Taking Up an Offense

October 15, 2015

Proverbs 18:19
An offended friend is harder to win back than a fortified city. Arguments separate friends like a gate locked with bars.

Taking Up an Offense

How many of us today are carrying offenses in our heart towards another. They said something to us, they did something to us, they wronged us in some way and now they are on the black list of our heart to stay. We have all been offended, hurt, disappointed, emotionally wounded and wronged in some way. I guess that is pretty normal behavior in the world, but what about in the identity that God has given us in Christ. In our identity with Him, are we still justified in holding on to these offenses, no matter how justified we reason within ourselves to do so?
Colossians 3: 13 says, ” Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.” That is not a request, but a command. Have we never offended or hurt anyone? Are we so unwilling to forgive what we ourselves have been guilty of?
One revelation we all need to get is that we are not of this world and yet we keep thinking like it and acting like it. That is not a renewed mind in Christ, it is being conformed to the world which is an offense to God. When we are unwilling to forgive then we spit in the face of Him who forgave us. That is strong and it should be, because that is how the Lord takes it. He forgave us so much, shouldn’t we be willing to forgive little. Jesus spoke parables about forgiveness and He taught a word concerning it that very few of us are walking in.
Now someone might be thinking, “Will you don’t know what they did to me, I can’t ever forgive them for that.”
Jesus said, ” “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:11-12)
Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?” (Matthew 5:43-46)
Somehow we can all become self-righteous about things. We can see all of the faults in others. We may be carrying an offense against someone that isn’t even our own. We have taken it up for someone else because they were wronged. We tend to somehow feel that we have been given the right to judge others for their wrongs and are justified in condemning them and holding it against them.
Jesus said, ” “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
Romans 2:1-4 also addressed this issue, “You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance?” It goes on to say that because of this stubbornness we store up wrath for ourselves, because we are going to be judged by the same standards that we judged others and if we showed no mercy, then we can’t expect to receive mercy.
How can we fully walk in who we are in Christ when we hold offense against a brother or another. God is love. His love and forgiveness has been shed abroad in our hearts as believers. Are we now going to annul what He died for? Listen to what 1 John 2:9-11 has to say about this. “Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness. Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness; he does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded him.”
Are people, and even brothers and sisters, going to hurt, disappoint and offend us? You can count on it, but what you do with that offense speaks volumes to how real your identity is in Christ. If you really know Him, you will keep His commands. If you really love Him, you will allow His love to dominate and guide your heart. Your mercy will triumph over judgement and you will be the hot coals of love poured over the offenders head.
I would just like to end this with the exhortation given from Roman12:9-21 about how we are to walk in love toward one another. May the Holy Spirit help us acknowledge, to release and forgive any and all offenses that we have been carrying.
“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.
Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Blessings,
#kent

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Colossians 3:18-19
Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord. Husbands, love [your] wives, and be not bitter against them.

The Road back to Love and Intimacy

Remember when your romance was as sweet as honey and the love of your life could do no wrong. You adored them, idolized them and wanted to spend every moment together. Many of us, looking back at those younger years, ask ourselves, “what happened to that first love?” We still may love each other, but many couples struggle with the “feelings of love” that are missing. The romance has died way down and now you may find that instead of really loving and cherishing that wonderful man or woman you are struggling to get along with them. The man may feel like the wife is always nagging him, he can never do enough or anything right, she doesn’t respect and honor him. The woman may feel like the husband has become an insensitive jerk that never communicates or works through the problems, he doesn’t meet her needs. Over the years and the cycles of good and bad times, we can accumulate a lot of baggage. If I ask you if you love your husband or your wife, you would quite likely reply, “will of course I do,” but neither one of you may be experiencing the love from one another that you feel and know should be there. We may say we hold no unforgiveness toward one another, but in reality both parties bear scars, wounds, unresolved conflicts and issues that linger in the subconscious ready to rear their ugly heads at the right moment, opportunity or provocation. We find that we fail to often treat each other with the love, dignity and respect that both parties are due in a marriage.
Fifty percent of our marriages fail due to these kind of issues, but how many more are struggling and hurting? We need to return to that place of intimacy and closeness that we once shared, but we can’t until we are able let down the walls we’ve built up and are willing to let go of all the offenses, hurts and bitterness that we carry.
When the Word says, “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord,” that submission might be just creating a safe place where your husband can share with you. It needs to be a place where you aren’t venting your anger, frustration, criticism and unhappiness, no matter how justified you may feel with those feelings. If you want your husband to communicate and be sensitive to your needs, you have to create an atmosphere of submission where you really want to see, feel and understand his heart. That can be a hard place for a man. He may not be in touch with his feelings the way you are, so be gentle and be patient and above all, be kind.
“Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them.” Husbands can be very confrontational, critical and harsh, but many repress their feelings and emotions. They retreat into that shell of seeming insensitivity and non-communication. Many times it is a response of self-preservation. Often the harder the wife tries to break through that seeming insensitivity with harsh or critical words the more the husband withdrawals. If you want the turtle to stick his head out of the shell you have to stop beating on the shell and make him feel that when he sticks his head out it won’t get bit off. Husbands can hold a lot of things in their hearts that they may not even be fully aware of. Their means of retaliation may be more passive or subtle, but it may be coming from a bitterness that has built up in their hearts against their wives. They, on the other hand, need to really listen to the heart of their wives and make those needs their goals to fulfill. They need to make them feel secure in your love for them and remember them often in the little gifts, the things you do and say. Marriage is a teaching ground for unconditional love and service. It is where we should both be learning to lay down our lives for the other. Love is not always about feeling, but about commitment, covenant and a decision to love your spouse unconditionally even when they don’t derserve it.
Maybe we need to come together as a couple where we can agree that the love of Christ is going to rule and dictate our behavior and response to one another. We need to hold one another, not sexually, but intimately, while we confess our sins, our hurts and failures to one another. We need to truly commit to a willingness to really forgive and hear the other person’s heart. We need an uninterrupted time of reconciliation where we can write down and commit to one another some realistic goals where we will begin to address some of our deepest issues. Keep it simple and not more than we can realistically deal with at one time. Start with just three things each. Then let’s make a date for our next intimate time we can meet with the same right heart and attitude, in the love of Christ to see how we are doing. Again, we need to keep it safe and non-confrontational. This is a team project and we can’t succeed if we only have our own agenda and interest at heart. We can’t expect to mend and restore a broken down barn in a day or even a week, it will take time to restore, just as it took time to deteriorate. We can change the cycle and the direction of our marriages if we will both commit to it and stay with it. We will begin to see our true intimacy and love begin to come alive in our feelings and the way we treat one another. God wants to see our marriages strong and alive with His love. There is a lot of truth to the addage that ‘the family that prays together, stays together’. It is hard to be right with each other when we are not right with God. If we are committed to Christ, then we must also be committed to one another, for we are one flesh. Together let’s build the road back to true love and intimacy like we had in our first love.

Blessings,
#kent

2 Corinthians 10:3-6
For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 6And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete.

The Power of God’s Word

We most often readily receive and act upon medical advice and legal advice. We follow the recommendations of our insurance and financial advisors. We even follow a lot of the advice given to us through media, television, print and the Internet. Often, we are an open funnel to receive and act upon advice from many sources. Don’t we often follow the opinions and advice of our friends and associates? In all the answers that we seek in life, how much is God a part of our direction and decision making?
Now I am not saying that we can’t get good advice from other sources, but our first source, our first trust and desire for direction, answers and solutions should come from our seeking God through His Word. Most of the answers to life’s questions can be found there. We are all caught up in a world of convenience and quick solutions to our problems. They are often like fast foods to our souls; they lack real substance and nutrition. What we so often forget is that we are a people that can operate out of a higher realm and authority than does the rest of the world. We can more readily understand the spiritual implications and powers that are at work in many of the situations that surround us.
Our first line of defense, our first resource and first confidence should be faith in God’s Word and the accessing and unlocking of that power through prayer. God has given us resources in Him that exceed any that we can find on earth, yet, so often, we turn to Him as our last option, rather than our first. We need to stir up our faith to step out upon the promises of God, to trust Him, rely upon Him and in all of our ways acknowledge Him so that He can direct our paths.
Spiritual warfare is often not easy and it doesn’t come without opposition, but it will lead us to victory and freedom in Christ that we will never access through a dependence that is upon the world and its resources. When we truly allow God to go before us, He is able to unlock and open doors that we could never open. He is able to open to us blessings that we would have never received. There are untold resources in heaven at your disposal, but it takes an active faith and trust in God’s Word to lay hold upon them.
Perhaps you are living in bondage to strongholds in your life. The only way that you will truly experience freedom is through Christ and the power of His Word. Dare to lay hold of the promises and apply them daily to your life. Often the answers and solutions come to those who wait upon the Lord. There are things taking place as we pray and believe God that we don’t even know about. Don’t give up, if God has given you a word, continue to stand upon it. In His time all things come to pass. Meanwhile fight the good fight of your faith. Know that your strength and your power are in your God. Lean not on your own understanding or upon your own strength. Find that power and that life that resides within you and live out of Christ. He is the Word and the power in your life.
In Him you have spiritual authority, power and victory.

Blessings,
#kent

Unity in Diversity

October 20, 2014

Unity in Diversity

Romans 12:16
[Be] of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits.

Why is it we struggle so much with our human relationships with other people? Wouldn’t it be so much easier if everyone thought just like us, even if they could just see that the way that we think is the best way to do things? Unfortunately and maybe fortunately, we are quite diverse in how we solve our problems and deal with the issues of life. While that is not so much a problem if we are dealing with just us, it becomes quite a challenge when we are in relationships where we need to be in one accord concerning decisions and policies of how we want to do things. We all have different ideas of how something should be. Often it is not a question of one being right and one being wrong, except perhaps in their own eyes, it is more a matter of being in one accord and reaching a common ground where we can share and come into agreement though we differ in opinion and logic. This is the crux of life, whether it is in business and working relationships, marriage, family, the body of Christ, no matter what the relations, it is often a challenge to come into one mind. How do we find unity in the diversity of our personalities and ways of thinking and viewing things? Well, obviously the world has come up with many ways of dealing with these issues, monarchies, dictatorships, socialism, totalitarianism, democracies and even theocracy.
Perhaps you are struggling in a relationship today. In secular relationships we seek to have the mind of Christ and as Romans 12:18 puts it, “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.” What about our Christian relationships, our marriages and our families, these areas that we all struggle with daily? Unfortunately we don’t have a much better record at these relationships than the world does, but we should because we have what they don’t have, Christ. If we have committed ourselves to live our lives under the theocracy of God’s will then what our efforts should be focused on is not what my will or my way is or what yours is, but what is the mind of God concerning our decisions. Do we come to the bargaining table with different agendas and different priorities? How do we arrive at peaceable solutions? First, are all parties willing to lay down their rights, agendas and opinions to submit to what God’s will is in a particular area of dissension? Are we willing to approach our differences with respect for one another and our differences of opinion, realizing that we are all made up of strengths and weaknesses? Are we willing to give place to someone else’s gifting or strength in an area? Are we willing to lay these differences at the altar and unselfishly pursue the Lord’s will through praying together and seeking the mind of the Lord? That’s probably not normally our way, but it should be. Are we all honest in our dealings and can we bring our feelings under submission to the Lord? We often want to resolve our differences emotionally which usually only further polarizes us rather than unifying us. Are we willing to come with unselfishness in our hearts and pursue the end that best meets the needs of all concerned? Our God is a God of Peace and He wants us to pursue peaceable means through His love that is within us by being longsuffering, courteous, respectful and giving place to one another.
It comes back to “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: (Philippians 2:5).” He became a servant though He was Lord of all and laid down His life for us. We need this mind to be the servant of one another working, living and giving what is best for the benefit of others and not just ourselves. When we get ourselves out of the picture then resolution to our conflicts and differences becomes much easier. Love is about our desire to give and not just to get. The more this love is working in the hearts of all concerned the easier our differences will be resolved and we will find unity in our diversity.
“For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of [his] good pleasure.
Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain. (Philippians 2:13-16).”

Blessings,
#kent

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