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, chief operations engineer of Google, says 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 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 on Washington Island? 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?
Genesis 37:1-2 Jacob lived in the land where his father had stayed, the land of Canaan. This is the account of Jacob. Joseph, a young man of seventeen, was tending the flocks with his brothers, the sons of Bilhah and the sons of Zilpah, his father’s wives, and he brought their father a bad report about them. (NIV)
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 of his other sons, because he had been born to him in his old age; and he made a richly ornamented robe for him. (NIV)
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 When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him. (NIV)
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 Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more. He said to them, “Listen to this dream I had: We were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it.” His brothers said to him, “Do you intend to reign over us? Will you actually rule us?” And they hated him all the more because of his dream and what he had said. (NIV)
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 had another dream, and he told it to his brothers. “Listen,” he said, “I had another dream, and this time the sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me.” When he told his father as well as his brothers, his father rebuked him and said, “What is this dream you had? Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow down to the ground before you?” (NIV)
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.