God doesn’t waste pain in your life. He can use everything and every situation. In the life of Joseph, we have discovered that at 17 years old, he was sold by his brothers into human trafficking and sent as a slave to Egypt. He’d never been there before and didn’t know the language, culture or customs. Years later, he was thrown into a dungeon and accused of a crime he didn’t commit. Yet, even in his darkest times, God was still with Joseph. Let that be an encouragement to you. If you are going through a hard time, know that God is still with you. You are not as far away from God as you think.
Two years after Joseph had interpreted the dreams of the cupbearer and baker, the cupbearer finally remembered Joseph. Pharoah had a disturbing dream and needed a dream interpreter to tell him what it meant. Pharoah grew frustrated because none of his wise men could tell him the dreams meaning. Finally, the cupbearer suggested Joseph get pulled out of the dungeon to interpret the dreams. God had been with Joseph in the dungeon and would now go with him to interpret the dream.
Genesis 41:37-40 (NIV)
The plan seemed good to Pharaoh and to all his officials. So Pharaoh asked them, “Can we find anyone like this man, one in whom is the spirit of God?” Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has made all this known to you, there is no one so discerning and wise as you. You shall be in charge of my palace, and all my people are to submit to your orders. Only with respect to the throne will I be greater than you.
Ten minutes ago, Joseph was a Hebrew slave in prison. He steps forward and discerns Pharaoh’s vision in such a way that they all recognize that God’s Spirit is in him. Don’t you want God’s spirit to be so evident in your life that others can’t deny it?
3 Steps to Finding God’s Will for Your Life
1. Get a vision bigger than yourself
You’ve got to have a vision. You’ve got to see in your mind the life that God has called you to live. The Scripture says, “Without vision, people perish.” Without vision and understanding, your life is going to be aimless and lost. In the Bible, God gives us a vision for our life and for the future.
In Genesis 1 the Bible starts in a garden. Everything was the way God intended. Nothing was broken and sin had not corrupted the world. God starts the story in the garden, but as you continue to read, it shows how God’s hands are on the lives of people that He has chosen to show God’s love to the world. Last page of the Bible, we find Revelation 21. We see that heaven has descended on Earth and there are no more tears are no more pain. All is made right the way God originally intended it to be. Instead of a garden, it’s a city. The scripture tells a story that starts in a garden, but has grown so large it ends in a city. What started with two people in a garden, God gave the vision to “Be fruitful and multiply.” When you develop what God has given you, it looks better than when it started.
We easily make the mistake in thinking God’s plan for our life is about us. God has a plan for the world. Any plans for our lives ultimately need to be connected to God’s plan for the world. He made you on purpose with strengths, weaknesses and pain to be a part of his beautiful plan. Not everything in your life happens for a reason, but it can have a purpose if you give it to Him.
Some of us are vision people, but we’re not planning people. I feel like we’re usually one or the other. I’ve also noticed that God usually reveals one or the other. I have yet to have God tell me what the vision for my life is and at the same time tell me how to get there. God either shows me a next step to take or He says, “Be fruitful and multiply.” Some of us our vision people, we can see where we want to land, but need the clarity of how to get there. Others of us are good with just one day at a time and are allergic to plans. One vision that we all need to share is how we will answer God when we are standing before Him.
In Matthew 25, Jesus tells the story about a wealthy man that was going on a long trip. He took three of his servants and entrusted them each with bags of gold. The first servant he gave five bags of gold. The second, he gave two bags of gold. The last servant received one bag of gold. Jesus tells us that the master comes back and checks in with his three servants. “Hey, how did go with those bags of gold that were mine that I gave you to steward while I was gone?” The first servant that received five bags, tells the master that he doubled the gold and now has an additional 5 bags. The master was pleased and said, “Well done good and faithful servant. I entrusted you with a little. And now I’m going to entrust you with even more.” The second servant also doubled his gold and now had an additional two bags of gold to give to his master. The master also said, “Well done good and faithful servant. You were faithful with the little and now I’ll entrust you with more.” Next guy has one bag of gold. Instead of using the gold given to him, he buried it in the ground. He didn’t spend it on anything for himself, didn’t waste it, didn’t take a risk and lose it, he didn’t do anything with it. Instead he gave the master back what was given to him. The master was not pleased with him. He was punished for being a bad steward for what God gave him. He didn’t hear well done good and faithful servant. He heard you wicked and lazy servant.
When we meet God, there will be two judgments. The first judgment will be to determine if we are forgiven or not. I’m going to stand there as a sinner who’s made a lot of mistakes in my life. Then Jesus is going to step in and say, “We don’t need to talk about that. Father, you and I both know that I gave my perfect life for him. I died my death for him on the cross and rose for him. So he’s forgiven and your son.” My plan at the first judgement is to take the free gift of salvation made possible through the person and the work of Jesus. The second judgment, will determine how you handled the life we were given. How did you steward the family that He gave you? How did you steward the neighbors on your street and the coworkers next to you? How did you steward the body that God gave you and the money in your bank account? Some people are given 5 bags of gold with lots of talent and favor. That’s not me. Everybody gets dealt a different hand, but we don’t answer for anybody else’s hand. We answer for the hand that we’re dealt.
If you want to make a vision, start with a vision that’s bigger than yourself. Heaven does laugh at our plans, not because they’re bad plans, but because they’re too small. We make small plans by default, because our plans are about us. Get a God-sized vision for your life. The kind that scares you a little bit. Looking at the life of Joseph we see that he lived a life that demanded an explanation. The Spirit of God was in him and working through him. That’s the kind of life I want to live. I want to get to the end of my life and hear Jesus say, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You were faithful with a little, and I kept promoting you. You were faithful with that, so I promoted you again. I’m thinking we should do this for eternity.” I love that Jesus is with me, in my lowest and highest moments.
2. Make a plan
“Now a young Hebrew was there with us, a servant of the captain of the guard. We told him our dreams, and he interpreted them for us, giving each man the interpretations of his dream. And things turned out exactly as he interpreted them to us: I was restored to my position, and the other man was impaled.”
So Pharaoh sent for Joseph, and he was quickly brought from the dungeon. When he had shaved and changed his clothes, he came before Pharaoh.
Joseph has been in a dark dungeon for years. While being imprisoned for something he did not do, he stayed away from complaining, blaming and the temptation of escaping. He’s been in the dark place of his life where God’s been refining him and getting him ready for this moment. When Pharaoh calls Joseph out of the prison, Joseph takes a moment to prepare. First, he knows that Egyptian culture is different than Hebrew culture. Joseph had grown a long beard, but knew that Egyptians were clean shaven except for a small chin beard. Second, he changes his clothes to look presentable. Freshly showered, clean shaven and a change of clothes put him in a position to be ready to meet with Pharaoh. Now when Joseph goes before Pharaoh, it looks like he belongs there. Are you positioned for God’s purpose in your life? Some of you want God to bless you, but first you need to position yourself to be blessed.
Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I had a dream, and no one can interpret it. But I have heard it said of you that when you hear a dream you can interpret it.”
“I cannot do it,” Joseph replied to Pharaoh, “but God will give Pharaoh the answer he desires.”
Joseph takes on a posture of humility right from the start. I don’t know about you, but after being in a dungeon for 10 years, I’d say whatever interpretation they wanted me to say. If it was me, I would fake it instead of saying, “It’s up to God.”
The plan seemed good to Pharaoh and to all his officials. So Pharaoh asked them, “Can we find anyone like this man, one in whom is the spirt of God?”
Pharaoh’s dream consisted of seven fat cows and seven skinny cows. The seven fat cows represented seven years of plenty and prosperity in Egypt. That was followed by seven skinny cows that represented seven years of very harsh famine that affected the globe. The plan God gave Joseph was to save and store food in the years of plenty so they will be prepared for the years of famine. Joseph starts to put these things in motion and making a plan. Knowing that the famine would affect the world, they would be able to sell from their plenty to the other nations and end up making a profit and put themselves in an even greater position of power. Pharaoh doesn’t say the plan is great, instead the plan is good. What really stands out the most is that the Spirit of God was on Joseph.
Sometimes you don’t want to make plans because you’re afraid your plans are going to fail. Can I encourage you, as somebody who’s made a lot of lame plans? Some of those plans didn’t work out very well. Can I tell you, that God has been with me in every one of my failures? Even with some of the worst plans that I’ve made, God looked at me and he laughed. He didn’t laugh because the plans were so bad, instead He loved the fact that I had the faith to make a plan.
Without faith it is impossible to please God.
Talking about dumb ideas, I started a church in a karate dojo. That has to be the worst strategy ever. People that attended couldn’t wear shoes and our nursery was in an octagon cage. The octagon cage had to be cleaned to get the blood off the mats before we put the babies and volunteers in there. It looked like the babies were gonna fight each other. You know what that plan was dumb. But God blessed that plan, because it was made in faith. Now our church is growing and the babies have their own sanitized room dedicated to them. God says, “Listen, your plan doesn’t impress me. It’s your faith that gets my attention.” God doesn’t want the best plans. No, he’ll take what he can get with even a little bit of faith. He doesn’t care if your faith is the size of a mustard seed, it’s about the quality of your faith not the quantity. Even with the tiniest bit of faith, our big God can change the world.
3. Obey God
Some of you are good with having vision, but just don’t know how to get there. Some of you are standing in a garden and you’re overwhelmed with the task to “Be fruitful and multiply.” You know you want to follow God, but you don’t really know what it’s gonna look like. Your next step is obedience. You’re not gonna wake up in the morning to an email from God with a list of things to do. Instead, you need to make a plan and obediently do it.
Reasons to make a plan
- It honors God when you take responsibility for your life.
- It honors God when you plan in faith.
- It honors God when you live life with the end in mind.
When we invest what God has given us back into His kingdom he will greet us and say, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You were faithful with a little and now I can trust you with more.” Do you have a vision? Have you made a plan? Are you ready to obey?