Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Forgiveness that is Real and Complete

I've been spending a lot of time pouring into the Old Testament story of Joseph as beginning in January I will be preaching through this amazing life in an 11-week message series we are calling, "Joseph: More Than a Dreamer!"  Over the past 2 years this story has taken on a very special place in my heart and I don't think I have ever had a story in Scripture become so real and vivid to me as this one has as I have been reading and studying it.  I am so looking forward to walking our church here at Gaylord E-Free through this incredible journey that took Joseph from the pit - to the prison - to the palace.

As I was working my way through the final chapters in the story last week I was once again introduced to the beauty and power of forgiveness.  I'm sure you know the story.  Joseph is betrayed and hurt deeply by his own brothers resulting in unbelievable pain, hurt and hardship in his life.  Yet, through all of it, Joseph knew that God was with him.  Due to this he follows an amazing path that ultimately puts him in a position of great wealth and power which allows him to save many, many people from a severe famine.

But the story climaxes when his journey leads Joseph back into a face-to-face encounter with the very brothers who had harmed him.  Only this time, it was Joseph that had the upper hand.  He now had the power, and what most people would see as the right, to take revenge for the decades of pain he had endured due to his brothers mistreatment of him.  Yet, in the end, he chooses to forgive them.  But this forgiveness was not just words, it was full of action.  This forgiveness was not just a gesture, it was complete in every way.  In Genesis 50:19-21, we see the elements of this very real forgiveness:

First, Joseph acknowledged that it was God who was the judge, not him (50:19)

Second, Joseph reminded his brothers that God had a purpose for all that happened (50:20)

Third, Joseph promised to care for his brothers and their families (50:21)

Fourth, Joseph comforted his brothers who were riddled with guilt and fear (50:21)

Fifth, Joseph spoke kindly to his brothers, the very ones who had so brutally betrayed and deeply hurt him (50:21)

What a powerful picture of forgiveness.  It's almost unreal.  And this is just the end of the story.  For the first 11 weeks of the New Year we will see many life-changing aspects of this great life from beginning to end.  And when we bring it all to a close as we near Easter we will be reminded of the greatest lesson of all that we see - the lesson that shows us the power of forgiveness.

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