Back in April, Mark preached on the ‘Dream Cross Code’, a sermon which has come to mean a lot to me as it encouraged me to hold on to the dreams I had of leaving my job and starting new ministries. Today, he gave us the next instalment of this sermon, entitled ‘Holding on to the dream’, using Genesis 37 as his text.

This is the beginning of the story of Joseph, son of Jacob’s beloved wife Rachael and much loved by the patriarch, to the extent that he was shown great favouritism (the coat of many colours) and was greatly resented by his other brothers. In Gen 37:5 TNIV we are told that Joseph had a dream – which he shared with his brothers and later with Jacob.

Other people’s reactions to our God-given dreams are not always positive. Here, Joseph met 4 reactions:
1) he was hated even more by his brothers because of his dream (a strong reaction which does not sit well with Jesus’s commands to love our brothers!)
2) he was rebuked by his father
3) he was envied by his brothers (people may well feel jealous of the dreams God gives us, asking ‘Why is God moving in your life?’ with the implicit hurt ‘and not in mine?‘)
4) his father kept the matter in mind. (People may well tell us to ‘wait and see’ and not give us much feedback at all, preferring to see if God will bring the dream to pass in time.)

Our response to the dreams God gives us must be to hold on to the dream and wait for God’s fulfilment, which will come in God’s time.

1) Don’t let the reactions of other people put you off.
It was not really just a case of Joseph having a dream; more a case of the dream having Joseph! It was firmly bound to his heart. He could not forget it, even if he wanted to. When God gives us a dream, we have to hold on to it through times of testing and trial, but equally we will find that we cannot forget it or lay it down, even if at times we would like to! The dream consumes us and holds on to us as much as we hold onto it!

2) Know that the dreams given by God will endure the times of trial and testing.
The day’s events narrated in Gen 37:1-36 TNIV probably represented the worst day of Joseph’s life! He was beaten up, thrown in a cistern, and sold into slavery, narrowly escaping death at the hands of his own brothers. Violent and brutal acts were done to him. Even so, the selling into slavery was part of the fulfilment of the dream, for God was working to put Joseph into the place he needed to be for the dream to be fulfilled. In all the hurt and pain he experienced, the fulfilment of the dream actually began on this terrible day.

3) The fulfilment of the dream starts in the darkest day.
The end of the chapter shows us Joseph being sold to Potiphar, the chief member of Pharaoh’s personal guard. This must have seemed a dark day to Joseph, but actually this was the unfurling of the dream’s fulfilment. God often has to bring us to the end of ourselves for us to realise that the dreams He gives will only be fulfilled in His way and in His time as a result of His supernatural actions. Hebrews 11:1 TNIV reminds us that faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. Alan Scott says ‘breakthrough comes when our hearts are breaking.’ In this dark time, God was still very much at work in Joseph’s life, though he may well have felt abandoned and deserted. As Kutless remind us, ‘life is so much more than what our eyes are seeing.’ (‘What Faith Can Do’) We have to be confident that nothing will thwart God’s plans for our lives and sure that even when we cannot trace His hand, He is still working all things together for good (Rom 8:28 TNIV).

4) God revitalises our dreams
This chapter shows us how God spoke more than once to Joseph. The form of the dream may have been different, but essentially, it was the same dream. God adds to the dream and encourages and envisions us. Our part is to keep on believing and to hold on to the dream!