READ: Genesis -50
THINK: Do you have difficulty letting things go? Whether it's your own failures or others' offenses, what's done is done. As a follower of Jesus, you'll never fulfill your potential if you're clinging to the past. With God's help, you can break the cycle of hurt, bitterness, regret-or simple complacency-so you can become all that God intends. Joseph was a prime example of someone who let go and let God have His way. Though Joseph's brothers didn't deserve it, Joseph extended mercy and forgiveness, just as Jesus forgives us when we ask. Now, He expects us to extend mercy to others. If we hold on to pain or unforgiveness, we allow people or things in our past to obstruct our future.
RESPOND: Were the blessings and prophecies Jacob pronounced over his children unchangeable? Why or why not? (See :1 note.) What does this account tell us about how past actions can affect our future opportunities? How do the actions and experience of Reuben, the oldest son, serve as an example of how a person's character and behavior can affect godly leadership opportunities? (See :4 note.) How can an individual break the "curse" or cycle of consequences stemming from his or her family's past sins? (See :7 note.) Although Judah also had significant failures in his past (cf. ch. 38), why did he receive the blessing ordinarily given to the firstborn, including a prominent place in God's plan (cf. 43:8-10)? (See :10 note.) What hope and encouragement does this give you personally? What can we learn from Joseph's example about the process of grieving over loved ones who pass away? (See 50:1 note.) After Jacob's death, why were Joseph's brothers still afraid that Joseph would seek revenge? What did Joseph's response reveal about his character and perspective on life (cf. 50:20-21)? How did Joseph's attitude toward his brothers resemble Jesus' attitude toward us?
PRAY: Ask God to help you make wise decisions now that will keep your opportunities open in the future. Thank Him for His forgiveness, which allows you to accomplish God's purposes despite your past mistakes. Pray that God helps you develop a heart of grace, compassion and forgiveness toward those who wrong you.
ACT: Don't let past problems or failures keep you from pursuing God's best. Consider the hurts or challenges you're facing. Perhaps you feel isolated at school. Maybe you've been betrayed by a friend or family member. Or maybe you're dealing with some other injustice that's beyond your control. None of these things separate you from God's love (Romans 8:35-39). No amount of pain can prevent His purposes. So don't cling to hurts or hold grudges. Like Joseph, be diligent, rely on God to make the best of every situation, and trust that His plans will prevail.
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