Summary: We're going to look at the story of Joseph & see how God used him to save a nation & to heal his fragmented family. (PowerPoints available - #125)



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ILL. In 1910, Japan invaded Korea. For the next 35 years they treated the Koreans with a terrible brutality. Christians were particularly singled out for persecution. Missionaries were expelled; Christian leaders were killed or jailed; & preachers were ordered to stop holding church services.

But one village preacher pleaded with the local Japanese commandant for permission for the Christians to meet. Finally, the officer agreed to unlock the church building - but for just one service, & one service only.

Long before dawn Korean families began making their way to the church building. They had to walk past the staring eyes of Japanese soldiers, but nothing was going to steal their joy. For a few hours they were going to shut out the cares of oppression & join together in praise & prayer to their Lord.

The Korean church has always had a reputation as a singing church, & this congregation was no exception. The sound of their songs filled the sanctuary & spilled out through the open windows for all to hear.

Japanese soldiers standing outside the church building, Korean peasants working in the fields nearby - all could plainly hear the songs the congregation was singing.

It was while they were singing "Nearer My God To Thee" that the Japanese officer gave the order. The people in the church could hear the soldiers barricading the doors, but no one inside realized they were dousing the church with kerosene until the wooden frame building was ignited, & flames began to engulf the walls.

There was an immediate rush for the windows. But hope turned to horror as the people climbing out the windows fell back in – their bodies ripped by a hail of bullets. The preacher knew it was the end. They had been set up to be killed.

Then he began to sing. It was the hymn, "At the Cross," & the first few words were all the prompting the terrified worshippers needed. With smoke burning their eyes, they instantly joined in as one to sing, & their song became an eternal testimony to the horrified & helpless witnesses in the fields outside.

"Alas! And did my Savior bleed? And did my Sovereign die? Would He devote His sacred head for such a one as I?"

And as the roof collapsed they were singing the last verse, "But drops of grief can ne'er repay the debt of love I owe. Here, Lord, I give myself away. 'Tis all that I can do! At the cross, at the cross, where I first saw the light, & the burden of my heart rolled away…"

Then the music & wails of children were lost in a roar of flames, & the souls who left this world singing surely finished their chorus in the throne room of God.

Clearing away the remains & rubble didn't take long, but erasing the hatred seemed impossible. For some of the relatives the cruelty was just too much. Evil had stooped to a new low & there seemed no way to erase their bitterness toward the Japanese.

In the years that followed their bitterness was passed on to the next generation. Even after the Japanese were defeated, & Korea freed, their hatred remained. And the monument the Koreans built there not only memorialized the people who died, but stood as a constant reminder of their bitterness & pain.

APPL. Maybe you have felt bitterness, too. Maybe hurt engulfed you when your integrity was destroyed by a series of lies. Maybe hatred began to grow when someone made promises to you that he or she never intended to keep.

I could spend all my time this morning painting portraits of hatred, envy, & bitterness. And if I were to do that, we could probably see ourselves in at least one of the portraits. But harboring hatred can paralyze us.

However, a spirit of forgiveness can heal fragmented families & friendships. Forgiveness allows Almighty God to mend tattered & torn relationships.

Forgiveness will cause us to speak words like "I'm sorry," "Will you forgive me?" & "I forgive you," rather than "I told you so," "I could never forgive her for that," & "I hope he gets what's coming to him."

You see, we need to learn the lesson of forgiveness in order to experience freedom rather than imprisonment, life rather than death, & forgiveness rather than bitterness.

PROP. So this morning we're going to look at the story of Joseph & see how God used him to save a nation & to heal his fragmented family.

A. As you already know, Joseph was Jacob's favorite son. He had made Joseph a very special coat & given him preferential treatment which didn't set well with his older brothers. And to make matters worse, Joseph didn't suffer from low self-esteem at all.

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