Dream Realization: The U Factor
Sermon Summary
This message is the fourth part of a six part series on one the Old Testament’s most colorful characters, Joseph. Joseph had been given a dream from God and it seemed as if the dream would never come to pass. Joseph had been sold into slavery and ended up in prison. However, God was using all of his circumstances to achieve a great dream and purpose for Joseph! During his time of captivity, Joseph learned the importance of trusting God more than self, and realized just how much he needed the discernment and wisdom of God. Others could see the presence of God’s Holy Spirit in his life. Joseph never gave up and God blessed him for his faithfulness! You and I may not be in physical captivity, but we all face difficulties in this life. A part of our dream realization is to learn the same lessons Joseph had learned.

Community Group Discussion Guide

1. Can you share a story of a God-given dream you’ve personally experienced coming true?

2. Joseph had learned to depend on God as apposed to self! Explain why this is so important for each of us.
Psa 33:18  But the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love,
Psa 33:19  to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine.
Psa 33:20  We wait in hope for the LORD; he is our help and our shield.
Psa 33:21  In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name.
Psa 33:22  May your unfailing love rest upon us, O LORD, even as we put our hope in you.

3. If our God-given dreams are to be realized we will need the discernment and wisdom of God! Where can this discernment and wisdom be found?

Psa 119:71  It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees.
Psa 119:72  The law from your mouth is more precious to me than thousands of pieces of silver and gold.
Psa 119:73  Your hands made me and formed me; give me understanding to learn your commands.
Psa 119:74  May those who fear you rejoice when they see me, for I have put my hope in your word.
Psa 119:75  I know, O LORD, that your laws are righteous, and in faithfulness you have afflicted me.
Psa 119:76  May your unfailing love be my comfort, according to your promise to your servant.
Psa 119:77  Let your compassion come to me that I may live, for your law is my delight.

4. Joseph went through so much hardship, but God blessed him in the end. There’s an old hymn that tells us to count our many blessings. Can you share some ways in which God has blessed you in your life?

Psa 115:11  You who fear him, trust in the LORD-- he is their help and shield.
Psa 115:12  The LORD remembers us and will bless us: He will bless the house of Israel, he will bless the house of Aaron,
Psa 115:13  he will bless those who fear the LORD-- small and great alike.
Psa 115:14  May the LORD make you increase, both you and your children.
Psa 115:15  May you be blessed by the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.

Full Sermon Notes
Dream Realization: The U Factor

So grateful our youth and their leaders were willing to take the Northshore Dream on the road! Remember, our dream, our vision is to raise up a healthy church that will impact the north shore and ultimately the world with the life changing message of Jesus Christ!
Our youth made a difference for some low income families in Dallas Tx. They showed those people the love of God all the way from The North Shore of Lake Ponchartrain!
But I want to remind you of a truth you should never, ever forget. When you allow God to use you to bless someone else, the largest blessing will be yours. It's amazing how that works. Over the next three weeks we're going to see how God's dreams include at least three factors. The U factor, the W factor and the T factor.

What do I mean by the U, the W, and the T factor?
It's the You factor, Y O U!
The WE factor! Your family and friends.
The THEY factor! Others you may not even know. God's dreams for you are about you, but not just about you! It always includes others! In other words, His dream for you is better than your dream for you and His dream for you is always bigger than you, and His dream for you is not just about you! This week we're going to talk about the YOU factor. How God's dream is for you! He loves you and is excited about you and the potential He has placed in you and for you!

Let's Pray and ask God for His divine guidance this morning! PRAY!!

A few weeks ago, several of our young people who have recently graduated shared a favorite Scripture. It's a powerful passage and one that has great relevance for our message today.

Jeremiah 29:11-14
11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.
13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
14 I will be found by you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”

In this passage we discover that God had actually banished the Hebrew people and carried them into exile. They had totally disobeyed God and were being disciplined by God. They were suffering some of the consequences of their bad choices and God had allowed the consequences in hopes they would return to Him and turn from their wicked ways. His hope was that they would call upon Him, seek Him, come to Him, pray to Him and find Him! Why? Because God had good dreams for them, dreams to prosper them and not to harm them. Plans to give them hope and a future.

And it's no different for us! God wants to do good in our lives. This doesn't mean things will always be easy and we'll never have issues, but it does mean God has good dreams for us and He can take our goof ups and things other people do to trip us up, and Satan's attempts to make us mess up...and God can make good come from the bad. So we know, sometimes our troubles may be circumstances beyond our control, or they may be consequences of our own poor choices. Sometimes we may face God's discipline, but we must be extremely careful with this designation. I can't tell you how many times, when things go wrong or bad things happen, people ask me if God is punishing them. Many people have lived under terrible guilt, thinking bad things happened because they messed up so God took it out on them.

Of course there are times when bad decisions we make effect other peoples lives so we certainly need to consider this. But please hear me on this. Often God gets blamed for things He had nothing to do with. Over the last few weeks we've followed the story of Joseph. We'll recap with a few questions.
Who threw Joseph into an empty cistern and then sold him into slavery?
His brothers!
Who tempted him to get involved in an immoral relationship and then accused him of things he had not done?
Potiphar's wife!
Who got angry and had Joseph thrown into prison?
Who forgot to tell Pharaoh about Joseph?
The Cupbearer!

Was the answer to any of these questions God?

No! Why? Because God didn't do any of these things to Joseph, but He did use them!

In Joseph's case, most of these circumstances were brought on by the decisions of others! Although I think we would all agree Joseph could have handled the way in which he told his brothers about his dreams a little better. Regardless, most of Joseph's problems were out of his control so it would have been easy for Joseph to get angry at God and blame Him for everything or at least be angry at God for allowing the bad things to happen. But we must realize this: God didn't cause the bad things to happen to Joseph, but He sure used them for Joseph's ultimate good!
And the same thing can be true for you and me if we'll call upon God, pray to God, and seek God with all our heart. Not only in the good times, but especially in the bad times!
With all of this in mind, let's pick up the story of Joseph where we left off last week and we'll discover how God used every circumstance to bring about Dream Realization for Joseph!

Genesis 41:1ff.

1 When two full years had passed, Pharaoh had a dream: He was standing by the Nile,

Two years since Joseph had interpreted the dreams for the cupbearer and baker. Two years since Joseph asked the cupbearer to inform the Pharaoh of his plight. However, God jogged his memory. You never know when a kindness done in the past will come back to bless you!

1 When two full years had passed, Pharaoh had a dream: He was standing by the Nile,
2 when out of the river there came up seven cows, sleek and fat, and they grazed among the reeds.
3 After them, seven other cows, ugly and gaunt, came up out of the Nile and stood beside those on the riverbank.
4 And the cows that were ugly and gaunt ate up the seven sleek, fat cows. Then Pharaoh woke up.
5 He fell asleep again and had a second dream: Seven heads of grain, healthy and good, were growing on a single stalk.
6 After them, seven other heads of grain sprouted—thin and scorched by the east wind.
7 The thin heads of grain swallowed up the seven healthy, full heads. Then Pharaoh woke up; it had been a dream.
8 In the morning his mind was troubled, so he sent for all the magicians and wise men of Egypt. Pharaoh told them his dreams, but no one could interpret them for him.
9 Then the chief cupbearer said to Pharaoh, “Today I am reminded of my shortcomings.
10 Pharaoh was once angry with his servants, and he imprisoned me and the chief baker in the house of the captain of the guard.
11 Each of us had a dream the same night, and each dream had a meaning of its own.
12 Now a young Hebrew was there with us, a servant of the captain of the guard. We told him our dreams, and he interpreted them for us, giving each man the interpretation of his dream.
13 And things turned out exactly as he interpreted them to us: I was restored to my position, and the other man was hanged. ”
14 So Pharaoh sent for Joseph, and he was quickly brought from the dungeon. When he had shaved and changed his clothes, he came before Pharaoh.
15 Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I had a dream, and no one can interpret it. But I have heard it said of you that when you hear a dream you can interpret it.”
16 “I cannot do it,” Joseph replied to Pharaoh, “but God will give Pharaoh the answer he desires.”

U Factor #1

You must trust God more than self!

Ok, this is big! On the path to dream fulfillment God had helped Joseph to realize "I cannot do it, but God can!"
Remember, Joseph had been the favored son of his father. He was given the coat of many colors or ornaments.

Remember how he gave a bad report to his dad about his older brothers work with the sheep. The brothers probably thought, "this young kid thinks he knows everything. He thinks he can do everything better." And then came the dreams of others bowing down to him. All of this may have contributed to a bit of pride in Joseph. But Joseph was a different man now. No longer a boy, but a man who had worked hard as a slave and as a prisoner, and he had learned, human effort, without the blessing and help of God will not free you from slavery or prison. Do you think this is a lesson we still need today? How many people out there think if they work harder, earn more money, get more stuff, get more fame, they will make it big! They'll be happy! They'll find what they've been looking for! So many think they can do it on their own without God's help!

I've known so many people who were struggling with issues like addiction, anger, bitterness, depression, and the list goes on, who believed they could fix their own problems without God's help.
When describing our dependence on God, Jesus told His disciples this...

John 15:5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

Sometimes it takes a few trials and tribulations for us to grow to the point where we understand our need for God's presence, His prudence, His provision, and His power!
A part of God's dream for Joseph was for him to become humble enough and wise enough to realize how much he needed God!
Let's continue our story...

Genesis 41
17 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “In my dream I was standing on the bank of the Nile,
18 when out of the river there came up seven cows, fat and sleek, and they grazed among the reeds.
19 After them, seven other cows came up—scrawny and very ugly and lean. I had never seen such ugly cows in all the land of Egypt.
20 The lean, ugly cows ate up the seven fat cows that came up first.
21 But even after they ate them, no one could tell that they had done so; they looked just as ugly as before. Then I woke up.
22 “In my dreams I also saw seven heads of grain, full and good, growing on a single stalk.
23 After them, seven other heads sprouted—withered and thin and scorched by the east wind.
24 The thin heads of grain swallowed up the seven good heads. I told this to the magicians, but none could explain it to me. ”
25 Then Joseph said to Pharaoh, “The dreams of Pharaoh are one and the same. God has revealed to Pharaoh what he is about to do.
26 The seven good cows are seven years, and the seven good heads of grain are seven years; it is one and the same dream.

27 The seven lean, ugly cows that came up afterward are seven years, and so are the seven worthless heads of grain scorched by the east wind: They are seven years of famine.
28 “It is just as I said to Pharaoh: God has shown Pharaoh what he is about to do.
29 Seven years of great abundance are coming throughout the land of Egypt,
30 but seven years of famine will follow them. Then all the abundance in Egypt will be forgotten, and the famine will ravage the land.
31 The abundance in the land will not be remembered, because the famine that follows it will be so severe.
32 The reason the dream was given to Pharaoh in two forms is that the matter has been firmly decided by God, and God will do it soon.
33 “And now let Pharaoh look for a discerning and wise man and put him in charge of the land of Egypt.

 U Factor #2

You need the discernment and wisdom of God!

It's amazing the leader Joseph had become. Through his leadership as a slave and then as the head trustee in the prison, Joseph had learned a thing or two and God was about to use all of those lessons big-time!!
In fact, listen to the advice Joseph gives the Pharaoh...

Genesis 41
34 Let Pharaoh appoint commissioners over the land to take a fifth of the harvest of Egypt during the seven years of abundance.
35 They should collect all the food of these good years that are coming and store up the grain under the authority of Pharaoh, to be kept in the cities for food.
36 This food should be held in reserve for the country, to be used during the seven years of famine that will come upon Egypt, so that the country may not be ruined by the famine.”
37 The plan seemed good to Pharaoh and to all his officials.

If you will depend on God during your trials and tribulations, God will use those things to make you a better person! You will become wiser and will gain discernment. Remember, God's dream for you is not just about accomplishing a goal, it's about becoming a better you!!

Listen to these powerful words in the book of James...

James 1
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds,
3 because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.
4 Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
5 If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.

Our community groups this past week studied what Paul wrote in Romans 5:3-5...

Romans 5:3-5
3 Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;
4 perseverance, character; and character, hope.
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.

Now, watch what happens next in Joseph's dream realization…verse 38

Genesis 41
38 So Pharaoh asked them, “Can we find anyone like this man, one in whom is the spirit of God?”

U Factor #3

You are a vessel of God's Holy Spirit!

God Almighty wants to work through you to impact your world. Pharaoh saw clearly that God was working in Joseph's life. Listen to how God can use a person filled with His Spirit...

Genesis 41
39 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has made all this known to you, there is no one so discerning and wise as you.
40 You shall be in charge of my palace, and all my people are to submit to your orders. Only with respect to the throne will I be greater than you. ”
41 So Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I hereby put you in charge of the whole land of Egypt.”
42 Then Pharaoh took his signet ring from his finger and put it on Joseph’s finger. He dressed him in robes of fine linen and put a gold chain around his neck.
43 He had him ride in a chariot as his second-in-command, and men shouted before him, “Make way !” Thus he put him in charge of the whole land of Egypt.
44 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I am Pharaoh, but without your word no one will lift hand or foot in all Egypt.”

Is it not amazing how God took Joseph from slave and prison inmate to second in command of an entire country? God's dream for you is to work in and through you by way of His Holy Spirit! There will be more on this next week's message, but I just want to say this...

I wonder what a difference it would make in our world if our churches were filled with people who were filled with the Spirit of God?
Ok, I have just one more important U factor to point out to you today…

U Factor #4

Realize God will bless you!

The road to dream realization may be a long one and a difficult one, but God is taking you somewhere, for a reason. One of those reasons is to bless you! Remember the verses from Jeremiah I read to you earlier?

11For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

How did this apply to Joseph?

Genesis 41
45 Pharaoh gave Joseph the name Zaphenath-Paneah and gave him Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On, to be his wife. And Joseph went throughout the land of Egypt.
46 Joseph was thirty years old when he entered the service of Pharaoh king of Egypt. And Joseph went out from Pharaoh’s presence and traveled throughout Egypt.
47 During the seven years of abundance the land produced plentifully.
48 Joseph collected all the food produced in those seven years of abundance in Egypt and stored it in the cities. In each city he put the food grown in the fields surrounding it.
49 Joseph stored up huge quantities of grain, like the sand of the sea; it was so much that he stopped keeping records because it was beyond measure.
50 Before the years of famine came, two sons were born to Joseph by Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On.
51 Joseph named his firstborn Manasseh and said, “It is because God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father’s household.”
52 The second son he named Ephraim and said, “It is because God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering.”

God blessed Joseph for his faithfulness to hold on to his faith and his God-given dream even though his dream had collided with reality, he had faced the dream killers and endured 13 years of slavery and imprisonment.

I think Joseph understood a New Testament verse many years before it was ever written...

Galatians 6:9Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

Let's pray!