Sunday, January 10, 2016

The Dream Giver

Please first read Genesis 37:5-11.

Have you ever had a dream?

"Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more."  (v 5)

He told them to listen to his dream and he proceeded to share it with them.  "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."  (v 7)

Afterwards, his brothers asked him, “Do you intend to reign over us? Will you actually rule us?” They hated him even more because of his dream and what he had told them about it.  (v 8)

He later had another dream, and he also shared it with his older brothers.  He told them to "listen" and said, “I had another dream, and this time the sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me.”  (v 9)

After he told his father and 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?”  His brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the matter in mind.  (v 10-11)

Please then read Genesis 40:8-23.

Pharaoh's cupbearer and baker also received dreams from God.

“We both had dreams,” they answered, “but there is no one to interpret them.”

Then Joseph said to them, “Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell me your dreams.”  (v 8)

The chief cupbearer proceeded to tell Joseph his dream. He told him, “In my dream I saw a vine in front of me, and on the vine were three branches. As soon as it budded, it blossomed, and its clusters ripened into grapes.  Pharaoh’s cup was in my hand, and I took the grapes, squeezed them into Pharaoh’s cup and put the cup in his hand.”  (v 9-11)

Have you ever been confused about a dream?  Have you ever had a dream that you needed interpreted for you?

Joseph told the cupbearer, “The three branches are three days.  Within three days Pharaoh will lift up your head and restore you to your position, and you will put Pharaoh’s cup in his hand, just as you used to do when you were his cupbearer.  But when all goes well with you, remember me and show me kindness; mention me to Pharaoh and get me out of this prison.  I was forcibly carried off from the land of the Hebrews, and even here I have done nothing to deserve being put in a dungeon.”  (v 12-15)

There are some dreams which are interpreted well.  They are favorable to us.

When the chief baker saw that Joseph had given a favorable interpretation, he said to Joseph, “I too had a dream: On my head were three baskets of bread.  In the top basket were all kinds of baked goods for Pharaoh, but the birds were eating them out of the basket on my head.”  (v 16-17)

Sometimes, dreams are so confusing to us.  They may not be initially understood by us.

Joseph shared with the baker what his dream meant and said, “The three baskets are three days.  Within three days Pharaoh will lift off your head and impale your body on a pole. And the birds will eat away your flesh.”  (v 18-19)

There are some dreams which may not be interpreted the way we would like them to be either.
Now the third day was Pharaoh’s birthday, and he gave a feast for all his officials. He lifted up the heads of the chief cupbearer and the chief baker in the presence of his officials:  He restored the chief cupbearer to his position, so that he once again put the cup into Pharaoh’s hand— but he impaled the chief baker, just as Joseph had said to them in his interpretation.  (v 20-22)

The chief cupbearer, however, did not remember Joseph; he forgot him.  (v 23)  

Joseph must have had a very close and personal relationship with the Lord.  He not only received a couple of dreams from God, but he was also given the ability by Him to interpret dreams for others.  

Therefore, we need to truly know Him before being able to receive all of the dreams He has for us and also be able to interpret them well.  We must always remember though that ultimately God is the only dream giver and the dream interpreter.  (See Genesis 37:5-7, 9; 40:8)

Copyright 2016 by Dawn Freeman. All rights reserved.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Like the Woman at the Well

(YouTube: Fill My Cup, Lord - Gaithers)

“Like the woman at the well…I was seeking for things that could not satisfy…And, then I heard my Savior speaking…Draw from that well that never shall run dry…Fill my cup, Lord…I lift it up Lord…Come and quench this thirsting of my soul…Bread of heaven, feed me till I want no more…Fill my cup, fill it up and make me whole…”  (song lyrics from Fill My Cup, Lord)

Please first read John 4:4-26, 28-30, 39-42.

There are many people in this world who are like the Samaritan woman.  Perhaps, you can identify with her.  Maybe, you know someone like her.  Or, she may have even been you at one time in the past.

This woman was minding her own business when Jesus came up to her during the day.  He initially asked her, "Will you give me a drink?" (v 8)

She didn't understand the reason He would even talk with her.  She was a Samaritan woman, and He was a Jewish man.  Back in those days, the Jews did not associate with the Samaritans. (v 9)

However, after talking with Him for some time, she realized that He knew more about her than she knew about Him.  How could that be at that particular time?  She didn't even know Him.  He was a complete stranger to her.  Yet, He knew her and told her everything about herself during that daytime encounter at the well.

Let's read part of their conversation for a moment.

Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked Him and He would have given you living water.”

“Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water?  Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?”

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst.  Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

The woman said to Him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”

He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”

“I have no husband,” she replied.

Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband.  The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”

“Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet.  Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”

“Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.  You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews.  Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.   God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”

The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When He comes, He will explain everything to us.”

Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.”

(John 4:10-26, NIV – emphasis added mine)

Copyright 2015 by Dawn Freeman. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Nothing is Ever Wasted

Nothing is ever wasted in God's kingdom.

Have you ever thought about it?

Everything that you have gone through in your life is used for your good and God's purpose (See Romans 8:28).

Think about Joseph for a moment.  He is a great example for the purpose of this lesson.

After everything he went through in his life, God not only brought him through all of it but brought him out better than before.

Joseph had God-given dreams.  Perhaps, he was very young and naive at the time because he prematurely shared those dreams with his family specifically his earthly father and older brothers.

As a result, his brothers caused all kinds of problems for him.  They were initially jealous of him and his big dreams that he shared with them.  They made fun of him and treated him poorly.

They threw him in a deep pit.  Then, they sold him into slavery.  Lastly, they made it look like he had been killed by a violent animal by tearing up his prized robe and putting animal blood on it (See Genesis 37).

What the devil meant for Joseph's harm though, God turned around and used for His purpose and plan (See Genesis 50:20; Jeremiah 29:11).

Even though Joseph's brothers sold him into slavery, he came out better off in the end.  God promoted him and increased him over the years afterwards.  He became ruler over a successful and prosperous land.  His biological family experienced hardship and suffered during a famine in their particular region.  Since they were in the midst of a crisis, they came looking for assistance.  They wound up in the land where Joseph was in charge of everything.  At first, they didn't even recognize their own younger brother after all of the years had passed since he was sold into slavery.  However, Joseph had the opportunity to meet and speak with them during their time there (See Genesis 38-50).

He told them, "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives (Genesis 50:20, NIV)."

Joseph recognized that his older brothers were used by the devil to hurt him, but now God was using it for his good to save many people in the land.

The same is true for you.  All of the hardships, trials, challenges, and struggles that you have endured may have been meant for your harm by the devil, but God is going to use them for your good as well as for His purpose and plan.  Many people will be saved as a result of everything that you have gone through in life.  You will also come out better and stronger in the end.

God has great plans for you.  Do not allow your temporary circumstances in life to make you forget that truth.  His plans are better for you than you may even physically see with your own eyes right now.  His plans are for you to have a hope and a good, successful, and prosperous future (See Jeremiah 29:11).

Copyright 2015 by Dawn Freeman. All rights reserved.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Sacrifice on the Altar

Please first read Genesis 22:1-19.

God told Abraham to take his one and only son, Isaac, and sacrifice the boy to Him.  Abraham had wood, a knife, the fire, and Isaac with him.  He took all of the necessary items to perform the sacrifice on the altar.

His young son questioned his father beforehand.  Isaac asked Abraham, "...Where is the lamb for a burnt offering (Genesis 22:7b, NKJV)?"

Abraham answered his son, "...God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering (Genesis 22:8a, NKJV)."

When they got to the physical place, Abraham began all of the preparations for the offering.  He built the altar and put down all of the wood in an orderly fashion.  Then, he got his son and bound him up.  He placed him on top of the wood on the altar.  Lastly, Abraham took his knife and got ready to physically sacrifice his only son, Isaac.

However, an angel of the Lord called to Abraham from heaven.  Abraham answered, "Here I am (Genesis 22:11b, NKJV)."

Then, He told Abraham not to harm his son.  He now knew that he feared the Lord, since he was going to sacrifice his one young son.

Abraham turned around and saw a ram in the bush.  He sacrificed the animal that the Lord provided in place of his son, Isaac.

The angel of the Lord again called out to Abraham.  He said, "Because you have not withheld your son, I will bless you and multiply your descendants.  Your descendants will possess the gates of their enemies.  All the nations will be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice (Genesis 22:16-18 - paraphrase mine)."

Could you do it?  Would you do it?  If God specifically asked you to sacrifice a prized possession, would you be able to do it?  Out of obedience to God, could you do it?

There are many people and/or things that get in the way of our personal relationships with God every single day in this world.  He desires to have all of us to Himself and for Himself for His purpose and plan.  He is a jealous God---a consuming fire (See 2 Corinthians 11:2)! 

Often He blesses us with people and material possessions in our lives.  However, He never wants them to personally take the place of Himself nor our personal relationships with Him.  He never wants anything or anyone else to consume us or possess us.  He desires to be the only one who possesses and consumes us.

What is currently possessing you?  What is now consuming you in life?  Is it material possessions?  Houses?  Cars?  Money?  People?  Work?  A position?  Another relationship?  A calling?  A ministry?  A Life Group?  Another small group? 

Whatever it is, make sure that it does not take precedence over God and a personal relationship with Him.  Otherwise, He may ask you to lay it down.  At any moment, He can request that you sacrifice that other person or thing on the altar.

Know that it is always for your best though.  He wants you---totally, completely, wholeheartedly.  He desires a personal relationship with you over anyone or anything else. 

Depending on the version, the specific phrase, ‘fear the Lord,’ is listed in the Bible over 100 times.  Therefore, it is very important to Him that everyone fear Him in a holy way.  He always wants us to revere and honor Him above all (See Exodus 20:3; Acts 9:31; 2 Corinthians 5:11). 

Copyright 2015 by Dawn Freeman. All rights reserved.  

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

True Gifts of God's Grace

"Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone?  Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent?  If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him!  Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets (Matthew 7:9-12, NKJV)."

In this particular passage of scripture, the author of Matthew primarily spoke about prayer and the answers to prayer.  When you really think about it though, it also applies to other aspects of our Christian lives.

For example...

If someone comes up to you and asks for you to specifically help them in a certain way, then you decide to do it your own way.  How does that really help the person?  
A person must really make themselves available to others.  In order to truly be disciples of Jesus Christ, we must live like He lived and give like He gave---fully, completely, wholeheartedly---without holding anything back and certainly not giving in a way that is not helpful to the other person.  

In the book of Romans, the author talks about all believers being living sacrifices.  What is a living sacrifice?  Jesus was the prime example of a living sacrifice (See Romans 12:1).  He gave of Himself, His time, His talents, and His other resources.

If we are also to be living sacrifices, doesn't that mean we also give of ourselves?  We also give of our time, our talents, and any other resources.

To be a living sacrifice is to be "holy and pleasing to God (Romans 12:1, NIV)."  That particular verse also says that it is our "true and proper worship (Romans 12:1, NIV)."  God desires true worshipers--true worshipers who worship the Father in Spirit and in Truth (See John 4:23-24).

Therefore, true worshipers are living sacrifices.  Living sacrifices are true worshipers.  They worship the Father in Spirit and in Truth.  They generously give of themselves, their gifts, their time, their talents, their money, and any other resources.

Consequently, when people generously give, they also make sure that the receivers are truly ready to receive the gifts.  They also make sure they are sending the gifts to the correct physical location.  Because in order for it to be a true gift, they are sent not only in the right spirit but with the right mindset and heart for the receiver.     

Memorable Quotes:

"True gifts of God's Grace are not sent into outer space while the receiver is here waiting on earth."  

"People must be able to physically and/or spiritually receive gifts in order for them to truly be gifts of God's grace."  

"It is not a true gift of God's grace when you send the gift into outer space while the person who is to receive the gift is actually here on earth."

Copyright 2015 by Dawn Freeman. All rights reserved. 

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Faith Comes by Hearing...

"So then faith comes by hearing..."  (Romans 10:17a, NKJV)  

Did you catch that?  Faith comes by hearing...  What are you hearing?  What are you listening to...?  Who are you listening to...?  

Our faith comes by hearing it.  Of course, it greatly depends on the object or the person that we are hearing and listening to at any given moment of any given day.  

Are you listening to the television news anchor reporting all of the bad events of the day?  Are you hearing all of the bad weather reports on the radio?  Are you listening to patients in the hospital speaking about all their illnesses, diseases, sicknesses, ailments, and infirmities?  

What are you hearing?  What are you listening to...?  

The rest of that particular scripture references says, "...hearing by the word of God."  (Romans 10:17b, NKJV)  

Are you hearing the word of God?  Are you listening to the word of God?  Better yet, are you listening to God?  Are you hearing God?  

Our true faith comes by hearing God---His still, small voice speaking to us---by hearing what He thinks and says---by hearing His word.  

Copyright 2015 by Dawn Freeman. All rights reserved.  

Monday, October 19, 2015

Leaving the Past Behind

Please first read Genesis 19:14-26.

"But his wife looked back behind him, and she became a pillar of salt."  (Genesis 19:26, NKJV)

Lot received word from some men that the Lord was going to destroy the city.  He was told to take all of his family and get out of the the region immediately.

They all obeyed the orders they received from the Lord.  He destroyed the cities where they had left earlier.  Everyone and everything was destroyed there.

Then, Lot's wife looked back behind and she became a pillar of salt.  She was destroyed for looking back.

Lot's wife looked back and was destroyed for doing so.

What can we learn from this part of scripture?

For one, we need to obey the Lord because He has our best interest at heart.  Also, it does not do us any good to look back behind us.  If anything, it can have tragic consequences for us and our loved ones.

There are also plenty of other lessons to learn from that particular passage.

However, in the Apostle Paul's letter to the church at Philippi, he talks about forgetting those things behind.

"Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."  (Philippians 3:13-14, NKJV)  

Like Paul, he encouraged the believers there to press toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call in Jesus Christ.  He did not want them stay stuck in the past but to forget everything behind them.

In the same way, God does not want His children to be stuck in the past.  He desires all of them to forget everything behind them and move forward into the future.  He wants them to move further into their God-given purpose and plan.  Be who He has created them and called them to be for His perfect will.  Then, and only then, will God truly be honored and glorified in and through them.

Copyright 2015 by Dawn Freeman. All rights reserved.