Have you ever felt like your dream would never come to fruition? I have been thinking about this very topic recently as I have been studying the story of Joseph from Genesis 37-47. Joseph had two different literal dreams as a young man that his brothers would bow down to him. These were not just “pizza dreams”; they were prophetic dreams that foretold his destiny that he was to fulfill. However, his brothers despised him when he shared the dreams, which ultimately landed him in a pit.
Maybe you haven’t had a literal dream as Joseph did of the destiny you are to walk in, but you do have hopes and aspirations to fulfill the purposes God has for your life. If you have accepted the truth that He does have a plan for your life, then I hope that you are actively moving through each stage of this process.
Joseph definitely endured a difficult process. After telling his brothers about the dream, they schemed to destroy him. His first stop in the process was a pit where his brothers cast him to die. Later they decided it would be better if they could make a profit on his demise, so they pulled him out of the pit and sold him as a slave.
Regardless of the bad things that happen to people, when God has a plan for your life, He will make you successful even when others cannot accept His favor on your life. Even though Joseph was sold as a slave, you can read below the passage about his success.
Genesis 39:2-6 NKJV
2 The Lord was with Joseph, and he was a successful man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian. 3 And his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord made all he did to prosper in his hand. 4 So Joseph found favor in his sight, and served him. Then he made him overseer of his house, and all that he had he put under his authority. 5 So it was, from the time that he had made him overseer of his house and all that he had, that the Lord blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; and the blessing of the Lord was on all that he had in the house and in the field.
As I stated earlier, the fulfillment of Joseph’s dream was a process. It did not end with this success. He found himself in a situation where even though he did what was right, he was wrongfully accused and landed in prison for a crime he did not commit. First, a pit, and now prison, this is where most people give up on the dream, but not Joseph!
Genesis 39:21-23 NKJV
21 But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him mercy, and He gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison. 22 And the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph’s hand all the prisoners who were in the prison; whatever they did there, it was his doing. 23 The keeper of the prison did not look into anything that was under Joseph’s authority, because the Lord was with him; and whatever he did, the Lord made it prosper.
What is the dream God has but in your heart? In your natural mind that dream may seem as ridiculous as Joseph’s dream seemed to his brothers. Perhaps you have experienced your own version of the pit and the prison on your way to the fulfillment of your dream.
The Bible doesn’t tell us about the feelings I am sure Joseph had to deal with during this difficult process. I am sure there were times that he felt so isolated and alone as no one seemed to understand the purpose God had put in his heart. He had this unusual destiny locked inside of him that could not seem to find a way out. I suspect that there were times when he questioned the validity of the dream, and wondered if he had misunderstood the message. Since he seemed to find success wherever he was, even in prison, was he tempted to settle for a modified version of the dream? I wonder if he also struggled to maintain hope for fear of yet another disappointment.
Let me share the part of Joseph’s story that encourages me the most. His situation changed suddenly! One day Pharaoh was desperate to have a troublesome dream interpreted. Because Joseph had been faithful to his calling, even when he was in prison, he was recommended for the job. This single event unlocked his destiny, the path to the Palace, and ultimately the fulfillment of his original dream. This promotion allowed Joseph to fulfill a mightily calling on his life. Look below at Joseph’s response when his brothers apologized for their actions.
“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive. Gen 50:20 NASU
There may be many obstacles in your path between the dream and the fulfillment of the promise, but I want to encourage you today to let Joseph be an example that gives you hope. The pit and the prison did not prevent the promise; they prepared him to fulfill the calling he was created to do. If God has given you a dream, stay faithful during the process and you will realize the promise. Today could be the day that suddenly happens for you too!
Everyone loves a season of revival, but how do we experience this season? If I take a food recipe, add every ingredient just as directed, and follow every instruction, I can expect a specific outcome. Unfortunately, I don’t believe there is an exact recipe for revival. God chooses when and how He wants to reveal Himself to His children. One thing we can do is create an atmosphere that is conducive for God to move in our midst. This is not a formula or a recipe, but an opportunity for an appointment.
The definition of atmosphere is, “A surrounding influence or environment”. 1 This is simple to explain, but defining revival is not quite as easy. I think we often equate “revival” to special services that are scheduled from time to time, but this is not what I am talking about.
For some, revival is literally bringing back to life; similar to the way you would revive a person who has stopped breathing, or one whose heart stopped beating. Some are dead to the things of God, and are living their life away from Him. They are revived to life in Christ when they begin serving Him for the first time or they come back after being in a backslidden state. A revival should be a time where we see the lost saved and the backslidden come home.
What is revival for Christians, those who are faithful to attend church, and practice the disciplines of faith? Consider this passage of Scripture.
2 Corinthians 3:16-18 NASU
16 but whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.
Based on this passage, we could say that for the Christian, revival is a time of renewal. A time of renewed focus, rekindled passion, and revitalized energy to pursue the next place in God. A season where there is movement from one state of glory to the next. This passage says that we “are being transformed.” It is not a stagnant state and I believe a season of revival is a time to move from one state of glory to the next.
There is a familiar passage in Matthew where Jesus explains the parable of the sower. This parable is relating to people who receive the Word of God, but I also think this passage can be used to paint the picture I am talking about with revival.
Matthew 13:18-23 NASU
18″Hear then the parable of the sower. 19 “When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is the one on whom seed was sown beside the road. 20 “The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21 yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away. 22 “And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. 23 “And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the man who hears the word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit and brings forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.”
The common element in all four of these examples was the seed. The seed did not change, but the ground where it was positioned did. For this analogy, I want you to consider the seed as an opportunity for revival or renewal and let us consider the ground as the atmosphere.
In this parable we see that the ground, or in our analogy the atmosphere, can be hindered by many things. The enemy hindered the growth of the first seed. That is because he hates revival, and will pull out every weapon in his arsenal to prevent a move of God.
The second seed in the parable was hindered by affliction and persecution, “because of the word”. It is common for those who are actively seeking revival to come under attack. As I already stated, the enemy hates revival.
The third seed’s growth was hindered by worry, anxiety, cares of this world, and deceitfulness of wealth. All of these are distractions, and if we do not cast these cares over on the Lord, they will prevent us from having an atmosphere conducive for revival.
Jesus has provided the power for us to overcome all of these hindrances, and just as we can create good soil that is favorable for seed to grow, we can create an atmosphere that is conducive for revival or renewal.
The first thing we do to create that atmosphere for revival is to pray. The Bible says:
2 Chronicles 7:14 NKJV
If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
History shows us that every significant revival was birthed with prayer.
The second thing that will shift the atmosphere is praise and worship!
2 Chronicles 5:13-14 AMP
13 And when the trumpeters and singers were joined in unison, making one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the Lord, and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and other instruments for song and praised the Lord, saying, For He is good, for His mercy and loving-kindness endure forever, then the house of the Lord was filled with a cloud, 14 So that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the house of God.
You can shift the atmosphere with praise and worship as an individual, but look what happened when a corporate body joined in unison! The glory of the Lord filled the house so that the priest could not stand to minister! That is what I call revival!
When the enemy comes to steal your seed, or the cares of life are pressing against you, or trials and tribulations are making you want to back up….just start praising and worshiping and you will see the atmosphere shift!
Look at this example when Paul and Silas are in prison:
Acts 16:25-30 NASU
25 But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them; 26 and suddenly there came a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison house were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were unfastened. 27 When the jailer awoke and saw the prison doors opened, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here!” 29 And he called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas, 30 and after he brought them out, he said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
Again, that is what I call revival! Their prayer and their praise changed the atmosphere in this prison. Chains were broken, and when these signs and wonders happened, the jailer wanted to know what he needed to do to be saved!
This is what we see in a season of revival, we see prisoners set free, we see chains broken, addictions broken, bad habits broken, negative mindsets broken, and we see people get saved!
The third thing that creates an atmosphere for revival is hunger or desperation.
Proverbs 16:26 The Message Bible
Appetite is an incentive to work; hunger makes you work all the harder.
This passage is basically saying people who are physically hungry have an incentive to work. Hunger, in the natural, will drive people to do things they might not otherwise do. It should also be this way in the spiritual realm. Our spiritual hunger for a move of God should drive us to dig deeper and do things we might not otherwise do, and it will move Him and will shift the atmosphere.
When Jesus gave the beatitudes in the Sermon on the Mount, one of them was about hunger.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
Matthew 5:6 NASU
Hunger and desperation for a touch of God is powerful. There are so many examples in scripture of this, but one of my very favorites is Bartimaeus.
Luke 18:35-43 NASU
35 As Jesus was approaching Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the road begging. 36 Now hearing a crowd going by, he began to inquire what this was. 37 They told him that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by. 38 And he called out, saying, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 39 Those who led the way were sternly telling him to be quiet; but he kept crying out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 40 And Jesus stopped and commanded that he be brought to Him; and when he came near, He questioned him, 41 “What do you want Me to do for you?” And he said, “Lord, I want to regain my sight!” 42 And Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has made you well.” 43 Immediately he regained his sight and began following Him, glorifying God; and when all the people saw it, they gave praise to God.
I love this man! He did not care what others thought or what they said, he was a desperate man. When he realized the uproar of the crowd was a result of Jesus coming near, he was determined to take action. He cried out with all his might, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
He was persistent. When he was told to be quiet, his response was to cry even louder, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
Those around you may not understand your hunger and your desperation, these people didn’t understand Bartameus. I can just hear in my mind what he might have been thinking when those around him were telling him to be quiet. “It is easy for you to not be hungry for something, it is easy for you to not be desperate, but I haven’t seen everything I want to see yet!”
I feel the same way; I have not seen everything I want to see yet! I want my hunger and my desperation to reach heaven. I want it to shift the atmosphere and bring revival in to this city, to this state and to our world!
The last thing that creates an atmosphere for revival is expectancy. After Jesus died on the cross and rose again, we read in Acts where He provided instructions to the believers.
3 To these He also presented Himself alive after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God. 4 Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, “Which,” He said, “you heard of from Me; 5 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”
Acts 1:3-5 NASU
If you continue reading in this passage, it tells us that Jesus ascended to heaven and they traveled back to Jerusalem where they went to the upper room. The Bible says that they were “All with one mind and were continually devoting themselves to prayer”. (Acts 1:14)
I believe that they went into that upper room with expectation. I believe, as they stayed unified in prayer they anticipated the very thing that Jesus had told them was promised.
When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance.
Acts 2:1-4 NASU
I believe this group in this upper room created an atmosphere for revival. They prayed, they worshiped, they were hungry, they were expectant…, and SUDDENLY heaven appeared!
They did not know what this season of revival would look like. I am sure they did not expect it to be like it was, but it was powerful and it was from God. The Bible says about three thousand were saved that day and, “Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles”. (Acts 2:43)
That is what I call revival!
While revival is difficult to define, it is something we must contend for. We can’t just follow a recipe and expect a specific outcome, but we can pray, praise and worship, be hungry, and expect a move of God, and we will create an atmosphere where He will do just that!
Will you join me? Will you contend with us to create an atmosphere that is conducive for revival?
As I close this teaching, I want to link you to a video to watch. When I was seeking God in prayer about this lesson, He gave me the title and the main points. After that, this song that you can hear at this link began to play.
The song begins with the words, “The atmosphere is changing now”. Later I looked for the video of the song instead of just the audio. Close to the end of the video, a small sprout begins to grow out of the ground. What confirmation for me, when I had used the analogy of the seed and the atmosphere! I believe if we are faithful, that we CAN create an atmosphere for God to move. Watch the video at this link and be blessed.
Atmosphere. 2016. In Merriam-Webster.com Retrieved April 19, 2016, from http//www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/atmosphere