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Message Scripture:  Genesis 45

Introduction:

Greetings Christlike Ministries NWA Family!  It’s time for me to get into message number three of the seven message series on “Forgiveness”.  I don’t know about anyone else, but I think it’s been a pretty good series so far. I know that I’ve enjoyed writing it, and it seems like quite a few of you have enjoyed reading it.

So, without any further delay let’s get into the latest message in this series. By the way, the scripture for today’s message is Genesis 45 for the sake of space and time I’m not going to post it, but I’d like to encourage you…as always…to read the Scriptures for yourself.

“Forgiveness Doesn’t Allow Abuse”:

Inserting a video worked so well before that I think I’ll do it again, and almost all of us know this classic Casting Crowns song, and I believe it will tie in nicely with where the Holy Ghost is going to take this message.

The story of Joseph is an amazing story of forgiveness, and I have read that story thinking to myself that I don’t know that I would be able to do what Joseph did.  Look, here is a brief description of the story.

Joseph’s own brothers had attacked him, thrown him into a cistern and sold him into slavery (see Genesis 37:12–28)—causing him to be separated from his loving father for over 20 years.

Listen. I am an only child, but if I had brothers that did to me what Joseph’s did to him I can’t say that I’d be as loving and forgiving of them as he was. I know that is a strange confession coming from a pastor, but it’s the truth.  How many of you if you were in the same situation could just love and forgive your siblings if they did something like this to you?  Okay, unless you can honestly tell me that you would be able to do exactly what Joseph did…and the key word here is honestly…then don’t judge!

I mean we all know how the story begins and ends, but what’s missed in that story is the amazing amount of grace and forgiveness that Joseph was able to show his brothers. 

And though Joseph had much to forgive, he did not dwell on the offenses. He gained grace from God and let go of what others had done to him. His response is a healthy model for us when we’ve been hurt or sinned against: we need to let it go and then get what we need from God and people who can give. That is a better life. Unforgiveness destroys a good life. Forgiveness creates it.

There is the key…not dwelling on the offense.  It’s a lot harder to let people off the hook when you hold on to what they did.  It’s even more difficult when we allow the events to play over and over in our minds again and again.  Listen, I know what that’s like.  I know how hard it is to break because I had to break it.  I know how hard it is to stop replaying those things in your mind because I have had to stop allowing them to keep playing.  So, before you tell me I don’t know how hard it is…yes I do know.  I have been there.  I talked in the last message about how forgiving doesn’t always mean forgetting…but the truth is that in order to completely forgive someone for an offense you not only have to forgive…but you’ll have to learn to forget.

This is where we come to the “time heals all wounds” part of forgiveness.  How many of you know that God doesn’t just forgive what we’ve done, but He forgets it also?

There are tons of song lyrics like the ones found in the video to the song that I hope you are enjoying as your reading this post. Things like the sea of forgetfulness and how far the east is from the west, and the fact that before we even ask God has already forgiven AND forgotten what we did.  After all, as we have brought 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 into the discussion before it’s worth mentioning once again that true love keeps no record of wrongs done unto it.

Now before you shout me down I know that it’s easier said than done, and for this portion of the message I’m speaking to those who have lost loved ones to some kind of tragedy or have had to endure some kind of abuse…and a few other things.  Just to be clear here, I am not talking about silly, petty things that so and so did to you that you just can’t seem to get over because you feel they did you wrong and they owe you.  What I am talking about here are the things that happened to create real deep-seated things that have really hurt people to the fiber of their core, and the people or institutions who have caused such deep-seated hurt.  The things that make me well aware that forgiving and forgetting is far more easier to say then to do, and because it’s so hard the only way to really be able to do it is with the Lord’s help.  These are the issues we’re working to deal with here, friends.  

There are events from my childhood that I can remember quite vividly, and there are memories that are fading.  I am 40, and so when I say that time heals wounds I’m not saying that I instantly forgot what was done to me…and so no one is saying that you have to instantly forget neither.  What is being said is that in order for us to seriously get past all of what has happened, and really let them go.  We have to be able to completely forgive AND forget so that we can truly move on.

He gained grace from God and let go of what others had done to him. His response is a healthy model for us when we’ve been hurt or sinned against: we need to let it go and then get what we need from God and people who can give.

Let’s go back to our offenses against the Lord, shall we!?!  I know it’s hard to take a look back at what we’ve done that the Lord can hold against us if He chose to, but that’s the best thing to do when it comes to talking about forgiving and forgetting. 

I like the final point here.  We need to let go, and get what we need from God.  Listen, if you have to ask God for the help to do some of this…don’t be ashamed.  That’s part of what God’s grace is all about…getting help from God to do things that are hard for us. 

God’s grace isn’t just to save us…it’s to help us to be able to do things that we cannot do ourselves.  Think about Paul for a moment.  Paul is probably the person that we should all aspire to imitate, and if Paul was told by God that His grace was sufficient to help Paul in his weakness…how in the world can you expect to get past some of the things that have happened to you without God’s grace to help you in your time of need?

I know in my heart of hearts that this series is hitting home.  I don’t have to see people liking these messages to know that God’s speaking to hearts through this series.  I know how hard it is to forgive and forget…I am still working to do that forgetting part of a lot of what happened in my childhood, youth, and early adulthood. 

Forgiveness was the easy part for me.  Forgetting has been the part that’s required the most grace for me.  Perhaps it’s age that’s helped the memories and images to become fuzzier, or maybe it’s the Lord…either way time is certainly helping me to forget. 

Forgiveness is not denial. We need to name the sin against us to forgive it, as Joseph did (see Genesis 45:4–5; 50:20). He worked through it. He named it. He expressed his feelings about it. And then he let it go.

This needs to said.  Forgiving and forgetting is not denying that something happened, but it’s getting past it.  No one is saying that we should walk around with our heads in the sand.  Denying what happened isn’t the same as forgiving and forgetting.  As we read here Joseph didn’t deny it…he named it, expressed his feelings about it, and then he let it go.

What about you?  What has happened to you?  How do you feel about it? Aren’t you tired of holding on to it?  If it’s hard to do…why not ask God for the help you?  Why not ask God for the help and the grace to do what you haven’t been able to do for decades…and let go!?!  Don’t you think it’s time you were able to finally work through it with God’s help…and get set free from it for good?

We need to watch out for the resistance that will want us to stay in the past, trying to collect a debt that will never be paid.

We do need to watch out for resistance.  This is one of those things that is going to make your flesh scream.  It’s going to go against everything you feel, everything that feels right, and it’s going to go against what may have even become your natural instinct.

Listen.  I was one of those who used to live by the phrase: “I don’t get mad I get even.”.  I used to not just hold on to what was done, not only did I remember who did what, but I also made it my mission to make sure they knew that it may not be that day…but I would get my revenge.  It may not appear so now, but there was a time when people considered me ruthless and unpredictable.  There was a time when I was serious about the I may not get you today, but one day I’m going to get you back for this game…and when I said that people knew I meant business. I’m thankful that I’m not that person anymore, but I know how hard a message like this is on your flesh…because seeking my own vengeance became as natural to me as lying and stealing once was. It had become a part of who I was, and that was one of many things the Lord had to deliver out of me.

Remember. God said that vengeance was His…not ours.  I knew that, but I didn’t care. However, how many of you know that I couldn’t carry that attitude with me, and minister to the people God was calling me to minister to?  How many of you know that I couldn’t carry that attitude with me, and allow God to minister to me? I wanted to be sure that I was the one that collected on the debt that they really couldn’t ever repay, and for the record the vengeance that I thought would be sweet wasn’t really all that sweet. There’s a line in the song “Behind Blue Eyes” that says…

“My love is vengeance That’s never free”

Writer(s): Pete Townshend, Peter Dennis Townshend
Copyright: Fabulous Music Ltd., Towser Tunes Inc

I know, I know. It’s a secular rock song, but the point of using those lyrics is to say that vengeance isn’t free.  Not only does it hurt the person you sought vengeance against, but it also ruins your heart as well…and that’s the whole point of this series on Forgiveness.

It’s about your heart.  Yes, it’s about setting the people you feel owe you a debt free, but the most important thing about this entire series is that YOU allow the Lord to set YOU free.

The whole punch line to this message, and what I’m going to close it with is this point right here…because if you want to really live your best life now…then the best way to do that is to do what is suggested here.

We need to let it go and then get what we need from God and people who can give. That is a better life. Unforgiveness destroys a good life. Forgiveness creates it.

I don’t know about anyone else…but I want to be like my Father…and create life…not destroy it…Amen!?!

Let’s Pray:

Lord God, it is hard for us to forgive and forget. Help us, Lord, to remember that when You forgive us that not only do You cast our sins and wrong doings into the sea of forgetfulness…but Your Word says that You cast it as far as the east is from the west.  Just as the writer of that song asks You to show us how far the east is from the west so that we know how far our sins are separated from Your memory…but show us how to forgive others the way You forgive us…after all Your word reminds us that we will be forgiven by You the way we forgive.  So, Lord, I guess this is just a long-winded way of asking You to teach us and help us to forgive those who wrong us the way You forgive us…so that we can stand before You blameless. Lord, help those who are hurting deeply, and allow them to know Your arms of love surround them.  In Jesus name. Amen & Amen.

In Closing:

What a series this has been.  I know that many people are fond of the 7 Hebrew Words For Praise Series is by far the most popular, but I believe that this series is one of those right on time series.  It may not get a lot of views or likes, but I believe this is a series that’s speaking to many hearts…and my heart too.

The real reason we’re talking about all this forgiveness stuff is because it’s dealing with the condition of our hearts.  The two most important things in life are to have your heart right with the people around you, and to have your heart right with God. 

I’ve lived a lot of my life having the wrong things and wrong attitudes in my heart…and the more I get the right ones in my heart…of the right attitudes and motives I want to have in my heart. 

Let’s get rid of the stuff in our hearts that destroy life…and ask God to fill them with more that create it. Amen!?!

Thank you all so much for joining me as we work our way to finish this series on Forgiveness.  I hope and pray that God is doing a work in your heart and lives.  I am so thankful for each and every one of you. 

May you all have a blessed week, and I pray that you all encounter Jesus in a way that you’ve never encountered Him before.

Blessings & Grace;

Bryan Kizer – Pastor

Christlike Ministries NWA