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

Forgiveness is in the Forgiving

Matthew 6:12-15
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Forgiveness is a subject we have talked about before and while we accept the words of Jesus here in theory, how are we at practical application? When someone really wrongs you, hurts, betrays, cheats or deceives you, how quick are we to release forgiveness. Most all of us go through those times in our lives when we have every justification to really hate someone and not forgive them in the natural way of thinking.
Allow me to use myself as an example here that may not be so different from something you have experienced and quite possibly you have experienced worse. Recently I met a lady and did some work for her. She is a professing believer, her dad she has told me, is a preacher and her mom a missionary. She is a businesswoman running several companies. She hires me last minute to do some work for her the same day and then the next day. Each time she keeps me waiting three or four hours before her and her people are ready to go. Both days we work quite late. Now I have asked for a $500 retainer up front which she has her assistant pay me with a check. Making a long story as short as possible she owes me over $1500 dollars for the work I have done for her. While she has made many promises to pay she hasn’t. What is worse is, I have since found out that a number of other people, including other photographers are owed money they haven’t been paid. What is even worse is the check for the $500 came back after about two weeks with insufficient funds. This is about the time I reached the end of my patience, put in a call to lawyers, and let the lady in a stern and blunt way know that I was ready to take action if she didn’t get this resolved. Her promise was to pay me half in cash the next day and then the other half a few days later. Well, again she didn’t follow through. Do I have every right to be angry and sue her? You bet, in the world I do, but what is God’s way? If I pursue a legal course of action and do all that I can to expose her fraudulent behavior, have I really forgiven her? Here is the practical place where our faith and trust in God and obedience to His Word has to override our natural feelings, emotions, anger and lack of forgiveness. Does she deserve for me to forgive her? Did I deserve for Christ to forgive me? If I harbor that unforgiveness who is the one that is damaged most by it, her or me? The Word says if I don’t forgive others, neither can God forgive me. My personal forgiveness from God is dependent upon my forgiving others who have offended and wronged me.
There are areas where some of you have been deeply wounded and hurt, far more than I was. Perhaps, you may feel it is impossible for you to forgive that person or persons. We often have to leave the judgement and the vengeance to God, that is His and not ours. The key to our emotional and spiritual healing in these times begins with us simply confessing and giving it over to the Lord. Our emotions and feelings may not be there yet, but if we can begin to take the step of faith to release those who have offended us, then we have taken a step toward our own emotional healing and recovery.
Matthew 5 is full of principles that are utterly contrary to natural thinking and reasoning. In Matthew 5:43-48 Jesus says, “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust
For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more [than others]? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”
I have shared this today so that in a practical way we all might see that God is wanting us to conform to the higher standard of His Word. These kind of experiences are where the rubber meets the road and we have to live what we say we believe, otherwise how are we any different than those who have offended us?

Blessings,
#kent

Bridge over Troubled Waters

November 27, 2013

Bridge over Troubled Waters

John 14:1
Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.

Our hearts are often burdened and troubled with many things, our children, our marriage, our loved ones, our finances, our health and the list goes on. Jesus tells us this is a part of this earthly life. “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)” It is true to the selfless nature of Christ that in the last hours before His apprehension and subsequent crucifixion Jesus is not trying to find comfort for Himself, He is instead comforting and reassuring His disciples, preparing them for what is to come. In our lives we will come to these crossroads of great tribulation when our world will get turned upside down. It will be hard to make sense out of the devastation that we feel and heartache we may incur, but Jesus wants us to know that He has not forsaken us in these times. The Holy Spirit has been given to us to be our comforter, our peace, our reassurance that God has not left us or forsaken us. Our Father doesn’t rescue us from all of the tragedies of life. We are destined to walk through them and the consequences that sin has had in the earth. The peace we have is that our Christ lives in us. He is the source and the resource of our ability to walk through the fires and trials of life and not have the smell of smoke upon us. Invariably our first inclination is to begin reasoning and fighting in the power of our flesh, but our salvation is not in us, it is in Him. It is entering into the rest of our God and knowing ‘He is working all things to the good of them that love Him and that are called according to His purpose.’ Our peace comes only as we enter into that place of faith and trust. We know that we serve a great God, who is sovereign over all the earth and the affairs of men and while God doesn’t always change the course of history or events for our particular circumstances, that doesn’t mean He isn’t at work in them. We get so nervous when we are not in the driver’s seat, but God is well able to guide and direct our situation far better than we are. When Job was met with the tremendous tragedies that took his children, his wealth and his health, was he effected emotionally? You bet that he was What made the difference with Job is that he knew life was not about the things of this earth, it was about his relationship with the Father. Job 1:20-22,”20 At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship 21 and said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. [c] The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.” 22 In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.” How different from so many today who face trials only to blame God and turn away from him because He let these bad things happen to seemingly good people. Even as the second set of trials were laid upon Job with the afflictions of his flesh, his response bore out his rest and full relinquishment of his life to God. Job 2:7-10, “7 So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD and afflicted Job with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the top of his head. 8 Then Job took a piece of broken pottery and scraped himself with it as he sat among the ashes. 9 His wife said to him, “Are you still holding on to your integrity? Curse God and die!” 10 He replied, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” In all this, Job did not sin in what he said.”
Our peace in the midst of our tribulation comes from not being devastated by what is happening without, but by turning within. It is by worshipping our God in the midst of trials, by placing ourselves fully within His hands to perform whatever it is He would work out through what we may only see as evil. He is our ark of safety, our fortress, our high tower, our shield and buckler. The Overcomer dwells within us. He has conquered death and the grave; He ever lives to make intercession our behalf. If our eyes and our heart are upon Him, then we are already looking at our victory regardless of what is happening without.
Is your heart troubled today? We have become anxious about many things. Perhaps we are angry with others because they are not doing something to help us. Martha was upset with Mary, her sister, because she was setting at the feet of Jesus feeding off of His words, rather than helping with the natural food preparation. Complaining to Jesus, He tells her, ““Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”” Instead of being anxious, we also need to choose the one thing that is needed, which is feeding off of the Word of God and sitting in His presence. If you need that peace today, you will find it there in His presence as you rest in Him. He is that bridge over troubled waters.

blessings,
kent

Unity in Diversity

August 13, 2013

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 things are to be done. 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. We seek to have the mind of Christ in non-Christian relationships 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 with other Christians, 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 and opinions and 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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