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Jack Graham - Live Your Dream

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    Jack Graham - Live Your Dream
TOPICS: Epic Adventures, Joseph

As we take the story of Joseph beginning in Genesis 37; it's one of the great stories of the Bible. In fact, you may be familiar with a Broadway musical, "The Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat of Joseph", and it truly is a remarkable, inspiring story. And God gives us all of these epic amazing adventures in the Bible to inspire us. But beyond inspire us and encourage us, to give us an example as how we are to live our lives. And Joseph was a great dreamer. God gave him great dreams in his life, a plan and a purpose for his life, and God gave him great success. It was success God's way, and let me say that success God's way is knowing and doing the will of God for your life.

Success is the progressive realization of God's will for your life. Fulfilling God's purpose and plan as He gives it to you. Every great thing in life really begins with a dream in a person's heart. America began as a dream in the hearts of young, restless reformers and revolutionaries, God gave the dream of America. Our "O beautiful for patriot dreams that look beyond the years". And so we are here today because of the great dream that God implanted in the hearts of Americans through the generations. And let me just also say while we are celebrating America, ah how thankful we are for all of you who visit America today. We have people from other countries around the world, and we're grateful to have you. We have new citizens who are a part of our congregation and those in process.

And isn't America a great, great country that welcomes people to share in the American dream, and ultimately God's great dream for peoples' lives? It's a wonderful opportunity. But in Genesis chapter 37 and beginning at verse 2, we meet Joseph. "These are the generations of Jacob. Joseph, being seventeen years old, was pasturing the flock with his brothers. He was a boy with the sons of Bilhah and Zilpah, his father's wives. And Joseph brought a bad report of them to their father. Now Israel loved Joseph more than any other of his sons, because he was the son of his old age. And he made him a robe of many colors. But when his brothers saw that the father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him and could not speak peacefully to him". In other words, they made Joseph's life miserable everyday.

"Now Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers they hated him even more. He said to them, 'Hear this dream that I have dreamed: Behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and behold, my sheaf arose and stood upright. And behold, your sheaves gathered round it and bowed down to my sheaf.'" Not a way to win friends and influence brothers. "His brothers said to him, 'Are you indeed to reign over us? Or are you indeed to rule over us?' So they hated him even more for his dreams and for his words. Then he dreamed another dream and told it to his brothers and said, 'Behold, I have dreamed another dream. Behold, the sun, the moon, and eleven stars were bowing down to me.' But when he told it to his father and to his brothers, his father rebuked him and said to him, 'What is this dream that you have dreamed? Shall I and your mother and your brothers indeed come to bow ourselves to the ground before you?' And his brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the saying in his mind".

Joseph possessed dreams from God that would never die. And he lived his dreams all the days of his life. And God has given every one of us a plan and a purpose for living; you could call it a dream for your life; this is a God-given dream. And if you are going to live the dream, you must first and foremost pursue God's purpose for your life. This is what I want to talk to you about, living your dream, because God wants to do something great in your life and through your life, if you will pursue His plan, His purposes for you. How sad it is when people live without meaning, without a mission, without a purpose and a direction in their lives, and many people do. But everyone should have a plan, a purpose in life that comes from God and by God's providence and because of God's presence live out that dream.

When I talk about a dream, I'm not talking about a fantasy. These dreams were God given dreams, given to Joseph. This is not something he concocted in his head or created himself, but these dreams came from God. And the very fact that he talked about these dreams, though his brothers despised him for it, it was a way in his own innocents that he was honoring God. He was speaking of what God had said to him, was doing in his own life! So this was not a man-made dream. There are man-made dreams-there are worldly dreams and carnal ambitions. The Scripture warns us against selfish, sinful dreams. In fact, just keep your place there in Genesis and look over in your Old Testament to Jeremiah 29 and verse 8 speaks of dreams that are not of God, ungodly dreams. Verse 8 of Jeremiah 29: "For thus says the Lord of Host, the God of Israel, 'Do not let your prophets and diviners (these were interpreters of dreams) who are among you to deceive you, and do not listen to the dreams that they dream.'"

So do not listen to every dream! There are ungodly and unwholesome and unholy dreams. But if you just skip down a few verses in verse 11 of Jeremiah 29, God says, "'For I know the plans that I have for you,' declares the Lord. 'Plans for your welfare, not for evil, but to give you a future and a hope.'" What a wonderful promise from God's Word. That God has a dream for your life, that God has a purpose for His glory through your life, and it is to prosper you, to protect you, to strengthen you and to give you success in knowing and doing and realizing His purpose in you. So many people unfortunately die without a hope and without a future. You don't have to live this way, you don't have to die this way.

So many people come to the end of their lives and they face a hopeless end. But as followers of Jesus, the resurrection and the life, the one who died and rose again, we come to the end of our days and we face an endless hope. We have in Christ a hope and a future. And so God imparts dreams and desires into our hearts. The psalmist said Psalms 37:4, "Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart". These great dreams that come for Him. Dear friend, never stop dreaming. If you're young, start dreaming, and if you're old, never stop dreaming because the minute you stop dreaming is the minute you start dying.

In Acts chapter 2 Peter the Apostle, in preaching on the day of Pentecost quoted from Joel the prophet Joel 2:28 in speaking of the coming of the Holy Spirit. And he said, "Your young men shall have visions and your old men will have dreams". No matter how young you are, no matter how old you are, never stop dreaming. So how do you know when your dream is from God, how do you know if your dream is a worldly dream or a will of God dream? One of my life verses is Proverbs 3:5-6. Two of them that you should know. Proverbs 3:5 and 6: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Do not lean unto your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path". This is trust plus obedience equals the will of God in your life. "Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Lean not unto your own understanding".

In other words, don't seek worldly ambitions but seek God and Him first in your life. Put Jesus first in your life! I tell young people, if you want counsel for life from Jack Graham, here it is: Allow Jesus Christ to be the Lord of your life, put Him first in your life and spend your life fulfilling His mission and purpose in you! And God began to work in my life and He's worked in your life in the same way as we trust Him and then obey Him. You know, it's not what is the will of God for my life ten years from now, but what is the will of God for my life right now! Do what is right in front of you. When you see the life of Joseph, you see that he was always faithful and God was always faithful to him.

One of the concurrent themes of Joseph's story that appears again and again and again in these verses in Genesis is this: "The Lord was with him, the Lord was with him, the Lord was with him, the Lord was with him". In spite of difficulties, adversities, danger, he followed the Lord and the Lord fulfilled his promise in him. When you trust God and follow Him, He has promised to lead you and see you through. There's some questions that I always ask myself when it comes to knowing and doing the will of God. I want to give you this test. You know every dream should be tested. The will of God should be tested in our lives. And here's how I test God's plan and God's purpose.

First of all I ask: Is this consistent with Scripture? Is what I'm about to do, what I'm considering to do, is it consistent with the Word of God. Because God would never ask me to do something apart from His Word. His word is the first line of offense in teaching me to know and do and testing me to know and do God's will. And so the more I know and learn the Scriptures the more I live the Scriptures. The more I ingest and digest the Word of God, the more His wisdom appeals to my conscience and to my spirit. So I ask is it consistent with the Scriptures.

Secondly, does this conform to the law of love in my life? What I'm about to choose, about to do, is it consistent with the law of love? The law of love is clear in the Bible: to love God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength; to love your neighbor as yourself. That's the royal law of God. And so when I'm about to do something, does this bless people, does it help people or does it hurt people? Is the love of Christ in me, is it in conformities to that law? Is this the loving thing to do becomes the right thing to do.

Thirdly, I ask can I continually give thanks to God for what I am doing or about to do? This is the test of gratitude. If you can give thanks from a sincere heart, 1 Corinthians 10:31, "Whatever you do, do all for the glory of God in gratitude to God". If you can praise God for a situation or circumstance or a business decision or an activity then if you can give gratitude to God for this, you can conclude that God is guiding you and leading you.

Fifthly: Is what I'm about to do, is this the will of God because it is confirmed by godly counsel. I said godly counsel, not worldly counsel. You can get people to tell you whatever you want to hear. You can find counselors to tell you anything you want to hear. But godly counsel that comes from the Word of God and the wisdom of God, someone who knows the ways of God. And so whether it is in the teaching of God's word from the pulpit or your Bible fellowship class or a small group or a trusted friend, a mentor, an advisor, if you are seeking to know God's will, run it by them. Seek godly counsel. In a multitude of counselors there is safety. And so I always want to ask is this confirmed by the godly counsel of Christians that I know and love and respect?

And then lastly, does it call me to a greater obedience and dependence upon God? I'm blown away by the dreams that God has given men. Way beyond what I would have expected or anticipated. Ephesians 3:20, "He is able to do exceedingly abundantly above and beyond all that we ask or think". And typically the dreams that God has placed in my heart are way, way beyond my ability to perform them. So it drives me to a newer obedience, a greater obedience, a greater dependence upon God for His presence. "God, if you don't do this it will not happen"! So a greater dependence and a renewed obedience to God.

You see, Joseph could have never imagined when God gave him these dreams as a seventeen year old, that he would ultimately be taken to the pit, from the pit to the pinnacle of power in all the earth as he became the prime minister, only under Pharaoh himself in Egypt, the greatest country of that time in the world. Ask God to show you His will. Pursue His plan for your life. You say, "Lord, I will do Your will anywhere, anytime, any cost". Passionate. You want to live your dream? Passionately, purposely pursue God's plan for your life. Ask God to give you a dream. Dare to dream great dreams from God! Secondly, understand your uniqueness. God made you a one and only you. Uniquely you! That's typified here in the story of Joseph and his coat of many colors.

Now the coat of many colors is more than a childhood story. It's really the story of dignity and humility. Joseph was favored by his father and right or wrong, in Jacob's judgment as to how he handled this favoritism, and we can criticize Jacob for that, but the fact is Joseph was unique. He didn't participate in the evil works of his brothers. He was a standout. He was a stand-alone. He was unique. And he was favored by his father. So his father gave him this beautiful coat. It was a coat of many colors, and what aggravated and just drove his brothers crazy was the fact that he wore it all the time. It was a beautiful coat. Kind of like that coat you've got on, Andy. Just a beautiful many colored coat. Just fantastical! And he wasn't ashamed to wear it! And so he was wearing this coat everywhere as a symbol of the favor of his father and the dignity and the royalty of what he had been given. But beyond his coat, beyond the colors was his character.

Later on when his brothers would throw him in a pit and steal his coat, and put it in animal blood, took it to his father and said, "Your son is dead, and here's the proof. A wild animal killed him; there's his coat". So bad; so sad. His brothers could take away his coat, but they could never take away his character. His coat represented his character, who he was. He wasn't like his brothers. Later on when he was tempted by Potiphar's wife, seduced, he ran out of the room. She grabbed his outer coat. Again, somebody took his coat but not his character. He maintained in temptation his purity and his integrity and his devotion. Did you know there's nothing bad in all of the Bible about Joseph? Not one negative word about Joseph.

Can't be said of any one else that I'm aware of, other than Jesus Himself. He is an exemplary man. He is a model man. He's often compared to Christ in the types and illustrations that we see in Joseph's life of Jesus Himself. But look, he was a Hebrew! Even though he was living in Egypt, he still maintained his identity as a Hebrew, as a man of God, as a favored son of his own father. And did you know as a Christian that you have identity in Christ? You are not the same you. You are a brand new you, and uniquely you; and therefore you have been called out from the world to stand apart from the world, to be separated from the ways of the world, and to no longer participate in the way the world may choose to live!

Now the world will try to shape us and seduce us and suck us down into its system, the world's system! Paul said in Romans chapter 12, verse 1: "Don't be conformed to this world". Phillips translates that: "Don't let the world squeeze you into it's mold. Don't let the world make you like itself. You're different as a child of God". Someone said, "The problem with people is everyone was born an original but died a copy"! And yes, the world is filled with negative people who tell you, "You can't do your dream". You ever notice how everything seems to be so negative? The world's just negative. I mean even the weatherman "Twenty percent chance of rain today"! Tell me there's 80 percent chance of sunshine today, alright! The world is so negative and the world will make you negative! The world will say you can't! But God says you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you. And if God gives you a dream, nothing can stop the purposes of God and the plan of God in your life!

God's dream is beating in your chest! So separate yourself like Joseph. Wear your true colors. Stand alone. Dare to be different, as a child of God refusing to live like everybody else. Your character, your colors, your true colors are being formed by the Spirit of God. There's one last thing I want to mention: If you want to live your dream, not only to pursue God's plan, God's purpose for your life, pursue it with passion! And to understand your own uniqueness and dare to be different. Dare to be different. But if God gives you a dream anticipate adversity. Dreams can be dangerous. Joseph's was. Your dreams may get you in trouble. Satan may oppose you. People may mock you. Some will hate you for your dreams. Some will tell you it can't be done. Can't do! No can do!

And people want to quit when people oppose them. But Joseph refused to give up on his dream. Joseph was tempted, he was tested. He was falsely accused. He was enslaved, he was forgotten, but all and all, God was there present, accounted for, working in his life, weaving his perfect plan in Joseph's life. And in the end Joseph said, the bottom line of this entire message, Genesis 50:20 when his brothers did bow before him as the dream had predicted, when the brothers and the father bowed before him, he said, "As for you, you're thoughts were for evil but God meant it for good". There's a corresponding verse in the New Testament that applies this. You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good. It's Romans 8:28: "For we know that God is working together all things for good to them that love the Lord and are called according to His purpose or plan for their life".

We don't live by the way we think, even or feel, but by what we know. What we know is God's word and God's promise and here's a word we don't repeat much, "providence", God's providence. His provideo of our lives where God sees and knows and leads us all the way. I can say with the psalmists or the song writer, "Jesus led me all the way"! And he's leading you if you're looking to Him and trusting in Him and leaning on Him. He is invincibly and invisibly working constructively, creatively, continuously in your life, even when you think He's not there, He is there! He is with you and He's weaving and working, informing you to become more like Jesus, to make you the person that He wants you to be. And that includes some tough times. But always to mature us and make us.

When Joseph was put into prison, falsely accused and put into prison, he was put in iron. And the psalmist said, "God put iron in his soul"! He was the original Ironman. Iron in his soul! That's the way God builds men and women of faith, to mature us and strengthen us so that he can use us for His glory. So all through the pit and prison and false accusation and lies and scandals, etc. he was tested and he was always tried and true. You see, God disciplines us in order to direct us. He disciplines us in order to define us and refine us.

And so you must wait on God and wait on God's time that He would fulfill His purpose. And He's right on time and He's always on schedule. And the Lord is with you. So when you're hit or you're hurt or you're blind-sided don't hit the panic button, hit the prayer button. Don't panic because God's got a plan. Say, "God, I don't understand what is happening here, but I know that You know. And it's enough to know that You know and that You want the best for my life"! God never loses sight of the dream that he's given you. And Joseph was given great success, amazing adventures of faith, because he lived his dream without ever giving up on his character, his commitment to God and his convictions to obey Him. God had a dream for Joseph and God has a dream for you.
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