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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » James Merritt » James Merritt - Forgiveness, When the Doctor Heals Himself

James Merritt - Forgiveness, When the Doctor Heals Himself

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    James Merritt - Forgiveness, When the Doctor Heals Himself
TOPICS: Forgiveness, Bitterness

I wanna welcome those who are watching today by television, those watching online, those at our Mill Creek campus, we're really glad that you came here today. From the time that you were born, immediately, you began to interact with other people. You grew up in a family, you go to school, you play on a team, you join a club, you get into business, you go to work, you live in a neighborhood, and your life everyday is absolutely filled wall to wall with personal interactions, and as you go through life you're gonna find out that you're gonna find yourself in two situations you cannot avoid.

It doesn't matter how hard you try, it doesn't matter how good a person you may be, or how nice you are to everybody else, you will be at some time in your life in both of these situations. You either will need to be forgiving, or you will need to be forgiven. Either somebody is gonna do you wrong, or you are gonna do somebody wrong. We're in a series of messages we've been calling Mirror Image, and what we've been saying is, what if you had a mirror that you could look into that would show you not what you look like on the outside, but what you would look like on the inside, what would you see?

And today we're gonna be talking about a character trait that I think may be the greatest test of your character of all of them, and that is forgiveness. Forgiveness demands a lot more character than we ever realize, and I'm gonna give you an illustration. I could ask a question right now, get 100% vote yes, have you ever been hurt? Have you ever been mistreated? Have you ever been disappointed in someone? In fact, right now I want you to do something that's gonna be very painful. I want you to think about the person or persons who has hurt you worse than you ever been hurt before. It may be one person, it may be two, it may be 10, but I want you to think right now about the person or the persons who have hurt you the most, mistreated you the worst, disappointed you the greatest.

As you think about that person or those persons, I promise you one of two things is true about you right now, either you have forgiven that person or them, or you have not. Now if you have, you'll have to say this; it's one of the hardest things you ever have done in your life. If you haven't, it's because you've convinced yourself it's so hard, I just can't do it. And one of the reasons why the Bible is so valuable, and one of the reasons why I love reading the Bible, is because all the Bible is is a story of real life examples, of real life people, who had real hurt, and real heartache, just like you, and just like me. But rather than becoming victims they became victors.

And rather than sinking into the quicksand of bitterness, somehow they were able to climb the mountain of forgiveness, where some of you need to go today. And the poster child of forgiveness is a man by the name of Joseph. And we're gonna be today in the very first book of the Bible, the book of Genesis, chapter 50, and we're gonna take a moment and tell you Joseph's story, and I'm gonna pretend you've never heard it, some of you may not have, so let me give you the Wikipedia version. If you go to Wikipedia and you look up Joseph, this is what you'll find. Joseph grew up in a dysfunctional family. As a matter of fact that's an understatement.

If Joseph's family had been alive today we would have never heard of the Kardashians. I mean, Joseph's family would have been everywhere, let me tell you about Joseph's family. His dad fathered 13 children, by two wives and two mistresses. Joseph had 11 brothers and one sister, and every one of them except one brother absolutely hated his guts. They could not stand him, they didn't like to be around him, they didn't want anything to do with him. And you say, "Well, I know what that's like," because if you've ever had any sibling rivalry going on in your family, you know what Thanksgiving is like at Joseph's house. So you've got all this hatred going on, and you say, "Well why did they hate him so much"?

Well, first of all, his mother was his dad's favorite woman of the four. He was the favorite son of the favorite mother, and the favorite son of dad. He got everything, he got the best of everything. Anything he wanted he got, the other brothers didn't, but he did. And he always got the best of all of it, he got the best Christmas gifts, he got the biggest Valentine's Day gift, he got the biggest birthday party, he got the best of everything, and his brothers had grown to hate him so much, they wanted to get rid of him. So one day they were away from their dad, their dad had sent them off to do an errand for him, and he sent Joseph out to check on them to see how they were doing.

When they saw Joseph coming, they came up with this great idea, they take Joseph and they throw Joseph into a pit, this is their brother now, 17 years old, they take Joseph and throw him into a pit to leave him for dead. Well one brother finally gets the other brothers together and says, "Look, let's don't kill our own brother, we'll never get over this, we'll feel guilty the rest of our lives". So there was a group of human traffickers that came by, and they sold Joseph to these human traffickers for 20 silver pieces. So here's Joseph, 17 years old, taken away from his family, and he thinks he's never ever gonna see his father again, you say, "Man, that's bad". Well Murphy's law kicks in. Because things get worse. He becomes a slave on a plantation for 11 years. He's a good slave.

As a matter of fact, he does his job so well, he's so faithful and so dependable, that his boss Potiphar puts him in charge over the whole plantation. Well, there was a problem. Ms. Potiphar was a cougar. And she loved Joseph, he was a handsome dude, good looking guy. So she starts trying to seduce Joseph, but Joseph loves God, and Joseph loves his master, and he's not gonna betray either one of them. And she does everything she can to get Joseph to go to bed with her, but he's not going to do it. One day she gets so angry she rips her dress and she screams out and pretends that Joseph had raped her because Joseph would not go to bed with her. Potiphar comes home, he buys it hook, line, and sinker, doesn't give Joseph a chance to explain himself, and now Joseph is thrown into prison for something he didn't even do. So because of 10 brothers that hated his insides, he's gone from the pit, to the plantation, to the prison, and he hasn't done one thing wrong, not one.

Well, if you know the story it has a great ending because he eventually does become the prime minister of Egypt, and through a series of events the narrative comes full circle and now his brothers are at his mercy. Now he can do anything to his brothers he wants to. Now he can get his pound of flesh, now he can have revenge. And if he had decided to put his brothers to death, nobody would have blamed him. The law would not have blamed him, Potiphar, Pharaoh the ruler of Egypt would not have blamed him, if you had heard his story you'd have said, "Joseph, I don't blame you for doing it, they've got it coming to them". But instead, he forgives them. And how he does it, and the way he does it, tells us not just how we can forgive others, buy why we ought to forgive others, and here's how he did it, you ready? He took a wide angled view of everything that had happened to him.

Now if you're a photographer you know what I'm talking about, because in every photographer's bag there's this thing called a wide angle lens. A wide angle lens is a very short lens, but it has a wide field of view, and it allows the camera to capture a lot more of the scene than a normal lens can. So when Joseph takes out this wide angle lens, and he sees everything that happens to him through this wide viewpoint, this 30,000 viewpoint, he comes to a realization, forgiveness is not my only option, it's my best option. The best thing I can do for my brothers is to forgive them. It's not just best for them, it's best for me.

And there are some of you listening to me right now, and I've touched your nerve. 'Cause you're already sitting there, you've already put your guard up. You're already upset, you already wish now you hadn't even come. 'Cause you've heard all this before, and you say, "Listen, stop right there bud; you don't know how that person hurt me. You don't know what that person did to me. You don't know how I was thrown under the bus, so don't sit up there, stand up there on your platform and tell me I ought to forgive". Well let me ask you a question. How did Joseph keep from being burned by the fire of bitterness? How did Joseph avoid drowning in a sea of bitterness? How did Joseph become immune to the poison of bitterness?

Now I want you to see this. It's because he refused to do four things, that I wanna promise you today, if you will make up your mind, I'm never gonna do these four things the rest of my life, you not only will find you can forgive, you will find you will want to forgive, you'll be glad you did forgive, and you'll walk out of here free from the prison of bitterness you've put yourself in. I'm gonna state these negatively, but they're going to have a very positive effect. So, if you're one of those people right now, and you're saying, "Let me just tell you, forget it, can't do it, you don't know what happened. I can't forgive them, I can't forgive him, I can't forgive her, I can't get past it".

Don't do four things. Number one, never take the place of God. Never take the place of God. Now we pick up the story, Genesis 50, verse 15. "When Joseph's brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, what if Joseph holds a grudge against us and pays us back for all the wrongs that we did to him"? Let me tell you what's going on. Joseph's been reunited with his brothers, they've been living together for 17 years. And Joseph has treated them with kindness, he has forgiven them, he's told them he forgiven them, he showed them he's forgiven them, he has tried to prove to them he's forgiven them, but now their dad has died. And for some reason they got it in their mind, yeah, we know why you forgave us, because dad's still alive, but as soon as dad's dead, you're gonna get your pound of flesh.

Well dad's dead, the insurance policy's lapsed. Now they think, okay, here it comes, Joseph is gonna let us have it with both barrels, because they had convinced themselves the only thing holding old Joe back was dear old dad, but now dad is gone. Because you see, they were still feeling guilty over what they had done to Joseph, even though they had been forgiven. Now let me just stop right here. There are some of you here today, you're not in a prison, you're not in a bondage of bitterness. Some of you here today you're in the grip of guilt. And some of you ought to be feeling guilty about where you are in your life, but some of you shouldn't, let me tell you why. This text tells us two things about guilt.

Legitimate guilt is when you've not asked for forgiveness. If you've ever done something wrong to someone, and you know you've done something wrong, and you've never made it right, you never asked that person to forgive you, you've never manned up and admitted what you did was wrong, and asked for forgiveness, you ought to feel guilty, and by the way, if you don't feel guilty you got a worse problem than what you did to hurt that person. Legitimate guilt's when you've not asked for forgiveness. Illegitimate guilt is when you've not accepted forgiveness. There's some of you here today, you live with guilt, and you ought to live with guilt, 'cause you've never made things right. But there are some of you here today, you've made things right, and you still feel guilty, 'cause you've not accepted forgiveness.

And one of the reasons why they had never accepted forgiveness is because they had never asked for forgiveness. Well, for the first time, they finally do after 17 years what they should have done 17 years earlier, they finally confess. Listen to what they say; "So they sent word to Joseph saying your father left these instructions before he died". Let me just go ahead and tell you a little spoiler alert, that's a lie. They made that story up. There's nothing in the text that tells us that. They're still lying, they're still conniving, they're still trying to save their own skin, "Your father left these instructions before he died, this is what you're to say to Joseph. I ask you to forgive your brothers," watch this, "The sins and the wrongs they committed in treating you so badly. Now please forgive the sins of the servants of the God of your father. When their message came to him," look how Joseph responds, "Joseph wept".

They send word to Joseph, they make a story up, dad said forgive us, dad said don't hold a grudge. You gotta do what dear old dad said. And Joseph just breaks down crying, you say, "Well why"? Because even though he had already affirmed 17 years ago he had forgiven them, they had not accepted his forgiveness. Now, the good thing is they finally give this real confession, there are four words used for sin in the Old Testament, they used three of them. They used the word transgression, they used the word sin, they used the word evil. In other words, finally they've emptied their clip, they finally got the monkey off their back. They finally man up and say, "This is what we did to you. We transgressed against you, we sinned against you, we committed evil against you".

They have finally given a full faithful confession, a total truthful admission of what they've done. And now they're saying, "We really want to be forgiven". And the reason why Joseph is weeping, and the reason why Joseph's heart is broken, is because he realizes for 17 years you've been living in a prison for guilt, of guilt, for 17 years, you've been living under this shadow of guilt and fear, when you should have been enjoying the sunshine of grace and forgiveness. Because I have already forgiven you. And they now finally wake up and realize that the only key that will unlock the door of the prison of bitterness and get you out is the key of forgiveness.

And so now we're introduced to Joseph's amazing response. Winston Churchill would have said, "Joseph, this was your finest hour," this is what Joseph says; "His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. We are your slaves, they said. But Joseph said to them, don't be afraid". Why shouldn't we be afraid, Joseph? We did get you in the pit. We did put in on the plantation. We did get you thrown into prison. We did separate you from your father for 23 years we did that; that's okay. "Am I in the place of God"?

Now I want you to listen carefully. Joseph understand something about forgiveness that we need to understand. You see, in one way God is just like us, but in one way God's not like us. Here's the way God is like us. God is, sometimes people do, in fact a lot of times, we do God wrong, and when we do God wrong, what does God do? God forgives us, he is in the place of the forgiver. Well, guess what, sometimes we are in the place of the forgiver. Sometimes people do us wrong and we're supposed to be like God, and we're supposed to forgive. That's how God is like us. How God is not like us is he never needs to be forgiven. We do, sometimes we need to forgive, sometimes we need to be forgiven. God is never in that position.

So let me just tell you what you're doing. If you're one of those people that have been holding on to your bitterness all these years, and you've justified in your mind why you've not forgiven that person, but you don't know, you weren't there, you didn't see it, you didn't hear it, you don't know how bad they hurt me, I've heard all these excuses. Here's what you've really done. You have put yourself in the place of God. 'Cause there's only one being in the universe that has every right not to forgive, but he still chooses to forgive. So the only reason why you refuse to forgive is you've decided, I'm gonna play God. I'm gonna put myself in the place of God.

What Joseph said was, "Brothers, you don't understand. I have no desire to play God. I am not gonna put myself in the place of God. So you don't have to worry, I'm right with God". And by the way, you never have to fear being wronged by a person who's right with God. If I'm right with God, I'll never do you wrong. You don't have to worry about me ever doing you wrong. Now you say, "Well, but what if you do me wrong"? Well that means I'm not right with God, but watch this. If I do you wrong when I'm not right with God, when I get right with God, I'll make it right. So by the way, if you've wronged somebody, and you've never made it right, you're not right with God. Your biggest problem's not that you're not right with them, you're not right with God.

Joseph said, "I'm not gonna put myself in the place of God," when a person does you wrong they're not right with God, but when they get right with God, they will make things right. You say, "Well how do you stay right with God"? Real easy, you ready for this? You know how to stay right with God 24/7? You keep God in his place, and you keep you in your place. Quit trying to play God. Quit trying to put yourself in the place of God. So here's what Joseph was saying to his brothers, "Guys, you don't get it. Yes, I'm the prime minister of Egypt, but God is the supreme, preeminent master of the universe, and sometimes I need to receive forgiveness just like you do. And if I need to receive forgiveness, I must be willing to give forgiveness".

C.S. Lewis said this, he said, "To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable, because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you". So let me just give you some news, let me just, I'm not trying to make some of you angry, I probably already have, so if I haven't, let me have another shot. You can forgive. It may be you won't forgive, yes, you can forgive. As a matter of fact, you will forgive. Indeed, you must forgive. When you remember just as God has forgiven you, you've got to forgive others, 'cause you're not God. Never take the place of God. Number two; never forget the providence of God. Never forget the providence of God.

Now remember what Joseph's doing, he's taken this 30,000 foot look, he's about now to give us a truth, if you truly believe what I'm about to tell you, this is so big, if you truly believe in the next two or three minutes what I'm gonna tell you, and you really believe it, I promise you it will permanently change your behavior forever. The reason why Joseph was able to behave the right way, and do the right thing, is because he believed the right thing. I wanna say something to our students right now; this is one of those deals where I know we all check in and check out, so you guys who may be texting, or whatever, get off your cell phone listen to the pastor here for 30 seconds.

If you don't hear anything else I say in this message, students, I want you to hear this. Your belief will always determine your behavior. Whatever you believe, that's what you gonna live, everything else is just talk. I'm gonna give you an adult example. If you believe that you cannot out give God, if you believe that God honors a tithe, you'll tithe, if you don't, you won't. If you believe that people without Christ are lost, and if you believe that Jesus is the only way to heaven, you'll share Jesus with other people. If you don't, then you don't. Our behavior is always determined by our belief. Always, that's 100% true, it determines it. So what Joseph's about to say about his life is true about his life, listen to what he says, this is so good, he says, "Look guys, you intended to harm me, I know that, but God intended it for good".

Now, the first thing Joseph does, this is so important, if you got a problem with bitterness today, somebody has done you wrong, let me just tell you something, a lot of people don't understand this. I have people come to me, and they'll say, "Man, this person hurt me, they did me wrong, and I'm trying to forgive them, I just can't do it, and so what do you think I need to do? Do I just need to forgive them right now"? You know what I always say, it really shocks them what I say, I say, "No, you're not ready to forgive yet". They'll say, "Well what do I need to do first"? I say, "Well the first thing you need to do, you just need to acknowledge what they've done to you". Say it out loud, what have they done? "He had an affair on me, he stole my money, he said a lie about me".

What did they do, you've got to acknolwedge what was done wrong, that's what Joseph did. He said, "Look, you intended to harm me". Joseph doesn't sugarcoat it, he doesn't overlook it, he doesn't excuse it, he hits it head on. He said, "You hurt me, you mistreated me, you disappointed me, you threw me under the bus, and that was a good thing," because Joseph knows "I cannot forgive you until I acknowledge to you what you have done to me". But here's the point; when you think everything is out of control in your life, God is in control. When you think everything's out of control, God is in control. Because behind everything that happens to you, oh yeah, the bad stuff, the evil stuff, the horrible stuff, God says, "I promise you I'm gonna use it for your good".

'Cause let's just play the tape back, let me ask you a question. Could God have prevented the brothers from throwing Joseph into that pit? Yeah; could God have prevented Joseph from being sold to those human traffickers? Yup; could God have prevented Joseph from being falsely accused of rape? Yes; could God have prevented Joseph from being thrown into that prison? Yup; but what his brothers didn't know, and a scorned woman didn't know, and a gullible master didn't know, is that everything they intended for evil, God intended for good. As a matter of fact, there's an order in this verse that you've gotta keep in mind, this wide angled view of all the bad things that have ever happened, or ever will happen in your life.

And by the way, let me tell you something. If you're in that position in your life right now, and you say, "Man, everything's going great," well you better buckle your seatbelt. 'Cause it won't be that way forever. But here's what I want you to see, watch this, listen to three words. "As for you, you meant," word one, "evil against me, but," second word, "God meant it for," third word, "good".

Now here's what Joseph said, you guys like math? Here's a mathematical equation. Evil filtered through God comes out good. Evil filtered through God comes out good; or if you like alliteration, grief filtered through God comes out good. Now if you wanna know what we mean by the providence of God, that's a big word, that's exactly what we mean by the providence of God. Everything bad that will ever happen in your life, God intends it for good. Providence is God working in your life, and in the entire universe, where at the end of the day everything comes out for your good, and everything comes out for his glory. There's an old saying, you probably have heard, "The devil's in the details," that's wrong. The devil's not in the details, God's in the details. The devil's not running this show. God's running the show.

People, this is so good, God never has to say, "That wasn't in the script". God never goes, "I didn't know you were gonna do that". God never goes, "Son of a gun, I didn't see that coming". Here's what God says, in the movie of your life, just like any movie you go see, there's gonna be mountains and there are gonna be valleys, there's gonna be dry and there's gonna be rain. There's gonna be good, there's gonna be bad. There's gonna be wonderful, there's gonna be horrible. But God says, "When the movie ends, and the credits are rolling, it will work out for your good". You see, Joseph was not sold into slavery, put on a plantation, or thrown into a prison, because, have you ever heard this? He was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Well actually, in the providence of God he was at the right place at the right time.

Now, what I wanna do, and since you students don't get to hear me too often, I do something every now and then, I call it my soapbox, so I want you to pretend I've got a soapbox up here. For two minutes, guys, we're gonna take a break, I wanna get on a soapbox of something that just irritates the hound out of me, and I wanna get it off my chest. And I want these kids to hear it. If everything I've just said to you is true, and if everything the scripture says is true, now listen, read my lips, that means there's no such thing as luck. I hate that word. I just despise that word. I mean, and we use it all the time, we call somebody a lucky dog. We wish people luck. We talk about Lady Luck, tough luck, good luck, bad luck, rotten luck. People thank their lucky stars.

I got so mad this morning I walked into the pantry this morning, Theresa has bought a box of cereal called Lucky Charms. Listen, if you think any event in life, or every event in life is random, you're out of luck. You know why? Nothing is up to chance, everything's up to God. Chance doesn't have the final say, God's got the final say. The other day I took my grandson Conner to the grocery store, and at the front of the store there was this little toy dispenser, you put money in and it's got a claw, and you can pull things out of it. So I was looking in there, seeing what toys were in there, and I saw this lucky rabbit's foot, some of you have ever seen a lucky rabbit's foot?

When I was a kid they were real popular, people used to buy these lucky rabbit's feet, they'd hang them on their rear view mirror like it brought them good luck. And it hit me the other day, I was looking at that lucky rabbit's foot, and I thought to myself, how stupid that is. You talk about a misnomer. I mean, how lucky can that rabbit be if he can't even keep his own foot? And there's no such thing as luck. Joseph had not gotten to be prime minister of Egypt because of luck, it wasn't because of his resume, it wasn't because he knew certain people, it wasn't because of his influence, it wasn't because of his politics, it was because of the providence of God. God put him there, so remember, all the bad things that have ever happened to you, or ever will, and all the bad people that will do these bad things, God said, "Okay, I'll providentially take it, and I'm gonna use it for your good, and my glory".

So don't ever, ever forget the providence of God. Third thing, never doubt the plan of God. Never doubt the plan of God. Now, consider the next part of this statement, listen to what Joseph says, he says, "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good," then he goes on to add this, "to accomplish what is now being done". Well what was being accomplished? God's plan, God had a plan. God's got a plan for everything, God's got a plan for everyone. God's got a plan for everyone of you students. The beautiful thing, you guys are just getting started in your life, and I'm so excited for you, and you would be so excited for you if you could just look in the future and see the plans that God has for you.

So God has a plan for every single one of us. My wife, I hit the jackpot. I married my life, beauty queen, cheerleader, gorgeous girl, great personality, loves me to death, takes care of me, and she can cook, gosh almighty can she cook. And my wife can cook some of the best cakes you have ever put in your mouth. And back over Thanksgiving, I guess it was, she was fixing a dessert, or a cake, or something, and she laid out all these ingredients, she had the butter out, she had the sugar out, had the flour out, she had the eggs out. Now I'm so grateful she didn't do this, "Honey, would you just come eat these one at a time"? 'Cause just one at a time they taste terrible. But let me tell you something, when that beautiful wife of mine puts those things together, it is Disney World good. Oh, is it so good. It is sinfully good, and it's so great to sin when I'm eating that cake.

Now, by themselves, they taste terrible. But when she follows that recipe, boy what a cake. You know what a recipe is, ladies? It's just a plan, that's all it is. A recipe is just a plan. And there are two words that Joseph says to his brothers, that you need to write over everything that will ever happen to you, especially the bad things. Two words, don't ever forget, you ready? But God; all right, here we go, I'm gonna be a choir director, ready? We're gonna say that together: But God. Say it again: But God. Say it again: But God. I don't care how bad it is going for you right now. I don't care how terrible somebody has treated you, but God. See this all started when Joseph's brothers sold him into slavery, and things looked bad. But, God had a plan.

Joseph said to his brothers, "You sold me, but God sent me". You think about those two words, think about how those two words, but God, changed everything, think about it. Their plan was to eliminate Joseph, but God's plan was to elevate Joseph. Their plan was lower Joseph into a pit, but God's plan was to lift Joseph onto a thrown. Their plan was to desert Joseph, but God's plan was to deliver Joseph. Their plan was to sell Joseph out, but God's plan was to pick Joseph up. And that's why Joseph could say to his brothers, with 100% confidence, "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good".

I don't know what you've gone through in your life. I don't know what you're going through in your life. I don't know how unfairly you've been treated or how unfairly you are being treated. I don't know how unjust your circumstances have been, or I don't know what kind of a bad hand you're being dealt right now. Maybe your boyfriend or girlfriend broke up with you last weekend, maybe she gave the engagement ring back last month, I don't know what you're going through, I don't know what's happened, I'll tell you what I do know. You know what God is saying to you right now if you just listen? You know what he's telling you right now? "Everything is going according to plan. I got this planned, and I'm working out my plan".

Now let me just be clear so you don't misunderstand what I'm saying, there's nothing in this text that says that all the things that happened to Joseph were good, because they were not. Joseph being thrown into a pit, that wasn't good. Joseph being sold to human traffickers wasn't good. Joseph being falsely accused of rape, not good. Joseph being thrown into a prison, not good. What you're going through right now may not be good, but God has a plan. And God says, "Don't worry about it, I'm gonna take all this bad stuff, and at the end of the day it'll be for your good and my glory, that's my plan for you".

So, when somebody throws you under the bus, they leave you holding the bag, you get the short end of the stick, they leave you high and dry, God says, "That's okay, I'm gonna use it to accomplish my plan". And listen, this is one of the, other thing, I thought about this this morning, I realized I was gonna be preaching to these students, there's one other thing I want you students to hear, listen. God's plan for you is bigger than you. And his plan is bigger than your plan for you. I'm living proof, I'm a satisfied customer. You may have all these goals set out in your life, boy, I wanna do this, I wanna go here, I wanna accomplish that, I wanna be here, I wanna get that, listen, you know what God would say to you right now if you could just see, "Is that all you got? Is that the best you can do? You haven't seen anything until you see what I've got planned for you".

I don't have time to even go into this, you've heard my story before. I can't believe I'm standing up here doing what I'm doing right now, 'cause this was not my plan for me. But when Theresa and I talk about it all the time, we get married, we go off to seminary, I'm pastoring a church, running 40 people, 'cause there's only 38 in the county. We stole two Methodists. But where, Theresa, God has brought us. His plan was so much bigger, and so much better than ours. Listen to me, things don't happen by coincidence. They happen by providence. And providence guarantees that everything is going according to God's plan. So last thing, we'll finish up, ready? Never question the purpose of God, that's the last trick. Never question the purpose of God.

Now listen to the rest of this statement. "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good," there's the providence of God, I'm gonna take care of it, "To accomplish what's now being done," that's my plan, now watch this, what was the purpose? "The saving of many lives," the saving of many lives, listen, you know what breaks my heart about so many of you listening to me right now? I see so many people and they're just playing games with their life. Just playing games. When I go to Athens and see my beloved Bulldogs play, I'm sitting with 93,000 people, I do it every game, I say, "How many of these people are just playing games with their life? How many people, this is their life"?

I love Georgia football, I do, you know that, if you don't love Georgia football you need to get saved, I love Georgia football. But it's just a game, and it's not my life. Jesus is my life. And people play games with their life, but listen to me, God doesn't play games with your life, life's not a game, your life's not a game to God, it has a purpose, God's got a purpose for your life, he's got a purpose for every life, he's got a purpose for everything, now listen, Joseph didn't know it. He did not know it. But the purpose of everything that happened to Joseph was so that God could place Joseph in a place to be the savior for his people. Oh, and by the way, not just to be a savior for his people, but so that 2,000 years later, his people could give birth to the savior that would come into the world.

God had a purpose. Every plan has a purpose. 20 years ago, almost 20 years ago, Theresa and I built our house. It had a plan and a purpose. It was the plan that she picked out. And the purpose was to build the house that she liked. Because if she likes the house, I love the house. She doesn't like the house, I'm moving. It's not worth it. So, amen, that's exactly right, you got it, don't you? Right, so see, but here's the point. We had a plan, but there was a purpose behind the plan. And you need to understand something about God's plan for your life, by the way, it wasn't drawn up last night, he doesn't make it up on the fly, he doesn't have to improvise or adjust. God's plan for you and me are wrapped around the purpose he had for you and me before you even came out of your mother's womb.

God says, I know what I'm doing, I know why I brought you into this world, and God's plan is always in accordance with God's purpose. There's a method to God's madness. God has a purpose in everything that he does, and not only has a plan he wants to achieve, he has a purpose he wants to accomplish. That's why God never does what we do. When something wrong goes in our life, what do we do? We react, God never reacts to anything that goes wrong in your life. God acts before it happens. God providentially funnels everything that happens to you, and me, into the container of his plan so that at the end of the day, his purpose is accomplished.

Listen, it took Joseph 23 years to finally understand the reason why I went through all of this junk, and the reason why all of that bad stuff happened to me, was 'cause God wanted to use me for the saving of many lives. Now what lives was he referring to? Who needed to be saved? Well, earlier, he said to his brothers, "But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance". See, he wasn't just trying to save his family, he was trying to save his family, so they would become a nation that would send a savior into the world. So let's do this, let's roll the tape back. Let's pretend we can go all the way back and we can undo what happened. So the brothers don't sell Joseph into slavery. They don't throw him into the pit. And he doesn't go to Egypt.

Well if he doesn't go to Egypt, there would be no nation of Israel. And if there's no nation of Israel, there's no Jesus. And if there's no Jesus, there's no salvation for the entire world. So you're 17 years old, you don't know what's going on. You're 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, you don't know what's gonna happen tomorrow, you don't know what's gonna happen your sophomore, junior, senior year. You don't know what's gonna happen when you graduate and go off to college. Joseph did not know that one day a famine would come that could have destroyed his entire family, but God did. Joseph didn't know that being in prison would lead him to the palace and put him in a position of such power he could literally save an entire nation, but God did.

Joseph didn't know that God had to send him to Egypt so ultimately his family would give birth to the nation of Israel, and they would give birth to Jesus, the savior of the world. Joseph didn't know that, but God did. And there's a lot of things, matter of fact, let me tell you something, there's 100% of things you don't know about tomorrow. You don't even know if you're gonna be alive tomorrow. But God does, God does. And when you rewind the tape, you see, wow, God, you had a purpose for that pit. You had a purpose for that plantation. You had a purpose for that prison, and it was all so that Joseph could be put into a palace so he would have the power and the position to save not just his family, to save not just a nation, but to save the entire world.

Here's what I want you to see. You're not gonna like this, it's just true. Every time Joseph was put where he did not want to be, he was right where God wanted him to be. You know what, Pastor? I don't like where I am in my life right now, I'm not where I wanna be. That's all right. You're where God wants you to be. Pastor, everything's just not going according to my plan; that's okay, it's going according to his plan. Because God's plan is always better than yours, and God's purpose is always bigger than yours, and that's why Joseph can lovingly and honestly say to his brothers, "Don't be afraid, I'll provide for you and your children, and he reassured them, and he spoke kindly to them".

See, that's when you know you've really forgiven someone, you know that, right? The way you know you really forgiven someone is not just in the words that you speak, but the actions that you do. It's not just said, it is shown. So what have we learned today? Only the water of forgiveness can quench the fire of bitterness. So by the way, we wrap this up, Joseph had a son. You know what he named his first son? Manasseh; do you know what the name Manessah means? To forget; you know why Joseph named his son? Every time he looked at that boy it reminded him of his brothers. Guys, I forgive. Guys, I forget. Guys, it's all in the rear view mirror.

And Joseph became a doctor who healed himself, because he didn't take the place of God, he didn't forget the providence of God, he didn't doubt the plan of God, and he didn't question the purpose of God, so let me just say this, we're done. So how does that relate to us? That happened 2,500 years ago, what's that got to do with me in 2019? Just this; the same God that was controlling every event in his life is still sitting on the thrown of this universe.

And the same God that was controlling every event in his life is still controlling every event of your life. Yes, he will allow evil to be done to you, yes, you will get the short end of the stick, yes, people will hurt you, yes you will be disappointed, yes things won't always work out, yes life's not always fair, but at the end of the day, God says, "Everything's going according to plan; I got this, and it's gonna be for your good, it's gonna be for my glory," and at the end of the day, one day you'll look back and you would have said, "Wow, that's exactly the way I would have done it too. That's exactly the way it should have worked". Because the God that is in you is bigger than the evil that others do to you.

Okay, so what's our job? Our job is to forgive what others do to us. That's our job. God's job is to providentially fit what others do to us into his plan and into his purpose, so ultimately it's for our good, and for his glory, and I saved the best for last, you ready for this? Everybody ready? He has a 100% success rate, he's never failed one time. I know this about me, and I know this about you, if Jesus Christ is your Lord, if the God that made you is the God that owns you, and the God that controls you, I know this, at the end of the day, you draw your last breath, you leave this earth and you step into eternity, here's what I guarantee you will be true; A, it was all for your good, all for his glory, and B, you wouldn't change a thing. Because the greatest evil that was ever done was when Jesus Christ died on a cross, and look what God has done with that.
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