MAKING SENSE OUT OF YOUR PAST
[Joseph said,] “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good, to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”
Joyce Meyer speaks worldwide today encouraging millions of people. As a child, she was frequently sexually abused by her alcoholic father.5 Joyce never forgot what her father did to her, but she has chosen to forgive him with the help of Jesus. God helped Joyce not only to forgive her father but also to show him kindness. Joyce cared for her dad later in his life and was able to lead him to Jesus before his death. Can you imagine how she felt during those moments? Our God chooses and heals wounded people to carry out His great work! Her dad clearly saw Jesus in Joyce and received such a wonderful, gracious love.
God’s grace can be hidden and later seen as we reflect on the events of our life journey. Joseph was mistreated by his family—his brothers literally sold him into slavery. Later, he was thrown in jail for a crime he never committed. God eventually rescued him and gave him a promotion. Joseph is a great example of someone who continued to walk with God through his most difficult days. Have you ever persevered when it did not feel like there was any hope? In the long run, Joseph helped people from many nations during a massive famine. Surprisingly, he also provided food for the same brothers who nearly killed him. With God’s help, he was able to work through many confusing and painful issues in his past and a bright future emerged, saving the lives of many people.
Despite being abandoned by his siblings, thrown into a pit, sold into slavery, falsely accused and jailed, and receiving broken promises, Joseph didn’t become bitter. In fact, he blessed the people who were cruelest towards him. Let’s take a close look at some of the key principles of Joseph’s life (Genesis chapters 42-50):
1) Have confidence that the promises of God will endure through every circumstance (42:1-6).
2) Trust God even if you suffer from previous pain and disappointment (42:36).
3) Overcome evil with good (43:18-24).
4) Knowing when to make the right sacrifices will pave the way to a blessed future (45:2-8).
5) Reconcile with other people whenever it’s possible and healthy (45:9-15).
6) Listen closely to God (Joseph and his father Jacob followed God’s promptings). You can gain God’s perspective and answers during your journey (46:2-4).
7) Savor what is positive in your family relationships (46:28-30).
8) One thing that you always get to choose is your response to how other people treat you (50:15-21).
1) How has God brought healing and grace to the pain in your life?
2) What has been the most difficult experience for you to overcome?
3) Have you ever seen God turn a negative into a positive?
4) How is God encouraging you about your future?
Philippians 3:12-16. Stay focused on the future God has for you.
John 11:1-44. Your past trials can become your testimony.
Acts 16:16-34. Trust God’s plans, praise Him, and watch what He does.
Psalm 40. God can turn around any situation and deliver you.
Ruth 1:16-17. Look for someone who had a rough past and make a difference.
Gracious God, You know everything about my past. As I reflect on my life, I want to learn from my experiences and trials. Please help me to be like Joseph and learn how to respond in a way that honors You. I pray that You will heal some of the lingering pain, forgive my unwise decisions, remove any false guilt, and help me to look ahead with your perspective of hope and courage. I trust You will do great things in my future and will build on what I have learned. And I pray this all in Jesus’ name. Amen.
For more from Pastor Jesse Bradley and Activate Media Ministries, visit www.activatelife.org