I’m going to repeat the follow paragraph at the beginning of every blog in the series, “From a Dream to a Destiny.” Here’s why: Robert Morris is the pastor of Gateway Church in Dallas, TX. I really respect him and appreciate him as a man with a heart for God. He wrote a book that changed me! It is entitled “From Dream to Destiny.” If you wish, you can pick it up at a bookstore, go online to Robert Morris’ website, or order it at Amazon, as a Kindle Book.
The contents of this book impacted me in a way that’s hard to describe. Suffice it to say, I was wrecked for good! So … I want to share with you, my friend, that much of the content of this blog series will be directly from Morris’ book, and I want to honor the copyright laws. That said, I give Robert Morris full credit for every element of my writing except the personal illustrations. Those are mine.
In Genesis 37 we’re continuing to study the life of Joseph, and in this part of his story he finds himself in a pit. He didn’t walk into it. He was thrown into it … and motivated or not, Joseph couldn’t get out.
Text: Genesis 37:12-14, 18-20
12 Soon after this, Joseph’s brothers went to pasture their father’s flocks at Shechem. 13 When they had been gone for some time, Jacob said to Joseph, “Your brothers are pasturing the sheep at Shechem. Get ready, and I will send you to them.”
“I’m ready to go,” Joseph replied.
14 “Go and see how your brothers and the flocks are getting along,” Jacob said. “Then come back and bring me a report.”
18 When Joseph’s brothers saw him coming, they recognized him in the distance. As he approached, they made plans to kill him. 19 “Here comes the dreamer!” they said. 20 “Come on, let’s kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns. We can tell our father, ‘A wild animal has eaten him.’ Then we’ll see what becomes of his dreams!”
On January 9th, my dear friend, Bishop Darryl Husbands, the pastor of Mt. Olivet Baptist Church located on Church Hill in Richmond, Virginia, sent me (and a bunch of his other friends) a text. He was really troubled. I’m going to paraphrase some of what he said:
“I was talking to one of my friends who teaches school. He told me he asked one of his classes the question, “When you look around the room, who do you see becoming an attorney, clergyman, physician, politician or the like, and making a significant impact in the future?”
“Their answer was breath-taking. They responded, “Nobody!”
“The teacher was stunned, so he asked the class if it bothered them that they didn’t see anyone in their class (not even themselves) with that kinmd of potential? They replied, “Not really!”
“Well, it didn’t bother them, but it bothered both he and I. My first response was, “We’re in trouble!” Are they the microcosm of an aimless generation? Weak in self esteem, apathetically meandering through a critical stages of their life without a dream or hope.”
Martin Luther King, the man our country celebrates this year on January 21, gave a speech that has become known as the “I Have a Dream Speech.” Close to the end he tells the crowd and all of America,
“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream…”
Do you have a dream?
When Joseph was 17, God gave him two dreams that described his destiny. In the first part of Genesis 37 we read about Joseph’s two dreams – and both of them described a wonderful future. God promised Joseph that eventually his brothers, mother and father would kneel before him.
But Joseph did something really, really foolish with that information … and we wrote about it last blog. He couldn’t keep his mouth closed. He bragged about his destiny. He pridefully told everybody about his dreams! He didn’t have the sense … OR THE HUMILITY … to just keep God’s promises quiet. He had to tell everybody.
Pride has to speak! Pride is compelled to speak! Joseph miserably failed his first test – the pride test.
Now, God may have given YOU a dream that will eventually lead to your destiny, but before you fulfill your destiny, your purpose, God is going to work on your character. You will have to go through some significant tests that will adjust your character. A pride test most likely will be the first one.
Why? Because your destiny is all about fulfilling GOD’S purpose for your life and that purpose – that destiny – will involve GLORIFYING GOD, not you.
But failing the Pride Test didn’t seem to affect Joseph’s character. That’s why God continued the process of refining Joseph’s character IN A PIT.
READING: GENESIS 37:21
21 But when Reuben heard of their scheme, he came to Joseph’s rescue. “Let’s not kill him,” he said. 22 “Why should we shed any blood? Let’s just throw him into this empty cistern here in the wilderness. Then he’ll die without our laying a hand on him.” Reuben was secretly planning to rescue Joseph and return him to his father.
23 So when Joseph arrived, his brothers ripped off the beautiful robe he was wearing. 24 Then they grabbed him and threw him into the cistern. Now the cistern was empty; there was no water in it. 25 Then, just as they were sitting down to eat, they looked up and saw a caravan of camels in the distance coming toward them. It was a group of Ishmaelite traders taking a load of gum, balm, and aromatic resin from Gilead down to Egypt.
26 Judah said to his brothers, “What will we gain by killing our brother? We’d have to cover up the crime. 27 Instead of hurting him, let’s sell him to those Ishmaelite traders. After all, he is our brother — our own flesh and blood!” And his brothers agreed. 28 So when the Ishmaelites, who were Midianite traders, came by, Joseph’s brothers pulled him out of the cistern and sold him to them for twenty pieces of silver. And the traders took him to Egypt.
Maybe we should be asking ourselves, “Why am I in a pit?”
Many times you and I find ourselves in a pit, and it seems like we had very little, if anything, to do with how we got there.
Several years ago I found myself in a pit of despair … a pit of depression … a pit of death. I just wanted to die. I went to some lengths to plan my own death. I would make it look like an accident so my family (my grandchildren especially) and friends wouldn’t know. No note would be left. I was looking for a big tree on the side of the road.
And here’s how I got there: I had come to believe some lies.
You do know, don’t you, that Satan wants to kill you and have you end up in “the bottomless pit” that God created for him?
The lies that had the most profound impact on my life had to do with my purpose. I kept hearing, “You’re 63 and you’re done. Toast. Your life is over. No one wants to hear what you have to say. You were a lousy pastor to begin with. No church is going to risk taking you in. You’re too imperfect … flawed. Nobody cares for you. You’ve burned too many bridges. Who would want to be your friend.”
I was isolated by my own choice. Satan told me that everyone was against me, that I had no future, that I had no hope, and that I couldn’t get out of my pit! All lies … but I was deceived! I could go on, but I’ve made my point. All I heard was constant condemnation. Constant accusations. Sadly, I believed every cruel lie. I was so deceived.
Satan has a pitiful future. He is going down, and he is trying to take everyone with him. He hates God and anyone God loves! That’s you. That’s me.
I knew Jesus had said that Satan is a liar and the father of ALL lies. I could take you to the text. I had preached it many times, and I believed what the Lord said about His enemy and mine. But knowing Satan is a liar doesn’t inoculate us from his lies.
Here’s what Jesus said in JOHN 8:44. Christ was speaking to religious leaders.
For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies.
If you’re in a pit you must FIRST, LOOK OUTWARDLY. When the lies come you have to take every thought captive. You’ve got to intentionally detect, discern and dissect every thought. This is a battle of life and death! You’ve got to look under every rock. To do that you need to speak what you’re thinking out load. That’s my strong advice to you. Speak your thoughts. Bring them into the light. You can do that with a therapist. That’s what they want you do do. But whether or not you get help from someone trustworthy, you’ve got to do some heavy lifting. Being in the pit isn’t time to get lazy.
I’m in totally agreement with Robert Morris. Your mind is where the battle is! Satan tells lies and then reinforces them through peer pressure, advertising, family conflict, hate-filled arguments, sarcasm, bullying, fear of failure, unrealistic expectations, other people’s expectations, performance living … etc. Satan is a master at lying. It’s constant!
Let me be clear. If you believe his lies, you could end up staying in that pit indefinitely. Or dying. But if you resist Satan’s lies with God’s TRUTH, you’re going to get out of the pit, your feet will be back on solid ground, and you’ll be on your way again to fulfilling the dreams and destiny God intends for you to enjoy!
The first step out of your pit involves finding out what God thinks about you and your circumstances. Dig! Stop listening to the lies and hear the Other voice. God has a voice. Stop preferring Satan’s voice over God’s.
SECOND, LOOK INWARDLY. When we do, we usually find out that we had some part in getting ourselves into the pit.
To be honest, it’s much easier to blame others than to take a good, honest, hard look at ourselves and our own behavior. We seldom admit to having character problems. We’ve lied too long we don’t remember the truth. We’ve stolen stuff so often it’s like trying to kick an opioid habit. We have murder in our hearts. Our sarcasm is second nature. We’ve learned to stealthfully engage our lust, our adulterous heart, and our wandering eyes.
There’s never a shortage of people we can blame! It’s become very popular in our society to adopt a “victim mentality” – in other words, to blame all our problems on other people.
Don’t blame Satan for your character issue(s). He can tempt you, but he can’t make you do anything. You choose, right?
Have you ever heard someone say, or say yourself, “People are just jealous of me! I’m not the one with the problem! It’s not the way I act, or the way that I talk that’s the problem! It’s not the way I present myself! Everyone else has the problem!!”
Joseph had the PERFECT opportunity to develop a victim mentality. After all, he was just obeying his dad when his brothers decided to throw him in the pit. And Joseph could have properly reasoned that his brothers were jealous.
It is true that Joseph’s brothers had an evil attitude … and even murder in their hearts … but what about Joseph’s attitudes and behaviors? Did his attitude contribute to the bad situation? Did his pride produce some of the strain in the horrible relationship he had with his brothers?
- Why wasn’t he out in the wilderness with his brothers, tending the family herds, in the first place? What’s an able-bodied 17 year old son-of-a-shepherd doing back in the tents?
- Did he avoid work because it was beneath him?
- Or did his dad shield him from the hot sun and not make him do family chores?
Ponder this: why do you think Joseph stayed home? Do you have any similar behavior?
Let’s go on. Genesis 37:18 tells us that Joseph’s brothers saw him coming from a long way off. Do you think they saw the coat? Absolutely!
Why would Joseph be wearing his “prestige coat” out in the wilderness? (He might have worn it everywhere he went.)
Joseph was very proud of the gift his father, Jacob, had given him. He may have started to find his identity in the gift that identified him as his father’s favorite.
But he lost “the gift,” and you and I can lose our Father’s gifts, too, if we get caught up in the gift and ignore the Giver. We could lose the gifts of God if we let pride overtake our hearts. And usually we lose our gifts in a pit.
I’ve known “men and women of God” who have lost their gifts because of pride. I’ve heard many stories of preachers that were nationally known, who felt their giftedness would shield them from the consequences of secret sin. But they fell hard into a pit of their own making. They dug their own pit and stumbled into it.
Be assured of this: anytime you fall into a pit … one of your own making or one that is there because we live on a fallen planet … Satan will be right there! I’m goin to keep beating that drum. Like I said before, he will quickly begin to lie. He will accuse you. And he will fabricate evidence to keep you in the pit!
Think about these two statements and then read the texts.
Satan accuses us. God does not! (Look at Rev. 12:10-11)
Satan will fabricate evidence! (Look at Gen. 37:31-33)
Joseph’s brothers misled their father, Jacob, and kept the lie about Joseph’s death going for 20 years! They manufactured evidence, that Joseph was gone forever by bringing their father the coat of many colors covered with blood!
Satan will fabricate “evidence” so that he can defeat you and foil the destiny God has in store for you!
BUT WAKE UP TO THIS FACT!! Being in a pit is not the end of your story. It wasn’t the end for Joseph, and it won’t be for you … IF … you learn from your sin and failures, and get a solid, strong grip on your thoughts, fantasies and ideas.
EVENTUALLY … Joseph got back something a lot more important that a coat. He GOT HIS DESTINY BACK! Eventually he fulfilled God’s purpose for his life! And so will you. Whatever you’ve lost, God can replace it if you will repent, and walk in humility. To get out of our pits we must humbly cry out to Him. James 4:10 says, “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up.”
When you read the Bible, you will quickly see that God’s Word is entirely about RESTORATION, redemption, and realized dreams! The Bible is filled with stories of people who messed up, and messed up badly … and ended up in pits. But they didn’t stay in the pit. Joseph’s story is one such story … of coming out of a pit and into God’s destiny. So are the stories of Moses, David, Jonah, Solomon, Peter, Paul … and so many more. Read the Bible and you’ll discover stories of victory snatched from defeat!
BELIEVE THIS: Your story of victory can be added to theirs. Your story is your testimony. It’s your story and no one can tell it like you. And if God wants you to tell your story, don’t sugar-coat it or camouflage your failures. Don’t dwell on them, either. The people around you will listen as you describe how you got into your pit, but their ears will really perk up when you share God’s remedy, redemption, and revelations. Why? Because they are looking for ways to get out of their own pits.
Conclusion: We all need to pass the PRIDE TEST. (See the January 19 entry.) But if we don’t, God loves us and He will work on our character in order for us to rediscover our purpose and fulfill our destinies.
And one more thing: if you don’t pass your tests in proper order, God’s so good. He lets us RETAKE the test we failed until we pass. Ha! God desires for you and me to live full and abundant lives while we fulfill our purpose.
Thanks for reading.