Summary: God’s providence often involves God bringing people into our lives to test us, to bless us, or to develop us.
1. After she woke up, a woman told her husband, “I just dreamed that you gave me a pearl necklace for our anniversary. What do you think it means?”
“You’ll know tonight.” he said.
That evening, the man came home with a small package and gave it to his wife.
Delighted, she opened it to find a book entitled “The Meaning of Dreams.”
2. Dreams are strange things. We normally dream every night, but rarely remember our dreams. Some are nightmares, others are pleasant. Some could be made into movies.
3. In the Bible, God, on occasion, sent unusually vivid dreams to accomplish His will. This is happening today in the Muslim world. Darren Carlson of the The Gospel Coalition writes:
“In 2007, Dudley Woodberry and others published a study that recounted interviews with 750 former Muslims who had converted to evangelical Christianity. Many of the reasons they gave for their conversion would be expected—the love of God, a changing view of the Bible, and an attraction to Christians who loved others. But one reason might come as a surprise: the experience of a dream they believed to be from God.
“These study results aren’t isolated. Mission Frontiers magazine has reported that out of 600 Muslim converts, 25 percent experienced a dream that led to their conversion. The great missionary Lillias Trotter also reported dreams that drove Muslims to Christ…”
4. God providientially worked through dreams nearly 4,000 years ago in the life of Joseph.
Main Idea: God’s providence often involves God bringing people into our lives to test us, to bless us, or to develop us.
I. Joseph Tried to Help His Companions in Prison, Seemingly to No AVAIL (1-23).
A. The cupbearer and baker were IMPRISONED with Joseph (1-4).
• Many believe that there had been an attempt to poison the Pharaoh and these two men had been charged and thrown in prison.
B. The cupbearer and baker experience some disturbing DREAMS (5-8).
1. Joseph offered to interpret these dreams.
2. In the middle east – even today – dreams are considered signs.
3. Muslims are having dreams of Jesus in great number, esp. Iran.
4. God does not normally reveal Himself in dreams, because we have the Word.
5. These dreams must have been different from all others.
6. God had given him a special gift.
C. The cupbearer shared his dream and Joseph INTERPRETED it favorably (9-15).
1. A vine w/ 3 branches. He took grapes & crushed them into Pharaoh’s cup & gave it
2. Interpretation: you will be restored in 3 days
3. Joseph asks for a return favor: remember me to the Pharaoh.
4. They both shared being falsely accused, a victim of circumstances.
D. The baker shared HIS dream and Joseph interpreted unfavorably (16-19).
1. He was hesitant to share his dream, but emboldened by Joseph’s favorable interpretation of the cup bearer’s dream.
2. The baker dreamt that he had three baskets on his head, filled with bakery for the Pharaoh. But birds descended and began eating the baked goods from the basket.
3. Interpretation: Hanged in 3 days, and then birds of prey would eat your flesh.
E. The third day was Pharaoh’s birthday, and he reinstituted the cupbearer and had the baker HANGED (20-22).
F. But the cupbearer soon FORGOT Joseph (23)!
II. God’s Providence Operates in Our Lives in INTRICATE Ways, Often Via People He Brings Our Way.
A. Does this teach us that whatever comes our way is God’s will? NO.
1. Satan can bring people your way.
2. People may just come your way for no theological reason.
3. Que Sera Sera makes a good Doris Day song, but its theology is questionable.
• Just because an opportunity presents itself does not mean it is God’s will.
4. God’s will never contradicts His Word.
5. We should generally make decisions based upon godly wisdom – how will this affect my walk with God, my testimony, does it make sense? Things like faithfulness, balance, etc.
B. God’s plans are often intricate and INDIRECT.
1. All our lives are like Joseph’s, in some ways: cause and effect.
2. The game “mouse trap’ is a good comparison as to how God works in your life.
3. If I hadn’t been saved, I would never have gone to Cicero Bible Church. If a young man named Norman hadn’t been saved, I would not have met him at Cicero Bible Church. If Norman hadn’t enrolled at Northern Illinois University and participated in Campus Crusade for Christ, I would never have met Marylu. And had I not met Marylu, I would not be the father of Hannah and Luke.
4. The saying, “God moves in mysterious ways” is not found in the Bible, but the concept is.
C. Usually we are not at the center, but used of God to BLESS others.