My brothers and sisters, each of us have something in common, and that is, all of us have dreams. It does not matter who you are, each of us have dreams.
Some of our dreams are shattered dreams, some are fulfilled dreams, and some are small dreams; still others are large dreams. In fact, some are past dreams, and yes, some are present dreams. We all have some dreams. Even children have dreams, and many of them dream of who they can become. Actually, we kind of help them with their dreams. The other day, one of the kids said to me, “Pastor, do you know what I want to be when I grow up?” I said, “No.” He said, “I want to be a pastor.” He had a dream.
Not only do our children have dreams, but I have discovered that even our communities have dreams. It does not matter where you live, on the south side, the north side, or the west side, our dream is to have a better community. We are tired of the black on black crime that is plaguing our communities, so, we too, dream of safer communities. Then not only do the children have dreams, and our communities have dreams, but even the churches have dreams, and our dream is to save the lost at any cost.
Now watch this, there are two kinds of dreams: one refers to those powerful images we have when we are asleep–that something we do not remember, and the other kind of dream is about our aspirations, goals, and future visions. I want to talk to you about “How to Keep Your Dreams Alive.” There are things you must know: (1) Know you have to be different. (2) Know that you will be treated differently, and (3) Know that you will rise differently. Look at the text in Genesis 37, verses 1 through 5. The text begins with, “And Jacob…” And is a conjunction, so, therefore, before we can deal with Chapter 37, there has to be other things that come before it.
Well verse 1 says, “And Jacob dwelt in the land wherein his father was a stranger, in the land of Canaan.” It tells us where Jacob lived, but, verse two is the key: “These are the generations of Jacob. Joseph, being seventeen years old….” So the text is really about Joseph, but now this was not the first time that we hear of Joseph, for in Chapter 30, verses 22-24, Jacob’s favorite wife, Rachel, has his favorite son, Joseph. Rachel had been barren for many years, and even though Jacob had four wives (Leah, Bilhah, Zilpah, and Rachel), Rachel was his favorite wife.
The second mention of Joseph is in Genesis 33:2. Jacob’s brother, Esau and four hundred men were approaching the camp of Jacob; so, to protect the camp, Jacob placed Rachel and Joseph at the rear of the camp so that if anything happened, they could get to safety quickly.
Then the third time we see Joseph is in Genesis 33:7. Rachel and Joseph are brought to meet with Uncle Esau and they bow down to Esau. Joseph had been taught some manners, which in our society is rare. However, Joseph was different. We see Joseph again in Chapter 36, verse 24 when Joseph is simply listed in the registry of Jacob’s sons.
Then, finally, we come to Chapter 37 in verse 2, where Joseph is seventeen years old, out feeding the flock of his father with some of his stepbrothers. The text says that Joseph brought his father an evil report concerning his brothers. Now there are some that would accuse Joseph of being a tattletale, but that was not the case for three reasons: (1) Tattle tales do not tell the truth, they always like to add to the truth. (2) It was Joseph’s job to tell, and (3) Joseph was obligated to his father. As Christians, we are also obligated to our Heavenly Father. Now watch this, out of all of Jacob’s sons the text says “Jacob loved Joseph more than all his children because he was the son of his old age.”
Now if Jacob loved Joseph more than all of his other children, that would be a problem because Jacob had another son after Joseph, named Benjamin. Well Joseph, the son of his old age, in Hebrew, means a “wise son;” one who possesses wisdom above his years. First, Joseph was different. He was wise at a young age and that tells us you do not have to be old to be wise. Joseph was a type of Christ. Jesus was only 33 years old and look what he accomplished.
When man was hungry, who fed them?
When man was thirsty, who gave them water?
When man was lost, Jesus became the bright and morning star.
When man was sick, Jesus became the great physician.
When man was lonely, Jesus became a friend that sticks closer than a brother.
When man was burdened down, Jesus became a burden bearer.
When man was in darkness, Jesus became the light of the world.
The text says Jacob gave Joseph a coat of many colors. The coat symbolized leadership. Joseph was a leader. My brothers and sisters, if you are going to keep your dreams alive, you must be different.
My brother Herbert is 65 years old and he had to ask me, his baby brother, for spiritual counseling. He knew that spiritually, his baby brother, was wiser than he was.
Then second, Joseph was treated differently (see verse 4). The text says his brothers saw how daddy loved him more. They hated him. Do you know that people will treat you different because you are blessed? Sometimes friends, you know those that smile in your face and all the time are trying to take your place–backstabbers. Can I tell you not everybody is excited about your success, and because people are not excited, they will treat you differently.
Watch this, I can understand sometimes why my friends do not like me, because I do not have many friends. I just have associates, but that is okay. They never liked me so that does not matter, but when it comes to family, for you see the text says, Joseph’s brothers hated him. They hated their own brother. They were full of animosity, they detested him, disliked him intensely, they were sickened by Joseph. His own brothers hated him. No doubt when the other brothers got together on Memorial Day to barbeque, they would not invite Joseph. When, or if their wives would have his nephew, they would not even tell him the child’s name. When the brother’s family got together on Christmas, and everybody put their name in the hat to pull names; they would not have his name in the hat. When their kids graduated from high school, Joseph would not get an invitation. They hated him.
However, notice in verse six, Joseph says, “I pray you,” in other words, you might not want to hear my prayers, but I will tell you anyway. I told you that Joseph was a type of Christ, who died and was buried, but rose from the dead. In addition, if you are going to keep your dreams alive, you have to know Jesus.
Abraham knew Him as the sacrifice.
Moses knew Him as the pillar of cloud.
Aaron knew Him as the rod that budded.
Gideon knew Him as the angel of the Lord.
Ruth knew Him as the kingdom redeemer.
Samuel knew Him as the Ark of the Covenant.
Elijah knew Him as the still small voice.
Ezekiel knew Him as a wheel in the middle of a wheel
Isaiah knew Him as the high and lifted up.
Nevertheless, I know Him as my all and all.
There was an old woman with children who she was sick. The oldest boy went to the mother and said, “Momma, we don’t have any food in the cupboard, what are we going to do.” The old lady said, “Son help me to the window.” The old woman sat at the window, looked out, and said three words, “Lord, you promised.” She then walked back to her bed. After a while, the son went back to th
e window and said, “Momma, we still don’t have any food and all you said was, “Lord you promised.” After this, there was a loud crash in front of the house. There was a truck outside. The wind trailer of the truck fell over, and there was ham, potatoes, beans, and rice right in front of the house. The driver of the truck said, “You can have all you can pick up.” The kids adopted character because they remembered what momma said, “Lord, you promised.” Whatever your dreams are, hold on, help is on the way.
If God said it, that settles it.
Keep your dreams alive.
Dr. Kevin D. Barnes, Sr. is the pastor of the Abyssinian Missionary Baptist Church in Oakland, California.