Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Releasing Forgiveness as God Intended

The story of Joseph and the scene of forgiving his brothers is familiar. This episode conveys redemption, healing, and a firm decision of forgiveness. In Genesis 45:1-15, the story unfolded and seemed unreal. However, it became the occasion where God set up shocking everyone and having disbelief in the story.

Nowhere in this chapter is the sin of his brothers minimized. Joseph identified the treatment they had given him as sinful, yet his words were filled with hope and encouragement. Verses 5-8 assure these men that their sin had not thwarted the purposes of God. “You sold me,” Joseph said, “but God sent me” (verse 5). Their purpose was to destroy, but God’s was to save.” 

Somebody said, “Reconciliation heals the soul. The joy of rebuilding broken relationships and hearts. If it’s healthy for your growth, forgive and love.”

The lingering question many asked: “Was Joseph in Egypt because of the sin of his brothers or because of the good plan of God?” In effect, they are both true. If this is the case, forgiveness made sense in both aspects because of what they represent. We forgive because people sin and need it. And most importantly, seeing them from God’s perspective, as the apostle Paul declared, “All things work together for good…” 

In releasing forgiveness, Joseph summarized how forgiveness becomes possible when understood from God’s perspective. In releasing forgiveness, Joseph realized that God ruled his life, not good or evil individuals, not circumstances or fate. Because God was in control, God made sure all things worked together for the best of everyone involved.

The story of Joseph is a prophetic picture of what Jesus fulfilled at the cross of Calvary when He prayed, “Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” And the soldiers gambled for his clothes by throwing dice” (Luke 23:34 NLT). Enduring Word Commentary explained the rationale of this prayer:

In this Jesus fulfilled His own command to love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good for those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you (Matthew 5:44). Jesus recognized the blindness of His enemies in His prayer. However, this prayer did not excuse the guilt of those who put Jesus on the cross. Instead, Jesus set His enemies in the best possible light in His prayer to the Father.”

Because Jesus forgave His enemies, He provided the platform to His genuine disciples on how forgiveness becomes a way of behaving towards people who wronged us. In releasing this forgiveness, Jesus paved the way for future disciples that it is impossible to live for Jesus without doing what He did. Thus, Stephen, the first martyr and disciple of Jesus, imitated this attitude during his stoning (Luke 7:60). 

Gary Smalley provided a picture of how forgiveness works as Jesus intended:

Forgiveness involves pardon. Basically, it is like erasing offenses toward us from a marking board. We immediately wash their offenses away like a wave washing away a message in the sand. Second, forgiveness involves caring for the offending person because most people who offend us have something in their own heart that needs healing. When we forgive others, they are released from our anger and we are healed by God.”

C. S. Lewis wonderfully summarized what forgiveness really means for the followers of Jesus: “To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.”

Let’s talk again!

Monday, January 22, 2024

Sold for the Price of Slaves: The High Price of our Redemption

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Many of us have never experienced becoming a slave or being sold as one. However, people are going through this experience in our modern times. Did it change throughout these many years? It is unlikely because the reasoning behind it comes from the same motivation Joseph experienced from his brothers. Thus, one of the worst experiences in the life of Joseph came from his brothers when they sold him for the price of a slave.  In the book of Genesis, we find this record:

Then Judah said to his brothers, “What profit is it if we kill our brother and conceal his blood? 27Come, let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, and let not our hand be upon him, for he is our brother, our own flesh.” And his brothers listened to him. 28Then Midianite traders passed by. And they drew Joseph up and lifted him out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of silver. They took Joseph to Egypt.” (37:26-28 ESV)

“In Hebrew culture, thirty pieces of silver was not a lot of money. In fact, it was the exact price paid to the master of a slave if and when his slave was gored by an ox (Exodus 21:32). The slave’s death was compensated by the thirty pieces of silver.”[1] What went wrong in this scenario? The odds between them, whether Joseph became aware or not, caused undue friction leading to Joseph’s outcast: 

From Joseph’s point of view, these dreams were evidence of divine blessing, rather than his own ambition. From his brothers’ point of view, however, the dreams were further manifestations of the unfair privilege that Joseph enjoyed as the favorite son of their father, Jacob (Gen. 37:3-4). Joseph’s failure to recognize this put him at severe odds with his brothers.[2]

Isaac Khalil in his article “Lessons From the Life of Joseph” (December 15, 2021) shared, 

Remember the dreams Joseph had when he was young? The brothers had interpreted the dreams as Joseph ruling and lording it over them (Genesis 37:8, 10). So they attacked him based on this interpretation. It wasn’t until Joseph revealed himself that they realized the dreams weren’t about lordship, but about salvation and service. God sent Joseph before them to save them from a terrible famine that was coming. Joseph told his brothers, “But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive” (Genesis 50:20).[3]

In this case, they took offence without understanding the whole picture. When people look at any situation, the immediate reaction comes in a positive impact or taking offence. However, God is always looking at the long view of His plans, and no matter what happens, He’s got a plan for you and me regardless of what people think or feel about us. Joseph’s life provided a parallel truth in Jesus’ betrayal as Matthew shared it: 

 Then one of the twelve, whose name was Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests 15and said, “What will you give me if I deliver him over to you?” And they paid him thirty pieces of silver. 16And from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray him” (Matthew 26:14-15 ESV).

For many, it is unthinkable what Judas Iscariot did to Jesus. G. Connor Salter, in his article, “Did Judas Iscariot Have a Choice to Betray Jesus?” (March 14, 2022) shared:

We know from historians that various people claiming to be the Messiah were active in Judea at the time, many trying to overthrow the Romans or change the religious order. Therefore, it’s possible that Judas figured Jesus was going to seize authority for himself soon and being part of Jesus’ “in-group” would benefit him. Once he realized that Jesus’ goals didn’t fit his own agenda, he may have been angered by that and wanted Jesus out of the way.”[4]

The betrayal of Jesus for the paltry price of a slave became the ultimate price of our redemption from the slavery of sin, Satan, and death’s power at the cross of Calvary. It is the message the apostle Paul reminded the Corinthian believers: “You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your bodies” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Jesus redeemed us from a life of slavery and set us free, although not set free to do whatever we want. Rather, being free in serving Jesus, the One who died and redeemed us for His purpose and plan (1 Peter 2:16).  Jesus went through it all so we can become more than conquerors for His glory and praise. 

In the end, Judas Iscariot, and many others like him confirmed that an outward devotion to Jesus is hollow unless Christ is followed wholeheartedly as a genuine disciple. Following Jesus is having His agenda front and center of our lives while our agenda becomes set aside. When we do it His way, our lives are enriched from an eternal perspective.

Let’s talk again!

Sunday, January 14, 2024

The Sustaining Power of Jesus Christ

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The power of God will take you out of your own plans and put you into the plan of God.“ ~Smith Wigglesworth

In his Christian journey and during one of the worst times of his life, Paul acknowledged the
empowerment of Christ. He then shared what he learned with the Corinthian believers and wrote: "For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10 ESV). And from this experience, there are two principles for our reflection today:

1.       Being content with Christ provides empowerment that can drastically change how we face various challenges in life.

2.       During times of weakness, submitting to Christ becomes an opportunity for Him to empower us with His strength.

Maybe you are wondering how the Lord empowered Paul after experiencing the worst possible attack of his life. How does the strength of God manifest during the weakest point of life? However, in his letter to the Philippian congregation, he shared how he grew stronger in his relationship with Jesus despite experiencing various encounters of the worst kind: 

Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:11-13 ESV)

Charles Spurgeon shared how God empowers His people: “Great tribulation brings out the great strength of God. Oh, there must be the weakness of man, felt, recognized, and mourned over, or else the strength of the Son of God will never be perfected in us.” 

In other words, God sustains with His power what He expects to accomplish during the worst times of life. It is about keeping our perspective aligned with His plans and purposes for everything that matters. And in doing so, it increases our faith and motivation moving forward. Moreover, every little and big thing that happens comes with a specific purpose for fulfilling His mandate given to us. Thus, never miss what God reveals each moment because He promises everything will be alright!

What matters is seeing things from the perspective of God and the reasoning behind it all. Unfortunately, we diminish the bigness of God when we focus on the problem, thus making it bigger than God. Remember, God is always in control of what He wants to accomplish in our lives and trusting Him is the only option during the worst times. 

Finally, let me share this statement for us to think about: 

God’s strength is made perfect in weakness when we put our faith and trust in Him. The Lord’s presence is all we need in times of weakness. His great power and sufficiency rest on us as we find our strength in Him, and He is glorified. We can say with the psalmist, “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (Psalm 73:26).”[i]

Let’s talk again!


Sunday, January 7, 2024

The Blessing of God’s Glory for the New Year

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Stephanie Englehart shared:

God’s original design for His people was to reflect His glory—to multiply and fill the earth with His glory. When He first designed humans, He created us with the intent to glorify Himself. Even though humanity has sought its own glory, God’s purpose for His creation is not lost. We are still called to glorify God in all we do and say and become ever more satisfied in God as we do so.”

Even if sin, committed by our first parents, Adam and Eve, tarnished the glory of God in our lives, Jesus restored it completely when He died at the cross of Calvary, paying the penalty of sin as required by God. Thus, when we accept Him in our lives, we begin a continual transformation from sinfulness towards righteousness in Christ and through the enabling power of the Holy Spirit, experiencing the glory of God becomes a reality. With this in mind, this is an enduring good news for today and throughout our existence.

What does the Scripture say about the glory of God: “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit." (2 Corinthians 3:17-18 ESV). 

In restoring the glory of God in our lives, the Holy Spirit came for our benefit and His purpose. Penny Noyes provided this insight:

In ancient times, a seal was a “legal signature” attesting ownership and validating what was sealed. The Holy Spirit is our mark of adoption as God’s children. Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to his followers so that they could be confident in their salvation. Just as you might make a deposit or a down payment on a new car to make sure the salesperson doesn’t sell it to anyone else, the Holy Spirit is a deposit in our lives confirming the validity of Christ’s message and that we belong to Christ.

Having the Holy Spirit present in our Christian life provided empowerment in living the life of freedom in Christ as Christian believers. As God promised, the role of the Holy Spirit leads us closer to living the life of Jesus solely based on godly standards. Everything by the Spirit of God, and only through the Spirit of God, we experience the blessings of the glorious revelation of God. Most importantly, having the Holy Spirit aligns us with the plans and purposes of God through Jesus Christ towards manifesting His glory in our lives daily.

The coming of Jesus in the affairs of humanity played a significant role in bringing the glory of God. Here are key aspects of our learning:

  1. The Glory of God manifested at the birth of Jesus as John wrote, "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth." (John 1:14 ESV)
  2. The Glory of Jesus manifested in us through the new birth: “Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as He is." (1 John 3:2 ESV)
  3. The Glory of God manifests in a continual progression throughout our Christian life as Paul wrote, "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect." (Romans 12:2 ESV)

After all, the only thing that matters in an ongoing cycle is receiving the glory of God in every aspect of our life. Therefore, becoming a vessel is a must where Jesus Christ is Lord and Saviour. Finally, I urge you to invite Jesus and begin experiencing the glory of God in its fullness. 

Let’s talk again!

Friday, January 5, 2024

Happy New Year!

 It’s been a while since my last post. After the pandemic, various changes occurs. However, life goes on and so must this blog. 

Thank you for being here. New post will be coming once a week. It’s my pleasure to share with everyone messages of encouragement from God’s Word.

Never give up because God’s purpose remains intact for us all.

Let’s talk again!

Aldrin Navo