You know those sermons that REALLY convict you? The message given is what you need to hear, but you don’t want to hear it because it makes you feel so guilty. One of our pastors recently shared a sermon on how to handle offense. We have all become offended. It’s so easy to do. Whether it’s a situation with your spouse, a co-worker, or let’s be honest even a complete stranger – we are so quick to jump to an offensive state.
I learned so much from this sermon, including that when we become offended we enter the natural realm (leaving the spiritual realm) and it hinders us from walking in the Spirit. The enemy loves when offenses take place because they immediately separate us from one another. When we are walking in offenses and unforgiveness, we can’t be walking in love and unity.
Below are some of the main points from this sermon answering several questions including ‘What is an offense’, ‘Why do we get offended’, and ‘How we should respond to an offense’.
What is an offense?
An offense is defined as ‘an annoyance or resentment brought about by a perceived insult to or disregard for oneself or one’s standards or principles’. It is a breach of law or an illegal act that takes place. It’s inevitable that offenses are going to happen. Jesus said so in Luke 17:1, which says, “then he said to his disciples, “It is impossible that no offense should come, but woe to him through whom they do come!”
“And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.” Matthew 24:10–14
Why do we get offended?
We get offended when we don’t deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Jesus fully. There are a lot of things that can cause us to become offended including putting expectations on other people. The more we expect, the greater the potential offense. If I expect Colby to greet me at the door when I come home, and he doesn’t, then I immediately enter an offensive state. This is a very simple example, but I believe just as important. What happens when an offense takes place is it then has a domino effect as we try to communicate with the people who offended us. But, when we remove expectations, then the offense won’t take place.
Another reason we get offended is because we are prideful and selfish. We want things our way and as humans, we are afraid to admit that we are wrong. Pride causes us to view ourselves as victims. Our attitude becomes, “I was mistreated and misjudged; therefore, I am justified in my behavior.” It keeps us from seeing personal character flaws because the blame is deferred to someone other than ourselves. We immediately think there is nothing wrong with us and put all faults on the offender. When we humble ourselves before others and Jesus, then we prevent any offense to take place.
How are we to respond to offenses when they come?
Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner.” John 5:19
Offenses determine where we are spiritually and reveal the condition of our heart. The more mature we are in Christ and have a heart like His, the more likely we are to follow the leading of the Spirit of God, and the less offended we will become. Instead of responding with emotions, we will be able to respond with grace and love.
We must be prepared and armed for offenses, so we can act just like Jesus would. We have one of two reactions when offenses come: we can deal with it before the Lord, or we can destroy others. The choice is up to you! How are you going to respond next time when an offense comes? Let’s all be aware of how we have offended others, repent, and seek to become unoffendable.
Whew. I love that God’s word is alive and active as it continues to minister to me. If you have been following this blog for a while you know a few things I love is good worship music and a good sermon. This sermon has spoken to my heart so much. Not only is it a good teaching, but the pastor’s story involves her long journey with infertility. I have listened to it 5 or 6 times now and will continue to listen to it, especially on the hard days.
It’s so hard to understand why some people get what we want. You know, those people who tell me, “we looked at each other and got pregnant”. Why are there so many people who have received their ‘instant’ while we have been waiting 3+ years? Why are some people on their second kid who started trying after us? Why do some of my friends already have 3 kids while I am just asking for one? Lord, why?
The reality is that some people get instants and some people have to go the long way around, which is what this whole sermon is about. The good news is there is always purpose in the ‘long way around’. Sometimes God doesn’t change things because He wants to change the way you see things. He wants to teach you. He wants to refine you. He wants to give you strength. He is working on 10,000 things while you are waiting for your 1 thing.
Luke 7:11-17 is a story of a women who gets her instant. As if she hasn’t already lost enough (her husband), now a widow, she is burying her son. But, Jesus gave them an instant miracle. Her son was instantly healed, sat up, and talked. While there are a long list of miracles in the bible, there are also plenty of ‘long way around’ stories in the bible, like the story of Lazarus in John 11. When Lazarus got sick, Martha and Mary told Jesus and asked Him to help. I love Jesus’ response in John 11:4, “when Jesus got the message, he said, “This sickness is not fatal. It will become an occasion to show God’s glory by glorifying God’s Son.” Seriously – wow.
This will become an occasion to show God’s glory by glorifying God’s son.
Your long way around and my long way around stories are the same as this story in John 11. God will be glorified. When Jesus said this, Lazarus was dead, but He knew what the end result would be – which was His glory. There is a reason He gives some people instants and some people have to go the long way around. God’s perspective and ours are way different. What is most important, is that we give Him ALL glory when we receive what we are waiting for.
As the story goes on, in John 11:15 Jesus says, “You’re about to be given new grounds for believing. Now let’s go to him.” The Lord is giving you, and me, new grounds for believing. Sometimes He let’s our situations, which look like death, hit rock bottom so that our faith can grow. While they thought Lazarus was dead, the Lord was teaching them faith. One version of this verse says, “Lazarus is dead. And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, that you may believe.” Jesus could be glad, because He knew the outcome. While we can’t see the big picture when we are on the long way around, we can trust that we too can be glad because God will carry us through.
After this verse, Mary and Martha encounter many, like Thomas and others who came to see what the fuss was all about. Because of their long way around journey they met people they would have never met otherwise. That is so true for our story. I think of ALL the women I have met – and it’s just one more reason I am thankful for the long way around. There is someone on your long way around that God is including in your miracle.
If John 11:4 and John 11:15 don’t rock your world, then hopefully John 11:26 will, “and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” Jesus challenged Mary and Martha to believe. When we are waiting for something is when faith is built up in us. It’s easy to believe God when you get in an instant, but what about when you have to take the long way around? Do you believe? You might say it, but down in your heart – do you believe? Do you believe God is who He says He is and will do what He says He can do?
Look at the path you are on and the company traveling with you. Recognize all the good things He is doing in your life. Let Him teach you while you are on the journey. Let your faith grow. Start believing. You might not get an instant, but there is purpose in the ‘long way around’ journeys. Rejoice over it, don’t resent it. God will choose when to deliver you, but it’s up to you to seek Him while waiting. And, just as John 11:40 says, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”
We all have something we are believing for. Whether it’s something small or big, God wants to answer those prayers. He cares about the little details and He cares about the big details.
This sermon on the topic of belief was sent to me by Melissa and it blessed me so much. In addition to doing life with a community of believers, I’m so thankful for worship music and sermons – it’s so good to continually surround myself with encouragement and press into the word of God. This sermon covers the story in John 9:6-7 which says, “After saying this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes.“Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam”. So the man went and washed, and came home seeing.
In this passage, God sends a blind man the to pool of Siloam. God simply commanded with the word, “Go”. Immediately, the man left. It was the prophetic act the man made that showed he believed and had faith. And, what happened in return? He was healed. Jesus required this man to believe him before restoring sight.
To believe is defined as ‘to be convinced, to be confident, and to be fully persuaded’. When we believe in something it is shown by how we respond to something God has already said or done. Just as in the story of the blind man, God allows things to happen to both draw us closer to Him and bring glory to Himself. Even though many people believe the lie that we face trials because of something that we have done wrong, that is not the case. It’s not because of sin, but because He wants to bring glory to Himself.
Why should we believe God?
1 – Belief Unlocks the Blessing. The bible is full of promises. But, we can’t access those promises until we activate our faith. Faith unlocks the blessings God has for us. Our blessing is attached to our believing. Not in believing for what we want, but believing in the one person who can bring what we want (Jesus). Whether or not God will do something is up to Him, but believing He can do something is up to us. Stop manipulating or trying to control the outcome and surrender your desires to Him. If you want to receive everything God has for you in the kingdom, then believe.
2 – Unbelief Limits the Blessing. Don’t you want to release EVERYTHING God has for you? Don’t let the lack of receiving blessings from Him be because of your unbelief. There are several external factors that cause us to disbelieve – difficult circumstances, limited resources, delayed outcomes, attacks from the enemy, etc. No matter what we face, we have to put our faith above our fear and trust God. The devil is after your belief. If he can crush your belief then he will limit your blessing. You can’t speak doubt and unbelief and expect to receive blessings, so make the daily choice to speak life over your situation. If you are struggling with doubt or unbelief ask the Lord to help you.
Instead of asking ‘why’ when facing a trial, ask ‘God, how can you get glory’? It’s inevitable we will all face trials, but it’s up to us to choose how we will react in those trials. Believe that ALL things are possible with Him. Don’t limit a limitless God, but trust He will fulfill all the promises He has spoken to you.
I have loved reading the Old Testament recently. It’s amazing to read so many miracles and powerful stories. In Exodus 14, there were two million people on their way to the land of milk and honey when they approached the Red Sea. They were facing major obstacles. Not only were they trapped against the sea, but they were facing the Egyptian army as well. Just as they did, we all have Red Seas. We will all face obstacles or trials that we aren’t sure how we are going to get through or around them.
Exodus 14:13-14 says, Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever. The LORD will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.” Such a profound truth. None of us have anything to fear since we are fighting from a place of victory. We aren’t fighting for it, but it’s already been given to us.
Priscilla Shirer shared a word about the topic of the Israelites facing the Red Sea in this sermon. She made these points about these verses:
• Be Fearless – In these verses, Moses had no idea how he would get through the situation. All he knew was that God would help Him through. It is so easy in the flesh to let fear rise up when we notice we are in a battle. Every time we face a difficult situation, we make a choice to either take control of the fear or let the fear cripple us. Just like Moses we should call upon God and exchange fear for an opportunity to seek Him. If we begin to believe what God’s Word says about us and who we are in Christ, we will be more confident when we face challenging situations. We should all want every single thing God has for us, which includes living in the victory He has already paid for and not letting fear overtake us.
• Be Still – Moses told the people of Israel to stop. We should do the same. Rest and be still in the Lord. Plant your feet firmly on the promises of God. Stand firmly on what He says no matter how big, or deep, or wide your Red Sea looks. Believe that He is who He says He is. Rather than relying on our own abilities to solve a problem, stand firm in Him.
• Be Watchful. – Don’t be so focused on your problems that you are missing what the Lord is doing. When we are surrounded on all sides by a ‘sea’ or problem, God wants us to have our eyes open to watch as He delivers us. The children of Israel had the Red Sea on one side and Egyptian armies on all other sides, but God wanted them to see how He would deliver them. God wants to get the glory from the situation.
• Be Quiet. – While waiting, praise God. Don’t spend time complaining or grumbling, but instead thank Him in advance for what He is going to do. Sometimes the hardest thing to do when we are faced with problems is to guard our mouth. The Israelites got into trouble when they murmured and complained. We need to guard our mouths and speak life even when life is hard. Our words have power and if we aren’t speaking life then it is best to be quiet.
The Lord is so faithful when we face ‘Red Sea’ situations. He has purpose in every trial we face and wants to help carry us through. While you are in the sea, be fearless, be still, be watchful, and be quiet!
If you were asked to rate yourself in having faith for whatever you are waiting for, what would you say on a faith scale from 1-10? Do you think those around you and the Lord know you as a person of great faith? Faith is defined in Hebrews 11:1 as the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
What does it look like to have great faith? Jesus was amazed twice in scripture, but his amazement was at opposite ends of the spectrum. In Mark 6:5-6, Jesus was amazed by the lack of faith after he healed several people. He could have done more miracles, but chose not to because of the unbelief of those around him. In the extreme opposite case, in Luke 7:9, Jesus was amazed by the great faith of the centurion. How big is your faith? Would you or do you want to be known like the people of Nazareth who lacked faith or the centurion who had great faith?
Craig Groeschel spoke about this topic in his sermon where he addressed 3 Principles of Faith:
1. You cannot play it safe and please God. Hebrews 11:6 tells us that without faith it is impossible to please God. It’s not always easy, but the only way to please God is to get out of your comfort zone and take steps of faith. Don’t let your fear of failure keep you from taking a step of faith. It’s not always going to make sense. Actually, most of the time it won’t make sense, but you have to step out of the boat, just like Peter did, to find out what He has in store for you.
2. As long as you have a guarantee, you don’t have faith.When we can see something or know when something is going to happen it isn’t called faith. Faith is all about believing in the unseen.It’s so easy to want to control our situations. We want to know everything, but knowing all the whens and whys isn’t faith. Faith is when we don’t know why and we believe anyway. When we live by faith, it’s relying on God’s word and His character, instead of what all of our natural circumstances are dictating. You can have faith or you can have control, but you can’t have both.
3. To step toward your destiny, you have to step away from your security.Hebrews 11:8 says “By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.” How many of us feel like we don’t know where we are going? When you are called out upon the waves will you obey and go, just like Abraham did? The purpose of taking a step of faith isn’t for the outcome you want, but it’s trusting the faithfulness of God despite your circumstances around you.
I’ll be honest – our journey doesn’t make much sense to me. I’m not sure why the Lord has called us to wait. I don’t know why we have been told not to pursue fertility treatments or adoption or not even track/chart. But, what I do know is that our faith in Him is what He desires. Just like Abraham, He wants us to obey and wait even when we don’t understand.
What great faith steps are you taking? Would God be amazed at your lack of faith or amazed by your great faith? I want it to be the latter! Join me in having great faith in our Lord! Have assurance of things hoped for, even though they can’t yet be seen.
How many times have you asked that question? It’s probably a question that most, if not every believer has asked. It seems if we knew when our trial would end we would never grow weary or complain, but when it goes on and on with no end is when we start to ask the Lord, How Long?
In Psalm 13, David starts out with the same question. He is discouraged. He is in despair. He asks the Lord 4 times How Long, but gets no answer.
How long will you forget me, Lord? Forever? How long will you look the other way when I am in need? How long must I be hiding daily anguish in my heart? How long shall my enemy have the upper hand? Answer me, O Lord my God; give me light in my darkness lest I die. Don’t let my enemies say, “We have conquered him!” Don’t let them gloat that I am down. But I will always trust in you and in your mercy and shall rejoice in your salvation.I will sing to the Lord because he has blessed me so richly. Psalm 13:1-6
David receives silence when he cries out to the Lord. I know David isn’t the only one that feels like his prayers and questions are unanswered and delayed. In a recent sermon on Psalm 13, I love what Tim Dilena says, “Delays show how mature you are.” How are you choosing to react to your delays? Are you using them to edify your walk with Christ, or are you throwing tantrums like a young child?
There is a quote by Oswald Chambers that says, “Has God trusted you with His silence— a silence that has great meaning? God’s silences are actually His answers. His silence is the sign that He is bringing you in a more wonderful understanding of Himself.” Isn’t that the truth? Isn’t it in the trials and God’s silence where we grow more dependent on Him and gain better understanding of who He is?
If you are anything like me, you are always in a hurry, but God doesn’t work that way. He is always right on time. He is never early and He is never late. He uses the silence, the wait, the trials, the hardships, and the suffering for our good.His delays are not His denials, but instead we grow more mature while waiting.
In Psalms 13:5, David goes from desperation to encouragement. He goes from pouting to shouting praises. There is a shift that takes place and he realizes that he does trust God. He decides to sing praises to the Lord for He is good. It’s ok to ask the Lord ‘How Long?’, but are you spending more time pouting or shouting? Choose to turn your pouts into shouts of joy and praise to the Lord.
I can’t wait for our breakthrough! I can’t wait to literally birth the impossible. We know our children are going to enter this world because of a miracle the Lord is going to do. He is going to take a situation that is impossible on paper and according to the doctors authority and He is going to make it happen.
Why would we trust the Lord for something so impossible? Because that is what Jesus loves to do – Births life into impossible situations. Not just physical births, but emotional and spiritual too. He is looking for people and situations that are completely surrendered to Him so He can perform a miracle.
The power of the miracles the Lord does is in the word He speaks. It’s what His word says – Nothing is impossible with Him. It’s not in what we do or don’t do. The promise is in the word from the Lord. That is why it’s so important to be in the word – so that we know what His promises are for us!
I love Bill Johnson’s message about miracles. He reminded me that all the barren women in the bible conceived. Isn’t it amazing that every barren woman had children? Hannah and Sarah contended even though they were barren. Mary surrendered even though she wasn’t married. These aren’t the only ladies who have testimonies of impossible situations.
We are all designed to give birth to something impossible. God is waiting for us to surrender to Him. Get before God and be brutally honest. He wants to be known as your God. He takes delight in you. He loves the idea of manifesting Himself through you. Jesus wants to do something by bringing the impossible out of you, but you first must allow Him to do so.
The feeding of 5,000 in the gospels is a perfect story when reflecting on the miracles of Jesus. If you have never heard it, you can read John 6 below, but there were 5,000 men who needed to be fed. Jesus performed a miracle by feeding all of them using 2 fish and 5 loaves.
Jesus soon saw a great crowd of people climbing the hill, looking for him. Turning to Philip, he asked, “Philip, where can we buy bread to feed all these people?” He was testing Philip, for he already knew what he was going to do. Philip replied, “It would take a small fortune to feed them!” Then Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up. “There’s a young boy here with five barley loaves and two fish. But what good is that with this huge crowd?” Tell everyone to sit down,”Jesus ordered. So all of them — the men alone numbered five thousand — sat down on the grassy slopes. Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks to God, and passed them out to the people. Afterward he did the same with the fish. And they all ate until they were full. “Now gather the leftovers,” Jesus told his disciples, “so that nothing is wasted.” John 6:5-12
In the above verses, Jesus tests Philip and Philip gets frustrated because he looks at the situation from a natural viewpoint. Isn’t that we so often do? Focus so much on our current circumstance that we completely miss what the Lord is trying to do. What can we take away from the story of the 5,000?
1. Look Beyond the Natural – God is the God of the impossible. The choice of how we perceive our circumstances is up to us and affects how we respond. Will you allow the fact that the circumstance seems impossible to shape your situation or the fact that you have a God who can make all things possible shape your situation? God wants us to view things through His perspective, not through our circumstances. Instead of letting the enemy remind you how impossible your situation is, remind him you have the God of the impossible on your side. Greater are the powers on your side than against you.
2. Bring What You Have – God doesn’t ask us to bring Him what we don’t have, He asks us to come confidently with what we do have. He wants us to bring our inadequacies to Him. He uses the inadequate and extremely flawed people, which is every one of us. God doesn’t want to do miracles alone, but wants us to partner up with Him to experience the miraculous. None of us can accomplish in the natural what God wants us to accomplish in the supernatural through us. God takes what we do have and multiples it to be more than enough.
3. Choose to Obey – God asks for us to obey Him in order for us to participate with Him in the miraculous. When we obey Him we are stepping out in faith based on what He has said. Without obedience, it’s impossible to experience the miraculous. How often do we ask for something, but leave the door closed? Make sure you allow yourself to be in a position to receive what He has for you.
Don’t let your past disappointments you have experienced cause you to give up hope. Keep fixing your eyes on Him, look beyond your circumstances, bring what you have, and obey what He is telling you to do. The miraculous is waiting for you.
So many people live in fear. Fear is placing your faith in the wrong thing. It’s not that you have a lack of faith, it’s that the faith is focused in the wrong place. Often times our fear is faith in the ‘what if’ situations which drives us to a point of panic. ‘What if I lose my job’. ‘What if I never have kids’. etc.
Why are we so afraid of God’s Plans?
1. God’s Interruptions are Often Inconvenient.So often we view what happens in life as inconvenient. We blame God for what is going on, but what we don’t realize is that what we call interruptions are often God’s invitations to something better. In Luke 1, Gabriel spoke to Mary. Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!” Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean.“Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God! Luke 1:28-30. Talk about an interruption – in these verses Mary was excited to get married and God did a complete 180 and told her instead she was going to have a child. But, she was also told that favor was upon her and there was nothing to fear. What a great reminder for us too. When we are interrupted we have nothing to fear, God is with us, and His favor is on us.
2. God’s Purpose is often different than your plans.Trust Him that no matter what He is doing, it’s better than your plan. Can you even imagine what was going through Mary’s mind when she was told she was going to birth a son out of wedlock, especially since she was supposed to be getting married soon? She had to tell Joseph she was pregnant, even though she was a virgin – talk about a crazy conversation. But, God had better plans for her – think of what an interruption that was to find out, but reflect on how the world has changed since Jesus was born.
Colby and I know all about God interrupting us. If it were our way, we would have two kids by now, but clearly that is not God’s plan. I think back to when Melanie approached me in that airport because she saw the book I was reading about infertility. If we weren’t going through infertility I wouldn’t have been reading that book and would have never met Melanie. Oh how our life’s have changed so much since meeting her. What I thought was an interruption to our plan to have kids, has been an invitation to something better. It has been so much more than I could have asked or imagined. He is inviting us to a better story.
Maybe you lost a job and you don’t understand why, maybe your waiting on a baby after years of infertility, or maybe you broke up with that man who was supposed to be your husband. I don’t know what your interruption is, but despite the fact that you think it’s a curse, God is inviting you to something better. He does immeasurably more than you could ask or imagine. Recognize that the outcome is God’s responsibility, but obedience is yours. Is God asking you to take a step of faith while He has called you out upon the ocean? What is holding you back? Trust Him! He will bless you for your obedience.
By the title of the sermon, I’m sure it’s a topic we can all relate to. We know life is going to be hard because of the brokenness and sin in this world but we can’t just quit in the middle of our trials, we have to push and struggle through them. There are 3 ways we struggle:
We struggle with other people. We deal with conflict, competition, misunderstanding, disappointments, arguments, jealousy, rivalry, etc.
We struggle with ourselves – We deal with our own insecurities, fears, flaws, temptations, sins, and addictions.
We struggle with God – Our real struggle is with God. We doubt his wisdom and we think our plans are better than His.
God is not surprised by the struggles we face. In the middle of a trial, He doesn’t want us to run away from him, he would rather we argue with him. So what does that look like – How should we handle our struggles with God?
Tell God what you think is unfair and painful. All throughout scripture there are prayers of lament to God from people who struggled. God wants us to be honest with him too. Complaining about God is rebellion, but complaining to God is an act of worship.
Appeal to God’s nature When you complain, offer praise too. You might complain that you are still not a mom or dad, but also proclaim that God is bigger than infertility. You might complain that you are struggling to pay the bills, but also proclaim that God is your provider. Complain to Him, but then proclaim who He is.
Remind God of what He has said. Remind God of the promises He has given you. Just like when parents promise their kids something, the kids continue to ask their parents until they receive the promise. Be persistent in reminding God of His word and His promises to you.
Express total trust in God. Despite what you have been through or are going through, trust Him. Even when you don’t get what you want, continue to trust that He is a good God.
What are you tired of tolerating in your life? Tell God! Always complain in faith; trust that when you complain God is listening and going to do something about it. The way to win your fight with God is to give up all control and surrender what you have been holding on to. Trust that His plans for you are better than your own.