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Family Feuds: Seeing God In Injustice – Part 2 of 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
The Truth Network Radio
May 20, 2024 1:00 am

Family Feuds: Seeing God In Injustice – Part 2 of 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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May 20, 2024 1:00 am

Family feuds can run for centuries as generations nurse old grudges. But when Joseph was reunited with his brothers, he broke the cycle by refusing to retaliate. In this message, Pastor Lutzer explains five tests of Joseph’s conscience. Time does not heal family feuds—God does.

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Hope for the Caregiver
Peter Rosenberger

Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. Family feuds can run for centuries as generations nurse old grudges, but the cycle can be broken. Forgiving others for great wrongs dissolves years of hatred in mere moments. That's what happened when Joseph forgave his jealous brothers for selling him as a slave. Today, one of the most compelling episodes in all of the Bible.

From the Moody Church in Chicago, this is Running to Win with Dr. Erwin Lutzer, whose clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line. Pastor Lutzer, it's hard to not cry when reading this amazing story of making things right. You know, Dave, whenever I read that story, and of course I've read it many times, I'm reminded of being a boy as I was on the farm, lying on my bed and reading it and crying. Especially when Joseph asked that the room be closed, he said that they wanted to be alone, he and his brothers. And then he said, I am Joseph, your brother, whom you sold.

But God sent me here. What an amazing story of reconciliation. And at the end of this broadcast, I'm going to be telling you two things that are so important when it comes to reconciliation. And there's no doubt that I'm speaking to many of you who have bitterness in your lives.

And of course, there may be many reasons for that and even many excuses for it. But Joseph gives us insight that is so helpful when it comes to family feuds, forgiving the past, and as you put it, Dave, breaking the cycle. We're making available to you a book I've written entitled, When You've Been Wronged, for a gift of any amount it can be yours.

And at the end of this broadcast, I'm going to be telling you how you can receive your copy because I think it will be helpful in your journey all the way to the finish line. As far as the east is from the west so far, he removed our transgressions from us. Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth those that fear him, for he knows our frame and remembers that we are dust. And your sins and your iniquities I will remember no more. Joseph says, I'm setting you free. I'm setting you free. Don't be angry with what you've done. Test number two, you willing to set your victimizer free?

Test number three, as we hurry along here, is this. He saw God in his injustice. He saw God in his injustice. And now do not be distressed. I'm still in verse five. Do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, but God sent me here.

Let's camp on that phrase for just a moment. Joseph isn't just saying, you know, you guys really messed up by hurting me, but God turned it into something good anyway. He's not saying that. Saying much more, something much more theologically profound. What he's saying is that your evil was part of the divine plan. God had a purpose in all of this. This was long before Romans eight, 28 was written, and yet Joseph understood it with incredible clarity that all things work together for good to them that love God, including the false accusations that all things work together for good to them that love God, to those who are the cold according to his purpose because he was able to see God in the midst of evil.

They remind you of Jesus says in the book of Acts. Jesus was offered by the predetermined plan and counsel of God and you wicked men carried out that plan and you killed the just one. Was God there when Jesus died? Was there a plan? Was there a plan?

And the answer is yes. And Jesus could see God right next to the devil and he saw God as bigger than the devil. If you were, if you were holding onto bitterness and all that you can see, all that you can possibly see is the devil.

That person did that to me and he is evil. And if you do not see God, you will retain your bitterness. This past week I read that old illustration that you've heard a thousand times, but I give it because I fits here and I happen to have read it. Remember the man giving a speech, took a piece of white paper in the middle of the paper. He put a dot and then he went from table to table where he was giving a speech and as people, what do you see? And they said, we see a dot, we see a dot, we see a dot. And then he got to the microphone and said, all that you saw was the dot. Not one of you said, we see a piece of white paper.

All that you could see is the dot. So I have to ask you today, do you see God in your circumstance? Oh, maybe it was done by the devil. Jesus was crucified by wicked men.

The devil is there, but do you also see God and his providence in your evil that was done to you or are you just, just totally all that you can see in your narrow mind is the devil. Joseph said, look, you sold me, but God sent me. This was part of the plan and I bow humbly and I accept that plan. Jesus bowed humbly and accepted the plan of the father. Well, that's the third test then.

How are you doing with these tests? Number four, he blessed rather than cursed his brothers. He said in verse six and following, and I won't read all the texts, but the famine has come. God sent me before you to preserve you for a remnant on earth. He says, go back and tell my father that I'm living, bring my dad here. And then he says, and bring all of my father's children. I had to smile when I read that because he was standing in the presence of his father's children and he says, I want you to come and I want you to settle here and I want you to enjoy the prosperity that God has given me.

Wow. What he wasn't just saying is, okay, I'll forgive, but you can go back there and starve as far as I'm concerned. Go back to the land and you know what?

You deserve to starve. As a matter of fact, I'll forgive you. No, he blessed. He says, not only do I forgive you, I'm going to prosper you. You're going to get in on the blessing. Do you know something that you will never get at the root of your bitterness? Listen to this with such care. You will never get to the root of your bitterness unless you can bless those who've cursed you. It'll set you free.

I have a friend who works with Muslims in Europe seeking to give them the gospel of Christ. And he said that a Muslim wrote to him and said to him, cursed be you. Cursed be your wife. Cursed be your children. Cursed is the home in which you live.

Cursed is the car that you drive. So he said that he wrote back and he said these words in the letter. He said, this is my prayer for you. Blessed be your wife. Blessed be your children. Blessed be your home.

Blessed is the car that you drive. You will never forgive unless you bless those who have wronged you and bless those who curse you. Joseph said, oh, to forgive is easy. Yeah, just send them back.

No. To forgive means I enfold them in my own blessing and let them participate in the goodness of God in my life. That is real forgiveness. So I have to ask you, have you ever blessed your enemy or have you only cursed them? You get at the root. You get at the root when you bless and not curse. Five, he refused to retaliate.

He refused to retaliate. For this, we have to go to chapter 50. Joseph has lived now in the land with his family for 17 years. Jacob has lived an additional 17 years. So if it was 22 years between the time that Joseph was sold to the time that the brothers come and then you add another 17 years, what are we getting? I don't know.

Somewhere in the 30s, I suppose, in terms of time. But notice that when the father dies, the brothers say something. Maybe they concoct a story because they're scared. They say, you know, when your father was living, he told us that you're supposed to forgive us. Are you serious? Did Jacob have to say that?

I don't know. But they say in about verse 18, and now please forgive the transgression of your servants of God, your father, because they said to themselves, now that our father is dead, Joseph is going to retaliate. It says, verse 15, when Joseph's brothers saw their father was dead, they said, it may be that Joseph will hate us and pay us back for all the evil we did to him.

So they come and they say, please, please don't pay us back. What does Joseph do when this happens? It says, Joseph wept when they spoke to him. Joseph was saying, do you mean to tell me, knowing me now for 17 years, do you mean to tell me that you think that I would retaliate against you?

He cries just thinking of the fact that his brothers would think that he would do such a thing. So his brothers also came and fell down before him and said, behold, we are your servants. But Joseph said to them, do not fear for, am I in the place of God? You meant it for evil, he said, but God meant it for good to bring about that many people.

And now I'm going to provide for you and your livestock and your families. What Joseph is saying is, do you expect me to retaliate? You know what he's saying, don't you? When you and I retaliate and some of us don't retaliate, maybe because we can't retaliate, it's unrealistic or we might end up in a place where reminiscent of where Joseph was for years. But in our minds we do.

Well, if I could just get him, I would just love to just see him like that. You'd retaliate if you could, but you're restrained by certain restraints, outer restraints. But Joseph says, am I in the place of God? Do you know what he's saying? He's saying, if I were to retaliate, I'd be elbowing God out of the way and saying, God, get out of here.

Let me do this. The Bible says vengeance is mine. I will recompense, says the Lord. So you want to be in the place of God.

You actually want to take over and do his business for him, huh? Joseph said, I'm not in the place of God. My dear friend today, there are situations that you and I don't need to sort out.

We don't need to retaliate because we're not in the place of God. I have three lessons that I want to leave you with today. The first is this, that time does not heal family feuds. Time does not heal family feuds. 30 some years went by since they sold him and the brothers are still thinking that Joseph might retaliate.

What if the brothers would have said to themselves, well, you know, it's so long. Maybe he's forgotten what we did to him back then. Oh, are you kidding? So you promised somebody some money. It's been seven years now and you haven't paid. You could have, but maybe he's forgotten that I promised him that I'd give him the money.

Are you kidding me? Family feuds are never resolved through time. You know how most family feuds are resolved? I won't talk to you. You won't talk to me.

If we send Christmas cards, it'll be these printed ones that just say John and Sally and that's it. And you go your way and I go mine and we just don't talk. That's the way most family feuds are settled or unsettled. Always there has to be confrontation and resolution. Now you say, but I know a family member.

I can't settle with them because of ABCD. That's possible. Then from your heart, from your heart, you have to forgive. Do you know that about nine out of 10 people who have hurt you don't even know that they've done it.

If you were to go to them and say, you know, I don't forgive you for the hurt that you caused me hurt. What do you mean? Because of that, no big deal. You know, I just can't believe that you're even mentioning it. So what we have to do is from our hearts forgive even when reconciliation is beyond reach. And as I say, we will talk about reconciliation in another message. Second, bitterness is the enemy, is the enemy of faith. Bitterness and faith can't coexist.

Let me tell you why. You know what bitterness is saying, don't you? It's saying two things about God. Number one, there's no possibility that God could have a purpose in this.

None, whatever. This is just of the devil. And the day it happened, clearly God was on vacation. He wasn't watching over his world.

He was just simply letting it happen. And there can be no good that comes out of this. Not even God can use this.

That's the first thing that bitterness is saying. Second thing that it's saying is that there's no way that God is going to even the score. No way that there's going to be a final judgment when all of the truth is going to come out at the judgment seat of Jesus Christ.

No way. If the score is to be evened, justice demands it. And I want to do it. See, that's why lawsuits, and there is a message coming in this series on lawsuits too, is so despicable among Christians. Because what lawsuits are saying is I have been done an injustice and I cannot wait for God to settle this.

So I'm going to go in and I'm going to try to settle it on my own. But I could tell you horrendous stories of the results of those kinds of responses. So bitterness is the enemy of faith. It steals all your faith and it steals your joy.

It is an awful enemy. Third, forgiveness is an act, listen carefully, forgiveness is an act of self-healing. It's an act of self-healing and reclaiming your life.

It's an act of self-healing. You see, what happens when we don't forgive is God just stands back and says, oh, you're going to do my work for me, aren't you? You're going to take care of this situation in your own way to the extent that you can, and you're going to allow it to dominate you and control you fine.

Do with it as you may. So every kind of heartache comes to us and we find ourselves in that prison. God says, look, if you want me to take care of this, if you genuinely want me to take care of this, I will. And in the process, you'll be free and you'll be healed. In his excellent book on total forgiveness, RT Kindle says this, I wrote it down last night, the greater the hurt, the greater the blessing when forgiveness comes.

The greater the hurt, the greater the blessing when forgiveness comes. You are bitter. You are the loser.

You, you are the loser. So what this means is, is to just lay it all down. You know, there have been times in my own life when I've had to apply this message.

In fact, I'll tell you something interesting preparing this message. God worked me over. I thought I had forgiven everybody. After all, I'm the pastor of Moody church. That's part of the territory, right? And I began to look at this and began to say, you know, that's not true here.

That's not true here. And, and God worked me over. And the way I have to do this is it takes time in the presence of God to just go through every route, every thought that I've had against others, every desire to retaliate and pull those things out route by route and give them to God. Some of you are going to find this very, very difficult, but when you've come through the other side, the chains will fall off.

They'll fall onto the Florence. I'm free, free to be blessed, free to be fruitful. You know, there's a connection between your body and bitterness. RT Kendall also in his book at the end tells an interesting story of a woman who was in a traffic accident. And because of that, her neck was so severely damaged.

She had to be in a neck brace and because she could not turn her head, she was denied a driver's license for 22 years. Somebody said to her, well, did you forgive the driver who went through the red light? Oh yeah, sure. I forgiven him that way. Most Christians answer cutting the weeds off at ground level. Yeah, forgiven him. This person said, have you ever blessed them? Have you ever prayed that God would bless them? There's no never done that.

Well, that's what you're to do. So she began to pray prayers of blessing. Now this is what the book says, okay? This comes from a baptist church in England. At the moment, the woman began to bless the person responsible for the accident.

She discovered that her neck was healed and the book was written a year after and the healing was still there. What do you want to do today? Do you want to get out of your prison? Do you want to lay it all down? Do you want to be free? I've said what I intended to say and now it's all between you and God. I can do nothing more.

Let's pray. Father, would you set your people free? Bitterness is with deep roots that have been so well watered, that have been so rationalized, that have been so explained, that have been so jealously held.

Bitterness that has been excused for all kinds of other sins. Would you set, Father, your people free? Now who can do that?

I can't. Who can reach into a human heart that's been bitter for years and years and years and set them free? God, this is your work.

This is your work and if you don't do it, Lord, it won't be done. How many are there today who'd say, Pastor Lutzer, today I want to walk out of my prison. Would you raise your hands, please? There are many on the downstairs floor. I'm not sure if I see the balcony.

I'm looking at the balcony now. You say, I want to come out of my prison. Father, we ask in the name of Jesus, come and set your people free. Meet us, Lord, because we are needy and we ask that you shall forgive even as we have been forgiven. We pray in Jesus' name. Amen.

Amen. My friend, today I can't help but think that I'm speaking to many, many people who have a root of bitterness. They say that they have forgiven those who have wronged them, but actually they have not really forgiven and they certainly have not blessed that person. And yet that's what Jesus asks us to do. The story of Joseph is so remarkable and it gives us two important truths when we begin to look back on all of the things that have happened that have been unjust. The cruelty of his brothers, of course, and we could go on and delineate all of the reasons that Joseph had to be bitter.

But here's what we find. Number one, he saw God in his bitterness. He said, you sold me here, but God sent me here.

Do you have the faith to believe that God is able to take what has happened to you and actually use it for his glory? You may become an example to others of forgiveness and of reconciliation. But there's something else that Joseph said that really startles us. After their father died, the brothers thought that Joseph might retaliate against them. So they came and they were asking for his forgiveness and so forth.

But here's the point. This is Genesis chapter 50. Joseph said to them, don't be afraid. Am I in the place of God? Wow.

Takes your breath away. What Joseph is saying is that if I retaliate, I'm taking God's place. That's God's business.

Vengeance is his business. Well, we're making available to you the book entitled When You've Been Wronged. I hope that you have a pen or pencil handy. You can go to or call us at 1-888-218-9337.

I hope that you do that right now for a gift of any amount. Go to You can write to us at Running to Win, 1635 N. LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60614. Running to Win is all about helping you find God's roadmap for your race of life.

Someone's out to get me. That's what David must have thought as Israel's King Saul tried to kill him for ten long years. What drives these spear throwers? How should believers handle long-running attacks?

Next time, what to do when reconciliation is not possible? This is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-05-20 02:14:51 / 2024-05-20 02:23:31 / 9

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