LET’S TALK ABOUT DREAMS
So the chief cupbearer told his dream to Joseph and said to him, “In my dream there was a vine before me, and on the vine there were three branches. As soon as it budded, its blossoms shot forth, and the clusters ripened into grapes. Genesis 40:9-10
I know one thing for sure – God communicates far more than I hear. I was told growing up that God only speaks through scripture. Any other claim was heresy. And yet, the same people who policed what constituted a genuine word from God were the first to say that God had spoken to them in the night and called them to Peru as missionaries. That was confusing. I knew that they didn’t get that specific calling with their name and destination from a verse of scripture.
I grew up Baptist and I attend a Southern Baptist Church. However, I am much more progressive in my quest for experiencing God. Over a decade ago, I asked God to open my ears to hear Him in ways I had previously been closed. That began a new chapter for me. While I am a conservative person, careful to sift everything through the grid of scripture, I have now had many dreams. I share them when God nudges.
The cupbearer dreamed about vines, branches, blossoms, and clusters of grapes. Had he been hallucinating? Joseph never suggested that. Dreams are sometimes literal, sometimes allegorical, and when they are from God, they are powerful and life shaping.
Are all dreams from God? No. Satan also gives dreams. Dreams can also be quirky and full of silliness, quickly forgotten in the morning. Not all people dream, either. God speaks differently to each child, according to how He wired them. But for each of you who do dream, I share some thoughts. Continue reading
EXPECTATION AND DISAPPOINTMENT
In a desert land he found him, in a barren and howling waste. He shielded him and cared for him; he guarded him as the apple of his eye. Deuteronomy 32:10
So much of life involves dealing with expectations. I envision an event, anticipate the fruit of a relationship, and look forward to what I perceive will happen. Oftentimes what I hope for does not come to pass. Even more painful are those moments when I discover that I have been the object of another’s expectation and have fallen short to disappoint them. I can try feverishly hard to fix that but rarely will I succeed.
Perhaps your parents wanted a boy and you are a girl. Maybe they didn’t want children and called you a mistake. Perhaps they wanted you to take over a family practice and you became an artist instead. It may be that you were once engaged and your lover broke off the engagement. He said he didn’t love you anymore, Continue reading
THEIR NEED? YOUR OPPORTUNITY
When Joseph came to them in the morning, he saw that they were troubled. So he asked Pharaoh’s officers who were with him in custody in his master’s house, “Why are your faces downcast today?” They said to him, “We have had dreams, and there is no one to interpret them.” And Joseph said to them, “Do not interpretations belong to God? Please tell them to me.” Genesis 40:6-8
Many royal courts employed dream interpreters since, in the near East, dreams were a way of foretelling the future. The royal cupbearer and the baker, because they were in prison, had no access to him when they had troubling dreams. But Joseph was intuitive and read their body language the next morning. He asked them why they were downcast and they admitted their need of an interpreter. This was a divine appointment and Joseph instantly recognized it. He ascribed the power of interpretation to God only and made himself available for discerning the mind of God on their behalf.
How many divine appointments do I miss? Would I have lived in my own world if I had been Joseph? Would I have interacted with my two cellmates? Would I have seen their need as an opportunity for God’s power to be on full display? God knows who will be in proximity to me on a certain day and He will put someone in distress at the very moment our worlds intersect. My part is to live prayerfully so that I recognize a divine appointment when it’s staring me in the face.
Who is downcast nearby? Who is sick? Who lives in chronic pain? Who was up all night churning because they lack wisdom about a decision? Who has been crying alone? Who is afraid of the future and wants to rehearse the latest headlines about Ebola? Continue reading
WHAT AM I LIKE, LORD?
People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. 2 Tim. 3:2-5
Form of godliness ~ Using religion without treasuring Christ
I often believe that I am further along on this journey of sanctification than I really am. I’m pondering each thing on this list to really see how much of each thing is still in me. Shine Your light in my heart, Lord. I want to be ready when You come.
Am I a lover of myself? Am I narcissistic? Often, life is all about me. Change me. Make my first thought of You, not myself.
Am I a lover of money? Often, I am captivated by beautiful things. Change me to love Your beauty far above all. Continue reading
WHEN SOMEONE NEAR ME SINS
Some time after this, the cupbearer of the king of Egypt and his baker committed an offense against their lord the king of Egypt. And Pharaoh was angry with his two officers, the chief cupbearer and the chief baker, and he put them in custody in the house of the captain of the guard, in the prison where Joseph was confined. Genesis 40:1-3
God does not redeem sin when the person who committed it is an unbeliever. He is not their Father and they are not in relationship with Him. But when someone sins who is nearby, especially someone whose sin affects me, then I can know that God is active somehow and that the redemptive process is working for my ultimate good.
Joseph is in prison, a place where it would be easy to believe that God is inactive. His privacy is interrupted when he is given two cellmates, both strangers to him. They have sinned against Pharaoh and while Joseph doesn’t have a relationship with Pharoah, nor does he have a relationship with the cupbearer and the baker, their sins will have direct impact on Joseph’s life.
When will I fully grasp that God is involved in everything that has anything to do with me? He is providentially tying all perceived loose ends together. I have met no one by mistake. I have worked for no one by mistake. I have not suffered at the hands of anyone by mistake. I have not been betrayed by mistake. The sins committed by all those in proximity to me are woven into my redemptive storyline. Continue reading
FAVOR IN CAPTIVITY
But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison. Genesis 39:21
Really? God gives favor in captivity? I thought they were mutually exclusive. Another reminder that what is logical to me is not logical to God. He turns a concept on its end and constantly surprises.
Joseph sat in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. He probably had moments when he felt utterly forsaken by God. And yet, the reality was that his prison was the doorway to leadership. The story is about to take an amazing turn when Joseph shares a cell with men that came from the royal court. Their crimes, and their time in Joseph’s company, will bring Joseph’s name before the Pharoah.
Has God blessed others in captivity? I was surprised to find direct proof. “And the Lord gave his people favor in the sight of the Egyptians.” Ex.11:3 Many generations after Joseph, the Hebrews will believe that their God has forgotten them. For 400 years, they will doubt His goodness. Yet history will prove that God gave them favor in the midst of slavery.
I’m old enough to have had significant periods of captivity. The one who is confined never feels favored. I can think of 3 reasons: Continue reading
FINDING GOD IS HARD SOMETIMES
And Joseph’s master took him and put him into the prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined, and he was there in prison. But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison. Genesis 39:20-21
Finding evidence of God’s presence is difficult when life appears to have fallen apart. Joseph was tricked by Potiphar’s wife. Accused of rape, he had to stand before his master. The end result was imprisonment. But the writer of Genesis still said that the Lord was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love. Aren’t you asking the questions so many ask? ‘If the Lord was really with Joseph, why didn’t He spare him from prison? Why didn’t He expose the scheme of Potiphar’s wife?’ And, why does God allow bad things to happen to me?’
The problem is that I expect to live a different life from Jesus. His birth was shadowed by a cross and so is mine. He said so. ‘You must pick up your cross and follow me.’ Was God with Jesus as He was with Joseph? Absolutely. He walked His Son through all His afflictions and stayed with Him all the way to the cross. He sent angels to minister to Him. He sent handpicked disciples to help carry the burden of His mission. But He still had to face Calvary because that was His calling.
So how was the Lord with Joseph? Potiphar must have doubted his wife’s story because the punishment for rape was death yet Joseph was sentenced to prison instead. And he was assigned to the king’s prison, a less severe environment. Did Joseph see evidence of God’s presence? I’m confident he had to battle for his faith just as I have to battle for mine.
I don’t care for the phrase ‘count your blessings’ because those who refuse to confront suffering on a deep level often recite it. It’s their method of denial. So let me re-phrase it. When life seems to fall apart and it would appear that God has abandoned me, there are evidences that the Lord is with me. I must ask God to help me see them. If I remember that I have taken up a cross to follow Jesus, then I won’t expect God to prevent hardship. I will know that what appears to be a senseless tragedy is simply a means to glory being revealed. My life and Jesus’ life mirror each other. Because the cross was a means to His glorification, I can rest in the assurance that darkness will never have the last word in my life either.
In every valley, You are with me and are blessing me with gifts of grace. Open my eyes to find them all. Amen