VISION: 4 Keys to Realizing God’s Vision for Your Life
Genesis 37: 1-11
Last week we talked about the importance of living a self-evaluated life and why it’s so important to our growth. Today we look at the first self-assessment in our Elevate series: VISION.
Read through Genesis 37:1-11. I love what Joseph teaches us here. He had a dream, a vision, and in reading through this part of scripture, it led me to the question: “Am I living out the dream/vision God has for my life?” What is God’s vision for my life, my marriage, my kids, my education, career, finances, relationships, faith?
Joseph was a normal kid, only about age 17, carrying out his duties in the family business. He was the youngest of 12 brothers and his brothers didn’t like him, but his father sure did. Joseph was the favored son – and everyone knew it. He was given a beautiful robe by his father (the fabled “coat of many colors”) which made the favoritism even more conspicuous. To top it off, this “kid brother” began having dreams and visions that showed him ruling over his older brothers. And as if having these dreams wasn’t bad enough, he actually told his family about the dreams! Of course, they didn’t like it; any of it. There was a growing sentiment of jealousy, animosity and even outright hatred rising up in the family. Although they thought about killing him, his brothers eventually sold him into slavery. Almost unbelievably, that didn’t stop Joseph; it didn’t deter him. He had a dream – and what’s profound to me is that he lived his life in such a way that he could realize the dream. This was no ordinary dream; it was a God dream, and Joseph lived in pursuit of that dream, day-by-day, building toward God’s ideal for his life.
Jeremiah 29:11 says, “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.” The Bible is full of God’s dreams for us so let’s explore a little of this idea of VISION.
4 KEYS TO REALIZING GOD’S VISION FOR YOUR LIFE
1. DARE TO DREAM
Joseph dared to dream (verse 5). How about you? What is your dream? If your answer sounded something like, “Well I don’t know where to start” then I encourage you to start with God’s Word. The foundation is there in the Bible. He has already told you his dream for your life. His plan for you is to give you “a hope and a future” in the areas of your:
So start with what God has already given us in His Bible and then go from there.
Why is it we don’t dream? I’ve identified nine dream killers, some of which may sound familiar:
- I’m too “young” — There is no such thing. Now is the time. God wants to use you! Joseph was only 17; David was practically a child; Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego were teenagers; think of the young boy’s lunch that Jesus used to feed the 5,000. You’re not too young! Jesus loves children – so dare to dream.
- I’m too “old” — Never stop dreaming. Abraham was 100 and Sarah was 90 when Isaac was born. In God’s timeline, there’s no such thing as “too old.”
- I’m “too much of a failure” — Says who? Failure is not fatal and our miscues are not final. Run through the finish line for God. He’s not after perfection, He’s after obedience.
- I’m too “new to God” — So were the disciples. So was Paul. And they impacted the whole world! God sees your “newness” as a strength.
- I’m too “tired” — Ask God to give you strength – and don’t give up!
- I’m too “insignificant” — Really? Jesus died for you as if you were the only person who has ever lived. You are going to have a hard time convincing me, or, more importantly, the Lord, that you are anything short of HUGE in God’s eyes.
- I’m too “encumbered by problems” — Well then Joseph is the perfect fellow to follow. Smith Wigglesworth said it pretty well: “Great triumphs can only come out of great trials.”
- I’m too “hurt by others” — Joseph gets it. So does Jesus. Hurt is hard, but we must forgive. Don’t let resentment ruin you.
- I’m too “not where I thought I’d be” — If your life hasn’t turned out how you thought it would, then you are right in line with Bible greats like Joseph, Daniel, Esther, Ruth and Nehemiah, to name a few.
God has a plan, a purpose, a dream and a vision for your life, so make the rest of your life the best of your life! Hellen Keller said, “The most pathetic person in the world is someone who has sight, but has no vision.” Dare to dream! Ask God to give you a God-sized dream/vision – for your faith, marriage, kids, finances, character, etc. Start with the Bible and let God grow your dream/vision from there.
2. DEFINE THE DREAM
Joseph defined his dream. In verse 10 he basically says, “I’m going to save my family and nation.” How about you? Here are 3 ways we can add definition to what God is calling us to do and be is to:
- DATE IT: If your dream is, “God I’m going to spend more time with my kids, become debt free, go to church each week, serve others, grow my faith, go back to school.” Then date it and say, “And I’m going to start on 10/1/18.”
- DETAIL IT: If your dream is, “I want to grow in my faith.” Then detail the steps necessary. Say, “God, I give my life to You. Now I’m going to take the Next Steps class, be Water Baptized, join a LifeGroup, or serve in a ministry.” Want to get debt free? Create a budget and stick to it. Put God first and give, attend our Financial Peace University class in January, create an emergency fund, etc. Looking to strengthen your marriage and grow great kids? Give it some thought and ask God to guide your thoughts – and plans – and get after it!
- DEADLINE IT: Don’t be vague; be specific. “I will be debt free by 11/30/2019 if I follow my detailed game plan above.” Raising awesome kids, having a great marriage, things like that are never done and always have to be in focus, so get plugged into classes and programs that are constantly helping you grow.
- And let me add a 4th D: DAILY DEVOTION IT: Spend time every day in personal prayer and in the Word. Be intentional about praying over and focusing on God’s dream for your life and your game plan to live it out in obedience.
Henry David Thoreau said, “In the long run men hit only what they aim at” so date it, detail it and deadline it.
3. DECLARE THE DREAM
In verses 5-10 we see that Joseph declared and shared his dream with his brothers and father. Now while it would be fair to talk about who to share your dream with and how to share it, there is definitely value in communicating your dream to others. It is important to have people around us that will help spur us on and root us on toward victory. What does your support system look like? Gather folks around you. Get into a LifeGroup. I think there is a process to building our faith and realizing our dreams that we see in Scripture and in life, and Joseph illustrates it here: Care > Share > Declare.
- In many cases, if I care deeply about something and am willing to share it with others it becomes a declaration – or manifesto – that I’m willing to give my life for, or at least live my life for. And telling others about it will help hold me to it.
- Joseph was willing to go all in on his vision/dream. He believed it was from God therefore he cared deeply about it, even though he wasn’t sure how it would all work out. He shared it with his family because it was bubbling up from deep within him and it became his mission statement for life. Like the Declaration of Independence signed by 56 men who were willing to give their life for the dream, Joseph was willing to give – and live – his life for His God-dream.
Surrounding yourself with good people is important. Joseph didn’t have a strong encouragement team or support system around him. Get some good folks around you that you can declare your dreams to, people who will encourage you to evaluate/emulate/elevate – and then run hard after your God-given dreams.
George Washington had a dream: Freedom. On December 25, 1776, he led his troops across the Delaware in a surprise attack on the British and Hessians troops in Trenton, New Jersey, turning the Revolutionary War back to the favor of the colonial Americans. His army was untrained, under resourced, outmanned and outgunned; many of them had no shoes and they all had little food, inferior weaponry, and inferior officership. But George Washington boldly (and famously) wrote: “Victory or death.” Now that’s what I call a declaration! Like Joseph’s story, there are a few things about vision that stand out to me from George Washington’s story:
- HAVE A BOLD VISION. Define it. Declare it. Be willing to die for it – or at least live for it. George Washington declared, “Victory or death.” He was chasing after freedom against all odds.
- DON’T STOP MOVING TOWARD THE VISION. Joseph kept moving, day by day, and he built a life of trusting God and fulfilling God’s purposes for his life. An interesting side note on the march to Trenton — two soldiers stopped to rest along the march, and they froze to death. So don’t stop! Keep moving toward what God has called you to.
- DON’T GET DISTRACTED. The British officer in charge on the day of the attack, Colonel Rall, was handed a note by a shivering loyalist, but he tucked it away in his pocket and didn’t read it. He didn’t want the Christmas celebration with his troops to be disturbed. Once the attack began, Rall jumped on his horse and ran into the fray and was critically wounded. As he lay dying in the hospital, having been dragged from the battlefield, he finally read the note that had been tucked in his pocket. It read, “The American Army is marching on Trenton.” For us, sin, compromise, a lack of focus, laziness, callousness, disobedience, resentment, discouragement can all distract us, and the costs can be immense.
4. DEFEND THE DREAM
Joseph’s example here is amazingly powerful. Think of whatever dream/vision you are contemplating in your life right now, whether it involves your career, education, faith, ministry, marriage, kids, family, relationships, integrity, character, godliness.
Now consider Joseph.
Joseph stayed the course when he could have crashed and burned. He fulfilled God’s dream for his life, even though he had to defend the dream along the way. So here’s my question for you: What is God’s dream for you and how much do think the enemy would like to steal and destroy that dream? Now, how are you going to live to defend that dream?
As I look at Joseph and where we’re headed in our study of his incredible life of faith and character, here’s what deeply inspires me as I seek to defend the dream God has placed deep in my spirit:
- Fight unbelief with faith. (Genesis 37:1-11)
- Overcome adversity with perseverance. (Genesis 37:12-36)
- Beat temptation with integrity. (Genesis 39)
- Resist resentment with forgiveness. (Genesis 40-41)
- Conquer self-absorption with influence. (Genesis 42-50)
As we leave the starting gate on this journey together, let’s pray, “God I want to embrace your dream for my life. I want to understand it clearly, share it boldly, and live my life to achieve your ideal for my life.” I hope you’re as excited and inspired about this journey as I am.