332 Joseph, the Dreamer
Most Christians have a tendency to concentrate on how much they can love God, this is good, but the key to unbelievable happiness in God lies in our understanding of just how much God loves us!
I have very pleasant memories of my childhood, and thank God for them, not only for the memories, but for the fact that I was born and raised in a Christian home, where both my Father and Mother loved God, and the things of God, and taught all their children early in life, that Gods love was bigger that we could ever understand. I remember learning the words of a little song which went like this ….
“Wide, wide as the ocean, High, as the heavens above,
Deep, deep as the deepest sea is my Saviours love!”
But the earliest Hymn I learned was this one …
“Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so,
Little ones to him belong, they are weak but he is strong.
Yes Jesus loves me, the Bible tells me so!”
Isn’t that a wonderful thought? Jesus loves me, this I know.
That is the theme of my Sermon today, for I desire to show you something of just how deeply you are loved.
In the first epistle of John, Chapter 4 and verse 10 we read
“Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us,…”
and five times in Johns Gospel, in Ch 13,19,20 &21, John refers to himself as “the Disciple whom Jesus loved” showing that John had learned from working and walking with Jesus just how deeply he was loved, something that the other disciples did not appear to have understood as comprehensively as John!
Now it may be that as you listen today you feel anything but LOVED? You may be passing through a crisis situation, you may have lost your home, you may have lost your health, you may be in a broken relationship, you may be in debt up to your ears, you may have lost your job, … all kinds of depressing circumstances may surround you … and far from feeling loved, you feel God forsaken and God abandoned? It may be that family and friends also have turned their back on you, and you believe today that no-one knows the trouble you are in, and no-one really cares, and when I say that God loves you, it is to you, just another Religious Cliché to which you cannot identify? Certainly you don’t feel loved!
I mentioned earlier that simple Children’s Hymn, “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so” It is to this fact that I want to draw your attention, to the fact that the Bible, Gods inspired, inerrant, indestructible & infallible Word tells you, declares to you, promises you, that whether you feel loved or not, the fact remains, that you are loved!
Now in order to help you understand this precious Biblical Truth, I want to explain it, from the familiar Old testament account of the life of Joseph in the first book of the Bible, the book of Genesis, Chapters 37-42. Joseph, you may recall was the favourite Son of Jacob, because he was born in Jacobs old age, and Jacob had made for him a “coat of many colours” (Gen 37.3) But this act of favouritism created a jealousy and hatred amongst his other brothers, so that they could not speak peaceably with Joseph. Joseph was also a “dreamer” and God spoke to Joseph in his dreams, as God still does today! Sometimes God will warn us in a dream of things to come, and will show us things in the Spirit when we are not world conscious.
There are some who argue that God does not speak in dreams nowadays, but the Bible is full of examples of this glorious blessing, and certainly God has often blessed my life and my ministry, as he has shown me things to come, in my dreams. Some of the visions and revelations have been really helpful to me personally, while others have been a little frightening, particularly those dreams relating to “events to come”. Joseph was hated and often misunderstood, as he would freely share his dreams with his brothers and family. As a result, his brothers ganged up against him and sold him to some Midianite Merchants who eventually sold him as a slave in Egypt to Potiphar an officer of the Pharaoh and Captain of the Guard. (Gen 37:36)
Rather suddenly and unexpended, Joseph found himself in changed circumstances, doing a job not of his choosing, living in a foreign country, and separated from his friends and family with no prospect of change or improvement. To add insult to injury he was wrongly and falsely accused of impropriety by Potiphars wife,(Gen 39:12) and thrown into prison. (Gen 39:20)
Picture him for a moment. Without any explanation, without any prior warning or preparation, without any answers, Josephs life was turned entirely up-side-down, and for no apparent reason. There he sat in a prison cell amongst condemned men, amongst the often forgotten of society. This was not of his doing, nor his choosing, nor within his power to remedy or change.
Can you image me telling Joseph, “Cheer up my Brother, God loves you…. Hang in there”! It would be like a smack in the face, it would be of no help whatever. I expect my message today is similarly of no help to you, if like Joseph you are feeling abandoned, unloved and neglected …. if you are feeling God forsaken today?
Yet, how you feel, how I feel, how Joseph felt – does not change what the Bible Says about You, about God and about His LOVE for you, and his destiny for your life! For unknown to Joseph at this time in his life, was the “plan and purpose” of a loving Father and a tender Saviour. Joseph had no idea of the great plan that God was hatching on his behalf. All Joseph could see was the prison walls around him, the heartbreak of being taken from his loving home and Father, the injustice of being wrongly accused, and unfairly sentenced! Joseph could see no solution to his dilemma, no light at the end of this tunnel, and no loving hand or heart of God.
I have known this kind of “imprisonment” in my own life. One does not have to have broken the law to find ones-self in prison! Remember that Joseph had broken no law. Sometimes when one stands for truth, and will not compromise on ones principles, not accommodate erroneous doctrines or teaching, one can be ostracised from others, isolated from the majority, and kept at a distance from those who fear change. I may remain hidden away or imprisoned in my own understanding of what God really wants, but the same Lord who has given me a voice in 25 countries over 37 years, and now this Broadcasting Ministry with thousands of hits on the web page, … may keep me imprisoned until the time is right for my release. God had a plan for Joseph, and I am happy to tell you that God has a plan for me! Not that I glory in that, but that I glory only in that he should have chosen me, a simple carpenters boy, to proclaim the Gospel of the Kingdom, and represent the coming King!
Like Joseph, I have at many times felt abandoned, alone, and cut off from the mainstream Church. The Christian world seemed to have passed me by, and there was a time when I felt hurt, belittled and without any real support. But the Devil is a liar, and God has had to keep me imprisoned until I would learn that my ministry is not about me, but about Him. Although Joseph was in prison, this did not mean that God had removed his love, or his hand from him. God was moulding character and patience in Josephs life, and times of isolation and loneliness often have this great result. God was still on Josephs side, still on my side, and still on your side, whether we may feel it or not. That is why today, the opinions, and the applause, and the approval of men is of no consequence to me whatever. As long as I know that God is for me, as long as I can walk into this studio or into any pulpit, or onto any platform with that same anointing on my life that was given me as a child, I know
that I am still in Gods hand.
Unlike Joseph, I do know something of what God has for me,
I know it with every fibre of my being, it is my meat and drink every day, it is my rest and sleep, my walk and my work.
What I am saying is that what you can see may feel at times like “prison walls” but God asks us as Christians, not to live by sight, but by faith! Faith sees what others cannot yet see, and acts accordingly. Don’t allow the circumstances and the pressures of your environment to rob you of hope and faith for something better. God has the best for those who leave the choices to him, because his plans are all drawn with the pencil
While in prison, Joseph was still being used of God and still a blessing to those around him. The Kings Chief Baker and Chief Butler had also been put in prison, they had clearly offended the Pharaoh (chapter 40v1) but after a while they also had troubling dreams and Joseph was the one who brought their interpretation. Eventually they were released and Joseph asked that they remember him to the Pharaoh. The Baker was later hanged, but
the Butler forgot all about Joseph, and he would have to spend another two years before there would come any change.
(Chapter 40 v22-23) People will forget you, but God has inscribed your name on the palms of His hands, He will
never forget you!
I expect those also were long drawn out periods of dark depression and isolation for Joseph. God servants are often forgotten, even by the wider Church family. A man may bring you blessing through his ministry and care for you, but many times it is only when Gods servants have retired or have died, that they are acknowledged for the blessing they were. Of course none of us should work for the praise of men, but for the smile of God, and the praise of heaven … but ministry can often be a lonely road for the Pastor and Priest, and hundreds give up ministry every year for lack of encouragement. God has given a variety of gifts within the Church, it is not just the Pastor or the Preacher that should encourage the Church, the whole Church should desire Gods grace to “Strengthen one another” in love! If your Pastor or Priest has been a blessing in your life, then tell him, and tell him that you thank God for him. It may be a simple word of gratitude to you, but to him it could make all the difference between his feeling isolated or his feeling useful to His Lord.
Two years had passed since the Butler and Bakers release, and in Chapter 41 verse 1, we read that the Pharaoh had a dream, and Joseph was brought up from the prison to interpret it. This was to be the “doorway” into his destiny. Joseph didn’t yet know it, the pharaoh, didn’t know it, the nation didn’t know it, but God had put Joseph in the pit and in the prison, “for such a time as this”! The Pharaoh’s dream had been a warning from God that there would be seven years of plenty followed by seven years of famine in the land, and Joseph urged him to appoint a man to oversee the awesome task of preparing for the next 14 years.
There before the Pharaoh, in front of the royal court, stood the
man, first chosen by God, but now to be chosen by the King,
Joseph, was appointed to the task, and given a place of great honour in the nation. We read in Chapter 41, …
41:41” And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, See, I have set thee over all the land of Egypt.
41:42 And Pharaoh took off his ring from his hand, and put it upon Joseph’s hand, and arrayed him in vestures of fine linen, and put a gold chain about his neck;
41:43 And he made him to ride in the second chariot which he had; and they cried before him, Bow the knee: and he made him ruler over all the land of Egypt.
41:44 And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, I am Pharaoh, and without thee shall no man lift up his hand or foot in all the land of Egypt”.
Josephs days in prison had prepared him for this great role, this great ministry to the people, and greater things were in store for him, but even now, he had no idea of the whole plan and purpose on the heart of God for him! I want to scream at him “Joseph do you see how much you are loved” for that is what God has been trying to get me to understand, and I hope you will understand from today onwards. You may not be out of prison yet, but your freedom is on the horizon, your future can and will be brighter, provided always that you first learn patience and grace in Gods school-room.
The apostle Paul writes in Ephesians 3, 17-19
“That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,
May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;
And TO KNOW THE love of Christ, which passeth knowledge“.
So let us go on to see the end of this beautiful story, to see if we
may, the breadth and length and height and depth of the love of God towards Joseph.
In Chapter 42, we read that Jacob (Josephs Father) saw that there was corn in Egypt, and that the famine had now spread to Canaan, so he sent Josephs 10 brothers down to Egypt in search of food. (42:3) let us read what happened:
42:6 “And Joseph was the governor over the land, and he it was that sold to all the people of the land: and Joseph’s brethren came, and bowed down themselves before him with their faces to the earth.
42:7 And Joseph saw his brethren, and he knew them, but made himself strange unto them, and spoke roughly unto them; and he said unto them, Whence come ye? And they said, From the land of Canaan to buy food.
42:8 And Joseph knew his brethren, but they knew not him“.
Now we are about to see why God had allowed Joseph those years in prison and isolation, we are about to see the reformed character and the Christ-like nature God had built in to Joseph. Indeed Josephs life is often seen and studied as a mirror image of Jesus Christ. Instead of turning his brothers over to the guards for their wrong-doing against him, instead of having them beaten, flogged and imprisoned, instead of allowing them their comeuppance, Joseph shows them mercy, forgiveness, love and generosity. Here is LOVE that will not let go, we read
Joseph knew his brethren, but they knew not him
and God always knows us, even when we know not him!
If we had read on in the story we would have seen how God gave Joseph to be a kind of Saviour to the then famished world. Without Joseph, many would have died and perished throughout the entire region. The famine was widespread, but Josephs destiny in the hand of God had not only saved his family, but his own nation and the wider world.
Now my dear friends, our world right now teeters on the brink of yet another famine. It is not merely about the lack of crops, or of food, of resources, of oil, of wealth, of possessions, this famine is the greatest famine that will ever sweep our world, it is much more significant that the famine of Josephs day.
The world today is without God, and God has just stepped in to our Global crisis to bring all of our humanity face to face with him. The famine and its reality is only beginning to bite: I see growing signs of it every day. Some are endeavouring to deceive us into a belief that the worst is past, but if you just open your eyes and look carefully you will see that things are getting more perilous, and the growing global effects of it, will touch every home and every human heart. Laugh at me if you must, consider these warnings of no consequence if you will, but mark my words, I expect a major clean up, (something we have never experienced before) in the foreseeable future – national tensions at a scale unprecedented. The Bible says “Nation will rise against nation” and we will all witness it.
The Bible adds, that God will sweep away all that displeases him in this clean up operation. I am disturbed by the things I have seen, because hurting people anywhere move me to tears and prayer … but every thing and every one who have lifted themselves up against God, His Word, His Son, and His Way, will be cast down, and put down. In a short time you will see Sunday trading stop, the shopping centres will become places of worship, not as they are now, but they will become great Sanctuaries to house the multitudes that will be fleeing for mercy to God. I see our presently emptying Churches,
filling up again.
This is the day, and this is the hour that God will bring out of the prisons – out of their secret places of preparation all those who have been hidden away “for such a time as this”. I can assure you that when this hidden vessel is brought out, as will other hidden vessels across the world, there will be “food again in time of famine” and the only food, the only provision and the only solutions will be found in the Body of Christ, the true Church – our solution is in God and His word.
Now these final thoughts.
God has impressed upon me that the only secure investments we may make at this time of global shaking will be those we make in the “Kingdom” – and has not Jesus himself said that if we seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, all else necessary for life and living will be added to us.
Do not put confidence for your future in this world systems, its governments nor its financial institutions, rather put your confidence only in God. Under the Commission of Christ,
I am determined that the “whole world” hears the truth of the coming Kingdom and the coming King, and it is vital that every living soul hear that message of Jesus and his love. Let us work together to take that message to our street, our town, our nation, and our world, before it is for ever too late! Let us lay aside our denominational and theological differences, and let those of us who are blood washed and blood bought, stand united and together for Jesus in these last days. If we were ”one” as God desires, then He would “command” blessing – make no mistake.
May Almighty God bless this word and warning to all our hearts, for his great Glory, Amen