Offense can be one of the most deadly forces against a Christians faith. Take just a minute and reflect on your life and see if there is anyone or any situation that has offended you. The possibilities of being offended right now, at this very moment, are extremely great.
We can be offended at all types of actions: drivers driving too slow or erratic, people saying or doing things that annoy us, not seated quickly enough at the restaurant, or the checker behind the counter behaved rudely. Let's face it, offense comes in many ways. And generally, offense comes because of disappointment, lack of understanding, resentment, or disagreement.
If we would take a minute to truthfully analyze any offense in our life, we would most assuredly find that there are selfish reasons behind the insult we felt. "They said something to hurt MY feelings.", "They invaded MY space.", "They didn't do what I expected or wanted.", or "They weren't listening to ME." Let's face it, offense is an extremely selfish feeling for the one being offended. I'm not saying that all the fault lies in the offended one. The people offending are hugely selfish as well. Perhaps wanting their own way, thinking of themselves higher than they ought, or totally consumed with themselves and their problems. So, what's the best way to handle offense, you ask?
#1) Be quick to forgive. We must let any offense go. It can be a root of bitterness that takes hold and keeps us bound, eventually bringing stress and sickness. Heb. 12:14-15NIV "Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many."
#2) Pray for the offender like you would pray for yourself. 1 Timothy 2:8 says, to pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting. When we truly forgive our offender, we can honestly come before God with a pure heart and clear conscience praying genuinely in agape love for them.
#3) Walk in Love. Yes, this is a biggie. 1 Cor. 13:3-8 "And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up, does not behave rudely, does not seek it's own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails...."
The true love of God operating in us and through us - never takes account of any wrongs toward us, behaves considerately towards everyone, doesn't wish evil on the offender, and doesn't seek to serve self. True love, God's love isn't just giving magnificent gifts or heroic self sacrifice, but it's expression of His character through us toward others. They can 'see' Him IN us!
So the next time you're challenged to be offended or offend, remember to be the expression of God.
Looking around at our country and the world we see many disturbing situations. Whether we are faced with governmental circumstances, disasters that are weather related or our own personal difficulties, they are prevalent in our society. When they are so prominent it's difficult to be comforted and easy to become fearful.
In 2 Timothy 3:1, Paul writes "But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come". "Perilous Times": dangerous, treacherous, risky, all define perilous! A favorite minister of ours, Rick Renner, described this verse in this way, "perilous times - carries the idea of a person, place, action or thing that is filled with high risk." He actually said the greek expressed here is: "You emphatically must know, what I am about to tell you! In the last part of the last days, in the very end of the age, hurtful, harmful, dangerous, unpredictable, uncontrollable, high risk periods of time will come." We are, most definitely experiencing this now.
So, what can we do, you ask? Here's some helpful steps we can take:
1) Do Not fear! It says, 'Fear Not', 365 times in the Bible. Isaiah 41:10 "Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness."
2) Trust the Lord! Proverbs 3:5-6 "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths."
3) Pray! 1 Timothy 2:1-2 "Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence." Philippians 4:6 "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God."
4) Take your authority! (Yes we believe in the authority of the believer) Jesus said in Luke 10:19 "Behold I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions and over all the power of the enemy and nothing shall by any means hurt you." Jesus also said, "Most assuredly, I say to you he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father." John 14:12
Indeed, we live in very troubled times. I suppose if one would look deeply into the scriptures one would find that there were troubled times in every generation. The extent of that trouble is only magnified in the eyes of the beholder.
We can be encouraged by looking at the heros of faith throughout the Word of God and find that although they were hard pressed on every side, they were not crushed; although they were perplexed, they did not despair; even though they were persecuted they were not forsaken; some were struck down, but not destroyed. (2 Cor. 4:8-9) Consequently, we shouldn't be discouraged - if Paul can call his afflictions 'light' and realize they are short lived, we too can gain strength and inspiration from the Word of God and the Holy Spirit.
If in the midst of everything, realize this, Nothing can separate you from the love of God; No difficulty, not danger, no abuse, not so much as insufficiency, no vulnerability, not high risk or even death. We must remember that even in all these things we are more than conquerors through Christ, who loved us. (Rom. 8:35)
Have you ever heard someone say, "I'll believe it when I see it!" ? Perhaps you've even said that at one time or another. I know that's just an expression, but the bible says, 'out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks'.(Luke 6:45) Truthfully, there's not any faith in that statement. Faith is, first, believing THEN seeing. Which is a hard thing for a lot of people to do. Let me just say that once someone comes to the place of being truly, in sincere confidence, they will see the results of their belief. That's where faith and hope meet.
There are numerous people that think hoping is a desperate cry for their desire. These are the individuals that believe lamenting, longing, and yearning IS hope. Hope is really: Confident Joyous Expectation! Think about that! Confidence - true trust, belief, and certainty. It's where we just know that we know! Joyous - that place of happiness that nothing can deprive us from rejoicing. Expectation - the eager excitement of knowing we have something. Heb. 11:1 (AMP) "Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see." In other words, faith is the practical expression of our confidence in God and His Word. We may not actually SEE what we are believing, but we BELIEVE we already have it. That's faith! Because it doesn't take faith to believe for something we already possess.
When we can begin to Praise the Lord and express our thanksgiving for something we are believing, before we actually have it, that's genuine faith. And faith pleases God! (Heb. 11:6) Our exhibition of trust through praise and thanksgiving is acknowledging what God has done, is doing and will do!
Remember Faith is like a seed, when it's planted, the changes in that seed take place below the surface before it happens above the surface. Our faith activated by our praise and thanksgiving is working in the unseen realm before it's manifest in the seen realm.
I encourage you today to remain in faith, keep your conversation on what God's promise is to you (don't say anything about what you see), thank Him and praise Him for the result of your belief. Someone, just said, "so when do I stop?" When you receive it! Never give up, never faint - God IS faithful!
Mother's Day, May 12th. This is the day where we give honor to Mother's. Yes, I know there are people who haven't had a great relationship with their Mom. And there are some who have never felt the love of a Mother. Yet we, for the most part, still take this time of the year to reflect on Mothers. Maybe you had a terrific Mother. The ideal woman who did everything right. That's something to praise God about, and easy to honor.
Mom's are God's extension of Love to their children. It's customary for a mother to protect, care for, love, encourage, enjoy, and pray for her children. However, I have known of some mothers who didn't display those characteristics. It's sad to think there are women who do not love or want their children.
Yet today, as we reflect on our own Mom, let us thank the Lord for all she did for us. After all, she gave us life. We're here because she birthed us. There were probably times, she made sacrifices on our behalf, doing without something for herself, so we could have. She did the best she could with the knowledge she had. Maybe her mom wasn't all that keen of a mother. Remember, back in the day, people learned by example, and if the example wasn't too good, well.... just saying. Despite her selfish attitudes or behaviors, regardless of any anger displayed, forgive her. Pain, hurt and bitterness can cause a person to behave inappropriately.
Keep in mind mother's aren't perfect. They can miss the mark and make mistakes. They can get frustrated, tired, and discouraged, just like the rest of us. If your Mom was/is like this, forgive her for her shortcomings, encourage her in your love for her. Let her know that no matter what happened in the past, today's a new day. Let me remind you, that children aren't perfect either (no matter what age they are).
And if your mother is no longer here on earth, thank God for her life and the blessing she was to you. Then find someone else's mom and bless them with kind words, a card or a special gift, in the honor of your Mom.
For all the mothers - take this day to thank the Lord God for life, yours and your children. Have confidence "of this very thing, that He Who began a good work in you will continue until the day of Jesus Christ [right up to the time of His return], developing [that good work] and perfecting and bringing it to full completion in you." Phil. 1:6Amp (And in your children) God's still working - keep reminding yourself.
Pastors Michael & Ginny Gulotta
Pro. 11:25 "The generous soul will be made rich, And he who waters will also be watered himself."