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Period Of Preparation

“One time Joseph had a dream, and when he told his brothers about it, they hated him even more.”

‭‭Genesis‬ ‭37:5‬ ‭GNT‬‬

Joseph is one of those people in the Bible that no matter how many times I read his story, I always learn more. He was disliked by his own brothers, sold as a slave, lied about, put in prison, I pressed the pharaoh, got promoted to second in command and saved his family. One of the catalysts for this series of events in his life was a dream that God gave him. I’m sure he was excited about what God showed him and he just wanted to share it.

Has that ever happened to you? It has to me. God gave me a vision of the ministry He was calling me to. At first I was terrified and ran from it. When I finally embraced it and gave in, things began happening quickly in my life. People of influence in my life asked what was going on. When I shared with them what was happening, they said, “Well, don’t get too carried away. I don’t know that God will keep doing it like that. Slow down and be patient.” Just like that, the air was let out of my ballon. I lost my momentum and faith in what God called me to.

Another friend recently asked about my calling. After a few minutes of beating around the bush, i finally told him. His response was, “A calling like that requires preparation and that’s what God is doing right now in your life.” It breathed new life into me. Just like Joseph had to go through these years of slavery and imprisonment to prepare him to fulfill the dream God gave him, you and I have to go through preparations too.

If you feel like God has forgotten the dream He gave you or you shared that dream and were made fun of, keep holding on. God isn’t finished working out His plan in your life. It’s not too late. You’re not too far gone. Just like blowing on some embers can rekindle a fire, God can easily move in your life and complete that which He called you to. Look at this time as your period of preparation. It may feel like you’ve been forgotten in a prison in Egypt, but God is placing you where He needs you and giving you the tools to be successful.

Photo by Chase Lewis on Unsplash

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Missing Abilities

Write down clearly on tablets what I reveal to you, so that it can be read at a glance. Put it in writing, because it is not yet time for it to come true. But the time is coming quickly, and what I show you will come true. It may seem slow in coming, but wait for it; it will certainly take place, and it will not be delayed.

Habakkuk 2:2-3 (GNT)

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Dreams And Visions

  
I believe God puts dreams, visions, and plans inside each of us. It’s an amazing feeling when they become a reality. There is a sense of accomplishment and gratitude that comes along with it. What I’ve found is that the more we expect our dreams, visions, and plans to happen, the more likely they will. Our expectations and beliefs drive our actions until we see success.

Sometimes, those dreams, visions, and plans don’t happen. In those times, it’s easy to get discouraged and to lower our expectations and believe that they can’t happen. Below are some verses that have helped me in those times. They have reminded me that my dreams come from God, and it is He who will accomplish them. They also remind me that I can’t do it on my own. I have to get other people involved. The dreams, visions, and plans God gives are rarely just for us. He expects us to share them and use them for His glory.

1. At night when people are asleep, God speaks in dreams and visions.

Job 33:15 GNB

2. And afterward I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions.

Joel 2:28 AMP

3. Now to Him Who, by (in consequence of) the [action of His] power that is at work within us, is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly, far over and above all that we [dare] ask or think [infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes, or dreams].

Ephesians 3:20 AMP

4. For a dream comes with much business and painful effort, and a fool’s voice with many words.

Ecclesiastes 5:3 AMP

5. It is pleasant to see dreams come true, but fools refuse to turn from evil to attain them.

Proverbs 13:19 NLT

6. And the Lord answered me and said, Write the vision and engrave it so plainly upon tablets that everyone who passes may [be able to] read [it easily and quickly] as he hastens by. For the vision is yet for an appointed time and it hastens to the end [fulfillment]; it will not deceive or disappoint. Though it tarry, wait [earnestly] for it, because it will surely come; it will not be behindhand on its appointed day.

Habakkuk 2:2-3 AMP

7. Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.

Proverbs 29:18 KJV

8. The plans of the godly are just; the advice of the wicked is treacherous.

Proverbs 12:5 NLT

9. Refuse good advice and watch your plans fail; take good counsel and watch them succeed.

Proverbs 15:22 MSG

10. May he give you what you desire and make all your plans succeed.

Psalms 20:4 GNB

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Knowing Without Believing

A friend of mine recently posted a quote from A. W. Tozer that resonated with me. He said, “Anything God has ever done, He can do now. Anything God has ever done anywhere, He can do here. Anything God has ever done for anyone, He can do for you.” To me, that’s powerful. It’s something I know, but don’t always believe. The Bible says that God is the same yesterday, today and forever. That’s the scripture which Tozer based this on.

Think of all the amazing things God has ever done. You’ve probably read about them in the Bible. He still has that same power and ability today. Think of the testimonies you’ve heard from all over the world of what God is doing. He can do those same things right where you and I are. He can make a way where there is no way. He can part the seas that stand in your way. It takes faith to believe it and to see it.

What God has done for any individual in the Bible, He can do for me and you. If you need healing, it’s there for you. Reach out and touch the hem of His garment. If you need a miracle, He wants to do it for you. What Jesus did in the Gospels was not limited to that time period. He has the same power and the same ability today as He did then. It’s our faith that’s lacking.

Somehow we’ve let our knowledge trump our faith. We’ve allowed our intellect to allow us to believe in God, but not in miracles anymore. Faith is beyond knowing. Its about trusting God to do what only He can do. Hebrews 11:1 says, “Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen.” We all hope that God will move in our lives, bring healing and intervene in our circumstances. We’re just not that confidant.

How do we get that confidence? I believe it starts with reading the stories of people in the Bible whom God intervened in their lives. I believe it continues with hearing stories of people today whom God is performing miracles for. Then I believe it continues with asking and believing God to do it for me. I have to trust and have confidence that He will do it and that He wants to. I have to act like I believe it. I can just know that He can do it.

What are you needing God to do for you today? Do you know He can do that for you? Or do you believe that He can do that for you? What He has done for anyone in history, He can do for you today. He has not changed and will not change. When Jesus left, He said we would do greater things than He did. Is that a scripture we read or is that something we believe and have confidence in? It’s time to move beyond our knowledge of what God can do and move into faith of what God will do.

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God Ideas

Tonight my church will host one of my favorite event that we do. We will have an outreach for the youth of our community that will draw hundreds of kids to the church. We will feed them, give away door prizes, an iPad mini and a car. The kids at the church get excited about the event and invite their friends from school. It presents them an opportunity to share their faith and to invite someone to church who they might otherwise not invite.

This event started a few years ago when our youth pastor was praying. He was seeking God on a way to impact more youth than he thought possible. While praying, he said out loud, “God, I’m going to give away a car!” After saying the words, he thought, “How am I going to get a car to give away?” He recognized it as a God idea and began to ask God to provide. He knew that God ideas require faith beyond our ability.

God took him to Habakkuk 2:2 that says, “Write the vision and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it.” So he wrote letters to several dealerships telling them his vision of giving away a car so that many kids who wouldn’t normally go to church would come and he would have the opportunity to share Jesus with them. A local used car dealer responded and gave him a car.

It wasn’t long before a more prominent dealership responded and said that’d love to help. They said, “As long as you hold this event, we’ll give you a car to give away.” They had caught the vision and have supplied the need for several years now. It’s amazing to see how many kids this brings into our church and gives us the opportunity to plant seeds, water seeds and harvest them. It all started with a vision and a God idea.

What idea has God placed in your heart? Are you struggling while trying to figure out how to accomplish it? Let me save you some time, you can’t. If its a God idea, it will take supernatural provisioning to accomplish it. Write the vision down. Let others know about it. What God births in you is accomplished through others. He needs visionaries, dreamers, planners, financiers and doers. It takes all of us working together to bring about his plans.

Have you figured out what part of God’s plan you are? If you’re the dreamer or the vision caster, write it down so that it’s plain to others. If you’re a planner, sync up with a dreamer or a vision caster to help them create a plan for others to follow. If you’re able to help finance, ask God where He’d like you to invest in His kingdom. If you’re a doer, look around you and see where you can put your skills to use. Each of us play a part in building the kingdom. We just have to learn to work together.

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Foggy Vision

It’s often foggy when I drive to work in the mornings. It gets so thick I can hardly see very far in front of me. I know where I’m headed, but the exits and interchanges are difficult to see in the fog. I typically have to drive slower on days like that to make sure I don’t wreck or miss an exit. As the sun comes up, the fog begins to dissipate and my vision becomes clearer.

I think it’s a lot like that for most of us when it comes to God’s plan and vision for our life. We might know where God has us going in this life, but we can’t see very far into the future. When we look down the road of our life, all we see is cloudiness and very few street signs. It’s hard to know which way to go, where to turn or when to brake. Others pass us as if the fog doesn’t exist. Are they being careless or is their vision somehow more clear than our own?

I know personally how difficult it is to not be able to see very far ahead. I know I’m heading in the direction that God told me to go. I don’t want to end up like the Israelites where I’m wandering in the desert for 40 years. I want to know where the Jordan river in my life is and make my way to it. I want to be camped on its banks when God says, “It’s ok to cross it now. I have dammed the river up and you can cross on dry ground.”

There are choices we can make when dealing with the inability to see very far ahead in our lives. The first choice is to be frozen by fear of the unknown and to stay where we are. I’ve always heard people say, “If you aren’t moving forward, you’re moving backward.” The longer it takes me to move forward, the longer it will be until we get to where He wants us. What if Abraham had waited around when God said, “Go to the land that I will show you”? What would have happened if he had stayed where he was until God showed him where he wanted to go?

God simply said, “Go.” God can correct our direction and movement, but only if we’re moving. He can’t change our course if we are sitting around. That brings us to our next choice. We can move in the fog and deal with the limited sight distance. I’ve noticed that when I move forward in a fog, I can see a little further than I could from where I was. Each step forward reveals things I had not seen before. I begin to see the signs I couldn’t see before. Moving forward in faith reveals more of God’s plan.

The more time I spend with God, the more I allow His light to shine in my life. If I lift up the Son in all I do, I’ve found that my focus changes from the fog to pleasing Him. The fog is lifted because my faith has grown and my vision improves. I begin to see further down the road than I had. Jeremiah 29:11 tells us that God has plans for us. They are good plans and we need to trust Him one step at a time. He will reveal those plans for us as we move closer to Him and in the direction He is sending us.

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Chopping Trees

I’m reading “Greater” by Steven Furtick right now. I’m only a few chapters in, but already I am being challenged. The premise of the book is to dream big, start small. I’ve had no problem dreaming. It’s the starting that is the problem. When you have a big dream, it’s natural to think you have to start big. In reality, you have to do the little things first.

Noah was called to build a big boat. His small start was chopping down the first tree. Think about that. He didn’t have a Home Depot to go to in order to buy the lumber he needed. He had to chop down trees, form them into lumber and then build the boat. That’s a lot of work. I think that my problem, as well as others, is that when God gives us a dream, we think He’s going to do everything and we forget we have to work towards that dream.

God plants the design and the desire in us, but we are the ones who have to walk by faith to make it happen. We have to chop down the trees and build what God has planted in us so that when the time comes for us to do what He called us to do, we’re ready. If Noah had waited until he saw a storm cloud to chop down the first tree, it would have been too late. The time to build an ark is while it’s sunny, not when the storm clouds are on the horizon.

It took Noah 120 years to build the ark. None of us have that kind of time, but it shows that just because God plants a dream in us, it doesn’t mean it’s going to happen overnight. We may have to chop trees for a while. We may even cut down an entire forest before that dream becomes a reality. In that time of preparation is when our faith is tested. Thoughts like “Did I really hear from God” and “What if I do all of this and nothing comes from it” pop in our head to challenge us and cause doubt.

It’s in the chopping of trees that our faith grows. It’s believing God when we can’t see ourselves getting closer to the dream. Faith is knowing we heard from God and continuing to work towards that dream even though we can’t see how it will ever happen. Hebrews 11:1 says, “Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.”

If I could see the entire road and how it would happen, it wouldn’t be faith. Faith is about believing God when all I see are trees. It’s about putting it all out there and trusting God with everything. Others may laugh, ridicule or even stand in your way, but you have to keep building. You have to keep chopping. You have to keep trusting so that when the time comes for the fulfillment of your dream, you’re ready.

Noah could have dreamed about the ark for 120 years and then prayed for a miracle once the storm clouds started rolling in. Thank God he didn’t. He would have been in disobedience if he had only dreamed and never picked up an ax. Because he took small steps toward his dream, his family and the animals were saved. There’s no telling how many will be saved by your obedience. You’ll never know unless you start chopping.

What dream has God placed in you? What trees do you need to start chopping?

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