Message Scripture: Genesis 50:15-21, KJV
“And when Joseph’s brethren saw that their father was dead, they said, Joseph will peradventure hate us, and will certainly requite us all the evil which we did unto him. And they sent a messenger unto Joseph, saying, Thy father did command before he died, saying, So shall ye say unto Joseph, Forgive, I pray thee now, the trespass of thy brethren, and their sin; for they did unto thee evil: and now, we pray thee, forgive the trespass of the servants of the God of thy father. And Joseph wept when they spake unto him. And his brethren also went and fell down before his face; and they said, Behold, we be thy servants. And Joseph said unto them, Fear not: for am I in the place of God? But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive. Now therefore fear ye not: I will nourish you, and your little ones. And he comforted them, and spake kindly unto them.”
As we continue to work our way through this series on Forgiveness we’ve entered November. I am hoping to be able to pick up the pace of these messages so that we can get this finished. This message will leave us with three to go, and Lord (and Lizzie) willing we’ll get through these last few messages quicker.
In addition to this we’re also getting into a series on A Plan of Thanksgiving. If you’d like to be a part of that you must join the Christlike Ministries NWA Family Facebook group or fan the Christlike Ministries NWA Facebook Fan Page. These messages on Thanksgiving will NOT be found or posted anywhere else.
Go to either www.Facebook.com/ChristlikeMinistriesNWA or https://www.facebook.com/groups/christlikeministriesnwa/ so that you can be a part of the Christlike Ministries NWA Family or a Christlike Ministries NWA Facebook Page Fan.
For now, it’s time to get into message number four in our seven part series on Forgiveness.
Our Treatment Of Others Affects How We Live:
There’s a statement I read a while ago about how our decisions either push the people around us closer to or further away from God. It brought to my attention the fact that most of us (myself included) tend to live thinking about the smaller picture while a larger picture…that 800 pound elephant in the room…the return of Jesus is always in the back of my mind. It also goes along with this message because how we treat others has the same affect not just on those around us, but upon us as well. The way we live may be the only Bible some people see or read…and so when the world sees Christians who are full of bitterness…do you think that draws people in or pushes them away from God?
The very title of today’s message should give you an idea of where the Lord is going with this message. The way we treat others affects how we live, and I know that you’re wondering how…and so let’s find out together.
How we treat others will affect our own lives as well. Joseph had every reason to be bitter and angry with his brothers, but instead of anger, he chose forgiveness. To the extent that we surrender our tendencies to condemn others, and are able instead to forgive, we will experience the fullness of forgiveness from God.
One of my favorite preachers Dr. David Jeremiah is in the midst of a radio series on The Life of Joseph. As I said in the last message, the more I learn about Joseph the more I’m certain that I probably wouldn’t have been as forgiving. I mean the more you really dig into what happened to him with his own family, and the people he encountered along the way…the only way I’d have been able to extend the grace and forgiveness Joseph did is through the working of the Holy Ghost.
The extent that Joseph was able to surrender the natural desire to condemn the people who did some pretty horrible things. Many of us that this series is about have had people in our families that have done many horrible things to us, and there are many who have some serious wounds and scars over those things.
Listen, I’ve said this before and it bears repeating that whatever happened no matter what it is…there is a right to be angry, but I would like to encourage you to take the time to visit Dr. David Jeremiah, and take the time to really listen to the podcasts on The Life of Joseph. Listen as Dr. Jeremiah really digs into the Joseph’s life, and the substance that he delivers from that story…and why Joseph’s life is such a powerful testimony to all of us who struggle with forgiving people who have done some terrible things.
Whether it’s being sold into slavery or enduring some type of abuse it all leaves the same kind of wounds, and there’s still the same kind of choice. Many of us (myself included) chose to be angry, and eventually had to learn to choose to forgive. Joseph chose from the beginning to make the most of the circumstances he was in, and in the end he surrendered his tendency to condemn those who did him wrong.
We all know how powerful a man Joseph wound up being, and how he could’ve chosen to use that power to bring all who had wronged him to their knees…but he didn’t do that. He chose to love and forgive them…and because of that God honored Joseph and gave him favor every where he went.
God freely forgives us and gives us eternal life (see John 3:16). But he also expects us to extend that same mercy to others (see James 2:12–13), with strict warnings to us if we don’t. A life of judgment, condemnation and unforgiveness is a prison.
Isn’t that the truth!?!
How many of you are locked in a prison of judgment, condemnation, or unforgiveness? The only way out of that prison is by extending the same grace and mercy to those who have hurt you as you ask (and are asking) God to extend to you. God expects us to be a people full of grace and mercy because He is full of grace and mercy towards us. God extended those things to us not because we deserved it, but because He values us and more than anything wants a relationship with us.
I certainly know that having these in your heart can lead you to prison, and it’s worth noting that having these things in our hearts can keep us imprisoned. It can entangle us in such a yoke of bondage that it’s the heaviest load we carry. Some of you have been carrying around this yoke for years…decades even…and God is wanting to deal with that stuff because IT is the thing that is holding you back from having not just the kind of life in Christ you want…but the kind of life you want as a whole.
It is time to let that stuff go, friends. It’s not helping you, and it’s not hurting the people you’re holding stuff against. In fact, it’s hurting you, and as I’ve said before most of those people we hold stuff against are going on with their lives. We are the ones imprisoned by the unforgiveness. We may even wonder how they can go on living their lives after what they have done…don’t they know the pain they’ve caused?
Let me bring this message home right here. Some of you are going to be mad at me, but the punch line to this message is right here: how can you go on living your life after all YOU have done…don’t you know the pain that you caused Jesus? Do you think the Cross was a pleasant experience?
Yet God forgave us while we were still living in our sin, and before we even asked Him to forgive us of our sins…they were already no longer being counted against us.
We find ourselves focusing not on the good we have—our spiritual lives or joyful relationships—but on the failings of another. It brings resentment and emptiness.
What are you focusing on? Are you focused on making so and so pay for what they did to you? I used to be that guy. Like I mentioned before I used to be so focused that I remembered exactly who did what to me, and I was also focused on not only if, but when, and what I was going to do to return the wrong done unto me.
I can tell you from personal experience that kind of life is lonely, full of drama and pain, and it is one that is completely void of any kind of relationship because you trust no one. At times, you don’t even trust yourself, and there was also a lot of time that I spent not even liking myself…and it was definitely like being imprisoned.
Jesus came to set me free, but I was still choosing to live in the bondage of fear, guilt, shame, and bitterness. If you are imprisoned by these things there is hope and deliverance…and that hope is found only in Jesus.
When we let go of judgment and live in the grace that has also freed us, we move past the demand that everyone pay us back; as a result, our own quality of life increases.
I don’t know about anyone else, but I enjoy the freedom of not being imprisoned by unforgiveness today. I couldn’t be in ministry, and have that junk in my heart anyways. Today, I’m more like my Father in that I’ve already forgive what was done to me before I’m even asked. I’m not completely like that yet, but I am getting there.
I have just found that I don’t want anything hindering me from being and becoming the person God has destined and designed for me to be…even stuff that happened to me 30 years ago. It’s not going to change what happened, and the only one imprisoned by those things was me.
How many of you are tired of being imprisoned by unforgiveness? Are you ready to be set free?
Then let’s close and ask the Lord to help us. Amen!?!
Heavenly Father, I sense there are many people reading this message who are full of bitterness, resentment, and are living imprisoned by unforgiveness. Lord, I ask You to allow this message to penetrate their hearts, and that the Holy Ghost would point out those areas…and as You do, Father God, I pray that they would release those hurts, those burdens, and that unforgiveness to You in Jesus’ name! I ask that You would heal the hurting hearts, and that You would touch the lives of every reader that is reading this message. Free us, Lord God, from all the baggage that may still exist in our hearts that allows us to remain captive to unforgiveness. We love You, Lord, and we understand that one of the conditions to Your forgiveness of us is that we forgive those who have hurt us. Your Word says that we’re to allow You to take care of them, and we ask that You would have mercy upon those who have hurt us. We NEED You Jesus. We can’t do this without YOUR help. So we ask for it in Jesus name. Amen & Amen.
The way we forgive affects how we live our lives. We can either live in the prison of unforgiveness, or we can live in the freedom that Christ provides. We can live with that angry feeling in our gut every time with think of or see those people…or we can learn to have “good guts” towards people…not because they deserve it, but because God forgave us when we didn’t deserve it either.
As always the whole point of this series isn’t about the people who hurt us, but about making sure our hearts are right. It’s about us having the right heart, right attitude, and about us being right with God.
It’s time that we let go of all the stuff that’s hindering our relationship with God from being all that it can be, Amen!?! It starts by asking God to forgive us for our wrongs against Him, and then to help us forgive those who have wronged us.
Let go and let God isn’t just a fancy slogan…it’s the best way to live our lives. I don’t know about you, but the devil has messed with my life enough. I am ready to be free…really free…of any remaining bitterness and unforgiveness in my heart…
How about you?
One Final Word From Pastor Bryan:
Have you been blessed by this ministry? Would you like to help me out?
Here are some really practical ways you can help me out.
1) Engage – I don’t always have time to reply to everyone but I read every single comment and post on here. I reply to every message and email and every one blesses me! Please do get involved and let me get to know you in the little ways we can online.
2) Share – If you love the posts here, or maybe an article on the website… please share it on Facebook or Twitter… it really helps new people find this ministry and be blessed by the good news of the gospel…and tell people about us.
3) Pray – We really value your prayers. Pray for this message to find good soil – that God would continue to bring new faces to this ministry that are ready to accept His embrace.
4) Give – Running a ministry is a lot like running a business. There’s always a cost, and if this ministry blesses you in any way…you can now help by giving to it financially. I’ve set up a ministry card that is used specifically for ministry needs & expenses. If you’d like to give to this ministry contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Thank you to everyone for your ongoing support. All of you who follow me are of great encouragement to me…and I’m grateful for all of you.
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Blessings & Grace to you!
Pastor Bryan Kizer
Christlike Ministries NWA
“My love be with you all in Christ Jesus.” – 1 Corinthians 16:24 (NASB)