Don’t Give Up On Your Dreams – Part 2

Joseph's Dream

What principles can we learn from Joseph if we want to make our God-given dreams reality?  Today, we’re continuing this series and looking at the first key to achieving your dreams.

1.  Don’t let your past determine your future.

I’m going to ask you to hang with me here this is going to take a little time to develop. We’re going to focus first on Chapter 37 of Genesis.

As our story opens we find Jacob settling once again in the land of Canaan.

Genesis 37:1-4

“So Jacob settled again in the land of Canaan, where his father had lived.

This is the history of Jacob’s family. When Joseph was seventeen years old, he often tended his father’s flocks with his half brothers, the sons of his father’s wives Bilhah and Zilpah. Now Jacob loved Joseph more than any of his other children because Joseph had been born to him in his old age. So one day he gave Joseph a special gift—a beautiful robe. But his brothers hated Joseph because of their father’s partiality. They couldn’t say a kind word to him.”

So let’s give a little background to this story because I really want to camp on this first key because I think it is so vital in our culture today.

Joseph is the son of the Bible Patriarch Jacob.  Jacob had just spent 20 years in Haran where 11 of his boys were born. He had 4 wives Leah, Rachel who had died giving birth to Jacob’s 12th son Benjamin on the way back from Haran, Bilhah and Zilpah who were originally Leah’s and Rachel’s handmaids.

So we have here a gigantic blended family.  That all still lived at home!

We have a father who tried to bring God’s plan about in his life by lying, cheating, and conniving.  A trait he had passed on to most of his boys.

And talk about dysfunction – these guys could write the book.  Jerry Springer would love this family!

Reuben the oldest son slept with one of his father’s wives,

Jacob’s only daughter Dinah had been raped by the Prince of Shechem, so Jacob’s sons deceived the men of Shechem and then Simeon and Levi went into the city and killed every man in the city and then the rest of the sons went in and looted and plundered all the wealth of the city and took captive all the kids and women.

Besides his other stellar qualities, Jacob showed total blatant partiality to Joseph.

Scholars differ on why this was, it could be that he spent more time with Joseph than his other kids, or that he was Rachel’s son that they had believed for for so long because she could not conceive for a long time, or it may have been because he was a good kid unlike his brothers.  But no matter the reason Jacob made no attempt to hide the fact that he like Joseph the best.

So, as if there was not already enough tension in the family, Jacob gives Joseph what is commonly known as the “coat of many colors.”  Scholars believe that it was most likely an ornate robe that was not suitable to work in that denoted royalty.

Many scholars believe that the coat that Jacob gave Joseph was a coat that designated that Joseph had been selected by Jacob to assume the family leadership.

So it’s not rocket science that his brothers hated him and trash talked him.

Here’s an interesting note:  the brothers couldn’t say a kind thing about him, and yet Joseph is one of 3 or 4 characters in the entire Bible, one of them being Jesus, that God does not say one negative thing about through the writers. In fact, later we’ll see that Joseph is actually a type and shadow of Jesus.

As our story continues, Joseph has a dream.  He dreams that he and his brothers were out in a field tying up bundles of grain and suddenly his bundle stands up and all the brothers bundles gather round him and bow low before him.

So what does Joseph do?  . . . He goes and tells his brothers.

Do you think they were happy about this dream? no . . . .

They responded, “So you think you’ll be our king do you?  And you think you’ll reign over us?”

And the Bible says,”They hated him all the more because of his dreams and the way he talked about them.”  Genesis 37:8

First, it’s not always wise to tell everything you know!  Some things are better kept between you and God.

Second,  not everyone is going to be excited about your dream.  The odds are that more people will try to discourage you from achieving your dream than will believe in your dream and help you achieve it.  In fact, we’ll see in a minute that some will even try to sabotage your dream.

Then if things weren’t bad enough, he has another dream, this time the sun, moon and eleven stars bowed low before him.

So has Joseph wised up?  No . . . this time he not only tells his brothers about the dream, but his dad as well.

His dad gets on his case “What kind of dream is that?  Will your mother and I and your brothers all bow down to the ground before you?”

The word goes on to say while his brothers were filled with jealousy, Jacob ponder what it could mean.

Soon after this Joseph’s brothers took Jacob’s flocks to Shechem to pasture them. After some time, Jacob sends Joseph from Hebron to Shechem to check on them.

So Joseph arrives in the hills of Shechem and a guy sees him wandering around looking lost and asks him what he was looking for and he tells him he’s looking for his brothers.  Now this guy tells Joseph, “They aren’t here any more, they have gone to Dothan.”

Let’s stop for one minute and look at this:  Jacob didn’t send Joseph across the street to find his brothers.  From where he lived he had to travel about 50 miles to get to this place.  Also, what were the odds this guy would know where his brothers were?  Remember, this was the city where Simeon and Levi had killed every male and trashed the whole city.  You’d better believe that when these boys were in town someone would be keeping a close eye on them.  This was also probably one of the reasons Jacob was concerned enough to send Joseph to check on them, as they had been gone for a while.

So then, Joseph had to go another 20 miles to get to Dothan. Which was right on the trade route to Egypt.

Joseph’s brothers see him coming from a ways off and say, “Let’s kill this dreamer.  Then we’ll see what will become of his dreams.” Genesis 37:19-21 So they devise this plot to kill him and throw his body into a cistern and tell their Father he was eaten by a wild animal.

Reuben intercedes and says, “Hey, let’s not kill him . . . why have his blood on our hands, we’ll just throw him in the empty cistern, then he’ll die without us having to do it.”  And all the brothers thought it was a great idea.

Reuben was secretly planning on rescuing him and taking him home.  Possibly in an attempt to regain first-born status with his father.

So Joseph arrives, they strip off his coat and throw him in the cistern.

Then they cook dinner like nothing happened.  At this point in the story, there is nothing recorded about Joseph’s reaction to all this, but in Genesis Chapter 42:21 some 22 or so years later, we’re privy to a conversation the brothers have after they have come to Egypt to get grain and are accused of being spies.

Genesis 42:21

“Speaking among themselves, they said, “This has all happened because of what we did to Joseph long ago. We saw his terror and anguish and heard his pleadings, but we wouldn’t listen. That’s why this trouble has come upon us.”

So we see that Joseph must have been terrified and begged and pleaded for his life and they heartlessly ignored his pleas.  And 22 years later they are still plagued by the guilt of what they did.

Then a caravan on it’s way to Egypt comes along and they sell him as a slave.  So they not only don’t have to kill him, they make a profit off the deal.

Let’s stop here in our story and go back to Point 1.  Don’t let your past determine your future.

Would you agree that if anyone qualifies as a victim, and has the right to play the blame game it would have been Joseph?

But the truth is, No one can keep you from your God-given destiny but you. Others can’t keep you from your dreams. We are the keeper of our own dreams.

No one can limit you, except you . . . its a choice

You can be a victim and remain a spectator for your entire life, or you can get up and make the world your dance floor.

No excuses – just do it.

Your past can’t stop God’s plan, your circumstances can’t stop God’s plan, your education, your color, you are the only one who has that power.

If you will trust him, God will take even your worst day and use it to your good.

Romans 8:28

“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”

While God did not cause all those awful things Joseph’s family did to him, it was playing right into God’s plan.  God got him right on the trade route to Egypt exactly where he needed to be to complete his assignment.

About 35 years ago, my husband and I went through a horrible separation.  It devastated our family.  After a year of being a complete knucklehead, I surrendered my heart back to the Lord.  I had the distinct impression that the Lord was telling me that He was not through with Kip and Sandy Lawson yet, unlike Joseph, I had no one to blame but myself and my own poor choices for the situation we were in.  However, God is so good that even though our circumstances looked impossible, God’s goodness reached down and brought healing to a truly hopeless situation.  Today, we’re happily married for over 48 years.  My husband is my best friend, and our family is healed.  God is the God of the impossible.

Since that time, God has used us in the lives of literally thousands of kids and he has used our son in even greater ways as well as our other kids.  We just had to get to the point that we desired God’s highest more than anything else.  We also had to get to the point that we truly believed and received that His blood had truly cleansed us of past sins and by His grace we got a do over.  We didn’t let our past determine our future, we used it to help others from falling into the same traps that we did.  God made all things work together for the good as he promised in Romans 8:28.

God does not want us to be trapped by outward circumstances, I think this is one of the beautiful truths in this story.  Joseph was a man who lived above his circumstances as we will see as the story continues . . .  He didn’t let his past determine his future.  Back to our story . . .

So Joseph arrives in Egypt and gets sold to Potiphar the head of Pharaoh’s Palace guard.

We are now in Genesis 39

At once he goes to work with all his heart and immediately Potiphar starts noticing that everything Joseph touches gets better!

Genesis 39:2

“The LORD was with Joseph and blessed him greatly as he served in the home of his Egyptian master.”

I believe that God was able to work on Joseph’s behalf to bring about his destiny because Joseph kept his heart right.  He didn’t allow bitterness or unforgiveness, or a victim mentality to occupy his heart.  The only one who had the power to rob Joseph or his desitny was Joseph.

Sometimes we can see delays and detours as defeats.  Maybe God is using them to refine our character, or maybe what seems like a detour is God’s rerouting to get us to our divine destiny.  We can’t always avoid delays and detours, but we can control our heart response to them.

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” James 1: 2-4 NKJV

How can Joseph’s story help you change the way you view your circumstances?

Don’t Give Up On Your Dream

Joseph's Dream

 

A few years back, there was a popular song with the kids called “Determinate”. from a group called Lemonade Mouth  It’s about not being a wallflower, watching others on the dance floor of life living out their dreams. The song exhorts you! You need to determinate, make the world your dance floor.  Try until you can’t and then you demand more.  Determinate.

How many of you have ever had a dream?  Dreams and aspirations . . .  we all have them or had them. Kids come with a built in sense of destiny and nothing is out of reach . . .- I’m gonna be president, a fireman, policeman an astronaut.  Notice how its all high and nobel, when was the last time you met a kid who said I want to be a bank robber when I grow up . . . that’s my dream.

My dream . . .  as a kid, I wanted to be the first woman supreme court justice.  Don’t laugh!  Sure, I was a bit overly ambitious and Sandra Day O’Connor beat me to the punch.  But seriously, I’ve always had this innate passion for justice.  I was always a conservative even in the 60’s when I was growing up in the counter culture generation, something just didn’t ring right.  Like it all sounded like truth, and seemed right, and looked good, good like bait on a hook.  The only problem with bait on a hook is when you bite it, you become someone else’s meal.

I wanted to right wrongs by being a prosecutor, so I could rescue the innocent from the bad guys.  Somewhere I lost that dream. Until one day, I found out Jesus is the only one who can really right wrongs and restore lives. .So full circle back to the dream, back to the passion in a different wrapper, I ended up in a pastoral role instead.  Now, I can help people pick up broken lives or preferably, build them right from the beginning so that they never broke.  Either way, my sense of justice is fullfilled because now I’m fighting the original bad boy, Satan.

But for many of us, somehow these high and nobel dreams have drifted into a permanent dream state instead of becoming living realities in our lives.  God did not create us just to dream . . .  but to live.  He did not create us to be wallflowers, He created us to be dancers.  God did not create us to be spectators, He created us to be world changers. So, in this series, we’re going to focus on how to get our dreams from concept to reality.

A dream by definition is a strong desire to do something high or great.

The opposite of a dream or aspiration is aimlessness.  Or as Proverbs puts it

“Where there is no vision, the people perish:”  Proverbs 29:11

Without a dream, we have no direction, we become aimless.  Without aim or purpose.  You know the old saying, if you aim a nothing, you’ll hit it every time. But God says . . .

Jeremiah 29:11-13

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.”

My goal is to encourage and challenge you to pursue the dreams God has given you with all your heart.  And if your dreams are all but dead to stir those embers into a fire.  Because your dreams do not just impact you, everyone in your sphere of influence.

It’s said that encouragement is the oxygen of the soul.  I want to give you oxygen.

Over the next few weeks, we are going to a whirl wind study the life of Joseph, a man who lived nearly 4,000 years ago, but whose story is as relevant as if it happened yesterday.

What was your childhood dream?  Has it become a reality?  Did it get put on the back burner?  Did it get replace with something even better?  I’d love to hear from you.

Reboot Your Joy by Changing Your Perspective

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This is the second in a series on Rebooting Your Joy.  Last time, we talked about how gratitude reboots your joy.  Today, we’re going to find that elevating our perspective also reboots our joy.

So, what does rebooting your joy have to do with leadership?

I wrote a book called “Parenting through the Mirror.” It’s not so much about kids as it is about allowing God to change you.  Your kids become who you are, not what you tell them to be.

Just as parents reproduce kids who are mirrors of who they are, leaders produce followers who look like them.

If you want better followers, become a better you.  Remember Paul said, follow me as I follow Jesus,”?

So why is joy so important to a leader or anyone for that matter?  

Nehemiah 8:10 says, “the joy of the Lord is our strength.”  We all need strength to fight the fight of faith.

Joy is simply a product of our thinking – It is a choice.

I love this quote

“We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.” 

Do you ever wonder if you’re seeing life through a clouded lens?

So how do we make sure that what we’re seeing is what God is seeing?

Here’s the cure for cloudy vision.

 Change your perspective.  

Exchange your perspective for His perspective.

If you’re like me, to do this you have to change your thinking.

Last time, we focused on 2 of our 3 key Scriptures Romans 12:2 and Philippians 4:8.

Today, we’re going to zero in on Ephesians 2, because when you get this one, it’s easier to get the others.  The chapter opens

up like a Dicken’s novel  . . . ONCE YOU WERE DEAD

Picking it up in verse 4.

BUT God is so rich in mercy, and He loved us so much,

that even though we were dead because of our sins, He gave us life when He raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!)

For He raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus.” Ephesians 2:4-6 NLT

Notice:  Past tense – done deal – already happened . . .

One of the easiest ways to lose our joy is to forget our true spiritual position. This happens when we are sucked into our circumstances.

Circumstances are the devil’s playground.  If he can get our eyes on our circumstances instead of our answer, he’s got us.  Then . . .

This causes us to lose perspective.

When we try to fight in our circumstances, we are fighting in our own strength and in the devil’s territory.  No matter where we turn, we are trapped in our circumstance. It’s all we can see!  Circumstances everywhere, oh my!

Plus we are right in the line of fire for his firey darts. You know him, the liar.  If he can manipulate our emotions he can defeat us.

However, when we take our designated seat, our rightful seat because of what Christ did for us, then we can see things through the eyes of the Father for what they really are and not what they feel like.

Here’s the amazing thing about God . . . It’s OUR choice . .   

Rightful seat – child of God seat or . . . 

Circumstance seat – slave seat

I never do anything right seat vs righteousness of God in Christ seat

Why is this happening to me seat vs I am more than a conquerer seat

This is too hard seat vs I can do all things through Christ seat

I suggest you pick your rightful seat – it is already bought and paid for.

It is an elevated perspective. God’s perspective.

Instead of being locked into our circumstances, we can see beyond them because we have God’s elevated view.

2 Corinthians 5:7 tells us

“For we walk by faith, not by sight.”

Circumstances are sight – they are in this realm and want to make us their slave.

Seeing from God’s perspective is faith beyond circumstances – we’re in God’s realm.  By faith it sees the options, God’s big picture, and our answer.

When we are seated spiritually speaking in the heavenlies, it has lots of perks!

5 Benefits of Taking Your Rightful Seat

and I’m sure you can think of many more.

1. The enemy’s firey darts can’t pierce us, because our emotions are safely out of his reach. 

2. We see things the way they really are from God’s perspective – and His view is perfect – his lens is not clouded.

3. We see beyond the circumstances to our answer.

4. Our thinking becomes renewed – Romans 12:2 & Philippians 4:8

5. Our joy is rebooted, because our focus is on the eternal and not locked into our circumstances.

So if you want to change your life to one that is filled with joy, just choose to change your perspective.

What are some things you do to keep life in perspective?

 

A Measuring Tape For Your Life

 

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You’ve no doubt heard the business adage…“What you don’t measure, you can’t improve.”

It’s certainly true in business, sports, andscience, but what about life?

How do you measure progress with your life?

With work or business it might be a little easier because we could use our income. But what about our health, or our relationships, or our intellectual growth?

Now there is a great tool called the LifeScore Assessment that helps you do this in less than 10 minutes–and it’s free right now.

http://bestyearever.me/a19403/2017assessment

Once you discover your LifeScore,™ you can quickly see opportunities for growth and what is working well.

It’s the perfect way to measure progress in your life.

 

Wishing you your best year ever,

Sandy

P.S. There’s also a quick video tutorial that explains how to use the tool. You’ll get that
once you submit your email address here:

http://bestyearever.me/a19403/2017assessment

Reboot Your Gratitude

I’ll confess, I can tend to be a half full. You know the type, the skeptic, the realist, you know negative.  God has been walking me through a process of renewing my mind.  Here’s what He’s been teaching me. For several years now, I can’t get off  Romans 12:2, Phil 4:8,  and Ephesians 2:6.  Joyce Meyer’s says, “You never fail God’s tests, you just keep taking them over and over until you get it right.”th-1

Is it just me, or sometimes does life stink? You think things will work out one way and everything seems to turn out just the opposite of what you’re believing for? You were believing for the sweet life, and you got lemons.

So, when life throws you a lemon, how do you reboot your mind to get it lined up with the Word?

How do you make lemons into lemonade?

You add sugar.

Gratitude is like adding sugar to lemon juice.

It makes sour things sweet.

Studies show that being grateful and giving thanks effects every area of your life. It effects your physical, mental, and emotional health.

Here’s how gratitude reboots your thinking:

1.  It honors God – the word actually commands us to give thanks to Him, Psalm 100, “Enter His gates with thanksgiving, His courts with praise.” In 1 Samuel 2:30 –  God says, “I will honor those who honor me.”

2.  It renews your thinking by changing your focus from what you don’t have to what you do have.

3.  It’s God’s antidepressant – you can only have 1 thought at a time, you can’t think a grateful thought and a depressed thought at same time. It is impossible!

3 Ways to Increase Your Gratitude

  1. Start a gratitude journal – write down all those things your grateful for and read and add to it during your devotional time.
  1. Get a gratitude accountability friend  – Someone who loves you enough to tell you the truth.
  1. Hang around grateful people.

Even when gratitude doesn’t change your circumstances, it changes your perspective – from the lens that is limited by your circumstance, to the unlimited lens of God’s perspective.

Keep On Dreaming

 

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Are you like me and at times you feel like you missed the boat, because the dream you thought God put in your heart just sailed on by and left you standing on the shore, and all you could do was to wave as it passed you on by?

Maybe you think you’re too old.  Mose’s dream journey did not begin until he was 80.    Show me where God put an expiration date on dreams.

Maybe you think you don’t have enough education.  Remember, God used a bunch of uneducated fishermen to turn the world upside down for Him. I think too often we’re trapped in the conventional thinking of this world.  God says He chose the foolish things of his world to confound the wise.

So what do we do if our dream doesn’t happen the way we thought it should, or when we thought it should, or how we thought is should?  Maybe our dream was too small.  I’ve heard if we can accomplish our dream in our own strength without God, then our dream is too small.  Or, maybe, we weren’t willing to pay the price and do our part  with God to bring it to pass.


No matter what, I challenge you – dream again.  Take a chance.  Take the risk.  Do what’s hard – it is worth it.  Dream a God-sized dream whether you are 8 or 80, never, never, never stop dreaming.  Dive into the Word, sit at His feet, and get dreaming.  If you’re breathing it is not too late!

If you need to jump start your dream, I highly recommend reading “Chase the Lion” by Mark Batterson.  It will reignite you fire! #chasethelion

 

Chase The Lion

 

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New Book by Mark Batterson

I recently had the honor of being selected to be on the launch team for Mark Patterson’s new book “Chase the Lion.”  Today, I got a sneak peek of the first two chapters.  I can honestly say that it’s the only work that I’ve read where I wanted to post every other sentence on Facebook or Twitter.  Immediately, I was challenged to dream big, and to revive dreams I’ve set aside.  He approaches the topic from a fresh perspective that I’d never thought of before.  It is INSPIRING!

I can already tell that this book should go on everyone’s “Have To” read list.

What is your dream?

The Lion Chaser’s Manifesto

Quit living as if the purpose of life
is to arrive safely at death.
Run to the roar.
Set God-sized goals. Pursue God-given passions.
Go after a dream that is destined to fail
without divine intervention.
Stop pointing out problems. Become part of the solution. Stop repeating the past. Start creating the future. Face your fears. Fight for your dreams.
Grab opportunity by the mane and don’t let go!
Live like today is the rst day and last day of your life. Burn sinful bridges. Blaze new trails.
Live for the applause of nail-scarred hands.
Don’t let what’s wrong with you
keep you from worshiping what’s right with God. Dare to fail. Dare to be different.
Quit holding out. Quit holding back. Quit running away.

Chase the lion.

#ChaseTheLion  #MarkBatterson