When the Road to the Dream Isn’t Dreamy

Dreaming, it’s such a great gift in life. Even in the toughest situations, we have the ability to imagine a time when things will be different. We get to let our mind wander to places we hope for. But what happens when the journey to the dream isn’t very dreamy at all?

I think of the account we read in the Bible about Joseph. He was a young man, and God gave him a dream. He understood it only to a point, but the jest of it was that one day his brothers, mother, and father would bow down to him. It was an amazing dream to be at a place where even his family bowed down to him, for a young boy with mostly shepherding outlined for him in life.

So he did what any young man would do, he ran and told the ones he loved. “Look, brothers, this is what I dreamt.” Now if we may take a page from our own lives here and imagine a little. Even when we read this, we could begin to think of what it might look like for him to go from shepherded to royalty. Maybe a king passing him by on their way to their palace notices how amazing he is, how strong and handsome he is. Maybe they are so moved by his greatness they instate him as a prince and off to rule the kingdom he goes. He, however, didn’t probably imagine the next step in his journey from dream to fulfillment was outlined with ridicule by this own brothers, or that he’d be placed in a pit to die because of their jealousy. Maybe as he was hauled away as a slave, he envisioned the previous story just to put out of mind what his life is becoming.

How often do we start to dream? Even a dream straight from the Lord and then as we step onto the path that leads us there, it begins to feel anything like a dream. Definitely different then we’d imagined.

Now there is usually light of hope that flickers on the journey. Like when Joseph was made head slave over Potiphar’s house. I mean it’s closer to the dream than the bottom of that pit was. Maybe things are looking up. Maybe God was just using that to get me into the palace. Maybe he will still see greatness in me and instate me as prince yet. But wait what is this? Thrown in jail for doing the right thing, for refusing advances from Potiphar’s wife?  Wait, hold on God. Don’t you know this is not how it’s supposed to go?  Don’t you know that when I walk in what you have, when I do the right thing then…ding, all good stuff happens? Right? Uh? Lord, hello? Ever been on this part of the path to the dream?  Maybe working long hours to develop your gifting, maybe going without recognition for the way you are helping people, or maybe receiving evil for the good?

Next, we see Joseph being made head prisoner over the jail he’d been thrown in. He just interpreted dreams for the king’s cupbearer and baker. He’d asked them to remember him when they went before the king. But as he’s starting to expect from his journey so far, they didn’t remember him. In fact, they pretty much forgot all about him.

This is usually where even the most devoted throw in the towel. They used to push off the question of “is this really a dream from the Lord?” “Can it really be true?” “Will it ever happen?” But now the thoughts are allowed to swirl, to persist because all the evidence seems to point to their truth.

What happens when the road to the dream doesn’t look like a dream? When what we see and feel seems to be making a case against the word of the Lord? We believe God.

His word says that He is not a man that He should lie. It says that He that started a good work in us and is faithful and just to complete it. (Philippians 1:6) Times of struggle is what the body of Christ (church) is for. Like our physical body when one part is weak the other part steps in for support. Find that Christian brother or sister that can encourage you in the word of the Lord. (1 Corinthians 12:12-27)

Joseph was eventually remembered. Pharaoh had a couple of dreams that needed interpreting, and when none of his magicians and wise men could interpret the dreams, the cupbearer remembered Joseph had been right about his dream and Pharaoh sent for him. Not only did Joseph get an opportunity to interpret the dreams of Pharaoh, but the dreams were a warning that not only saved Egypt but also Joseph’s whole family and all of Israel. Through this, he saw his dream. Pharaoh put him in charge of all of Egypt, and Joseph’s family came to him for food and bowed to him, just as he’d dreamed all those years earlier.

The dreams God has given you are true and will come to pass. But we must be willing to walk the path even if it doesn’t look dream-like.

Account of Joseph stats in Genesis 37.

It all begins with knowing the Lord. Click here to learn how.

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We Can Because He Made Us Able

We see in Matthew 25:14-30 the parable of the talents. Now talents are measurements of money. Let me recap what happens in this parable. The master gives three servants talents according to their abilities. One gets five, one gets two and one gets one talent. The first two servants put their talents to work and reap double what the master gave him. The person with only one talent became fearful of how the master might respond if he failed in his endeavors and lost even the one talent that he had. So he buried it. He dug a hole and hid it to keep it safe.  We see when the master returns he approves of the first two and how they put their talents to work. But he scolds the third servant saying you could have at least put it in the bank to gain interest.

Full Story HERE

We learn several things from this story.

First…the Lord wants us to know that He has given us each talents according to our abilities. He is a good Father and He loves each of us. Giving us the talents we can manage. Not overbearing us or asking more then we can handle, but giving us just what we are able to work with.

Second… He’s not as interested in how much the return on the talents are but rather that we use them to their full potential. He was not more impressed by the servant that brought in ten talents then the servant who brought in four. He was proud of His servants in that they each put what He gave them to use and it was able to grow.

Third…Knowing that He gave you just what you can handle, He does not excuse us because we are afraid. His expectation is that we put to use what He gave us for the growth of the kingdom. He is a good Father that calls out the best in His children.

Last week while doing the dishes I heard the Lord say “My children spend most of their lives on this earth wondering if they are qualified to walk in who I’ve created them to be.”  He reminded me what His Word says about the fact that He qualifies us. We can because He made us able. We must put to bed the idea that we can’t, because in Christ we can do the impossible. Matthew 19:26.

So what talents, gifting or callings has God called you to? Are you walking in them? If, yes, how do you continue to nurture growth? If, no, then how can you begin today. When the King returns we want Him to say “well done good and faithful servant”.

Again it all begins with knowing Him. Read here to learn more.

We have a Hope

From the virgin birth, to the cross and from the resurrection to the return of the King. There is a story of unspeakable importance playing out through the generations. A King, a father, a friend – the God of all the universe is contending for the ones He loves.

When the disciples were staring into the sky as Jesus ascended into Heaven an angel spoke to the them and asked…

Acts 1:11 “Men of Galilee,” they said. “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”

Christ is going to return. There is volumes of books and articles discussing this topic, but I just want to highlight two ways this impacts us.

First…. those who are in Christ have a hope that is out of this world. Not only did Christ pay the price of our sins, but He let us know that He went to heaven to prepare a place for us.

John 14:3-4 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”

There is a literal heaven and those who believe in God (The God of the Bible) have the assurance that He will return and He will take them to be with Him.  There is no greater hope. Death has no hold on those that are His. The Apostle Paul said it like this…

2 Corinthians 5:6-8 “Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord—  for we walk by faith, not by sight— we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.”

We have this hope that when the Lord returns we will be with Him. That even if we leave our earthly bodies before His return we will join Him in Heaven. Man that is good news! Not only does He come and redeem us from death through our sin, not only does He bring blessings in this life and the next, but He is creating a place for us in Heaven. A place that we will be with Him.

Second…It’s important that we are ready for His return. What does it mean?  We know from scripture that no one knows the day or hour.

Matthew 24:36But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven,[a] but My Father only.”

This means we can’t keep saying, tomorrow. Tomorrow I’ll get right with the Lord. Tomorrow I’ll make Him Lord. Tomorrow. The scriptures lets us know that tomorrow is promised to no man.

James 4:13-14  Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will[a] go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”;  whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.

So we have to be ready. Jesus is coming. Ready means you’ve made Christ Lord of you life. Lord is not a phrase we use much these days. But it means He’s in charge. It means we understand that we were lost in sin and that through His great love for us He sent His Son to die and pay the price for our sin. But He didn’t stay dead. Three days later He rose from the grave. Defeating the enemy and purchasing our freedom.

Ready is living our lives for Him. It’s a great trade. Our sin filled life for a life full of God’s greatness.  It all starts with giving our lives to Him.

Follow the link for more details on starting a relationship with the Lord

First, Know Him

Imagine sitting in a room full of people and everyone is talking about you. Some were saying how nice of a person they heard you were and others where sharing stories that were just plain untrue. Sitting there you watched as one person’s description would be retold to someone else only the details would change a little. By the time it got around the room there was little resemblance of the original story.  Now imagine what it would be like to have everyone start talking to you and telling you what you’re like. Even arguing with you when you try to set them straight. For so many of us this is how we learned about who God is.

What we’ve heard, what we think may be true and deluded stories passed around form our image of God. My encouragement to you is to get to know Him for yourself. Now don’t get me wrong. It’s ok to learn from each others experiences with God. But it just cannot be a substitute to you knowing Him personally.

In Philippians 3:8 Paul says “What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ”

We see in Ephesians 3:18-19 the prayer that we “may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”

The main ingredient missing in most people’s journey with the Lord is getting to know Him. We are caught up in religious rituals and miss the God we are worshiping.

John 17:3 “now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” You want eternal life?  Know Him the one and only true God.

I encourage you today to not let God be just someone you heard people talking about, but someone you know. He left his Word, the Bible, as a letter to us. Explaining who He is and who we are to Him. It’s the best place to start to move closer to knowing Him.

Learn more about knowing God here

HOPE

Today let’s “chat” a bit about the term HOPE. Most of the time when we use this word it is very ambivalent. On a scale of “nope” to “defiantly” we’ll see hope close to “probably not”. If you mom says, “I hope we have time to get ice cream.” you know the odds are not in your favor. So when we read verses like Romans 11:1 that says “now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” It paints a picture of passivity. Maybe what God said is true, maybe not. Maybe He’ll show up and help me out maybe not.  But this is not the scriptural use to the word Hope.

Hope

Hope in the Hebrew and greek is an indication of certainty. It creates confident expectation. Like when a child sees their parent pull the top off the cookie jar. They are not wondering if they are getting cookies, they know. They are filled with eager expectation even though they have not yet seen a cookie. Even if there has been no verbal communication. They know that what they hoped for will occur. This is Biblical Hope.

Understanding Hope in this context changes everything. It helps us understand why it’s so important. Why it can save our very lives.  Hope is active. When you have certainty in your Hope it gives birth to faith.  When a farmer who Hopes with certainty that the seeds he has in his barn will produce a crop he moves with purpose to prepare the fields. He tills the ground, gears up the tractors and mobilizes the team. He plans for where the harvest will be stored. Why? Because he Hopes for things he cannot yet see, knowing it will come to pass.

Hebrew 6:19 “This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil.” What is this Hope? It is Jesus. God made a covenant with us that through Christ paying the price for our sins we could experience eternal life. This is the hope that we have as an anchor of our soul. This Hope, this certainty that we are Christ’s forever.

Hold onto this Hope and share it with others.

 

As always it first begins with knowing Him. Click here to learn how.

Heart Issues Part 2

As we reviewed in Heart Issues Part 1 we are to “keep your heart with all diligence,
For out of it spring the issues of life.” Proverbs 4:23. To keep our heart means to guard it.  What does this mean?  So many are familiar with the process of putting walls around our heart after having experience of great hurt. But this is not what we are talking about here. That type of confinement only brings more hurt as it separates us from knowing love and acceptance.  

So then how do we guard our hearts? 

  1. Trust in the Lord. Philippians 4:6-7 “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;  and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”  Here we see that as we communicate to the Lord our needs and concerns and then rely on Him knowing that He will take care of us His peace guards our hearts and minds. It allows us to be at peace even when it doesn’t make sense to be peaceful.
  2. Watch what we allow ourselves to dwell on. Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.” What are we allowing to captivate our hearts and minds?  Remember we learned that the heart is where the issues of life flow. We must use the verse above to determine what we allow into the river of our hearts.
  3. Know that we don’t have to fix ourselves. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9 “being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;” Philippians 1:6 Even King David called to the Lord and asked Him to give him a clean heart. “Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Psalms 51:10.

As you grow in closeness and proximity to the Lord, we must allow the Him to purify our hearts. To remove the rocks of hurt, bitterness, pride and the like. Out of the heart flows the issues of our lives. As always the first step is giving our hearts to the Lord. Read how in Beginning a Relationship with the Lord.

Heart Issues Part 1

Ever feel like you really want to do what’s right, what’s healthy but when you try it seems like you end up with the opposite. Maybe you can relate to the Apostle Paul when he says “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” (Romans 7:15-25) What’s up with this? What keeps getting in the way of being who we desire to be? Who God created us to be? I don’t know about you but hearing one of the founders of the Church communicate that he struggled with this very thing brings some hope to me. (Full story Romans 7). Let’s take a look at what’s going on.

“Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it springs the issues of life” Proverbs 4:23 Heart here is translated the essence of all spiritual and physical life. Where our thoughts, emotions and will live. Some also call it our soul. The connector between our mind and spirit. We see that we are to keep or some translations state guard our heart with all diligence, for out of it springs the issues of life. In Luke 6:45 we learn “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” Next time some asks where you got that mouth of yours you can reply “the treasure of my heart”. But seriously  we are learning a lot about where the issues that we face in our lives are derived from.

Knowing this king David calls out to the Lord “Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Psalms 51:10 It’s so cool because we were created for good. Ephesians 2:10 “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” We are the workmanship of God and He’s the best builder around. There is hope to end the cycle that Paul described above.

We see in Ezekiel 36:26 that God responds to His children when we call out for a clean heart like king David did.  “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”  Yeah! Winner! This is amazing. 

So we’ve learned that out of the heart flows the issues of life and that God can change our hearts. Take time today to call out to the Lord and ask for a clean heart. As always first step is giving God your heart and life read Beginning a Relationship with the Lord post on those details. Then continue the journey increasing your proximity to Christ and let Him give you a new heart.

Next proximity post we will look at what it means to guard your heart.

 

The Beginning of the End of Separation

This time of year many take time to focus on the birth of Christ and I wanted to take a moment to highlight why this event is so important. First point is this was not just another birth. This was God coming in the form of man. His birth marked the next step in God’s plan for the redemption of man.

In Genesis we learn that sin entered the world through Adam and Eve’s disobedience. This sin caused us to be separated from God. We learn in Romans that the wages of sin is death. (Romans 6:23) Meaning eternal separation from Christ. God had created us for relationship with Him. His great love for us compelled Him to create a way for the separation caused by the sinful nature to be removed.  This way was Jesus.

In Luke 1:26 to 2:21 we read about the birth of Jesus. His birth marked the beginning of the end of sins ability to separate us from Christ. This is our road back.  The bible says that during His time on earth He was tempted in every way but did not sin. (Hebrews 4:15) . Christ birth and life here on earth set Him up for the next steps that sealed the payment for our sins and restored us back to the Father. God coming as man allowed Him to pay the price for our sins once and for all. This is the power and the importance of the birth of Christ. The rest of the story is found in His death and resurrection.

Read more: 
The Cross
The resurrection
Beginning a Relationship with God

Fun Song About the Birth of Christ: Enjoy- Little Drummer Boy by Pentatonix

 

 

You are loved…

The simple truth is that the God of all creation loves you. Not just a little, not just because and not without a full understanding of who we are. Many people struggle with this conception. Mostly through a good understanding that most of us have many unlovable attributes and most  of us have done unlovable acts. Yet the truth still remains that…

the God of all creation loves you.

Why? Why would He love us?  Why would he love me?  The struggle to understand God’s love for us often comes from our understanding of earthly love which often turns up short. Most of the love we know on this earth is a self serving love. What some have coined “Fish Love“. A self serving love.  If you are good I love you or at least love you more. If you are bad I will love you less. This is not the God kind of love.  The God kind of Love demonstrated His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8) He died for us to remove the barrier of sin between us so that we can be with Him eternally.

Take some time today and really dwell on the fact that you are loved by the creator of the  universe.

Deeper look: The cross and Starting a relationship with the Lord and Fish Love explained

Follow Me

Jesus said to His disciples “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me.” “And he said to them, follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” “My Sheep hear my voice and I know them and they follow Me: (Matthew 16:24, Matthew 4:19 & John 10:27)

When Jesus called the disciples we see in Matthew 4:20 that “immediately they left their nets and followed Him”

Follow Me…

This is the call of every disciple of Christ. Follow Me.  It is easy to find yourself struggling to know all the ends and out of what your call is. Or if you should be doing this or that?  What does the Lord want? How does it work?  Christ is asking you to set aside all the anxieties and just follow Him. There are times when God reveals the details of His plans before they are finished but more often you find that He reveals the marvels of His plans as they unfold.

When Jesus called the disciples He did not give them a syllabus of their entire time with Him. He just said follow Me. The rest was laid out as they walked with Him. This is both simple and complicated. Simple in the fact that you just have to hear the Lord and follow His leading. Complicated in that there are so many other distractions and “noise” that has the potiential to keep us from hearing or following. Also sometimes the path the Lord walks us through can cause us to doubt if we are really following Him. We see this in Joesph’s story.  God gave him a dream of saving his family and nation. The next thing he knows he is thrown in a pit, then sold into slavery, wrongfully accused, thrown in prison, and forgotten. You have to bet that there were days where he wondered what is going on with this path the Lord was taking him through. This is where most people loose faith.  We find ourselves tempted to create a doctrine on why this must be happening. We wonder if we have missed the Lord. When we are following the Lord let’s just say He doesn’t always take the routes that we think He would. We always imagine roses, angelic singing and dollar bills everywhere.  Just as in Joesph’s story, to walk with the Lord is to know Him along each step of the path. The Bible meantions several times that the Lord was with Jospeh and in the end Joseph was in a position to save his family and his nation from a famine that would have wiped them out. (Account of Joseph Genesis 37 & Genesis 39-48)

I want to encourage you today to cut away the noise and follow Christ. Ask for His help and He will teach you.

Follow Me… “immediately they left their nets and followed Him’

Additional References:

Hearing the Voice of the Lord

The Gathering Testimony: Joanna Gaines

***please feel free to contact me with any questions, comments or if you need prayer.