Day 27: Never Could Have Dreamed

Opening Prayer:Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.”

Daily Scripture Reading:

  • Genesis 41:1-49
  • Proverbs 2:6-10
  • James 1:5

Imagine you are Joseph for a moment, sitting in prison like you have been for at least 730 days. It has been a “full two years” since the cupbearer promised to remember you, show you kindness, mention you to Pharaoh, and get you out of this prison (Gen. 40:14). It seems he forgot. And then all of a sudden, the guard is calling your name. You are rushed from the dungeon to the bath house where you are commanded to get cleaned up, clean shaven, and given a fresh new pair of clothes. Before your hair is even dry, you find yourself before Pharaoh himself. You catch a glimpse of the apologetic cupbearer in the corner giving you a timid “thumbs up” as you look around confused. Pharaoh looks like he isn’t sleeping well as he booms, “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.”

No pressure.

After all the years of waiting, it seems the rise happens at a dizzying pace. Joesph gives credit to God before clearly interpreting Pharaoh’s dreams. But he doesn’t stop there. Without being asked, he goes on to succinctly outline a 14 year plan for the preservation of a nation. Did I miss the part of the story where Joseph got his masters in business with a minor in foreign affairs? His quick thinking and obvious wisdom left Pharaoh asking his officials “Can we find anyone like this man, one in whom is the spirit of God?” A day that started off in prison, ended with Joseph second in command of Egypt.

He never could have dreamed the turn of events.

I’m struck with the seamless mixture of the supernatural and natural in this part of Joseph’s story. Joseph was given the supernatural gift of being able to interpret Pharaoh’s dream when no one else could. He knew that wisdom came straight from God and he had the supernatural courage to use it for the good of a nation. But he also needed a shower. And instead of advising Pharaoh to offer sacrifices and pray for God not send the famine, Joseph presented a solid, very natural plan to save Egypt.

I’m also struck with the fact that Joseph skyrocketed to leadership with seemingly few earthly qualifications. Before this, he had been a shepherd, a slave, a personal assistant, and a prisoner. God had used him in every place, but this was a whole new league. But what Joseph lacked in experience or education paled in comparison with who Joseph had in His corner.

I hope we can be encouraged in these things today. God can use the supernatural and the really ordinary parts of your story to take you to where He wants you to go. You may need to pray and press into the gifts of the Spirit, and you also may need to come up with a very “boots on the ground” plan. Your earthly qualifications (or lack there of ) don’t matter if God’s dream for your life is qualifying you for a position. I believe God wants His children in places of influence and leadership and I believe He is ready and willing to pour out the creative ideas, wisdom, and knowledge needed to get us there. And lastly, you just never know what a day will hold. You just never know when the waiting will end and you will be skyrocketed into your purpose as well. Don’t lose heart.

Today’s Big Questions: Do you tend to rely on your own knowledge, experience, wisdom, education, and intelligence or do you pray continually for God to supernaturally increase those things in you? Are there places you are being held up because you are waiting for the supernatural when God may be asking you to put a natural plan into place? Are there places you are relying too heavily on your natural abilities rather than on the God of all wisdom?

Prayer Response: Today, very simply, pray James 1:5 over yourself and your dream. Admit to God where you lack wisdom, ask Him for it, and thank Him that He gives it generously without finding fault.

Optional Action Step: Take a walk to get away from distractions and focus on a dream you have been waiting on. Ask the Holy Spirit to speak clearly to you about it. Ask for clarity, wisdom, and creative ideas concerning that dream. Ask if there is a plan you should construct or if you should continue to wait.

Closing Prayer: “Now to Him who is able to do immeasurable more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Day 26: What Are You Waiting For?

Opening Prayer:Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.

Daily Scripture Reading:

  • Genesis 40: 23-41:1
  • Psalms 27:13-14
  • Lamentations 3:25-26
  • Micah 7:7
  • 1 Corinthians 15:58

The chief cupbearer, however, did not remember Joseph; he forgot him. When two full years had passed, Pharaoh had a dream…

We read “when two full years had passed,” in a breath, but for Joseph 730 days slowly crept by in that short verse. It seemed like he was betrayed again by someone else he had served well. The cupbearer forgot him, another broken dream. But in reality, Joseph wasn’t waiting on the cupbearer to remember him or Pharaoh to lift him up and release him. Joseph was waiting on God’s perfect timing. The delay and the detours did not mean the dream was not real. They just meant the dream was not yet.

When David was a teenager, he was anointed as the next king of Israel by the prophet Samuel. At the time, David, the youngest of 7 brothers (sound familiar?), was merely a shepherd boy- an unlikely choice, especially considering King Saul was still alive and well with an heir of his own. It was nearly 15 years from the time David was anointed to the time he began his rule. For 15 years he had that dream in his heart, he held that promise, though his circumstances did not match up. And what did David do during those 15 years? He faced Goliath, he lived on the run from a jealous Saul, he led a group of “mighty men,” he fought countless battles, and forged faithful friendship and community. David continually pressed into God, crying out to him in his waiting, crying out to him in the testing. See, God knew that David was not ready to lead a nation fresh out of the sheep pasture. He molded David through waiting and testing into the man who would steward that dream well. God was creating a king out of the one He had already anointed as king.

It was nearly 14 years from the time Joseph received the dreams of his brothers and parents bowing down to him, to the time he was released from prison and became Pharaoh’s second in command. 14 years. During that time, he lived a life of high integrity, he rose to leadership in every circumstance he found himself in, he served those above and below him, and he steward every opportunity well. The New Living Translation of Psalms 105:19 reads, “Until the time came to fulfill his dreams, the Lord tested Joseph’s character.” God was creating a leader that would save a nation from an arrogant young dreamer through waiting and testing.

I believe God still does this today. He loves us too much to fulfill a dream we are unprepared for. Zechariah 4:10 tells us “Do not despise these small beginnings.” And do not waste the waiting. Remain faithful and pursue the preparation for the dream that God gave you. Be a good steward of your current situation. Work on your character. Press into community. Cry out to God and deepen your dependence on him. Augustine said, “Without God, we cannot, and without us, He will not.” We may not be able to bypass the testing or quicken God’s timing, but we can be ready when He lifts us up to fulfill His dream for our lives.

Today’s Big Questions: Is there a dream you are still waiting for God to fulfill? Do you honestly believe you were completely prepared to steward that dream well when God placed it in your heart? Do you believe you are prepared now for its fulfillment? Can you identify places you believe God has tested your character in the waiting? How are you doing?

Prayer Response: Pray Zechariah 4:10 over yourself and your dream today. Ask the Lord to help you not despise the small beginnings or waste the waiting. Ask Him to give you the power to strengthen your character and to find you faithful when the time comes.

Optional Action Step: List 3 small steps you can take today toward a dream God has put in your heart, and then plan to do them. Pursue preparation in the waiting and do your part.

Closing Prayer: “Now to Him who is able to do immeasurable more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”

Day 25: A Shared Story

Opening Prayer: “Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.”

Daily Scripture Reading:

  • Genesis 40:20-22
  • Romans 12:12
  • 1 Timothy 2:1
  • 1 Timothy 4:10
  • James 5:16

If your dream only includes you, it’s too small” -Ava DuVernay (American film maker)

Today we see the interpretations Joseph gave to the cupbearer and baker come to pass, exactly as he had said they would in the exact time frame. I wonder how that felt for Joseph. Though we aren’t let in on his reactions or emotions to the release of the cupbearer and the death of the baker, I think we can exact an important principle by putting ourselves in his position. First of all I’m sure Joseph was disappointed he wasn’t the one being released from prison (though glad he wasn’t the one impaled at the feast). But, I wonder if he didn’t feel encouraged that God had come through just as He had told Joseph He would through the interpretations. I wonder if Jospeh’s faith and hope was built as He watched God do just what He said He would. If God could do it once, He could do it again.

If Joseph hadn’t been brought into the cupbearer and baker’s dreams, their fates would have meant very little to him. He would not have had the benefit getting to see God be faithful to His word in their lives. When we invite others into our story and our dreams, we are giving them a gift. When we ask for help, prayer, and the hard truths we are expanding the faith and hope of others. A shared story means shared miracles and shared answered prayer. Likewise when we invest in the dreams and stories of others, we get the blessing of a shared victory!

You see, it doesn’t have to be an answer to MY prayer for MY circumstances to build MY faith and hope in God. When I walk with a friend through dark days and intercede for them with as much fervent prayer as I would for pray for myself, not only is the burden shared, but the blessing is as well. When I see God come through for you, I know He can for me too. But the only way we will see His hand in each other’s lives is if we share our stories. Then the ordinary, unnoticed moments of life become testimonies. The end of a story only matters when you knew the beginning. A pregnancy announcement becomes a miracle when you have walked the path of infertility with a friend. A child sitting with their parents at church becomes a celebration when you have prayed for that wayward son for years. A redeemed marriage builds hope for your own struggling relationship when you know where they have been. The graduation of a child who barely made it, the success of a business that was a huge leap of faith, the smile on a face that used to be clouded by depression. When we know each other’s stories, we can know more of God’s faithfulness. When we multiply our investment in each other, we multiply our ability to see God move. And one day, we will get to remind each other of His faithfulness when we are tempted to forget. We will have witnesses to miracles because we had intercessors along the way. Share your story. Invite someone into your dream. Be a faithful friend and prayer warrior for others so you can watch God’s hand move in their lives as well!

Today’s Big Questions: How well do you invite others into your story? How willing are you to be vulnerable and ask for prayer? Do you view including others in your struggles as a burden to them or a gift? When others share their stories with you, are you expectant for your faith to grow as you intercede for them or is your hope only inwardly focused?

Prayer Response: Today, write the names of three friends or family members who you know need prayer for something. Spend your time in prayer interceding for them and ask God to constantly grow your faith and expand your hope in Him through His movement in other’s lives.

Optional Action Step: Call or text those three people and tell them you prayed for their situation today and ask them where they see God’s hand. If you haven’t been brought into someone else’s story, make the time to invest in someone today and ask them how you can pray for them.

Closing Prayer: “Now to Him who is able to do immeasurable more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.