In the beginning: we lived the dream!

by jacobjuncker

This message was offered at Wesley United Methodist Church (Culver, IN) on Sunday, June 8, 2014.  What follows below is the outline used for the sermon.

Reading: Genesis 42:1-6, 45:1-8

Our journey through the book of Genesis is rapidly coming to a close.  To remind you of the journey thus far:

In the beginning, it was all good; but that goodness didn’t keep us from tripping ourselves up.  We fell hard!  Nevertheless, God made a promise; and, God provided!

For the remaining three weeks of the study, as we finish out the book of Genesis, we will be looking at Genesis’ last narrative.  It tells the story of Joseph, the dreamer.  Last week we reflected on the importance of sharing our dreams; this week, we’ll look at the commitment and attitudes required for living our dreams; and, next week, we’ll talk about passing our dreams on.

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Let’s pray.

Gracious God, in the moments to come, give me the words to speak and they the ears to hear so that together, we might be inspired to not only speak but to also live your Word in the world starting today.  It’s in your son’s name, your most holy Word we pray.  Amen.

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This week we pick up Joseph’s story at about the mid-way point.  The cliff-notes of the story up to this point goes something like this: Joseph dared to share his dream.  It was an unlikely dream that all of his brothers, even his father, would bow to him one day.  It seemed like a selfish dream; and, his brothers were offended.  Wanting to get rid of him—trying to dash Joseph’s dreams—the brothers sold their youngest brother into slavery.  Joseph was a slave in Potiphar’s house.  Proving himself, Potiphar puts Joseph in charge of his entire household.  Potiphar’s wife seduces Joseph, but when he refuses, she makes a false claim against him.  Joseph is thrown into prison where he interprets the dream of the royal cup-bearer.  When Pharoah has a dream that no one else can interpret, his cup-bearer refers Pharoah to Joseph who has now been imprisoned for several years.  Joseph interprets the dream and becomes like a son to Pharoah.  He is put in charge of the royal storehouses; and, then the famine hit.  It affected the entire region.  It takes several years before the effects of the famine are felt in Canaan.  But, it does and Joseph’s family hears that there is a surplus in Egypt.  Joseph’s brothers come to buy food for their families.  And they bow to Joseph.  The dream that Joseph shared in the beginning, came true.

Joseph lived the dream; and, the promise of Scripture is that you can live the dream too.  But, let’s be clear, I’m not talking about a personal dream, or a professional dream, or a financial dream.  I’m not even talking about the “American Dream.”  I’m talking about the dream God has planted inside of you that will draw you and others closer to God and neighbor.  It is a dream God has planted in all those who seek to follow God’s will and continue Christ’s work: a dream that only you can fulfill, a dream that will make heaven as real in your life and this world as it is in heaven.

Had Joseph refused to believe in the dream God had given him, the people of Israel would have starved.  Had Joseph ridden off the dream, there would have been no food in Egypt.  Had Joseph given up on the dream, he may have remained a slave and prisoner forever.  But, Joseph was committed to God’s dream; and it was that commitment that enabled Joseph to live the dream.

W. H. Murray, a mountaineer, writer, and World War II prisoner of war, wrote:

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits to oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the [commitment], raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way. I learned a deep respect for one of Goethe’s couplets:

‘Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power and magic in it!’” [1]

Joseph’s commitment to the dream enabled him to make the most out of every pitfall and prison he found himself in.  Joseph’s commitment to the dream allowed him to see what others might consider an insurmountable obstacle and burden as an opportunity to live the dream.

…don’t be upset [Joseph said to his brothers] and don’t be angry with yourselves that you sold me here. Actually, God sent me before you to save lives. God sent me before you to make sure you’d survive and to rescue your lives in this amazing way. You didn’t send me here; it was God who made me a father to Pharaoh, master of his entire household, and ruler of the whole land of Egypt.[2]

God has a dream for each of us.  “I know the plans I have in mind for you, declares the Lord…”[3]  God has a dream for you that a dream that will bring peace, not disaster; a dream that will give you a future filled with hope.[4]  We see it in Joseph’s life.  And, the promise is good for our lives as well: all we have to do is commit to God’s dream in order to live the dream.  The dreams we commit to are the dreams that always come true.  What dreams are you committed to?  What dreams have yet to come true?  Are you really committed to them?

 

 

[1] W. H. Murray as quoted in “The Power of Commitment & Pursuing Your Dream” by Bruce Rogow, PsychCentral.com <http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2013/04/23/the-power-of-commitment-pursuing-your-dream/> Accessed June 6, 2014.

[2] Genesis 45:5, 7-8, Common English Bible.

[3] Jeremiah 29:11a, Common English Bible.

[4] Adapted from Jeremiah 29:11b, Common English Bible.

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