Greater Things

Greater Things Devo

Daily Reading: (John 14:12-14):

“Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.”

There is a verse that is written that quotes something that Jesus said that if He wouldn’t have ever said it,

  • I don’t know that any of us would have ever thought about it before.
  • I really don’t think any of us would have believed it if we had thought it and Jesus hadn’t said it. 

“Whoever believes in me”, the qualifier to be able to do the works of Jesus is that you are a believer in Jesus Christ. If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, the normal Christian life is a life partaking in and receiving miracles in Jesus’ name.

The promise is that you will do the works that Jesus did and in case you forgot some of the works of Jesus here a few highlights.

Jesus set the record for the world’s largest fish feast when He fed somewhere between 12-15,000 people with 2 fish and 5 loaves. I thought it was 5,000 He fed? According to John 6:10 the “men” numbered about 5,000. Including the “women and children” (Matthew 14:21), the crowd probably numbered somewhere closer to about 15,000 or more.

Jesus walked on water, no regular human could ever do that, except Peter did at Jesus’ command and with Jesus’ help. Jesus turned water into wine.  He gave sight to the blind, He healed the sick and the lame, cast out demons, and He even raised the dead to life this is just to name a few.

Whatever the specific works are that Jesus has in mind for you to be a part of, what defines them is that they are pointers to Jesus which help people believe in Him. I have seen people come to faith in Jesus because a group of believers got together and built a ramp for the homeowner to be able to enter their home. To them, it was a miracle. They didn’t have the funds for a ramp and they couldn’t see a way with their new challenge of how they could even access their home. “I had about given up hope in God, hope in humanity, and then God sent me a group of people who were filled with the love of Christ. I saw God’s love for me was real and I received my miracle as I believed in Jesus.”

Miracles are a witness along with Jesus’ words that lead people to faith. That’s what His works do, and He is saying, that’s what our works through Him will do. “Whoever believes in me will do the works I do” — the works point people to faith.

“Whoever believes in Me will do the works I have been doing” and as impressive as it is to think about that, He doesn’t stop there, “and they will do even greater things than these”.

What could be greater than that? We get a clue from the text of what Jesus is talking about and this is moving from Old Covenant before the cross to New Testament after the cross. The first clue is the phrase at the end of verse 12, “because I am going to the Father.” We will be able to do these works because Jesus is going to the Father. And the other clue is the text of what Jesus said to His disciples after He was raised from the dead, “As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld” (John 20:21–23).

The Spirit in you will be the Spirit of the crucified and risen Christ. The message you preach will be the message not of a promised ransom but a paid ransom, a complete payment, a finished propitiation. Your sin debt has been fully paid at the cross. Because Christ lives in you, you can do the work of Jesus. You can reveal God to the world.

And in the power of that absolutely new experience — the indwelling of the crucified and risen Christ — your works of love and your message of life in union with Christ, will point people to the glory of the risen Son of God, and you will be the instrument of their forgiveness on the basis of the finished work of Christ (John 20:23). This will be new. This will be greater than Jesus’ earthly miracles because this is what He came to accomplish by His death and resurrection. In the death, resurrection and ascension of Christ the greater works were made possible (John 14:12).

In John 6 after Jesus performed some more miracles, all but the 12 left Him from the crowd. Compare that to the Day of Pentecost when Peter preached and 3,000 were saved on that day alone and became a part of the Body of Christ. Jesus did great miracles throughout his ministry here on earth, but fewer people came to saving faith during His public ministry than they did in the first days of the early church when Jesus went to the Father. While Christ brought Lazarus back from the dead—we are to do the even greater work which is to bring people from spiritual death to life through the very message of the Gospel which we preach and proclaim. “With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all (Acts 4:33).  

Can You Walk on Water?

Can You Walk On Water

Daily Reading: (Matthew 14:28-30):

“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” He said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

“Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake” (Matthew 14:25).

The disciples didn’t know that walking on water was possible. They didn’t know a lot of the things were possible until they saw Jesus do them. So, Jesus walks on water and let’s see their response. “When the disciples saw Him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear” (Matthew 14:26).

Jesus is fully God and fully man. They had never seen a man be able to walk on water because there are principles and laws at play here. If you step out on the water, you will sink in. I think sometimes the disciples forgot that Jesus is fully God too. Only a spirit, something that is not weighed down by a physical body, could possibly walk on water. It must be a ghost. What would your response be if you thought you saw a ghost out on the water? It would probably be the same as the disciples, whose fear actually caused them to cry out loud. Fear and faith are opposite of each other. Their fear has caused them to not see the Lord who is in front of them. But the Word of God will instill faith to respond.

“But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid” “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water” (Matthew 14:27-28).

This story teaches us what looking to Jesus will do.“Come”, He said. It is His Word that gives us authority and power to do supernatural things. As we look to Jesus we will see miracles unfold in our lives and in other’s lives too.

It started well for Peter, he took the step of faith and walked on water, but then something happened to Peter.

“But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me” (Matthew 14:30). The circumstances caused Peter to lose focus and fear came in. He calls out for Jesus to save him.

Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:31).

When we are looking to Jesus and miracles are unfolding, the wind and the waves will build, but I don’t want you to look at what is happening around you, but what is taking place within you. Do you sense His immense love for you? I want you to see Jesus who is reaching out to you, He’s got you. Receive His love and fear will not be able to sink you.

Something else took place in this scene with Peter and walking on the water that is key to knowing when it comes to salvation, and physical healing for people.

“But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink.” We have fear interrupting faith. The text tells us the wind was active. Wind makes waves. If the water was perfectly calm with no waves would Peter have been able to walk on water? No. The wind has absolutely nothing to do with Peter’s ability to walk on water. I think we tend to take a paddleboard approach to life. The better your core strength and balance the better you will do. We might think of our life as we are on a paddleboard and as long as we can navigate away from any troubled waters we’ll do alright. But we don’t control the waves. What we do have control over is what we will focus on, the circumstances or the Lord. Will we fill our hearts and minds with His Word or will we drown in fear of the wind and the waves of life?

In the same way, when the winds of painful symptoms or bad medical reports come, remember that receiving your healing has nothing to do with how bad your symptoms are. It has everything to do with how Christ has already paid the price for your healing and health. It has everything to do with how Christ is right now, above every disease that can plague your body. Keep your eyes on Jesus and walk in His strength, healing, and life.

Don’t let the stormy winds and waves, and the challenges of life distract you. They have nothing to do with whether you walk victoriously over your circumstances or not. Just keep your eyes on Jesus—and receive your miracle!

“And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down” (Matthew 14:32). How do you suppose that one gets into a boat that is in the water with big waves still happening all around them? We know that Jesus reached out his hand immediately and caught him. But verse thirty-two tells us they climbed into the boat, which means they both were out of the boat. Jesus and Peter must have walked right into the boat. Peter actually walked on water twice.

Possible with God

Possible With God

Daily Reading: (Matthew 19:26):

“Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

With God all things are possible. When we are faced with a situation that is too difficult, too big, too overwhelming, who do we need to get involved in our situation. God!

What is happening in Matthew 19 for Jesus to make this profound statement?

There is a man whose wealth has blinded his needs. “Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life” (Matthew 19:16)?

With this one question, we are led to an entirely different supernatural grace-filled way to live.

The world essentially wants to know how can I save myself? Matthew 19:26 declares, “you can’t”! With men salvation is impossible. But the good news of Jesus Christ is salvation is possible with God. He paid the ultimate price for our sin because God is love. “For this is how much God loved the world-He gave His one and only, unique Son as a gift. So now everyone who believes in Him will never perish but experience everlasting life” (John 3:16).

Jesus knew the ruler was self-righteous and considered himself a good man. Jesus cut straight to the heart of the man’s sin by immediately challenging his standard of goodness and we can do the same with Romans 3:12.

Jesus brings this man to the Law and the purpose is to show this man that he falls short of the glory of God. He needs a Savior. Salvation for him in and of his good behavior and his good works is impossible.

“Which ones?” he inquired (Matthew 19:18). The mind of the rich man is trying to calculate, how he can earn eternal life. “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18).

His wealth has led him to the question, is there anything I can’t do. Wealth can easily blind a person to seeing their need for God. Now that I have obtained a lot, I have my sights set on the ultimate, taking care of myself for the life to come. What must I do now so that I might obtain eternal life to come? Specifically which commandments do I need to focus on?

What is interesting is that Jesus just starts listing some of the ten commandments. It is different than His response to the Pharisees who wanted the Ten Commandments reduced in Matthew 22:34-40. Jesus lists some of the commandments that the man thinks he has been really good at keeping.

Jesus replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother,’and ‘love your neighbor as yourself’”(Matthew 19:18-19).

In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus magnifies the Law to show that if you try to save yourself, it is impossible. “All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack”(Matthew 19:20)? In his heart, he knows that there is still something lacking in his life. Deep down he has a sense of what is lacking based off of his initial question, what good thing must I do to get eternal life”?

Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in Heaven. Then come, follow Me” (Matthew 19:21).

Which one of the commandments is this one? Some have tried to take this verse and make it into the 11th commandment. If I live a life of poverty, one of lack, where I give all that I have, then I will earn my way into Heaven.

Do you realize what Jesus is saying?

Jesus is not saying, “We have to sell our stuff to be saved. Or that being rich is wrong because ‘it’s hard for a rich man to enter the Kingdom’.” While it is true that it is harder for the rich and the self-sufficient to receive from the abundance of God’s grace, that is not the point here. The point is that the Kingdom of God is received by grace not purchased by merit. Salvation is only possible with God through Christ.

The Woman with a Dream

The Woman with a Dream

Daily Reading: (Matthew 27:19):

“While Pilate was sitting on the judge’s seat, his wife sent him this message: “Don’t have anything to do with that innocent Man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of Him.”

There are some things that we know about this dream. First of all, the purpose of the dream was not to try and change the outcome of Jesus going to the cross and dying for our sins. It was prophesied to happen, it was necessary, and the timing was right. Jesus, the Lamb of God, died at that same time as when the lamb would be offered as an atonement for the sins of the people. If He didn’t die, we would all be separated from God forever.  In fact, Jesus said, John 10:17-18: “The reason the Father loves Me is that I lay down My life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of My own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from My Father.”

Even though we aren’t privy to all things about the dream we do know how the dream made Pontius Pilate’s wife feel and also the context of what was happening leading up to the dream. So, let’s start with the context of what is happening before the dream comes.

Meanwhile, Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?” “You have said so,” Jesus replied. When he was accused by the chief priests and the elders, he gave no answer. Then Pilate asked him, “Don’t you hear the testimony they are bringing against you?” 14 But Jesus made no reply, not even to a single charge—to the great amazement of the governor” (Matthew 27:11-14).

Now it was the governor’s custom at the festival to release a prisoner chosen by the crowd” (Matthew 27:15).

The Romans introduced the practice when they colonized Judea, perhaps as a conciliatory gesture towards those who felt they had been mistreated by harsh Roman law.

“At that time they had a well-known prisoner whose name was Jesus Barabbas” (Matthew 27:16).

Did you catch that? There were two Jesuses on trial, so to distinguish the two, Pilate identifies the rebel by referring to his last name. “Do you want me to release the first Jesus who is called Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?” Christ is not Jesus’ last name. Christ means Messiah.

So, when the crowd had gathered, Pilate asked them, “Which one do you want me to release to you: Jesus Barabbas, or Jesus who is called the Messiah?” For he knew it was out of self-interest that they had handed Jesus over to him” (Matthew 27:17-18).

At this point is when the message from Pilate’s wife will reach him. The most interesting part is that Pilate’s wife refers to Jesus not just as innocent as the text reads, but also as righteous (dikaios). The “righteous” Pharisees did not recognize Jesus as a righteous man, but this woman did. The Old Testament prophets spoke of a coming Righteous One or Righteous Branch (Isaiah 24:16, 53:11, Jeremiah 23:5, 33:15). Pilate’s wife was the first person in the New Testament to recognize Jesus as righteous. I believe the reason for the dream was a chance for salvation for both Pontius Pilate and also his wife.

“But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowds to ask for Barabbas and to put Jesus to death” (Matthew 27:20).

Some would say, well, the dream didn’t accomplish its intended goal, but dreams of our Father always do and so did this one. When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead, an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. “I am innocent of this man’s blood,” he said. “It is your responsibility” (Matthew 27:24)!

The chief priests said that if Pilate released Jesus, he was no friend of Caesar (John 19:12). This was Pilate’s weakness. Pilate could not afford to be on the wrong side of Caesar.

“All the people answered, “His blood is on us and on our children” (Matthew 27:25). And in a manner of speaking, it was. Jesus’ blood was poured out for the forgiveness of sins, for men, women, and children, for all who receive Him.

I want to look at Pilate’s wife’s response to her dream again: She said, “Don’t have anything to do with that innocent Man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of Him.”

“I suffered a great deal”- and what is interesting is this Greek word for suffered is (paschō) and it can either be in a good sense or a bad sense, to be well off because of it, and also to suffer sadly because of it.

In this case, perhaps it was both. She has the realization that Jesus is going to die a horrible death for her sins. This is causing her to tremble at the thought of what is to come for Jesus the innocent righteous man, but also how well off this will make her, for the Lamb would be slain for our sins.

The outcome of the scene with the angry mob is recorded in Matthew 27:26: “Then he released Barabbas for them; but after having Jesus scourged, he handed Him over to be crucified.”

Pilate released Barabbas. The sinner was freed and the righteous man bore his punishment (Matthew 27:26). This is who we are in this story we are Barabbas, the ones who deserved punishment. On the cross, the Lord Jesus took the punishment sinners deserved for their sin. Jesus did not deserve to die; He willingly took every sinner’s place and died for our sins. The death of Jesus was one of substitution “the righteous for the unrighteous” (1 Peter 3:18, the innocent for the guilty, the perfect for the corrupt. Although Jesus had no personal sin to pay for, He was, as Pilate’s wife said, “an innocent man”, the only Righteous One.

The Empty Tomb Wasn’t a Dream

The Empty Tomb Wasn’t A Dream

Daily Reading: (Matthew 28:1-4):

“After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.”After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the child’s life are dead.”

Matthew 28:5-6,“The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where He lay.” The stone wasn’t rolled away for Jesus to come out from the tomb. It was so that the disciples could see that the tomb was empty.

Now just before this moment of time, the Roman leaders were very worried about this very event happening. They know what was prophesied about the Messiah and they think that perhaps the disciples will try and steal the body of Jesus to make others believe that He is the Son of God. The Romans have a plan to prevent this from happening.

“Sir,” they said, “we remember that while He was alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ So give the order that the tomb be secured until the third day. Otherwise, His disciples may come and steal Him away and tell the people He has risen from the dead. And this last deception would be worse than the first.” “You have a guard,” Pilate said. “Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how” (Matthew 27:63-65).

So, did the disciples steal the body? Skeptics can’t argue that the tomb wasn’t empty. You can’t say this was all just a dream. If it were a dream, you’d go and the tomb would still have a body. No body means something happened, and so skeptics will try and use the argument that somehow Jesus’ disciples who were afraid and scattered at the crucifixion stole the body from a sealed tomb posted with Roman guards.

Not only is the tomb empty, but the angel says, you can see Jesus, He’ll be in Galilee (Matthew 28:7). If ever there was some kind of conspiracy happening, you aren’t going to tell people that you can see Jesus alive in Galilee. And also let’s not forget that she is talking to an angel.

“So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” He said” (Matthew 28:8-9). We have eyewitnesses of the empty tomb and Jesus will converse with meeting many other people as well as eat food with them later before ascending into Heaven.

The story continues, “While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened. When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, telling them, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.”So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day (Matthew 28:11-15).

This historical event happened, there is no body because Christ is risen indeed. If the Pharisees had stolen the body, the fastest way to stop the preaching of the disciples would be to produce Jesus’ dead corpse. But they did not and could not produce it.

According to Roman law, the body of a condemned criminal belonged to the state. That is why Joseph of Arimathea had to ask for Jesus’ body. To steal a body was a serious offense and it is odd that neither the Romans, nor the Jews, did anything to substantiate the charges if the body had been stolen. The disciples were never prosecuted for this alleged crime. Why? The fact is that the authorities did not really believe that Jesus’ disciples had stolen His body. Otherwise, they would have immediately arrested them when these same disciples publicly proclaimed in the same city of Jerusalem that Christ had risen. They didn’t want to bring more attention to the real truth of what had really happened.

So, the question becomes do you believe that Jesus died for your sins? Do you believe He rose from the grave so that all who believe Him will be given everlasting life? I have presented just a little bit of evidence from Scripture, recorded in history, and the evidence is overwhelming, declaring that Jesus is the Son of God. 

Divine Direction from a Dream

Divine Direction Dreams

Daily Reading: (Matthew 2:19-20):

“After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the child’s life are dead.”

What might be lost a bit here is what is said about what Joseph did. Where is Joseph at? Egypt. He is there because God led him there. What is said about Joseph is that He went and he stayed which demonstrated patience. This teaches us to feed on God’s daily provision for us in Christ and trust that God goes ahead of us and makes our paths straight.

One of the interesting things to note here is God says to go to Israel, but He doesn’t say where in Israel. Israel is 8,550 square miles. Israel is about the same size as the state of New Jersey. Are we talking about Jerusalem, Ashkelon, Caesarea, or Capernaum? Where do you want me to go in Israel?

This isn’t much different remember from earlier when God told Mary, Joseph, and Jesus to go to Egypt, without telling them where in Egypt.

“So he got up, took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel.” Now comes an unexpected blessing. But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning in Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there” (Matthew 2:21-22).

“Having been warned in a dream,” Joseph is getting loaded with these God-given dreams. When you think of those who had the most dreams from God recorded in the Bible, how many people list Joseph? Well, they probably do, but the other Joseph, the one from Genesis. So he was warned in a dream and “he withdrew to the district of Galilee”. We should celebrate the stop signs and the detours, they are a part of God’s leading and His protection.“And he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets, that he would be called a Nazarene” (Matthew 2:23).

More prophecies are fulfilled in Jesus’ life. The purpose is to announce this is God’s Son. He has come to conquer sin and death, believe in Him and you shall receive everlasting life. Every single move of God is purposeful and it is for our good.

Jesus would grow up in Nazareth and it wasn’t until John the Baptist was put in prison about to be put to death before Jesus moved from there (Matthew 4:12-14).

Each move that Jesus made, declared who Jesus was. When He was born in Bethlehem, He moved to Egypt. Jesus lived in Nazareth and moved to Capernaum each move was prophesied this is what the Messiah would do.

Today like Joseph, God may choose to speak to you through visions or dreams. Receiving visions and dreams is our rightful inheritance as children of God (Acts 2:17). Today, because Jesus has been glorified, we can be sure that the Holy Spirit (who reveals God’s visions and dreams to us) has been given to us (John 7:39).

There are times that God’s visions contain warnings for us. With Joseph, the warning was to escape danger, “When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt.” (Matthew 2:13a).

But with the bad news also comes a solution for God’s people.  “Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him” (Matthew 2:13b).

We can see this in other places in Scripture like Acts 11:28-29: “Then one of them, named Agabus, stood up and showed by the Spirit that there was going to be a great famine throughout all the world . . . Then the disciples, each according to his ability, determined to send relief to the brethren dwelling in Judea.”

Although visions from God can include pictures of negative events, these visions also contain solutions and answers to the prophesied events. God will never give you a negative or fearful vision and leave you hanging. His Word tells us as much: “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). A dream from God will not place you in fear. He will always give you something positive to look forward to and walk in. You will be empowered by His love and the sound mind He gives you to move forward into the things He has prepared for you.

1 Corinthians 14:33: “For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.”  While the vision or dream might have chaotic elements, if it is from the Lord, it will also be the Lord bringing peace out of the chaos.

God-given dreams may take a while (Matthew 2:14), but they are sure to come to pass (Habakkuk 2:2-3) at the right time. When we write down the visions God gives us, we are adopting an attitude of faith.

The Purpose of Joseph’s Dreams

The Purpose of Joseph’s Dreams

Daily Reading: (Genesis 37:5-7):

“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.”

 “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”(Genesis 37:9).  It is interesting that Joseph would choose to share the second dream with his brothers after sharing the first caused them to hate him all the more.  The reason Joseph shared it with them is that they needed to hear it so that when God’s plan unfolded, they would understand that God’s plan was for their good too. We tend to focus on God’s plan for Joseph but this also included God’s plan of salvation that was for all of Israel’s offspring.

“Here comes that dreamer!” they said to each other. “Come now, let’s kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns and say that a ferocious animal devoured him. Then we’ll see what comes of his dreams.”When Reuben heard this, he tried to rescue him from their hands. “Let’s not take his life,” he said.“Don’t shed any blood. Throw him into this cistern here in the wilderness, but don’t lay a hand on him.” Reuben said this to rescue him from them and take him back to his father. So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe—the ornate robe he was wearing and they took him and threw him into the cistern” (Genesis 37:19-24).

Do you know what is really cool about this story? Joseph received a robe that was beautiful, but it was quickly destroyed. In Genesis 37:23, he hardly even broke it in before his brothers stripped Joseph of his robe. We too like Joseph have received robes, but much better ones that will never fade, never perish, and no one can strip us of them. Isaiah wrote 61:9-10, “All who see them will recognize them Because they are the offspring whom the LORD has blessed. I will rejoice greatly in the LORD, My soul will exult in my God; For He has clothed me with garments of salvation, He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness, As a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

The apparel of our lives is that we are wrapped in is the righteous robe of Jesus Christ. Galatians 3:27: “For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” No matter what happens to you in your life, no one and nothing can separate you from the love of God in Christ Jesus, you will always remain clothed in His righteousness.

The rest of the story leads to Joseph being made second in command where he makes preparations for the famine. Because of what God showed him in Pharaoh’s dream and the position he was placed in, after all these years Joseph will be reunited with his family where the dream he had so long ago will be fulfilled. “The brothers come and bow before him” (Genesis 50:18). He doesn’t hold grudges, he doesn’t try to pay back evil with evil instead he recognizes the plan that God had all along for his life and how it all started at age seventeen. This is Joseph’s statement about all that had transpired, “But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God” (Genesis 50:19)?

Don’t you see what God has brought about? Just look around you. We would all be so blessed to pause and think about the Lord’s blessings that have been found in our own lives and where they have led us.

 “You intended to harm me, but God (had a different plan, a much better plan, and He will use all things together for my good) intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” (Genesis 50:20).

“Saving” is the Hebrew word that means that others might live prosperously. In Christ, where salvation is found, is the abundant life, a life where we prosper. Do you know what the Hebrew name Joseph means? Joseph’s name means “He will increase.” The purpose of the dreams wasn’t just to bless and prosper Joseph, it was to lead to the salvation of many and the promise of a great increase to Abraham’s offspring (Genesis 50:20). 

God’s promise to Abraham was- “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you” (Genesis 12:2-3).

God was fulfilling His promise to Abram through the life of Joseph. Hebrews 10:23 says: “Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; for He is faithful that hath promised.” You will discover that there are close to 9,000 promises in the Word of God! Some say it’s more like 30,000, if you include ones made to specific people that were fulfilled, and with so many, God has been faithful to deliver on all of them. The dreams you have can be a way that God is communicating a message to you. Dreams can be interpreted, and ultimately God’s plan is a plan of salvation and prosperity in Christ.

Dreams Interpreted by God through Daniel

Daily Reading: (Daniel 1:17):

“To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds.”

What four young men are we talking about here? Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. I have heard of Daniel before but who are these other three? You have probably heard of them before by a different name.

“The chief official gave them new names: to Daniel, the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abednego” (Daniel 1:7). 

Daniel means  “God is my judge”  and his name was changed to Belteshazzar. Bel which is a name for the “various Babylonian gods” and teshazzar, “protects his life”.

Hananiah’s name means “God has favored”. His name was changed to  Shadrach which is “under the command of the Babylonian god Aku the god of the moon”.

Mishael’s name says, “Who is like God”? He had his name changed to  Meshach, “who is like Aku the Babylonian god of the moon”.

Azariah means  “God has helped”. Azariah was changed to Abednego,  “servant of Nebo the Babylonian god of wisdom”.

Their names were changed to try and obscure their identity and who God created them to be.

Now before we find out in verse seventeen what the Lord has given them, Daniel and the other three have a request not to eat the choice meat and wine that is given to them by the king. Their names have already been changed, to obscure who they are, and to try and lead them and others to worship and glorify the gods of Babylon. However, they make a stand. We are not going to forget who we are and eat the food sacrificed to these pagan gods. Their God-honoring choice begins to set the stage to reveal who the true God is. This is a risky choice as the official will tell Daniel in verse 10, “I am afraid of my lord the king, who has assigned your food and drink. Why should he see you looking worse than the other young men your age? The king would then have my head because of you.”

So Daniel who the Lord has given great knowledge to has an answer to ease the king’s servant who is afraid that if he doesn’t follow the king’s orders will be killed. Daniel’s plan, “Let’s try it out for 10 days” (Daniel 1:12). Those who have tried a diet before know that ten days isn’t long enough for the results to be too drastic, but just long enough that you should start to see some results. “Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see” (Daniel 1:13).

Daniel was only 15 years old when he and his friends were taken captive and the Bible says in a short time, he refused to compromise with the Babylonian system, refused to eat the food offered to their gods. What is taking place is purposeful and will reveal the gifting God has placed inside of them. The same is true for you. Begin to see yourself in Christ, who is always flowing with divine wisdom, always in control of the situation, and the same wisdom that flows in Him will flow in and through you. “But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God” (1 Corinthians 1:30). So, when situations that are puzzling occur remember who your wisdom is and where it flows from.

We all need the wisdom to overcome the challenges we face in life. But wisdom does not come unless we see our need for it.

Daniel 1:18-20 says, “At the end of the time set by the king to bring them into his service, the chief official presented them to Nebuchadnezzar. The king talked with them, and he found none equal to Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah; so they entered the king’s service. In every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king questioned them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his whole kingdom.” Every single gift God has given to you in your life He has a plan to use it for your good and for His glory.

“In the second year of his reign, Nebuchadnezzar had dreams; his mind was troubled and he could not sleep. So the king summoned the magicians, enchanters, sorcerers, and astrologers to tell him what he had dreamed. When they came in and stood before the king, he said to them, “I have had a dream that troubles me and I want to know what it means” (Daniel 2:1-3).

Every person the king summons cannot tell the king his dream. They are afraid because if they can’t do it they will be put to death. “The astrologers answered the king, “There is no one on earth who can do what the king asks” (Daniel 2:10)!

These people are wicked, pagan, workers of the devil who have profited off of their mastery in dark arts, black magic, they have spoken the native language of their father the devil, when they said,”no one on Earth can interpret your dreams”. They are spiritually blind and what they speak is not true. But these dreams from God can be interpreted. The God-given dreams that you will have can be interpreted too.  God doesn’t give specific dreams for no purpose or interpretation.

“This made the king so angry and furious that he ordered the execution of all the wise men of Babylon” (Daniel 2:12).

When Daniel finds out about the King needing an interpretation of his dream and no one can do it, what does Daniel do? Daniel hasn’t been told by God that he could do what the king needs. He had never done it before. What does Daniel do?

“Then Daniel returned to his house and explained the matter to his friends Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. He urged them to plead for mercy from the God of Heaven concerning this mystery, so that he and his friends might not be executed with the rest of the wise men of Babylon. During the night the mystery was revealed to Daniel in a vision”  (Daniel 2:17-19).

Instead of running directly to the king, Daniel ran to the King of Kings and got three of his friends to join him in prayer. He went to Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. Daniel went to “God has favored”, “Who is Like God”, and “God has helped”.  Three pretty good friendly reminders that he went to the right place.

Here’s the outcome from the dream being interpreted in Daniel 2:47-49:

The king said to Daniel, “Surely your God is the God of gods and the Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries, for you were able to reveal this mystery.” Then the king placed Daniel in a high position and lavished many gifts on him. He made him ruler over the entire province of Babylon and placed him in charge of all its wise men. Moreover, at Daniel’s request the king appointed Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego administrators over the province of Babylon, while Daniel himself remained at the royal court.”

A lot more will happen to Daniel and the other three men. Nebuchadnezzar will go on to have more dreams. Jesus will appear in the fiery furnace and protect the lives of Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego. A hand will appear and write on a wall in chapter five where Daniel will once again read the writing on the wall that no one else can. Daniel for all that he has done will end up in a lion’s den where God will shut the mouths of the lions. King Darius will discover for himself who the true God is.

Daniel prospered wherever he went because God was with him. Daniel himself will go on to have a dream and visions in chapter seven and share what will happen in the end times. Daniel is an amazing book that I encourage you to spend some time reading.

God-Given Dreams

God-Given Dreams

Daily Reading: (Acts 2:17):

“In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.”

So when will visions and dreams really start happening for God’s people? “In the last days.” According to this text, the last days will be “a time when I will pour my Spirit out on all people.” Acts 2:17 is the beginning of Peter preaching a Holy-Spirit-filled message where He quotes from the prophet Joel in Joel 2:28-32 to say what was prophesied about the Holy Spirit, just happened, we just received the Holy Spirit. In our day and age, we are going to be given God-given visions and dreams. Are you ready for God to communicate to you through dreams and visions?

In the Greek text, this passage was written in, it reads like this: “And it shall be in the last days God says that I will pour forth of my Spirit on all mankind. And your sons and your daughters shall prophesy and your young men (which simply can mean youth) shall see visions and your old men (elderly men or women) shall dream dreams.”

What you might be asking is why are the young given visions and the old given dreams? The use of the phrases “sons and daughters” and “young and old men” is a Hebrew parallelism. It is a poetic device that is used to emphasize that people from every demographic: young and old, male and female now have access to the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will guide you in a variety of ways, that’s all that it means. The true message of Acts 2:16,17 is that with the coming of the Holy Spirit, all who follow Jesus have the ability to hear from God.

Then another question, I had and maybe you had too is what is the difference between a vision and a dream, and then how do I know that it is from God and not the breakfast burrito that I had before I went to bed?

Visions is the Greek word (horasis): the act of seeing, it can be an appearance divinely granted in an ecstasy moment (think about John in Revelation seeing things unfold in the end. Now, dreams is the Greek word (enypnion) a vision which presents itself in a dream. So, really the only difference between a dream and a vision is that in order to have a dream you have to be asleep.

The main point that I want you to get from this verse is that the Holy Spirit doesn’t discriminate based on age. Your young men will see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams.” Neither will be left out. Both will be blessed in this way. When the Spirit comes, he draws us together in ministry.  Paul would write to his young protégé Timothy – “let no man despise thy youth” (1 Timothy 4:12). And for those that think they are too old to be used by God. Abraham and Sarah waited 25 years for God to fulfill His promise in their life, Abraham was 100 Sarah 90 when their promised child Isaac was born. Isaac means laughter because Sarah laughed at the thought in her old age, how would she be able to have a child?

What is the purpose of dreams and visions? The Book of Acts, as you read it in its entirety- it is the church age and each dream and vision in the book of Acts is about the spread of the Kingdom of God until “all people” are reached.  They are all dreams and visions given for missionary strategy and missionary motivation. Ananias (Acts 9) has a vision to go commission Paul for his great missionary work. Peter (Acts 10) has a vision to carry the Gospel and the Spirit to the Gentiles at Cornelius’ house. Paul (Acts 16) has a vision of Europeans saying, “Come over into Macedonia and help us.” (Acts 18:9; 26:19).

Longing to Go Home

Longing to Go Home

Daily Reading: (Hebrews 11:13-16):

“All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had the opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.”

I want you to think back to the greatest vacation you ever had. Where did you go? What did you see?  How long of a vacation was it? What made the vacation so memorable for you? For me, one of my greatest vacations was when I went on was a cruise in the Caribbean with my family. We had so much fun and created some amazing memories. On the last day as we were heading back to our port, my daughter told me that she wanted to go home. I was puzzled by her statement and asked her, “aren’t you having fun?” She looked at me as she squeezed her new stuffed animal that she had made earlier in the day and she said, “I am having the best time ever!” If you are having the best time, why would you ever want to leave? Whether we are having the best time or the worst time there is just something about being home. The longer our vacation is the more our longing for home can grow. The same is true about Heaven.

In Hebrews, 11 Paul is writing about the Israelites and their history and the promise God made to them. Many of them did not see the promise fulfilled in their lifetime. Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph believed the promise to Abraham would be fulfilled. Though for them, God did not give them any inheritance in that country. We have this reinforced in Acts 7:5: “He gave him no inheritance here, not even enough ground to set his foot on. “But God promised him that he and his descendants after him would possess the land, even though at that time Abraham had no child.”

Joseph knew he would not enter the Promised Land until after his death. This was why Joseph left instructions about his burial. He knew he would die in Egypt, but he instructed that his bones be buried in Canaan. In this way, he declared his faith that one day his people would inherit the land God promised them.

As great as the Promised Land is it was only a foreshadowing of Heaven to come. In the Old Testament, Joshua leads God’s people out of the desert and into the Promised Land of Canaan. In the New Testament, Jesus leads God’s people out of the spiritual desert of sin into the Promised Land of Heaven. God always had a plan. That plan is foreshadowed throughout the Old Testament and fulfilled in Christ.

A Barna poll indicated that 76% of Americans believe in Heaven and 71% believe in Hell. Of those who believe in Heaven, 50% believe you can get there without accepting Christ as Savior.[1]

The idea of Heaven is inside humanity. The devil has worked hard to convince people that Heaven is a place reserved for those who have done enough good deeds.

As great as many of the places we may have visited are, we all long for a better country, a heavenly one. The journey out of Egypt would have reinforced the point that God’s people are foreigners and strangers on earth. 1 Peter 2:11 AMP: “beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers [in this world] to abstain from the sensual urges [those dishonorable desires] that wage war against the soul.”

What is great about reading, “they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one,” is that we can identify with that statement, for we too long for our heavenly home. The context of this longing for Heaven is our faith that God will deliver on His promise, “for He has prepared a city for them.” The beauty of Hebrews 11 is it is a chapter on faith. Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1). We can’t see this city yet, but we believe in what is written in Revelation 21:2: “I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of Heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.” The main point of Hebrews 11 is that God’s people expected spiritual blessings and a heavenly inheritance; they sought God as their provider.

While it’s true for believers that we all long for Heaven, God’s desire is that we enjoy our time on earth too. I planned so many fun things for my daughter to enjoy on our Caribbean vacation that it gave me great joy to lead her to experience new things that I had planned in advance for her. The same is true for you and God. The enemy would try to steal from us the true joy of living abundant lives in Jesus. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10). Life to the full is yours in Christ.

[1] Los Angeles Times, October, 24, 2003