your place. Even as a man, now in his thirties, I can struggle with this. I thought thirty would change everything, but I’m realizing that it’s a process just like middle school!
Moments can define you during these years in middle school. You are impressionable and needing to fit somewhere. I was a good pastors kid, but if I’m honest, I leaned more on sports than God for help through this time. Basketball and football were my king. My coaches suggested that I run track in the off season to stay in shape, so I did.
We put together a relay team that I was a part of. Four of us running the 4 x 100, 4 x 200, and 4 x 400. I remember our first track meet like it was yesterday. We all lined up in our respective spots as we awaited the start of the race. The gun fired and the first leg of the race began.
If you haven’t seen a relay before, here is how it works. The first runner starts, he has a certain length on the track that he is able to hand a baton off to the second runner. The same goes for the third and fourth runners. The last crosses the finish line. The challenge of this race is in the handoff.
This happens in an area called the changeover box. It is 20 meters in length. 10 meters behind the start of the leg and 10 meters in front of the leg. The baton has to be handed off in this space or you and your team are disqualified.
The changeover box of life is where we fail more often than we like to admit. I view it through life and through scripture as the relationship between generations. Whether it’s an older boss hiring a younger employee or a parent and their child’s relationship as the child is coming into their own. This “changeover” is so important.
The first race that my team ran, I was the third runner. I remember seeing my friend receive the baton and start heading my way. I was so excited and nervous for my leg of the race that I started faster than we practiced. Typically, the runner handing the baton off had given everything they had by the time the “changeover” happens. The new runner, me, hasn’t run his race yet and is excited too! They are slowing down, we are ready to sprint. You can see how this handoff can end terribly. And it did for my team. I ran too fast and stepped outside the box before the baton was given to me. Disqualified.
We begin to throw blame around. The older generation should have sprinted out to the end. They should be excited to hand things over. The younger generation should slow down, calm down and be patient for the exchange. Wait your turn and don’t get frustrated during that time.
As I read in Hebrews 11, the great heroes of faith chapter, I see that these amazing men and women didn’t even accomplish what God had for them. It says, “All these people earned a good reputation because of their faith, yet none of them received all that God had promised. For God had something better in mind for us, so that they would not reach perfection without us.” (Hebrews 11:39-40 NLT)
Only together can we achieve what God has purposed. Did you catch that?! We are only complete as a church, as Christ-followers, as believers in the One True God, if we handle the changeover correctly. If we work together for something better.
Many are praying for revival in this nation. I believe that it is going to take people willing to stand in the gap as bridges between generations, for this to take place. For old men and young men to hold hands; to fight and pray together. For women who have been there to lean on younger women just starting and vice versa.
Both sides must work together, showing care, respect, and love for one another. We must each run our race with humility, endurance and an understanding that this is not a sprint, but a relay. There are those who have gone before and those that are coming behind. Let’s be faithful in the changeover box and with the race God has for us to run.
“Measure twice, cut once!”
I heard this a lot growing up. My dad would tell me to make sure it’s right before you make the final cut. Do things right the first time so you don’t have to go back and start again. When I met Amond, I heard this same thing from her father. He is a general contractor. Take your time and do it right. If you don’t know something, ask for help. It’s better to do that, than to spend more time and more money starting over.
I have been married for over fourteen years now, and guess what I still hear in my head?! That’s right, “measure twice, cut once!” Every time I want to do a job quickly, the voice of my father and father-in-law chime in and give me a reminder. Slow down and do it right.
We are not only called to do the right thing, but also to do things right. Both are important as we journey through life. Especially now, as things are unclear and uncertain.
If we think we are the only ones going through a difficult time, we are mistaken. As I read scripture, I am shown many who have lived through uncertainty. One passage in Deuteronomy has stood out to me during this time, and I pray it ministers to you as well.
Deuteronomy 1:2 ““Normally it takes only eleven days to travel from Mount Sinai to Kadesh-barnea, going by way of Mount Seir.” (NLT)
Before we jump in to where I’d like to land, let’s review a few places that are referenced. Remember, to understand the words of the Bible, you must understand the world of the Bible.
Mount Sinai - this is the location the Israelites stopped at to receive instruction from God. Moses went up the mountain for forty days and returned with the Ten Commandments. This is also the location that the Israelites formed a golden calf to worship.
Kadesh - this is the last stop before entering the Promised Land. The Israelites had been here before. In Numbers 13 and 14 we see Moses sending the twelve spies into the land. They returned with a bad report and then chose not to enter.
So here we are again. Standing before the entrance to what God has for us. A journey that only takes eleven days! Did you catch that? Eleven days! This thought should sober even the greatest among us. Moses reminded the people that what took them forty years to accomplish could have taken eleven days.
Measure twice, cut once!
It didnt take take this long because of the number of people involved. It didn’t take this long because of the difficult terrain. It took this long because of the disobedience and doubt in their lives. The Israelites did not do well in the difficult times of life. They faltered in a moment that should have been victorious. They let these moments define them in a way that we still talk about to this day.
We are on an eleven day journey in 2020, and if I’m honest, it feels more like forty years! How we respond during this time could determine how you live the next several years. We cannot take lightly the moments that God gives to us. They can either define us, or refine us.
Don’t put the plans God has for your life on hold because you have walked in disobedience and doubt during this year. We are potentially standing at the gate to our Promised Land, and I for one do not want to miss out. Let’s not only do the right things, let’s also do things right this year!
Wow! 2020 is half-way done. I remember back in March, wondering if we would every get through this year. Funny how time doesn't stop for anything, not even a pandemic. It just keeps rolling along and we just keep getting older and older! This year has been a bit on the crazy side though. Just goes to show that even the best laid plans...and now here we are! July is soon to be over. School may or may not begin again. But August is coming nonetheless.
In the middle of all of this, as we grasp for wisdom and knowledge, hoping that time will stand still as we sort out everything going on in our minds, we hope that something would happen to bring a sense of unity through all the chaos. At least I have. Isn't it fun how we prayed that God would shake things up and bring about revival! We prayed that He does whatever He needs to so that we come back to Him, see souls saved and our hearts renewed. And now we pray that peace would come! God, hasn't it been enough already?!
Now I have been praying that something would present itself, that collectively we could get behind. Not necessarily the world, but rather the church. Doesn't that thought excite you?! The idea that something would bring the church back to unity and working harder than ever, shoulder to shoulder, hand in hand. Obviously, masks are not this unifying force! Sorry that I went there. Maybe I'm not. Either way, this time that we are living in is very polarizing to say the least.
As I was on this prayer journey, asking and begging for an end to the madness, the Holy Spirit dropped a thought into my heart. A thought that is so simple, but convicting and haunting. I've prayed for something or someone to unify the church again and His gentle Spirit spoke to my heart and asked this question: "When did I stop being enough?"
Can we pause and take a breath for a second? A moment to re-group our thoughts, perhaps?
When did Jesus stop being enough for the church to unify around? Is He not enough for us to set aside our differences and remember why we were placed here? To share the gospel to a world that is DESPERATELY in need of Him. I'm meddling. Forgive me. D.A. Carson, in his book Love in Hard Places says this better than I can.
I suspect that one of the reasons why there are so many exhortations in the New Testament for Christians to love other Christians is because this is not an easy thing to do. Many fellow Christians will appear to be, at least initially or to the immature, “little enemies.” To put the matter differently, if Christians love Christians, it is not exactly the same thing as what Jesus has in mind when he speaks rather dismissively of tax collectors loving tax collectors and pagans loving pagans. What he means in these latter cases is that most people have their own little circle of “in” people, their own list of compatible people, their friends. Christian love…must go beyond that to include people outside the group. The objects of our love must include those who are not “in”: it must include enemies.
Ideally, however, the church itself is not made up of natural “friends.” It is made up of natural enemies. What binds us together is not common education, common race, common income levels, common politics, common nationality, common accents, common jobs, or anything of the sort. Christians come together, not because they form a natural collocation, but because they have been saved by Jesus Christ and owe him a common allegiance. In the light of this common allegiance, in light of the fact that they have all been loved by Jesus himself, they commit themselves to doing what he says – and he commands them to love one another. In this light, they are a band of natural enemies who love one another for Jesus’ sake.
So what now? I would only ask this one thing. Love as Christ loved. Show grace as He showed grace. "What does the Lord require of you? To act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." (Micah 6:8)
It’s game night with friends and you pull out the old game Win, Lose or Draw. It’s similar to charades where you pick a word and then, instead of acting out the words, you draw clues. If your teammates answer correctly, you get points in hopes of winning.
This is not life right now. No one is having to guess the words that we are thinking. They are put clearly in black and white for all to see. There are a lot of people losing and not many winning. You may think so, but I have learned that you can win and still very much lose.
In grade school I used to get together with my friends to play football, baseball, basketball...really any thing with a ball! Two kids would be captain and they would pick teams. I’m sure I’m dredging up bad memories for some of you! I never wanted to be captain because of the choices you had to make. You want to win, but not at the expense of hurting feelings. I felt like it was a lose-lose scenario.
Sure we would celebrate after a win, but there was still that tinge of regret and fear that I may have lost more than what I won along the way.
You can win the game and still lose.
You can win the race, but lose your integrity.
You can win the argument, but lose a friend.
You can win the battle, but lose the war.
You can win the world, but still lose your soul!
Jeanne Mayo, youth pastor coach extraordinaire said, “Anything you compromise to gain you will eventually lose.”
If we aren’t careful, we may very well compromise our Kingdom walk for a political, social, or economic walk.
Remember, we don’t wrestle against flesh and blood. Identify your foe. Let me give you a clue, it’s not your neighbor. We, friends, have an enemy working overtime to steal, kill, and destroy. He is working overtime to divide the church. From my vantage point, he is winning.
Church, instead of having calloused hearts, let’s have calloused knees. Let’s put in some overtime prayer. Let’s do some warfare. Matthew 11:12 says, “From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been subjected to violence, and violent people have been raiding it.” Let’s fight back against the Devil.
This is a battle, not the war. The war was won on a cross two thousand years ago!
Let me finish by echoing the words of Amy Charmichael, “Let nothing be said about anyone unless it passes through the three sieves: Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary?”
God’s heartbeat is people. Our heart must break for the things that break His! Our heartbeat must be people. Through Christ and through the Holy Spirit, we can unify around the cross. Unity can be very diverse and complex and still be whole. Look at our own bodies, each part unique and yet still whole.
Let’s make Christ the head once again. Keep Him in that place in your life, above all else. In the words of my pastor, “let’s keep the main thing, the main thing.”
With much love.
The last few nights my 4-year old daughter has woken up around 4am to go to the bathroom. Lucky me! I get out of bed, groggy, ready to get back under the covers. After putting my daughter back to bed, I try to get myself back to sleep, but can't. For the last several mornings, I have wrestled with what is going on in our world. I have laid in bed wondering, what should I say? What should I do? How can I help? How can my voice help make a difference? I have prayed and then prayed some more.
To be honest, there are a lot of great thoughts out there and I don't want to just add to the noise. I teach my kids, students and other leaders to respond and not to react. I teach them to weigh out decisions and to count the cost of the action. Whatever I say or do, I want to be proud of ten years from now. I want my kids to look at me and be proud of the man that I am and the one I am becoming.
Ecclesiastes tells us that there is a time for everything. A time to be silent and a time to speak. I have pondered things in my heart and now believe it is time to speak up. I don't think we always need to have the perfect thing to say for each situation that we face, but I do believe we always need to be wrestling for the right thing to say. What I say here may not be perfect and will likely have flaws. I am flawed for I am human. But I am willing to have a conversation. I am willing to listen. I am willing to look and not turn away. I am willing. I want to listen. I want to learn. I want to love.
Black lives make a difference.
I am white. I didn't have a choice in this matter and neither did anyone else from any other race or ethnicity. We tend to judge like this was up to us somehow. It wasn't.
Racism is wrong. It is being magnified in our culture now. I believe that this is the case so we can see it more clearly and fix it.
Sometimes things need to get messy before they can get better. My wife Amond has several Rubik's cubes. My brother-in-law showed her how to solve them a few years ago. Every once in a while she will get one out and solve it. She doesn't want to forget the steps and the order. As I watch, I am fascinated by the process. As she gets close to solving it, there is a moment where the cube seems perfect. With the exception of one or two squares, it looks finished and complete. Then she does the unthinkable: she messes it up! Before the cube can actually be perfect, it has to be moved, turned and twisted. In reality, it is closer to perfect when it looks a mess, than when it looks almost complete.
This is our world. Broken, hurting, lost and hopeless. For many years it looked "complete." Similar to being a kid and having your mom tell you to clean your room. You put things anywhere you can as fast as you can! You've seen it played out before. Your mom walks into the room to check on things and heads over to the closet. You try to stop her from opening the door, but it's too late. Toys and games come crashing down. The room had the appearance of being clean but in reality it wasn't. As is the Rubiks cube. As is our nation.
We can't hide from reality any longer. It is being recorded for all to see. It is time to speak, but please wrestle with your motives before you speak. It is time to act, but please wrestle with your motives before you act. We are to represent Christ in all that we do. This isn't about making a name. This isn't about politics. This is about sharing Christ to a broken world. This is about righting wrongs. This is about coming together in Unity.
We should strive to be bridges in this world. To bring together rather than tear apart. There should be an understanding of each person, each side and each situation. Unity doesn't mean mean agreement on everything. The word that the dictionary continually references when defining unity is 'whole.' It even goes as far as to reference it as a 'complex whole.' We are created in the image of God and said to be the body of Christ. We have to have differences for this body to make sense and to operate in the way it was designed. A bridge must be built so that we can be whole. Let's build a bridge! It likely starts with an apology, so let me say:
If I have ever offended anyone of color for any reason, I am sorry
If I have not listened or refused to learn, I am sorry.
To those who have lost loved ones unjustly, I am sorry.
If my lens gets in the way, I am sorry.
My heart is to see everything through the lens of the gospel. The gospel is Jesus. Before Jesus went to the cross, He prayed that we would be one as He and the Father are one. Together, let's pray, seek and desire a change. Together, let's work through differences to bring true unity to this nation. Together, let's realize that things might need to get messy before they can get better. Let's believe and pray that all of this is working together for something beautiful on the other side.
Mother's Day is right around the corner. This will be a unique Mother's Day, such as many of us have not seen before. There may be a lot of you that won't be able to see your mother on Mother's Day for the first time this year. Other's may be dealing with loss of a mother. I wanted to share a few thoughts for all of you, wherever you may be and in whatever situation you may find yourself in this year.
Based on a 2007 online poll, the National Education Association named the Are You My Mother? one of its "Teachers' Top 100 Books for Children." I'm sure you have read it before. One of Dr. Seuss' great books that my family has enjoyed. A mother bird leaves an unhatched chick in the nest to go get food. The chick hatches before her mother comes back. The little chick goes on a journey to find out "who is my mother?" She sees a cat, dog, cow, horse and many others. None of them her mother. As she approaches each of them, she asks this very important question, "Are you my mother?" My youngest loves this book as did my older two when they were younger. When you finally arrive to the chicks mother, there is a sigh of relief, that the book is now over!
Long before Dr. Seuss penned the words, "Are you my mother?" Jesus did! He asked an almost identical question. In Matthew 12:48 it states, "Jesus replied, 'Who is My mother, and who are My brothers?'" There is a lot we could dive into here, but the first thing that I notice is how much this may have hurt Mary, the mother of Jesus. She is looking for Him, the disciples reach out to Him, and this is His response! It causes me to pause and think. As should everything Jesus says or does. If He doesn't bother you on occasion, even on this sacred Mother's Day, you may not be doing Christianity right.
Listen to what Simeon, in Luke 2 tells Mary when Jesus is getting dedicated at the temple. "He said to Mary, the baby's mother, 'This child is destined to cause many in Israel to fall, and many others to rise. He has been sent as a sign from God, but many will oppose him. As a result, the deepest thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your very soul.'"
What was that?! I wonder if Mary pondered this in her heart, as she is well known for doing on many occasions? I wonder if Mary asked herself if she made the right choice? And I really want to start randomly singing, "Mary, Did You Know?" now! Finally, I wonder if Mary, at the end of this all, His death and His resurrection, thought that it was worth it?
I think in some way this is similar to what all mother's go through. There isn't a mother on earth now that is the mom to the Son of God. And I am not a mother, so I don't know how much I am allowed to speak to this, but hear me out. As I watch my wife raise our three kids, I see the great love she has for them. I watch her pour hours into their schooling. She makes meals, cleans rooms, bathes and dresses them. She has changed countless diapers and been there for them while they were sick. There is something so special about this mother's love.
Then, one day, they decide that they can grow up. We did not give them permission to do so, but they do it anyway! They grow up and they move out. And it hurts. I am thankful that we have not had to experience this yet with our kids, but we know it is coming. I turned 18 and went to college 8+ hours away from home. I came back for a summer, moved away again in November and never came back. We visit my parents often, but it had to be hard for my mom.
Even though our kids aren't going to a cross, there can still be a sword to pierce your soul. Jesus, by no means, was disrespecting His Mother in this passage. He was always sharing a greater truth that I want to journey to in just a moment. I'm allowed to think that this statement still stung. She knew what was required, but that doesn't mean it was easy.
In the next few verses Jesus states that his disciples and those around Him were His brothers and His mother. Jesus says that anyone who does the will of the Father in Heaven is His brother and His mother. If we allow the truth of this passage to get in us, it can be of great comfort to those who have ears to hear.
Your mother may not be with you today, but you still have a mother in the family of Christ. Mothers, you may be struggling with the loss of a loved son or daughter (physically or spiritually lost to you), but you have sons and daughters in His kingdom. No, it doesn't take away the sting. But it does give you hope. Hope that we can enjoy this life with the people God has given us. We are allowed enjoy the blessings in spite of the hurt and pain. Jesus is giving us permission to smile and laugh again. To embrace those who can be our Mothers, our brothers, our sons and our daughters and cherish the moments we have.
And one day...we will gather together where there are no more tears. No more crying. No more sorrow. Where death has completely lost its sting! Until then, celebrate this Mothers Day with rejoicing and a peace in your heart that can only come through Christ, who loves you deeply!
Happy Mother's Day!
I love to dream...about anything. I’m not picky, I always enjoy thinking of what could be! What could we do for our next vacation (I have a bit of wanderlust, and this time is killing that!)? How could we have a better house and yard? What could the youth ministry look like? What would be an incredible event that would impact lives?!
The list could go on and on. I believe that is why I have always been fascinated with Joseph in the Old Testament. The original dreamer, one might say! If you are a dreamer, this is for you. If you are not a dreamer, maybe it’s time to be one! God put a dream in your heart. Let’s go after it!
Genesis is the place where it all starts. Joseph has his first dream. A very literal dream. His brothers were going to bow down to him. A few days later he has another dream and his parents would even bow down to him. If you take the time to read this, you will notice that the dream itself almost takes on a character or persona all its own.
Dreams are important. God placed plans and visions, assignments and tasks, opportunities and purpose written on our heart. They are a part of who we are and what we are here for. Satan hates it. In this passage there are three things that he tries to take from Joseph, and in similar ways, from us. Let’s examine them together:
1. Satan tries to take our dreams.
Understand that Satan ‘tries’ to do this. These dreams are ours, and we don’t have to let him. Joseph’s brothers hated the dreams almost as much as they hated him. They were scheming to kill Joseph and said this: “Then we will see what becomes of his dreams.”
What is so offensive about dreaming? Is it because they could not make their own dreams a reality, so they try to kill his? I think Satan hates dreams because when we dream, we honor God. We think about what could be. This is called faith.
A word to the wise, don’t let your dreams die at the hand of those who can’t dream!
This time in history is likely to kill many dreams. Don’t let it. Hold on. Don’t lose heart! Be like Abraham who was praised for his faith by seeing things that weren’t as if they were!
2. Satan tries to steal our coat.
To understand the words of the Bible, we must understand the world of the Bible. A coat was significant. When Daniel was elevated to a high position he was given a coat (outer garment) and a ring. This coat symbolizes authority and position. Elisha asks for Elijah’s mantle. This is where the anointing rested.
In this text with Joseph, he was given a coat from his father. Again, his brothers hated him over it. The coat was his favor. It was ripped from him.
He was then given a coat from Potiphar. This too was authority and position. What happens? Enter Potiphar’s wife! She takes it from him.
Satan will do the same. He may take your coat, but he can’t take your position in Christ. Nothing can snatch you from His hands! And don’t forget, these coats weren’t the dream. God has a coat waiting for him. He needed Joseph to mature and grow into it!
He goes to Pharaoh, interprets a dream and is given a coat. One that can save his family and fulfill his dream! If you have had something taken from you during this time, don’t lose all hope. God has a coat waiting for you. Do everything you can right now, so that you are ready for it!
3. Satan tries to steal our future.
Joseph finds himself in jail. I’m sure he wondered many nights, “how did I get here?” Joseph, like many of us, start with a dream of what our future could look like.
“Surely, it’s in Canaan.”
“Maybe it’s in Potiphar’s house?”
“It can’t be in prison!”
Until you find peace in the prison, you won’t have peace in the palace.
Until you find joy in the jail, you won’t have joy in the jubilee.
Jubilee, in Bible terms, is a time when all is restored to you. This is similar to what Joseph is going through. This tradition wasn’t established until much later, but God’s principles are eternal.
Again, this could be the way you feel right now. Satan stole your future. He stole your senior year. He stole your retirement. He stole your social connections and friendships. If we hold on to God during this time, He will hold on to our future!
Sometimes, the only way to understand someone is to step into their shoes for a time. During this time in history, it is important for us to do this. We do not know what others are going through right now. Yes, it is all inconvenient and out of our control. It reminds me of a movie that came out a few years ago called Freaky Friday.
The original movie came out in 1976 and then was remade in 2003. I guess it was more than a few years ago! How time flies! The premise of this movie is: a mother and daughter, as opposite as could be, switch places to better understand one another. They were frustrated and out of control. There was no switching back until they actually understood what the other was going through.
This sounds very familiar to our relationship with God before Christ. As you look through the Old Testament you see a number of familiar faces: Abraham, Moses, Job and many others. They all know ‘of’ God, and even Abraham was called a friend of God. But they could not ‘know’ God like we can today. Read what Job said about this:
“God is not a mortal like me, so I cannot argue with him or take him to trial. If only there were a mediator between us, someone who could bring us together. The mediator could make God stop beating me, and I would no longer live in terror of his punishment. Then I could speak to him without fear, but I cannot do that in my own strength.”
Job 9:32-35 NLT
On the other end of the spectrum, God only ‘knew’ of man. Yes, He fashioned and formed us. We are fearfully and wonderfully made. But where He was once intimate with man, walking in the garden, He was no longer. He could never be the groom. We could never be the bride.
So, God came and traded places to know us intimately. He made himself less, by adding human to himself. He was still divine, yet now fully human. Nothing was taken away, but flesh was still added. In this way, as Paul puts it, “we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
It’s as if God heard Job’s prayer and responded in kind. In fact He did. He does hear. He does understand. This is how we can have relationship with God once again. He took our place on a “freaky” Friday two thousand years ago and died for you and for me. The culmination of this entire experience was the cross. It wasn’t until this moment that we could really understand each other. Now, we can be “seated with Him in heavenly places!”
We once heard that He loved us, and now we know that He does. And today, you may have heard this same thing. Does God really love me? You have the opportunity to know for sure that He does. You can be in right relationship with Him even now. You can know that God, the creator of everything, loves you and loves me!