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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Romans 5:6-8
When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Now, no one is likely to die for a good person, though someone might be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.

God Loves Us Even when We are Ugly

Isn’t it wonderful that God didn’t just limit His love and grace to the few us humans that are cute and cuddly? He didn’t just love us when we loved Him and didn’t withhold His greatest expression of love toward us even when we least deserved or merited it.
Have you ever been around someone that was hard to love and get along with? On in any given day that could probably apply to any one of us. We can all have our ugly times and our ugly ways. Then there are some with which it has become a way of life. You know the ironic thing is that it is usually with the people that we love the most that we are often the most ugly. We can be ripping our spouse or children up all-day and then come to a stranger and be perfectly nice and polite.
Why is that? Perhaps it is because we feel safe venting our anger, frustration and anxieties upon the ones that we love because we feel we are safe doing it with them. Maybe it is because the ones we “love” aren’t meeting our expectations or living up to our standards. Perhaps we feel those loved ones will still love me even when my raw side is showing. Unfortunately, what was maybe a once-in-a-while bad hair day, can become a habitual bad hair life. We can become abusive on a continual basis to the ones we should love and respect the most. It may be our husband, our wife, our children, parents, family or friends.
There is a great lesson here as we look at God’s love. We see His love is unconditional and that He did love us in spite of our inward ugliness. He teaches us to be the same in our love for others. We see it coming through in the attributes of His Holy Spirit, love, joy, longsuffering, self-control, kindness, goodness, peace, meekness, faith and gentleness. As His people these attributes should be an ever-increasing part of our lives. When others are ugly toward us we have to look with the eyes of the Spirit into their hearts and ask why is this person hurting so bad that they treat others this way? Is there anything I can do in Christ to minister and help to heal those inner hurts, wounds and scars?
In our closer personal relationships perhaps we may be reaping in our loved one seeds of discontent and strife that we have sown by our own actions or insensitivity. Perhaps we have played a big part in why this loved one has become that not so lovely person. What do we need to do out of the love of Christ and the love we have for them to change our dynamics toward them to relieve these angry and resentful feelings that they may be expressing? So often anger and emotion keep us from coming to a resolution of our issues. Sometimes the expression of our anger and emotion only serve to drive those we love further away from us and cause them to withdrawal. You will never bring the head of a turtle out of his shell when he knows he is going to get clubbed as soon as He shows it. We need a truce, a cease-fire and to lay our emotions aside. We need to reconcile ourselves through the love of God to really hear and respond to the issues of the heart. Most all of us are creatures of habits and it may be those habits that are a constant source of irritation and dysfunction. Let us love one another enough to change those habits and behaviors for their sake and to help them become that lovely person again that we once knew.
What is love? 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 says, “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” Let us love one another as God in Christ has so loved us.

Blessings,
#kent

Passion for Your Lover

March 23, 2015

Song of Solomon 1:2-5
Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth— for your love is more delightful than wine.
3 Pleasing is the fragrance of your perfumes; your name is like perfume poured out. No wonder the maidens love you! 4 Take me away with you—let us hurry! Let the king bring me into his chambers.

Passion for Your Lover

Is your Christianity a routine? Has it become stagnant with the same old ritual and habits? Do you feel like going to church is just going through the motions and doing what you are supposed to do? If our Christianity has become mundane, boring and uneventful to us then we are missing the passion for the greatest lover that ever was.
The virgins and the friends of the bridegroom may have a more distant relationship with the Bridegroom, but for the bride He is her passion, He is the air she breathes, the song she sings and the dream that she dreams. All of her hopes are in Him. He is whom she lives for and pursues with all that is within her. Why, because it is required of her or it is what she is suppose to do? No, it is because she is so passionately in love with this bridegroom that it is all that she can think to do. He fills her thoughts, her dreams and aspirations. Oh, to be with Him and to come into union with Him. What adjectives can describe her love and desire for Him?
She has discovered what so many have missed. She is in love and nothing else matters around her compared to Him. Oh, how she languishes for His love to be poured out to her. He is the one that puts the butterflies in her tummy. He is like sweet smelling perfume, she just wants to breathe Him in and His name is like perfume poured out. With the fragrance of His name there is life, healing, deliverance and salvation. It is the name above every name and the name that is the sweetest fragrance in all of the earth. No wonder so many love him.
She cries to Him, “Take me away with you, let us hurry!” In John 14:3 the Bridegroom tells His bride, “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, [there] ye may be also.” As the Bridegroom has prepared a place for her, so she has prepared herself for Him. Now she is ready and crying out to Him. It is not about escaping or running away from all that is happening around her, for her it is the union with Him. “Let the King bring me into His chambers.” It is about union and intimacy that produces life and a manchild that is in the image of his Father.
The fruit of her loins the enemy despises, seeking to devour and destroy this one who comes forth in the image and likeness of the King. This child is he (many membered he) that rules and reigns with Christ and becomes His government in a new heaven and a new earth. It is this bride that desires that seed. His seed of life and godliness that shall prevail and overcome, that will set creation free and bring all of humanity into the emancipating liberty of Jesus Christ.
What is your passion today? If you want to know this kind of love, then pursue Him. Often He may seem evasive as we seek His presence. He is looking for those who will not be discouraged and will not take no for an answer. He is looking for those who are not easily distracted and set their affections upon other things. He is proving her whose heart is perfect toward Him and who will not allow her love to be denied. Are you such a person of passion and purpose?

Blessings,
#kent

Walk with Me

October 31, 2014

Philippians 3:14
I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

Walk with Me

Walk with me a little while
Comfort my troubled heart with your smile.
It is in your presence I experience love and grace.
I need your perspective as I run this race.

I covet your fellowship in the early dawn,
As I come to you in prayer and feel your holy bond.
It is your strength I covet in this challenging hour,
It is in identity with your life that I find my power.

The grade is getting steep as we travel on.
The way is more narrow and straight than where I’ve gone.
Those I once called friends now scorn my path.
Because I don’t hold the world’s views I incur their wrath.

So it must be as I look up and see the cross before,
I still believe that you alone are the only door,
That leads to life and the Father I seek.
You are the good shepherd that leads your sheep.

Help me Lord to be all that I must,
Forsaking the world, its vanity and lust.
Setting my eye on the prize that is before,
I press on to the high calling of Christ Jesus my Lord.

Walk with me a little while,
Comfort my troubled heart with your smile.
If so be that I suffer for You I will be glorified with You,
My peace and rest is in You, oh Lord, faithful and true.
Kent Stuck

Blessings!

Are We Easily Offended?

December 18, 2013

Proverbs 17:9

He who covers over an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.


Are We Easily Offended?


What is our first reaction when somebody, ruffles our feathers, steps on our turf, wounds our pride, pushes our buttons or does something hurtful to us?  Don’t we see ourselves as the victim?  The one who has been wronged and hurt?  So our first inclination is to share it with someone who will sympathize with us and reinforce that this person has wronged us.  When an offense is shared and spreads to others it, in turn, brings division and separates us into camps.  As a result there is discord and separation of fellowship and relationship.  Our offense then becomes a stumbling block to others.  

Now as Christians we should know this and not so readily fall into this trap and yet it seems like we are some of the worse when it comes to being offended.  If we truly have our identity in Christ then, are our feelings really the issue or is it about hosting Christ’s presence, love and forgiveness, even in the face of legitimate offenses.  What Proverbs is telling us here is that if we are the promoters of God’s love, then love covers a multitude of sins, even as the love of Jesus has covered and forgiven a multitude of ours.  Every time we choose to sin, is that not an offense to God?  If God brought us into condemnation every time we offended Him with our sins, we would continually live in condemnation and separation of fellowship.  That same love that is in the heart of God to tolerate us and forgive us has to be the same love that we carry in our hearts to forgive others.  

We should make every effort not to offend others whether they are Christians or not.  1 Corinthians 10:31-33 instructs us, “So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 32Don’t give offense to Jews or Gentiles or the church of God. 33I, too, try to please everyone in everything I do. I don’t just do what is best for me; I do what is best for others so that many may be saved.”  

There are so many saints that pass from church to church, fellowship to fellowship because of offenses.  We have to know who we are in Christ, where we have been planted and what our purpose is in where we are at.  People are always going to hurt our feelings and disappoint us and it may be the pastor, elder or someone we look up too.  If your eyes are on them then we are following the wrong one.  Keep your eyes upon Jesus, stop majoring on what others do or don’t do and focus on who you are in Christ and what that is suppose to look before others.  Let’s let our feelings not be so sensitive to others, but sensitive to the Holy Spirit and getting God’s heart and mind in a matter.  Sometimes we may be a hundred percent in the right, but still need to go and apologize to someone for the perceived wrong that we have done in their eyes; not because we are wrong, but because it is the love of Christ to reconcile a matter to restore peace and right relationship.  There are some who use being offended as a means of control to get their way, because people don’t want them to be upset.  That is witchcraft, from such turn away if they are unwilling to repent. 

The enemy does his greatest works in the dark and the misunderstandings of our minds.  The more we can bring things to the light and approach them with God’s nature, the more quickly they are resolved and dissolved.   When we speculate about what others are thinking, or what their non-verbal communication is saying, we open our minds and emotions to the deceptiveness of the enemy.  1 John 4:16-20 reminds us of this nature of God’s love.  “We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love.  God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. 17And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world.

18Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love. 19We love each other because he loved us first.

20If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a Christian brother or sister, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see? 21And he has given us this command: Those who love God must also love their Christian brothers and sisters.” 

Colossians 3:13 instructs us, ” Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.”  Let’s practice drowning those offenses in love and forgiveness. 

 

Blessings,

kent

What’s Under the Surface

January 10, 2013

Ephesians 4:29-32
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

What’s Under the Surface

No matter how long you are around the “Christian” community it never ceases to amaze you what can come out of outwardly godly people. There are a lot of “Christians” that talk the talk, quote scriptures, praise the Lord, preach the gospel, but if you step on their toes or push their buttons they can totally come uncorked on you. That precious godly appearance and demeanor can suddenly turn into something totally unrecognizable and manifest some of the most ungodly words and behavior. Suddenly that person that was so sweet and kind to you can become your worst nightmare. It is amazing how we as “Christians”, who are suppose to be carrying the love and nature of Christ can suddenly become so unChristlike and so easily offended.
The test of a true believer and the character of what is in them is best revealed when they are under pressure and persecution. Their response is a window into the heart of their character. Do they respond with kindness and compassion, forgiving the other as Christ has forgiven them, or do they respond in bitterness, rage, anger, brawling, slander and every form of malice?
One of the first things that we need to realize and get a revelation of when we come into Christ is that we died to the natural man. Many of us have no clue about the death to self, we have only candy coated our exterior to look “Christian”. If we truly grasp “that it is no longer I that live, but Christ that lives in me”, then why are we so easily offended when we don’t get our way, when people don’t meet our expectations or they step on our toes?
It is an interesting dynamic in churches to see how many people come and go. Many come in thinking it is the greatest church in the world until something doesn’t meet their approval and then they are out of there, continuing their quest for the Holy Grail of churches that will meet all of their expectations.
People are human and by nature, many of them will offend or fail you at some point in life. Your response to their offense or failure in your eyes, speaks to the maturity of where you at in Christ. Are your eyes on Jesus or are they on people? Are you covering others in love or are you finding fault and taking up offenses?
What I find even more amusing is that most of those who become so indignant with their offenders, no matter how they, personally may act or what they say, they are totally justified, righteous and feel they have been given the God-given mandate to judge and condemn those they are offended with. They become totally blind to their own conduct and unChristlike nature. We become God’s fruit inspectors while ignoring the fruit of our own actions and words. Nothing reveals a religious spirit more than this.
How do we respond when others purposely or accidentally push our buttons? Is Christ in control or is the flesh unleashed? Many times our own households are the proving ground of what our true character is. We are most unguarded around the ones we love and feel safe with. How do we respond to them in times of irritation and testing?
“Christianity” isn’t a new suit we can take on and off. It is a lifestyle of growing up into the very nature and character of Christ. One of the things that works that nature in us is in practicing His presence in the midst of adverse situations. Responding out of the Spirit and not out of the flesh. Practicing love and forgiveness where we might feel justified to dislike and hate.
Thank God for your enemies, your offenders, those that step on your toes and push your buttons. They can do a work in you that your friends never will. They are the ones that test the metal of what you really carry within you and the character you are living out of. When you don’t see Christ, then it is time to repent and ask the Lord to help you go deeper, abiding in the Spirit and not just looking spiritual. “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

Blessings,
kent

Friendships

January 8, 2013

Proverbs 17:17
A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.

Friendships

Through life many seasons come and go,
In that time many people we get to know.
Through our hearts and lives relationships pass.
Many will fade, but others will last.
Rather we know them for a moment, a season or more,
No matter how long they may be here for.
May their lives be richer for having crossed our path.
May we have spoken words of life that last.
Kent Stuck

When we think back through our lives at all of the people that we’ve known, some we knew as casual acquaintances and others we may have been very close too. As we go through those seasons of life and all of the demographics that change, we see most of those people and know them only for a period of time. Some we will reunite with and many we never will. When we stop to think about the brevity of life then it impacts us how short it is and how important it is never to take our opportunities in our relationships for granted. Just as we have no assurance of tomorrow; we have no assurance that a relationship or friend will be there tomorrow.
One of the things that I get bored with quite quickly is just small talk. A certain amount of it is necessary and useful, but so much of our relationships are spent talking about things that don’t really matter or have any eternal value. As believers we want our conversations to seasoned with the words of life, hope and the things that are eternal. We understand that not all of our friends or acquaintances are at that place, but with Holy Spirit discernment and direction we should endeavor to flavor our conversations with those things that speak to the eternal and the lasting. Our life and our actions are the testimony to who we are and what we represent. Some may be turned off by that, but others will be drawn to us because of it. We are not in this world to please people and by the same token we are not here to recklessly offend them either. I believe God wants us to be sensitive to where people are at in their journey through life and endeavor to meet them where they are at, in love, not just mindful of where we at. Relationships are not just about us. They are about our opportunities to communicate Christ, in His various attributes, to others in a way that they can hear and receive.
The apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 9:22, “To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.” Paul’s sole purpose in relating and befriending people was to stain their lives with the blood and the love of Christ, but he used wisdom as to how he could relate with them. So many times Christians have an arrogance, self-righteous and condescending attitude that is demeaning to others that are not like them. That is not the Spirit of Christ, that is a religious spirit. Christ came down and was planted under the earth that He might get under us and lift us up to where He is. ‘He didn’t come to condemn the world, but that the world, through Him, might have life.’ We are to be like him. He didn’t aspire to gain the approval of the righteous and the religious, he aspired to relate with people where they were at in their lives.
May God grant us the wisdom to have the heart of Jesus and Paul that people would know that when they have been with us, they have been in the presence of Jesus, because Christ is so much a part of who we are in our love and our demeanor. May their lives be richer for having crossed our path. May we have spoken words of life that last.

Blessings,
kent

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