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Forgiven

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I do not write this lightly, I’ve lived it and learned (slowly at times) that the way we forgive people who have deeply hurt us is nowhere close to the forgiveness with which God forgives us.

As I have repeatedly read the story of Joseph’s reconciliation (Genesis 37-50) with his brothers, I have been moved each time by the deep compassion and mercy he extended to his brothers. He taught us a valuable and beautiful lesson on forgiveness.

We don’t know how long it took him to reach that level of forgiveness after his brothers plotted to murder him, tossed him into a pit, and then sold him into slavery. In my personal opinion, I doubt it was early on because the hurt was so fresh and deep at that time. Maybe it was a work God accomplished in his heart through a slow and gradual process over the many years he was falsely imprisoned.

Maybe it was when he was released from prison and saw the enormous responsibility and position God had placed him in. Maybe his heart was opened then to a deeper understanding of God’s ways, as He learned God’s assignment for him was to save the people from famine.

Whenever it was that the healing work of forgiveness took place in Joseph’s heart, I am thankful that he obediently humbled himself and allowed God to bring this about in him. I have seen many people resist God’s work of forgiveness in their lives, and the result is always bitterness. Sometimes it is a very evident, outwardly visible root of bitterness. Sometimes it is a hidden, pushed down, denied form of bitterness, and yet it still spills forth in the life of the unforgiving person.

The evidence of genuine forgiveness was displayed when Joseph was reunited with his brothers and he didn’t condemn them.  He wept and cried and assured them that what they meant for evil, God meant for good. He took care of them and re-established relationship with them.

When others have deeply hurt and betrayed us, may we find it in our hearts to forgive as God forgives, as God taught Joseph to forgive, and as Stephen forgave those who stoned him (Acts 6 and 7). Stephen’s story is compelling beyond words. With his dying breath, he forgave those who were taking his life.

Following the example of Joseph, Stephen, and Jesus Christ, may we hold no charge against our offenders and betrayers and toss their offense ‘as far as the east is from the west’ (Psalm 103:12). God wants us to give mercy to others as He has been merciful to us. He wants us to forgive as we have been forgiven.

Colossians 3:12b-13 teaches us to put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, long suffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.

By Kathy Cheek
Used by Permission
From: Devotions from the Heart

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How Do We Pay Attention to God

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Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness and who seek the Lord: Look to the rock from which you were cut and to the quarry from which you were hewn; look to Abraham, your father, and to Sarah, who gave you birth.”
Isaiah 50:1-2a

In this passage, the Prophet Isaiah seeks to comfort the people of Israel. So, he begins with a plea: If you want to pursue a good and holy life, then listen to me. Pay attention to the One from whom you were created, and to the wise patriarchs from whom your identity was shaped.

Isaiah’s words are poetic and beautiful, but what does it mean to listen to God? How might we listen to Him today?

Recently I chatted with experts in listening attentively and empathetically to callers who suffer from depression, loneliness, or various life hang-ups. I asked, “What does it mean to listen to God? More than that, how do we listen to God?” The responses came quickly:

1.  Get still, and undistracted.
2. Pray and commune with God’s Spirit.
3. Read the Word and consider its meaning for you.
4. Seek counsel from godly people you trust.
5. Spend time in the grandeur of creation.

As follow-up, I asked another question. “What gets in the way of listening to God these ways?” One person smiled and said, “Just ignore the list above!” Upon further reflection, others offered that hindrances included busyness, computer screen time, worry, and not planning to listen.

Perhaps it is time to pause, get quiet, and listen for God’s still small voice in silence of prayer, His Word, observing His creation, or in an intentional conversation with a respected and godly friend. But, if we do that, will we listen?

Dear God, thank you for your presence. May I take steps today to slow down, become aware of your prompting, meditate on your Word, and listen well to a wise person, so I may hear your voice of comfort and conscience. Amen.

By Dr. Bill Strom
Used by Permission
http://www.thelife.com/dailydevotions

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