Friday, 30 November 2018

Offended with the Offended

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

      John Bevere said, "An offended heart is the breeding ground of deception."
      Being offended in most cases is a personal choice. I choose to be offended at what my wife, friend, boss, or an authority in life said to me. How have we become such an offended society that we are so easily offended at other's offences? It has turned to the ridiculous when we hear someone say, "I'm offended that they are offended." Really? Have we become such a touchy-feely people that the first reaction to any slight is offendedness?
      I recently had the opportunity to be offended when my book cover posters were rejected because someone had been offended by them hanging on display in a bookstore. I was about to become offended at the offended when I realized it was just a matter of taste in design and art. It had not been myself personally who had been rejected; therefore, there was no need to enter into the offence. I was not going to be the reason that friends separated because of a perceived offence. Prov. 18:19 An offended friend is harder to win back than a fortified city. Arguments separate friends like a gate locked with bars.
      
This whole event got me thinking on how thin-skinned we have become and how sensitive we are to being snubbed or criticized, even if it is constructive criticism. I almost fell for the self-deception of becoming offended for nothing and would have become a stumbling block to someone taking sides in the offence. Have we become our own stumbling block? Luke 17:1 Jesus said to His disciples, “It is inevitable that stumbling blocks will come, but woe to the one through whom they come!"  
       Jesus said to pray for those who cause us problems in life and not to murder them with our words and attitudes. The Lord says that offences will come but to take the high road when dealing with an offence. Matt. 11:6 And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.
      We read in the book of Genesis what can happen when an offence takes root and turns to raw anger. Cain killed his brother over the fact that Abel brought an acceptable sacrifice to God. Cain's offendedness at God turned to murderous hatred for his brother. Joseph's brothers betrayed Joseph and sold him into slavery because they were offended at the love Jacob had for his son. Their offence turned to a murderous plot of revenge and eventually they settled for selling him for a profit. The offences of these people turned to self-deception and allowed them to rationalize their evil actions.
      History shows us that a slight or offence taken too far can result in wars and entire people groups eradicated through ethnic cleansing. People choose to be offended, but the choice is also ours to not pick up the offence and personalize it to the point of madness. 
      Our counselling office sessions are full of married couples who have allowed offences to fester and become gangrenous to their relationships. The love they once had for each other has turned to a scorekeeping record of who hurt who the most. I'm not saying that some marriages do not have real problems, but so many of the problems could have been settled with the words "I'm sorry I hurt you. Please forgive me."
      The Lord warned us that persecution, unjust accusations, and outright slander would be a result of accepting Jesus as Lord. John 16:1 These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended. Jesus also remarked that others would be offended because we had accepted Jesus as our personal Savior. However, the Lord has given us the ability to overcome all this through His love and power, but we have to make the choice to do so. 
      Saints, offences will come and the opportunity to pick them up will also come. Let us try and create a not offended free zone in our hearts and lives. Let us position ourselves in a place where we do not pick up an offence, but rather choose peace in Him who first loved us with a real righteous love. Amen!

Friday, 23 November 2018

E Stands For Evidence

Proverbs 6:2 You have been trapped by what you said, ensnared by the words of your mouth.

      The way I see it, the e in email stands for evidence. This week in the news another politician had to resign because of embarrassing photos and explicit emails. More frat boys were expelled because of questionable behaviors and the behaviors were posted online and emailed around. An executive of a company is being called out because of old email posts that expressed her negative views on a minority group of people and she is now having to answer for it. Num. 32:23 But if you fail to keep your word, then you will have sinned against the LORD, and you may be sure that your sin will find you out. Haven't people figured out yet that everything that is written in an email and sent is forever in the world system and can be retrieved at any time?
      What makes people think they can get away with bragging about secrets in their lives when it is plastered all over the world by their friends, coworkers, and family? The old Benjamin Franklin saying, "Three can keep a secret if two of them are dead" is apropos to heed in this tell-all tabloid world. 
      If you have a secret and want it kept, then tell absolutely no one. But whatever you do, don't post it on the world-wide-web. Eccl. 10:20 Never make light of the king, even in your thoughts. And don’t make fun of the powerful, even in your own bedroom. For a little bird might deliver your message and tell them what you said. I reckon the little bird, in this case, would be Twitter.
      It is wisdom to keep our slanders and false accusations to ourselves because if we spread lies and half-truths all over the place we will be judged for it. Matt. 12:36 I tell you that on the day of judgment people will have to account for every careless word they speak. In the same way that we should think before we hit the send button on an email, we should also think before we hit the send button of our mouth. Will the words I am about to say give life or a bruised lashing to someone's soul? Is what I am saying uplifting or just more negative rhetoric? We can become as careless as these people who post their idiocy online and not think about the consequences. 
      What we say matters. It shows us and our fellow man who we really are. Luke 6:45 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. Our mouth will eventually say what is in our heart. This is why we need a new regenerated heart created by the Lord and the finished work of the cross. 
      It is Christ within us changing us day-by-day to live and move in the power of the Holy Spirit. Would Jesus be posting slanders and the nastiest words online? Of course not. Then why are some who claim to walk with Christ posting cruelties and plotting vengeful thoughts? James 3:10 And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right!
       If you want to change your words, then change your focus. Phil. 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Start hanging around people who still believe in honor and forthrightness of character for life. Stop the gossip in its tracks. 
      Before you decide to post something you are not sure of and whether it should even be posted in the first place, remember the e in email may come back to visit you. Col. 3:23 Whatever you do, do it from the heart, as something done for the Lord and not for people. Amen and amen!

Friday, 16 November 2018

Debtors' Prison

Proverbs 22:7 The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender.  

      The old hymn describes it clearly, " He paid a debt He did not owe, I owed a debt I could not pay, I needed someone to wash my sins away."  
      We were all headed for eternal debtors' prison until Jesus paid our debt in full with His blood sacrifice. Debtors' prison as described by Wikipedia was a place where destitute people who were unable to pay a court-ordered judgment would be incarcerated (usually similar in form to locked workhouses) until they had worked off their debt, via labor or secured outside funds to pay the balance. The product of their labor went towards both the costs of their incarceration and their accrued debt.
      Jesus spent so much of His ministry time trying to equip us from falling into sinful debt. The wages of sin is death and the cost of death is eternal debtors' prison. The Lord Jesus came to deliver us from this eternal judgment. 2 Cor. 5:21 For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ. What an amazing feat our Lord and Savior pulled off for any and every person who would receive His gift of sacrificial love by faith. John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
      When we finally find out who we are in Christ, we will also work toward helping people stay out of debtors' prison so to speak. We have been given the ministry of reconciliation. 2 Cor. 5:18 Everything is from God, who has reconciled us to himself through Christ and has given us the ministry of reconciliation. This was done so that we could help those break out of debtors' prison and become God's children in His kingdom. Being in debt to anyone but Christ is a mug's game that will leave you hopeless and eternally destitute. As the Proverb says, you will eventually mount up debt to the point of becoming a slave to it.
      If this principle is true in everyday life, then how much more will it be a fact in your spiritual life? If you have creditors knocking on your door demanding payment for stuff purchased on credit but now you are penniless - the debt does not go away. It surely will be paid somehow and at some time. However, your life will not be your own as it will belong to the creditors. Prov. 22:7 The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender. 
      This is what happened to Adam and Eve when they sinned through their disobedience toward God. They became slaves to sin and found out in a short time that the wages of sin is death. Gen. 3:19 By the sweat of your brow will you have food to eat until you return to the ground from which you were made. For you were made from dust, and to dust you will return. They became separated from an intimate relationship with God because of the sin they had committed. In order to escape the debtors' prison man was now in need of grace because there was absolutely nothing man could do to pay for the eternal tormenting result that sin had caused. Rom. 7:24 Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?
      The good news is that Jesus paid our debt in full through the work of the cross and blood sacrifice He gave us out of His love for us. We were bailed out of debtors' prison, and all we have to do is accept the Lord's gift by faith. Now that we are out of death's debt, we can bring life to those who are seeking deliverance from the slavery many have found themselves to be in. Prov. 3:27 Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it. 
      Let us commit to staying away from sin because as someone once said, "Sinning is empowering Satan to speak on your behalf."  Well, saints, the devil will not speak for me as I have been paid for in full by the blood of the Lord who keeps me out of the jailer's hands. Blessings to you all.

Friday, 9 November 2018

The Last Generation

Proverbs 27:24 For riches do not endure forever, and a crown is not secure for all generations.      

      Exodus 1:6 In time, Joseph and all of his brothers died, ending that entire generation.
      We too, who are now of this generation will be listed and chronicled as part of an historical past. We can see glimpses of it at parades and ceremonies like Remembrance Day where veteran soldiers from World Wars past are honored, but their numbers have dwindled down to a few lonely souls. We see the elderly passing on as we ourselves get older and wonder what will remain once we are gone. What difference or blessings will be left behind because we had existed? Did our life and the generation we are part of count for anything eternally worthwhile?
      When I was young it was the friends of my grandparents who were dying. As years progressed it was my parents' friend and parents themselves who were passing on through death's door. Now it is my friends and contemporaries who are on their way out. One day it will be written of us that we and our brothers died, ending that entire generation. 
      We truly are pilgrims on a path of life that is directed and led by our heavenly Father. We can choose to live a self-indulgent, anything goes, and a free for all lawless lifestyle during our short time on this earth. On the other hand, we can make a different choice and serve the Lord with peace and gladness while fulfilling the reason and calling we were created for when God first thought of us. Jer. 1:5a I chose you before I formed you in the womb; I set you apart before you were born.
      The destiny of our generation has been written in God's heart. He chose us before our time in history had even started. We were the apple of God's eye. He was in love with us the moment He saw our existence on His holy horizon. He chose us and knew what would fulfill us completely as individuals. John 15:16 You did not choose me. I chose you and sent you out to produce fruit, the kind of fruit that will last. Then my Father will give you whatever you ask for in my name.
      It is so important that those who are in Christ and in relationship with God leave a clear understanding of who God the Father is for the next generation. Godly principles, values, and the understanding of holy illumination will have to be engrafted into the upcoming generation because they will have to walk through the maze and smorgasbord of religious options and opinions of their generation. It only took one generation for Israel to forget everything the Israelites went through to possess the promised land. Judges 2:10 After a while the people of Joshua's generation died, and the next generation did not know the LORD or any of the things he had done for Israel.
       Whatever generation we are in, we are the last generation because at any moment the Lord can return for His church. Teaching the next generation everything I know concerning the personal and relational things of God has become a priority in my life. I want my sons, their wives, and their grandchildren to know that God is in love with them and they, too, can have a lifetime of blessings and strength that comes through knowing our Lord. Jesus has made a way for us to come to God at any time in life. May that time be now. Jer. 33:3 Call to me, and I will answer you; I will tell you wonderful and marvelous things that you know nothing about.

Friday, 2 November 2018

Endemic Finger Pointing

Prov. 16:3 Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.

      
Everything in life is a result of the choices you made. If you want different results, make different choices.
      I was at the doctor's office this week for my yearly physical. One of the things that came up was the great progress I had made with the health of my heart that misses a beat. One of the clinic nurses asked me how I had come so far from the mess I was in four years ago to the healthy place I am right now. I said, "The first thing I had to do was take full responsibility for damaging my heart and for treating it like third class baggage. I caused the problem with the poor life choices that I had made. If there was going to be a fix, I had to make sure I did not point fingers at anyone but myself. I caused it; therefore, it was up to me to be a major participant in the healing of it."
      It would be easy to point my finger at all the processed, nitrate filled, sugar-packed and GMO products that have become commonplace in our food system. I could point and blame the easy accessibility of drive-thru convenience every time my fat cells screamed for attention. I could make up excuses for shoving all the rubbish down my throat because of the stress I had put myself under. 
      Then, I could keep making up excuses on a regular basis as to why I can't exercise because of the business in my so-called important life. Yup, I could head in that direction of blame and finger-pointing. However, the truth would still be that I had willfully made all those choices and the result was heart disease that I caused through my choices. Gal. 6:7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man sows, that shall he also reap.
      I find it interesting that people who made the choice to smoke cigarettes are now pointing their fingers and suing the companies that fulfilled their desire to smoke. People who consume gallons of soft drinks are complaining and pointing fingers at the pop companies for their ailments of obesity and diabetes. Rehab for every imaginable problem is available for people who have become perpetual victims of circumstance, while taking no responsibility whatsoever for their own choices. Endemic finger-pointing has become a national pastime. 
      The first step to recovery of any kind is to admit there is a problem in the first place. Recovery means taking responsibility for the problem you caused in your own life. Admit it, confess it, then you are finally in a position to get rid of it. James 5:16a Therefore, confess your faults to one another and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. 
      I remember when I made the choice to eat real food, only after I had taken responsibility for the poor health I was in. Was it easy? No! Good and real food preparation is really inconvenient but too bad, it had to be done. I remember the struggle of getting into regular exercise and sticking to it every day. Was it easy? Absolutely not! But too bad, it had to be done. Prov. 16:3 Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and he will establish your plans. The finger pointing stops here.
      I do not know who or what you have been blaming for all your woes in life, but it has got to stop just for the sake of sanity. In most cases, your boss is not your problem. The teacher is not your child's problem. Your spouse is not your problem. Stop pointing the finger and realize that most likely you are your own problem. Our prayer should be, "Lord, fix me." 
      Take responsibility for the choices you have made and make new choices to change the course of your life. You will need God's help to do it, and He is right there waiting for you to ask Him for that help. Psalm 46:1 God is our strong refuge; he is truly our helper in times of trouble. 
      I'm not sure why endemic finger-pointing has become a default setting in our thinking. But as for me, I have got to constantly look at my own actions to make sure I am walking the walk God put before me. When I stand before God on that great day, I will be standing alone and none of the people or reasons for blame will be there to point at. Since this is the case, I may as well learn to take responsibility now and live in the peace God instructs me to live in through His word now. Time to man-up. Blessings and God's ability be in and on you. Amen.