I Have Dreamed a Dream

Joseph & Brothers • Devotion #2: I Have Dreamed a Dream
Kenny Hovis | Prison Ministry Director

Growing up, I spooked easily. I did not like going out in the dark or walking into the house at night with the lights out. I would have wild nightmares, seeing little guys in top hats flying around my room, slamming into my leg, causing it to go numb. Dreams have been used throughout history to tell the future, bring enlightenment to situations, and remember things that happened in our past. Though I have never had God speak to me directly through a dream, I have had a couple instances where in my dreamtime as an adult, I have been challenged spiritually.

Both occurrences involved me in a physical altercation with demons. I had not watched a scary movie, used an Ouija board, or went to a fortune teller. I just went to bed, fell asleep, and the only thing I can remember was literally wrestling with a demon, and on both occasions losing until crying out Jesus’ name. The dreams seemed, as all dreams while in them, real. So much so, that the sounds that I was making scared my wife enough that she started to wake me both times, but I woke up on my own just before being shook. I was sweating and breathing heavy as though I had been in an actual physical confrontation. As I said, dreams can seem very real.

In Genesis 37:5-11, we find Joseph having two dreams, both seeming very real, and then him sharing those dreams with his family. In both instances, Joseph’s dreams foretell him ruling over his family. Verse 7 says, “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.” Then again in vs. 9, “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.’” As a result of him telling his siblings and parents his dreams, he is hated and despised by his brothers, and they plot to get rid of him. This sets Joseph on a path that will try his faith in God, people, and government. In the end, God weaves His divine will through Joseph and his family’s lives to make his dreams come to pass, which in turn saves his family’s lives.

Though I am no Joseph, I too have had a couple dreams of a similar nature. This is what I have gleaned from them. We battle every day with an adversary that wants to get rid of us, destroy us, and see us doubt whether God loves us or even knows that we exist. The Bible says in Job 16:9, “He has torn me in his wrath and hated me; he has gnashed his teeth at me; my adversary sharpens his eyes against me.” Also, 1 Peter 5:8 says, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” Our adversary, the devil, wants to influence us to make choices that will burn our world to the ground, divide our families, and cause confusion. This is where he thrives and dwells. We cannot conquer him on our own, just like in my dreams. Only by invoking the name of Jesus into our lives, in every situation, challenge, tragedy, venture, ministry, or relationship do we have a chance to defeat him.

Just as in the case of Joseph, we cannot trust in our own power to overcome our adversary and the obstacles he places in front of us. We will only gain victory in our lives when we invoke the name of God the Father, Jesus Christ’s work at Calvary, and the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit into every aspect of our existence. When this formula is used, God will weave His divine will through our lives so that our dreams may come to pass and that our eternal lives will be saved!

Joseph as Dad’s Favorite

Joseph & Brothers • Devotion #1: Joseph as Dad’s Favorite
Wes McCullough | Production Director

“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. 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.” Genesis 37:3-4

Favoritism seems to be a genetic problem for this family. Isaac favored Esau while Rebekah favored Jacob. Of his wives, Jacob favored Rachel over her sister, Leah. Of his sons, Jacob favored Joseph. The case can be made that Rachel, being the love of Jacob’s heart, was his “first” wife while he actually married Leah first. Joseph, as Rachel’s firstborn and coming in Jacob’s old age, would definitely have a special place in his father’s heart.

I can definitely say I am my father’s favorite son, primarily because he only had one. However, when my sisters married, I noticed a certain change. My parents welcomed my sisters’ husbands into the family with the same love they had for me.

I have also seen them love my wife as their own daughter. My parents’ attitude and actions make me proud and have been an example to follow in all my family relations.

There are several lessons we can learn from this story. 1 John 2:9 says, “Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness.” Matthew 5:23-25 provides some directions for such a situation, “So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison.”

 Furthermore, 1 John 3:15 says, “Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.” At the root of it all is hate which Proverbs 10:12 addresses, “Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses.” Hate will lead to other sins. It will cause you to become someone you are not and do things you are against. Combat hate with forgiveness and love. Jesus taught us to love and forgive, and we would do well to honor those instructions.

Twelve Tribes 

Leah & Rachel • Devotion #6: Twelve Tribes
James Clouse | Student Pastor

Have you ever been put in a position where God was able to use your own sinful behavior for His good? God has to remind me all the time that my own sin can cause disastrous consequences, but it is also amazing to see the ways that God has used my past sins and the sins of those around me to help me grow.

Genesis 35:22-26 says, “While Israel lived in that land, Reuben went and lay with Bilhah his father’s concubine. And Israel heard of it. Now the sons of Jacob were twelve. The sons of Leah: Reuben (Jacob’s firstborn), Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun. The sons of Rachel: Joseph and Benjamin. The sons of Bilhah, Rachel’s servant: Dan and Naphtali. The sons of Zilpah, Leah’s servant: Gad and Asher. These were the sons of Jacob who were born to him in Paddan-aram.”

God did not intend for Jacob to sin against his family and run away. God did not intend for Jacob to work for Laban and have his father-in-law trick him to sleep with the wrong daughter. Jacob’s past is full of sin, as is all of ours. But we see an amazing thing happen with all the children that Jacob had with both Leah and Rachel. Yet, we see the birth of the twelve tribes of Israel. 

The first three children will not receive their own tribe because of the sin in their lives, but the rest of Jacob’s, or Israel’s, children will see flourishing tribes come forth. Here we see the amazing power of redemption. God has used the sin of Jacob, the sins of those around him, and the sins of his children to create twelve tribes that will go on to create kingdoms. God has redeemed Jacob and his family to create and to fulfill His promises. 

In our own lives, we see this amazing redemption through the power of Jesus Christ. Christ has redeemed us with His blood. So when we come before our Father with our sins, we are sanctified through the amazing power of Christ’s redeeming blood. This does not mean that we will not be punished or see the consequences of the sins in our lives, but rather God can use those sins to either help us grow or to help others around us. 

The next time that you sin, which will happen, come before the Father and ask for forgiveness. Ask God to have Him use that sin to help you grow in your walk with Him. Ask the Father how you can now move on with your life to help others away from that sin. If you have dealt with alcohol abuse, come before God and ask for forgiveness and let Him use that sin to help others. The same goes for other sins that others around us struggle.

What is in a Name?

Leah & Rachel • Devotion #5: What is in a Name?
Richie Henson | Production Director

I was given the name Richard after my grandfather on my mother’s side. My name means “strong leader or ruler,”and I can tell you, this fact has had zero bearing on my life. I think the same could be said for many people in America. All of us have names that in all likelihood have a “meaning,” but that meaning does not impact our daily life. Due to this, I find the stark contrast of names in the Old Testament to be intriguing. It seems that no one in the Old Testament was named arbitrarily. Instead, each name has a very specific meaning that in some way relates to the narrative of said person’s life.

With respect to names and meaning, I think we are hard pressed to find a more interesting story than Jacob. Jacob begins his life, for lack of a better term, a hustler. He schemes and connives to get his way. In fact, at one point, Jacob even wrestles who appears to be Jesus. As Jacob wrestles with Jesus, he refuses to relent until he receives a blessing. Part of the blessing given was a name change. However, this name change appears not to stick until much later in the story. 

At the outset of Genesis chapter 35, Jacob has once again been forced to flee due to an unresolvable conflict with his neighbors. God instructs Jacob to flee to Bethel and to set up an altar there. As Jacob follows God’s instructions, Jacob’s enemies become afflicted, and Jacob is saved. It is at this point that God reminds Jacob of the name change given earlier in his life.

Genesis 35:10 says, “And God said to him, ‘Your name is Jacob; no longer shall your name be called Jacob, but Israel shall be your name.’ So he called his name Israel.”

 The name Israel means, “God fights.” In essence, God is telling Jacob that no matter what comes, Jacob will receive the promise because God fights for him.

 Our names do not always mean much to us, but what is undoubtedly meaningful is what God calls us. God names us so specifically. He calls us loved, saved, set apart, and friend. This world and the devil continually work to tear us down. I personally struggle with being reminded that I could never be good enough. No matter how hard I work, it is true that Richard Craig Henson will never be the person he needs to be. However, I know that with God, I am no longer Richard Craig Henson, I am Dikaioumenoi (“justified” Romans 3:24), Kleronomos (“heir” Romans 8:17), and Kainh Ktisiv (“new creation” 2 Corinthians 5:17). My given name has little day-to-day meaning for me, but what God calls me, means everything. 

Rachel’s Sons

Leah & Rachel • Devotion #4: Rachel’s Sons
Josh Lahring | Production Director

The story of Jacob and Rachel is one of love, sin, deceit, and irony.  The Bible tells us that Jacob loved Rachel and labored for seven years just to have her hand in marriage.  Genesis 29:20 says, “So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her.” 

If you have ever loved, you know the love that Jacob had for her. He was willing to do anything to be with her. However, when Jacob went to be with her on their wedding night, Rachel’s father and sister plotted to trick him. Instead of Jacob sleeping with Rachel, it was Leah instead. This may remind you of a story two chapters earlier when Jacob and his mother plotted against his brother to receive his father’s blessing.  

Now Jacob is married to Leah, and he is angry that he was tricked. The father says to finish the bridal week with Leah, and he will give him Rachel as well for another seven years of labor. Now Jacob finally has the wife he loves. As you can imagine Leah is bitter that he loves Rachel more.

However, the Bible says that Rachel could not bear children, but Leah did. Genesis 30:1 (NIV) explains, “When Rachel saw that she was not bearing Jacob any children, she became jealous of her sister. So she said to Jacob, ‘Give me children, or I’ll die!’” Now Rachel, who is loved, is bitter at her sister that she gave their husband children.

By now Leah had given Jacob four sons, so Rachel was extremely jealous. However, Rachel was more loved than Leah and Leah was jealous that Rachel was loved. All through chapter 30, it is a war of jealousy between Rachel and Leah to give their husband more children.  

Then in verses 22-24 (NIV), the Bible says, “Then God remembered Rachel; he listened to her and enabled her to conceive. She became pregnant and gave birth to a son and said, ‘God has taken away my disgrace.’ She named him Joseph, and said, ‘May the Lord add to me another son.’”

Rachel was bitter and became selfish. Instead of seeking God and waiting patiently upon Him, she did things her own way; she had her servant have children with her husband. It did not work out well for Sarah with Hagar, and it did not work out well here either. In both cases, God decided to bless the women with children.

In all of our mistakes and sinfulness God still hears us and listens to the cry of our hearts. He will not abandon you. Although we have gone our own ways and are selfish and bitter, He still listens and blesses us.  

When God blesses us with something, it is easy to take it for granted and not see how blessed we are. Most of the time we get so focused on one thing we want but fail to see all the other blessings God has been giving us. Sometimes we receive our blessing, but we want more rather than being thankful. Right after giving birth to her first child, Rachel so desperately longed for another that she named him Joseph and said, “May the Lord add to me another son!” God did give her another son. In chapter 35, she had another son but she died after childbirth.  

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