Sunday 8th December 2019
Audio / Teaching / Video

Total Forgiveness

Adrian Holloway on September 7, 2008 with 0 Comments

Genesis 50:15-21 – Preaching from ChristChurch London’s Sunday Service

Well, it’s great to be back. I’d like to share with you 3 things I’ve learned this summer:

The first is about WH Smiths, the second is about the rising price of electricity and the third is about internet access at Butlins Bognor.

So firstly, at the start of the summer holidays, I asked Esther, who’s 8, and Bethany who’s 7, “if Daddy promised to take you anywhere in the world you wanted, for a treat, 1 on 1, with Daddy, where would it be?”

And I’m expecting them to say: “Disneyland Paris or Alton Towers,” but they both say . . . “we’d like to go to W H Smiths.”

So I’m thinking: “Result! So much cheaper.”

I ask: “What do you want to buy in W H Smiths?

They said: “We don’t want to ‘buy’ anything, we just want to hang out in W H Smiths.”

And it turns out that that’s the place to hang out if you’re a girl and you’re 8. Which for me was a huge discovery. I mean, I get the fact that there aren’t a whole lot of places you can hang out when you’re 8. Like, you can’t exactly hang out down the pub, or if you did, that would certainly raise questions about the parenting. But W H Smiths, apparently, is the place. Now I didn’t know that!

Did you know that?

So it’s not just me

So I asked: “But what is there to do in W H Smith?

They just started listing all the departments.

But I’m thinking, ‘departments?’ at W H Smiths? I mean as far as I can remember, W H Smith sell newspapers, birthday cards, and those lever arch files, you know when you’re doing your A levels and you want to hole punch everything. And that’s about it. It was never a very exciting shop.

But I have discovered that W H Smith has changed! I’ve spent a large part of August in W H Smith!

So that was my first discovery this summer.

Second thing, the rising price of electricity. Now Julia, my wife, feels that I waste electricity unnecessarily – leaving lights on around the house etc. And technically, she’s right! But she’s gone and got this display screen gadget thing that we’ve now got in our kitchen that shows in pounds sterling and pence how much money we are spending on electricity at any single moment. So you walk in the kitchen, the lights are off, all the appliances are off, and you look at the screen, and it says: “everything’s OK, keep it like this, because at this rate, you’re only spending 17 pence a day,” But if you then switch the lights on and start boiling the kettle it says: “Mate, you keep it like this and it’s going to cost you £175 a day.” That’s not an exaggeration. If you boiled and then re-boiled the kettle all day with the lights on, the electricity would cost £175 a day.

I didn’t know that!

Did you know that?

So the second thing I learned is that the price of electricity has gone up massively.

Next thing, we went to Butlins Bognor for a week, where, you can watch live on stage every night to the losing X Factor finalists. And guess what . . . they have wireless internet access in every single chalet! In other words not just in the Shoreline hotel and the De Luxe villas. Not just in Gold or Silver Plus Accommodation. But even in standard class accommodation, you can get broadband, so I was able, whilst on holiday to download off Itunes, every single Christ Church London talk in our August Joseph series.

So, I’ve listened to James Haslam, Pete Mac, Ross Bull, Uncle Rhys – all of which have been brilliant, and today I’ve been asked to finish off the series. Today, we get to Genesis chapter 50, and the end of the book of Genesis.

And today in verse 20 of Chapter 50, we’re going to study perhaps the greatest example in the Old Testament of what I want to call “Total Forgiveness.”

Tonight we will see that there’s something beyond saying: “I forgive you.” Though that’s a good start. There’s something beyond saying: “I forgive you,” and meaning it and then praying for the person. There are several steps, even beyond that before you get to totally forgive someone who has deeply offended you, and you genuinely set them free.

And in Chapter 50 we see Joseph scale those heights. We see the climax of Joseph’s life, as Joseph reaches the summit of godly maturity. He succeeds in doing the hardest thing that any of us are ever called to do. Joseph demonstrates ‘Total Forgiveness!’

And I want to ask you straight up . . . is there anyone who you have yet to totally forgive? Because until you totally forgive that person, whilst there’s still some bitterness, some resentment inside you, there’s poison in your system. Tonight I’m going to ask you to do yourself a favour. Forgive totally. Do what Joseph did. Set the other person free. And you’ll experience a new freedom.

Now before we look at our text, let’s just remind ourselves of the outrageous injustices Joseph had suffered . . .

1. His brothers tried to kill him because they hated him

SLIDE 1:
Title: Total Forgiveness (Genesis 50)
1. His brothers tried to kill him because they hated him

“They saw him [Joseph] in the distance and . . . plotted to kill him . . . They said to each other . . . ‘Let’s kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns’.” (Gen 37:18-20)

Of course, if you don’t know the story, you might ask . . . Yeah, but maybe Joseph deserved it? Maybe Joseph did something really evil?

But Joseph’s ‘crime’ was that he told his brothers. “Hey, guess what? I had this great dream where you guys all just fell at my feet. Isn’t that cool?”

Which is annoying. But if I’d shared a couple of annoying dreams with my brothers, and they had decided to murder me as a result – personally, I would have thought that was a bit of an over-reaction.

Here’s the brothers response . . .

“They saw him [Joseph] in the distance and . . . plotted to kill him . . . They said to each other . . . ‘Let’s kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns.’” (Gen 37:18-20)

Then they realize that maybe the death penalty is a bit OTT, so in their mercy, they decide to only sell Joseph into slavery.

SLIDE 2:
Title: Total Forgiveness (Genesis 50)
2. His brothers sold him into slavery, for which they pocketed 20 shekels of silver. (Genesis 37:28)

Now, think of how annoying and immature your brother was when he was 17. He was a pain wasn’t he? But you didn’t actually sell him into slavery did you? You may have wanted to, but you didn’t.

These guys sold their own brother into slavery for twenty shekels of silver. They sold their own flesh and blood. They made money out of selling Joseph. Maybe, their wives got suspicious and said: “Hey Simeon, how come you can suddenly afford to order in pizza every night, where’s the money coming from all of a sudden?” And Simeon replies, “Oh, we found 20 shekels of silver down the back of the sofa.” In other words, they lied. They sold their brother into slavery and then lied about it.

Then they lied to their own father, saying that Joseph was dead.

SLIDE 3:
Title: Total Forgiveness (Genesis 50)
3. His brothers lied to Joseph’s father Jacob saying that Joseph was dead. (Gen 37:32)

“A wild animal killed him. We had nothing to do with it. Honest!”

And even then, on any day, 1 month later, 1 year or 5 years later, all it would have taken was one of the brothers to say to Jacob: “Dad, I’m really sorry. We lied to you. Joseph didn’t die. We sold him into slavery.”

But none of them ever did the decent thing. None of them ever owned up!

So Joseph suffered appalling injustices, at the hands of his own family.

He ends up working as a slave for Potiphar. He serves Potiphar brilliantly, does him no wrong, but Potiphar’s wife accuses Joseph of attempting to rape her. (Gen 39:17)
. . .

SLIDE 4:
Title: Total Forgiveness (Genesis 50)
4. Potiphar’s wife accuses Joseph of attempting to rape her. (Gen 39:17)
5. Potiphar throws Joseph in prison. (Gen 39:20)
6. The cupbearer forgets, and Joseph stays in prison for a further 2 years. (Gen 40:23)

Joseph is totally innocent, but . . . 5.Potiphar throws Joseph in prison.

There he meets Pharoah’s cupbearer. Joseph interprets the cupbearer’s dream. Pharoah’s cup-bearer gets out of prison, promises to plead Joseph’s case and try and get Joseph out of prison, but
6. The cupbearer forgets, and Joseph stays in prison for a further 2 years.

And so when Joseph finally meets his brothers, in Genesis chapter 45, you’d expect Joseph to be hopping mad. Instead, Joseph forgives them!

But as we come to our passage tonight, it’s 17 years later, and sadly, the brothers are still lying. Jacob, their father, has just died and here’s what happens next . . .

SLIDE 5:
15 When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “What if Joseph holds a grudge against us and pays us back for all the wrongs we did to him?” 16 So they sent word to Joseph, saying, “Your father left these instructions before he died: 17 ‘This is what you are to say to Joseph: I ask you to forgive your brothers the sins and the wrongs they committed in treating you so badly.’ Now please forgive the sins of the servants of the God of your father.” (Genesis 50: 15-17)

There’s no record of Jacob saying any such thing. This is a lie. The brothers are scared witless, so they start lying again. Joseph knows they’re lying, and so . . .

SLIDE 6:
When their message came to him, Joseph wept.
18 His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. “We are your slaves,” they said. (Genesis 50:18)

At which point, Joseph could have replied: “Yes and you should be my slaves because you ruined my life! You sold me into slavery. You made me live my whole life in a country I didn’t want to be in. I was in prison. I was homeless. I was a slave. I was accused of rape. I missed my 20s. You separated me from my dad for 22 years. All that time you made him believe I was dead. My own mother died and I never got to say goodbye to her or go to her funeral. But even so, 17 years ago, I forgave you. Since then I’ve fed you, your kids and your families. Housed you, cared for you. Only to find that now, all these years later, you’re still lying to me and trying to deceive me.”

But instead of saying any of that . . .

SLIDE 7:
19 But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? 20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. 21 So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them. (Genesis 50:19-21)

So let’s look at what total forgiveness really is, and this is no ordinary subject, this is no ordinary service, because totally forgiving the person or people who offended you, could be the most important thing God has ever asked you to do. You could be on the brink of a significant breakthrough in your life . . .

So let’s look at total forgiveness:

First he says:

SLIDE 8 :
Title: Total Forgiveness (Genesis 50)
a) “Don’t be afraid” (vs 19)
b) “Am I in the place of God?” (vs 19)
c) “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” (vs 20)
d) I will provide for you and your children (vs 21)
e) And he re-assured them and spoke kindly to them (vs 21)

“Don’t be afraid”

Don’t be afraid. Why’s this so significant? Well, until you’ve totally forgiven the other person, you want them to be afraid. You want them to be anxious. You don’t want them to get away with what they did to you. So if they’re feeling nervous about what the repercussions are going to be . . . good!

Total forgiveness is when you don’t want the other person to feel guilty anymore. You don’t want them to pay for what they did to you.

Let’s be honest . . . Your bitterness, at the moment, seems reasonable, justifiable. In the light of what they’ve done to you, it’s hardly surprising that you feel bitter.

But here’s the deal, your bitterness isn’t damaging anyone but yourself. You’re not getting back at them by feeling bitter. You’re not hurting them. The only person you’re hurting is yourself. Or in my case, I usually hurt my wife and kids also, because if I’m bitter, it makes for a lousy atmosphere around the house, and my wife and kids suffer unfairly as a result of my selfish choice to hold onto my feelings of bitterness.

I have learned that if I allow any bitterness to stay in my heart, I lose peace. And I’ve come to the conclusion, it’s just not worth it!

So what’s the first step? Well, of course you start by telling God out loud: “I forgive so and so,” and at that stage you feel nothing. It will probably require a daily commitment for it to ever develop beyond limited or technical forgiveness. You’ve not felt any joy at this stage. You’re some way off total forgiveness.

Next Joseph says “Am I in the place of God?

SLIDE 8 :
Title: Total Forgiveness (Genesis 50)

a) “Don’t be afraid” (vs 19)
b) “Am I in the place of God?” (vs 19)
c) “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” (vs 20)
d) I will provide for you and your children (vs 21)
e) And he re-assured them and spoke kindly to them (vs 21)

When someone offends you, the reason it’s a problem is because it’s personal. But by saying “Am I in the place of God?” Joseph totally diffuses the tension by showing that he no longer takes the offence personally. In other words: “There’s no need to apologise to me any more. The offence no longer exists as far as I am concerned. You are totally free.” He’s not going to tell on them.

“But Adrian to not tell anyone what the other person did to me, and just forgive. That’s massive!”

OK, now of course, it does depend what the offence is. There are some offences that you must report, abuse, rape and so on. But most of the offences we’re dealing with in this room tonight. Most of the bitterness in this room tonight is not about stuff that needs to be reported to the police, or to the church elders. It’s to do with people that have hurt you in ways that would never lead to a trial or church discipline. You hold a grudge against someone.

And here’s the weird deal with my own unforgiveness. For about 3 years I genuinely thought I had forgiven a certain person. Only to realise that in fact, I hadn’t. And I wish I could have those 3 years back. I mean lots of good things happened in those 3 years. It wasn’t all doom and gloom. But if only I’d been more disciplined in my thinking, I now realise I could have had so much more peace and joy in my life. And the longer you’ve been a Christian, the more embarrassing it becomes to admit that you actually do have unforgiveness in your heart.

So let’s be a bit more specific. The offences that hurt most are usually from those closest to us, or from those from whom we had reason to expect something better. In other words – a Christian. Am I right?

Here’s the most likely person who you have yet to totally forgive. A Christian in the church, this church, or some other church, who was close to you, and at this moment, they don’t believe they’ve done anything wrong.

I remember making the classic mistake on this one. When I first became a Christian, I went on this missionary trip to a Moslem country. And there was one guy on the team who really got on my nerves. And I just really struggled to be in the same room with him, and then I felt guilty, because here I am on this evangelistic mission, and I’ve got unforgiveness towards this bloke on the team. I realise I’ve got to forgive him. So in my moment of triumph, I go to him and say: “Hi! I find you really difficult to be around. I think you’re selfish, and you’re damaging this team, but I just wanted you to know, I forgive you.”

And he’s like: “Great! Thanks so much. That’s so kind of you to share that with me. You know what the other day I found this great verse in the bible, it’s about taking the plank out of your own eye, before you try and take a speck out of someone else’s. You might want to check it out sometime.”

OK, when the other person apologises, it’s so much easier. But in your case, they don’t, and they never will apologise because they don’t think they have anything to apologise for.

So how am I going to find the motivation to totally forgive?

Thankfully, Jesus knows how carnal I am, so, Jesus appeals to my self-interest. He says: “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.” (Matthew 7:1). He could have said: “Don’t judge people Adrian, because it’s wrong.” But that doesn’t motivate me enough. I’m too sinful for that. There are loads of things that I know are wrong, but I do them anyway. Here Jesus gives me a much more powerful incentive. He says: “Don’t judge Adrian, or you will be judged. If you Adrian, broadcast the information you’ve got on person X that most people don’t know, I the Lord your God will broadcast the information I’ve got on you, that most people don’t know.”

And when God says that to me I have found, it works!

We’re told to forgive “as the Lord forgave you.”

How has the Lord forgiven me? Well my sins will never be held against me. Nobody will ever know what I’ve done. As far as the east is from the west so far has he removed our transgressions from us. Therefore to forgive as the Lord forgave me means I hold nothing against Person X.

As a result, total forgiveness probably seems to several people here tonight, completely unrealistic. So let’s be clear, you don’t have to approve of what they did, you don’t have to excuse what they did, God’s not asking you to forget what happened, or pretend it didn’t happen. No-one’s asking you to say that it really wasn’t that big a deal after all. You don’t even have to be reconciled to the other person, because that may be impossible. They may not want to speak to you, or they may not be able to.

But total forgiveness is kissing goodbye forever to any thought of revenge. Love keeps no record of wrongs. I’d say in a crowd this size, there are probably several marriages that could be improved tonight, by couples simply deciding, I will no longer keep any record of wrongs. I will never bring up the past. I will set my spouse totally free.

You say to your wife: “You know that thing you said when we were going out?”

“What? I can’t believe you’re bringing that up! I thought you’d forgiven me!”

“I did, but now I changed my mind.”

You’re not allowed to do that OK? It says so in the marriage rule-book. Go back and check it out. I forget the page number, but it’s in there.

Joseph made no attempt to punish. He said: “Am I in the place of God?” If there is any sin that needs to be punished, the Bible commands us to leave it entirely to God to punish. God is just, and one day, every wrong will be righted, and every sin will be judged appropriately. We are told to steer well clear and leave it to God.

So, next, Joseph says: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”

SLIDE 8 :
Title: Total Forgiveness (Genesis 50)

a) “Don’t be afraid” (vs 19)
b) “Am I in the place of God?” (vs 19)
c) “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” (vs 20)
d) I will provide for you and your children (vs 21)
e) And he re-assured them and spoke kindly to them (vs 21)

This is the ultimate. Here, you not only forgive them, but you work hard to enable them to feel good about themselves. In this case, Joseph sets them totally free by showing that God has brought something wonderful out of what they’d done. Joseph makes it easy for the brothers.

What verse 20 says is, you planned evil against me, but God planned it for good, so that millions of people, who would otherwise have starved to death in this famine, have now been saved.

This is one of the greatest explanations in the Old Testament of the sovereignty of God.

God wins in the end. Joseph says: “Look, you guys planned evil and you did evil, but God over-ruled it. Because God has got plans of his own. Or to be more precise . . . God actually used your evil plans and wove them in to the sovereign plan of God himself.

Which is what Paul says in Romans 8:28:

SLIDE 9:
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

That doesn’t mean that everything that happens is good in itself. Of course not. What it means is that God’s sovereign power is such that he can work even through the evil and wickedness that people do.

“But I’ve missed God’s plan A to get me to my destiny.”

“I’m sure I was supposed to marry X from the youth group, but when I was 17, I was in the gym at school and this kid from the year below broke my collar bone, and that meant I missed the Geography field trip, and that meant in the exam I couldn’t answer the question on soil erosion, and that meant I missed my grades to get into the same university as her, and then she went on this church plant which was exactly the sort of thing I’d wanted to do, but instead of being with her for the past 4 years, instead I’m stuck here, all the while knowing every day, that if I’d got an A in Geography, I’d be married by now.”

Even if that were true, God is big enough and clever enough to work through any circumstance to come up with a plan B and a plan C to get you to your destiny anyway.

So here is the perspective that Joseph has as an older man, after walking with God for many years. “God used your evil for his good.”

“God used me to save millions of people, including our family who carry the promise of God given to Abraham, Isaac and now Jacob. Rather than starving to death in Israel, which would have made Genesis the last book of the Bible, instead we’re alive and well, thanks to you lot sending me to Egypt.

“So I wouldn’t change a thing. I wouldn’t have wished for it. I wouldn’t have wanted my life to go this way. But with hindsight I thank God for what he’s done. I’ve seen millions of people saved. I get to feed them, and love them.”

Here’s the truth: Ministry comes out of pain and brokenness. I couldn’t have preached to you about unforgiveness when I was 25 years old, but I think I can now. So if this sermon is any good, it’s good because it’s coming out of pain and brokenness.

We can comfort others, with the comfort we’ve received.

This is how we win others to Christ. You get brutally honest. If you’ve been through something hard, you’ve just got a golden ticket to connect with a hundred thousand other people who’ve been through the same thing but don’t know Jesus yet. All you’ve got to do is meet one of them and when they say: “Your story sounds like my story. How did you get through it?” You mention ‘Jesus’ and they actually want to know: “How does he help?”

Life really is a tapestry that God is weaving together. And from the bottom of the loom we peer up and all we see is knots. Now if we were to come up higher and look from the top, we’d see a glorious portrait of what God is doing. From above the loom, the knots make sense. Joseph gets this moment of clarity where he peers above the loom and he sees life is not all knots. It’s tapestry. It just looks like knots from down here. But from where God is, this is working out into a beautiful portrait so that as many people as possible could be loved, served and saved.

Next he says:

SLIDE 10 :
Title: Total Forgiveness (Genesis 50)

a) “Don’t be afraid” (vs 19)
b) “Am I in the place of God?” (vs 19)
c) “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” (vs 20)
d) I will provide for you and your children (vs 21)
e) And he re-assured them and spoke kindly to them (vs 21)

I will provide for you and your children

Total forgiveness is when you actually want them to be blessed.

The crowning glory of total forgiveness is loving action towards the offender: Joseph promises to practically provide for the brothers and the children. That’s not just praying: “Lord please bless my brothers who ruined my life. Amen.” That’s actually making their lives comfortable and paying money to look after the people who tried to kill you.

And fifthly and finally, he re-assured them and spoke kindly to them

So can I ask you, what’s your response to what you’ve heard tonight?

For some here tonight, God is saying: “You have dwelt long enough on this mountain.” It is time to move on, to let go of past hurts, pains or failures.

God is just. He knows when people aren’t treating us right. He sees every time you turn the other cheek and let an offence go by.

Tonight, it’s time to come up higher. It’s time to move to a new level. It’s time to move up. It’s time for you to achieve greatness. To do something truly great in your life. To totally forgive.

Don’t hold on to grudges. You are a bigger, better person than that.

For my part, I came to realise that if I am bitter and resentful, it is because I am allowing myself to remain that way.

Nobody. Not even God ever promised that life would be fair. There is absolutely no benefit to you in dwelling on what could have been, what should have been or what might have been.

You may have deep scars of emotional wounds, but don’t let your past determine your future. You can’t do anything about what’s happened to you, but you can choose how you will face what’s in front of you. Don’t hold on to feelings of bitterness and resentment and let them poison your future. Forgive the people who did your wrong. And forgive yourself for the mistakes you have made.

Now here’s the really tricky bit. You may even need to forgive God. What do I mean by that? You may have been blaming him for allowing such and such to happen. Here’s the deal: You will never be truly happy as long as you harbour bitterness in your heart.

If you really want to move forward, you have to stop making excuses. Stop blaming people or circumstances that disappointed you. Instead start forgiving the people that hurt you.

Today can be a turning point in your life. A time of new beginnings.

But “why did such and such happen to me?”

You may never know the answer. But don’t allow that as an excuse to remain in self-pity. We have to accept the fact that we have no right to expect a satisfactory answer to every question that we ask God. There will be some unanswered questions. Just because you don’t know the answer, doesn’t mean that one does not exist. You simply haven’t discovered it yet.

We all have unfair and unjust things happen to us, that’s part of life. When we are hurt, we can choose to hold on to that pain and become bitter, or we can choose to let it go and trust God to make it up to us.

The bible tells us to make sure that no root of bitterness shoots forth because you and many other people will become contaminated by it.

Bitterness is described as a root. Think about that. You can’t see a root; it’s deep down under the ground. But you can be sure of this: a bitter root will produce bitter fruit.

If we have bitterness on the inside, it’s going to end up contaminating everything that comes out of us. It will contaminate our personalities and our attitudes, as well as how we treat other people.

The bible talks about being quick to forgive. The longer we hold on to resentment, the deeper that root of bitterness grows.

You may say: “Adrian, I can’t do it! It’s too hard. I just can’t forgive. They hurt me too badly.”

To which I’d reply: “Wait a minute! Your are not forgiving for their sake, you are forgiving for your sake. You are forgiving in order to get the life-threatening poison in your body out of your body, so that you can lead a long healthy and happy life. God is asking you tonight to do yourself a favour.”

When we live with grudges in our hearts all we are doing is building walls of separation. Now we think that we are being sensible and protecting ourselves. But we are not, we are actually shutting other people and the blessing of God out of our lives. We become isolated and imprisioned by our own bitterness.

But if you come up higher tonight, if you leave it with God, then you don’t have to go around paying everybody back for the wrongs they’ve done to you, making sure that no-one gets away with anything.

Instead, leave it up to God. Take the high road.

What a liberating way to live!

Leave it to God. Live a life of forgiveness. God sees every wrong that’s been done to you. God sees every person that’s ever hurt you. He’s keeping a record, and the bible says that if you don’t avenge yourself, God will reward you.

And you know what, if you’re going to avoid getting trapped in your past, you must also learn to forgive yourself. You have to get beyond rehearsing your own failures in your mind: “if when I was 17 I’d only kept those dreams to myself and not told my 11 brothers. If only I hadn’t been so arrogant, I’d never have ended up in prison. None of this would have happened to me.” Joseph managed to get beyond that stage. He must have forgiven himself. Tonight, why not follow his example . . .

Don’t let rejection fester inside you, poisoning your future.

You may feel disqualified from God’s best, convinced that you must settle for second best for the rest of your life, because of poor decisions you’ve made. We think we’ve missed out on God’s Plan A, but the good news is that because God loves us, he also has a plan B and a plan C and whatever else it takes to get us to his final destination for our lives anyway. Remember God’s on our side.

Trials, temptations and difficulties must come because if we are to strengthen our spiritual muscles and grow stronger we must have something to push against. I can’t build up my faith muscles by pushing thin air, I need something, I need some weights, some resistance. I need a challenge, if my faith muscles are to ever grow stronger.

I am convinced that one day we will look back at what we considered to be the worst thing that could happen to us, an we’ll realise that God used even that time of adversity to refine us, mould us, shape us and prepare us for good things to come. Adversity often pushes us into our divine destiny. It certainly did for Joseph.

But it’s not fair!

No it’s not. But life is not fair. We have to remember that God is the one keeping the score. He is in control. And when you bless your enemies, you will never lose. God will make it up to you.

Friend, the devil is after your joy. Because he knows that the bible says that “the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

Tonight, God is asking you to do yourself a favour, and forgive totally.

I wonder if the band could come up and join me?

Extempore reflections on Jesus and the cross & Jesus praying “Father, Forgive them.”

Ministry time:

And we’re commanded to forgive by Jesus. But how? Many of us Christians don’t forgive, because we’re waiting for some holy, godly, supernatural feelings of wanting to forgive the other person to sweep over us. We’re looking for the Holy Spirit! And I assume that’s how more spiritual Christians than myself manage these supernatural feats of forgiveness.

Not so, those feelings of wanting the offender to be blessed only come at the very end, once you’ve achieved total forgiveness. You don’t start there.

1. Don’t be afraid – protect them from their greatest fear. Kiss goodbye to revenge.
2. Am I in the place of God? Leave the injustice of it all with God.
3. The good news is that God is still in charge
4. Act kindly to them. Bless them in practical ways.
5. Speak kindly to them.

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