Sunday, July 27, 2014

Overwhelmed: Winning the War against Worry - Lesson 7

If you want to study along with our Sunday study group, and get the most from it, you will need to get the book "Overwhelmed:  Winning the War Against Worry" by Perry Noble.  You can get it from Amazon by clicking the title of the book link that is above or clicking on the image of the book at the end of the blog.  Join us as we learn to win the war against worry.


Last week we talked about he reminders that God has given us when we become so overwhelmed to the point that we struggle with whether God loves us or not.  

1.  Do you remember those reminders?

Creation, The People We Meet, The circumstances that we go through, and Jesus.

The creation itself should remind us of how all powerful God is.  It is also evidence that He does exist. The very fact that he created it and then allowed us to be masters over it should remind us that there is somebody out there who is bigger than we are.
In the people that we meet God uses what we may consider chance meetings or encounters to benefit us later.  We have never met anybody by accident.  Every relationship we’ve had has passed through the hands of God.  
Our circumstances change and they change us and they can be times when God gets our attention. God can use those circumstances to remind us of His love for us.  So focus on Him because He is:

  • Greater than divorce
  • Greater than cancer
  • Greater than our pasts
  • Greater than the uncertainty of the future
  • Greater than anything that we can face
  • Jesus When we realize that first of all God gave His Son Jesus so that He could pay the take the punishment of sin, which is death for us.  Jesus will be with us when the furnace of situations and circumstance is its hottest and because He is with us we can walk out without even the scent of smoke.  
That brings us to today’s discussion which comes from chapters 18 through 21 of our book "Overwhelmed: Winning the War Against Worry".

It’s very possible that we are overwhelmed right now because something is blocking our relationship with God and clouding our ability to focus on Him, rather than our overwhelming situation.  That something is preventing God from the deliverance, help or guidance  that He wants to give us.  That thing, Pastor Noble’s words, “blocking your refreshment from the Lord”,is sin.  If that’s the case we need to identify it acknowledge it, confess it, and then repent.  
First though let’s get one thing straight.  Every overwhelming situation is not the result of sin.  In fact we have talked a lot about having very little control over what happens in our lives other than the we we think and where we decide to put our focus but sometimes, and if we’re honest, lots of times we get into situations because of our own actions and often those actions are actually disobedience to God which is sin.  We need to get rid of that thing blocking our refreshment because it is weighing us down.   We need to do what it says in  Hebrews 12:1 (HCSB)1  Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us,
Today may be a little difficult for some of us I know it was tough for me reading the chapters because much of it hit home and I actually had to do some confessing and repenting.  It’s one thing to know that we have sin in our lives but we need to realize how serious it is.  It’s a big deal and although God still loves us when we sin, it’s our love for Him that’s in question.   If we are not experiencing abundant life, joy, peace and fulfillment in Him we need to take a look at ourselves.  Repenting  is a “change of mind that brings about a change of behavior”.  We often say that we repent but we don’t really change our minds so we never change our behavior.  We know how to act around other believers but nothing really changes and we stay being overwhelmed.  That is not repenting.  lt’s saying I got caught and I’m sorry and I’ll try not to do it again.  It’s not a willful act of changing our mind about that thing which is the first step in a change of the behavior.
When we do acknowledge our sin confess and repent then we can experience that refreshment from God that  allows us to deal with being overwhelmed.  Remember when we studied 2 Corinthians and Paul talked about the fact that he rejoiced because of the hurt that was caused by his tough letter because it caused the church in Coring them to repent 2 Corinthians 7:10 (HCSB)10  For godly grief produces a repentance not to be regretted and leading to salvation, but worldly grief produces death.  
Now think now about what is biggest blockage or that sin in your life.  If you aren’t sure and want to know what it is  ask God and He will show it to you, and give you the opportunity to confess it and repent of it.
Let’s look at the Nebuchadnezzar's account, in his own words, of sin that God revealed to him.  He even told him what would happen if he didn’t repent.  We talked a little about this last week.
Go to Daniel 4.   Nebuchadnezzar has another one of his dreams and he has to get Daniel in to interpret it for him.  The dream is in Daniel 4:10-17 (HCSB)10  In the visions of my mind as I was lying in bed, I saw this: There was a tree in the middle of the earth, and its height was great.11  The tree grew large and strong; its top reached to the sky, and it was visible to the ends of the earth.12  Its leaves were beautiful, its fruit was abundant, and on it was food for all. Wild animals found shelter under it, the birds of the air lived in its branches, and every creature was fed from it.13  “As I was lying in my bed, I also saw in the visions of my mind an observer, a holy one, coming down from heaven.14  He called out loudly: Cut down the tree and chop off its branches; strip off its leaves and scatter its fruit. Let the animals flee from under it, and the birds from its branches.15  But leave the stump with its roots in the ground, and with a band of iron and bronze around it, in the tender grass of the field. Let him be drenched with dew from the sky and share the plants of the earth with the animals.16  Let his mind be changed from that of a man, and let him be given the mind of an animal for seven periods of time.17  This word is by decree of the observers; the matter is a command from the holy ones. This is so the living will know that the Most High is ruler over the kingdom of men. He gives it to anyone He wants and sets the lowliest of men over it.

Image credit. Nebuchadnezzar's dream of the tree from the
Ultimate Bible Picture Collection. Found on  used without modification

2.  What was the sin that God revealed to Nebuchadnezzar in the dream?

Here’s the interpretation that God gave Daniel for Nebuchadnezzar Daniel 4:19-26 (HCSB)19  Then Daniel, whose name is Belteshazzar, was stunned for a moment, and his thoughts alarmed him. The king said, “Belteshazzar, don’t let the dream or its interpretation alarm you.” Belteshazzar answered, “My lord, may the dream apply to those who hate you, and its interpretation to your enemies!20  The tree you saw, which grew large and strong, whose top reached to the sky and was visible to all the earth,21  whose leaves were beautiful and its fruit abundant—and on it was food for all, under it the wild animals lived, and in its branches the birds of the air lived—22  that tree is you, the king. For you have become great and strong: your greatness has grown and even reaches the sky, and your dominion ⌊extends⌋ to the ends of the earth.23  “The king saw an observer, a holy one, coming down from heaven and saying, ‘Cut down the tree and destroy it, but leave the stump with its roots in the ground and with a band of iron and bronze around it, in the tender grass of the field. Let him be drenched with dew from the sky, and share ⌊food⌋ with the wild animals for seven periods of time.’24  This is the interpretation, Your Majesty, and this is the sentence of the Most High that has been passed against my lord the king:25  You will be driven away from people to live with the wild animals. You will feed on grass like cattle and be drenched with dew from the sky for seven periods of time, until you acknowledge that the Most High is ruler over the kingdom of men, and He gives it to anyone He wants.26  As for the command to leave the tree’s stump with its roots, your kingdom will be restored to you as soon as you acknowledge that Heaven rules.  
That he was full of pride, a sin, and that it was going to cause him to have big problems in the future.  But God is good and He gave Nebuchadnezzar the chance to repent didn’t he?
3.  What could he have done to avoid the consequences?
He could repent! Daniel 4:27 (HCSB)27  Therefore, may my advice seem good to you my king. Separate yourself from your sins by doing what is right, and from your injustices by showing mercy to the needy. Perhaps there will be an extension of your prosperity.”
God was giving him a chance like he does us.  He gives us chance after chance after chance by showing us where we fall short. He does that because he loves us.  He doesn’t condemn us because the Bible says for believers in Romans 8:1 (HCSB)1  Therefore, no condemnation now exists for those in Christ Jesus,.  But in order to be refreshed we must repent and have that change of mind that leads to a change of behavior.
4.  He revealed to Nebuchadnezzar that he had a sin problem and what would happen if he didn’t repent but he didn’t repent so what happened?
Daniel 4:28-33 (HCSB)28  All this happened to King Nebuchadnezzar.29  At the end of 12 months, as he was walking on the roof of the royal palace in Babylon,30  the king exclaimed, “Is this not Babylon the Great that I have built by my vast power to be a royal residence and to display my majestic glory?”31  While the words were still in the king’s mouth, a voice came from heaven: “King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is declared that the kingdom has departed from you.32  You will be driven away from people to live with the wild animals, and you will feed on grass like cattle for seven periods of time, until you acknowledge that the Most High is ruler over the kingdom of men, and He gives it to anyone He wants.”33  At that moment the sentence against Nebuchadnezzar was executed. He was driven away from people. He ate grass like cattle, and his body was drenched with dew from the sky, until his hair grew like eagles’ ⌊feathers⌋ and his nails like birds’ ⌊claws⌋.  
Talk about an overwhelming circumstance and situation resulting from sin WOW!!!
5.  Verse 25 indicates that Nebuchadnezzar would be insane for 7 years until he finally did what?
He repented!   Daniel 4:34-37 (HCSB)34  But at the end of those days, I, Nebuchadnezzar, looked up to heaven, and my sanity returned to me. Then I praised the Most High and honored and glorified Him who lives forever: For His dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His kingdom is from generation to generation.35  All the inhabitants of the earth are counted as nothing, and He does what He wants with the army of heaven and the inhabitants of the earth. There is no one who can hold back His hand or say to Him, “What have You done?”36  At that time my sanity returned to me, and my majesty and splendor returned to me for the glory of my kingdom. My advisers and my nobles sought me out, I was reestablished over my kingdom, and even more greatness came to me.37  Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise, exalt, and glorify the King of heaven, because all His works are true and His ways are just. He is able to humble those who walk in pride.  
After he repented Nebuchadnezzar was in a better place and we will be when we repent.  Our minds will be clear our relationship with God will be restored and we will receive that refreshment from God.

What’s Your One Thing?

We all have more than one thing that we need to deal with in our lives.  But there is probably one big thing   that  competes with our focus on God.   Something that we really struggle with maybe a habit of some kind.   You don’t have to tell us but we all  need to identify and deal with whatever it is.  
An example in scripture of Jesus revealing something that was competing for the focus on God was the conversation with a young ruler who had a question of Jesus.
Go to Luke 18:18-23 (HCSB)18  A ruler asked Him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”19  “Why do you call Me good?” Jesus asked him. “No one is good but One—God.20  You know the commandments: Do not commit adultery; do not murder; do not steal; do not bear false witness; honor your father and mother.”21  “I have kept all these from my youth,” he said.22  When Jesus heard this, He told him, “You still lack one thing: Sell all that you have and distribute it to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow Me.”23  After he heard this, he became extremely sad, because he was very rich.  
The young ruler in Luke 18 must have realized there was something missing because even though he was obeying all of the law of Moses he asked what he needed to to be be saved. Jesus identified his one thing but he didn’t deal with it.  When God reveals   our one thing we should deal with it by confessing and repenting.
Before talking about some of the most common sins that keep us from the refreshment of God that Jesus wants us to have Pastor Noble says something that I want us all to think about.
“We will never overcome our feelings of anxiety and experience times of refreshment until we deal head-on with the sin that is holding us captive”
We are going to look at some common sins that prevent us from the refreshment that Christ desires for us.
6.  What are they?
Sex, Greed, and Unforgiveness!  This may be tough of some of us.  It was for me but let’s get into it.
Sin Struggle #1:  Sex
7.  Why do you think that the church, in general, doesn't talk about sex?
God doesn’t shy away of it because there is a lot of it in the Bible.  It is how man was to fill the earth.  When the Bible talks about a man knowing a woman most times its a reference to sex.  Genesis 4:1 (KJV)1  And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD.
The Bible indicates that God’s view of sex, the right way, is in marriage. Hebrews 13:4 (HCSB) 4  Marriage must be respected by all, and the marriage bed kept undefiled, because God will judge immoral people and adulterers. Genesis 2:24 (HCSB) 24  This is why a man leaves his father and mother and bonds with his wife, and they become one flesh.  and it is to be between a man and a woman.
If it’s outside those boundaries there are problems and the way I read the bible everything outside of marriage is outside those boundaries.  Remember the problems David’s adultery created.  Remember one of the big issues in the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah?  In fact the term sodomize comes from the name of the town.  When the angels with to Lot’s house they had to blind the guys at the door because they wanted to have sex with who they thought were men. Genesis 19:5 (HCSB)5  They called out to Lot and said, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Send them out to us so we can have sex with them!”   Paul talks a lot about sexual immorality in his letters to the early churches because he saw it as a big problem.
8. So what’s the big problem with sex?  
We get pleasure from it and we become selfish because of the pleasure it brings.   Because we are selfish we are interested in satisfying ourselves at almost any cost.  The problems with sexual immorality can cause tremendous with stress and anxiety.   It is outside the will of God for us as believers and it will destroy our witness.  If we say that we don’t want to block that relationship that allows us to deal with being overwhelmed then we need to stop sexual sin.

A Surefire Way to Kill the Work of God in Your Life

9.  How do we know God’s will when it comes to sexual sin?
It’s in the Bible.  If it’s in the Bible then it is God’s will when He says it is His will.                             1 Thessalonians 4:3-5 (HCSB)3  For this is God’s will, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality,4  so that each of you knows how to control his own body in sanctification and honor,5  not with lustful desires, like the Gentiles who don’t know God.
10.  What is so bad about sexual sin?
It is a sin against our own bodies 1 Corinthians 6:18-20 (HCSB)18  Run from sexual immorality! “Every sin a person can commit is outside the body.” On the contrary, the person who is sexually immoral sins against his own body.19  Don’t you know that your body is a sanctuary of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God? You are not your own,20  for you were bought at a price. Therefore glorify God in your body.
So we have to learn self-control which is a fruit of the Spirit, Galatians 5:22-23 (NKJV)22  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,23  gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.  
We need to exercise self-control so we can do what it says in 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5 (HCSB)3  For this is God’s will, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality,4  so that each of you knows how to control his own body in sanctification and honor,5  not with lustful desires, like the Gentiles who don’t know God.
Maintaining sexual purity is very hard and can be overwhelming unless we can get our focus onto God and His will for us.  Pastor Noble talks about his struggles with pronography.   You may have or have had to struggle in this area.  In my times I had to struggle with sexual immorality and it nearly destroyed my marriage.  Those were very stressful and overwhelming times full of anxiety.  Both men and women have struggles and we have to understand that we need to exercise the self-control that is the fruit of the Spirit which stems from love.

Living a Holy Life

11.  Because of our sin nature sexual purity doesn’t come naturally so how do we win the battle against sexual sin?
We have the Holy Spirit and we must call on Him to help us live a holy life one that’s acceptable to God.  1 Thessalonians 4:7-8 (HCSB)7  For God has not called us to impurity but to sanctification.8  Therefore, the person who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who also gives you His Holy Spirit.   
Our souls and rewards are at stake.
Sin Struggle #2 Greed
12.  Do you struggle with greed?  If so is anybody comfortable in sharing?
I don’t have a greed problem for stuff but my problem is with my time.  I am greedy for time that want to do what I want to do.  Much like Pastor Noble and his love of NBA playoff and the and Lakers.   In his  example his wanting to watch every second of the  Lakers’ NBA playoff game at the expense of stopping to buy some milk for his wife casued a stressful evening at home.   
13.  What’s so bad about greed?  
When it is out of control the focus is on what we have or what we don’t have and want.  When our focus is there we become overwhelmed with getting more or keeping all that we have. Here is what Solomon, a very wise man, said in Proverbs 15:27 (NKJV) 27  He who is greedy for gain troubles his own house, But he who hates bribes will live.”   Having more of what we already have doesn’t make us less overwhelmed.  
14.  What are some of the forms of greed?
A selfish desire for attention, having our own way, more stuff, and the big one, money.  If our focus is on getting more and more, and let’s use money as the example because Jesus used it in, Matthew 6:24 (HCSB)24  “No one can be a slave of two masters, since either he will hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other.”  What Jesus is saying is that you cannot be slaves of God and of money it’s one or the other but not both..  
We have all heard this one many times 1 Timothy 6:10 (HCSB)10  For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and by craving it, some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains.   We can change the word from money to attention, to having our own way, to other things that we are obsessed with.
15.  Since we can’t really be devoted to or a slave to two things if we are greedy then our focus can’t be and isn’t on God.  Where have we been saying over and over about where our focus should be in order for us to win the war against worry?
Here is how destructive greed can be not only to you but to your family and even to your community.  A man who disobeyed a direct command from God to not take any spoil from Jericho after the walls fell down and the Israel  destroyed the city and killed everybody but  Rehab and her family caused big problems for all of these.  Here was the command  Joshua 6:18-19 (HCSB)18  But keep yourselves from the things set apart, or you will be set apart for destruction. If you take any of those things, you will set apart the camp of Israel for destruction and bring disaster on it.19  For all the silver and gold, and the articles of bronze and iron, are dedicated to the LORD and must go into the LORD’s treasury.”
16.  Well there was a guy by the name of Achan who was greedy and his greed caused what to happen?
He caused the defeat of the Israelite army in their next battle.Joshua 7:1-5 (HCSB)1  The Israelites, however, were unfaithful regarding the things set apart for destruction. Achan son of Carmi, son of Zabdi, son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took some of what was set apart, and the LORD’s anger burned against the Israelites.2  Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is near Beth-aven, east of Bethel, and told them, “Go up and scout the land.” So the men went up and scouted Ai.3  After returning to Joshua they reported to him, “Don’t send all the people, but send about 2,000 or 3,000 men to attack Ai. Since the people of Ai are so few, don’t wear out all our people there.”4  So about 3,000 men went up there, but they fled from the men of Ai.5  The men of Ai struck down about 36 of them and chased them from outside the gate to the quarries, striking them down on the descent. As a result, the people’s hearts melted and became like water.  
In trying to figure out what happened God told Joshua to get up and follow His directions and he would find out what happened.  Somebody took some of the stuff that was to go into the Lord’s treasury, in other words somebody was greedy.  You should read the entire seventh chapter but for the sake of time Joshua and all the people found out that it was Achan’s greed that caused all the problems and here’s what happened to greedy Achan. Joshua 7:25-26 (HCSB)25  Joshua said, “Why have you troubled us? Today the LORD will trouble you!” So all Israel stoned them to death. They burned their bodies, threw stones on them,26  and raised over him a large pile of rocks that remains to this day. Then the LORD turned from His burning anger. Therefore that place is called the Valley of Achor to this day.
So you see how destructive greed can be.  Here is how greed for money and stuff progresses using Joshua 7:21 as our example Joshua 7:21 (HCSB)21  When I saw among the spoils a beautiful cloak from Babylon, 200 silver shekels, and a bar of gold weighing 50 shekels, I coveted them and took them. You can see for yourself. They are concealed in the ground inside my tent, with the money under the cloak.”
First he Saw - When I saw among the spoils a beautiful cloak from Babylon, 200 silver shekels, and a bar of gold weighing 50 shekels, We already have what we need but we see a newer one, a different kind than the one we have, a faster one and the Marketing Industry knows exactly what to say to us, if you don’t have this new one you will be the laughing stock of your friends, or you will not get a great boyfriend or girlfriend or spouse, or your life will be horrible without it.
He Wanted - I coveted them If we keep looking and thinking about something that we don’t need we can generate a great desire for it.  Then we are heading for trouble.The more you think the more you want.  You start trying to figure out ways to get it to rationalize so that you have to have it almost to the extent no matter the cost I have to have it.  When we get there greed is at it’s most intense state then
I took - and took them.Then you are reached to place of no return.  Greed now has you in it’s clutches.  

The Destructive Path of Greed

You will do anything now to get what it.  If you can afford it then while there may be stress because your family for any number of reasons it’s not nearly as bad as when your greed causes you to go into debt to get it.  Now I realize that all of us have been in debt, or in debt now.  Debt itself is not a sin but debt can create a lot of stress and feelings of being overwhelmed the Bible says this about debt Proverbs 22:7 (HCSB)7  The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is a slave to the lender.   
When greed takes over we are then out of control because our focus isn’t on God and we do things that sometimes, no most times, hurt us and our loved ones.   Debt caused by greed can do that but we have to work on it and work it out with God’s help.  This is one of those things that we have to pray that God takes us through not out of.  Becoming debt free doesn’t just happen.  Pastor talks about debt cancellation but that doesn’t mean that God will just cancel out the debt the miracle would be somebody paying the debt.  If you’re in debt then work hard to get out of debt.  Ruth and I are out of debt and although we have been tempted to buy things that we couldn’t pay for in cash we have resisted with the help of the Holy Spirit.  We just wait  until we saved enough to do it.   There’s self-control again.   We have been through very very stressful times because of debt, on more than one occasion and to be out of it frees you.  
There are times that debt may be absolutely necessary.  Unexpected medical expenses, of something breaking in your house that you really need.  Some debt is even good.  If you go into debt to purchase something that appreciates in value that debt is not bad debt because the value keeps going up even as the debt goes down and probably at a faster rate.  I’m not talking about this kind of debt but even with this kind of debt what it says in Proverbs is still true and the borrower is slave to the lender so get out as soon as possible.  But what we’re talking about today is the debt that comes from greed.
Sin Struggle #3:  Unforgiveness
We have all had somebody do something to us that we had a hard time forgiving or we actually haven’t forgiven.  Unforgiveness is a real struggle and we know it is a sin.  Jesus says that if we don’t forgive we can’t be or won’t be forgiven by God. Matthew 6:14-15 (HCSB)14  “For if you forgive people their wrongdoing, your heavenly Father will forgive you as well.15  But if you don’t forgive people, your Father will not forgive your wrongdoing.  Sometimes people do things unknowingly and it’s easier to forgive them
17 But what if the person that did whatever it was did it intentionally knowing that it would impact you negatively?
It may be something that will affect you for the rest of your life.  How can we ever forgive?  Well we have to because of what we just read.
18.  Rather than forgiving them we actually want to get even don’t we?  
19.  Have you ever prayed that God would punish somebody for what they did to you?
It appears that David did in Psalm 3:7 (HCSB)7  Rise up, LORD! Save me, my God! You strike all my enemies on the cheek;, You break the teeth of the wicked. and in other places.  Pastor Noble uses this verse in the book.
I’m not sure that this is really what David is asking for here it may in fact be recalling something that God had already done or he may be doing something called prophetic perfect which is when something was absolutely going to happen in the future, it is often spoken of as if it had already occurred in the past.  That’s not important but it does sound like David is praying that God do something to avenge him. Have you ever prayed like that?

A Dreamer’s Tale of Forgiveness

The example that Pastor Noble gives of forgiveness is Joseph’s forgiveness of his brothers.  Now his brothers may have had reasons to resent Joseph.   First of all he was their father’s favorite evidence by this coat they talk about in the Bible.  Then he tell them this dream that he has where they will be bowing down to him and he was a snitch.  All of this is in Genesis 37.  They finally decide to kill him but his oldest brother talks them out of it and he ends up getting sold to some folk on the way to Egypt.  Anyway after many years and lots of issues Joseph ends up the number two man in Egypt and his brothers and his whole family need him so that they can survive.  
After all he went through being sold as a slave, being thrown in prison for something he didn’t do all because his brothers sold him.  What an overwhelming circumstance.  When he saw his brothers many years later he didn’t pay them back although he had all the ability and power to do it.   I like to think that he forgave them long before he saw them again because God blessed him even though he was in less than ideal conditions and God gave him extraordinary wisdom and abilities.  I don’t think that God would have done that if there was unforgiveness in Joseph.  The bible doesn’t ever say that Joseph forgave them but it is apparent to me that he did.
Let me tell you something that I didn’t realize until I was putting this study together.  Joseph’s brother’s didn’t ask forgiveness until after Jacob died and they were afraid that Joseph would repay them somehow for what they did to him.  They obviously didn’t think that Joseph had forgiven them. Go to Genesis 50:15-21 (HCSB)15  When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said to one another, “If Joseph is holding a grudge against us, he will certainly repay us for all the suffering we caused him.”16  So they sent this message to Joseph, “Before he died your father gave a command:17  ‘Say this to Joseph: Please forgive your brothers’ transgression and their sin—the suffering they caused you.’ Therefore, please forgive the transgression of the servants of the God of your father.” Joseph wept when their message came to him.18  Then his brothers also came to him, bowed down before him, and said, “We are your slaves!”19  But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God?20  You planned evil against me; God planned it for good to bring about the present result—the survival of many people.21  Therefore don’t be afraid. I will take care of you and your little ones.” And he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.  
19. This brings me to a very important question have you not forgiven someone who wronged you because they haven’t asked for forgiveness?
Really think about it because if there is it may just be the thing blocking your refreshment for God.  Just to be sure ask God if there is anybody in your life that you haven’t forgiven.  If He shows you that there is then forgive that person right away.  If you need to ask God to help you forgive them then do it but by all means forgive them so that you can be forgiven and take away that blockage.

The real Victim of Unforgiveness

20.  Who is the real victim of unforgiveness and why?
The person who won’t forgive is the real victim.  We want to be forgiven for stuff we have done because we rationalize that we really didn’t mean it or what happened was the result of a bad decision, so of course we should be forgiven.  How arrogant of us to feel this way and then we not forgive.
Here is what Pastor Noble says about unforgiveness “Withholding forgiveness does not hurt ‘them’ it hurts you.  Withholding forgiveness is like drinking poison and expecting it to kill the person who hurt you.  Withholding forgiveness puts a barrier between you and the blessings of God.  Withholding forgiveness overwhelms you with feelings that the human body was not designed to sustain.
When someone hurts us it does hurt and some things are almost too horrible to bear.  Things  like being raped or molested, someone stealing from you, a spouse or good friend betraying you, someone spreading lies about you.  These are horrible things and some of them will always affect us.  But we don’t have any choice but to forgive because Jesus commanded us to forgive and He gave us an example.

Being Released from the Prison of Unforgiveness

21.  What was the example of forgiveness that Jesus gave us?
He was betrayed by a friend, He was arrested on false charges, He was beaten, made fun of, and finally crucified.  But what did he say Luke 23:34 (HCSB)34  Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, because they do not know what they are doing.”] ….  They didn’t deserve forgiveness and we didn’t deserve forgiveness but God through Jesus and forgave us when we didn’t deserve it and he continues to forgive us.  Here is a great quote from his book “Forgiveness is like putting a key in a prison door to release someone else, only to discover that the person you are releasing is yourself.
We have talked about three common things that people struggle with that cause us to be overwhelmed, sexual sin, greed, and unforgiveness.  There are many others that cause us to miss out God’s refreshing presence.   What we have to do is repent, change our mind which will lead to a change in our behavior and we can walk away from those things.  It’s not easy but we have to do it.  When we give up something that God wants us to give up then He will give us something even better.

Next week, Chapters 22-25