Dream Endurance
Sermon Summary
This message continues our look at the life of Joseph and the God-given dream he had been given. Joseph’s dream had collided with reality as he was sold into slavery by his own brothers. He then faced trials and tribulations that sought to kill his dreams. Joseph depended on God’s presence, was dedicated to his calling, and determined to be faithful through it all. However, the length of time his dream had to endure was around 13 years. It becomes clear later that God’s timing was perfect, personal, practical and purposeful. Verses of Scripture are explored that explain why these truths and how they apply not only to Joseph, but also to each of us today.

Community Group Discussion Guide

1. When the topic of endurance comes up, it is inevitable that the conversation will at some point deal with patience. Do you struggle with patience in general? Have you ever struggled with patience when it comes to God’s timing in your life? Explain and use an example if you like.

2. Related to the first question is this: Can you give an example in your life when God’s timing was right on time, just right, and perfect?
Psa 9:9  The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.
Psa 9:10  Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.

3. God’s timing is personal in that He is more concerned with who you are becoming than He is in what you are doing. The reason is this: If your being is right, your doing will be right! What are some of the ways our character can be developed during times of endurance?
Rom 5:3  Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;
Rom 5:4  perseverance, character; and character, hope.
Rom 5:5  And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

4. There may be some practical things God is trying to accomplish in your life during your dream endurance. Sometimes it may seem like God is taking us on a detour, but He has a purpose for each step of the journey. Discuss your thoughts on this using the following Scripture and this list: Lessons/supplies/help.
Prov 4:5  Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words or swerve from them.
Prov 4:6  Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you.
Prov 4:7  Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.
Prov 4:8  Esteem her, and she will exalt you; embrace her, and she will honor you.
Prov 4:9  She will set a garland of grace on your head and present you with a crown of splendor."
Prov 4:10  Listen, my son, accept what I say, and the years of your life will be many.
Prov 4:11  I guide you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths.
Prov 4:12  When you walk, your steps will not be hampered; when you run, you will not stumble.
Prov 4:13  Hold on to instruction, do not let it go; guard it well, for it is your life.


Dream Endurance
Full Sermon Notes

It's so great to see what God is doing in our young people's lives and how He is using them to bring His dream for His people to reality. God desires for us to help one another and to reach out to the world with His love!! God bless our youth and all the adults who took the time to go with them! I know a lot of things went great for them, but I also know there were some real challenges while they were there. Mission trips always have their challenges. Why? Satan's always going to fight, but we know our God is bigger and better! We know our God will use every hardship to make us stronger, and in the end we'll be better for it because God works all things together for our good. In other words, He gives us dreams, plans, and task to do and He'll use everything that comes our way to help get us to the place He wants us to go. He will also provide everything we need in order to see the dream become a reality!

If you're joining us for the first time in this series, we're looking at the epic story of Joseph. Yes, the Joseph with the coat of many colors. The first week we discovered God had given Joseph a dream or two. We also discovered how Joseph's dreams collided with reality! He found out pretty quick it would not be a cakewalk to see the dream accomplished. His father questioned him, and his brothers despised him so much they sold him into slavery and made their dad think Joseph had been torn to pieces by a wild animal. Oh, by the way, Joseph's God-given dream was that he would be a great leader and others, including his family, would someday bow to him. He didn't fully understand the dream, but he believed it. Joseph's dreams went from the initial collision with reality to a constant battle with dream killers. Things like devastation, discouragement,  despondency, doubts, anger, confusion and temptations to give up or take matters into his own hands! Today we come face to face with one of the hardest realities and one of the toughest issues Joseph had to deal with...Dream Endurance!

Endurance has to do with time and patience and I think everyone of us in this room at one time or another have had to deal with the struggle of waiting for dream fulfillment. The old "Hurry up and wait" adage! Would Joseph's God-given dream endure the wait? How about yours? Let's pray and ask God to help us understand the concept of dream endurance and why it's so important to trust God's timing!
PRAY!

What does the word endurance mean to you? According to Webster it is...

“the ability to do something difficult for a long time” and  

“the ability to withstand hardship or adversity; especially: the ability to sustain a prolonged stressful effort or activity.”  

If you analyze this definition you’ll notice it is built around the concept of time and the words long and prolonged. Ok, are you ready for this? When we started our story Joseph was 17 years old. Next week when we talk about dream fulfillment, Joseph will be 30 years old! Do the math - 13 years! We pick up our story in Genesis 40:1. Joseph had been thrown into prison by his owner Potifar after Potifar's wife had falsely accused Joseph of attempted rape.
While in prison, Joseph becomes the head trustee. While he's there something very interesting happens that God will use down the road in Joseph's life. Let's begin...Genesis 40:1.

1 Some time later, the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt offended their master, the king of Egypt.
2 Pharaoh was angry with his two officials, the chief cupbearer and the chief baker,
3 and put them in custody in the house of the captain of the guard, in the same prison where Joseph was confined.
4 The captain of the guard assigned them to Joseph, and he attended them. After they had been in custody for some time,
5 each of the two men—the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt, who were being held in prison—had a dream the same night, and each dream had a meaning of its own.
6 When Joseph came to them the next morning, he saw that they were dejected.
7 So he asked Pharaoh’s officials who were in custody with him in his master’s house, “Why are your faces so sad today?”
8 “We both had dreams,” they answered, “but there is no one to interpret them.” Then Joseph said to them, “Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell me your dreams.”
9 So the chief cupbearer told Joseph his dream. He said to him, “In my dream I saw a vine in front of me,
10 and on the vine were three branches. As soon as it budded, it blossomed, and its clusters ripened into grapes.
11 Pharaoh’s cup was in my hand, and I took the grapes, squeezed them into Pharaoh’s cup and put the cup in his hand.”
12 “This is what it means, ” Joseph said to him. “The three branches are three days.
13 Within three days Pharaoh will lift up your head and restore you to your position, and you will put Pharaoh’s cup in his hand, just as you used to do when you were his cupbearer.
14 But when all goes well with you, remember me and show me kindness; mention me to Pharaoh and get me out of this prison.
15 For I was forcibly carried off from the land of the Hebrews, and even here I have done nothing to deserve being put in a dungeon.”
16 When the chief baker saw that Joseph had given a favorable interpretation, he said to Joseph, “I too had a dream: On my head were three baskets of bread.

17 In the top basket were all kinds of baked goods for Pharaoh, but the birds were eating them out of the basket on my head.”
18 “This is what it means,” Joseph said. “The three baskets are three days.
19 Within three days Pharaoh will lift off your head and hang you on a tree. And the birds will eat away your flesh.”
20 Now the third day was Pharaoh’s birthday, and he gave a feast for all his officials. He lifted up the heads of the chief cupbearer and the chief baker in the presence of his officials:
21 He restored the chief cupbearer to his position, so that he once again put the cup into Pharaoh’s hand,
22 but he hanged the chief baker, just as Joseph had said to them in his interpretation.
23 The chief cupbearer, however, did not remember Joseph; he forgot him.

Forgotten? Really? You've got to be kidding? How in the world could this guy just forget Joseph? How could he not be so grateful to even be alive? I mean the dreams could have been reversed! He could have had the bakers dream. Anyway. He forgot Joseph and said nothing to the Pharaoh. Another bout with the dream killers for Joseph! Can you imagine week after week just waiting for someone to come and tell him, "The Pharaoh has ordered your release!" But that just didn't happen. He had been forgotten. Have you ever felt forgotten? Have you ever felt God has forgotten you? Maybe you've begun to wonder whether or not God ever had a dream for you in the first place. Would Joseph's dream endure the wait? Will your dream endure the wait? Why would God make us wait in the first place? I mean, if it's God's dream for us why the wait? Why doesn't God just work His magic and make the dream happen in an instant? In the blink of an eye! Why put us in a holding pattern and make us wait? Well, I'm so glad you asked those questions because I have a sneaky suspicion God's got some answers for you today! Why the wait?

God's Timing is Perfect!

I love what J.R. Tolkien's character Gandalf said in The Lord of the Rings. "A wizard is never late, nor is he early, he arrives precisely when he means to!"
God is no wizard, but I can tell you He is never late, nor is He early, He arrives precisely when He means to!

The Palmist Asaph put it this way in Psalm 75:1-3...

1 We give thanks to you, O God, we give thanks, for your Name is near; men tell of your wonderful deeds.
2 You say, “I choose the appointed time; it is I who judge uprightly.
3 When the earth and all its people quake, it is I who hold its pillars firm.Selah

This Psalmist understood the importance of giving thanks for and trusting in God's timing, God's wisdom, and God's protection!
In other words, "God, I may not understand your timing or your ways, but I trust Your ability to hold my world together when it has been shaken to the core!!"

The Psalmist David also understood a thing or two about God's timing...Psalm 145:13ff

13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations. The LORD is faithful to all his promises and loving toward all he has made.
14 The LORD upholds all those who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down.
15 The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food at the proper time.
16 You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.
17 The LORD is righteous in all his ways and loving toward all he has made.
18 The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.
19 He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them.

Like Joseph, David had been through some trials and tribulations of his own. He also had come to understand that God's dream was about an everlasting kingdom not a temporary earthly kingdom. That God was faithful to all His promises and motivated by love! He knew The Lord is there for those who fall and and lifts those who are bowed down. He meets the needs at the proper time! He opens His hand and satisfies. The Lord is righteous in all His ways. He is near to all who call on him, to all who call on Him in truth. Be honest when you cry to God. And I just love that last verse...

19 He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them.

God's Timing is Personal!

God is concerned about you personally. He desires to use all of the events in your life to make you the man or woman of God He created you to be! The reason the dream takes time to fulfill is God is working with you personally to grow you! I once heard this statement...

God is more concerned with our character than He is with our comfort! Hebrews 12:10

10 Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness.
11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

Sometimes it is uncomfortable when God starts chiseling away at some of the attitudes, habits or traits that are holding us back from becoming the work of art God wants us to become. When an earthly architect designs and builds a building, people are used to build the building. The focus is on the building. God's kingdom is so different. He is building people. So the timing of the completion of the project is not as important as the completion of God's goals for the people!

Ephesians 2:19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household,
20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.
21In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord.
22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

As I thought about this statement some other things occurred to me...
  

God is more concerned with who we become than how quickly we become!

In the coming weeks we will see how God was using all of Joseph's difficulties to help him become a new man! A man who would be a leader not just because he had a God-given dream to be a leader, but because God had developed him into a leader through each and every difficult life lesson! Sometimes we want to become leaders without having gone through the life experience we need in order to be a good leader. This is not to say young people can't be leaders. They can, but I would encourage all young leaders, and the old ones as well, to seek God's wisdom through His Word and through Godly advice from faithful men and women who've traveled the road.

How we achieve the dream is as important as the dream itself!  

You see it's not just the job we are doing that is important to God, but how we accomplish the job! Are we Christlike in the way we pursue our dreams or is it achieve the dream at all cost? Does our integrity, honesty, and trustworthiness remain in tact as we pursue our dreams? We must never forget who we are and what we are becoming matters to God as much as the task He has given us to accomplish!
And this takes us to our third answer to the question of why the dream has to sometimes endure a lengthy journey.

God's Timing is Practical!

This is so important for us to know! God's timing makes sense. We may not understand it, but He understands and knows things we can't know and perceives and see's things we can't see. Sometimes the dream not only takes time, but unusual routes. God has His reasons. Listen to this most practical advice from the writer of Proverbs in chapter 4:5-13 and then I'll explain...

Proverbs 4:5 Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words or swerve from them.
6 Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you.
7 Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.

8 Esteem her, and she will exalt you; embrace her, and she will honor you.
9 She will set a garland of grace on your head and present you with a crown of splendor. ”
10 Listen, my son, accept what I say, and the years of your life will be many.
11 I guide you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths.
12 When you walk, your steps will not be hampered; when you run, you will not stumble.
13 Hold on to instruction, do not let it go; guard it well, for it is your life.

The dream has to endure delays while we gain the wisdom we'll need at the next level.  When I look at some of the delays in my life, I've come to the conclusion that I'm a slow learner! But gaining the wisdom God desires for us to have is worth more than silver and gold! Wisdom, and the understanding that comes with it, will protect you, watch over you, exalt you, honor you, and guide you! And let me point this out to you.
When God says He'll lead you along straight paths, this doesn't mean He will draw a straight line from where you are now to where He wants you to be! No, the straight paths simply means you won't be meandering around without direction. God will make it clear to you, in time, the path. However, God will probably not take you directly to your ultimate dream destination. Why? God's timing is practical.
Let me put it this way. If God's desire for you is to get from point A to point G on the map, He will probably not draw one long straight line from A to G.  

He may, in fact, draw a several short straight lines. One from point A to pointB. One from point B to point C. One from point C to point D. You get my point! Why is this?
Because at point B, there's a lesson you need to learn! At point C there's a person you need to meet whom God will use to help you in your journey! At point D there's some critical supplies you'll need to pick up! At point E there's someone who needs your help in their journey!

And this takes me to our final answer as to why the dream sometimes has to endure those difficult delays.

God's Timing is Purposeful!

Proverbs 19:21 Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the LORD’S purpose that prevails.

Remember, God's dream for you is not just about achieving some goal, or doing some task! No, God's dream has a purpose far beyond just being able to say, "I did it!"
A part of God's dream for you is found in the journey to get to your dream and the little accomplishments along the way that are really not so little after all! Lives touched, lives changed, lessons learned, lessons taught, love received, love given!
If you just run past the needs and the hurts of others on your way to your grand prize, how sad is that? What dream could be so important for you to step on others just to achieve your dream?

One of the saddest things I've seen in my life is folks who are always trying to get somewhere and they're trying to get there as fast as they can. Some people spend their whole life always trying to get to the next goal or dream or station in life and they never slow down enough to learn any lessons, or share any lessons, to give any love or receive any either. They never take the time to live in the moment and cherish the powerful gift of life God has given them today! Sometimes I think God waits on fulfilling the dreams He has given us in order to get us to slow down and smell the roses. I sometimes think that's why God put a camera in my hands.

To get me to slow down long enough to see the beauty God has placed all around me! It's as if He's shouting to me, but in a whisper! "Hey Larry, look, I painted a pretty sunset just for you!" "Hey Larry, look, here's a pretty lizard I covered in dew drops, just for you!"



God's timing is purposeful because He wants us to understand these verses...

James 4:13 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.”
14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.
15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”

God's timing is truly:
Perfect
Personal
Practical
Purposeful

Let's Pray!!