Jack Graham - Discovering Your God Given Dream
We're in a series of messages called DESTINY. It's the story of Joseph. One of the great stories of the Bible. One of the favorite personalities in all of the Scripture. Maybe you know him as Joseph and his Technicolor dream coat. He was given this magnificent mosaic coat that he wore symbolizing the favor of his father upon his life. God gave this man, even when he was seventeen years of age, just a teenager like many of these students here today, God placed some dreams in his heart. And the story of Joseph is the story of every believer because all of us have amazing potential for an extraordinary life. And to discover our God-honoring dreams, the dreams that God gives us that shape our lives and size our lives.
I know this, and here's this sermon in a sentence. I tell preachers, "If you can't put your sermon in a sentence, you don't have a sermon yet". But here's the message in a sentence: What your life becomes is built upon the dreams that you dream and the decisions that you make from this day forward. I'm going to say it again: What your life becomes is built upon the dreams that you dream and the decisions that that you make from this day forward. Take your Bibles and turn with me to Genesis, chapter 37. When I've had the opportunity over the years to ask some successful people what is the secret of your success, inevitably at the outset, they use words like vision and mission and purpose and dreams. And God has planted the seeds of success in all of us.
Joseph is described in the book of Genesis, chapter 39, verse 2 as a successful man. Why? Because God gave him success. It was obvious even to pagans that the Lord's hand was upon him; that there was an extraordinary spirit about him. The dreams that we possess are not mere pipe dreams or day dreams, superficial dreams, but supernatural dreams. Not Disney dreams. You know Cinderella said, "A dream is a wish that your heart makes". Very nice, but that's not a God given dream. The kind of dream that we discover here in Genesis chapter 37. "Now Joseph had a dream (verse 5), and when he told it to his brothers they hated him even more". Then again down in verse 9: "Then he dreamed another dream and told it to his brothers and he said, 'Behold, I have dreamed another dream.'"
You will recall that these dreams concerned Joseph's rise to power and position; that ultimately his own family, his father and his brothers would bow down to him. Joseph was given a glimpse of his own future. And while he couldn't have understood it at this point, he realized that God was doing something, implanting something in his heart that was absolutely life changing. Ultimately it was not about Joseph and his rise to power; it was about God saving a family and God saving a nation. Dreams that honor God aren't about our egos or our own ambitions. Dreams that God gives us concern the things that He cares about. And this is the kind of dream that God gave Joseph. Later his father, when he heard about the dream, in verse 10, said: "What is this dream that you have dreamed"?
And while that question was in the form of a rebuke, it's actually a question that all of us should ask and answer. It's the question that I want to ask you today. What is this dream that you have dreamed? What is the dream that keeps you awake? What is the dream that drives you forward? What is the dream? And for some who have dreamed, it's time to dream again. At mid-life perhaps you've given up on any possibility or any potential of fulfilling the dreams that have been in your heart a long time. And maybe you've given up on your dream for your marriage or given up on your dream for your children. Whatever your dream is, you can dream it again.
Think about your dream. Is it a dream for a long and healthy life? Or is it a dream for a godly marriage with great children that honor Christ? Is your dream, a dream of a career that glorifies God? Is your dream of a ministry in which you give back to the work of Christ and His church? Is your dream a ministry of service? Whatever your dream is, you can find and fulfill the purpose for which God has made you. And, again, I say, the dreams that you dream and the decisions that you make from this day forward will determine your destiny. If you're not dreaming, you're dying! And frankly some are no longer dreaming. You have lowered your expectations in life.
When I first heard Zig Ziglar speak twenty years ago, I remember him telling a couple of stories: one about an insect, the other about an elephant. He said that you could take a jar, a small container, take the lid off of it, put fleas in there and those fleas would jump out of the jar. They'll jump, jump, jump right out of the jar. But then you take a lid and put that lid over the container and those fleas will jump, jump, keep trying to jump, but once they realize in their little flea brains that there's a lid on, they settle in on the bottom of the glass or the container. And even when you take the lid off, according to Mr. Ziglar, those fleas will just sit there, lay there until they die because now they have been programmed that a lid is on their lives and all they can do is sit there and die.
Well, you say, "Well, that's a stupid flea". What about an elephant? Zig tells of circus elephants, you know how they're trained. You seen these massive elephants with a chain around their neck or a rope, and they're attached to a pole in the middle of the arena. And these elephants just walk around, you know, that pole, just like this, all day long. They just take a little tap, they're walking around, just like that. Well, how do you ever get an elephant to do that? You start when they're little. You get a little baby elephant, you put a baby elephant, you put a chain around his neck, and train him to walk around that pole with that chain. And even though he gets bigger and bigger and bigger and bigger and so massive that it's obvious he could pull that pole right out of the ground and the chain with it, he doesn't do it. Why? Because he is programmed now to just walk around in circles. He was made for the wild but he's now programmed.
You know I think a lot of people start out with a lot of dreams in their lives, maybe as children you have some dreams about your future. I think God puts dreams in our lives very early in our experience in life. I know He did for me. You know I dreamed of being a baseball player and figured out I wasn't good enough to do that. I went back to an earlier dream that God gave me about being a preacher, a pastor. I believe God put that in my heart when I was just a small boy. And I believe many of us, God gave us some dreams. But we get programmed. Our dreams get dumbed down. Even if sometimes in the education systems of our day, we just kind of train people for mediocrity, we train people for the mundane, but we help them somehow lose their dreams.
One of the things that I pray will happen when kids and students come to Prestonwood is that they will see and know the great dream and plans that God has for their lives. If you want to discover your God given dream, first, understand your the uniqueness of you. Just as Joseph was favored by his father and given this coat of many colors, we have been favored by our Father, and we therefore, stand in the righteousness of Christ, the cloak of righteousness. And we have been called and created for this purpose that I've been talking about. And the Spirit of God lives in us and you are a gifted child. The Spirit of God has gifted you with spiritual abilities in order to do things for His glory. And you have this amazing uniqueness.
Discover your God given dream! Joe was called a dreamer. And that's because he had these dreams that were inexplicable and unexplainable. Psalm 34:7 says, "Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart". And if you seek God and ask Him, He will give you a dream, again, for your life, for your family, for your career, for your ministry, for your well being. What is your dream? We're not talking here about schemes. A lot of people have schemes rather than dreams. Have you noticed that? For example, Jacob was a schemer; Jacob was Joseph's father. He wasn't a dreamer; he was a schemer. In fact, his very name Jacob means the cheat or the conniver. I thought that was pretty cool. I figured out that Jack's name was a derivative Jacob and I didn't think it was so great. But it was Jacob who was the conniver and he was constantly trying to manipulate the will of God for his life. Running from his family, running for his life, even running from God and every time he tried to run from God, God chased him down.
Have you experienced that? You're trying to live your life in your own way, even running from God, but God chases you down. He chased Jacob down ultimately and broke him, spiritually as well as physically. And ultimately Jacob it's said worshipped God leaning on His staff. He learned how to lean on God. But Jacob spent most of his life, you know, like a lot of people do, you know, what's the latest get rich quick scheme? What's the latest easy way to success? And how can my life be comfortable? Or running from God and God's purpose for your life. That's scheming your way through life. But Joseph is a dreamer. There was a different spirit in him. This is why he became a successful man, when your dreams see the invisible and attempt the impossible!
I like what Leroy Eims, a wonderful Christian leader said about this. He said: "A leader is one who sees more than others see. He sees farther than others see, and he sees before others do". Good quote. When I was a young man I wrote in my Bible these words: "You never test the resources of God until you attempt the impossible". F. B. Meyer. What I wrote in my Bible so long ago is now written in my heart. To test God and trust God with the dreams that He places in our hearts; the desires in our hearts. And we're told that if we do delight ourselves in God and trust in God, then He will give us and plant in us the ideas, the dreams. Remember a dream is the mental picture, God's picture of your life. Ultimately it's to be like Christ, to be formed into the image of Christ. Along the way God gives us this dream.
Now it's important to have goals. It's important to have strategies, but before any of this can be fulfilled, you must have a dream. Dream a big dream, because you have a great God who can do more than you can possibly imagine in your life. God's dream is bigger and better than your own dreams. And remember this, God's dreams are the things that God cares about. If God's going to put a dream in your heart, mine as a believer, it's going to be a dream concerning something He really cares about. Not about my ego or my ambition or my achievement, but about advancing the work of God on earth. That's why I say we are created for Him and by Him, made with a mission. So when you look around and wonder what is my dream, a dream can be healing a hurt. A dream can be lifting a life. A dream would be about answering a question or solving some problem. A dream is about helping others achieve their dreams.
We're here today because some people dreamed a great dream regarding this church and we're sharing in the dreams of others who dreamed dreams that were given by God. Ultimately it's because Jesus had a desire to build our church and His church on earth. And we get to be a part of that dream. There is a part we play, you know, in dreaming these great dreams. And in Ephesians 2, verses 8 and 9 we're told, "For by grace are you saved through faith". All right, listen up, Gospel message coming. "For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourself: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest anyone should boast". Salvation is not me doing my best; it's God doing His best. What He did for us at the cross; He died, He rose again, and then He by grace, His favor offers us salvation and we respond by faith.
In a moment I'm going to give an invitation and invite you to respond to the Lord Jesus Christ. But verse 10 then tells us our part. Verse 10 says, "For we are His workmanship, created in Jesus Christ unto good works". God is shaping us; God is sizing us. God is molding and making our dreams, our lives, and we are a part of it because we are created "unto good works". So when God gives you a dream, it's a matter of just sitting around and waiting for something to happen. No, it is investing your life and letting God fill you and use you. Never stop dreaming. Paul didn't. The greatest Christian who ever lived in my view, the Apostle Paul said in Philippians 3:14, "I press on towards the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Jesus Christ"!
I know I haven't arrived! I know I'm not there yet! That is why I press on! Press on in your spiritual walk, in your families, in your careers, in your relationship, in your ministry! Don't be satisfied by being satisfied. Don't be satisfied with an average Christian life! Don't be satisfied with an average marriage. Don't be satisfied with an average child or an average parenting experience! Don't be satisfied with mediocrity in any area of your life! You are unique before God; called and favored by the Father! And God gives you a dream as surely as He gives Joseph a dream! There's one final thing: anticipate adversity.
Now we're going to talk a lot about this in coming weeks and Joseph's experience because he was on a collision course with destiny. And he faced extreme emergencies of faith along the way. Truly a remarkable story that God gave him these dreams, and these dreams gave him a lot of headaches because God was shaping him and shaping his dreams. If you read the story here in the thirty-seventh chapter, Joseph, it's obvious he's young, he's immature, he's walking around in his brand new jacket. He's sort of in the face of his brothers. There's a lot of arrogance here God had to deal with in his life, and brought him to humility and brought him to a place where He could really use him. You can't even begin to live the dream God has for you until you stop caring only about yourself.
And Joseph had a lot of self in this until God shaped the dream. But opposition comes, adversity comes when we have great dreams. Comes in many forms: loneliness, opposition. You know it was said of Walt Disney that when Disney presented an idea to his board or to his creative team that unless he found opposition to his idea he would not go forward. He'd scrap the whole thing unless there was some kind of opposition because he figured his dream was too small and his idea was too unimaginative. Always we will find those who want to destroy our dreams! Fatigue! You give up. You get tired and you quit. But I guess criticism is one of the areas which we find ourselves giving up the most.
These brothers sharply criticized Joseph. His own father didn't affirm him on his dream. And he could have easily given up. Ultimately people forgot him in prison, people tempted him and tested him in all kinds of ways, all of this crisis and collision in his life. But he kept dreaming. And when you have adversity in your life, know that that's God shaping you. He hasn't given up on the dream of your life, He hasn't quit on you. He's working on you, for "we know that all things are working together for the good of them that love the Lord, and are called according to His purpose". In Joseph's story is the 8-28, Romans 8:28 of the Scriptures! That God is doing all of this behind the scenes. But sometimes criticism can hurt.
I heard about a couple walking into a pet store. They walked in the pet store and there was a parrot sitting there on his perch and when the couple walked by, the parrot said, "Hey, you"! Man looked around. He said, "Me"? He said, "Yeah, you"! He said, "What"? The parrot said, "You're stupid and your wife's ugly"! "What did you say"? "Yeah, you're stupid and your wife's ugly"! Well his wife's in tears. He's extremely angry! He walks into the manager of the pet store, and said, "You know what your parrot just said to me out there, that dirty bird said to me"! He said, "What"? "He said that I was stupid and my wife was ugly"! The manager said, "I can't believe he's doing that again"! He goes out there, he grabs the parrot by the neck, he shakes his tail feathers real good, slaps him around a little bit and says, "If you ever say anything like that to one of our customers again, that'll be the last thing you ever say"! And he put him back on his perch.
Well, the couple was satisfied that the bird was duly disciplined, so they leave the store. And as the man and woman are walking out the store, the bird sitting there, said, "Hey you"! The man turns and says, "What"? "Yooou know". You know our problem so often we're listening to parrots just repeating what others say! And all of us can think about stuff that's been said to us along the way, that in a few instances have really kept us from fulfilling God's best in our lives.
Sort of like that preacher, he was visiting country churches, preaching from here and there and everywhere. And he was at this particular church, and he thought he gave a good message. And he's standing there shaking people's hands as they're leaving, and people being complimentary. But there's this one guy walks by and he says, "That was the worst sermon I ever heard"! Well, he took that and said, "Well, I appreciate that". The man went on, shakes some more hands. Same guy gets in line again, comes back through. He said, "Not only was it long, it was boring"! And he said, "Well," The guy gets in line again. He comes back through! He says, "People's". No, he said, "Nobody wants you back again". Man, this guy's just crushed. And one of the deacons of the church walked up to him and said, "Friend, don't pay any attention to that guy. That guy's really, he's not right. He just walks around repeating what everybody else is saying".
Well, there are the dream makers and there are the dream takers! Don't let anybody take your dream from you; "Remember Your word to Your servant in which You made me hope". Sometimes when you have a dream from God, you need to go back to the promise that God has given you. In spite of the circumstances, crisis, adversity, you go back and say, "Lord, remember Your word that You have given to Your servants". And this is our hope, and this is our strength, and this is our dream, that He will fill this house, you and me, for we are the temple of God, and this house, His church, with his glory, and in the latter days they will be greater than in the former days. The best is yet. So don't die with your dreams still in you. Don't stand before God with regrets for what your life could have been. What you may have done for God or for your family or your children. Keep dreaming! Keeping stretching your faith! Keep expecting great things from God and your life will turn out far more incredible than you ever dreamed possible!