Good morning. As we follow the dream journey of Joseph, what we found that he has gone from a believer to a buyer in his dream. He truly owned his dream. Nobody gave it to him, nobody took it from him, he bought into it. Joseph has also taught us that we can survive the surprise because in the dream journey you and I, that we take, there will be all kind of difficulties and surprises that will come away, things that we never did anticipate and what Joseph teaches us in the journey there is trust God.
And then Joseph in his journey has taught us that it’s possible in this journey that bad things will happen to good people and what do you do when wrong things happen to you and how do you respond in a right way? And again Joseph has taught us that it’s the attitude, its not what happens to me it’s what happens in me that really counts.
And in this lesson, he’s going to teach us when we receive our dream, when you and I achieve what we have been going forward to achieve, he’s going to teach all of us how to make the most of our dream. Now this is the part of the dream we like because now the dream has been realized. That’s what we live for, that’s what we work for. Ah ha, I have arrived, my dream is here.
I have a book that just has come out called “Put Your Dream to the Test.” Now listen to me very carefully before I teach this lesson. You need this book.. Because we want to reach our dreams, we want to realize our dreams and what’s wonderful if we like Joseph in his journey, if we do the right things and we have the patience and the trust in God, there’s a day when we realize our dream and what happens when we realize our dream? A lot of times it’s not failures that mess us up, it’s our success. In fact I’ve often said if you want to impress people talk to them about your success but if you want to impact them talk about your failures, the difficulties that you’ve gone through.
And Joseph certainly went through a lot of difficulties but now he’s achieved his dream. He is second in command in Egypt. Basically, he has leadership authority for the entire country. He has now arrived to what as a teenager he had dreamed. So when you and I achieve our dreams what do we do? How do we respond?
Let me share with you how Joseph responded. Number one when you’ve achieved your dream be generous. Be generous. The reason that you’ve achieved the dream is not for you just to say I have arrived but you’ve achieved a dream to add value and help others. God will only give to you what He knows will flow through you. Be generous. Isn’t it interesting young Joseph as a teenager, when he had this dream of being a leader, he brought his brothers together and said I had this dream where I’m going to rule over you. No wonder they didn’t like that dream. And Joseph was kind of befuddled because they didn’t really care for him and they were jealous of him but they didn’t like the idea that Joseph was going to rule over them. Now that was the beginning, in his immature teenage years.
Now many years later he has achieved this dream and there is no hint, no hint at all of him wanting to lord it over or rule over his brothers. In fact he’s gone from I’m going to rule over you to I’m going to share with you. Wow what a difference. But here’s what I’ve discovered about the dream journey. When you and I take the dream journey, the difficulties that we encounter during the dream are enough that it causes us to have a sense that if we’ve arrived, we haven’t arrived by ourselves and what has been given to us should be shared with others. And that’s exactly what happened in the life of Joseph. He was very generous to his brothers. I read right now just a couple of passages that kind of share with you the generosity of Joseph to his brothers.
After he’d met them and told them who he was and revealed himself to them, he said hurry back to my father. Tell him your son Joseph says I am master of all of Egypt. Come as fast as you can and join me here and I’ll give you a place to live in Goshen where you’ll be close to me; you, your children, your grandchildren, your flocks, your herds and anything else that you can think of. I’ll take care of you there completely. A couple of chapters later Joseph settled his father and brothers in Egypt and made them proud owners of choice land and Joseph took good care of them. His father, his brothers, all of his father’s family, right down to the smallest baby. He made sure that they had plenty of everything. Do you see the generous spirit of Joseph? Now that he has been incredibly blessed and he’s arrived at the dream, the first thing he wants to do is he wants to bring his family and he wants to be generous and share with them what has happened.
In my book “Put Your Dream to the Test,” one of the questions I ask is the significance question. And the significance question just simply asks ‘does my dream benefit others?’ Does it benefit others? Are others blessed because I have achieved the God given dream that He has placed within me? Now to be generous takes a great deal of maturity. You have to be very secure to be generous. I have shared before that Margaret and I have five grand children, okay? And the two oldest grandchildren are cousins Hannah and Mattie. They are eight and then John is five, he was named after me. He gets the inheritance. And then there’s little Ella who’s four and then James who is two.
Now Hannah and Mattie, the cousins, when we lived in Atlanta, when they were about five, when they would come to our house, they thought that God created me, they call me Papa, they thought that God created Papa to serve them. I mean they truly believed that. And so when they would get up, they would already have their list and they would say ‘Papa let’s do this’ and ‘Papa let’s do that’ and they would have their list and since I am a grandparent understanding my role is to spoil the grandchildren, that’s exactly what I do. I’d serve them.
And so they give me our list and we go through it during the day and we have a great time and on their list, I promise you, on their list every time is that they want to go out on the golf course. I live on a course and they want to get in the golf cart and they want to go out on the golf course and they want, they want to see the course. So about two o clock to three o clock in the afternoon, we always do that and we get on the golf course and by the time we are at the end of my driveway, Hannah and Mattie are already saying to me, ‘Papa, Papa, we’re hungry and we need a snack.’ Which means that I’m going to between the ninth and tenth hole we’re going to go to the snack shop there and we’re going to get a snack and we always get the very same thing. We all do. Sometimes they even let little brother John go along and so the three or four of us, we always get the very same thing and that’s a hot dog with ketchup, French fries, candy bar, potato chips and a diet Coke. I know what you’re thinking, I understand, I can feel it already. You’re saying that is not a very nutritious meal. I know that, I don’t care, I’m a grandparent. And we have our wonderful time together and the only thing we do is we have a deal and that is they can’t tell their parents. There are some things parents should not know. And so when they’re having dinner and they’re not hungry that night and the parents can never figure it out, Hannah and Mattie are looking at me and they’re winking and going thumbs up.
Now you see these little five year olds, they’re constantly saying ‘Papa what can you do for me? What can you do for me? What can you do for me? How could you serve me? How can you make me happy?’ And that’s okay because you understand they’re five years old and five year olds kind of just think of themselves is that not true? But it’s sad when you’re thirty-five, and forty-five and you haven’t figured it out that you and I are here to find our God given dream and fulfill that God given dream and that dream will include blessing others.
In fact I brought this along I love this, this property law from a toddler’s perspective. If I like it it’s mine. If I can take it away from you it’s mine. If I had it a while ago it’s mine. If I say its mine it’s mine. If it looks like mine it’s mine. If you’re having fun with it it’s mine. If you lay it down it’s mine. If it’s broken it’s yours.
And as we look at Joseph, he has now come from a teenager who had a dream that said I’ll rule over, to now he’s become a mature adult and he’s saying I will share with. And so when you have your dream, whatever it is, be generous.
Number two: Be humble. If Joseph could walk into our service this morning and he could talk to us about the dream journey, he would say something like this: In the beginning of my dream I did a lot of self promotion. I promoted myself to my brothers. When I was in jail and I talked to the cupbearer who was going to get out and go back to Pharaoh’s, I again said hey remember me and again I did self-promotion. I tried to help myself to get where I needed to be. But then Joseph would look at you and me and he would say to us I discovered in my dream journey that divine promotion is greater than self promotion. And that when I really was raised up, I was raised up not because of who I was or what I did, but I was raised because God had given me this dream and God raised me up. In a culture that we live in that basically says God helps those who help themselves and there is some truth in that. Joseph would say God helps those who can’t help themselves. He would say you’re over your head and you need what I call as I look throughout the bible, the God factor. The God factor just very simply says and is the fact that in our journey of life there are times when we’re over our head and there are times when we’re not going to be able to make it by ourselves and God comes in and makes the difference for us. And what does that do? That causes us to have a real sense of humility.
You see humility is not denying the gifts we have because we are gifted and God has gifted every one of you and it’s a wonderful thing so humility isn’t denying the gifts that you have but is choosing to give God the glory for those gifts and that’s what Joseph did. Joseph began to say let me share with you that I can interpret the dream because of God and this is what God has given to me and let me pass it on to you. And four times, just in Genesis thirty-nine alone, it says, “And God was with Joseph and prospered whatever he did.” The apostle Paul understood this for he said, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Now when he said I can do all things through Christ that strengthens me, there are three things that begin to stand out in those few short words.
First of all Paul said “I can.” That just means that he had an attitude to win. He was an “I can” man. He was the predecessor of Dr. Schuller. Because he’s the “I can” man. That’s why we come because we’re encouraged, we’re lifted up, our faith just raises up when we’re around somebody that is an “I can” man just like our spirit sags when we’re around an “I can’t” man. Do you know anybody like that? How many of you know at least one person that’s an “I can’t” person? Yeah, yeah. How many of you are sitting beside them? Oh don’t go there. Don’t go there.
The apostle Paul said “I can.” I have an attitude to win. He said “I can do,” which all that means is he said I have a commitment to win. I’m not only a person that has an attitude that believes that God can raise me up and give me my God given dream, he said I want you to know that I’m willing to work for it. I’m willing to roll up my sleeves, I’m willing to make the effort, I’m willing to make the commitment. And then he says, “I can do all things through Christ.” You see the apostle Paul knew that Christ was his strength that allowed him to win. The apostle Paul realized that without Christ we can do nothing of eternal value but with Christ we can do some amazing things. It was the same apostle Paul who said that our God is able to do exceeding abundantly more than we can ask or more than we can ever think.
Oh that word exceeding abundantly is a very interesting phrase. In the Greek, the phrase is huper ek perissos. Perissos means to be full. When you put ek in front of perissos, it means to not only be full to kind of overflow. It’s kind of like in the spring time when the streams are full and the rains come and it goes it goes from perissos to ek perissos when they kind of go over the banks and then when you put huper in front of ek perissos, it means to flood the place. I mean in Apostle Paul’s time we wouldn’t have a Super Bowl we’d have a huper bowl. Let me illustrate this Greek lesson by this story.
When I was a kid, my brother is two years older than I am, and our job every night was to do the dishes. That was one of our jobs. And because my brother was older than me, he and God felt that I should wash them. And so my job was to wash the dishes and I was typical kid. I had this down because right outside of our kitchen was our basketball court and I would turn the spicket on to a certain; I knew how to do this. Only kids do this. And I would turn it on to a certain area and then I would run outside and I would pick up the basketball and I would begin to shoot. And I had time; I had time for about five shots. And I would five shots and I would go back in and I would turn off that faucet and the water would be right at the top. That’s perissos. There were times I would run outside after I had done that exercise, pick up the ball, shoot five times, the fifth time the ball came right back to me. What was I to do? I would shoot it one more time, go inside, turn off that faucet and the water was so high that when I put the first fork in, it went over the side. That’s ek perissos.
One day; I see the train a coming. One day I turned the faucet on just like always, went outside and much to my joy and surprise three of my buddies were out there and they said let’s play a game. We quickly got our sides and I can still remember the score of the game. We were ahead eight to six when I heard my mother’s voice, her saintly voice come out of the kitchen: JOHN! Oh she had such a touch. Immediately I realized what had happened, I went into the kitchen and of course as soon as I got into the kitchen you could guess; I mean the water’s all over the floor. We’re the only kids on the block that have an indoor swimming pool not on purpose. That’s huper ek perissos.
The apostle Paul says, “My God wants to huper ek perissos you. On your dream journey, be generous because God says I want you to know that I’m going to bless you more than you could ever imagine.
That’s exactly where Joseph was but Joseph, in the midst of his blessing, was greatly humbled and said I want you to understand God, God has done all this in my life. So what is Joseph saying to us when we realize and reach our dream? He’s saying be generous, be humble, and thirdly be grateful. Be very grateful for what God has done. In fact as he gathered his brothers together, here are the words of a grateful Joseph. He told his brothers you meant evil against me but God meant it for good. In order to bring about that in this day I would be able to save many people. Joseph said now that I look back on the journey, I just want you to know that you meant evil for me and a lot of bad things happened to me but God made up all the difference. He was very grateful, in fact he was so grateful, that when he had his first-born son he called him Manasseh, which means to forget. For Joseph said God has made me forget all of my hardships and all of my difficulties at home. He named his second son Ephraim which means double prosperity, saying God has prospered me in the land of my sorrow. You see how grateful he was? He said I want you to know I’ve forgotten all the difficult things I’ve gone through and I just thank God for what He has done and how He has blessed me.
At Thanksgiving time, our two children with their spouses and our five grandchildren come to our place in Florida. And we always look forward to that time because our son-in-law and daughter have two of the little grand daughters in San Diego so that we all get together in Florida for Thanksgiving. And about a week before Thanksgiving, Margaret came into the house and she had pilgrim costumes, little pilgrim costumes. She said I got these for the babies. And when they come we’ll have thanksgiving program. I’ve got the costumes, you’re the director.
So I began hard working diligently working on this very important thanksgiving program that we would have for the entire family because we had a lot of family there at the time and so the day came and we had a practice about nine-thirty in the morning and we went through this practice and I gave them their parts and things to say. And one of the things we would say as a group, all of the kids plus me, is we would look out during the program and we would say “we have an attitude of gratitude.” And we worked and we practiced and practiced and I wanted to make sure it was good and so we practiced more and then we went and put the costumes on and boy when we put the costumes on it oh now they were really getting into this. And we had another rehearsal and we did the practice again. “We have an attitude of gratitude.”
Finally after saying it probably about a dozen times, little John, five-year-old little John is sitting there on the footstool and he says “Papa” and he hits his head “it’s hard to say that.” And I said “it sure is John.” It’s not only hard for a five year old to say it it’s hard for anybody to say and express that we have an attitude of gratitude.
But you should have seen the program. I mean the whole family was sitting in the family room and we came out of the master bedroom and we stood up and we did that fifteen minute program and they gave us a standing ovation when we came in, they gave us a standing ovation when we went out. In fact it was so good we came back in and made them get back up and give us another standing ovation. There’s a passage in the scripture that says “stay alert with your eyes wide open with gratitude.” That passage just basically says you’ve got to stay alert because there are a lot of difficult things that happen to you on the dream journey but stay alert. Look for the good things! In fact when we got ready to quote that verse on Thanksgiving Day we didn’t quote the verse. I just had all the grandchildren take their hands and open their eyes real wide. And after we did that for fifteen to thirty seconds for affect then we said the verse, “stay alert with your eyes wide open.”
Why do you have to stay alert? Because if we aren’t alert guess what happens? We won’t see the great things that happen in our life, we won’t see the blessings. You see what I learned a long time ago is what you appreciate appreciates and you won’t obtain that which you complain about.
When I was pastor in Lancaster Ohio the thing that was most difficult for me as a young pastor but I’m telling you snow on a Saturday night would put me into an emotional funk because I knew that snow was going to keep people from church.
And I remember one Saturday night, I mean it started about two o clock in the afternoon and it just kept coming and by six thirty, I mean we had six/seven inches of snow and it was just continually. And I am walking back and forth in front of our large window in the living room. And I’m pacing and Margaret came in and said “John what are you doing?” I said “oh look at that, look at that snow, look at that snow! People won’t come to church tomorrow. It’s going to hurt our attendance. Look at that snow.” And she went back into the kitchen for a little while. I’m still pacing.
Finally she comes back in and says “John all that pacing and all that worry, that’s not going to do anything.” She said “relax.” She said “what are you preaching on tomorrow?” I said “I’m preaching on rejoice in the Lord always!” And she smiled and said “you know what you’re either going to have to change your attitude or your sermon.”
I want to sum this lesson up on this dream journey of Joseph by just a.. this is gratitude that I just love and I love this story and I want to just read it to you in closing. It’s about an immigrant shopkeeper whose son came to him one day complaining dad I don’t understand how you run this store. You keep your accounts payable in a cigar box, your accounts receivable are on the spindle, all your cash is in the register. You never know what your profits are. Son, let me tell you something, answered his dad, when I arrived in this land all I owned was the pants I was wearing. Now your sister is an art teacher, your brother’s a doctor and you’re a CPA. Your mother and I own a house and a car and this is our little store. Add that all up and subtract the pants and there’s your profit.
So as we close this series on the dream journey of Joseph and we think of our little Thanksgiving program where the kids said “we have an attitude of gratitude” I want us to close this part of my lesson and this sermon by repeating together as a congregation “we have an attitude of gratitude.” I want us in a moment to say it together. I want us to express it. You that watch the TV program, I want you to say it in your room. Just express it out loud. Let’s let God know that we are grateful and that every good and perfect gift comes from Him and after we say together as a congregation we have an attitude of gratitude, I then want us to give God the applause for the great things He has done for all of us. Are you ready? Let’s say it together: “We have an attitude of gratitude! Let’s thank God!