Do we know our impact?

Yesterday was the Christmas service at our church. My husband’s message was topical, titled “From: God, To: You.” His main point was that God gave us the gifts of love and forgiveness when He sent His Son. In do so, those are two things we should freely give, but it is a choice.

He started it off with Luke 2:7 (NKJV) And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger. The King of the World was here. He was not born in a castle. He was born in a manger and wrapped with cloth that Mary had brought along with her. My husband reminded us to not despise the small beginnings. He reminded us that God celebrates when we begin, it is a step towards His promise.

The King of the World was here.

We ended the service with the song “Mary Did You Know.” We sung it by candlelit.

Mary, did you know that your baby boy
Would one day walk on water?
Mary, did you know that your baby boy
Would save our sons and daughters?
Did you know that your baby boy
Has come to make you new?
This child that you delivered, will soon deliver you
Mary, did you know that your baby boy
Would give sight to a blind man?
Mary, did you know that your baby boy
Would calm the storm with his hand?
Did you know that your baby boy
Has walked where angels trod?
When you kiss your little baby
You kiss the face of God
Mary, did you know?
Mary, did you know?
Mary, did you know? Did you know?
Mary, did you know? Mary, did you know?
Mary, did you know? Mary, did you know?
Mary, did you know? Mary, did you know?
The blind will see, the deaf will hear
The dead will live again
The lame will leap, the dumb will speak
The praises of the Lamb
Mary, did you know that your baby boy
Is Lord of all creation?
Mary, did you know that your baby boy
Would one day rule the nations?
Did you know that your baby boy
Is heaven's perfect Lamb?
That sleeping child you're
Holding is the great, I Am
Mary, did you know? (Mary, did you know?)
Mary, did you know? (Mary, did you know?)
Mary, did you know? Oh

As we began to sing this song I gave this verse from Luke 2:19 (AMP), But Mary treasured all these things, giving careful thought to them and pondering them in her heart. Does that answer our question that Mary would know the great impact her son would make on this world? That because of Him I can come boldly before the throne of grace (Hebrews 4:16). That two thousand years later He is still changing lives. I felt the impact of that moment.

2 Corithians 3:2-3 (NKJV) You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men, clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart.

The Passion Translation states, For your very lives are our “letters of recommendation,” permanently engraved on our hearts, recognized and ready by everybody. As a result of our ministry, you are living letters written by Christ, not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God – not carved onto stone tablets but on the tablets of tender hearts.

We have a choice in taking this two ways. We can say that is too much pressure, I am not perfect, how dare God expect me to live a perfect life. We could also see it as a challenge to be better. That I took the command that Jesus said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations (Matt. 28:19),” literally. Wherever I go I have the potential to make a disciple because I am a living epistle. When we allow Christ to do the work in us, the living epistle is written on our hearts. Do you know the impact you make when you allow people to see that transformation? My prayer is that I draw deeper in my relationship with God and encourage others to do the same.

Merry Christmas!

What Joseph taught me about forgiveness

Have you ever heard the statement, “It is always the closest to you that hurts you the most”? I never understood it, until I had to live through it. This past week I spent time in Genesis and I got to the story of Joseph. As I was reading I wept, because I knew what he was going through. Yes, Joseph probably should have kept his mouth closed when he told his brothers that they would one day bow down to him. However, when God gives us a revelation sometimes we are just so excited we cannot help but blurt it out!

When I read this statement: And they hated him more than ever because of his dreams and the way he talked (Genesis 37:8b MSG), it reminded me of how it felt about not being invited for family events. My husband and I pastor a church…it is the most amazing thing we have ever done and we love it. We have family that attend our church, and we also have family that no longer attend our church. It does not matter to me where any of my family attend. It matters to me that they have a relationship with God and His people, that they are serving where God tells them to. I want them to love Jesus! However, it does still hurt not to be included. Yes, I have made mistakes. I did push, when I should have been more compassionate. Like Joseph, I was over zealous and it was not received!

If you do not know the story of Joseph I encourage you to read Genesis 37-50. I will paraphrase this for you, it is very long but an important story.

Joseph is one of twelve brothers. He is the son of Jacob and Rachel. Rachel being the wife that Jacob wanted, but was tricked into marrying her sister, Leah, first. Jacob ended up having children by four different women (sibling rivalry is to blame). Joseph was his favorite. Joseph had a special gift and could interpret dreams. Joseph’s brothers were jealous of him and one day decided to do away with him. They sold him into slavery and Joseph ends up in Egypt. Jacob thinks that Joseph is dead.

Life is pretty good for Joseph in Egypt until one day he was falsely accused of rape and is put in prison. However, Joseph was a model prisoner is put in charge there. One day he meets two other prisoners, he interprets their dreams and they come true. Then, Pharaoh has two dreams that deeply trouble him. One of the prisoners, that he interpreted dreams for, remembered Joseph! Of all the people Pharaoh surrounded himself with, only Joseph was able to interpret these troubling dreams. The wisdom that was revealed in those dreams earned Joseph a position so high that only Pharaoh was above him. Joseph received the revelation that seven years of abundance was going to be followed by seven years of famine, and he had the wisdom to prepare.

Joseph was in charge of rations during the time of famine. All were affected, including his family in Canaan. Jacob, Joseph’s father, heard there was food in Egypt and sent his son’s (all but the youngest, who was Joseph’s brother by the same mother) to buy food for the family. What do you think Joseph thought when he saw his brother’s after so many years? The part that I thought was amazing was that they did not even recognize him, but he knew them!

This is the part of the story that I wept (the first time). God, can I change? Could I reflect your compassion so much that the old me becomes unrecognizable? Joseph was thirty years old when he went to work for Pharaoh, that means he was near forty when he saw his brothers again.

Could I reflect your compassion so much that the old me becomes unrecognizable?

Initially, Joseph was not very compassionate. He spoke harshly to them, he accused them of being spies and threw them in jail. He was very inquisitive of their history, and they even divulged what they had done to Joseph (not knowing that was who they were talking to). Joseph sends them off with food, but keeps one brother in prison until they come back with all of Jacob’s sons. They return home and tell their dad that one of the brothers is in prison until they come back with the youngest too. Let me just say, they did not come back immediately. They waited until they were out of food again!

This time they show up with Joseph’s brother, Benjamin. He is doted on just the way Joseph had been done by his father. His brother’s are so very protective of him that Joseph sets up a little trap. He wants to see if they will save their own selves for Benjamin’s sake. They don’t by the way. They do not want to see their father broken again. Any one of them would take Benjamin’s place so that their father will not have to go through that heartbreak again.

All through this time Joseph kept the charade. He used an interpreter so that they would not know he spoke their language. He would leave the room at any given moment, looking like it was a power play when in reality he was sobbing uncontrollably in the next room. He was broken.

When it came time to reveal his true identity, he and his brothers embraced. Joseph cried so loudly that his servants went and told Pharaoh all that was transpiring. Joseph had gained so much favor that he was able to send for his father and all of his family (seventy in total) to live in a land that would provide during the famine. The moment Joseph saw his father, he threw himself on his neck and wept. He wept a long time. Every time that Joseph is recorded as weeping, I actually wept.

Jacob soon dies after they arrive in Goshen. Genesis 50:15-17 (MSG) After the funeral, Joseph’s brothers talked among themselves: “What if Joseph is carrying a grudge and decides to pay us back for all the wrong we did him?” So they sent Joseph a message, “Before his death, your father gave this command: Tell Joseph, ‘Forgive your brothers’ sin – all that wrongdoing. They did treat you very badly.’ Will you do it? Will you forgive the sins of the servants of your father’s God?” When Joseph received their message, he wept.

See in chapter 41, before the famine comes, we read that Joseph has two sons. The first he names Manassaeh (Forget), saying, “God made me forget all my hardships and my parental home.” He named his second son Ephraim (Double Prosperity) saying, “God has prospered me in the land of my sorrow.” I believe Joseph wept because they did not see that they did not have to make those statements. I wept.

When we lay our lives down and want to see the best for those that turn away from you, that is true forgiveness. Joseph responded to his brothers, “Easy now, you have nothing to fear; I’ll take care of you and your children.” He reassured them, speaking with them heart-to-heart. Oh, how I wept!

Father, allow me to walk in this type of forgiveness. Let me have the compassion to not hold onto the hurt, but want to do everything in my power to see that they are blessed, even more than they deserve!

Maybe, you find it easy to forgive and forget. I have to admit that I do struggle with it, but I do not want to be like that. It is a process. Joseph, like us, had to go through the process. We do not know his reason for weeping. We can weep out of sorrow, out of anger, in joy…there are a number of reasons. I weep desiring for a changed heart. A heart healed through forgiveness!