Forgiveness; No Buts

Note: You can skip the dramatics and scroll down to where it says ‘Due to envy…’ (read Genesis 37 first for context), however if you like a bit of fun whilst you read, start from the top! ūüôā

Joseph was a man spoken of in the old testament.
He’s the son of a guy named Jacob a.k.a. Israel, and he had 11 brothers…

Sounds pretty normal so far, right?
Yeah, so let’s read from the scriptures (pardon my dramatic thoughts when you see them in brackets);

“Jacob¬†loved Joseph more than any of his other children because Joseph had been born to him in his old age. So one day Jacob had a special gift made for Joseph‚ÄĒa beautiful robe.¬†But his brothers hated Joseph because their father loved him more than the rest of them. They couldn‚Äôt say a kind word to him.”
[Genesis 37:3-4]

(I don’t know about you, but I’m sensing this favouritism is going to cause some problems…)

Let’s read a bit more;

“One night Joseph had a dream, and when he told his brothers about it, they hated him more than ever.”
[Genesis 37:5]

(Oh dear! It’s about to go down…)

“‚ÄúListen to this dream,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúWe were out in the field, tying up bundles of grain. Suddenly my bundle stood up, and your bundles all gathered around and bowed low before mine!‚ÄĚ
His brothers responded, ‚ÄúSo you think you will be our king, do you? Do you actually think you will reign over us?‚ÄĚ And they hated him all the more because of his dreams and the way he talked about them.”
[Genesis 37:6-8]

(Snap! Joseph you really should’ve kept that dream to yourself mate…)

“When Joseph‚Äôs brothers saw him coming, they recognized him in the distance. As he approached, they made plans to kill him. ‚ÄúHere comes the dreamer!‚ÄĚ they said.¬†‚ÄúCome on, let‚Äôs kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns. We can tell our father, ‚ÄėA wild animal has eaten him.‚Äô Then we‚Äôll see what becomes of his dreams!‚ÄĚ”
[Genesis 37:18-20]

(I knew it!! I told you something bad was going to happen…)

“But when Reuben heard of their scheme, he came to Joseph‚Äôs rescue. ‚ÄúLet‚Äôs not kill him,‚ÄĚ he said.¬†‚ÄúWhy should we shed any blood? Let‚Äôs just throw him into this empty cistern here in the wilderness. Then he‚Äôll die without our laying a hand on him.‚ÄĚ Reuben was secretly planning to rescue Joseph and return him to his father.”
[Genesis 37:21-22]

(Oh phew! Thank God for Reuben…)

“So when Joseph arrived, his brothers ripped off the beautiful robe he was wearing. Then they grabbed him and threw him into the cistern. Now the cistern was empty; there was no water in it.¬†Then, just as they were sitting down to eat, they looked up and saw a caravan of camels in the distance coming toward them. It was a group of Ishmaelite traders taking a load of gum, balm, and aromatic resin from Gilead down to Egypt.

Judah said to his brothers, ‚ÄúWhat will we gain by killing our brother? We‚Äôd have to cover up the crime.¬†Instead of hurting him, let‚Äôs sell him to those Ishmaelite traders. After all, he is our brother‚ÄĒour own flesh and blood!‚ÄĚ And his brothers agreed.¬†So when the Ishmaelites, who were Midianite traders, came by, Joseph‚Äôs brothers pulled him out of the cistern and sold him to them for twenty pieces of silver. And the traders took him to Egypt.”
[Genesis 37:23-28]

(Nooo Wayyy!)

Okay, Let’s stop there.

Oh My Goodness!!!
Who else wishes this was made into a movie?! Extremely interesting, right?

Anyway, drama aside, let’s get a message out of this…

Due to envy, Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery!
How absolutely crazy?!

But little did he know, that these same brothers would need his help, and he would be in a mighty position to help…

Through the next few chapters in the book of Genesis (which I definitely encourage you to read in your own time), we see Joseph face some trials, but also he faces triumphs, as he becomes Governor in Genesis 41:39-41.
As we continue reading, we see that in fact his brothers end up needing his help, and whilst they don’t recognise him, Joseph definitely recognises them, but still helps them!
The question I want to bring out from this story is;

How far does your Forgiveness go?

Some of us say we can forgive, but never forget. We can forgive, but it will never be the same. We can forgive, but we’ll never help them out again. We’ll never do anything for them again. We could never look at them the same. We could never have love for them again…
The list of the things we say about forgiveness when someone has wronged us, is endless.

Today, I want us to look at Joseph, and I want us to learn from him…

What Joseph’s brothers did, was terrible (in fact, that’s an understatement, but I just can’t think of a better word to describe the atrocity).
However let’s take a moment to think about it properly;
If there was no sale, there would have been no rescue in the future…

After all the years that had gone by, Joseph must have come to the realisation of the fact that he was simply being used by God.
He would have seen and understood the purpose for the pain in the past, which had now enabled a greater glory of grace, for good, in the present.

Joseph was endowed with wisdom to understand that the perfect will of God had allowed him to endure the ugly act of his brothers so many years beforehand, in order to bring great blessing and survival to his family in the future; Genesis 45:6-11.

There isn’t a sense of bitterness or wickedness in Joseph at all.
He doesn’t finally see an opportunity to get his own back and punish his brothers, but rather, he sees and accepts that there was a reason for that past season.

Pray today for this spirit of true, pure forgiveness.
We want to be able to forgive in a way that makes us forget the pain, that makes us release all bitterness, and makes us to realise God’s plan through it all.

For some of us, the ‘brothers of Joseph’ in our lives are going to reappear one day, in need,
I’m asking, that just as¬†Joseph cared more about God’s will, than the pain he endured;
We, when this time should come, (though very very very difficult) will¬†do the same…
We will still help them,¬†despite…..

May God give us wisdom, strength and growth, to know that¬†it won’t be a time to ‘finally’ laugh or mock them, but in fact it will be a time to help them when¬†they need it most!
And through this, they will truly see the power of the Love of God.

Father, we pray for the ability to forgive deeply and truly, and we pray for a heart that will always let Love win, completely,
in Jesus’ Mighty Name.
Amen.

*I encourage you to take the time to read Genesis 37 fully, and also read the chapters that follow (up to chapter 45 at least), in order to get a full picture of this aspect of the story of Joseph.*

Keep the Faith, Don’t Stop Believing
God Bless you.

Point It Out

Let’s read;

“If your brother or sister sins,
go and point out their fault,
just between the two of you.
If they listen to you, you have won them over.”

[Matthew 18:15]

 

‘Just between the two of you’………
Now the ellipsis here is extra long, because I’m trying to emphasise what that line says.

When we go to correct, our brother or sister, the bible doesn’t say ‘make a spectacle out of it’.
It doesn’t say, ‘talk about it with Jason and Jenny’. It doesn’t say ‘change the way you perceive them’.
And it doesn’t say ‘judge them and never speak to them again’.

So why then do we find ourselves doing all these things (plus much more, sometimes)?

Why is it that many of us find joy and excitement in further tearing down a brother or sister when they fall?
Why is it that we derive pleasure in letting the whole world know that Anna made a mistake?

Friend, if the bible tells us something, let’s do what it says, and lay aside all other things that our flesh wrongly leads us to do instead.

So, when we see a brother or sister doing something wrong, let us approach the situation in the way that the word of God tells us to – call them to the side, let it be only the two of you, and let them know their fault.
(When we read further in this passage, we’ll see that, yes, indeed, others may need to get involved if they don’t take to correction, however let’s do it this private way first.¬†
There’s a reason why it’s written in this order, right?)

Now let’s go back a little (forgive me for starting the expansion of this bible verse in the middle, but that part just stood out to me so much!)

So,
‘Go and point out their fault’.

When your brother or sister does something wrong, the bible says to point out their fault – let them know wrong is wrong.

This part of the verse actually speaks to each of us in two ways.

Number ONE: We have a role to play in being the pointer-outers…
Now in this day and age, we seem to have a culture of being too careful.
We don’t want to tread on anyone’s toes, so we don’t say anything about things that we know go against the word of God, but look, the bible tells us to Point. It. Out…
We need to forget ‘careful’, and start fulfilling God’s word more, and stop allowing our brothers and sisters to walk in the path of destruction!

(Side note: Don’t get it wrong, this doesn’t mean point out every single thing you deem is a problem, because that actually becomes based on your own opinion.
There’s also this whole thing about the appropriateness of certain things being dealt with by you and whether you have a relationship with that person or not, but this is where you pray and ask God to show you clearly, if you should be the one to speak to them, and how).

Many of us, in various situations are beginning to take the word of God that says ‘do not judge’ out of context, and we have twisted it to a point where we are no longer comfortable with saying anything about anything – just to be safe…

We all know when something is point blank, obviously wrong, and the bible is telling us to point this out. Why? Because we have a duty to help that person realise that it isn’t something that edifies the name of God.
In doing so, we help them to walk in the light, and turn away from what could lead them downhill.

Let’s rid ourselves of the attitude that turns a blind eye, because ‘it’s not me so it doesn’t concern me’, or the attitude that says, ‘let them do them, and let me stay in my lane’.
The bible says that heaven rejoices over a sinner who repents (Luke 15:7, 10), therefore this should tell us how important it is to correct one another appropriately, and bring each other away from sin.
Friends, let us realise that we have a responsibility to ensure the correct functioning and uprightness of the body of Christ at all times.
We therefore have to pluck up the courage to follow the prodding of the Holy Spirit when He is telling us to call our brother or sister aside to put them right. As mentioned in the side note, ask God if you’re the right person for the task, and then ask Him what to say, and how to say it, but please make sure you do it.

 

Number TWO: We can expect; if we are the ones doing something wrong; to be told that what we are doing is wrong! – We can expect to be corrected.
Though we are striving for it, not one of us is perfect and therefore not one of us is above correction.
So, if this word of God says that your brother or sister ought to point out your fault, then friend you need to have a humble heart to receive that word from them.
Don’t be stand-off-ish, and don’t have the attitude that no-one has a right to tell you of your faults. Rather, open your heart and ears, seek the right advice and direction, and be ‘won over’, as the bible describes is the goal of this in the first place.

“Listen to advice and accept discipline,
¬†¬†¬†¬†and at the end you will be counted among the wise.”
[Proverbs 19:20]

“If you listen to constructive criticism,
    you will be at home among the wise.

If you reject discipline, you only harm yourself;
¬†¬†¬†¬†but if you listen to correction, you grow in understanding.”
[Proverbs 15:31-32]

 

These two passages from Proverbs teach us both as a corrector, and receiver of correction, that it must be done in a constructive manner, and that an end result, is growth in wisdom and understanding. Therefore, let us not despise the love that comes from a brother or sister telling us when we are doing something wrong.

The bottom line is this; none of us would know what is and isn’t wrong, if we aren’t somehow informed, therefore in love, with compassion, and with a genuine heart to propel the gospel, let us do what the word of God instructs us to do – let us help one another, up, and away from sin.
Let us provide light and wisdom for one another, and let us enhance each other’s walk by speaking when we need to speak, following the leading of the Holy Spirit.

Keep the Faith, Don’t Stop Believing
God Bless you.

 

 

The Heart of Jesus

Let’s read the scriptures:

‚Äú”For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’‚Ä̬†
[Matthew 25:35-40]

Say this prayer with me;

‘Lord Jesus,
Enable me to truly Love like You, Help like You, Teach like You and Serve like You. 
Give me Your heart Lord Jesus; a heart for the people, a heart for my neighbours; for my brothers and sisters. 
Help me to show and feel a genuine and true love towards everyone I come across, and give me the courage to reach out, and spread Your love to those whom I don’t know personally.¬†
Help me Lord Jesus to see You in each individual, and show them mercy, kindness and warmth, at all times. 
In Your precious name I pray, 
Amen.’

Friends, we have a role.
We have an important part to play as the body of Christ on earth.
Not only do we have a duty to look after those nearest and dearest to us, but we must also reach out to those in our communities, in the world around us – near or far, and share a piece of Jesus with them.

It’s time for us to look for a way to make a difference in society, and let the world begin to experience the love of God through our selfless actions.
It isn’t for us to gloat or boast or be proud, but it is for us to truly make this world a better place, and do these things as though they were unto Jesus.

Join me today in creating a Compassion Plan (CP); (your own personal way of extending a hand of love to those who are less fortunate).
Here are the steps:

  1. Seek out someone to help – it could be an individual, a group of people, or an organisation (choose whoever¬†you want, but make sure it’s a worthy cause and that you are able to share the Love of God actively)
  2. Identify how you can help them in a meaningful way
  3. Pray for God to enable you and show you what to do
  4. Decide and set up a way that you will help
  5. Tell someone else, for accountability
  6. Do it and Commit to it! And encourage friends and family to join you (or even create their own CP).

Remember that we aren’t limited to giving just money, but also prayer,¬†time,¬†and many other good things too.
I pray that God will enable us all to take up the roles that He has created for us from the beginning of time, and that we will fill in the gaps that exist, with our acts of love and service.
Let’s be excited to care for the world around us.

On this earth, let us be the hands and feet of Jesus.
(Listen to the song Your Heart by Casey J)

Keep the Faith, Don’t Stop Believing
God Bless you.

My Help

Let’s read:

“I¬†lift up my eyes to¬†the hills.
    From where does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
¬†¬†¬†¬†who¬†made heaven and earth.”
[Psalm 121:1-2]

This affirmation is beautiful.
But how many of us truly believe that our help comes from God?
How many of us remember that God is actually there to help us?
How many of us accept His help when He sends it?

I ask these questions in the hope that we would each search ourselves for our personal¬†response and then adapt our ways and just stop cheating ourselves of God’s gracious mercy.

1 – How many of us truly believe that our help comes from God?
“It just happened…”
“I got lucky…”
“By coincidence…”

Can I tell you that God knows every single thing about you Рfrom the tiniest strand of hair on your head, to the soles of your feet, to the dinner you ate, and the time you brushed your teeth РGod knows everything!
Therefore nothing that happens to you is¬†simply by coincidence, or ‘just happens’.
If you have a look at the bible, it tells us that God has already written every single thing concerning us, way before we even took our first breath, or first step;

“…all the days ordained¬†for me were written in your book
¬†¬†¬†¬†before one of them came to be.”
[Psalm 139:16]

(Also read the whole of Psalm 139)

God who made you, is always looking out for you and this is something the bible reminds us of more than once Р(Deuteronomy 31:6, Hebrews 13:5).
So please friend, rather than attributing things to chance, just take a moment to reflect a bit more, and begin to acknowledge the Grace, Mercy and Help of God in your life.

2 РHow many of us remember that God is actually there to help us?
Trust me, I know…
I know how hard it can get, how cloudy it can get, how confusing it can be, how low you can reach at times, that even to look up no longer seems like an option.
But please, I encourage you to¬†look up! And remember that you know a Living God who works miracles – He’s done many things before, and He’ll surely do much more.

“I will remember the deeds of the¬†Lord;
    yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.
I will consider all your works

¬†¬†¬†¬†and meditate on all your mighty deeds.”
[Psalm 77:11-12]

(Read all of Psalm 77 when you get a chance)

No matter how bad it may seem, you have to remember that there is nothing impossible for the Omnipotent (All-Powerful) God.

“Ah, Sovereign¬†Lord,¬†you have made the heavens and the earth¬†by your great power and outstretched arm.¬†Nothing is too hard¬†for you.”
[Jeremiah 32:17] 

And I haven’t missed out those of us who forget God simply because we’re too busy trying to figure things out logically, or practically – please be reminded that Wisdom and Power are His – Daniel 2:19-20, Proverbs 3:19-20 – God knows exactly what to do and how to do it! (And His way will definitely be better than ours).

3 – How many of us accept His help when He sends it?
Now this refusal of God’s help can be down to many things; pride, lack of clarity that it’s actually from Him, denial that you need help at all (acting like it’s all okay), trying to do things ‘practically’ (as mentioned above), or simply because we believe we don’t need it/Him.

Whatever our reasoning may be, I want us to rethink our decision and have a read of the various verses above that not only¬†prove how ‘qualified’¬†God is to help us, but they actually show us how worthy God is of honour and praise!¬†(And I¬†don’t mean to belittle God by calling Him qualified, because He is Almighty, but I hope you get what I mean).
We should realise that we are truly privileged that He cares enough to always come when we cry (Psalm 46:1).

I want to remind you that we mustn’t be foolish to think that we can do it all alone, or that we don’t need God, for the bible tells us to,

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
    and do not lean on your own understanding.
[Proverbs 3:5]

Finally, I want to encourage you to go back and read the whole of Psalm 121¬† (I know, quite a lot of reading in this one) and in case this part skipped your eye, I want you to notice that verse 2 says ‘the Lord who made heaven and earth’, pointing out¬†the fact¬†that His ability to help you is Limitless.
This should tell you then, that He is simply the best place to run to; no-one above Him, no-one better than Him, and most importantly, no-one who knows you like He does!

So here’s a task,
“My help comes from the Lord” – say it out loud to yourself over and over again, and make sure that it sticks so strongly in your mind, that you don’t for one second again, try to do this problem-solving¬†thing (or anything!) without Him.

Keep the Faith, Don’t Stop Believing
God Bless you.