The Thing About Forgiveness that Kills

When the first missionaries came to Alberta, Canada, they were savagely opposed by a young chief of the Cree Indians named Maskepetoon. But he responded to the gospel and accepted Christ. Shortly afterward, a member of the Blackfoot tribe killed his father. Maskepetoon rode into the village where the murderer lived and demanded that he be brought before him. Confronting the guilty man, he said, “You have killed my father, so now you must be my father. You shall ride my best horse and wear my best clothes.” In utter amazement and remorse his enemy exclaimed, “My son, now you have killed me!” He meant, of course, that the hate in his own heart had been completely erased by the forgiveness and kindness of the Indian chief.

Today in the Word, November 10, 1993.

Two Takeaways on Forgiveness from the Life of Joseph, Part 3

I can’t help but think about Joseph and what he went through with his brothers. I know he was kind of asking for it. They were already jealous of Joseph and he steps on their short end of the stick mentality and tells them he had a dream that they would all bow down to him, not to mention the lavish coat of many colors his dad gave him. The coat probably meant that Joseph got out of some the farm work that his brothers had to do. I can imagine it being a little difficult to work in a coat/robe like Joseph’s.

The brothers enraged sell him into slavery and Joseph eventually finds himself in the hands of Egyptians. His relieved brothers tell his father Jacob that Joseph is dead.

“Were finished with our wistful brother, he’s gone for good!”, they might have said.

You might think some challenges you have with a difficult person or persons that there is no end in sight. You can’t see past the circumstance. Joseph would spend the next several years of his life either as a slave or in incarceration. I can only image there were days where Joseph couldn’t see past his issues with his brothers and where it put him in life.

After Joseph was sold into slavery in Egypt he became very successful in household of an Egyptian official named Potiphar. The Lord blessed the household because of Joseph. We know the story Potiphar’s wife would seduce him day after day to lie with her, but he honors the Lord and rejects her invitation. He says in Genesis 39: 9 “How can I do this great wickedness and sin against God.”

One day she made another invite this time grabbing him by his garment, she pulls of the garment and he runs away, meanwhile Potiphar’s wife accuses Joseph of trying to overtake her

Joseph ends up in the slammer for this!

But even though Joseph couldn’t see it, God was going to do some great things through Joseph. We see riddled throughout the Joseph narrative a reminder the Lord was with him. One clue of God’s protection as Chuck Swindoll mentions was that Potiphar was thought to be an Egyptian executioner. Joseph’s life could have ended with this incident simply because of the office Potiphar held.

Another sign of God’s sovereignty was that God had to do some things in Joseph’s heart before being released from prison and being used of God!

Joseph had interpreted some dreams for some of Pharaohs officials. They soon were released but Joseph remained. He would stay there for another 24 months. But those 24 months would be a game changer for his heart.

As R.T Kendall in his book Total Forgiveness points out, could Joseph be reeling with a little bit of self pity and self righteousness? Is it possible that God needed to work on his heart before the Lord elevated Joseph to a place of influence? If Joseph’s eventual interaction with his brothers took place at this point, would we have seen a gracious and redemptive response? I believe God had more heart surgery to perform on the man he was going to use mightily.

After Josephs release from prison. Joseph interpreted a dream for Pharaoh. Pharaoh, looked with such favor on Joseph that he became the governor or prince of Egypt.

God was using all that happened to Joseph to do something good. He was lied about, plotted against, used for monetary gain and thrown in jail. Seemed like his life was a waist, but God was with him.

Now back home Josephs brothers had run out of food. They came to Egypt where Joseph oversaw the storing of food. Egypt was there last straw if they didn’t go to Egypt they would starve to death. They came and knelt before Joseph, not recognizing him, but Joseph cried, “It’s me!” when they saw this prince of Egypt was Joseph his brothers were afraid. They had wronged Joseph, They had sinned and they knew it! Joseph had the power to destroy them

His heart that they had broken filled up with love and Joseph forgave them. Joseph threw his arms around them.

He said something like this in Genesis 50:20, “All that you did to me, to harm me and destroy my life God used it for good.”  Joseph invited his family to come and live with him in Egypt.

God redeemed something terrible into a blessing.

–          He saved the family that would eventually bear the Savior of the world

–          He redeemed relationships

–          He blessed and elevated Joseph to a place of influence

The challenge was made to me, “Don’t remain to long in the prison of bitterness, resentment, un-forgiveness.”

How can we break free from the prison of these feelings towards others that we just can’t break?  (See the previous blogs where the challenge was made to continuously thank God for the person or persons who are causing you to feel resentment, practice praying blessing over your enemy and find creative ways to bless your enemy)

More steps to breakthrough in forgiving your enemies that I found in in the life of Joseph are:

  1. Learn to let go of the self pity. Stop pushing the blame. End your fixation on their problem. Josephs additional 24 month stay in prison I believe God was on the move to change his heart. Do you find yourself in an endless cycle of feeling sorry for yourself because of what someone did? Can we trust that God’s sovereignty is using something bitter in your life to bring about growth? It was in Joseph’s life. Let’s aggressively seek the Lord to help us be removed from this dark place so that blessing can await!


  1. Don’t punish your enemies, by gossiping about them. Speak only what is necessary, Speak only what is helpful. Compliment them in front of others. In Josephs meeting with his brothers in Genesis 45, Joseph before his brothers ask his attendants to leave the room. Could it be that Joseph doesn’t want to punish his enemies by refusing to let anyone know about what his brothers had done to him? How willing are we to keep hush about the hurtful things people to do to us? Is it really necessary that others know, is it helpful that others are aware of my plight with this person? A good daily prayer over those who wreak havoc over you is, “Lord don’t treat them like their sins deserve.”

Lord by your Spirit use these steps to help us break the resentment over our lives!

Two More Steps to Breaking Free With Forgiveness, Part 2

Do you ever find yourself in a ugly pattern of forgiving someone and then become resentful all over again because of the way that person rubs you wrong?

Is there any hope and freedom for the Jesus follower that lives day and day out with a ‘EGR’ (Extra Grace Required) person as described by Rick Warren? 

Yesterday, I shared the first step to begin to break free from this ugly cycle. Disciplining yourself to thank the Lord repeatedly for this person in detail can remove you from wrath to mercy. 

Lets look at two more:

Pray blessing over this person: A pieces of  prayers I have said, “Lord I pray no one finds out, Lord don’t treat them like their sins deserve, Lord don’t hold it against them, Lord bless them with some extra money for ice cream today, give them joy in their marriage, give them satisfaction in their work. Give them a word of encouragement from a friend.”

Romans 12:14-21 tells us to, “bless those who persecute you. Bless and do not curse.”

Jesus says in Luke 6

27 “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.

35 But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. 36 Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.

Praying good things over the person you are aggrieved by will gravitate you towards a heart lined up with God’s love for them. The more you thoughtfully pray blessing over a person the more freedom you will experience.

Be creative at performing acts of blessing:

–          Try giving gifts (you might want to do this anonymously) Amazon served as great conduit of kindness for me .  A simple Amazon gift card in their inbox meant God was answering my prayer of blessing through my own act of obedience.

–          Cookies at the door

–          Anonymous note in the mail that encourages them

–          Send a text message, telling them you are praying for them. I can remember struggling with an individual who was going to be helping at a ministry later that afternoon. I dreaded the contact I would have with them just a few hours away. I believe at that time the Lord was leading me to send the person a text message, telling them I am praying for them, which I ended up doing. I felt a significant release of bitter feelings, that was replaced with an attitude of mercy.

– Any more? Send me some of your ideas

Succeeding at forgiveness, means doing the things daily that help my heart break free from the chains of unforgiveness.

More steps to come, stay tuned!

Steps to Really Break the Grip of Unforgiveness, Part 1

We love eating eggs in our house on any given morning in the Hoyt household! The hard work comes after breakfast is finished and we have egg to scrape off the pan. If we don’t use oil on our old cast iron skillet the eggs stick! It really isn’t much fun to clean off egg with a wimpy wash cloth, we need something potent like those stainless steal pads you can buy at Walmart to more effectively scrape off egg residue that sticks. .

We all will struggle with people who are hard to forgive. We get resentful, we get bitter, we act in anger over them. We confess these struggles to the Lord, we seek his help in getting rid of these negative feelings we have towards these people, but our struggle with these people just stick to our very core and can be hard to scour out of our lives.

One day I protested to God, “All I want is freedom from being resentful. I want  release from the feelings surrounding this person. I feel in bondage, all day I can’t get this person off my mind. It is overtaking me, Lord by your Spirit break the grip of this relational strife that keeps me from breaking away.”

I was having a difficult time working through some hard feelings with someone in the ministry. My friend David Sanford, who is a 80 plus year old missionary, came to the rescue during one of our many coffee chats at a local Panera Bread! We met many times during the months I was struggling. One challenge he made that really helped me begin to chip away at the negative, resentful cling was to repetitiously tell the Lord, ‘thank you for bringing this person into my life’. I had to believe Jesus allowed this person to enter into my space because God was using that person to form me into the image of Christ.

I took the challenge, though not easily but not only did I begin to feel freedom from my resentment, but I found out there was a couple of assets the individual brought to the table that I began to be grateful for.

A Grip Breaking Step – Repeatedly and in detail thank the Lord for the People who make Life the hardest.

Stay Tuned for more steps!


The Art of Letting Go!

This blog is a copy of a sermon I just preached to the church that I had the lead role in planting back in 2013. The sermon entitled, ‘Letting Go’ was my last as the lead pastor of InFaith Community Church. One of the goals my wife, Danae and I have as missionaries with InFaith is to hand off the ministries that we have started to qualified individuals who are ready to embrace the call of God. The handing off of ministries is never easy, there are a few that the Lord has allowed us to take more of a long term lead role in, but there are those the Lord has prepared someone else the opportunity to lead. It is imperative that we be sensitive to the Lord’s leading in that we learn to keep our hands open and un-clenched to whatever the Lord wants to do. 

Elijah in the 800’s B.C (whose name means Yahweh is God) was used by God as a prophet in a time when the worship of Baal was King, and it looked as though allegiance to God was all but extinguished until God used Elijah through signs and wonders to declare who the true God is.

Eljiah was in the ministry, he had needs, he was on the run from Jezebel. God had provided for his needs in a drought, a famine, where there was little food. God had commanded Ravens to feed Elijah bread and meat. He drank from a brook where he was hiding out.

In 1 Kings 17, verse 9 we read, ‘The brook dried up God sent him to a widow in the city of Zarephath, the heart of Baal worship. Elijah hungry, thirsty and he ask the women for water, as she goes and gets the water he ask her for a morsel of bread.

She declares to Elijah, “I have nothing baked only a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug and now I am going to gather some sticks that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son that we may eat it and die.”

And Elijah said to her, “Do not fear and do as you have said, but first make me a little cake of it and bring it to me and afterward make something for yourself and your son.”

She did it! She didn’t know who Elijah was, but she trusted the Lord. Perhaps she had been praying for God to intervene because of the drought.  God was going to provide for this women and son. The scripture says, the jar of flour and the jug of oil was not spent for many days until the end of the famine.

The women let go of the only security she had a little flour and a little oil. That’s it. No hope of the famine ending, no hope of retrieving any more food- She used the last of her resources, her lifeline, to feed the prophet Elijah.

She let go-

She learned to un-clenched her fist

She released her false security to the Lord/ Anything outside of Jesus is a false security!

And guess what the Lord miraculously provided for her all the oil and flour she needed till the end of the famine. God in His infinite love and mercy may choose to strip us of all of our security in order that He might show us what is really secure!

Tonight I want to challenge you to let go:

I have heard it said the things that you can’t let go of are idols to you!

It could be a position

Your children

Your spouse

Your parents

Your home

Your investments

Your comfort

I love my children! And yes, they are under my care. I am responsible for them. I love them! But whose are they really?  They are the Lords. I will walk down the isle one day and offer up my daughter to her husband.

My money! Whose is it really? Not mine, I am just a manager, steward of it. Can I daily offer my finances to the Lord?

This position of being lead pastor ends tonight. The Lord gave me this responsibility for a while, I accepted it. So many in ministry hold on too tightly to their positions. They are territorial. They won’t let go! Ministries have to die, churches have to burn down before they finally say, OK! I let go!

Two weekends ago I attended an InFaith area Fellowship. I shared with those in attendance what God was doing and that we were handing off the leadership to some local, qualified men. They told me, “nobody does that!”

The Lord has reminded me so often. This is not your movement, Jeremy. This is what I am doing in this community. Learn to let go.

No one owns any area of service? Troy (worship leader) you do a great job of leading songs, but one day there will come along someone with the passion you have and the ability you have and the desire to lead. You will hand off the baton of worship leading?

You don’t own your area of service! Learn to encourage others to take on that role.

I was a youth pastor in Indiana before coming here to Colorado. I met with a gentlemen every Thursday morning about 6 for prayer and accountability. He was a leader in the church and he must have detected a little bit of arrogance on my part or something. He told me and I will never forget what he said. “Jeremy you are replaceable!”

Leading the Impact Kids after school ministry over at the school on Thursdays is one of the greatest joys I have ever experienced in ministry. I love being over there. It is so refreshing and invigorating. I can’t hardly sleep Thursday nights after it is over.  I love directing them! One day I must remind myself someone else will get the joy of leading that ministry.

I remember maybe three years ago. I think I must have begun to hold too tightly to the ministry here in Midway. The Lord began to tell me you need to learn to let go, because if you don’t its going to hurt.

You can only clench that fist so hard! The more you fight it the more its going to hurt. Can we learn to wean ourselves from things we are holding onto?

Every Fall growing up we weaned the calves from the cows. It seems like it was days where we would hear the bawling of mom’s looking for their calves!

We are reminded of Job, in learning to un-clench our fist of the things we won’t let go of. It says in Job 1:21 ‘The Lord gives and the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord.’

How does your heart handle this? This can be hard! Job, lost everything! But he didn’t sin against God and hold it against him, and in the end God restored back to him so much more than what he had previously had.

I believe there is blessing and a deeper, bonding relationship with God when we learn to let go and experience God providing for us. The widow in the story certainly must have experienced that in the daily miracle of provision.

Men and women, ‘Don’t hold to tightly/ It will hurt!

I see letting go illustrated well in the story of Abraham

He tells Abraham in Genesis 12,

“Go from your country, and your kindred, and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.”

In other words leave all you know, your comfort, your home, your people, your family and go to the land I will show you.

Let go, Abraham! Because I have got a plan!

In Verses 2 and 3 God Promised land, a mighty nation, will come out of you and all nations of the earth will be blessed!

Can you let go of some of those things that are good, so you can get God’s best for you!

Tonight, men and women! There is a letting go of the mantle of leadership, the baton will be handed off!

The Lord has reminded me over and over again this is not about you Jeremy, this is about my movement here in Midway! Don’t become territorial, don’t start thinking you are indispensable. This is about my glory and my fame! I will not share my glory with anybody!

So here we are tonight, the culmination of what the Lord has been teaching me for three years. ‘Let Go’.

And tonight we are happy to let go and hand off the baton of spiritual leadership in this area.  I hand this off tonight with a challenge to my successor don’t hold it too tightly! Be willing to let go when it’s your time to hand off!

We are replaceable!

Somebody else will come along and do a great job and the Lord will use them!

InFaith has started Bible camps and churches all over the country! Many of these organizations started decades ago and many of them don’t know and probably don’t care that their roots came from InFaith (American Sunday School Union, and American Missionary Fellowship).

Is that awesome or what? The organization, the missionary name has been forgotten and as long as Jesus is proclaimed today what difference does it make the roots from which the ministry was wrought.

Tonight, we proclaim that in 50 years InFaith Community Church might never remember who the missionary was that started the church, or those who succeeded, but if Jesus be exalted and lifted up until His coming than the mission has been accomplished.

May we all learn the great discipline of handing off the baton to the Lordship of Jesus. Spend time determining what it is you have held on to tightly to as I practice the letting go of a position of lead pastor to a godly man whom God has called to lead in the time ahead.