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The Power of Forgiveness - II

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie
The Truth Network Radio
October 15, 2020 3:00 am

The Power of Forgiveness - II

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie

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October 15, 2020 3:00 am

Thursday on A NEW BEGINNING, Pastor Greg Laurie brings us one of the most powerful stories of forgiveness in all the Bible.  He’s presenting a challenging series called World Changers, and we’ll consider the example of the Old Testament patriarch named Joseph. 

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A New Beginning is the daily half-hour program hosted by Greg Laurie, pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Southern California. For over 30 years, Pastor Greg and Harvest Ministries have endeavored to know God and make Him known through media and large-scale evangelism. This podcast is supported by the generosity of our Harvest Partners.

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A New Beginning
Greg Laurie

The following message from Pastor Greg Laurie is made possible by Harvest Partners, helping people everywhere know God. To find out how to know God personally, go to knowgod.org. K-N-O-W, knowgod.org.

Hey, would you do me a favor? Share this message with someone who needs to hear it. One thing is certain. All of us have been wronged. But Pastor Greg Laurie points out today, only some of us have granted forgiveness. You know, we might say, well, one of these days, if I can find it in my heart, I'll forgive that person. No, you need to do it this day, not one of these days.

And don't try to find it in your heart because you never will. No, you need to do it as an act of obedience. What if I'm not feeling it, man? Who cares if you're feeling it?

Just do it because it's the right thing to do. When we've been wounded deeply, forgiving the offender can feel like we're letting them off the hook. Where's the justice, we cry? In reality, forgiveness is more of a healing balm for the forgiver than a kindness toward the offender. And today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie shows us the example of a great forgiver in the Bible. We'll consider the example of the Old Testament patriarch named Joseph. It's part of Pastor Greg's inspiring series called World Changers. I heard about a Sunday school teacher that was talking to her class about the topic of forgiveness and she asked as she was concluding, you know, kids, what does a person need to do to receive forgiveness from God?

There's a moment of silence. A little boy put his hand up and he said, you have to sin. And that's pretty true. You have to sin. And most of us qualify. Well, let me restate that.

All of us qualify. Most of us as believers understand that he graciously gives his forgiveness to us, though we don't deserve it. And he tells us in 1 John 1-9, if we will confess our sin, he is faithful and just to forgive us of our sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

So that's amazing. We understand that for the most part. We accept it.

But here's where it gets tricky for some. Forgiven people should be forgiving people. We have received the forgiveness of God, therefore we should extend that same forgiveness to others, especially those who have wronged us. You say, well, why are you talking about forgiveness? Well, because we're in part three of the life of Joseph. And before us now in the book of Genesis is one of the most amazing examples of forgiveness in all of the Bible. The only story that really eclipses it, in my estimation, is Christ hanging on the cross saying, Father, forgive them for they know not what they do. Here is Joseph, a man who has been so wronged in life extending forgiveness to his brothers. The very brothers who abandoned, betrayed, and for all intents murdered him. This would have been a great moment in the narrative for him to deal in a little bit of payback with one word. He could have had them all executed because he comes into a position of great prominence, as we'll see. But he didn't do that.

Instead, he forgave. When we are first introduced to the young Joseph, we find a young boy, 17 years old, with a super cool coat his dad made for him. And his father favored him above the other brothers as stirred resentment. Joseph made matters worse by tattling or ratting out his brothers when they were misbehaving. Also, Joseph had these amazing dreams of other people bowing before him that were in reality from God. But as I said earlier, sometimes it is best to keep your dreams to yourself because the brothers just thought he was kind of a braggart and a bit spoiled. And maybe he was.

But he certainly didn't deserve the treatment that they gave him because section number two of his life is struggle. They sell their 17-year-old brother to a group of slave traders for 20 pieces of silver, probably never thinking they would see him again. Well, he is purchased by a guy named Potiphar. Potiphar had a wife who put her lustful eyes on young Joseph. Who the Bible tells us was very attractive, handsome, well built. And she started hitting on him day and night and he resisted her advances. And finally one day she just got tired of being subtle and grabbed him and yanked him down on the bed and basically just said, Have sex with me. And he ran out of there as quickly as he could. Then she falsely accuses him of rape. So now he is in a dungeon.

Worst situation imaginable. Enter the butler and the baker. They work for the Pharaoh. So he is talking with these guys and they both had these dreams. What were your dreams? Ok. Well one of them says, I had a dream.

This is the butler now. He says, I had a dream of a vine growing up with three branches. And then the three branches were clusters of grapes and so I took the wine from the grapes and I put him in the king's cup and served him to the king. What does that dream mean? Joseph said, That is a good dream buddy. The Lord has shown me that that means you are going to get out of here and before you know it you are going to be serving wine to the king.

Yes. Remember your buddy Joseph when you get out ok. And the butler said, Yeah, I will never forget you. He never heard from him.

And so now he is just sitting there for two more years. He was forgotten. In fact the Bible tells us in Genesis 40 23 the butler did not remember Joseph but forgot him. Meanwhile the most powerful man on the face of the earth, the Pharaoh of Egypt, has a troubling dream. And in his particular dream he sees seven fat healthy cows in front of the Nile River. And then after them came seven scrawny shriveled up cows and the seven skinny cows ate the seven fat cows. Pharaoh woke up and went, Whoa I should not have eaten that Egyptian pizza last night.

What does this mean? Then he falls asleep and he has another dream. This time it is seven heads of grain strong and healthy growing from a single stalk. And then seven heads of grain also sprout but they are sort of scorched and withering.

And the scorched ones ate up the healthy ones. He wakes up. What does this mean? So he calls in all of the astrologers and the wizards and the experts and advisors. You see he had them on staff. They were on the payroll.

But these guys had no answers. They couldn't make sense out of Pharaoh's dreams. And then there is the butler. He is standing there and he is thinking, Oh why? I remember that Joseph guy. So he says to the Pharaoh, I met this guy in prison and I believe God has given him this ability. The Pharaoh says, Get him up here right now. The next thing he knows he is in the presence of the Pharaoh. Genesis 41. Verse 14. Pharaoh sent for Joseph at once and he was brought quickly from the dungeon after a quick shave and a change of clothes. He went in and stood in Pharaoh's presence. I had a dream last night Pharaoh told him. And none of these men can tell me what it means.

But I have heard that you can interpret dreams and that is why I have called for you. I love Joseph's response. Verse 16.

It is beyond my power to do this. The Pharaoh's heart probably sunk. But then he went on to say, But God will tell you what it means and He will set you at ease. Now that took courage. And so now the Pharaoh tells him his dream. And Joseph says, Ok I got it.

The Lord showed me. Here is what it means. Those fat cows getting eaten by the skinny cows. That is talking about seven years of plenty. In other words you are going to do really well in grain reserves and food for seven years. But you have seven years of famine following that. So you better stock up now and get some reserve in place so when the famine comes you will survive it.

And by the way you have got to get a really good person over this to administrate it. And all the Pharaohs, soothsayers, wizards, and magicians are saying, Me! Me!

Me! And the Pharaoh looks at Joseph and says, I want that guy right there. Next thing you know Joseph is the second most powerful man in the world. He had gone from the prison to the palace.

He had gone from rags to riches. So many years have passed. The famine is in full swing.

People are coming from around the world to get food. Because Egypt is the only one that is prepared for the future because of Joseph's interpretation of the Pharaoh's dream. One day a Jewish family shows up. Now they don't recognize Joseph. For starters they never thought they would see him again.

They thought he was dead. Secondly he is an older man now and he has changed. And thirdly he doesn't have his hair long or his beard grown out like he used to. His head was all shaved. He probably wore eyeliner like they do in those old Egyptian drawings.

He kind of moved around like this all the time. And so they never thought they would see Joseph again. So they didn't recognize him but he recognized them. And then in comes his family and he is looking at them. And his heart is beginning to just burst.

It has been so long. He has thought of them so many times and this amazing scene unfolds. He has to tell them who he is.

Genesis 45 verse 1 reading from the New Living Translation. Joseph could stand and no longer. Get out of here all of you he cried out to his attendants. He wanted to be alone with his brothers. And when he told them who he was he broke down and wept aloud.

His sobs could be heard through the palace and the news was quickly carried to Pharaoh's palace. I am Joseph he said to his brothers. Can you imagine how they felt when they realized he was alive and powerful? I am Joseph. It is probably a good thing. And they are thinking we are dead dead dead dead dead. So dead dead dead dead.

Yeah. I am Joseph. Then he goes on to say is my father still alive? The brothers are speechless. They were stunned to realize Joseph was standing there in front of them. Come over here he said and they came closer and he said I am Joseph your brother whom you sold into Egypt.

Oh yes he remembers. But don't be angry with yourselves. That you did this to me. For God did it. Did you read that?

Underline it. For God did it. He sent me here ahead of you to preserve your lives.

Wait. I would have understood it if Joseph said don't be angry with yourselves because God allowed it. But Joseph didn't say God allowed it. Joseph said God did it. Where did he find the grace and the mercy and the perspective to say such a thing?

A couple of things you might want to write down. Joseph understood number one God is sovereign. God is sovereign. Now that is a fancy theological word we hear it thrown around a lot. I don't even know if people know what it means. You know God is sovereign.

What does that mean? I have no idea but he is sovereign. When we say God is sovereign here is what we are saying. We are saying God is in control of all things. God is aware of all things. What we are saying when we as a Christian say God is sovereign we are saying God is in control of all circumstances surrounding my life and I am saying there is no mere luck or chance in my life. God is firmly in control.

Ok. That is good. But if you think God is angry or God is against you it is kind of scary to know he is in control. But that is true that he is sovereign but it is also true God is good.

He is good. That means the things he allows in my life are ultimately for my benefit and the benefit of others. Joseph said to his brothers, You meant evil against me but God meant it for good. Because Joseph loved God no matter what came his way no matter how wicked its origin God turned it around for good. And then he extended his forgiveness to them. And they had done a lot of bad stuff to him. They sold him as a slave. Number two, he was falsely accused by the wife of Potiphar.

Number three, he was forgotten by that stupid butler of Pharaoh and sat there for another two years. That is a lot to forget but he didn't hold grudges. He let it all go. Can you let it all go? In just a moment Pastor Greg describes a modern day example of great forgiveness. It is beyond words.

Coming up in just a moment. Is there someone you can think of right now that has hurt you? Someone who has wronged you? Someone who has brought harm to you? Or someone that has said something cruel about you? And it hurts and it makes you angry.

And you would like to see them destroyed. In fact at times you find yourself thinking about ways to get back at them. But remember that is not what forgiveness is. Forgiveness is forgiving. Forgiveness is forgetting. Forgiveness is canceling a debt. One image given in Scripture of forgiveness is like taking a clay pot and smashing it into a thousand pieces or more.

That is what it is. Just put it behind you. I don't even think about it any longer. I have told you the story before of Corrie Ten Boom a remarkable lady. She is now with the Lord but she survived a concentration camp during World War II.

Corrie and her family, the Ten Boom family, lived in Holland. And when the Nazis began to persecute the Jews this wonderful Christian family took these folks into their home and hid them from the Nazis. And the Nazis were aware of this and warned the Ten Boom family if they continued to do this they would be sent to a concentration camp but they continued to protect these Jewish people that were being persecuted.

So one day the Gestapo showed up, arrested all of Corrie's family. Her father Caspar, an older man, was sent to a concentration camp and there he quickly died. Her sister and her, her sister was Betsy, were sent to Ravensbruck. And there they suffered greatly.

Watched people around them die but they reached out to the other prisoners sharing the gospel with them, having a Bible study for them. But then Betsy, her very godly, saintly older sister, also died. And Corrie was freed on a clerical error.

It was actually a mistake but, as we said, God's sovereign. And he was in control and she got out. So she spent the rest of her life traveling around the world as a self-described tramp for the Lord. And her message was there is no pit so deep that God is not deeper still. And she would tell her audiences about all that she had gone through and how she was able to forgive. Well, one night after a church meeting in Munich, Germany, a man walked up to her and he said, A Fraulein tin boom. I too was at Ravensbruck.

I was one of the guards. And as she looked at him in his plain clothes she had a flashback to him in his Gestapo uniform. She remembered him well. She remembered the skull and crossbones, insignia on his collar. She remembered the especially cruel treatment he gave toward her and her sister. And she just filled with rage and anger. And he says, And I am asking you, would you forgive me? And he extended his hand. Cory just left that hand hanging. She said, I couldn't shake his hand.

I couldn't do it. But then I remembered that God had forgiven me and I remembered that forgiveness is not an emotion. It is an act of the will.

And the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart. So she writes that she reached out her hand and woodenly shook his and said, I forgive you my brother with all of my heart. And then she writes, I never knew God's love so intensely as I did then. Isn't that great? Cory tin boom said, God has taken your sins. He has thrown them into the sea of forgetfulness. And he has posted a sign that says, No fishing allowed.

What I love about this story is it is practical. You know we might say, well one of these days if I can find it in my heart I will forgive that person. No. You need to do it this day.

Not one of these days. And don't try to find it in your heart because you never will. No you need to do it as an act of obedience. What if I am not feeling it man? Who cares if you are feeling it.

Just do it. Because it is the right thing to do. And I believe that your emotions will follow in time. To go to that person that hurt you and say, I forgive you. But what am I doing? I am freeing myself of this you see. Now they may never accept my apology but that is their issue.

I am doing this because the Lord has shown me to do it. Ok fast forward many years now. Cory tin boom is a much older lady. She has traveled around the world telling people how to forgive. And she had a couple of Christian friends that she worked with. And they had both hurt her. In fact in her estimation they had betrayed her. But she forgave them. And a friend was visiting from the United States.

She was over in Europe at this time. And the friend said, wow Cory aren't those girls that are working with you now the two that hurt you? She said yes. But then she adds, very smugly I said, but I have given them forgiveness.

And he says, oh that is great. Did they accept your forgiveness? Did they apologize? She said no.

They actually said they didn't think they did anything to be forgiven of. So that is just the way it ended up. She says, but I have information. I have kept the records. And she reached into her desk and pulled it out and said, I have it right here in black and white. I have all the letters that prove what they did to me.

And the man said, Cory you are the one who came up with this statement. God has taken our sins and thrown them into the sea of forgetfulness. And has posted a sign that says, no fishing allowed. She is like, oh no. Here is this woman who was able to forgive a Nazi for what he did to her and her family. And yet she was still harboring a grudge against these two Christian friends.

So she says, I took all of those letters and I threw them into the fireplace and never thought about it again. That is forgiveness. It is just getting rid of the record.

It is letting it go. And there is no greater example of forgiveness in the Bible than Christ Himself hanging on the cross. After Jesus was crucified. After they ripped His back open with the Roman whip. After they pulled the beard from His face. And He hung there at Calvary.

He gave seven statements in total. And the first one was, Father forgive them for they know not what they do. Do those Roman soldiers deserve forgiveness? Do those religious leaders deserve forgiveness?

No. But He gave it anyway. And that is how God feels toward us. He loves us and He will forgive us if we will turn from our sin.

Looping back to what I said earlier about that little boy in Sunday school. What do you need to do to be forgiven? You have to sin.

Well we have all done that haven't we? And God can forgive you of all of your sin right now. And I wonder if you have not come here to this service and you feel there is a barrier between you and God. Maybe it is the fact that you haven't forgiven someone.

Maybe it is a certain sin you have committed. But I am telling you right now God can forgive you of that sin and take that sin. And as Corey wrote, throw it into the sea of forgetfulness.

Never to be remembered again. But you have to say to Him, I have sinned and I am sorry. And if you will say that to the Lord He will forgive you right here right now. If you have never asked Jesus Christ to come into your life I would like to give you an opportunity to do it. And if you have maybe asked Christ to come into your life and maybe you have fallen away or you have found yourself involved in things you should not be doing as a Christian and you need to recommit your life to Christ this would be a great time to do it as we close in prayer.

Let's all bow our heads. Father thank You for loving us so much You sent Jesus. And Lord Jesus thank You for dying on the cross for our sin.

And taking God's judgment upon Yourself. And thank You for Your gracious offer of forgiveness to all who would call out to You. And now we pray for them Lord. Help them to see their need for You. Help them to be forgiven by You. And we ask it in Your name.

Amen. Great insight on forgiveness. Get in touch for the study called The Power of Forgiveness. We'll pass along the ordering details when you call 1-800-821-3300. You can call anytime. We're here 24-7, 1-800-821-3300.

Or look for the message online at harvest.org. And then we're so glad to have some special guests with us today. In addition to Pastor Greg's wife Kathy, we have authors Jeff and Shanti Feldhahn, who've written the new book Thriving in Love and Money. It's based on in-depth research into the habits and attitudes of hundreds of married couples.

Shanti herself is a data analyst. Jeff and Shanti say if money is a problem in a marriage, money is not the problem in the marriage. Money stress is a symptom of a problem in the relationship. How a couple relate to each other and understand each other and communicate about money.

It's fascinating insight. Shanti and Jeff, in the last chapter of your book, you speak of how this information changed your marriage. How is your marriage different now after putting your discoveries to work?

Well, I'd say that it's deepened our understanding, our respect for each other, our love for each other. I just, you know, I hated having this script run through my mind. And it wasn't necessarily a conscious decision that whenever we would have any sort of a disagreement about something, I had something that said Shanti wasn't correct or wasn't doing things right. And now, all of a sudden, I check that. And it has been, whether it's in money or other things, I check that really quickly when those thoughts start to come. And I look for the more generous answer for why she's doing something.

Yes. And it, look, we all want peace in our households. And we have peace. It's been fantastic. It has been so fascinating to see how I would have described our marriage as being a great marriage before. I had no idea there was a whole other level that we were missing. I had no idea that there was a whole other level of oneness and intimacy and closeness that was closed off to us because there was this area of marriage that just was taboo. It was the third rail, right?

It was that area that we just avoided it. That's exactly it. I'm excited because I feel like even if there's just one member of the household that will take the time to read this book, that it'll help them begin that conversation. Because rather than thrust a book into somebody, you know, your spouse's hands and say, you need to read this, the book itself will help you to begin to phrase those first, like that first question that you gave us, which was so good. What is the one thing that I could do that would help you begin to help me understand and talk about money with me? I mean, that question is just the opening of a nice conversation rather than just you need to do this differently and you need to understand what I'm thinking. Here it is.

It's like, help me understand so that we can have this conversation. I love that. Well, thank you, Shanti and Jeff, for being on our show and writing this book Thriving in Love and Money. And I hope that our listeners will order their own copy because it can really enrich, number one, your life, number two, your marriage, and help you know how to deal with your finances in a godly way from a biblical perspective. And so we want to send you your own copy for your gift of any size to our ministry here at A New Beginning, because as you know, we love to teach the Word of God. This is just an illustration of that where we're helping you to see how Scripture applies to all areas of your life, including your finances, and we also proclaim the Gospel and give people an opportunity to believe in Jesus. So for whatever you send, we'll invest it in this ministry, and we'll get you your own copy of this book by Shanti and Jeff Feldhahn, Thriving in Love and Money.

Yeah, that's right. And we have a copy right here waiting for you. Get in touch and request it. We'll send it to say thank you for investing in these daily studies.

They touch lives each and every day, and you have a part in that spiritual fruit when you invest so these studies can continue. And when you send that investment today, be sure to ask for Thriving in Love and Money. You can write A New Beginning, Box 4000, Riverside, CA 92514, or call 1-800-821-3300. We can take your call anytime 24-7, again at 1-800-821-3300, or go online to harvest.org. Pastor Greg, you pointed out the importance of asking Jesus to forgive our sins a few moments ago.

Yes. Could you help those who want to do that very thing right now? Yeah, you know the Bible tells us that Jesus Christ stands at the door of our life and he knocks. And if any man will hear his voice and open the door, he will come in. Maybe as you've heard me speak today, well, you've heard another voice speaking to you.

It's the voice of God. And you realize you need Christ in your life. You need your sin forgiven. You want the assurance that you will go to heaven when you die.

Well, here's what you need to do. You need to pray. And I would like to lead you in a prayer right now where you will be saying to Jesus, Lord, come into my life. I choose to follow you.

So let's pray. Lord Jesus, I know that I'm a sinner, but I thank you for dying on the cross for my sin. I turn from that sin now and I put my faith in you. Be my Lord, my Savior, and my God, and my friend. I choose to follow you, Jesus, from this moment forward.

Thank you for loving me and calling me and accepting me. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen. Listen, if you just prayed that prayer, I want you to know on the authority of Scripture that Christ himself has come into your life. The Bible says these things we write to you that believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.

If you just prayed that prayer and meant it, you can know today you have eternal life. And may I be the first to say to you, welcome to the family of God. Yeah, and we want to help you grow as a believer. So let us send you our new Believer's Growth Packet. We'll send it free of charge if you prayed with Pastor Greg today. Just write a new beginning, Box 4000, Riverside, CA 92514. Or call us at 1-800-821-3300. We're here 24-7, 365 to take your phone call.

So dial 1-800-821-3300. Or just go online to Harvest.org and click Know God. Well Pastor Greg is presenting his series called World Changers. Are you enjoying it? If you are, drop them an email and let them know.

Would you? Write Greg at Harvest.org. Next time we'll see even world changers need a second chance. Failures and how to recover from them next time on A New Beginning with Pastor Greg Laurie. This is the day, the day when life begins The preceding message from Greg Laurie was made possible by Harvest Partners. Helping people everywhere know God. Sign up for Pastor Greg's free daily email devotions at Harvest.org
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-02-04 14:33:42 / 2024-02-04 14:45:41 / 12

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