Perspectives on Spiritual, Intellectual and Pastoral Issues: Host – Lowell Qualls

Archive for March, 2019

Dream to Destiny – The Power Test

If this is your first time here, we have been studying the life of Joseph, the son of Jacob, and in our study we’ve watched on the sidelines as Joseph, at age 17, begins God’s school of Character Development.

I hope you’ve been learning a lot these last 6 weeks. Next week we will wind up this series.

Genesis 1:27–28 is the beginning of the human story. And from the very beginning of our story God gives every one of us the same occupation.

“So God created humankind in his own image; and the image of God he created humankind; male and female he created them. Then God bless them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’”

From the very beginning, God gave us two primary assignments. One was to have children. The second was to have dominion.

His first blessing on the first couple was to take CONTROL. Exercise God-given AUTHORITY! To employ POWER.

We’re about to find out how well Joseph did in his Power Test.

You can plainly see that God created us to have power. God commissioned us to use it. We were created in the image of God, and our powerful God planned for us to use power the way He does … to create, to do good and to make life on earth better!

We have a built-in desire for power, and a longing to exercise it. Do you know how I know? I watch children!

All too often we think of the desire for power only in negative terms.
Of course, there is a wrong desire for power, a desire that is rooted in selfishness — but there is also a right desire for power. There is a de-sire for power that God has put into each human being when he or she was created.
The question is: can God trust us with His power?

What will we do with the power He gives us? Will we use it wisely?
So far most of Joseph’s tests that we have studied have involved the way he responded when bad things happened in his life. But this power test is different. This test had to do with how he responds when something good happened.

We’ll see that Joseph passed this test perfectly! The question I’m ask-ing this morning is: How do you respond to success? How do you respond to having power? How do you respond to having authority? How do you respond to having influence? How do you respond to having God’s blessings?

It is what you do with the power and blessings of God that is the true test of your character.

This may come as a surprise to some, but God’s blessings can be just as much a test as tribulations or trials can be. Why? Because blessings involve responsibility, and responsibility requires character!

Genesis 40:1-3, 5-8, 20-23
1Some time later, Pharaoh’s chief cup-bearer and chief baker offended their royal master. 2 Pharaoh became angry with these two officials, 3 and he put them in the prison where Joseph was, in the palace of the captain of the guard.
5 While they were in prison, Pharaoh’s cup-bearer and baker each had a dream one night, and each dream had its own meaning. 6 When Joseph saw them the next morning, he noticed that they both looked upset. 7 “Why do you look so worried today?” he asked them.

8 And they replied, “We both had dreams last night, but no one can tell us what they mean.”

“Interpreting dreams is God’s business,” Joseph replied. “Go ahead and tell me your dreams.”

20 Pharaoh’s birthday came three days later, and he prepared a banquet for all his officials and staff. He summoned his chief cup-bearer and chief baker to join the other officials. 21 He then restored the chief cup-bearer to his former position, so he could again hand Pharaoh his cup. 22 But Pharaoh impaled the chief baker, just as Joseph had predicted when he interpreted his dream. 23 Pharaoh’s chief cup-bearer, however, forgot all about Joseph, never giving him another thought.

THIS WAS JOSEPH’S PRISON TEST.
NOW, WE’LL SEE WHAT HAPPENED NEXT.

Genesis 41:1, 8–9, 14 (NLT)
1 Two full years later, Pharaoh dreamed that he was standing on the bank of the Nile River.
8 The next morning Pharaoh was very disturbed by the dreams. So he called for all the magicians and wise men of Egypt. When Pharaoh told them his dreams, not one of them could tell him what they meant.
9 Finally, the king’s chief cup-bearer spoke up. “Today I have been reminded of my failure,” he told Phar-aoh.
14 Pharaoh sent for Joseph at once, and he was quickly brought from the prison. After he shaved and changed his clothes, he went in and stood before Pharaoh.

Not only did Joseph give Pharaoh the interpretation of his dreams, he also gave Pharaoh some free advice about how to prepare for the com-ing years of famine. And Joseph’s advice was so full of wisdom that it caused Pharaoh to conclude that Joseph must be filled with the Spirit of God!

Genesis: 41:37-40.
37 Joseph’s suggestions were well received by Pharaoh and his officials. 38 So Pharaoh asked his officials, “Can we find anyone else like this man so obviously filled with the spirit of God?” 39 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has revealed the meaning of the dreams to you, clearly no one else is as intelligent or wise as you are. 40 You will be in charge of my court, and all my people will take orders from you. Only I, sitting on my throne, will have a rank higher than yours.”

I find it interesting that 3 men who were unbelievers – Potiphar, Pharaoh and the keeper of the prison – all recognize that the Spirit of God was with Joseph.

Genesis 41:41–44.
41 Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I hereby put you in charge of the entire land of Egypt.” 42 Then Pharaoh removed his signet ring from his hand and placed it on Joseph’s finger. He dressed him in fine linen clothing and hung a gold chain around his neck. 43 Then he had Joseph ride in the chariot reserved for his second-in-command. And wherever Joseph went, the command was shouted, “Kneel down!” So Pharaoh put Joseph in charge of all Egypt. 44 And Pharaoh said to him, “I am Pharaoh, but no one will lift a hand or foot in the entire land of Egypt without your approval.”

A pastor tells the story about a man in his church. Every week this was faithful working in the church parking lot. Every week he was faithful just following orders and parking cars for Jesus.

After a while his faithfulness became apparent to everyone, so he was made the “parking lot captain.” The next week he showed up with a brand-new uniform, a bullhorn, and a flashlight that looked like a light saber from Star Wars!

The point is: If we have responsibility or authority over something, how will you respond when you’re given responsibility or authority? This is the essence of the power test.

Let’s take a look at John 19. THIS MAN doesn’t seem to know where real power comes from JOHN 19:10-11:

10 “Why don’t you talk to me?” Pilate demanded. “Don’t you realize that I have the power to release you or crucify you?” 11 Then Jesus said, “You would have no power over me at all unless it were given to you from above. So the one who handed me over to you has the greater sin.”

Pilate is SO PROUDLY talking to the One who spoke the worlds into existence, and he’s claiming he has power to take Jesus out.

But Jesus straightened him out … and we need to grasp what our Lord is saying here, too.

God has given us the desire and capacity for power, and every person in this room has power in some area of his or her life. Every person in this room is a leader to some degree. What kind of leader are you? Are you a humble leader? Are you a servant-leader? What are you doing with the power God has already given to you?

God is looking for people who will be good stewards of the power and influence He can give to accomplish His will on earth.

Joseph was only stepping into the 1st part of the 1st phase of his destiny at that time. JOSEPH had the 3R’s – rights, riches and royalty. Now that’s power!

If Joseph had handled God’s power in the wrong way, he never would have been able to fulfill his FULL AND COMPLETE destiny in the way God had planned.

Just like Joseph, you may work hard for 5, 10, 15 or 20 years–and then, in a single day, God can suddenly change everything about your circumstances! In one day God can bless you and put you into your destiny.

One morning Joseph woke up in the dungeon – and the next day he woke up in the palace. One morning Joseph woke up as a prisoner – and the next day he arose as the 2nd most powerful man in the world!

The power test USUALLY comes very, very suddenly.

God has placed you and me on this planet … for such a time as this. The responsibility we have as followers of the Lord Jesus Christ is an important one. We are to give ourselves to God, so that He can empower us to impact our world.

God has called you to impact YOUR world.

I live in a neighborhood. That’s where my world BEGINS.

My work … my occupation … is to be the best husband and father I can be for Christ.

My work is to put Jesus on display in my everyday life.

My work is to serve my wife so that she feels secure in the knowledge that she is my best friend and the number one person in my life, and that I see her as a gift from God.

My work is to put Jesus on display by the way I drive.

My work is to shop like Jesus would shop … totally aware of my surroundings – which means, being aware of who I cross paths with, and what they may need from God.

My work is to impact the children in my neighborhood, by putting on display the love and laughter of Christ.

My work is to be honest … if I am given too much change from a busy little girl’s cash drawer, or I end up in the parking lot of Lowe’s with something in my cart that I did not pay for … it’s my JOB to walk back into the store, no matter how busy I am … and make it right.

My occupation is to be the best citizen I can be – obeying the law even when it’s not fair.

It’s my profession, to pray for all the leaders that impact my life – from the President of the United States, to the Clerk of the Court in my county. It’s my calling, to be respectful to police officers.

It’s my job, to pay my taxes … it is not my work to overpay my taxes.
It is my job … to put in an honest day’s work. When I am in the office I should be focusing on the ministry God has called me to . That means focusing on you, and what I can do to serve you. That means I shouldn’t be surfing the internet, checking out eBay, or playing computer games.

It’s my calling, to give my best effort for the King.

It’s my job … to be a wise and loving grandfather, and to speak life into my little granddaughters’ and grandsons’ heart and mind.

Everything I do is important and impactful.

It is my job, to subdue the earth, and have dominion over everything that touches my hands, and doing so in ways that speak of God’s ownership of my life. He is the Master of my life. He is the Lord of my life. I live and move and have my being in Him.

And wherever I walk, whoever I talk to, whoever I pray with, and whoever I encounter in any way during the day … I view as a divine appointment.

And it is my job to be rested physically, emotionally and spiritually, so that I am able to fight off the at-tacks of the enemy, and take control of my appetites, my attitudes, and my actions.

Are you starting to get it? What are you daily RESPONSIBILITIES? What do you control? Where and when do you exercise authority?

Are you a Christ-following student? Manager? Check-out clerk? Store owner? Judge? Policeman? Accountant? Doctor?

You have power. You have responsibilities! TAKE CARE OF THEM!

That’s the POWER TEST for you and me.

Dream to Destiny – The Prophetic Test

No one can stop my destiny. No one can stop your destiny. No one – no boss, teacher, preacher, parent, etc. No one …. BUT YOU.

God wants to open up the world to you. Maybe God gave you a dream to be a concert pianist and play for Him, or a scientist that wants to develop a cure for diabetes for His glory, or a teacher that influences and blesses students and points to God, or a stay-at-home Mom that raises her children to be world-changers for the sake of God’s Kingdom, or an engineer that discovers the next way to build a safer bridge for God’s glory.

Whatever it your dream is, God wants to partner with you. But before He does that He will always grow you into the person (on the inside) that He wants you to be. He’s committed to purifying your character so that what you do brings glory to Him, and draws people to Jesus!

We’ve been studying the character development of Joseph. His story is found in Genesis 37-50. And we’ve talked about tests that God used to grow him into a man He could use for His glory. Every one of these tests is meant for men and women. And every test is meant to be passed. And it’s God’s way, His style, that He will give you a test until you pass it.

Before he could save nations Joseph had to pass the tests we’ve already written about: The Pride Test, Pit Test, Palace Test, Purity Test, and the Prison Test. Now Joseph will face the Prophetic Test.

Genesis 40:1-8, 14-15
1 Some time later, Pharaoh’s chief cup-bearer and chief baker offended their royal master. 2 Pharaoh became angry with these two officials, 3 and he put them in the prison where Joseph was, in the palace of the captain of the guard. 4 They remained in prison for quite some time, and the captain of the guard assigned them to Joseph, who looked after them.
5 While they were in prison, Pharaoh’s cup-bearer and baker each had a dream one night, and each dream had its own meaning.6 When Joseph saw them the next morning, he noticed that they both looked upset. 7 “Why do you look so worried today?” he asked them.
8 And they replied, “We both had dreams last night, but no one can tell us what they mean.”
“Interpreting dreams is God’s business,” Joseph replied. “Go ahead and tell me your dreams.”
After Joseph interpreted the cup-bearer’s dream he said:
14 And please remember me and do me a favor when things go well for you. Mention me to Pharaoh, so he might let me out of this place. 15 For I was kidnapped from my homeland, the land of the Hebrews, and now I’m here in prison, but I did nothing to deserve it.”

The cup-bearer and the baker’s dreams were interpreted perfectly by God’s servant, Joseph. The dreams were amazing. The cup-bearer would be restored to his position, but the baker would die a horrible death

Genesis 40:20-23.
20 Pharaoh’s birthday came three days later, and he prepared a banquet for all his officials and staff. He summoned his chief cup-bearer and chief baker to join the other officials. 21 He then restored the chief cup-bearer to his former position, so he could again hand Pharaoh his cup. 22 But Pharaoh impaled the chief baker, just as Joseph had predicted when he interpreted his dream. 23 Pharaoh’s chief cup-bearer, however, forgot all about Joseph, never giving him another thought.

Joseph was still in prison … and it would be really hard to believe that the dreams God to him when he was 17 would come to pass. But here is the primary point I hope to communicate about Joseph’s Prophetic Test, and it is found in Psalm 105.

Psalm 105:17-19 New Living Translatiion (NLT)
17 Then He sent someone to Egypt ahead of them — Joseph, who was sold as a slave.
18 They bruised his feet with fetters and placed his neck in an iron collar.
19 Until the time came to fulfill his dreams, the Lord tested Joseph’s character.

Verse 19 is key! But in this translation we can miss something. The words in the original language, Hebrew, make this verse POP off the pages of the Word of God.

Let’s look at verse 19 in the New American Standard Bible (NASB)

Psalm 105:19
19 Until the time that his word came to pass, the word of the Lord tested him.

The Hebrew words for “his word” and “the word” are not the same word.

Every thing God has ever done or communicated has come through WORDS!
He created the whole Earth and the Universe we live in by saying words. “Let there be light” and so forth. God spoke!

In St. John, chapter one, the Bible says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. All things were made through Him [the Word], and without Him [the Word] nothing was made that was made” (John 1:1,3).

When God wants to do anything, He speaks!

With that in mind, let’s look again at Psalm 105:19 again, and I’ll quote from Robert Morris’s book, From Dream to Destiny.

“This verse actually says, “Until the time that his [dabar] came to pass, the [imrah] of the LORD tested him” (Ps. 105:19).

“Now let me explain something to you about these Hebrew words. The first word, ‘dabar,’ is used 1,441 times in the Old Testament and is the Hebrew term most frequently translated as ‘word.’ [‘Dabar’] means ‘a matter’ that is spoken of.
“With that in mind, we can see this verse is actually saying, ‘Until the time that [the word that was spoken over Joseph’s life] came to pass, the word of the LORD tested him.’

“The second Hebrew word for ‘word’ is ‘imrah.’ The word ‘imrah’ appears only 37 times in the Old Testament. It means ‘commandment,’ ‘speech’ … and refers to the very Word of God — the literal Word of God.”

So we see one word means “a prophecy,” or “a prophetic word or words,” and the other word means “The literal word of God.”

Here’s how we could say it in today’s language: “Until his prophecy came to pass, God’s Word tested Joseph!”

God speaks, and sometimes … many times … He speaks through His servants, THE PROPHETS.

Some have what the New Testament calls “the gift of prophecy.”

When God was speaking about His church the Word of God says that He gave the gifts of people. They are called “apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers.” (Ephesians 4:11)

Every gift person mentioned in Ephesians 4 speaks for God, but prophets speak some very important words. According to God’s Word, you can expect prophets to give comfort, guidance, warning, encouragement, caution, judgment and edification.

Some prophetic words are directed to individuals, and some are meant for a Christian community.

Prophets can make mistakes. But so can every apostle, evangelist, pastor or teacher. God uses humans to speak for Him. Prophets are so important that God not only gives them to the church as office holders, but the Holy Spirit calls others in the Body to exercise the “gift of prophecy.”

Paul said to the Corinthian church that if a prophet or a person with the gift of prophecy speaks to the entire body they should follow these guidelines.
29 Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said. 30 And if a revelation comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaker should stop. 31 For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged. 32 The spirits of prophets are subject to the control of prophets. 33 For God is not a God of disorder but of peace… (1 Corinthians 14:29-33)

We love and appreciate prophets because what they have to say will not only agree with God’s LITERAL Word, but their gift is meant to either gently or forcefully open up the heart of a person or a people group to the heart of God.
If you want to know how God thinks about you, ask a prophet! And if a person with the gift of prophecy says, “I think I have a word for you,” pay attention!!
The beautiful thing about prophetic words is this: they don’t inform. They affirm something God has already said to you, or confirm what God has said to you.

Either one – affirmation or confirmation – is meant to:
• get you moving in the right direction,
• corroborate and validate the direction you’re going, or
• correct the direction you’re going in.

Prophets are appointed by God to speak directly to a certain individual or to a people group. And I like to say that prophets bring a word from the Lord for that moment in time. It is timely!

Sometimes the prophetic word is comforting, sometimes it gives guidance, and sometimes they give a person a warning.

Many times the prophetic word to an individual is encouraging, but sometimes prophetic words warn of judgment coming.

But in every prophetic word there should be a sense of “edification,” or building up. Even in words of warning or judgment a person should hear that God is for them and not against them. He just wants a course correction. He hasn’t given up on anyone!

The literal Word of God speaks to every nation, every tribe, every people group. It is universal. The Word of God is the revelation that God has given of Himself to mankind in general.

I’m not concerned so much with how you respond to the prophecies that speak about you and your destiny. But I am concerned about something.

I believe you will not fulfill your destiny unless you know THE WORD of the Lord. Every apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor or teacher should KNOW THE WORD OF GOD because every concerning our destiny will flow from it and agree with it.
Every man or woman of God that has ever had an impactful life KNOWS the literal, written word of the Lord. You cannot live by going from one prophetic word to the next.

If you know the Word of God, He can trust you with His most valuable possession. The anointing. He will not give His anointing to someone who doesn’t know His heart and mind.

And you will never fulfill your destiny if you don’t have God’s anointing!