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.

Day 24: When the Truth Hurts

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 40:16-22
  • Proverbs 27:5-6
  • Acts 20:20
  • Ephesians 4:14-16

Hard words, if they be true, are better than soft words, if they be false.” -Charles Spurgeon

After the baker saw that Joesph’s interpretation of the cupbearer’s dream was “favorable” he stepped right up, expecting to hear the good news of his own imminent release. Unfortunately, that’s not what he got. Instead, Jospeh was faithful to speak the truth, rather than tell him what he wanted to hear. Obviously, this is an extreme example. Most of us will not be called to reveal forthcoming death by impalement, but we are called to speak the truth in love to our brothers and sisters in Christ.

We are living in a moment in history that says love is singularly defined as agreeing with and affirming every lifestyle choice, emotion, and behavior of another. We are lied to by culture and told if you love someone you will simply support whatever they want to do. The problem is that this view doesn’t line up with Scripture or with reality. You don’t have to look very hard to see a world that is dying of their own indulgences and desperate for a better way. The Bible calls us to something different.

None of us would discover a drowning friend and not do everything in our power to save them. We would risk life and limb to pull them out of danger, even if they struggled against us and claimed the water was fine. But do we fight as hard when a friend says they want a divorce, continues in a destructive addiction, turns their back on godly community, speaks death over their children? Are we brave enough to offend? Are we willing to swim upstream in these cultural waters to reclaim Truth as love and courageous enough to not affirm and agree with sin?

On the flip side, are we the kind of Christ followers who can view the Truth as love in our own lives? Are we willing to humble ourselves and listen when a brother or sister comes to pull us out of our own murky waters? Do we trust others with our blindspots or are we only after “favorable” affirmations? Proverbs 27:6 says, “Wounds from a friend can be trusted.” Are you a brave enough to wound a friend when it is needed? Are you humble enough to trust the wounds of a friend when you are drowning? The most important part you can play in someone else’s dream may be reminding them not to sabotage it!

Today’s Big Questions: Has there ever been a time when you knew you were supposed to speak the Truth in love to someone even though they only wanted you to affirm their sin? Were you brave enough to do it or did you shrink back? How did that feel? Can you think of a time when someone else was brave enough to call you out of your sin? How did you react?

Prayer Response: Today, pray Paul’s words from Acts 20:20; “Lord, I ask that you would find me a faithful friend and give me the power not to hesitate to speak the Truth that would be helpful to others.” Ask the Holy Spirit if there is any situation He is calling you to be courageous and speak hard words into.

Optional Action Step: If someone else has ever bravely spoken difficult Truth into your life and helped to pull you out of sin, take a moment today to write them a letter, send them a text, or call them to say thank you. If you have ever spoken Truth to a friend and they received it and redirected their ways, reach out to them to say that you recognize the changes they have made and that they are on the right track.

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 23: Body Building

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 40:6-15
  • I Corinthians 12:7-31
  • I Peter 4:10

Today we see the dreamer become the dream interpreter. Not only did Joseph notice that the cupbearer was “dejected,” and ask why he “looked so sad,” he went on to help him by interpreting his dream. We can learn a couple of important lessons through this interaction. First of all, Joseph recognized and declared, “Do not interpretations belong to God?” before he ever asked to hear the cupbearer’s dream. He was extremely clear on who held the power, and immediately gave God the credit for the gift he was about to use. Secondly, we see Joseph courageously risk being wrong or looking crazy as he interpreted the cupbearer’s dream. What if things didn’t turn out like he said they would? Wouldn’t he look like an idiot? Wouldn’t he give God a “bad name” by claiming His power then blowing it? Joesph doesn’t seem deterred by these doubts. He knew that the bigger risk was being disobedient and withholding a gift that could help another.

In I Corinthians 12:7-11 we read a long, yet not exhaustive, list of spiritual gifts that God uniquely blesses us with when we come to Christ. Some of these feel very supernatural- prophecy, tongues, healing, miraculous powers. Other gifts listed here and other places feel a little more natural- faith, generosity, administration, craftsmanship, teaching. The important thing to know is that every Christian has the the Holy Spirit living inside of them and is gifted in one or more of these areas. Yes, even you!

Then in verses 12-31, we read Paul’s masterful metaphor of the Church as a body. The body needs all the parts to function wholly. Though some parts seem more important than others, they can only do their job if every other part is healthy. A body with 5 heads and no feet would be non-functional. We can’t all be the eyes. We can’t all be the hands. A healthy body is diverse. A healthy body protects its members. A healthy body is only healthy when every part is strong willing to do its job.

And then in I Peter 4:10 we read that each of us should use our various and unique gifts to serve each other. We are to pull each other into wholeness using all of who God created us to be! I have not been asked to use your gifts and you have not been asked to use mine, but I have been called to use every bit of my gifts FOR your benefit and your’s FOR mine! It goes much further than a neat list on the pages of Scripture. We are to use our unique experiences, our personality types, our introversion or extroversion, the special strengths of our gender to build up the body of Christ. No one person with one set a spiritual gifts, one personality type, inhabiting one gender can fully represent the character of God, though we are all made in His image. We all have the privilege of showing our part of the Father to the world. “Oh look, you have His eyes. You have His smile. You have His Hands.”

Be a Body builder and an image bearer. Be courageous and take risks as you seek to be obedient in using your gifts. Your Heavenly Father has blessed you so that you can bless others. Don’t hold back!

Today’s Big Questions: Are you a Body builder? Do you use your unique gifts, experiences, and personality to build up the Body of Christ? If not, what is holding you back? Are you unsure of your gifting? Are you afraid to risk messing up? Are you too consumed with your own dream to invest in someone else’s?

Prayer Response: Today ask the Holy Spirit to show you for the first time or remind you of ways He has uniquely gifted you to build up the Body of Christ. Then ask Him for the awareness and the courage to use those gifts today to bless those He puts in your path.

Optional Action Step: Make a few lists under several categories to help you clarify the ways you are being called to build up the Body of Christ. List unique past experiences. List the things you are naturally good at or talents you have. List the activities you love to do. List the issues that fire you up and make you exceptionally excited or exceptionally angry. If you know your spiritual gifts, list those. If you know your Enneagram number or Myers Briggs personality type, list all that means as well. If you need some help, ask a trusted friend or family member to speak into some of these areas. When you are finished, see if you can identify a few threads or things you know God is asking you to be or do for the Body.

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.