Summer Growth Spurt! - Joseph – A story of forgiveness!
Forgiveness Next Step: Realize that life is unfair!
The Story Promo!
A teenager ended up in the hospital recovering from serious head wounds he received from a train accident. Officials were stunned that he survived. The teen was asked by police how he received his injuries. Here was his explanation, “As the train passed by, I was simply trying to see how close I could stick my head out without getting hit!”[i] Do you think he regrets that decision? Speaking of regrets, consider this! (Regrets 2013 Igniter Media Video)
God wants us to be free. God wants us to experience both peace & joy. God wants us to live life without regrets and that’s not possible unless we choose to forgive. We have studied “forgiveness” for nearly two months. We’ve studied the definition, we’ve seen the example of Jesus and been warned that forgiveness is a command. I now feel compelled to present two forgiveness next steps - one this weekend and one next weekend. We find these next steps within the life of Joseph. Turn in your Bibles to Genesis 45. Find Genesis 45 using your smartphone, iPad or if need be this Bible I hold in my hand! Do you need a Bible? One more reminder – VBS begins tonight and it’s not too late to register.
I want to start again at Genesis 45:4. Vs. 4: Make a choice to forgive a family member. If you won’t, you’ll regret it. Vs. 5: Forgive yourself. If you won’t, you’ll also regret THAT that decision. Vs. 6: (Read 6-8a) Do you need to forgive God? Are you second guessing God? God had a purpose for sending Joseph to Egypt. The problem was that Joseph didn’t know that purpose until 22 years later.[ii] Are you willing to give God time? Are you willing to give God the benefit of the doubt? If you won’t you’ll regret that choice! Go to Vs. 9: (Read 9-22)
Verse 22 reminds me that Joseph is a great example of forgiveness, but he’s certainly not a perfect example of forgiveness. There’s only ONE perfect example in this world! Look at this dysfunctional family tree. Joseph’s father is Jacob and Jacob’s father is Isaac. Isaac played favorites with his twin sons. He liked Esau more than Jacob. Don’t you think that sting would cause Jacob to wake up? It doesn’t. He loves his wife Rachel more than his other three wives and when she gives birth to Joseph – Jacob makes him his favorite. Jacob actually gives him the coat of many colors. Probably something TNT Analyst Craig Sager would wear but NOT as bad as a really bad Christmas sweater! Joseph played favorites just like Jacob did. He favored Benjamin! Go to Genesis 43:29. What makes Benjamin so special? They are brothers of the same mother! When it comes to food – Benjamin’s meal was supersized! Drop down to 43:33! (Read 33-34) When it comes to affection[iii]. Benjamin was hugged first. When it comes to threads[iv] – Benjamin is one sharp dressed man! Pastor Reggie, who has a passion for fashion, would be jealous of Benjamin. Ben has clothes to spare!
Greg, what does Benjamin or playing favorites have to do with forgiveness? Here’s what many of you are saying to me. “Greg, I want to forgive, but I just can’t get my head around it. I can’t understand how someone could be so cruel or stupid or greedy (OR) how I could have been so cruel or stupid or greedy!” If you are struggling to forgive take this next step! Realize that life is unfair!
Some people get five times the food and five times the clothes. Some people eat very little and wear very little. Not by choice – they simply don’t have anything to wear. Life is not fair! I received a text message last Wednesday night that a man towing a million dollar yacht was pulled over by police because they feared the boat would not fit under the overpass. Some people own Million $ yachts while other people can’t even afford a dinghy[v]! Life is not fair! Meet Pearl Cantrell![vi] This woman is from Richland Springs, Texas. Pearl is 105. Pearl was asked, “What’s the secret to a long life?” Her answer was “BACON!” She said, "I love bacon. I could eat it for every meal, and I do!" Oscar Meyer got wind of her fondness for bacon so they surprised her by letting her ride shot-bun in the “Wienermobile.”[vii] They also gave her a ton of bacon. Pearl said, /"I will never, ever forget this, for the rest of my life."[viii]/ Just how many more years is she expecting to live? She’s 105. Some don’t make it to 55, 25 or even 5! Last week I told you about Chaia Thompson. Ben & Shaina have decided to try the experimental treatment at the Cleveland Clinic. This will start on July 8. Chaia will turn 2 on July 1st. Here’s where they could use help! Pray for them. Give money so WCC so we can purchase gas cards and food cards for the entire month of July. Give cash to myself or Dave Rumpke or write check to WCC and place on the memo line Ben T! Some people live to 105. Others barely make it past 2. Life is so unfair.
Some people are gorgeous, others not so much. Rachel was pretty, Leah had weak eyes. That’s just the author being nice. Leah was unattractive. Some people are not only gorgeous, they are also talented! Have you heard of a segment Jay Leno does called Pumpcast News? Some people are super talented. Meet Will! (Video Pumpcast News) What’s amazing is that you didn’t even meet his wife – Monifa! She comes out and sings “Sweet Dreams by the Eurythmics! Some people are just talented – Jay flies them out and lets them sing with his band. Some have a vivacious personality – others don’t! “Greg, so what! So what that life is unfair!”
Understanding that life is unfair puts forgiveness in perspective. Some have great parents, others have messed up parents. Some have an easy life – others have it hard! Namely because of where they were born! “Greg, here’s what I think! I think God should play it fair! If God is SO great as everyone says he is then he should be fair!”
Please rethink that thought. The last thing you want God to be in this world is fair. Because if God was fair than that means all of us would have to be punished for our own sins! The cross would not be meant for Jesus the cross would be meant for us. God wouldn’t sacrifice ONE, He’d sacrifice many and that’s fair, right? We’ve sinned countless times. Why should someone else pay for what we’ve done! The cross shouts to us – the last thing you want God to be in this life is FAIR! Please think through that fact as we experience communion together. We must be reminded of how unfair God was to his own son! Listen to the Apostle Paul in Colossians 2. When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins,  having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross.  And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. (Pray for communion)
On the way back from a cub scout meeting, a little boy innocently says to his Dad, "Dad, I know babies come from mommies' tummies, but how do they get there in the first place?" His Dad starts hemming and hawing so much so the little guy says, /"You don't have to make up something, Dad. It's okay if you don't know the answer."[ix]/
Dad knows the answer. He just doesn’t want to tell his son the truth! At least not yet! I feel a little like that Dad right now. So here’s the truth. Jesus really lived. Jesus died cruelly for sins he did not commit and God allowed it to happen. That was so unfair! But Jesus came back from the dead and countless people (Peter, James & John) saw him and spoke with him. What they and others saw and heard makes up what we call the New Testament! Speaking of the NT – here’s Acts 2:38-40.
I want to warn you today. One day you are going to die. One day you are going to stand before God. What are you going to say to him? “Life was too hard! Life was unfair! OR I put my faith in your one and only Son!” I want to plead with you. Don’t ignore good news! Some of us don’t know what to do with good news. Go back to Genesis 45:23. (Read 23-26)
I don’t blame him. For some 22 years he has believed that Joseph was dead! Now you are telling me he’s alive! What is it going to take to get you to believe in God? There is a Lutheran church in Denmark seeking a Pastor. They sent a message to their denominational headquarters with one non-negotiable requirement. Their new Pastor has to believe in God![x] You must also believe! You must take God at his word. Do you need more evidence? Find verse 27. (Read 27-28a) Joseph had said to them (Jesus said, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.) and when he saw the carts (do you see the cross). I’m praying that you too will be convinced!
Saturday Night Service ONLY
Jair Castillo, 2013 ICOM president
Traveling to New Philadelphia, OH tomorrow
ICOM announcement & prayer
ICOM coming to Columbus in 2014
Garrett Markel Baptism – 10:30AM Service
[ii] John MacArthur, MacArthur Bible Commentary, 72
[iii] Genesis 45:14
[iv] Genesis 45:22
[vi] www.preachingtoday.com/News That Illustrates, May 20, 2013
[x] www.preachingtoday.com / News That Illustrates, February 18, 2013