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Sermon – Genesis 37:19-20
The Dream & the Joy Sucker


The Dream and the Joy Sucker

Then they said to one another, ‘Look, this dreamer is coming! Come therefore, let us now kill him and cast him into some pit; and we shall say that some wild beast has devoured him. We shall see what will become of his dreams!” (Genesis 37:19-20)

We just attended yet another Christian leadership conference. This one was an excellent session for pastors and spouses, presented by Focus on the Family.  The speaker, H. P. London, Jr., told of the WONDER of ministry, that God calls us, and His call is like a remarkable dream.  The "dream" becomes a growing ache that is never satisfied until His will is done. He quoted a song, "The dream never stops, just the dreamer; the song never stops, just the singer."

He said, "If God has given you a dream, it's likely an impossible dream, one that you can't complete by yourself."  He continued, "A big dream is proportionate to your faith in Him."  But he also cautioned that, “ministry is filled with rejection; trust somebody and they (often) betray you.

The statistics he cited about the ministry are disquieting: “1,000 pastors are lost every month in the U.S. – they opt out… 50% of those in seminary leave the ministry within five years after graduation… 50% of ‘church plants’ don’t survive the first few years… 50-70% of clergy spouses work outside of the home… 33% of all pastors have been fired at least one time… The average church in the U.S. has 90 people in attendance or fewer… Pastors spend up to 40% of their time dealing with the ‘negative’… 51% of churches in the U.S. have had a major conflict that has resulted in a reduction in attendanceSeven people or less in a local church can cause disharmony and it only takes one week of contention to destroy a decade of church contentment.

Some of his words brought smiles from those in attendance, especially his experiences during decades in ministry.  We especially enjoyed his phrase “Joy Sucker,” as applied to those who rob others of their joy.

He told about one man early in his ministry, who stood in the lobby waiting for him after church services.  He would gaze into the pastor’s face and utter statements about his sermons, such as, “Who cares?” or “So what?” or he would look at his watch and drive an emotional spear into the pastor’s heart, by snarling, “You wasted my time!

The pastor admitted he had very mixed feelings some years later, when he officiated at the man’s funeral.  He said he was appropriately somber: “I did a pretty fair job with the funeral, but I smiled inside. The man was in heaven; that was a good thing. We were happy he was gone, and that was a good thing, too.

In the Book of Genesis Chapter 37, we see that Joseph was given a dream from the Lord.  His brothers were annoyed by the dream and they spurned him.  Usually, when people do or say rejecting things, we don’t know what their motives are really all about.  But God knows our thoughts (Psalm 139:2) and He will reveal us, as He did Joseph’s brothers in Genesis 37:19-20 - “They said to one another, ‘Look, this dreamer is coming! Come therefore, let us now kill him and cast him into some pit; and we shall say that some wild beast has devoured him. We shall see what will become of his dreams!’

They thought they could harm him and get away with it, but God had other ideas.  God’s dream included that Joseph would save the very brothers who had become “Joy Suckers” in his life.  They would indeed SEE “what (became) of his dreams!” 

Joseph, in the Book of Genesis, became a “type” for many, including those who are sidetracked in the accomplishment of God’s will.  But note that where God gives a dream to one of His “little ones,” He will bring it to pass, no matter what the opposition, even if the opposition is “us.”

I was given a dream of ministry at 16-years of age, and promptly ran away from His purposes for fifteen years, becoming my own “Joy Sucker.”  However, in God’s time, decades later, He began to unfold the dream in ways I did not expect. 

The statistic given earlier, that “50% of those in seminary leave the ministry within five years after graduation” is a special concern.  While in college, years ago, I met those who had no intention of a life of ministry, though the college was a “religious” institution.  One of the men was an ordained pastor who declined a life of ministry, to instead be a “funeral director.”  We have met many who want out of ministry.  Some of those who opt out, probably never had a true “call” from the Lord, and any dream they had was not His.  But others (like me when I was young), simply lack the faith to continue, not understanding that when God calls, He will make it happen.

We tend to look at our human shortcomings, which are very real, indeed.  But we must also look to the Lord, who said in many ways and places in Scripture, “I am the Lord; I speak, and the word which I speak will come to pass” (Ezekiel 12:25).

If we think that all this is in OUR strength and not His, we tend to become like the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, who “had trusted” or who “had hoped” (note the past tense) that Jesus would redeem Israel (Luke 24:21).  They were looking at the circumstances of Jesus’ death, not understanding that the apparent “death” of the dream is not the end, because God gives life to the dead.  Their faith only went so far, whereas God’s faithfulness is without limit.  When all seems lost, He will bring you through.

Joseph had a dream, which was thrown into a pit with him.  He was then sold into slavery, lost his reputation, and went to jail.  All was lost, but was it?  Actually, nothing was lost because the dream was given by God, who subsequently brought it to pass.

Do you have a dream?  Do you know someone (like your pastor) that has a dream?  Don’t focus on the problems - They may be real, but so is God.

Lord, we turn to You right now.  We trust in Your dream for our lives – You will bring it to pass.  Thank You, Lord.  In Jesus Name.  Amen.

    Ron Beckham, Pastor
    Friday Study Ministries

Tel: (562) 688-5559
    PO Box 92131
    Long Beach, CA 90809-2131
    "While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8)


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