Devotions

Category Archives: Genesis

2 Corinthians 5:17 

Joseph Forgives Brothers • Devotion #6: 2 Corinthians 5:17
Debbie Kerr | Office Administrator

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17

The first Bible verse I learned as a child is, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32). Born again believers in Jesus Christ, who have been forgiven of all their sins, should always have a forgiving spirit, right? If only it was that easy. If you have a pulse and are not living on a deserted island, I am pretty sure you deal with the issue of forgiveness. While it is possible and necessary, it requires a transformation from the inside out. That is what the Apostle Paul is talking about in 2 Corinthians 5:17. If we are now in Christ, we are a completely new creation; the old man has died, and the new man is in control. As believers, we are to take on the image and characteristics of Christ. Jesus died on the cross for the forgiveness of sins. Is it just me, or does anyone else find it hypocritical that we have taken His gift of forgiveness and yet we often feel justified to withhold it from others?

The story of Joseph in Genesis is a great picture of true forgiveness. In fact, Joseph is known as a type of Christ. His story foretells what we will come to know as the grace Jesus has given to all who believe and receive His free gift of salvation.  Joseph was severely mistreated by his jealous brothers, thrown into a well, sold into slavery, nearly killed and yet he never retaliated. His response to his brothers came as quite a surprise to them because they knew what they deserved, but instead of yielding his power and authority over them, he said to them, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good” (Genesis 20:50a).  He was able to see the bigger picture and put his own hurt and betrayal aside for the greater good, which was to obey and honor God. We never look more like Christ than when we forgive. 

A few reasons why forgiveness is difficult is when the offense is repeated, or there is no apology offered. Deep wounds begin to form, and our hearts begin to harden. The natural tendency is to protect ourselves. This will result in a breakdown in the relationship. We begin to avoid, ignore, and slander.  This progression leads to bitterness, resentment, anger, mistrust, and a whole list of toxic emotions and actions.

Jesus is the ultimate example of forgiveness. He was rejected, beaten, mocked, falsely accused, and killed. Yet, as He hung on a criminal’s cross, He prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). The goal of forgiveness, I believe, first and foremost is reconciliation. I encourage you to take a few minutes right now and read Romans 12:14-21. Ask God to reveal any sign of an unforgiving spirit. If our inability to forgive goes unattended and we let bitterness take root, we will soon go from the offended to the offender. It is true that hurting people, hurt people.

2 Corinthians 5:18 says, “All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.”

Psalm 103

Joseph Forgives Brothers • Devotion #5: Psalm 103
Sierra Combs | Women’s Ministry Director

Dear Mom. I am so sorry…Can you please forgive me? I hope you still love me. Do you still love me?

Love, Colbie.

I woke up to this letter on my pillow recently, written by my six-year-old daughter. I left out the details of her trespass, but to honest, it was pretty minor. Unfortunately, as you can see from her sad and questioning note, my reaction was not as kind and understanding as it should have been. When I read her words that morning, my heart sunk. I felt like I had just been stabbed with a dagger to my heart. This is my daughter, whom I love more than words could ever describe. There is nothing I would not do for her. While her disobedience and mistakes can make me angry, frustrated, and sad, there is nothing that she could ever do that would change the way I feel about her. Yet, there she was, praying that I would forgive her and hoping that I still loved her (the daggers are still fresh here and I think they always will be). Within seconds of reading the letter, I ran to her room, scooped her up in my arms, and told her how much I adore her. I told her that she was forgiven and that there is not a mess up too big that would ever cause me to stop loving her.

Perhaps you find yourself feeling like my Colbie did that morning. Maybe you messed up. Maybe you messed up so bad, and you find yourself saying, “God I am so sorry! Can you please forgive me? I hope you still love me. Do you still love me?” Maybe you do not even want to wait around for the answer because you are sure it is going to be, “No.” Is this you? Friend, let me just tell you a little bit about the Father. He is wild about you! He loves you so much that He sent His Son, Jesus, to die on a cross for every poor choice. If you confess your sin and call on Him to be your Savior, He is faithful to forgive. He is right there waiting to scoop you up in His arms and tell you how much He loves you. Are you still doubting it? Flip to Psalm 103:8-12. Highlight and memorize it. It says:

“The Lord is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
He will not always chide,
nor will he keep his anger forever.
He does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far does he remove our transgressions from us.”

Do you know how high the heavens are above the Earth? The galaxies are infinite! That is how much He loves you. Do you know how far the east is from the west? Think about it. If you travelled north, eventually you would hit the north pole and then start heading south, until you hit the south pole and started heading north again. But if you turn to the east, you will keep going east. And if you turn to the west, you will keep going west. Both roads just keep going on forever in their specific directions. That immeasurable distance is how far He removes our transgressions from us. All we need to do is ask. With His blood that was shed on the cross, He wipes the slate clean. Thank you, Jesus!

Micah 7:18-19

Joseph Forgives Brothers • Devotion #4: Micah 7:18-19
Dr. Randy T. Johnson | Growth Pastor

I am not a fisherman. I was not raised in a family that excelled at fishing. The largest fish my dad caught was a Northern Pike. We all celebrated until we found out that 19 inches was too small to keep. I remember sitting in the canoe waiting for the bobber to disappear. Putting worms on a hook was not very exciting, and I soon realized that the main bait on the lake was me; mosquitoes loved me. To make matters worse, my little sister drew back her rod to cast her line but did not look back to see if the “coast” was clear. I got hooked. I am not saying I got “hooked” on fishing; I am saying that she literally hooked my arm. A few stitches later, I retired from the fascinating sport of fishing. As if it could not get worse, my wife’s dad loved ice fishing. Adding frostbite to a horrible hobby just brought a new category for a nightmare.

This week we have been focusing on how Joseph forgave his brothers. You might be thinking, “What does fishing have to do with forgiveness?” Micah 7:18-19 says,

“Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love. He will again have compassion on us; he will tread our iniquities underfoot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.”

God is amazing! When we confess our sins, He does not hold it over us. He does not stay angry. He shows love and compassion. He is even willing to cast “all our sins into the depths of the sea.” I want to remind you to stop fishing. Do not pull those past sins back out of the water. Let them drown.

Satan wants us to feel defeated. Remember: Misery loves company. Too often we revisit past sins and beat up ourselves. God has forgiven us, and we need to walk in confidence. God has cast our sins into the sea, so we need to put out a sign that says, “No Fishing Allowed.”

Matthew 18:21-35 

Joseph Forgives Brothers • Devotion #3: Matthew 18:21-35
Isaiah Combs | Worship Leader

The story of Joseph in the Bible is one of the best examples of forgiveness. 

If you would like to read the story, it is found in Genesis chapters 37-50. However, here is a shortened version.

Joseph seemed to brag a lot about the dreams God gave him and it is obvious that Joseph is his father, Jacob’s favorite. The ten older brothers do not like the bragging and favoritism. They become bitter as their hatred grows. So they sell their brother into slavery, and they tell Jacob that Joseph was eaten by a wild animal. Joseph spends the next ten to fifteen years as a slave and then in prison. 

The Pharaoh (AKA King of Egypt) has a dream that only Joseph is able to interpret. Pharaoh is pleased with Joseph and made him second in charge over all of Egypt.

The dream Joseph interpreted was that there was going to be a famine for seven years after the present seven years of abundance. So Joseph sets up Egypt to make it through the famine and have so much food that people would travel from all over to get food from Egypt.

 Josephs brothers were some of the people that needed food. So when they came to Egypt to get food, Joseph recognized them. Instead of killing or making slaves out of the brothers, he forgives them. Genesis 50:20 is a very powerful verse, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.” Joseph chose forgiveness before he even saw his brothers. He knew that God had forgiven him for the things he had done. He knew God was guiding his path the whole time. 

Jesus gives a parable in Mathew 18:21-35 after Peter asks Him a question about forgiveness. The parable speaks of a servant (servant 1) who owed a lot to the king. He had no way that he could pay for it. The king had every right to make servant 1 and his family slaves until the debt was paid. Instead, the rich man showed pity on servant 1 and forgave him his debt.

Servant 1 then went out and to find servant 2 that owned him a little money. Servant 2 asked for mercy, but the other servant refused and ordered him to be thrown into jail until he could pay him back. When the king found out that servant 1 did not forgive servant 2, he had servant 1 thrown in jail until he can pay him back.

This is what Jesus requires us to do. We are servant 1 who has been forgiven for an amount that is unpayable. We have been forgiven for everything we have ever done. So, Jesus requires us to forgive others for the large and small things they do to us. Forgiveness is hard. But since we have been forgiven for so much, we should forgive others, too.

1 John 1:9 

Joseph Forgives Brothers • Devotion #2: 1 John 1:9
Chuck Lindsey | Reach Pastor

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9 (NKJV)

Have you ever been so thirsty, that all you can think about is a drink of water? Have you ever been so tired, that all you can see is your bed? Maybe you have been so hungry, that everywhere you looked you saw cheeseburgers. A few years back, my wife and I tried dieting through Weight Watchers. I remember being so hungry one day that as I drove down the road, I found myself looking at road kill with longing. Yikes!

What a refreshing thing a drink of water is to a person who is dying of thirst. What a satisfying thing it is to sit down when exhausted. Food tastes so good when you feel like you are starving.

This is what forgiveness is like. It is like a cool drink of water when you are dying of thirst. It is like the finest of meals to a man who is starving. Forgiveness is like trying to hold the weight of the world above your head for as long as possible, and finally being allowed to let go. 

This is what it must have felt like for Joseph’s brothers. For years they carried the weight of what they had done to their brother. For years they tried to carry the weight of their guilt, deception, wrongdoing, and shame. No amount of sleep gave them rest from it. No drink or food helped to alleviate the load. Their sin crushed them. Such is the nature of sin.

How refreshing it must have been to confess their sin, to finally admit their wrongdoing. A few months back, my youngest son (at the time of this writing 5 years old) asked to talk to me “alone.” We went into the bedroom, and he broke down sobbing. As I tried to console him, I asked what had happened. It took a few minutes for him to get out the words, “a few weeks ago, I took some candy from the candy drawer, snuck it into my room and ate it all after you put me in bed. I am so sorry daddy!” I told him I forgave him and we both cried. He cried because of the weight of his guilt. I cried because of the beauty of forgiveness. 

Put yourself in the brothers’ sandals for a moment. What was it like to finally admit what they had done, to finally put that great weight down? They were exhausted. Come what may, they had finally put it down. How it must have felt for them to hear then Joseph speak in kindness to them, forgiving them for all that they had done and offering them all of the blessings that were his to give. They change from being almost completely crushed under the weight of their sin to the elation of true forgiveness and mercy. What a moment that must have been.

1 John 1:9 demonstrates how simple forgiveness really is. Notice the words, “If we confess our sins.” That is our part, and that is a big “if” is it not? That “if” implies that we see that we have sin. That “if” implies that we see our need to not only confess our sin, but it confesses our need for forgiveness. But do not miss the simplicity of it. “If we will confess our sin,” emphasizes that if we will just admit it. If we will finally just say the same thing about our sins as God says about it (that is what “confess” means) then, “He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” It is so simple. If we will see our need, call sin what it is, and admit to God that we are sinners who need to be forgiven and saved, He will forgive us and cleanse us from all of our sin! This will be more refreshing than any drink of water or bite of bread. Jesus said it will be like a “fountain of water” springing up within us always satisfying.

John 7:37-38 (NKJV) says, “On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’”



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