Forgiveness and Restoration

(Excerpt from my new book – Hidden by the Brook. Pre-orders now available @ jksanchez.com)

The famine had been great in Egypt and even harder on those far out into the desert areas. The small group of dirty, tired and hungry men stood before the only man that could help provide food for them and their families. They had made the long journey, hoping for help to survive; now bowing with respect before this unknown man. 

He was unrecognizable to them, but Joseph knew who bowed before him: the very brothers who had betrayed him and sold him into slavery twenty-two years ago. The emotions stirred within him – how was he to respond? With wisdom, he questioned them, finding out that his father and youngest brother were still alive and well. He tested them, detained them and gave them a way to prove themselves men of changed integrity. And then provided the much-needed grain at no cost. 

His heart was overwhelmed with forgiveness as he overheard their discussions of regret and anguish over what they had done to their brother, still not aware of who it was that stood before them.

Joseph sent them home, and for several months, one brother remained in custody waiting for his brothers to return with their youngest brother for the exchange. As Joseph awaited their return, God continued a work of forgiveness in his heart. 

The return with Benjamin, his youngest brother, brought great joy to Joseph, but he devised one more test. However, the emotional response and petition of mercy from his brothers gave way to a flood of forgiveness within him, and he revealed who he was. A heavy silence settled over the room as great fear and anguish swirled in each brothers’ thoughts. But Joseph had already broken off the chains of betrayal that had haunted him for years and had chosen to forgive them. 

He compassionately announced, “Do not be distressed because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life” (Genesis 45:5). The forgiveness and restoration between Joseph and his family allowed for years of abundant provision. 

The planned purpose of the hand of God’s preparation on a broken, prideful, betrayed young man prevailed. A young man who had submitted himself before God and in faith trusted as he waited for God’s answer. The very survival of multitudes of people, including the Hebrew nation, was accomplished through a life hidden in obscurity – a man hidden in order to preserve life.   

As our life stretches before us, we are oblivious of what it will hold. The wonderful surprises send us to the heights of joy, while the devastating losses find us lower than we ever think we can recover from – yet there is God, always there in the midst. We walk in joy and tears – a seemingly diametrically-opposed paradigm – yet in that space between, we find, grow and learn how to live a life of abundance.

The keys to this life of abundance are found in the process. They are found in the dark hidden places. The places where tears flow, where anger and frustration rage, where the despair of hopelessness overtakes us. But it is right there where we find the refuge, our only place to run – into the arms of Jesus. In the process we find His love and forgiveness. That key – the love and forgiveness of Jesus – will release us from prison. It will allow us to walk into a new life – a promised eternal life. The process still must have its way within us, but now we can say, “Yes, Lord.” Submitting under His loving hand will allow us to find another crucial key: forgiveness. This time forgiveness of others. 

Joseph had no idea what God’s plan for his life was on that day he found himself at the bottom of a dusty well. Betrayal after betrayal and pain, hurt and prison didn’t deter his knowledge of who he served. His God’s steadfast love was the refuge that lifted and molded him into the man that would be the best one for God’s assignment. You stand in the same place: God’s plan and assignment for your life is before you, – your choice is to trust Him in the process.

Joseph was able to declare, “God sent me to preserve life.” That is an eternal mandate for each of us as we serve our Lord and Savior – Jesus Christ. Getting to our ultimate, completed assignment takes a lifetime of choices. 

Those choices are to walk in a life full of continual love, forgiveness, compassion, kindness, humility and patience, along with many other attributes that He will knead into your heart, soul and mind. This kneading will always take place when you are quiet, separated, isolated – hidden in places where He can meet with you undistracted. 

During these times He will transform you into the individual that He desires to use – leading you to His assignment, the very one that only you can perform.

Col. 3:12-14 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put-on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. (ESV)

Remember Always

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The air was charged with excitement and anticipation as He mounted the young donkey. They had no idea what the next few days would hold, but entering the city expectation of freedom crackled in the atmosphere. The crowd shouted in joyous singing, welcoming Jesus as He entered.

The following days became a blur. They were shocked as He turned over the money-changing tables in the temple and He prophesied and condemned the religious leaders. They intently gleaned His words as He taught impacting parables to the crowds that gathered listening to His every word. As the crowds pressed in, those few short days were filled with memories that would flood over into the centuries that would follow.

The anticipation of the Passover feast approached and Jesus instructed them to go ahead of Him and prepare to celebrate together; it was going to be only their small group, it would be a welcome time of respite. The room was filled with love as they sat, not knowing this would be their last meal together.

And he said to them, I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.”

After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, Take this and divide it among you. For I tell you I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”

And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”

In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.” (Luke 22:15-20 NIV)


 

Communion has never been a ritual to me, but a personal time to remember what Jesus did. The understanding of its significance, however, has grown. We usually hear of the bread and the wine together symbolizing Christ’s sacrifice for us, but one day I heard a teaching that transformed my understanding.

There are two elements – the cup and the bread – each having specific impact to our lives.

The cup signifies the blood Jesus shed for our forgiveness. When we receive this gift, we understand we have been made righteous and our sin has been washed away under His blood. We now have access to His presence because of this new covenant made on our behalf.

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of Gods Grace. (Ephesians 1:7 NIV)

The bread, however has a significance that we often don’t understand or walk in. The bread is for healing! From head-to-toe, Jesus bore our pain and disease; from the crown on His head to the nail driven into His feet.

The symbolisms of Passover are significant to understand. The preparation and use of the matzah bread during Passover hammers-home its importance. It was baked, pierced with holes and stripes. The baked (burnt) bread for the fact that Jesus received the full wrath of God for our sins. Pierced with holes and stripes for He was pierced and took a merciless beating for our healing and wholeness. The lambs blood placed over the door-posts covered sin and kept those within from God’s wrath (Jesus did that for us). But then the lamb was roasted, broken and eaten for strength. When they left Egypt there were …. none feeble. (Ps.105:37) Jesus was broken and beaten for our strength and healing.

Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits – who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases. (Psalm 103:2-3 NIV)

When we take communion, we remember what Christ did for us – both for our forgiveness and for our healing. Remembering should be a celebration of thankfulness and a place filled with faith. A faith of knowing that we can now walk boldly into the throne room of God, forgiven and set free. A faith where we can walk in strength and health. Disease is not the children’s bread; health, strength and healing are!

Jesus instructed us to take communion often in remembrance of His sacrifices. We have the privilege and ability do this at home, we don’t have to wait to go to church. Taking communion is as sacred and as simple as our ability to pray and be heard. As you contemplate the significance of what Jesus did for you, celebrate in remembrance with a new understanding of what belongs to you – forgiveness and wholeness.