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 Issue #94 Tue, 29 Aug 2006

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Female Number of posts : 2309
Age : 26
Real Name : Alyssa
Location : Eastern USA
Registration date : 2006-12-17

PostSubject: Issue #94 Tue, 29 Aug 2006   March 12th 2007, 00:11

SEVENTY TIMES SEVEN?
Lessons From The Life of Joseph PART III


Dear Youth,

For the past two weeks, we have been learning about Joseph and his faithfulness and steadfastness in the land of his exile (See Devotional/s #92 & #93 "Lessons From The Life of Joseph" Parts I & II). This week we are going to focus on forgiveness and use the life of Joseph to illustrate this point.

Joseph's ten older brothers--driven by envy, maliciousness, and pride--sought to end his life and thwart the fulfilment of his dreams. Envied by their father's favouritism, the cruel brothers couldn't bear the thought that their younger brother Joseph would ever become greater than they; they vowed that they would NEVER bow down to him.

Joseph had never harboured a resentful or wicked attitude toward his spiteful brothers, and when his father, Jacob, asked the youth to make the long journey to see if his brothers and the herds were well, Joseph did not delay, but made haste and with a willing, joyful step, travelled the 50 miles to Shechem. Upon arriving in Shechem he was informed that his brothers were herding the flocks in Dothan, another 15 miles away. Joseph was weary and worn, but with the thought of being united with his brothers and easing the anxiety of his father, he pressed on.

This loving, selfless manner displayed by Joseph is greatly contrasted by his ten brothers' cruel, bitter approach to their despised kin. Their harsh, rash decision to murder Joseph displays their true character and the indwelling iniquity of their hearts. The brothers did, however, acknowledge that Joseph WAS their own flesh and blood, and decided that they would rather sell him to the Ishmaelite traders and thus keep their hands free of his blood.

Many years later, during the seven years of famine, Joseph's ten older brothers were forced to buy grain from Egypt. Upon arrival in Egypt, the ten travellers were sent to Joseph who was then the acting prime minister of Egypt. Joseph recognized his brothers, but the years of living with the Egyptian people had so disguised Joseph's features that his brothers did not know him. After testing and trying his brothers, Joseph was finally convinced that they were now good, kind, and repentant men. He arranged for his father, his brothers and their families to move down to the good and fertile land of Egypt. For the duration of his life, Joseph never sought to take revenge on his brothers for the misdeed and the cruelty they had earlier laid on him. He had much earlier forgiven them for the wrongs they had previously done to him.

Young people, this is forgiveness in the truest sense of the word! This is the kind of forgiveness Jesus spoke of in a conversation with Peter: "Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, until seven times: but until seventy times seven." (Matthew 18:21-22)

Forgiveness is a requirement of God. Just as freely as Christ has offered forgiveness to all those who ask it, we are to forgive others. In the Lord's prayer, we are taught this same principle of forgiveness: "And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors." (Matthew 6:12) God has shown us abundant mercy! David, in beautiful similes, describes this mercy in Psalm 103: "The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. He hath not dealt with us after our sins nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heaven is above the earth, so great is His mercy toward them that fear Him. For the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear Him." (Psalm 103:8, 10-11, 17) It is our duty and privilege, as Christians, to reflect the character of God in our daily interactions and dealings with one another. The same merciful and forgiving spirit God has demonstrated to us we should manifest in our relations with each other.

Forgiveness is often not an easy thing to do! It is against our natures to forgive and pardon, and it requires the complete turn-around from our natural inclinations. Forgiveness is something we absolutely cannot accomplish within ourselves. Without the aid of divine power, we will never be able to truly forgive those who have hurt us or wronged us. However, as hard as it might be to forgive someone for the pain they have caused us, there is always a blessing that we will receive from doing the will of our Father in heaven.

Resentment, hatred and bitterness, harboured deep inside ones inmost soul only destroys the person. When Christ comes into our life and His forgiveness flows out from us to others, we will feel a peace and happiness that can only come from a heart of love that "thinketh no evil." (1 Corinthians 13:5) "How often we feel that we have been dealt with unjustly, that things have been said concerning us that were untrue, and that we have been set in a false light before others. When we are thus tried, we shall need to keep strict guard over our spirit and our words. We shall need to have the love of Christ, that we may not cherish an unforgiving spirit. Let us not think that unless those who have injured us confess their wrongs, we are justified in withholding from them our forgiveness. We should not accumulate our grievances, holding them to our hearts until the one we think guilty has humbled his heart by repentance and confession. . . .However sorely they may have wounded us, we are not to cherish our grievances and sympathize with ourselves over our injuries, but as we hope to be pardoned for our offences against God, so must we pardon those who have done evil to us." (Youth's Instructor, June 1, 1893)

We are to: "Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you." (Colossians 3:13 NIV) "Be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you. And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given Himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour." (Ephesians 4:32, 5:2)

I have seen many friendships broken because of an unforgiving spirit on one or both parts. Sometimes the friendship may not be totally severed, but the closeness and unity that once existed no longer is a part of the friendship. Many marriages break up because the two partners haven't learned to forgive, instead they hold on to the hurts and the problems that arise and eventually they can't take it any longer. Many teenagers, who were once close to their parents begin to pull away from them because of a harboured resentment towards them.

It might be easy to "brush-it-under-the-carpet" so to speak, but that's not dealing with the problem. We cannot enjoy perfect communion with our Saviour while we still have problems that we have not dealt with in our life. Eventually both our spiritual walk and our relationships will suffer and dissolve if we hold on to any resentment or hurts and cherish an unforgiving spirit deep inside. Another thing to realise is that true forgiveness does not bring up the past!

It is God's desire to unite; it is Satan's purpose and mission to divide! "Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on Me through their word; that they all may be one as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in Us: that the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me." (John 17:20-21) Unity cannot come while an unforgiving spirit is encouraged and cherished. God desires us to be united in His word; One in purpose and goal, just as the Godhead are three in person, but one in purpose and character. Unity between Joseph and his brothers could never be brought about had not Joseph forgiven them. Unity is impossible between our families and our friends unless we too forgive just as Christ also forgave us!

"Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!" (Psalm 133:1)

--Stephanie Fox

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PLEASE NOTE: All Bible verses are taken from the King James Version, unless stated otherwise.
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Issue #94 Tue, 29 Aug 2006
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