Tag Archives: dreams

In Search of Contentment, Pt. 2

The Apostle Paul was used of God to write down the Philippians 4:11-19 passage.  Included in this letter is part of the experience of Paul’s life.  Paul was a missionary during the early church years following the death and resurrection of Jesus.  Paul endured tremendous pressure to denounce Christ.  He was faced with criticism and intense persecution on a weekly, if not daily, basis.

Ironically, Paul, previously known as Saul, was present at the execution of the first Christian martyr, Stephen in Acts 6. From that moment, Saul became a persecutor of “The Way.”  His story is found in Acts and also in his New Testament letters.  Part of his story is in our text.

As a persecuted missionary traveling the world over, Paul endures great troubles – shipwrecks, beatings, imprisonment, public riots, angry courtrooms, and more.

From his example we can learn about contentment.

If this is where to find contentment in the Bible, then where can I find contentment in my daily life?   Are there practical steps to take that can lead to a life of contentment?

Yes!  Here they are:

  1. Find the Sufficiency of Jesus in You. (vs. 11-12)

Jesus is all we really need for life.  Outside of the true necessities for staying alive, what do we really need to grow, thrive, and go through life?

As Paul describes himself, notice the contrasts.

11 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.

12  I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.

  • Abased and Abound
  • Full and Hungry
  • Abound and Suffer Need

Paul goes as far as to say that “everywhere in everything” (all things) he chose to be content.  For a man rushed upon in riots, beaten, shipwrecked, and frequently jailed, that is an amazing statement.

Abasement and Abounding.

Abase means “to depress, humiliate, or bring low.” Paul knew the pain of being pressed down by the evil people of his day.  Nearly the entire society was against his teachings and way of life.  Sure, there were converts, and the world was “turned upside down” during the time of the Apostles but 10 Roman government waves of persecution against Christianity began soon after the Resurrection of Jesus.

Beginning with Nero (whom Paul witnessed to) and ending with Diocletian, millions of Christians, over a period of two centuries, were killed in unconscionable ways.

John Fox, in Fox’s Book of Martyrs, tells the story of Nero best:  “The first persecution of the Church took place in the year 67, under Nero, the sixth emperor of Rome. This monarch reigned for the space of five years, with tolerable credit to himself, but then gave way to the greatest extravagancy of temper, and to the most atrocious barbarities. Among other diabolical whims, he ordered that the city of Rome should be set on fire, which order was executed by his officers, guards, and servants. While the imperial city was in flames, he went up to the tower of Macaenas, played upon his harp, sung the song of the burning of Troy, and openly declared that ‘he wished the ruin of all things before his death.’ Besides the noble pile, called the Circus, many other palaces and houses were consumed; several thousands perished in the flames, were smothered in the smoke, or buried beneath the ruins.”  He continues:

“This dreadful conflagration continued nine days; when Nero, finding that his conduct was greatly blamed, and a severe odium cast upon him, determined to lay the whole upon the Christians, at once to excuse himself, and have an opportunity of glutting his sight with new cruelties. This was the occasion of the first persecution; and the barbarities exercised on the Christians were such as even excited the commiseration of the Romans themselves. Nero even refined upon cruelty, and contrived all manner of punishments for the Christians that the most infernal imagination could design. In particular, he had some sewed up in skins of wild beasts, and then worried by dogs until they expired; and others dressed in shirts made stiff with wax, fixed to axletrees, and set on fire in his gardens, in order to illuminate them. This persecution was general throughout the whole Roman Empire; but it rather increased than diminished the spirit of Christianity. In the course of it, St. Paul and St. Peter were martyred.”

With this as the back drop, Paul says Christians can be content.  Paul new what it was to be pressed against.  Every Christian who was persecuted in the first and second century learned about being abased the hard way.  With personal experience.

Abounding is the contrast to abasing.  Abounding means to “super abound, be in excess, overflow.”  In spite of the deflating pressure of persecution, Paul said he could abound.  He could still have a “good day” in the “worst of days.”  How is this possible?  It all goes back to the sufficiency of Christ.  Paul relied on Jesus alone to meet his material, physical, relational, and spiritual needs.

Full and Hungry.

Is it possible for a person to be physically hungry and yet content?  Many people get angry when they are hungry.  There is a new term for this: “Hangry!”  I have been hangry at times.  How about you? There were times when Paul, with limited resources and not much food, was hungry yet content with all the rest that God gave to him.

Abound and Suffer Need.

A man with one set of clothes, a single coat he left in prison one time, some parchments to write on, and a few books does not have that much.  In spite of the “lack of things,” Paul saw himself as having everything he needed for life.

Have you ever complained about not having “enough?”  Not enough money.  Not enough room.  Not enough things to do. Not enough. I have said things like that.  Be honest.  Did you say something to that effect in the last 7 days?

 

Please continue in the next posting, PART 3…

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When Dreams Come True

When Dreams Come True

“And Joseph dreamed a dream, and he told it his brethren: and they hated him yet the more.”  Genesis 37:5

 

“Dream Big Dreams!”

“Follow your dream.”

“Make your dream happen.”

The world philosophy says much about dreams today.

While the New Testament has several people who are given dreams, there is no evidence that God continues to give dreams today.  Then, the dreams were part of God’s special revelation, the Bible.  The dreams Joseph is given are revelation of the Lord.  Today we do not receive special revelation.  We have a completed Bible.

However, the Lord does burden our hearts.  We are convicted by the Spirit of God to action.  The Lord gives us “desires” that are informed by our Bible knowledge and yielding to His Holy Spirit.

For the Christian, the dream must be rooted in the Bible.  Following God leads to fulfilled dreams.

Don’t just follow a dream; follow the Maker of the dream. 

Here are 3 considerations on the way to seeing dreams come true.

 

The Path to the Dream Does Not Always Make Sense. 

The Lord may not take you straight to the conclusion of a dream.  When the dream came, Joseph saw his promotion and blessing, but he did not see his the problems he was to face.  On the way, he was enslaved (Gen. 39:1-6).  He was accused (Gen. 39:7-20).  He was imprisoned (Gen. 39:21-23).  And he was forgotten (Gen. 40:23).

Many “health and wealth” teachers fail to mention the heartache, suffering, and difficulty that followers of Jesus will truly face.  “Name it and claim it” did not work for Joseph.  He endured much suffering and the path he was on did not make sense.  Truly, Joseph was following God, not a dream.

 

The Hand of God Can Be Traced to the Dream’s Fulfillment. 

Arriving at the fulfillment of the dream is seldom a quick proposition.  For Joseph it took many years before the dream was fulfilled.  All that time, the hand of God was evident in his life.

The Lord prospers Joseph in spite of the circumstances and the lowly positions he held. Everything that Joseph touched was prospered.  The Lord also gave an opportunity for growth.  Joseph was not ready for the fulfillment of the dream until he endured the time and trouble he faced.

Sometimes the Lord allows problems in our lives to make us into the people He wants us to be.  If we never had any problems, why would we need God?

  • Sometimes problems come because of our sin. Genesis 3:17 says, “And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life.”
  • Sometimes problems come because of the sin of others. Daniel and Joseph are examples.
  • Sometimes the problem tempts us quit, but God can help. I Corinthians 10:13  states, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
  • Sometimes problems come to grow us. Such is the case with Joseph on his unlikely journey to become Prime Minister of Egypt.

The Lord oversees the dream.  God was the maker of the dream and He was the One who could bring it to pass!  Joseph was faithful, not to his dream, but to the maker of the dream.  Psalm 37:4 -5 teaches, “Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.”  We trust God with His will. 

 

The Equipping of God for the Ministry Enables the Dream. 

Joseph was equipped of God to declare God’s Word (Gen. 41:25-32).  When speaking to his brothers, the jailer, and the Pharaoh, he merely told them the Word of God.  His dream was from God and Joseph was living a life according to the Word of God.

Dreams can come from the world, our flesh, and the devil.  For example, Jeremiah 23:25-27 demonstrates that some believers forgot the Lord and chose to follow the dreams of Baal, a false god.

Or the dream can come from God.  The dreams Christians arrive at are realized because they are living the Word of God.  They are walking through life with the Maker of the dream.  The dreams God has for you are always rooted in the Bible.  God-given dreams are never in contradiction to the written Word of God.

Joseph was also equipped by the Lord to fulfill the will of God (Gen. 41:33-50).  The famine was prepared for.  An administrative brilliance is displayed.  A nation was spared.  Pharaoh takes his advice from the former slave and rejected brother.

The dream of the sheaves is fulfilled in Genesis chapters 43-44.  The dream of the 11 Stars, Sun and Moon bowing down takes place in Genesis chapter 46.  The dreams God gave did come true

Following God leads to fulfilled dreams.  Don’t just follow a dream; follow the Maker of the dream. 

In one interview, Tom Brady, quarterback of the New England Patriots, told 60 Minutes, “Why do I have three Super Bowl rings and still think there’s something greater out there for me? I mean, maybe a lot of people would say, ‘Hey man, this is what is.’ I reached my goal, my dream, my life. Me, I think, it’s got to be more than this. I mean this isn’t, this can’t be what it’s all cracked up to be.” “What’s the answer,” asked interviewer Steve Kroft. “I wish I knew,” Brady replied. “I wish I knew.””  (Ministry127)

When we follow our dreams instead of following the Maker of dreams, we will feel empty, unfulfilled, and will fall short of glorifying the Lord.  Ask yourself these reflective questions:

  1. Am I following my dream or the Maker of the dream?
  2. Will I be faithful to truth when the tough times come?
  3. Will I grow spiritually through the circumstances?