I remember the opening and closing scenes of the movie “Pretty Woman.” A seemingly homeless man, talking to himself or rather rambling, walks through the scene repeating, “This is Hollywood. What’s your dream?” The implication was that anything could happen in Hollywood and everyone should have a dream. The storyline follows a women (Julia Roberts) who has fallen on bad times and into prostitution. She is picked up unintentionally by a very rich entrepreneur (Richard Gere). The two eventually fall in love and he takes her as his wife. She goes from skid row to love and riches in just about two hours.
It is built into our human nature to dream for better times. The Scripture says that it is the Lord who gives dreams and visions in this church age by the Holy Spirit. We hope for something better. Even now, we all have dreams of things better in our relationships, our careers, the lives of our children. God has poured into us a desire for better. The question is how does better come to be. Many dream all their lives but never see anything better.
The ungodly environment that we live also promises better. The devil tempted Jesus with good food, great wealth and power, and divine intervention from God to undo our bad decisions. This world never tempts anyone with something worse. We may have knowledge that partaking in what is being offered will lead to something bad, but the temptation is always presented in a positive manner. The temptations of drugs, sex, music, alcohol, religion, money, all promise to fulfill our dreams of better. The problem with all of these things is that they are unable to give us anything good. They are unable to fulfill any dream. They may create a façade that lasts for a night or two, but then everything comes crashing down. The truth is that nothing of this world can give us anything good because every good and perfect gift comes down from the Father of Heavenly Lights (James 1:17, NIV).
The confusing part of all of this dreaming is that when the Lord does give to us those good and perfect things that fulfill our dreams of something better, He does so through many of the same things by which we are tempted and fooled into negative places. People, money, sex, food, wine, music, religion can all be blessings from God, but they can just as easy be traps of Hell. Each can be used to enrich our life and destroy it. Navigating through blessings and curses that many times look the same at first glance is not easy. Our inability to discern when something is a blessing or curse is the downfall of our faith, our families, our finances, our future. And what makes things even more confusing is that sometimes the Lord will use things that appear to be quite negative to prepare us for greater things. What are we to do?
The story of Joseph reveals the key of finding our way through the jungle of earthly vessels of both good and evil to find the dreams that God has given us. Joseph had a dream of being a king, a prince. But his brothers were jealous when he told them his dream because his father favored him above all brothers. They beat him, through him into a pit, then sold him into slavery. It seemed that Joseph’s dreams were gone. What we do when our dreams come crashing down will determine the rest of our life.
But the Scripture says that God was with him as a slave. He was a successful slave. He could have been such a bitter and angry soul, but instead, he continued to honor God as much as he was able in the situation he was in. He lived with character and integrity and he honored God with his obedience to God’s law. His master put him in charge of his entire household. The wife of his master lusted after him and attempted to seduce him. He did not just resist, but literally took off running, but she grabbed his cloak and he left it behind. She lied to her husband saying it was Joseph trying to seduce her. Joseph was thrown into prison.
After things had seemed to get better, everything fell apart again and now he is rotting in prison. But we do not see him with vengeance in his eyes nor hatred in his heart. But he becomes a good prisoner so compliant and helpful to the captain of the jail that he is put in charge of all prisoners under the captain’s authority. His childhood dreams seemed so far away, but he continued to honor the Lord by loving others, living with integrity, and trying to be a blessing to those around him. He just obeyed the Lord.
Soon, two of the king’s closest servants were thrown into prison. They each had dreams, but neither could interpret the dreams. Joseph, trusting God and desiring to be a blessing to others asks to hear the dreams trusting the Lord to interpret and the Lord does. Joseph’s interpretations completely come true. One of these servants is released from prison and restored to his position with the king and soon the king has a dream. The servant remembers Joseph interpreting his dream and he tells the king about Joseph. Joseph is brought before the king. Again, he does not beg for freedom. He doesn’t plead his case of unjust imprisonment. He again desires to honor the Lord by being a blessing to others. He kept obeying the Lord. His interpretation so impressed the king that Joseph was made prince of Egypt with all authority of Pharaoh bestowed upon him. His childhood dream had come to pass.
The things that seemed horrible were the path to fulfillment. No one ever would have dreamed that these things were God’s way of bringing Joseph into his dreams. And there was no way for Joseph to know either. In fact, Joseph didn’t know. He had no idea. All Joseph did was keep obeying the Lord, continually honoring Him in spirit and deed. This obedience and desire to bless others brought him both blessings and temptations. At any time, he could have lost his way had he stopped obeying the Lord and sought after temptations of bitterness, vengeance, or sex. But he just kept obeying and honoring the Lord. This obedience moved him away from the temptations and into blessings through hardship.
As we are hoping for the dreams that God has given us to come to pass, we might be tempted by instant, yet temporary gratification. We may be discouraged by hardship and pain. We may be confused that God would give us a dream then seem to take it from us. But through it all, if we will just keep obeying the Lord’s commands, honoring Him with our hearts, and living to bless others in the name of Christ, step by step, we will avoid the devil’s traps, pass through the hardships, then suddenly find ourselves in the heart of the dream God gave us long ago.
I pray the Lord gives you a spirit of discipline to obey the principles of Scripture that you might see God's dream for you manifest in your life. Please share this with someone who may feel that their dreams have been crushed. And if you haven't already done so, subscribe to pastorlee.org and receive my ebook Breaking Free From Your Past as a Free gift.
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