Monday, March 13, 2017

Road to Reconciliation

Are you currently “on the outs” with anyone? Is there someone you used to be close to but a rift has developed in the relationship that has never been addressed or properly healed? What about a friend or family member who has hurt you in a very significant way? Today’s study will look at how Joseph took the stance of making the relationship more important than being right.  Our passage suggests that there are four steps to reconciliation: Calling, Repentance, Forgiveness, and Restoration

Genesis 45: 5-6
Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come close to me.” When they had done so, he said, “I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. 

Things to think about:
·      Are you currently separated from someone who used to be very close to you?
o   is your role in this situation more like the brothers or Joseph?
·      Calling has a two-fold reference here
o   Joseph called his brothers to himself
o   Joseph was called by God to deliver his family
·      “Come close to me”
o   He took the initiative, he called them to be near him
o   big relationship problems aren’t addressed through texting, other family members, or mutual friends
§  why is direct, face-to-face communication vital?
·      Joseph could have been angry, sought revenge, thrown them in prison, said “I told you so”
o   He saw his mission, his purpose in what had happened
o   “sent” implies a sender, one with authority to direct the path of another
o   Rather than chastise them he cherishes the life-saving mission God called him to
o   While we may not be called to literally solve world hunger like Joseph, can you reflect on how God has shaped your life to be uniquely qualified to serve those around you?

·      He found they were sincere in their repentance of their sin against him
o   in Genesis 44:16 Judah says to Joseph that “God has uncovered your servants’ guilt”
o   Joseph tested them to see if they had matured in the intervening years since they sold him to the Ishmaelites
o   Judah’s speech in chapter 44 demonstrated they were changed men, willing to trade their lives for that of their youngest brother Benjamin
o   Why is repentance a key step of the relation reconciliation process?
o   How should we react when the other party isn’t repentant?
§  Matthew 5:44 - But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you

·      How many times in the account of Joseph does it say he cried or wept?
o    Nine
o   He doesn’t cry tears of “poor pitiful me” but because of his love for his family
o   Forgiveness is a life-giving act and attitude because it releases us from the bondage of bitterness. The rush of emotion Joseph feels is his expression of the deep unconditional love he has for his family
o   do tears come easily or not for you? Under what circumstances?
·      Given the enormous hurt the brothers inflicted on Joseph, combined with his position of near-supreme authority, he could have been justified in delivering a harsh punishment
o   Under what circumstances does forgiveness trump the facts?
§  Hint: see Ephesians 4:31-32
·      He was generous, giving them the best, not what they deserved (Genesis 47:11-12)
o   What are the parallels with the father of the prodigal son?
o   How do we see God’s character in this?
§  grace and mercy
·      Genesis 45:24 “Don’t quarrel on the way”
o   Why would he tells his brothers to not argue on their way back to Canaan?
§  He knew they would be playing the blame game and he wanted them to look ahead, not backwards.
o   Why is looking backwards at past wrongs a recipe for further damage?
§  locked into something we can’t change (past)
§  not present in the present (present)
§  nurturing weeds, not sowing seeds (future)
§  Paul writes in Philippians 3:13-14, But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
·      Genesis 50:20 – when Jacob died 17 years later, the brothers were still afraid Joseph would finally exact his revenge now that the old man was out of the way.
o   “You meant it for evil but God meant it for good”
o   He didn’t sugarcoat or pretend it was something it wasn’t
o   verse 21, “Don’t be afraid, I will provide for you”
·      How does the model of Calling, Repentance, Forgiveness, and Restoration mirror the gospel?
o   Calling: For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son
o   Repentance: That whoever believes in Him
o   Forgiveness: Should not perish
o   Restoration: But have eternal life
·      Do you need to call someone today to begin the journey on the Road to Reconciliation?

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