Pastor Ron Swanson
Jan. 21, 2019
As Christians, God requires us to forgive those who have hurt us. Most of us have discovered, however, that forgiving is not always an easy thing to do.
I think part of the reason we struggle, is because we confuse “forgiveness” with “being healed of the hurt”. We (wrongly) assume that if we’ve forgiven someone, we shouldn’t be experiencing pain. But, that’s not true! You see, forgiveness is not a feeling, but a decision.
When someone hurts me, I can act on the Word and say, “Father, I choose to forgive him/her, in obedience to You. Yes, I’m still hurting! But I don’t have to be dominated by my feelings. I release him/her, in Jesus’ name!”
Now, the next time I see that individual, most likely, all the old feelings are going to come rushing back. And, if I don’t know the Word, I’ll probably say, “Gee! I thought I forgave him/her. I guess I didn’t.”
But feelings have nothing to do with forgiveness. Forgiveness is a decision we make apart from our feelings, in obedience to God’s Word. You see, in forgiveness, God doesn’t demand that I don’t hurt any more. He just requires that I release the offender.
I think it may be helpful, at this point, to mention this: Forgiveness doesn’t mean I’m saying, “What that person did to me is okay.” (It’s not okay! God doesn’t think it’s okay, and you don’t have to think it’s okay!)
Nor, does forgiveness mean I’m “letting him off the hook”. I may be letting him off my hook. But, he’s still accountable for his actions before God. By forgiving, I’m just choosing to let God handle it His way, and in His time!
So, when the feelings come rushing back, I don’t say, “Gee, I guess I didn’t forgive him”. I say, “Mr. Devil. I know you’re tempting me to pick up that offense again. But I’m not going to do it! I forgave him, and I’m going to walk by the Word, and not by my feelings.”
Then, I continue to walk in love! If I do that, it won’t be too long until the healing process begins.
So, what about the emotional pain? It’s just a sign that I haven’t been fully healed yet. What does complete healing look like? We can get a better understanding by looking at the life of Joseph.
Pastor Ron Swanson
Jan. 28, 2019
There’s a difference between making the decision to forgive and being healed of the hurt. Here are some signs (from the life of Joseph) that the healing process is complete:
1.) He Didn’t Expose His Brothers’ Sin Openly
We’ve all known people who have carried emotional hurt around for decades. You can tell it’s still an issue with them, because they share their story every chance they get.
Joseph shows his wholeness when he passes up a marvelous opportunity to tell everyone what his brothers had done to him. If you remember, Joseph had been sold into slavery by his brothers. After years of suffering, through a miraculous set of circumstances, Joseph had risen to the second highest position in Egypt.
When his brothers came to buy food from Egypt, they didn’t recognize Joseph as being their long, lost brother. Finally, the time came for the “big reveal”. Joseph was finally going to reveal his identity to his brothers.
Instead of telling everyone what scoundrels his brothers had been, he put everyone out of the room, and spoke to his brothers in private. He felt no need to expose his brothers’ sin, because he was emotionally healed.
2.) He Called His Brothers Near
Joseph said unto his brethren, Come near to me, I pray you. And they came near” (Gen. 45:4). When he said, “Come near”, it wasn’t so he could harm them. He wanted them close.
3.) He Said, “Don’t Be Angry With Yourselves”
He said, I am Joseph your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt. Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither …” (Gen. 45:4-5). Wow, this is a big one! It takes the love of God to produce that kind of reaction, and only a truly healed person could say such a thing.
4.) He Was Willing to Cover the Transgression
After they repented, there’s no record that Joseph ever asked his brothers to confess their sin to their father. Nothing would have been gained by it. As Peter would put it, hundreds of years later: “Love covers a multitude of sins”.
5.) He Left Final Judgment in the Hands of God
Joseph kept his attitude in check and was kind to those who had hurt him.
Genesis 50:21 – “I will nourish you, and your little ones. And he comforted them and spoke kindly unto them.” Only a truly healed person can do such things.
Pastor Ron Swanson
Feb. 4, 2019
We’ve been looking at the story of Joseph, and how he was healed of the hurt that he’d experienced. While we’re here, it might be worth looking at trouble itself. Because of his brothers’ actions, Joseph went through some very difficult circumstances. Yet, as far as we know, he was able to keep a right attitude throughout his trials. Are there lessons we can learn from the life of Joseph? Absolutely!
Life’s Troubles Are Confined to Seasons
When trouble comes, it’s only for a season (1 Pet. 1:6, 2 Cor. 4:17a, Psalm 30:5). If you’re in that season right now, I have a great verse for you: “God is to us a God of deliverances and victories.” (Psalm 68: 20)
What’s the difference between the two? “Deliverance” gets you out of something bad. “Victory” brings you into something good. If you’re still in a “season” of trouble, God isn’t failing you. The season just hasn’t changed yet. But, hold on! No season lasts forever! Victory may be just around the corner.
Observations on Trouble from the Life of Joseph
a.) It looked like God was ignoring Joseph, until the moment of his deliverance.
In the days before your deliverance comes, God can be very quiet. From outward appearances, there’s no indication that God is paying the least bit of attention to you! Then, without warning, God brings you from the “pit” to the “palace”. (With Joseph, it happened within a 24-hour period.)
b.) When God turns it around, He does it completely.
When Joseph’s deliverance came, it was so complete, that years of pain and suffering were instantly swallowed up by incredible joy and excitement for the future.
A mere twenty-four hours earlier, Joseph was sitting in a prison cell, feeling forgotten by God. When his deliverance finally came, it was so spectacular that it overwhelmed all the disappointments of the past. And, God can do the same for you! Whatever you’re going through today, God can turn it around.
c.) It will help you get through “the Pit”, “Potiphar’s House” and the “Prison” if you keep your attitude in check. In times of pressure, you can be a “whiner”, or you can be a “winner”, but you can’t be both!
Keep your eyes on Jesus in the hard places of life. Trust in Him, and He’ll bring you though your struggles into a place of victory.