Summary: Don’t let anything stop you from pursuing your God-given dreams, not rejection nor reversals, because in God’s sovereignty, our setbacks are but stepping stones to success.
Before I get into my message today, I want you to pick a number, any number. Did you pick a number larger than a million? If not, then, why didn't you?
In 1998, Larry Page and Sergey Brin picked the number one followed by 100 zeroes while they were still graduate students at Stanford University. That number in mathematical terms is called a googol, and that became the name of their new enterprise. Today, Google operates the largest search engine in the world with internet users performing hundreds of millions searches a day.
Jim Reese, former chief operations engineer of Google, said this about Brin and Page: “It takes a lot of confidence and courage to go ahead and do that [i.e., to be that big]. It's rare to find people who think on such a grand scale and are able to create a great product at the same time.” (FreshMinistry.org, 11-5-02; www. PreachingToday.com)
Google’s founders were dreamers, and that’s what it takes to accomplish great things. It takes a great dream to do great things, and that’s true not only in business but also in the ministry to which God has called all of us.
Before Jesus ascended into heaven He told his followers, “Go and make disciples of ALL nations” (Matthew 28:19). That was a big dream especially when there were only eleven disciples to start with. And that’s still Christ’s dream for every church, because Jesus promised to be with us in that task “until the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).
The question is: How do we fulfill this big, God-given dream right here in Rice County? How do we accomplish the vision Christ Himself gave us nearly 2,000 years ago? How do we do great things with the great dream Jesus has presented to us? Well, if you have your Bibles, I invite you to turn with me to Genesis 37, Genesis 37, where we learn some lessons from the life of Joseph about seeing great dreams come true.
Genesis 37:1-2 Jacob lived in the land of his father’s sojournings, in the land of Canaan. These are the generations of Jacob. Joseph, being seventeen years old, was pasturing the flock with his brothers. He was a boy with the sons of Bilhah and Zilpah, his father’s wives. And Joseph brought a bad report of them to their father. (ESV)
Joseph, their little brother, was probably an obnoxious tattle-tale at this point in his life, no doubt because he was his father’s favorite.
Genesis 37:3 Now Israel loved Joseph more than any other of his sons, because he was the son of his old age. And he made him a robe of many colors. (ESV)
Literally, he made him a tunic of palm or sole. In other words, Israel made Joseph a tunic which reached to the palms of his hands and the soles of his feet. It was a full length undergarment, which in Joseph’s day was worn by only two people in the tribe. It was worn by the head of the tribe AND his designated heir.
Genesis 37:4 But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him and could not speak peacefully to him. (ESV)
Literally, they could not say “shalom” to him – the common greeting of the day. They were so angry that their dad had chosen Joseph to be the primary heir, they couldn’t even say “hello” to him.
Genesis 37:5-8 Now Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers they hated him even more. He said to them, “Hear this dream that I have dreamed: Behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and behold, my sheaf arose and stood upright. And behold, your sheaves gathered around it and bowed down to my sheaf.” His brothers said to him, “Are you indeed to reign over us? Or are you indeed to rule over us?” So they hated him even more for his dreams and for his words. (ESV)
They hated him all the more, because not only had their father elevated Joseph to a high status in the tribe, it seemed that God himself was going to elevate Joseph, as well.
Genesis 37:9-10 Then he dreamed another dream and told it to his brothers and said, “Behold, I have dreamed another dream. Behold, the sun, the moon, and eleven stars were bowing down to me.” But when he told it to his father and to his brothers, his father rebuked him and said to him, “What is this dream that you have dreamed? Shall I and your mother and your brothers indeed come to bow ourselves to the ground before you?” (ESV)
This time, the dream indicated that his whole family would one day bow down to him: the sun and moon representing his father and mother; and the eleven stars representing his eleven brothers.